Wallets and brains have a curious relationship. We can often choose between the two to solve a problem. But what’s most interesting is what happens after that choice. If we neglect our mind and go straight to the wallet, both usually stay empty. When we use the mind first, both usually end up with more in them.
I really like sharing my ideas with groups of people – so much so that I often get up on stage in front of large groups of people to to do this. After doing it for the best part of 10 years (usually in local startup events & for friend who work at large corporates) I started to get offered money to speak at events. Which is quite exciting. It’s a classic example of the wood chips generating a significant revenue stream on their own. I’ve recently starting working with an agency to help me manage my speaking engagements. Again, these guys came to me through others who recommended me as a potential source of revenue to them – apparently I give good voice.
When we talked about how the agency thing works for their speakers the issue of commission came up. Surprisingly I was advised that I could pick my preferred commission to give to them. I could chose to give the agency a lower percentage commission if I wanted. I could give a commission of 10, 20 or 30 percent. I chose 30 percent. My dad once told me the easiest way to make money is to help other people do the same. To create a deal where there is enough in it for the other guy that they go to work for you. So I took his advice.
The principal of the agency then told me it was a good decision and that most people take more and but end up with less.
Recently I’ve been exploring the hardware space, especially now I’m deeply involvement in Tomcar Australia – a startup which builds cars.
I’ve become more focused on what we can learn in the web / software / mobile space, and apply it to the hardware space – startups which build actual physical things or any non digital kinda startup. Turns out much of it applies, especially given the open access technology and connected society has provided. I’ve recently written a couple of posts for the good people of Pollenizer on this subject.
This post – Beyond the screen – How non software companies can out learn the competition.
and this post – Hero 1 killer feature – How GoPro came from behind the technology curve. The stuff you don’t know about how GoPro got to where it is.
I think they’re both great posts for anyone involved in non screen stuff.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Tune in and look forward to chatting.