Give Thanks! Fire, Aim, Ready.

Last week we explored what it was to be “on purpose”.  The various meanings of the word and the importance of living a purposeful life or working within a purposeful organisation.  It has been very encouraging that so many readers have commented on the post and that the ideas resonated with many of you so well.  Thank you also for the feedback: it is always welcome!  I wish you all success in thinking more about what it is to lead a more purposeful life and continuing the quest to find more meaning in it and in the work you do.

This week I want to deepen that thinking and explore the relationship between purpose and the main aims (or goals) that cause us to line-up the activities that we perform as we go about our day-to-day lives both at home and at work.  I believe that this process is at the heart of what it is to be successful.  Indeed, success is a very personal and subjective thing.  Sure, others might judge your success – but that is by THEIR opinion, not yours.  It is important to shape the factors that will make you successful by moulding them out of what you are and what you want to be.  Sourced from your passions and purpose, as it were.

It is a perfect time of the year to look back and look forwards.  Particularly as today in Thanksgiving in the Americas.  Even if you are not from that part of the world, it is a useful exercise to be grateful for all that has happened to you in the past year and for the friendships and experiences you have had.

At the same time, it is also worth looking forwards.  Thinking about the habits that you want to grow, or the ones that you want to release.  Thinking about the ideas or relationships you want to nurture and the ones you want to celebrate or change.

There is an old phrase “Ready, Aim, Fire” that covers the stages you go through when firing an arrow at a target.  For a bit of amusement, I decided to reverse the order of these three steps to see what new thinking might emerge.  It ended up as  “Fire, Aim, Ready”.  Not a very significant sequence of events if you want to hit a target, you might think.

FIRE

But wait!  What if we use the word “Fire” in some slightly different meanings: FIRE that you are fired-up by – or FIRE when you have a “burning platform” that needs immediate attention – or FIRE when we fire someone from work or a relationship.

If you write down your purpose and underneath put the three or four things that are firing you up at the moment or that they need immediate attention, then FIRE becomes a good first step to deciding the few things on which you should focus.  Either because they are important (as in fired-up) or because they are urgent (as in burning platform) or else you want to be rid of it (as in “you’re fired”).  What few things do you want to add, act on urgently or get rid of in your life?  For me, I have a bonfire worth of business books that have been lying up against the wall on the landing for the past year!

AIM

By listing-out these few aims (or goals) and then understanding what sort of change is needed in your life, you can then try to envisage what life would be like with more (or less) of the factor.  New role at work, more time with family, change-out the car, less time tripping over books.  That sort of thing.
At this stage, it is so important to write these ideas down on a bit of paper.  Sure, a computer will do, but somehow writing them down on paper and referring to them on a regular basis helps speed the process to achieving the aim – and either adding to or subtracting from the fire!  They need to be the bigger things in your life.  Otherwise, you will bury yourself in a long to-do list.  If this happens, try to pick the top five or six ideas and work on them.

READY

If nothing else, by doing this exercise in the next few days, you will be in a better position to shape your ideas, projects and activities as we move into 2016 and be ready to design some bold, boring or fun New Year’s resolutions over the next few weeks ahead of the rush.  Typically, in the past, I have jotted my resolutions down on a paper napkin with a hangover from the holiday period on 1st January and then throw them out with the rest of the excess paper a few days later!  It is only in the past few years that I have become a bit more disciplined – but I still have a way to go.

Writing out your aims and then having the discipline to review them regularly reaps the rewards.  Not least, by the above definition of success, you will be much more effective in aligning your activities to your purpose and living a more fulfilling life!

———-

Next week we will focus on how you can measure your aims (or goals) by breaking each one into a series of defined objectives.  Not only will this allow you to envision more clearly what success looks like, but it will also let you recognise success when you arrive at your destination sometime in the future!

If you are interested in digging deeper into these ideas in the New Year – as well as wanting some help to accelerate success in achieving your aims and objectives, then please do email me at lorne@objectivedesigners.com and I will send you some additional information in December.

