We are often told we need to be passionate about our work, our startup or the product we are selling. And while it is true, it is also a little bit ephemeral. Today I heard a better way to describe what we need to do to sell our ideas from Brian Tracy – whose an old school business coach, though his approach is still highly relevant today. Brain says we need to be able to do this:
Transfer our enthusiasm.
I love it, and I’m going to use it as a way to judge myself after I present an idea or project to people in the future.
I’ve helped a couple of people who are early in their careers find jobs recently. Well, I hate the word job, so lets say projects or startups where they only have 1 large customer (their employer).
The first thing I asked them is what their digital foot print looks like. While these ‘kids’ are digital natives, you’d be surprised at how many of them haven’t invested their digital knowledge into creating their personal brand on-line. I then remind them of the new amazing automatic CV generator. A lot of people haven’t heard of it, but it’s really cool. Most employers use it these days. If you want to see it in action, just click on this link – and type in your name.
Ok – so you see where I am going with this. And the simple truth is that your CV is what you say it is, not what your past employer or past job title says it is. It’s what you say it is, but if you choose to own your digital footprint. In fact the most important stuff you’ll do in your career these days, is the crazy projects that show you ‘get’ we are living through a revolution and that you want to be part of the revolution. The tools are all here, the tools are all free, all you need to do is allocated some of your daily 24 hours to them and create our own path. The cool part about creating your footprint is that the internet doesn’t care what school you went to, what your SAT score was or what club your are a member of. It only cares about what you create – or better put, co-create. The audience will do the judging, not some gate keeper. Smart employers and investors are more interested in your side projects than how you have earned a living. Your side projects say so much more about you and your capabilities. They do this because there are no barriers or permission requirements to what you can do in this arena. it’s a simple combination of your ideas, desire, work ethic and ability to connect with others who share your type of interest. It is all up to you, and democratized technology means you don’t have to be a genius.
I like to practice what I preach. And so I always make sure I’m doing stuff which differentiates me from the crowd. Stuff which google will like and let bubble to the top, stuff which shows I’m thankful for the resources gifted upon me in this digital revolution, stuff which gives to the community and helps others first. But mostly these are simple tasks which are more about regular effort than unreasonable effort. My homepage, this blog, my startups, my twitter account,my crazy projects, youtube videos, Op-Ed journalism and public speaking engagements are a few such outputs. The sad part is that it’s not that hard to do, but most people don’t bother.
My digital footprint I regard as a financial investment. I see it as a conduit to my current and future earning potential in all realms. And probably a better investment than a post graduate degree in today’s era.
Seth Godin recently advertised on his blog for a new staff member for Squidoo. What he asked applicants to provide was enlightening. Here are some (not all) of the information requests he made when looking for help:
- Point to your personal website
- Show us some of the projects you’ve led that have shipped and made an impact
- Are you restless? What do you make or do in your spare time that leaves a trail and makes an impact?
- Four book covers you think are both effective and beautiful
- Find a particularly lame example of UX on the web and fix it into something better than good
- What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Steve Krug or Steve McConnell?
- Point to a blog post that changed the way you think about connecting with people online (not by Seth!)
- Show us a Squidoo lens that you’ve built
- Have you created anything worth watching on Vimeo or YouTube?
- In four bullet points, tell us how you’d change the Surface (or some website) to make it spread virally
- Whose picture is this? How did you find out? Why does she matter?
- Where do you work now? What’s great about it?
It’s a pretty clear indication of what matters today and not one mention about formal education. It’s none of the stuff that mattered yesterday, and excitingly it’s stuff we can choose to create with a little effort.
After SAMP your life will be one of travel, opportunity and space exploration
That would be a dream come true!
and then I replied:
No, that would be a dream worked hard at.
The simple truth is that dreams either get worked on arduously to become a reality, or they remain a pure fantasy.
I feel like I hear the term passionate too much when it comes to business and startups.
“I’m passionate about the internet.”
