Over my career I’ve worked for a number of companies, as well as my own startups. And while I invested a good number of years working for others (as an entrepreneur with 1 really big and important customer – which is how I define it any time I am employed, as we all should), I always found that I didn’t quite fit in. I never really fit the bill. Sure, I delivered, I think I even over delivered on many occasions, But I was always a problem child.
I hope for your sake you feel this way too. While it can be uncomfortable at times, it is the muse trying really hard to tell you something, and that something is this:
You are an exotic bird.
Therefore you do not belong in a cage. Therefore your output (egg) is rare. It is possibly a different colour, size, shape and taste. It’s unusual, and so they don’t know how to deal with it. It is not what they expect, and they panic and don’t know how to cook it, or sell it. If they did, they might realise your eggs are worth much more money in the right market. But chances are they’d rather sell the same eggs, to the same people they sold to yesterday. You’ve laid some of these eggs over time, but it turned you inside out…. It wasn’t really you, even though you proved you could do it. When you showed them your natural exotic output, they didn’t want it. Instead they wanted the same eggs being laid by everyone, everyday. They just wanted more of them, and at a cheaper price than yesterday.
If this feels like you, you’re not alone. And if you do manage to escape the coop, and find, or better still, build the right nest, know it will be worth the effort. Exotic birds get paid a lot more for their eggs once they are in the right environment. But in the wrong environment, they are just seen as defects.
‘Just some yellow rope’ – read the dialogue below between Raul and a commenter on youtube.
There are two clear points for me here.
- Be like Ross – pay attention. Lessons are everywhere.
- The solutions are almost always simpler than they seem.
Podcasting is back baby – and this time it’s bigger than ever. It seems as though after an initial flurry in the early web 2.0 era that people have rediscovered podcasting. Quite possible driven by quicker 3g downloads, smart phones and bigger data limits? – who knows. Let’s face it we can’t always give our eyeballs up while we are busy, but our ears can take in some vital information while working, exercising and doing pretty much anything.
Well some local Melbourne Startup Techie Business nerds have got together to share some insights once a week based on our own little journeys. We like to call it Beers Blokes & Business. A simple format really. We get together on a monday night, one of the blokes buys an interesting beer, we crack one open, he tells us why he chose it, and then we get into the business topic of the day. But it is always full strength banter.
The suspects are usual and include:
Sean Callanan (the founding father)
babyface Josh Rowe
You can click on this link to follow the ‘blokes’ on twitter and see more about our backgrounds. Each podcast includes 3 or 4 of the blokes depending on who is available that night.
So far we have published three of our podcasts and have hit the global top 100 for business podcasts on iTunes. So, the world is voting and they are feeling the banter. The really refreshing element is that it is not a mutual love fest and we all keep each other grounded with some classic sledging.
The three podcasts topics so far are:
#BBB 1. Self Learning – which was inspired by the tweet below:
#BBB 2. Build your network -
#BBB 3. Manage that side project -
They typically go for 40 mins in 2 x 20 minute parts. Idea for the commute or while exercising or in the gym. So be sure to add it to your podcast list on itunes here >>> click here for #BBB goodness. Actually the description on iTunes is pretty funny but I can’t take credit for it.
So have a listen and be sure to let me know what you think, and if you have any topic ideas leave them in the comment.
I was recently in Perth for and presented at the Agile Perth MeetUp. The presentation I gave was entitled the 200 year shift. It’s a ‘living’ presentation which I’ve been working on for around 7 years – and it explores the end of the industrial era and the transition into a digital age. An age where most every industry is up for grabs as the rules are reinvented and barriers to entry are entirely evaporating.
I was totally thrilled when local UX legend Gary Barber did a live sketch of the concepts I was sharing. As is by séance Gary managed to visualise all my words into exactly what was in my head. He then shared the results on Flickr and posted in his twitter stream. What is amazing is that he did it all live, and some the the pieces I spoke about for a mere minute, and yet he managed to capture the essence. I later found out that he has a habit of creating such cool visuals. A picture of it is below. But before you have a look at it, here is a simple idea:
Next time you are running an event or conference with thought leading ideas: Get Gary on board to draw up some live info graphs for everyone to take home and remember what they learned, to pin on their offices walls, and just appreciate the power of thought and poignant art work.
Nice job Gary – and thanks!
In what seems like a century ago I built and launched one of the first peer to peer websites – rentoid.com
In order to build the site, I outsourced the coding on a site called oDesk. This site and others of its ilk are a great entrepreneurial equaliser – for they reduce the barriers to entry. Not just in terms of price for the services, but also by allowing non techies gain access to techie services. They also allow eco systems to flourish across international borders. But they have an added benefit… a real benefit which isn’t spoken about all that often.
They facilitate an important cultural exchange.
Meet Vasilii Racovitsa – Pictured below – sharing a meal with me in my home. Doesn’t seem like such a big deal…
… Until you know that I first met Vasilii via oDesk as a freelanc web developer back in 2007. And that Vasilii was born during the cold war in the old USSR in a province called Moldova. [Moldova is now an independent country] While the relationship with Vasilii started as a commercial one, it is much more than that now. In fact, it has been much more than that for many years… he is a dear friend and business confidant for whom I want family and financial success as much as I want it for myself. But I just met him in real life for the first time last week.
