Start Up Blog

The 3 directions pulling on us

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 17, 2014

There are always three forces pulling on us which have a significant impact on our future.

Backwards – the pull of the past, the regrets, the waste, the mistakes and our history. The negative thoughts that tell us we’re not smart enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not connected enough, not disciplined enough. These are thoughts which steal our dreams by convincing us that it isn’t going to happen for us because of pattern of events which have already happened. They pull us backwards.

Sideways – these are the distractions which steal our short term focus and attention from what we should be doing. Our digital lives are full of these and can force us into a pattern of collecting dots instead of joining them.

Forwards – this is the pull that matters – the direction we want to take, and must take if we want to our hopes to come true. Maintaining a forward trajectory is best aided by having a deep purpose. Purposes gives us the tenacity to find the discipline needed. We must have and remind ourselves of our purpose frequently to ensure ‘forwards’ wins the battle of the 3 directions.

The future, which is forward, is going arrive anyway – it’s best we get there by facing in the right direction while the time elapses.

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Virtual Classroom

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 16, 2014

The thing that we are fortunate with today, is that it is easy to catch up. If we haven’t been paying attention to the world we make our living in, someone usually has been. And of those people who have been paying attention, these days they are often generous enough to share what they’ve seen. If we’ll take the time to invest a few minutes with a sharp mind, they can teach us what took them years to uncover themselves. I recently happened upon two Youtube videos which do just that – albeit in different ways.

Then & Now

This keynote from Seth Godin is the best I’ve seen from him. It really is a master class in how to do a keynote. It provides the most compelling story about our exit from the industrial era and shift to the connection economy. If by chance you’ve not noticed the structural shifts in our economy in the past 20 years, this 55 minute mind boggle will get you up to speed. Given you’re a reader of this blog and that can’t possibly be true, please share the link with someone who you think will find value in it. Click here to watch.

Tomorrow

Tim O’Reilly is one of the great philosophers of our time. He knows how to see, he notices the long play, more than most I think. I often just type his name into Youtube and the word ‘interview’ after it. I then sort the Youtube search result by date to get most recent content. Every time I do this I find an astounding interview with him which provides deep and profound insight. That’s what I did yesterday and I found this gem. A discussion about the maker movement, and evolution in the web of things. The stuff that is coming in our technology world. Really leading edge thinking:  Click here to watch. (or listen as this has no important visuals)

In today’s world we can know anything, on demand from the worlds best thinkers. It’s the first time in human history this has been possible. There aren’t really any excuses for a lack of knowledge in our topics of interest. These days knowing or not knowing, has little to do with access and a lot more to do with effort.

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Don’t create what you ran away from

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 15, 2014

I’m betting that everyone reading this blog, either works in a business they helped build, or is planning to escape their corporate cubicle some time real soon. And the people who are planning exit from the big nasty industrial conglomerate they work for, are planning, most often – build a corporation. (Sounds a lot uglier than the word ‘startup’ – doesn’t it?)

Ok, so the irony is clear.

But the way to overcome the irony is to remember why we left our job / company in the first instance. It probably wasn’t because we weren’t earning a decent income. It probably wasn’t because our standard of living was too low. It probably wasn’t because working conditions were unsafe. No, it was about the culture, the excessive administration, the frustrations, the lack of creative input and the dehumanising elements which so often ensconce a large corporate environment. And so here’s what we need to remember:

If we succeed in building our own version of a ‘corporation’ people like us will someday come and work inside it. They too have the same desires and requirements in order to enjoy their work day. They too, will hope to leave someday and make their own version of a corporation. Given all of this, it’s best we remember not to create the thing we ran away from.

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When something bad is good

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 14, 2014

Today I was lucky enough to record a Beers Blokes & Business podcast with Wil Anderson – about funny business.  Turns out the business side of comedy has a lot of similarity with entrepreneurship. Comedians are, certainly in their early days – solopreneurs.  Wil was amazingly honest and generous with his insights and story, but there was one thing in particular which stood out to me. While I can’t remember the quote verbatim – it went something like this.

Some people are not lucky enough to hate their job. Their job is not quite bad enough for them to pack it in and leave. So they get stuck there doing something they don’t like for years. They miss their chance.

My interpretation – this is one time when hating is good. If you’re in a job you hate – remember sometimes it’s the pure pain and divine discontentment which is really required to take the leap. You can listen to the entire podcast here: Funny Business with Wil Anderson

You can subscribe to our Beers Blokes and Business podcast right here. But more importantly be sure to go see his Comedy Festival show Wiluminati.

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Forging ahead

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 11, 2014

When we are forging our own path in life and in business, doubt is the key enemy. It’s even bigger than fear. The reason it is a serious enemy is because doubt always happens before fear does. So when we sense self doubt, we need to fight it and forge ahead, or fear might just take hold. We must ensure we don’t stop what we are doing. We need to keep writing, keep coding, keep building, keep creating and just keep doing whatever it is we ought be doing.

