Our view on success depends largely on our reference points. If we look up we see some of what we might hope for. If we look down, we see that our lot in life is not that bad.
There real danger is only looking one way. If we focus just on those above us, we may never be satisfied. We could turn into workalohics, forget to appreciate what we have achieved, or even worse, we could become jaded and jealous. If we focus just on those below us, we become satisfied, lazy, or simply accepting of our status quo.
If we look both ways it helps us to stay balanced and have perspective on what we have, versus what we’d like. And the last important thing to remember is to define ‘up’ carefully, and make sure it focuses on riches beyond the financial type.
Meet Alistair Leathwood. Alistair is the Managing Director of a large research firm. Research is a typically conservative industry, which for good reason is filled with conservative individuals. The type of individuals that are diligent, thoughtful, sedulous, hard working and considered.
Alistair is also one of these people.
The interesting thing about Alistair is that he doesn’t let the reality of hard, thoughtful and considered work get in the way of fun. Alistair knows that it is possible to display personality, have fun and actually still get work done in a professional manner. And when I caught up with Alistair for lunch today he told that he doesn’t just ask his people to have fun in the office, he mandates it.
Just quietly, this is the kind of attitude I can dig. An attitude that knows that a suit and tie are not the basis of diligence or insight.
So here’s little picture of how cool cat Alistair rolls. He’s an everyday colored sock man, regardless of what else he happens to be wearing…. and the bead necklace? Well he’s had it on every time I’ve seen him and he reckons he’s worn it everyday for the past 10 years. He then went on to say, the shirt and pants where for me, while the socks and necklace were for him!
It feels a lot like the industrial revolution and the marketing of widgetry had a subconscious influence on what business people would wear. A specified expectation of limited differentiation which I will be glad to see the end of. I think we should all take a sock out of Alistair’s drawer and ensure we don’t become our own version of Mista Bob Dobalina
And don’t panic, the world is quickly learning that how smart and capable we are is not dependent of our uniform.
I was recently reading an article which asked advertising people if they had to choose youth or experience what would they choose.
Ogilvy executive chairman Tom Moult sited the exemplar below.
There’s an old David Ogilvy story. He was looking at some creative work from a junior. He asked how the guy how he knew the ads would work, the junior explained that he was sure they would as his intuition told him so.
Ogilvy said, “Imagine your appendix ruptures right now, and I rush you to hospital. There are two surgeons available, one is an experienced surgeon, and the other one is new to the game but is offering to operate on you using his intuition. Which one would you choose?”
While David Ogilvy was a genius, and this is a compelling allegory he forgot one important thing. Advertising is not surgery. It’s not even a science for that matter, so we should never judge it as such.
What would I choose?
A youthful attitude.
Youth is a state of mind and our mind is as nimble or as old as we let it be.
Two young boys had the unfortunate up bringing by a father who was a thief a scoundrel and a drunk. He gave them little support and set the worst possible example for how to lead life as an adult.
One of the boys grew up to be just like his father. A thief and scoundrel and a drunk.
One of the boys grew up to be a successful businessman and a stand up member of his community.
When they were asked why they turned out the way they did as adults they both gave the same answer:
“What did you expect, my dad was a thief, a scoundrel and a drunk”
I once worked in a consumer goods company which went from Individual offices to open plan.
I now work in an advertising agency where we have moved from individual offices to open desks.
What happened at these two firms is interesting. The first office (consumer goods marketing) sent out a mass email banning iPods (and any other brand of personal music device – this is seriously what the email said). Claiming that the idea of open plan was to encourage open communications, and it was rude to listen to music while working. That we couldn’t do our jobs while listening to music as it was distracting. While at the same time the directors had offices with doors.
The second office (advertising) did something much different. Firstly, all the directors have the same size desk and space as every employee. On our first day in the new office we all had a gift on our desk wrapped beautifully with a ribbon. Inside the pack was free coffee vouchers (for the cafe across the road) and a brand new iPod nano. And it had a note which said the following:
“The iPod nano – this is good for a few things. Moving to open will at times be challenging. If you feel it is getting on top of you, then feel free to bung in your iPod and listen to your favourite tunes. We’re also into the idea that we can all play part in creating our new vibe. So we’ll be asking you to supply the music each day. We’ll place a sign at the reception that says “Today’s music thanks to Ant Shannon.” Please make your playlist and get it on the dock. The iPods you’ve received also take video – get in the habit of recording the stuff you like or think about. Keep it, play it, share it.”
A massive difference in attitude, culture and resulting creative output. The culture we create in our startup or any business is a result of what we do, and we can change it at any time with a bit of effort and humanity.
This Nutrigrain commercial isn’t really about cereal. It’s a message for Entrepreneurs. Take a look.
Notice how he didn’t let his environment (non coastal) hold him back?
Notice the tools he built to train himself and replicate his desired future?
Notice, the time invested in his dream, the years of dedication?
He wasn’t concerned about the resources he didn’t have, rather those he could use to bootstrap his training. It’s an attitude that all entrepreneurs should have.
Best we take a second look.
The title of this post is a philosophy I have. People often disagree siting financial hardship, opportunity, income, age… you name it. They can argue all they like but it is true. People who look after themselves, have pride and a solid work ethic have nice cars. Not necessarily expensive cars, but cars which are washed regularly, are tidy inside, and don’t have any obvious dings or fractures which are to be fixed.
Keeping a clean car doesn’t really cost any money, just a little bit of time and effort. In fact it usually saves people money, just like servicing a car does. Sure, cars get smashed, need repairs and are generally a necessary expense and not an asset. But like all things, delays in making it right will have a compound effect. Dints which aren’t fixed get rusty. Unserviced cars break down more often. Trying to save money letting your car go, just costs money in the long run. People with unbroken lives know this. It also has an important impact on your own self worth and psyche. Not to mention other peoples opinions of you, rightly or wrongly.
Show me an adult with a broken car, and I’ll show you a person with a broken life. (students are the exception)
Below is a classic example. Both cars of similar style and age. The first is owned by a person with a broken life, the other with by a person with a great attitude.
Do the test for a week or two. Assess the people you know and the state of their vehicle. It tells a very clear story.
Startup blog says take pride in all you do and all you own and your life will be better.