Heraclitus & startups

Heraclitus

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

These words were spoken by Greek Philosopher Heraclitus. I think we can all agree that what he has said can only be true.

Therefore:

No person can visit the same city twice

No person can have the same idea twice

No business can fail twice.

While a second attempt at a similar business venture may still fail, it was not the same business that failed. And it was not the same founders, regardless of their fingerprints.

The truth behind economics is people and culture, both of which are in a constant state of flux.  And while the past tells a story of what was, it doesn’t always tell the story of could be.

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The type of thinking needed in exponential times

Busy road with fumes

If you could choose a house on a busy road, or a quiet road in the same suburb, and price was not an issue, the choice is simple – the quiet road wins every time. And we all know why – less pollution, less noise, less danger. Oh, and quieter streets are usually nicer to look at. The prices of real estate reflect this. A house of similar quality on a busier road can be as much as 50% cheaper.

So here’s a question worth thinking about: What happens to those property prices when all cars have electric engines, and they don’t have tail pipes? You guessed it – there is almost no noise and no localised pollution. Surely then, the prices of houses in busy streets will go up and bridge the existing pricing gap somewhat. In the next 10 years significant amounts of money will be made in property by arbitraging the positive impact of electric cars.

It’s economic plays like this that are easy to see once we start thinking about the impact of the technology, and not the technology itself.

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Software is eating the world – and surfing

The picture below is of surfboard fins. These days they are not permanently attached to the surfboard, but screw in. This allows surfers to change fin sizes and shape for different surf, it also allows you to travel with out busting them.

3D Printed Surfboard fins

The fins on the left come from a company called FCS and they retail for $140. The fins on the right came off a 3D printer and cost exactly zero dollars, well maybe $3 in raw in materials. In general fins sell for between $100 and $200.

Sure the FCS fins on the left look fancy and are made from carbon fibre, the 3D printed versions above are various plastics, but in many ways they are better. I can print fins quickly and cheaply with varying degrees of flex. I can print fins with more flex at the top and less at the bottom, I can even add other technology to the fins like a GPS, to track my surfing without wearing a bulky watch. I can customise my design on my fins, the colour, create personal branding anything, sell my designs to other surfers….the options are endless, and the cost is negligible. That said, I can print fins in carbon fibres, light metals and pretty much any material I want.

It won’t be long before the days of buying expensive fins are over. 

These fin companies are less than 20 years old, and unless they facilitate 3D printing of their product, they’ll be disrupted – maybe me and my new surfing company Sneaky Surf. Mind you this company (FCS) was recently bought by Surf Stitch for $23.7 million. I hope they get their money back quick or it will be a classic diworsification. If they paid a 10 times price earning ratio, they’ll never get their money back. I reckon within 3 years no one will buy fins again.

If you make any widget like the example above, or buy them, then the time is now to move to 3D printed versions. You don’t even need to own a printer – there are plenty of startups on line who can print your designs for you and ship them to you customers. GO – this opportunity to dematerialise a category (like music was dematerialised) is big. We all know that software is eating the world – Make it happen in your industry.

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The those who can and those who teach lie

free guitar lesson

You’ve heard the saying ‘there are those who can, and those who teach.’ Well, this is the greatest hoax of all time, well, maybe not all time, but it is definitely a hoax.

I’ve known people who are the worlds greatest at something, and can’t teach it.

I’ve known people who can’t do it, but teach it better than anyone who has ever done it.

I’ve known people who can do it, and teach it just as well.

I’ve known people who can’t do, or teach – but for some reason try to do both. (avoid these people where possible).

Here’s the thing, doing and teaching are both important. Two different skill sets. Add to this that two different students might have a completely opposite experience learning from someone…. one might love a teaching method which the other hates.

Arbitrary statements of truth are the real problem here. What works for one person might not work for another. What we need to do, is be smart enough to make up our own minds and forget the cliches, especially when it comes to making personal connections.

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Why the ecosystem is more important than market share

tomato

The caterpillar hidden in a tomato from my garden is great news for me as the gardener. While it’s one less tomato to eat, the presence of this little creature is enhancing the ecosystem I’m trying to build. I’ll put that tomato back into the ground. There’ll be more bugs, and butterflies which will make my soil more fertile. In turn they’ll help pollenate the flowers for next season, and they’ll be more tomatoes and resulting nutrition than their was last season.

While it is true that the bugs and competitors reduce my yield now, they increase it later by helping me create more of what I’m trying to grow. The systems approach takes longer, but usually creates more for all participants. This is why market share is never as important as growth. Market share is a me versus you, reductionist measure – it’s very yesteryear. The thing I’m trying to grow is the system. In a world of increasing abundance I want to participate in creating something which means more for everyone. I have little desire to dominate what is already here.

Sammartron snap

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More proof there are many paths to the same destination

The people in this video below have been two of my digital mentors for a long time; Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin. Seth even blurbed my book! Both are in a very similar market space, and I imagine they both share many of the same customers. They are both NYT best selling authors on business in the modern era. Both provide keynote speeches to old industrial centric businesses. Both are proponents of the new era of technology and the incredible opportunity it provides, but in short they are both teachers.

This video interview below has a lot of interesting tension throughout it.  While they respect each other, they clearly don’t agree on many things. They both employ different tactics, and have a different approach to essentially achieve a similar outcome. It’s more proof that there isn’t a way, but many ways. And even though their philosophies might differ, both are incredibly authentic in their approach and go about their work in a way which suits them. And that’s exactly what we should all do – be the best ‘us’.

It’s worth watching and a great reminder that our ideal strategy is probably the one that best matches our personality.

 

If you haven’t got time to watch the video – my favourite have is to turn any youtube content into an MP3 on this link. Then you can listen as a podcast.

The problem with ‘How To’ advice

How to Advice

The internet is filled with How To advice. Which proves how important it is in building the life you want. But it has a simple flaw we ought remember:

How to advice is disposable.

How to’s are a set of tactics which need to change as the world around us changes. This means we need to constantly re-assess what we know, and ask if it is still relevant. With the pace of technological change today, this is a question we need at the top of our list.

This is why philosophy is always greater than tactics. Philosophy is enduring, and tactics and temporary. If we have a guiding philosophy on what we are doing and why, finding the best tactic for the day becomes infinitely easier.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.