Even when we are not sure of the next steps. Even when we can’t see where we are going – we must continue to move ahead. It’s a bit like walking in the fog – the path only reveals itself if we continue walking. If we instead stand still, nothing is revealed

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Clues in childhood

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 4, 2014

I was recently thinking about the various activities I’ve been interested in as I grew up. Not just the passing fads, but the stuff that really inspired me to levels of near obsession for a solid period of time. Things which entered my life and created large chunks of pure happiness and exploration. And now that I look back on them they all have elements which are related. Both from what makes me tick and even my career trajectory.

Kids stuff - When I look at the 3 things I was obsessed with while growing up, in hindsight they are all very similar.

BMX, Break Dancing and Surfing: All sliding across the surface of things, fluid movements which involve an elements of acrobatics. All have their own subculture, community, and even a specific style of dress. All individual sports – but yet often done along side groups of friends who also enjoy it. All of them arrived as a new-ish thing, rather than being activities with long histories.

I feel like this is very telling about me as a person. If consider the work I do today, it is much like this. I like new projects, startups, technology, writing. I work both independently, but along side others. I like exploring new territory and being at the edge of emerging culture – I’ve mostly worked in marketing and advertising.

I think if we look back at our own ‘history of interests’ we’ll be able to find a pattern about what makes us tick. Our kids stuff is probably also what our adult stuff ought be. What we like to do metaphorically might even provide some clues as to whether our next startup project is suited to our true selves.

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Live chat today

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 3, 2014

Blog posts are awesome. When you find an entry that answers just the problem you’ve just been facing in business or life. But every now and again what we actually need is a very short direct answer to a sticky question. Right?

So today I’ll be doing a live Q & A on your questions on twitter with the good people of Business Victoria.  The general topic is generating new business. However, feel free to shoot me any Q related to your startup as well.

It is today at 2pm EST time Australia and on twitter under my handle @sammartino and on the hashtag #chatbv

Tune in and look forward to chatting.

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Startup Honesty

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 1, 2014

Old school, and still cool, business coach Brain Tracy has an important question we should ask ourselves:

“What type of company, would my company be, if everyone in it, were just like me?”

Now, on the face of it it seems like a simple prose. How hard do we work, what kind of effort do we put in, how do we treat people and would we like others to behave the way we do. Honest answers to this question can be revealing. And it’s a damn good question to ask ourselves frequently.

But it goes one layer deeper. When we bring in new people to our startup, do we really need more people like ourselves? Do we really want another person who thinks like we do, acts like we do, has the same skills that we do and approaches things in the same manner? Or do we really need someone who is juxtaposed to ourselves?

The real challenge here is knowing where the similarities and differences are needed. And while that is a decision that only the startup founder can decide here’s a nice starting point: Alignment of philosophy and attitude is far more important than that of capability and aptitude.

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Saving your best work

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 31, 2014

If you, like me earn your living through intellectual or emotional labour (read you don’t lift heavy things) then it’s easy to mistake the former for the latter. It’s easy to think there is a physical limit in our output capabilities, that there are only so many intellectual calories available to be burnt. And because of this we should probably save ourselves, just a little. Play it on the safe side so we still have some brain juice left for the important moment, the moment that really matters.

I used to think that too. But here’s what I found. The more I do, the more I can do. The more creative output I have, the more creative output I come up with. It feels like (at least to me personally) that the more I do, the more I receive back from the creative process. As if there is a creativity multiplier effect. I was was recently scrambling to finish the manuscript for my first book. During the process I was worried that blogging might interfere with the thoughts available for the book. I thought I should save my best work. I didn’t want to waste words on the non vital project. But what I found towards the end, was that the more I wrote the more I had. I just started pumping out the blog entries anyway, and on these days I had the largest and most prolific output for the book. It was counter intuitive to me.

The lessons for me is clear, the more we create, the more we can create. And as far as modern day work goes, it’s important we don’t confuse our physical limitations with our creative possibilities.

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Every success is strategic

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 29, 2014

Or is it?

Whenever a person or a company succeeds there is no shortage of post analysis on why the strategy was so clever. Why what they did worked, and how clever the people behind it were. And I’d say most time the people behind it are clever. But what I’m wondering is how much of it was planned, on strategy and predictable before any of it happened.

If we look at the history of science, very few of our discoveries started on paper, or in the lab. What was far more common was something actually happened which surprised and delighted. The people behind the discovery, or even those around it, then re-tested what happened to build a theory to describe it – or in business terms, a story that described what happened in the form of a strategy.

I’m pretty sure this is most often the case in business. For every new company, or game changing innovation there are probably a thousand or more failures of others trying to do the same thing. But these failures rarely get written about, only the success stories. And these success stories are always told post success – who wants to hear about failures anyway?

This tells us much about startup strategy. And what it tells us is that strategy is often an illusion. It’s a post rationalisation of what happened – the reverse engineering of business enlightenment. Where the real value is unlocked in business, is entering a realm where value needs to be created, and implementing a set of behaviours that lead to momentum and serendipity. This is a more accurate description of how a “pre success” strategy is landed upon.

In a world of rapid change we are better off letting events shape the opportunity, rather than trying to shoe horn our idea into a perceived market trajectory.

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