Finding the connections

I’ve recently happened upon a terrific documentary series from the 1970’s – which is up there with the best I’ve seen. It’s a series entitled Connections and was hosted by Science Historian James Burke.

In short the series is about the connections humans have been able to make with observations, science, mistakes and ideas. And how this has largely resulted in the civilized world we all enjoy today. While I’m sure all my readers like kinda nerdy stuff which this is, the reason I’m sharing it goes beyond that. This series is the greatest example I have seen of humans and our relationships with entrepreneurship. How our entrepreneurial nature has made us what we are. But the thing that really stuck in my mind was how technology is never about technology. It’s about discovery and putting all the pieces together in a new and interesting way. A timely reminder for the revolution we are living through right now.

You can watch the entire series here. Enjoy!

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Spend money on these things:

Was thinking about this laying in bed last night. The things we should never think twice about spending investing money on.

Mainly because they make us and life better and they build on our entrepreneurial foundations. Here’s my top 10 list.

  1. Books
  2. Clothing
  3. Education
  4. Insurance
  5. Medicine
  6. Health Care
  7. Car maintenance
  8. Shouting a friend (Meal or a drink)
  9. Healthy Food
  10. Childrens well being

What’s on your list?

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Don’t do your homework

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the most important thing I have ever not done, is my homework at school. Most of grade school and high school, I basically didn’t do my homework. I knew it was due the next day. I worried a little, but not enough to actually do it.

While other kids were doing their homework after school, I was out playing with the other kids, getting up to mischief. Riding my BMX, playing games (footy, cricket, building tree houses etc). I can home late, often. Mum would yell at me and I had to think of an excuse as to why I was late. I would have to provide at least some kind of creative response. Then after dinner I’d be too tired to do my homework. So I’d promise myself I’d get up early and do it in the morning. When morning arrived I’d be too tired to do it then either… In short the homework would rarely get done. Almost never. When I got to school, the same charade would occur. That is, me thinking of creative reasons why my homework was not getting done. Firstly to the teachers to try and avoid an after school detention. Again later, explaining to my mother why I ‘had’ an after school detention. In hindsight it was all a little stressful. Thinking on my feet for answer. Answers I didn’t have at such a young age, with little fast thinking experience.

Turns out this was a pretty good career move, or even ‘life skill’.

In the end, years of being naughty, taught me how to do something far more valuable than having high grades in senior school. It taught me how to think on my feet and how to present to an audience that wants answers. But it also did a lot more than that. Eventually it showed me how to read the play on different peoples reactions to bad news, that rules could be broken if you could sell an alternative.

It even goes a little deeper when I think it through….

I wasn’t just watching TV when I wasn’t doing said homework. I was out in the street playing. Building things with other kids. Under taking projects, playing games and interacting. Doing real things with real people. Operating in ‘live’ human environments, where the results, in this case the ‘fun’, was based on my ability to motivate other kids and organize them. All this, rather than spending my after school day light hours memorizing a bunch I’ve crap that someone had deemed it important for me to regurgitate in some test.

And now as the years have passed I’m reasonably certain that the key to any success I’ve had in life has been due to my ability to influence people. I’m also pretty sure that not doing my homework was where it all started.

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Top 10 things more valuable than post graduate studies

I teach marketing part time at Melbourne University, and many students come and ask me about what they should do in their post graduate studies. I tell them that post graduate studies are useless unless you want to be an academic or scientist. So here’s a top 10 list of things to do instead of post graduate studies which will make you more learned, more employable and a better entrepreneur:

  1. Learn a language (Mandarin or Spanish would be my recommendation)
  2. Start a blog (on the area you want to be an expert in)
  3. Master the art of public speaking
  4. Make your home Eco friendly
  5. Mentor someone
  6. Read one non fiction book per month on a new topic
  7. Learn a musical instrument
  8. Learn to grow food
  9. Renovate something (car, dinning setting, local park, house, tree house, anhything that can be renovated)
  10. Do a part time startup business.

The reason suggestions are more valuable than post graduate studies is that they create wide perspective, most post graduate studies narrow perspective. We are entering the age of symphony, where the real value in life and business is created by our ability to make commercial music from seemingly unrelated topics and ideas. Broadening your horizons will make you a better conductor of the symphony, or at very least give you some very interesting stories to share with those you want to do projects with.

Add your better than more ‘formal’ studies idea in the comments.

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Self taught

With the exceptions of reading and writing, all of the most important things I know (and can do for that matter) have been 100% self taught.

Marketing, Public speaking, Entrepreneurship, Motivating others, Creative writing, Financial Investing, Surfing, Gardening / Growing vegetables, Weight training, Riding a bicycle…. everything.

I think the best way to learn is by paying attention and being curious. Which always leads me to observing others, reading and getting out there and having a go at things.

Observe, Read, Try. Repeat.

That’s it. I find that when the desire is there, the rest comes easy. Which is why I’ve always done much better at everything outside of my schooling. Things for which I had real desire. The unfortunate thing about this ingredient, is that it is removed from most of the development & selection programs in modern society. Instead, we say ‘Rote learn this’, then we might let you do something you care about. One great example is that Architecture University studies require physics as a prerequisite, and yet Architecture studies don’t involve physics, and architects never do the engineering function in building.

Startup blog advice: Don’t let a terrible system, reduce belief in your own capabilities. The stuff that kept you out, you didn’t really care about anyway. It was a rule built by someone else to protect themselves. If you forge ahead and teach yourself, the right people will notice. They will come searching for you because they understand not just the importance of what your know, but the value of how you went about learning it.

Building your personal brand

One of the sections at Startup School is building personal brands. Which are of increasing importance in the entrepreneurial sphere. Once upon a time our business reputation built a personal brand. Recently things have flipped somewhat where our personal brands are used to build our business ones. Jay Z style… It just so happens that it works on a micro level as well.

Build a personal reputation, as a smart, caring,  and giving person in this new business context (or have some hit song and Hip Hop wars) and you’ll be on the way to building an external financial brand.

So here’s some nuggets from Startup School to get excited about:

Startup School