The recent strategic alliance of Apple and IBM is not really a surprise. But more than that it reminds us all of a few things about the times we are living through:
- Sometimes our enemies become our friends.
- Co-opetition is a better strategy than competition.
- It’s impossible to service every segment of a market.
- It’s difficult to serve both B2B and B2C markets simultaneously.
- What we thought yesterday, might not a good thing to think today.
- But mostly, that never is a very long time indeed.
Often we start our business with a fixed view of the world, and why we think our business should exist in it. What this means is that as the world changes, the view of our place in it should change too.
As my regular readers would know, I’v recently released a book: The Great Fragmentation – why the future of business is small. Now live and available for sale.
I recently sent an email to some of my supporters and friends inviting them to a shindig to help me celebrate – just some drinks and food among like minds. Then I thought, holy wow, there are no greater supporters than the readers of my blog. You’re all part of my inner circle. Despite the fact that 80% of my readers are overseas, there must be a few out there in Melbourne town. And while some of you already have the invite I’m sure, some might not, and I thought I’d put it up here.
So my dear readers, if you happen to be in Melbourne, or live in Melbourne, then I’d love to shout you a drink and thank you this Wednesday night. A little get together from 6-8pm. It’s in the city and we are being hosted by Michelle Matthews from Deck of Secrets fame, who has probably the coolest warehouse apartment in all of Melbourne. The details of where to come are here. We only have room for around 50 people, so first in first served. It’s kinda risky putting up on open invite, but hey, risk is good. Oh, and the short notice is because, I felt kinda weird having an event where I was the focus, and my buddies (Michelle & Co) kinda just organised it for me. Nice to have friends like that.
Hope to see you Wednesday night from 6pm.
Let’s imagine something horrible for a few moments. Let’s imagine that you die. That something unexpected occurs and your life is over. The plans you had, the lives you’ve touched would all be thrown into disarray. It is incomprehensible to imagine this, our own death. It’s as if we have this built in mechanism to avoid the mere thought of it. But if it did happen, what would happen at the company you work at? Deadlines would be missed. Some stuff wouldn’t get done. Co-workers would be sad or even shocked. Friends we’ve made would be devastated. There’d be a lot of upheaval, but here’s the over riding reality of you dying and if you work for a large company:
You’d be replaced in 4 weeks.
It’s even foreseeable that the process for replacement would begin the same day the news dropped.
Now let’s compare that to what would happen with your home and family. Lives would be devastated and irreparable. You would never be replaced and the pain of the loss would last a lifetime. Young children would be especially impacted. The hole could not be filled be anyone, anytime, ever.
So why is it that we work late? So why is it we put up with corporate bullying? So why is it we continue to work for jerks for career advancement? Why is it we give large portions of our waking lives to a faceless corporation? Why would we give an inordinate amount of time and effort to an organisation when the ultimate reality is that we are disposable? The next time you have to make a choice to stay late, play the corporate game and over deliver to corporation XYZ, and choose between the job and the family, maybe you should think about how they’d act if the unthinkable happened. Once you remind yourself of this you’ll know what choice to make.
It’s another reason why we need to listen to the call to run our own race, and create our own future and for independence. The people who deserve us the most, are those who couldn’t live without us.
There’s a lot of talk about the amazing things beacons will be able to do at retail level. And all of it is true – at least from a functional perspective. For the first time products will be able to directly interact with potential customers at store level. Physical spaces people spend time in will be able to interact with the people inside those spaces. Department stores, farmers markets, concert halls and football stadiums are all being filled with beacon technology. And it will give birth to a new era of pocket spam. I wonder if what we really need right now is more vendors shouting at us with offers we didn’t know we wanted? I doubt it.
So, here’s the startup opportunity for Beacons which few are focusing on just now.
How to stop them.
Yes, the spam filter equivalent for the intrusive beacon. And I know you’re thinking that this time it’s different, because it wont happen unless we allow push messages. But when was the last time you read all those terms and conditions for a web based service? Often we say yes to something before all the details emerge and when the world was slightly different. It’s our legacy decisions which get taken advantage of.
Often the market for the hotdogs around the stadium is bigger than what is on the main playing field. And there’s always less people watching that game while you set up shop on the sidelines.
To do lists are just one of those things. We know they matter, a lot. We know that having them and following them certainly leads to getting more done. Then why is it, that they tend to get longer and not shorter? It’s because not all tasks are created equal. It’s because our human operating system is a 200,000 year old piece of software not designed for a list based society. Let me explain.