And to add a Zen-like koan at the end of all of this just to get you thinking even harder (or not at all):

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” 

Lao Tzu

———-

Oh, and some of you have kindly asked about my friend’s planning application that I wrote about two weeks ago.  The inquiry has been adjourned until 21st December – so we might well not know the outcome until the New Year – but I’ll keep you posted when I know the result!

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The Art & Science of a Successful Product Launch

Steve Jobs became the iconic figure standing in a black turtleneck sweater introducing the next wave of Apple’s innovation in the noughties.  Year-in, year-out, Apple perfected the pre-launch leaks, the launch itself and the post-launch record-breaking.  It is difficult to find another company that has done this so well and with such theatre.

jobs launch

The challenge with online businesses is that the drama is more difficult to choreograph than pulling the world’s best tech journalists into a Silicon Valley theatre.  And yet there are many principles that can be carried over into the online world that work in the same way.  It goes something like this:

Pre-launch Information > Launch “Theatre” > Post-Launch Compound Growth

I have had the fortune of studying under a person for the past year that seems to have perfected the online product launch.  So much so that many, many other successful online coaches, consultants and trainers copy his techniques.  His name is Jeff Walker and his product is called the “Product Launch Formula”.

Once a year, Jeff generously presents his methods and approach in a set of three free online courses (which will be available for the next week or so) to those who are interested in learning more about this fascinating subject.  The third video also contains a very valuable Product Launch Blueprint which you can download and use in your own business.  It is a step-by-step guide that gives you a great framework that gives your clients fantastic value even before you launch your product!

I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to online internet training – but I honestly have to say that Jeff is possibly up there with Steve Jobs when it comes to that cool, Californian way of explaining complex ideas in really simple ways that mere mortals (like me) can understand.

I thoroughly recommend that you try to watch Jeff’s three videos over the weekend so that you can go back to work on Monday to put a few of them into practice (or into your plans) to help you launch your next product, project or set of ideas.

Click on this link to access Jeff’s Product Launch Blueprint.  I’m sure you will find something of value.

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The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

Last Thursday, I had a meeting with a business colleague.  We had only met once before – but somehow the energy felt really good between us.  Conversation flowed.  Ideas bubbled to the surface.  Creative spirit abounded.

During the conversation, it became apparent that I had talked in our previous meeting about intuition.  I had forgotten this – but it  is something I have recently become very interested in.  In summary, it’s the idea that the world is far too “mental” and that many have lost touch with their intuitive guidance system – based around the heart.  I’m also a strong believer in the idea that everything is connected.

And so it was, just by chance (as happens when browsing the internet) I came across this video below:

I don’t know too much about the organisation behind the video – but just love the overall theme, messages and visuals.  It somehow helps us to remember things we have forgotten or lost – so we can get back into the life-force and remember who we are.

Sit back and enjoy!

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Overcoming Bitter Enemies

I came across this quotation the other day, and it struck a chord:

“One must be aware that there is nothing so difficult,
more doubtful in its result,
and more dangerous to do
than to introduce a new state of things. 
+
The innovator has bitter enemies
among all those who benefit from the old system,
while he only has half-hearted defenders
among those who expect to benefit from the new system.
+
This half-heartedness has its roots in man’s lack of faith,
because he does not really believe in the new state
until he has experienced it.”
Machiavelli
=
Goldfish

The question is, how do you help folk to experience and have faith the new state at the early stages of a change?  How do you get to that tipping-point where there is enough energy to get lift-off with the new system?  Remember, Machiavelli never saw a computer, so it was not computer systems he was talking about!  It was much more about States and states!

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Spring Forward, Fall Back

Last weekend, for many of us, the clocks went forward and we lost an hours sleep.  Many in the West celebrated Easter – either by going to Church or gorging themselves on chocolate.  Perhaps both.  March ended and April began.

Today remained bitterly cold – and although some of our smaller daffodils are out, the larger ones are still tight in their spring green wraps.  We seem to have been locked in a strange weather pattern in the UK for a year now – with March being the coldest on record for 40 years.  Many forget that this time last year we had 18 months of drought.  Whoever did the rain-dance this time last year sure did a good one!

