I’m a slow learner. It’s rare that I fully understand things the first time I hear about it. This might even sound ridiculous, but some things I first heard about in primary school and secondary school I’m just starting to comprehend now as a middle age man. Political, social and philosophical lessons I got front teachers, family and friends. I really think that our brains work super hard on everything, all the time, in the back ground while we are busy with the stuff of life.
I had one of these moments yesterday. I was reading this article on bitcoin, which was discussing the genius behind the Blockchain method, referring to the back end complexities and how it might provide a model for a more independent peer to peer based internet. (Well, that’s what I think it was about). The point is that half way through the article, I was like – wow, most of this stuff is way over my head – it must be for smart techie head coding types. But I read it to the end. I’ll probably read it again, and I’ll read the other articles it links to inside of it….. Maybe I’ll understand it in a few years. The point is I’ll leave that to the smart parts of my brain I don’t have personal access to – the secret bits it keeps Steve outside of. I’m sure it’ll come up with something if I leave it alone.
In complex times, this is type of situation is set to become more common. Times when our initial understanding is vague. We shouldn’t let it discourage us. We shouldn’t let it make us give up and stop reading or trying to comprehend it. What we ought do instead, is trust that what we need to know will reveal itself, so long as continue to take in the data and we are patient.
I happened upon 5 things in the past few days – all of which had a certain something. Most of these came from Dan Groch over lunch on Thursday. They inspired some thoughts. So here’s the 5 pieces & the thoughts they each inspired for me:
1. WorryDream – I can’t really explain this other than saying this guy is a genius with genius ideas. Have a wonder through it.
2. Bobby McFerrin plays the audience – Yes, that Bobby McFerrin. He does something so amazing and shows the power of non verbal communications. Wisdom of crowds and the importance of music. Very enjoyable to watch indeed.
3. The inner game of tennis – An amazing visual of how to remove complexity. The simplicity of instruction without thought. How we can actually let our body do the learning once we avoid over intellectualising everything. I’ll be using this technique while surfing and doing anything physical.
4. Digital feudalism and how to avoid it – This in my view is an incredible risk to our species. Shiny things and big brother control from brands we actually love. They’ve already teamed up with the NSA, and we are letting it happen. HT to Josh McDonald for this one.
5. Powerful ideas about ideas – Alan Kay demonstrates some new teaching methods.
Again another reminder that a cheap laptop and the internet are all we need to know all we desire. And I’ll leave you with this simple fact: Anyone who has access to the internet, has more information at their disposal than the US President did just 10 years ago.
I’ve been thinking about a few different projects I’d like to do. Which at this stage have no real revenue or business associated with them, other than I find them interesting. I thought I’d list them here to see if anyone has similar crazy ‘just because’ projects. Maybe these fun crazy things are what we should be doing and building, instead of working out what other people want. Maybe the thing that really matters is what we want. Either way here they are;
- Take a year to fly to every commercial Airport in the world – without a break. yes, including living in planes and airports for a full 12 months. Document it and what happens for some reason. Find interesting stuff and people. See what happens. Film it. Socialize it on live digital media. Find something no one has ever thought of or seen. Just because.
- Live for a year only on food that is grown at home. Vegetables and animals. Cook using only wood and home made ovens. Every bit of food that goes in my mouth I will have grown, baked, killed cooked and created. Document it all. Just because.
- Walk around the entire coastline of Australia. Beach by beach, headland by headland. 25,760 km’s of it. Learn something. Document it…. Just because.
- Make a short film. Without any false ambitions of becoming the next Tarantino. Just to create. Be part of it. Just because.
- Renovate a house. Yes, a totally dilapidated 100 year old timber home. To see what my eye and hands can really make when they collaborate. Build a house my family can live in, be safe in, grow together in. Take time out and do this. A non Grand Design for me and my people. Just because.
- Start a cult. Just to see if we can make a positive one. A cult of good. To see if I could lead people in such a way that they live for the cause, but to flip it. To make the cause about fixing broken shit in the world….Like the banking system and the 1%. Just because.
- Be a used car salesman. mainly because I think it would be really, really hard. To see how I could sell in a difficult environment. To test my skills, and see what I could learn to take into my future. To be the most untrusted person in the commercial world. To be that guy. The be that guy and see how I handle myself and what I become. Just because.
