TT1943 – On Childlike Innocence



Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay 

Do you ever wonder at the beauty all around you?
At Nature’s creativity and her ability to have created YOU?
Or do you simply go along in your daily life
Allowing the busyness of business to dumb you down
With to-do lists, email and yet more meetings
That makes you question: “Is there anything more than this?”

How often do we call in the experts – who make things
Far too complicated and in their own interests –
Producing grand reports and missing the simplest of solutions.
The physicists say that humanity was created
On a knife-edge of interconnected events that were most unlikely.
We wouldn’t be here if this creative force had not lined them up.

So how can we harness ourselves to this natural force of creativity?
Orson Welles once said:
“Others create out of experience 
But I create out of innocence”.

Zen masters encourage us to seek
New answers from a “beginner’s mind”.

By adopting a child-like inquisitiveness
To everything that is around us
Life suddenly takes on new meaning!
Seeing the world as a baby or young child
Gives us the knowledge (unlike the experts)
That we don’t have all the answers.

One of my favourite jokes is that an expert
Is the combination of an ex – or a “has been”
With a spurt – which is a “drip under pressure”!
We dress them up with titles and put letters after their name,
Praising them in cathedrals to knowledge and certainty.
Yet the more they think they know, the more we know they don’t!

Be inquisitive and ask…
Where did that come from?
And where it is going to?
Create from innocence.
Adopt the beginner’s mind
And the world will become a better place!

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Inventors are from Uranus. Investors are from Venus.

Sometimes you trip over a word and it takes on a shape.  It bugs you until you look at that shape and see something different.  Something unusual.

That happened to me this morning.  I received a note from a friend of mine who was talking about Elon Musk and his investor dilemma.  Whilst typing back a reply, I said: “it’s the difference between an inventor and an investor”.  And the shape of these two words hit me!  They were so similar – and yet poles apart.

So, as is my wont (an old English word meaning habit or custom that spellcheckers highlight as a mistake, but it isn’t), I set to with the idea that an inveNtor and an inveStor are two opposing forces under tension in any business.

And whilst deciding that this was, indeed, a good analogy, it struck me that so many letters are shared between these two words. In fact, seven out of eight letters are not just the same – BUT THEY ARE IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION IN THE WORD!  The only difference is the fifth letter – where one is an “N” and the other an “S”.  How can two such similar words have such contrasting shapes positions in business, yet share so much at the same time?

To use the old analogy “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, it got me thinking about which planets would inveNtors and inveStors inhabit?  I looked up this idea on an astrology website and found that Venus is the bringer of love, beauty and money.  So that will do for the inveStor community (though I sometimes find it hard to see how those three words fit nicely into one sentence.

As for Mars – well that is a non-starter.  We needed another planet.  And so I typed-in “innovation” to find that Uranus represents technology, rebellion and innovation!  That will do nicely!

So, inveStors are from Venus and inveNtors are from Uranus.  There you go!

Yet that wasn’t enough.  I further studied the two words to find that the only difference were the two letters: N and S  – and suddenly it hit me!  They are also polar opposites on the dial of a compass!  I was so encouraged to find even more elegance down this particular rabbit-hole!

                                     North, South or somewhere in between?

 

Further to discovering this chance pairing, I thought again.  Whilst looking at the meanings behind the planets, I came across  Mercury, the Messenger God who is know for communication, day-to-day expression and  coordination.  A vital and often missing ingredient when inveNtors and inveStors cannot see each other’s point of view.  What other letter (in the same place as the N and S) could be a catalyst for change?  What could be the Mercury that goes between Venus and Uranus (though I know full-well that is impossible in our particular solar system – but work with me on this!)

And so I came across the letter “R”.  One of the few that makes sense and is a word.  An inveRtor.  It has a medical meaning, but I preferred the one used in electricity – which converts AC to DC current and back again.  An inveRtor is a converter of energy from invention to investment.  Perfect!