In China and other countries in the East, it was a holiday – the Qingming Festival.  This festival has various translations including: Pure Brightness Festival; Clear Bright Festival; Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day.  Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day after the Spring Equinox,  it is a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and to tend to the graves of their departed ancestors.

Tomb sweeping

The festival’s origin is credited to the Tang Emporer Xuanzong in 732. Wealthy citizens in China were reportedly holding too many extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors. Emperor Xuanzong, seeking to curb this practice, declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors’ graves only on Qingming.  The observance of Qingming found a firm place in Chinese culture and has continued to root itself in many other parts of Asia.  Any excuse for a holiday!

The idea that we come out of the winter and into pure, clear brightness – and spring-clean the tombs of our ancestors does not really have an equivalent in the West.   The Christian Church displaced many of these more pagan traditions for  celebrating Spring by defining it as the most important festival of the Christian calendar: Easter.  The chocolate companies partly displaced this with Easter Eggs and everything chocolate.  We don’t really have an equivalent celebration or holiday to go and sorting out our ancestors’ graves on one particular day of the year.  I suppose the closest we get is the idea of a “Spring Clean”.

Whatever your belief system, though, Spring is a magic time of the year (if is ever  going to be allowed to break free from the cold clutches of winter this year).  It is a time of hope.  A time of renewed energy.  A time for cleaning those parts of your life that need cleansing.  A time for being positive and leaning forward.

Spring is sprung and the green shoots are surely going to break through soon!  Happy Qingming Festival – and may your ancestors’ graves be much cleaner today than they were yesterday!

Source: Wikipedia, http://www.chinatouradvisors.com (picture) and my Garden

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To Be Open or Not To Be Open? That is the Question!

I was very privileged last year to submit evidence to the House of Lord’s Communications Committee on their report “Broadband for All”.

Below is The Earl of Selbourne’s summary of what needs to be done from his speech on Monday evening when the report was debated in the Lords:

The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, I join others in thanking the chairman, my noble friend Lord Inglewood, for the way in which he chaired the committee and introduced the debate today. From the speeches that we have heard, it is clear without doubt that the future of our economy will depend to a large extent on our ability to connect to broadband throughout all communities and sections of the population. It is not just about wealth creation and social cohesion. The ability to participate in healthcare and whole tranches of public activity will depend on connectivity. The Government must have a policy, and the Government are right to have a policy, but perhaps, as we have said in our report, they have been preoccupied by one aspect, which is to try to be the leader in Europe on superfast broadband.

The first priority has to be to achieve connectivity. If you have excluded populations, you will have a social divide and a lack of social cohesion. The Government need not worry about speed. That will follow. There are not very often market failures when it comes to cities. I therefore agree with those who have said that to spend money on improving superfast provision in cities is not something that the Government need to worry about if the market can do it itself. But there will be market failure in remote areas, where the costs of pushing out the broadband structure are too great. There will be market failure where the incumbents have an advantage, which inhibits other incomers who can help to provide some of the very many solutions that will be required to get this connectivity to all parts of the population. That is something that we are failing to harness—the undoubted innovation and enthusiasm from local communities, small and start-up companies, all of which would have a contribution to make. We go into some detail in the report. It gets pretty dense, I admit, when we talk about things such as passive optical networks and physical infrastructure access. But this is the key to it.

At the moment, we have what my noble friend Lord Inglewood called “the only show in town” for many rural areas. Whether we like it or not, because it is in the very nature of broadband to have high fixed costs, low marginal costs and great economies of scale, inevitably the incumbents will have a strong advantage. I think that we should be proud of what BT has done. It has improved enormously, by technical innovations, the ability to provide broadband on the existing infrastructure. Of course, it is rolling out broadband at great speed. It says that it hopes to achieve 90% coverage by 2017, but that immediately begs the question as to whether in national terms that is a satisfactory objective. I would certainly say, particularly as I am from a rather remote corner of the rural community and likely to be one of the 10% left out, that it is not satisfactory. So let us see what we can do to achieve that connectivity well before 2017. I do not think that anyone has mentioned yet the 4G mobile broadband technology, which is very soon to be with us and will certainly provide greatly enhanced mobile internet access to areas within adequate connectivity.