- Coach A little league team. Pass on some skills, about the game, and maybe about life. Teach some youngsters stuff that matters – have am impact on their attitude without them even knowing. See how it feels to help out the people who will inherit our world. Just because.
- Live in a tropical paradise. Mainly to remove the myth or confirm it. A place where little money is needed, the weather is always warm and technology and financial growth are irrelevant. Find out out if the picture of paradise is real or perceived. Stay forever if it is real. Just because.
- Join a street gang. A real underworld style gang. Think East L.A. Get dirty and down and be part of something bigger than me that is from the opposite side of town. Learn their rules and play by them. Deal, steal and destroy. See if the emotional roller coaster is the same, or different. See if I like it more or less. Understand the plight and political machinations of a crime organization from the inside. Draw the analogies and comparisons to the legal world – find out the truth. Just because.
Sometimes we need to embark on startup projects, that aren’t really startups…. Just because.
Junk mail is not named correctly. It should be called Research Mail, Zeitgeist Mail or something much more complementary.
Here’s a list of great things it does:
- It tells us what people think they can sell
- It tells us the price of things, probably our competitors
- It tells us who can afford to advertise
- It tells us the economic conditions of the day via the discounts made
- It display the advances in technology
- It tells us what’s hot
- It keeps us in touch with the business environment more than the Wall Street Journal does
It’s an entrepreneurs best friend. Startup blog says read your junk mail.
I’ve had to very quickly pull together a social media straetgy for a project I am working on. The timeline I had was a few hours. I’m certain that only due to the fact that I’ve been an avid blogger for a few years was I able to meet the deadline. Blogging creates great habits. It forces us to consider our chosen topic deeply and regularly. (startups & marketing in my case) It forces us to respond to our ideas quickly, to trust their value and publish them anyway, before tomorrow comes. It’s a personal newspaper and our readers want to know what’s new everyday. They’re not looking for perfection, but inspiration.
Whatver we do, are interested in and regardless of our industry, blogging is a must for those of us wanting to get better and faster.
I teach Marketing At Melbourne University on a part time basis. One of the things I try to do is stretch my students thinking beyond the traditional marketing arenas. It seems every week we are going through another consumer goods example, or the car industry and lately social media. This week I tried something different and I had a massive fail.
The task was for students to pick a market dominated by 2 brands, and to discuss the points of partity and difference, and how the brand communications and positioning vary. After the students gave me the expected brands:
Herald Sun vs the Age
Facebook vs Myspace
Coke vs Pepsi
Nike vs Addidas
I thought I”d mix it up and asked the group to discuss Capitalism vs Communism.
In the first instance I had to convince the students they were actually brands, and it didn’t improve much from there. The idea fell on deaf ears. It was so far outside of their expectations on what marketing is (consumer goods, shiny products and TV advertising) that they lost interest. I ended up spending the remaining 45 minutes of the tutorial explaining why they are both brands which are managed exactly the same way corporations manage them. It was meant to be a discussion. I failed.
After the initial disappointment and embarrassment wore off, I was pretty happy with it. I’m glad I tried to stretch the students. I’m glad I tried something different, and maybe next week, their minds will be more open.
Startup blog says: Fail with pride.
This blog is an example of compound effort. Yes, just like interest, effort compounds too. In the 4 years I’ve been writing it every month the readership has increased. With no real marketing of the blog. Just good solid writing, be open and honest, sharing insights, and letting the wondrous SEO of wordpress do the rest on Google for me. A few things worth considering if you’re into blogging and want to build an audience.
- I have written 1 blog entry for every day this blog has been live. Consistency and frequency matter.
- Every entry is on the same topic. Startups and Entrepreneurship. I stay focused by having one of these two words in every entry.
- I love the topic my blog is about. I find it fascinating and would still write it if nobody was reading.
- 70% of my traffic is Long Tail, which means that every entry increases my total traffic flow.
- It taught me more about digital media and the internet that anything else I have done.
Of all things I have done in my career writing this blog has generated the most value. It has documented my thoughts, improved my thinking, built discipline, created a reputation, generated media coverage for rentoid, launched me as a business journalist in other business magazines, it places me number 1 in Google searches for the term startup blog in every country in the world and has built friendships and helped others.
If you read this blog regularly you are among 70,000 other people every month. So you’re in good company. Thanks for reading.