Besides the fact that he made my first web play rentoid.com come to life, he also taught me more about technology than anyone else. The truth is that the lower labour rates in Eastern Europe allowed me to arbitrage my way into techie / startup land. But most people falsely believe that lower labour rates in developing economies are a one way street. The the people in developed economies are the only beneficiaries, and that we ‘take advantage’ of those in less developed markets. In truth we’ve both benefitted dramatically. Through my local connections Vasilii now generates more that 50% of his business from Melbourne, a mere 14,854km from Moldova. Which is why he is here. He is here on a large project totally independent of me. A project which dwarfs anything he ever did for me. But it was facilitated through the network I was introduced him to. What’s more interesting is that his business employs more people in Moldova than rentoid ever did here in Melbourne. And his development team now work in every form of coding / language / mobile dev you can think of.
Since he’s been here, it is like hanging out with a long lost relative. He’s just like the guy I used to speak to every day on skype… Which is a great reminder that the on-line and real world should only ever be pre-ambles to each other – seamlessly interchangeable.
I’m keen to introduce him to everyone in our local startup community who likes to meet amazing, smart, helpful people. In the time and multiple projects I’ve worked with him on, he has never once gone over budget and always delivered to spec. Put simply, he keeps his promises.
This week I’ve shipped him into the abode of big Scott Kilmartin, who he has also done some work for. But if you’re keen to offer:
“a bed for beta”
“divan for development”
“a cot for code”
“a hammock for HTML”
…or a simple welcome to someone from our global community, then just let me know.
While the tools this digital revolution have provided us are amazing, it’s the connection to our world that we should be truely thankful for.
I went for a run today and some ideas popped into my head. Every time I exercise I get new ideas (to me anyway) – they just come from no where. Non blog post micro ideas today, but possible bigger post ideas tomorrow. Rather than lose them, I thought I’d document them. Here they are:
- What goes in and out of our mouth determines how long we live, and how much we earn. The former excludes unintended accidents like being run over by a bus.
- People say that you need to be a go getter to find success. I feel like we need to be go givers. It feels back to front.
- Luxury is in a constant state of evolution. Luxury is both relative to the human condition and relative to our own circumstances. What I find a luxury at a given point in time rarely endures for me. (my current favourite is sleep)
- What we do after 10pm has a bigger impact on our tomorrow than what we do during business hours.
- Evolution is a tactical process, rather than a strategic one. Tactics of trial and error executed quickly or consistently over a long period of time yield better results than arduous planning. Most great strategies are written in hindsight to describe what happened, rather than what was planned.
- The depth and wealth of the eco system has a bigger impact on the well being of the cell, than the make up of the cell itself does.
- When it comes to business management, the hard stuff is soft and the soft stuff is hard.
- Time is the biggest investment we can make, because it’s the only one that can’t be earned back. Hence true wealth is measured in time not dollars.
- Many great inventions (including the wheel in some regions) started as kids toys. So why do many organisations have fun police on staff? I am now wondering if there a list of practical inventions which started as kids toys?
- Why do so many companies who are under threat from the emerging digital landscape forget the first lesson in economics, the law of supply & demand? Eg: Local Australian newspapers seemed to forget that supply of news is now omnipresent. Price is a function of availability, so people wont pay for average and undifferentiated content.
- The two types of investments we can make are time & money, most people never get to the second type because they don’t put in enough of the first type.
- We are all entrepreneurs, but some people only have 1 big and important client (an employer). We’d all do better if we regarded all income as a part of the entrepreneurial process than a wage based one.
There were more, but this is all I can remember.
If we ask any well know brand who their major competitors are the answers are reasonably predictable. It’s those brands who have that other part of the market share pie. This is what we all got taught during marketing class, and it made sense in the AC Nielsen TV ratings market share industrial era. The problem is that it makes a lot less sense as we transition to the digital age. An age where incumbents are constantly being exposed on the flanks, rather than by direct competitors. If we went back and asked a number of industrial world businesses who their main competitors were, the story becomes much clearer:
Kodak: At first it was Fuji & Agfa, closely followed by Cannon and Nikon…. but really in the end their nemesis came from a different planet. The planet of Apple, Google, Instagram and Facebook. What is Facebook really other than a Kodak moment 2.0?
Encyclopedia Britannica: Clearly World Book and later Encarta, the CD ROM based delivery by Microsoft. But in the end it was you and me who provided more accurate data on the subject of ‘everything’ as we populated both Google and Wikipedia. We turned out to be more accurate, more timely and we came at everyone’s favourite price – free!
Free to Air Television: First became very worried about movie rental stores (VHS, DVD) followed by cable TV. While now their real worry is the other screens in the home as Netflix, Youtube and Pirate Bay eat their lunch.
There are of course an unlimited number of examples with the same story.
But the lessons in a period of technological transition are two fold.
Incumbents: If your company or brand is in a battle defending revenue and market share from industry players, you’re focusing on the wrong area.
Entrepreneurs: If you’re aiming to disrupt an industry that has intense and focused market share battles, you’re focusing on the right area.
Startup Blog says: In times of transition, it pays to look to the sides instead of straight ahead.
I truly believe that the perception of the genius is a problem. But rather than rant, I thought I’d give my own version of it. I call it the genius equation:
Genius = Above average natural talent in specific area X sustained effort in that area.
The clue is really in the word – the etymology of the word genius includes: person of natural intelligence or talent. Of which I believe we all have one at least one.
So the real consideration is this – Not whether you’ve got one, but whether you let it slide?