There are many different contributions to be made. The case for government involvement and public funds to be deployed rests, as I say, on achieving this reduction of the digital divide. The long-term solution will, ultimately, be fibre to the premises and the home. As others have rightly said, the cost of rolling out fibre to the home is exorbitant. We have a temporary solution, and a good one—the BT solution of fibre to the cabinet. It achieves the objective of reducing dramatically the costs. Usually, you have copper or some other connection from that cabinet. But whether BT likes it or not—it is in something like denial over this—it has the disadvantage that it does not provide open access, as I would understand it. In other words, as a local access network provider, you cannot simply move in with a compatible bit of machinery, stick it in there and do what you are trying to achieve. It is not an open access hub, as we have tried to demonstrate. That is where you come back to the technology of the passive optical network, which is a bit of a fix, as those will know who have read the report with great care. It certainly does not achieve what some of those independent service providers would have hoped for.

I think that the Government should ask quite firmly that, for the next tranche of money, which we hear will come in 2015, there should be proper open access. It is not beyond the wit of man. Clearly, there is no great financial advantage to the incumbents to roll out proper open access, but that is what is needed. If it is what is required, that is what will happen. It must be future proofed. We know that the technology changes dramatically fast. We know that some of the existing solutions, including the cabinet, will not stand the test of time for very long, but the fibre-optic cable will. Ultimately, it will be able to handle this vast amount of information. Therefore, we must make sure that as we improve the broadband infrastructure, we have the ability to upgrade and upgrade. That is why I say that, frankly, the cabinets are not very easily upgraded. You have to go back to the exchanges and think again. That is why we should look on them only as a temporary expedient.

When public money is distributed to extend the commercial network, as is happening at the moment, the Government should insist on the long-term solution. We took evidence from a particularly impressive consultant, Mr Lorne Mitchell, who is setting up a community scheme in Goudhurst, Kent. I think he was the first to put it to me how important it was for local groups to be able to access the middle mile and to get the backhaul back into the infrastructure. He said that the key to the problem is the openness of the middle mile, which is the connection back to the internet. If this can be designed in a way that gives each community a chance to get to one of these community hubs, it would be a massive leap forward. That is precisely what the committee report has tried to promote. I think it makes a lot of sense. However, the government response simply quoted a report which said that it was unrealistically expensive to have hubs in every community, and so it would be if you were to launch it all overnight. However, ultimately, it would be no more expensive than the cabinets. It is the same technology but it is a question of making sure that when you roll out the hubs, you do what you are not doing at the moment with the cabinets, and that is making them available to all. To say that they will cost far in excess of the funds available to the Government at present, as the government response does, simply misses the point. If the Government can fund any hubs such as cabinets or exchanges, they should be accessible to the community and to other providers. This simply requires a change in specification, not a change in the scale of funding.

I hope the Minister will recognise that, however impressive BT’s record of rolling out broadband is—it has, indeed, been most impressive—the interests of the BT shareholder and of wider society, particularly the 10% in rural communities who will remain without adequate connectivity in 2017 if present policies are continued, are not always the same.

There is a much better and fairer way to make the UK’s telecoms infrastructure truly open and competitive – and also give much better value-for-money to the government’s interventions.  The Lords highlighted the way – but the vested interests put a cloud over the path.  Many assume because BT Openreach is called “open”, then it is open.  It is not.  Never has been.  Never will be.  Clever marketing.

open

In spite of many other schemes being “rolled-up” by the BDUK closed scheme where only BT can win, we are letting the Government and the English Counties inject the biggest single donation to BT’s balance sheet in a lifetime.  Definitely not the best way to invest government money.  Definitely not an open debate in the House of Commons on how to do it differently.  Only in the House of Lords.

I am really pleased to say that we were told this week that the Goudhurst Broadband scheme that I presented to the Communications Committee is still going strong – with great support from Kent County Council and our Local Parish Council.  You can find more at one of my other blogs: http://www.goudhurst.net  I also blog about the final 10% (last point above) at http://www.finalninth.com – so for those who wondered what I do outside writing Thursday Thoughts – then this is some of it!