The Urgent and the Important
Generally the things we do can be broken down into either Urgent or Important. If it’s neither of these things it shouldn’t be on the list. Urgent stuff has deadlines and customer requirements and might even be a fire that needs extinguishing. Important tasks are the other things we’d like to do, and know we should do, but very often don’t get around to. We don’t get around to them because they’re well, not urgent. Our DNA is designed to respond to urgent, to fear, to danger. And while urgent tasks don’t mean a sabre tooth tiger is going to eat us for dinner, our emotive reaction is much the same. It’s why fear and urgency most often wins. In a modern, sans sabre tooth tiger world, we need to do the opposite of what our instinct tells us to.
The irony is that the less important tasks we do, the more urgent things pop up. By only doing the urgent we create a perpetual cycle of inefficiency. We start carrying buckets of water to the ‘fire’, instead of building a pipeline and hose system for the time a fire breaks out. If we ever want to get in front, and start hacking our to do list we need to undertake some counter intuitive actions. Are you ready for it?
- We need to miss some deadlines.
- We need to disappoint some people.
- We need to let some urgent things go unattended and go, wrong, break, fail.
- We need to embrace a metaphorical ground zero.
To get started it is worth splitting your do list into two columns: Urgent and Important Tasks – see what gets your attention at the end of each day and you’ll see the trap we all fall into. You’ll also see that important tasks also change their shape and often become urgent later. What we need to do is the important things which build a structure and system to remove many of the recurring urgencies. Once we have to courage to do this, we’ll end up being the people who can respond to urgent, the fewer times they occur. It may even be worth taking secret holiday for a week (pretend to be out of town, off line and on vacation) to get your important stuff in order and start a new pattern.
Happy To Do list hacking!
At Tomcar we seriously love our customers. It’s a highly personal interaction at this early stage in the business, so we both take it personally, and make it personal. We care about how our cars perform for them, and how they make their working lives better. We’ve recently been documenting the delivery of our vehicles and making some short films about it.
Yes, we know it doesn’t really scale as a business model.
Yes, we know that major car manufacturers would never do this.
Yes, we know that it makes us seem like small fry.
But here’s something else we know: Doing things which do not scale in the short term, is what gives startups a chance at scale later.
Here’s a little video of one such unscalable activity. Oh, and if you buy a Tomcar, you’ll get your personal movie made too.
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So a question you might want to ask is this – How can you treat your customers like micro celebrities of your brand?
In a very short period of time, opinions of anything can change. It wasn’t so long ago that these statements were made about the internet as a commercial platform:
- It’s for nerds. “Fine, you nerds can do what you want but normal people are never going to use this thing.”
- It’s completely decentralized, which means you can’t trust it. No business is ever going to do anything on it because businesses won’t work on an untrusted environment. There won’t ever be any e-commerce.
- There will never be any internet payments. No one will put their credit card on the internet.
- It’s an open-source kind of thing so there will be no Internet companies.
- It’s got all these technical deficiencies. It’s slow. It’s unreliable. It doesn’t work right. When you do a search, sometimes you get an answer back and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes when you dial in you get a busy signal.
- What happen if your ISP goes out of business? Then you can’t get back online.
- Once you get on the internet, even assuming you get on the internet, there’s nothing to do. There’s no content. Time magazine isn’t online, the New York Times isn’t online. It’s just a bunch of nerd stuff.
These classic soundbites come from Marc Andreessen in a recent interview while referencing those who think bitcoin will never be more than some kind of digital space oddity. While we are on the topic of economic change, it is telling to have a look at the market valuations of the top 10 internet companies. That is, companies less than 20 years old who could not have existed pre dot com. The US top 10 public companies now have an accumulated value of $1.168 trillion dollars.
- Google – $585 billion
- Facebook – $170 billion
- Amazon – $155 billion
- Ebay – $65 billion
- Priceline – $65 billion
- Yahoo – $36 billion
- Salesforce.com – $36 billion
- Twitter – $24 billion
- Linkedin – $21 billion
- Expedia – $11 billion
We can also add the upcoming float of Alibaba.com to this at anything between a further $120 to $200 billion.
This takes my mind directly to the potential of 3D printing, web of things and the solar energy industry. All of which are in their 1993 era. The only question remaining for entrepreneurs reading is this; What are you going to do about it?
Yes, I have been writing, just in other places. So here’s 3 recent articles I’ve put out there which could have been put here:
Back posting tomorrow – I promise.
A colleague who is in a startup pitch competition for an accelerator sent me this question:
Steve, In your experience, is it better to pitch first or last in a series of afternoon presentations?
I answered him in two parts: There is a theory that says if you’re last, you’re only competing against the one they’ve already chosen to win up to that point. But, honestly – it matters much more to be awesome & not worry about the uncontrollable things.
I guess with most projects we have the same choice on where to focus, on superstition, or super performance.