A cold call is an unplanned warm call

Cold hands

Cold calls are something we’ve all done. It’s hard, uncomfortable and sometimes it even works. They must work or they wouldn’t happen. But here’s the thing, a cold call is really an unplanned warm call. So, how do you warm up a call that would normally be cold? It’s pretty easy – invest a bit of time in the person you intend to call.

Read & comment on their blog.

Retweet their cool tweets.

Download their podcast

Buy and use their product and evangelise it.

Get involved in their digital output.

Attend their events.

In short, make sure they know your name before you call. Ensure they’ve seen you in their eco system . You can even remind them what you’ve done to support their work in the early stages of a phone call, or the first few lines of an email. If we do this, the law of reciprocity sets in – it at least becomes a conversation. Startup founders need to invent conversations, and make real connections.

So what if this cold call is one of those ones where it isn’t really possible to do any of the above? Well, you shouldn’t really be making the call, should you?

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Orwell wasn’t wrong, just early

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of George Orwell, but have you heard of Roy Amara? Amara was a scientist and futurist who made an interesting observation regarding technology.

Roy Amara

Amara’s law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

Turns out George was right, but the information kept on us is almost infinite and more extreme than he had imagined. There’s a number of other technologies bubbling along which some people might be questioning, the IoT and 3D printing come to mind. But when you 3D print a smart phone in 20 years, never pay for energy in 5 years and do something I can’t even image in 10 – you can remember this post.

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The fragmentation of energy

It is super interesting how the changing inputs of one industry, can have a disruptive effect on another industry.

Mobile phones and laptops created the need for smaller more efficient batteries. We moved from Nickel in the 1980’s and 1990’s, then to Lithium Ion in the smart phone era. The batteries eventually became good enough to use on electric cars. It took silicon valley to notice this. And now that battery technology is being used to store solar energy in households. Renewables have always had a problem with storage and finally, the energy storage problem is getting close to being solved. When I say solved, I mean that the total cost of setting up power generation and storage off grid, is competitive with buying electricity the old fashion way. If we jump to another more efficient technology, which we usually do,  (the current candidate is Zinc Bromide Gel), we could all move off the grid within 5 years.

I know this sounds crazy, I know it is hard to believe that your days of paying for electricity could be over, but this is the law of accelerating returns in action. New advances are arriving quicker than our linear minds can comprehend. All our energy for our electric cars and households will come from the sun (the most direct fossil fuel) and we’ll store it at home. Bye bye grid, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

The energy grid

It’s another example of how technology fragments. The silver bullet is gone. Centralised business models are evaporating. The way it ‘was’ is not going be part of our economic future. What we’ve seen in the first 20 years of this revolution is production tools being handed over to the masses, disrupting the centralised model. The only way to maintain power and economic influence is to actually provide the tools of decentralisation to the end user. This is about to happen in energy.

In Australia we have 1.5 million households with solar panels. If all the energy they produce had in home storage, then this would already be a bigger energy source than the largest power plant in Australia. If we add the effect of Swanson’s law – solar panels 20% cost reduction as production doubles – then free energy will be as inevitable as free music was – only legal.

And this is where startups come in. Founders can see the truth in the future because they have no vested financial interest in the past. The biggest plays in technology disruption are yet to happen. It’s the start of the start, and what comes next is about to surprise everyone.

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Hello Startup

The Swedish Tourist Association have done something which is kinda genius. They’ve started a new hotline for anyone to call to get information about their country. It’s called Hello Sweden, and here’s the kicker: the calls are taken by random Swedes. I totally love how they trust their people. What an incredible, empowering and newsworthy idea. It took very little tech, a good dose of creativity and a whole lot of courage. You totally should drop what you’re doing and call the number below.

Hello Sweden

And here’s a cool video of the program.

So let’s take this idea to the next step, by stealing it. I’m sure the generous Swedes won’t mind. Why not get your customers / users of your startup be the ones who answer you incoming calls? Sounds too crazy for you I know. But seriously, I’m sure your brand evangelists would love doing it. And if you don’t have any or are scared what they might say, why? What does your startup have to fix before you’d consider it? Surely the goal should be having a business in which you’d trust your customers the same way Sweden trusts its populace?

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The Paradox of Capitalism

The video below features someone who understand human life, business and technology at such a deep level, I think many people might not believe what he has to say. I’ve read his most recent book – Zero Marginal Cost Society and it below my mind. It will change your life whether you read it or not. So there’s a cheats summary below in video format.

The basic premise is this: New technology is removing the marginal cost from society. That is, the cost of using things. Just look around you. Information is free, energy is on it way to becoming free, and many products are already free – your phone is one good example. It leads Jeremy Rifkin to the insight that capitalism has a fundamental flaw in it – the cost of things gets competed away to zero. He believes that an entire new economic system is about to emerge – In a world where technology is accelerating, this might happen much quicker than we imagine.

Watch this video of Jeremy below on big think, and have your mind blown. Then, have a big think about how it will affect the industry your startup intends on disrupting. Enjoy!


Low tech jobs in a high tech world

look alike robot

The robots are taking over. Seriously, they are. They are taking a lot of the crappy and dangerous jobs we’ve done in the past. They’re taking a few of the good ones too. So here’s a thought, why not try and own some robots? Maybe save some money with your robot – oh, like your phone which saves you buying music…

Here’s another thought experiment: If a person has $100 in their wallet, and instead of spending 30 of those dollars on a CD, where does the money go? Does it just evaporate? Of course not. Money doesn’t evaporate, it just changes places. It is relatively easy to see where it will dry up and where it will get invested instead. The transition is obvious to people who pay attention to the world they live in. Good news, that new place where old new money gets spent also has new new jobs associated with it – most will be low tech. They always are.

Here’s another little known fact – the worlds most profile tech company ‘Google’ is not the nerd nest of techies you think it is. More than half of its global workforce are sales people. Yep, that same person who would normally have sold TV ads, cars, vacuums, real estate and health insurance is now a sales person at Google.

Humans invent jobs as new industries and technologies emerge. We surround the new thing with people – it’s like a force of gravity. People aggregate around money and commerce. And yes, some good paying jobs do disappear, but some other high paying ones arrive too.

If you want to be on the high paying end of things, here’s what to do, go out and learn some new skills few people have, there are enormous skill gaps in the market today. And these skills are free to learn on line. Here’s a website I love called the ‘No Excuses List’ – which is full of things you can learn for free. Skills companies and people need today!  If you make the effort to reinvent yourself in times of great change, the prize is big, I know I’ve done it myself.

But of course there’s a catch, I can’t do your push ups for you.

Questions established companies must ask themselves


“How could our customers do this thing without us?”

“What can be removed from the process and still solve this problem?”

“How could this problem be solved without using a physical product?”

“What technology is likely to be introduced into our things?

“What will happen to prices of the thing we sell when more technology is introduced.?”

“What would a new entrant into this market likely do to meet customers needs?”

Once these questions are answered sufficiently and honestly, they ought go ahead and do these things. They are going to happen anyway aren’t they?

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