Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

I love this post by Seth Godin. Too many entrepreneurs sprint out of the gate thinking they’ll be the next big thing. They see Robert Scoble doing video interviews and TechCrunch praising the next “product x” killer that have seemingly come out of nowhere. The problem is that these success stories tend to be the top 1% of the thousands of successful companies that are started each year and sprint tends to be exactly what leads to failure. What get lost in all this are the other successful companies that didn’t receive the same publicity, venture capital, and quick success but over time made solid business decisions, spent wisely, and stuck with their strategy and tactics to win in the long run. It’s these companies that most of us should model our own business practices after and then let everything else take care of itself.

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Have you ever watched a 2 year old build a puzzle? My daughter just turned 2 and she loves doing 24 piece puzzles. What fascinates me is how well she is able to put them together despite not understanding some of the basics of puzzle building, such as border pieces have a solid edge and therefore only go on the outside of the puzzle.

As adults, we have deeply ingrained processes for solving puzzles. I put the picture of the box in front of me and start with the border and work toward the center. This isn’t the case for my daughter, and I’m guessing most 2 year olds. She usually starts with any 2 pieces she can get together and builds out from there. She never looks at the box and usually doesn’t look at the picture on the puzzle pieces. From my experience doing puzzles with her, it appears she is looking at the shape formed by the edge of the puzzle pieces to put the puzzle together. She is often hunting for pieces that have the same edge as the space she is trying to fill. As you can imagine, it isn’t a simple approach, but it’s one that works quite well for her. She is very good at putting a puzzle together.

What I love about doing puzzles with my daughter is that it opens my mind to new perspectives. It’s not that her approach is better but it’s what works best for her right now. Over time, she’ll find better formulas and adjust her approach to puzzle building. For me, I’m going to watch and learn from her on how to keep an open mind because it is not just puzzle building but almost every aspect of my life where I can learn more by keeping an open mind to new perspectives.

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An awesome post by Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends. It’s loaded with great quotes from some of best minds in marketing.

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I’m finally getting caught up on all the zefrank videos I’ve missed. I came across this one where I just love the analogy.

the show with zefrank – February 5, 2007

Having a 1 year old, it bothers me when people try to teach kids the “right way” to be creative. Who is to say what a sand castle should look like? Being a kid is about exploring. If we all did things the “right way” we’d be riding around on horses and rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire.

The same goes for the business world. It’s filled with people ready to show everyone the “right way” to do something. Like the world is filled with formulas that we just need to follow to be successful. The problem is, there are no magical formulas. If there were, we’d all be millionaires living the grandest of life styles. Instead of assuming there is always a “right way” and following what everyone else is doing, explore your creative side. Find new processes. Take risks. Not all of them will work out but in the end the learning process will be invaluable for you and your business. It’s that learning process that sets companies apart, just look at Wal-mart, Amazon.com, Apple, etc.

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Excellent resource on re-framing questions on Squidoo. It’s amazing the impact a question can have by changing how you ask it.

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This quote comes from Seth Godin’s blog on “The Dip”.

“Reject the idea of being almost good enough to get in to Harvard and embrace the idea of being extraordinarily good at something else.”

People do this a lot but it’s also a problem with many companies. They are so focused on being all things to all people that they lose focus on what they do best. It’s not about having the most features. It’s about having the best features people really want.

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So what do businesses and the space program have in common? They don’t set difficult goals. Back in the dark ages before man landed on the moon John F Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University. During this inspiring speech JFK vowed that:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too”.

JFK made this speech in 1962. In 1969, just seven years after JFK’s speech, this goal was accomplished. JFK set a difficult goal for the US, but a wonderful thing happens when you set difficult goals. People get excited, they pull together, and they step up to the challenge. If left without such a goal, it probably would have been several years later that the US landed on the moon. Fast forward to today, the Bush Administration is saying we’ll land on Mars by 2030. 2030?!? That’s 23 years away. I confess to knowing nothing about the difficulties of getting to Mars and back but how is this a goal that we can get excited about? Is this goal any more difficult to us today as landing a mon on the moon was to people in 1962? Many people working on the program today will probably be retired by then. Others will switch jobs. It will be the rare person who sticks around that long to see the work they put in in 2007 come to life in 2030.

So what does this have to do with business? Too many companies after the stock market crash and business closures of the early 2000’s are doing the same thing. CEO’s are setting safe goals that can be easily obtained. There is no incentive to set the bar too high because if the company doesn’t make them, everyone looks bad and the stock takes a hit.

But there is an incentive isn’t there?

Of course! Sure it’s risky but if you want to stand out and be a leader you have to take these risks or the “first to land on the moon” goal will be accomplished by another company and in the end, that will be much more damaging to your business. Set goals that your employees can get behind. Give them a reason to push as hard as they can. Why not try to become the fastest company in industry X to reach 2 billion dollars. Why not try to be the first company to do X by 2010? Why not step forward and say you will land a person on Mars in the next decade?

Goals need to push people but they also have to excite people. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of a company that sets such goals?

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Thank you John

Quote from Martha Graham passed along to me by John Emery….

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.

You never know what will help explain a feeling that you can’t put into words. This basically sums up 2006 for me. 2007 and beyond are slowly starting to come into focus…

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Rodrigo y Gabriela

Perhaps I’m late to the game but I just discovered Rodrigo y Gabriela on Tuesday. Now I wouldn’t normally write about music, hey half the time I’m listening to sports radio, but this is different. I find their music upbeat, relaxing, and inspirational. It made me quickly run over to Pandora and start a new station based on “Rodrigo y Gabriela” and it led to my first full album purchase in more than 5 years. Hey, who can resist dueling guitars with Mexican style coming from a band from Dublin. If this doesn’t inspire some curiosity to check them out then I don’t now what else to say. Give them a listen.

Now I just need to figure out how to get their album “Live – Manchester And Dublin” which isn’t currently on iTunes.

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This is awesome. I love how number 10 relates to how I was feeling on Friday. I look forward to seeing how this manifesto plays out with all of the great feedback Christian has been receiving.

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