Let’s hope the Lords’ Report continues to be read and championed and that Monday was not the end of the work of trying to develop a new set of really good ideas for next generation internet access distribution for the UK.

Extracted from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/130318-0002.htm#13031837000212 – Columns 472-475

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Magic from Manchester

I would be surprised if you had not heard about it.  Yet we live in such a busy world, maybe you haven’t.

It was discovered in Manchester – and here is a short video describing some of its potential:

Graphne was discovered  by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester  – who subsequently went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010″for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”.  The magic material could well  create the next break-through in battery technology for mobile phones and electric cars –  at a fraction of the cost of current technologies.  That alone would be mind-blowing!

Yet it has so many other uses.  It is cheap to manufacture .  And as it is purely carbon – it is very environmentally friendly!

If you want to get into the science of graphene, then watch this video:

There are many more videos on YouTube and many more articles about graphene on the Internet.

Makes you think.

Makes you think about the other uses it could be put to in the future.

Makes you think about how you might get more involved in developing its potential.

Makes you think how it will change people’s lives in the next century.

Makes you think.

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2012: What Will You Remember?

As we leave 2012, there are many things we may remember which, for those that live in the UK, can  be summed up as a year of broken records:

  • The driest spring for 100 years followed by the wettest 9 months since records began
  • The summer Olympic and Paralympic games that smashed many World, Olympic  and Paralympic records
  • The Diamond Jubilee celebrations with cheery faces, street parties and that magnificent pageant on the Thames.  (Although the Queen did not break the record as the longest-serving British Monarch – she is in good health to take the record from Queen Victoria in three years time with 64 years on the throne).
  • The “broken record” of economic doom, debt mountains, fiscal cliffs, war, murder, hunger etc. etc.
  • …..and what should not be forgotten – our own personal records – whatever they might have been.

As we enter 2013, it is the time of year where we look back and look forward.  Remember and try to stretch our minds to a New Year.

If there is one thing that I will remember, above all else, it was the power of the “Games Makers”.

Spectators Queue At Greenwich Park For The Equestrian Events

Through economic gloom and despondency and the ever sharper and more graphic accounts of murder and mayhem around the world, the Games Makers surely showed us how to make a difference.  Whatever is going on in the world, each individual can volunteer to create their own, brighter future.  A powerful message for me from 2012 that I was not expecting to receive!

I hope all readers have an extraordinarily successful New Year and the best of luck with breaking your own records in 2013!

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Powerful Forces Are At Work!

My father used to have a phrase that he used from time to time when something inexplicable happened.  “Powerful Forces are at Work” he would say.  In the past week or so, I have had a very strong feeling that somehow the universe is reconfiguring itself and that powerful forces truly are at work.  This is a difficult feeling to articulate – but the it got me thinking about our personal turning-points, crossroads and moments of truth that make us change and grow as we go through lief .  Naturally, we can all share in global turning points like the economic crisis.  But the ones that are closer to home, the ones that are personal and sometimes painful; the ones that are more subjective .  These are a lot more powerful change agents than the blah-blah we get from the constant barrage from the media, news and modern-day consumerist group-think.  Indeed, the Transition Movement is a collection of such ideas – interestingly portrayed in the Wordle below:

transitions-wordle

 And so it was that we passed 12:12 on 12/12/12 today.  It marked another milestone for Susie and me – because we got engaged at 7:07 on 7/7/07 and our subsequent wedding was on 8/8/08.  Apparently there were more people married on 12/12/12 than at any other time in history!  These dates seem to hold a romantic charm.   We won’t have any more quite like that unless you plan to live until 01/01/2101.  Most of us will be long gone by then!

Transitions in time are made more meaningful when there are coincidences – in this case with a string of numbers lining-up.  We still have one more this month on 21/12/12 – which is, apparently, the end of a cycle in the Mayan long-count calendar.  Some predict disasters, others a transition of the human race to a new level of consciousness.  Yet others think it will pass without incident.

But what if this month truly was a major transition and a marked positive shift in human consciousness?  What would that shift feel like?  What would each of us be doing differently as a result of it?  How would our behaviours change towards our selves, each other and towards the environment?  What small changes could we individually make that would create a big difference in 2013?