It’s a bit like saying, I’m really into electricity. The internet isn’t really a thing to be passionate about – it’s a thing that allows passions to be made into realities. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of entrepreneur podcasts and youtube interviews and what I’m seeing as their foundation lies in ‘interests’ more than passions. I’m seeing a long term interest in certain areas that have subtly influenced their direction over time. A sense of curiosity which builds over time and provides startup direction by stealth. They didn’t have a burning passion or overnight explosion of desire, but a slowly building yearning and curiosity for a certain type of technology or type of connection.
The Foundation interviews by Kevin Rose are a super forum for hearing the long story from founders. A little more about how they got there, than what they did once they arrived. It’s insightful and refreshing stuff. Two of these that stood our for me were the interviews with Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey.
Musk – Turns out he had a big interest in comic books as a kid. He read every single one in the store and their futuristic view of the world shaped his mindset and the ventures he ended up in.
Dorsey – Was obsessed with dispatch routing (omnidirectional messages from a single source) and maps (he filled his bedroom wall with them). Which again influenced the design of the twitter service.
The point is they didn’t turn up and say: ‘How can I take advantage of this internet thing with something new?’
Rather, they said: ‘Hey, finally I can build that thing I’ve been thinking about all this time.’
We are best served when we listen to our genuine long term bubbling interests, rather than what’s hot and bursts of passion.
I heard this quote for the first time – not sure if it’s an old one. You could even argue it isn’t entirely true….But thought it was a simple reminder of the types of things we should consider while we move through startup land:
“The big do not always eat the small, but the fast always eat the slow.”
Anyone involved in an entrepreneurial sphere, has at some point lamented the fact that they missed a previous revolution. A time when the momentum of change swept everyone forward. Those times when change was inevitable, or only a few people knew about the big change that was underway. Those times when being there, or just turning up was enough for success to be inevitable. The home brew computer club, the early days of the web. It was so much easier for those guys to launch something new and innovative, and make a bundle in the process. The world was so open and less competitive. Right?
Yes – it was less competitive, but we must remember that access to resources was a big issue. To finance projects, and get around the barriers to entry was incredibly difficult. Ceteris paribus – I’d say the probability of success is unchanged. Some parts are easier, some are more difficult.
The other thing which is interesting, is that those previous revolutions we wished we participated in: The personal computer in the 1970′s, the dot com boom of the mid 1990′s or the web 2.0 renaissance are all still here. The names have changed, and the widgets are new, but the opportunity is just as large. And 5, 10 or 20 years from now you’ll be reading about entrepreneurs who changed the world forever in these in 2 important areas – The web of things, and 3D printing. Both of these areas are as big as any piece of the digital revolution we’ve already lived through…. the ones you missed. And right now they are both in their early 1970′s era equivalent in terms of development and opportunity. So the only question remaining is this. Why are you doing about it?
My father told me this which I never forget. The opportunity of a lifetime comes up about once a week. But only when we’re looking for it.
Industrial and bricks and mortar businesses are overcome by their need to ‘get on line’. Guess what? Digital and startup businesses need to ‘get off line’. It turns out that this revolution is a two way street. The new eco system is wide, and we ignore either side at our peril.
Here’s a fun example of the digital getting physical:
The most outdated form of learning is memorising. Other than the ability to write and speak – it’s hard for me to see a future for memorising anything when I have access to the knowledge of the world, in real time, in my pocket.
So why do we still ask kids to memorise lists, States, Ex Presidents and the first 20 elements of the periodic table?
The really valuable part of computing power is the ability to process the data, the RAM. The hard drive (the storage) is less expensive and I’d say not as important. How often do we go into our files to find that presentation, spreadsheet or file from 2 years ago? – Almost never.
I think it’s a lot like our human brains, the real value is in problem solving, not rote memorising. Ironically personal computers seem to be moving back to the way they began – without the potential to store data locally. The data stored on our hard drive is quickly moving to the cloud and away from our computers. And it’s my contention that we should do the same thing with memorsing stuff and outsource that to the micro chip as well.