In the run-up to New Year’s Resolution time, it is something to think about, anyway!  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Oh, and here is a Wordle of this article:

Wordle of Article

Make your own Wordle at: http://www.wordle.net

 

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Beehives and Business Colonies

I took part of the afternoon off yesterday to sort out a friend’s beehive.  He had started keeping bees earlier this year, having been given a new hive by his parents for his birthday.  After two inspections he called for help for me to take them away.  The bees had stung him so badly that he had dramatic side-effects.  Last weekend, I took a new hive over and yesterday I went to put the bees into my hive.  The bees were one of the most aggressive colonies I have ever opened – and it became clear that they were not the best colony for a beginner beekeeper to start with.

It got me thinking of a few visits that I have recently done to business incubators and business colonies around the country in the past few months.

The first was in London, near Kings Cross at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC).  My good friend, Brian Condon, has just started a new phase of development by taking on a full-time role running the place.  The C4CC is based near Kings Cross and funded by various parts of the University of London.  The way that the centre attracts projects and develops ideas is outstanding.  A particular success has been Pavegen – which creates paving slabs that generate electricity from footsteps.  They started with the founder and a desk in C4CC two years ago and have now moved out to a local office employing about 30 people.

The second example was in Edinburgh, where I was shown around a new venture called “The Tech Cube” .  The building used to be the home of the The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies until last year when the School moved to new purpose-built facility 7 miles to the south.  The vision for the Tech Cube was impressive – though the building was still under refurbishment.  What was interesting was the link between the Tech Cube and the University – with the idea of taking some of the young ideas that will be incubated on the top three floors of the Appleton Tower (part of the Informatics Department) about half a mile away and then to commercialise them further in the Cube.  Again – a strong link between University and the commercial sector seems to be the trend.

I was also lucky enough to be shown around O2’s new Business Academy in London – part of a network of accelerators owned by Telefonica under the brand name  “Wayra“.  19 start-ups in London (from a total of 171 worldwide) are each given about £40,000 as a loan by Telefonica to catapult them to the next level.  They each spend 9 months in the accelerator in a cube on the edge of the building bounded by corner-less walls of black that can be written on by passers by.

There is an interesting map emerging – which is summarised on the TechBritain website:

All this got me thinking what the similarities were between my apiary and the successful custodianship of these new businesses accelerators / incubators around the country:

  • Projects and/or businesses are bounded physically (like a hive is within an apiary)
  • Each project has a leader.  Some are more successful than others – depending on the leadership qualities of the boss (queen bee)
  • The organism depends on cross-fertilisation of ideas between the various colonies (a role performed by the drone in the bee world)
  • The workers of each project (hive) collect ideas (pollen and nectar) and enrich their organisation
  • Some incubators (like C4CC) have private rooms that projects can keep their Intellectual Property (honey stores) from the competition
  • Each building (apiary) needs a good leader (beekeeper) to ensure the right treatment is given to each project (hive) to ensure they flourish and survive
  • Each business (hive) has a different path, a different energy, a different future.  Predicting which ones will win and which ones will fail can be difficult!  Just as with bee hives.

Colonies of Artists are not a new thing (see previous post on the Cranbrook Colony.  However, with all the mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, offshoring and MBA-ification of our business fabric, I somehow think that the only way we can get the UK back on its feet is to get back to the level of the hive and re-learn the art of business within a colony, or business apiary.

This is backed-up by thinking from the Futurist, Thomas Frey, in his analysis of the future of work and how business colonies will become a growing force in the future of how work works.

This weekend I will move the hive from my friend’s garden to my out-apiary where I will have to decide what to do with it in the spring.  Some colonies are just too angry for an amateur beekeeper to want to keep.  Below is a rather quaint scene from the French Alps of an apiary that has probably not changed for a hundred years or more:

However, on the up-side, they are often one the most profitable hives for producing excess honey.  After  this appalling year of honey production, I might well encourage them to flourish next year.  The again, it might be good to encourage them to swarm – so I lose the queen that produces such aggressive daughters.  As in beekeeping, so as in Wayra’s motto: “The rules are not yet written!”

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