So, in summary, we need more inveRtors in business to go between the impossible stances that inveNtors and inveStors take when they stand-off in their own worlds of creativity and resolution.  A few more inveRtors that will be comfortable in the space between what is impossible and what is possible.  A few more inverRtors that will help  inveNtors like Elon Musk save the planet with his fantastic ideas to make the world’s transportation system run on electricity without making all the inveStors run a mile!

As it was such a great rabbit hole to go down (and it is Thursday and I have not written Thursday Thoughts for a while), I thought I would write-up the story.  More to follow soon!

Please do leave a comment below if you see any other strange or fantastic happenings on the road from invention to investment.

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The Single Most Important Ingredient for a Great Product Launch

This week’s “Thursday Thoughts” is one in a series on Product Launches – a subject that I find fascinating and so important to growing a successful business.

So, what is the single most important ingredient of a great product launch?  We need to look no further than the film (or movie) industry – and to a quote Shawn Amos:

“Every major summer blockbuster that is released is essentially a product line being launched across multiple verticals. However, the centerpiece of the product launch is a big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain.”

I believe that the single most important ingredient for any successful launch is to frame a “big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain”.  Think about it.  A story that describes a personal journey.  Your personal journey with all the ups-and-downs and trials and triumphs that go to make us all human.

Our Story

And so, in the closing two days of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (a once-in-a-year opportunity to see the master in action), Jeff has offered two personal but quite different stories that show how changing the way you think about a product by re-framing it around a product launch can literally transform people’s lives.

The first story is from Barry who overcame a life-changing accident to go on and organise and teach those who make a living from entertaining.

The second is from Shelly – a very different story of a mother trying to juggle the three forces of family, paying work and passion.

Watch the videos and work out what you can learn from each of them.  See how the personal stories create a different way of thinking.  By building your business around a series of launches (and great stories), rather than flogging a me-too product, you can create a new sense of drive and momentum.  Think hard about how you can apply the learnings to (re-)launch your own products and services and create a new sense of purpose and heartbeat to your marketing campaigns.

Of all the research I have done into this area, Jeff’s strategies and teachings are second-to-none.  And it can be applied to book launches too!

If you think that there is value in digging deeper into the Product Launch Formula, then I thoroughly recommend that you sign up for Jeff’s programme – which will only be available for the next day or two.  Otherwise, you will have to wait another year for the offer to come around again!

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The Story of the Broken Pot (of Honey)

The older I get, the more I believe in coincidences.  And one of the strange coincidences that I have recently discovered is that there are a set of stories that are told in slightly different forms all around the world – as if they all had their roots in one story told many thousands of years ago.  A fine example is the Story of the Broken Pot:

Once upon a time there lived a woman called Truhana.  Not being very rich, she had to go yearly to the market to sell honey, the precious product of her hive.

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Along the road she went, carrying the jar of honey upon her head, calculating as she walked the money she would get for the honey.  “First”, she thought, “I will sell it, and buy eggs.  The eggs I shall set under my fat brown hens, and in time there will be plenty of little chicks.  These, in turn, will become chickens, and from the sale of these, lambs could be bought.”

Truhana then began to imagine how she could become richer than her neighbors, and look forward to marrying well her sons and daughters.

Trudging along, in the hot sun, she could see her fine sons and daughters-in-law, and how the people would say that it was remarkable how rich she had become, who was once so poverty-stricken.

Under the influence of these pleasurable thoughts, she began to laugh heartily, and preen herself, when, suddenly, striking the jar with her hand, it fell from her head, and smashed on the ground.  The honey became a sticky mess upon the ground.

Seeing this, she was cast down as she had been excited, on seeing all her dreams lost for illusion.

Idres Shah in his book “World Tales” (which is where this story came from) notes:

“The tale is called a number of things like – “The Girl and the Pitcher of Milk”.  Professor Max muller remarks how the tale has survived the rise and fall of empires and the change of languages, and the perishing of works of art.  He stresses the attraction whereby “this simple children’s tale should have lived on and maintained its place of honor and its undisputed sway in every schoolroom of the East and every nursery of the West.”

“In the Eastern versions, it is always a man who is the fantasist and whose hopes come to grief: in the West it is almost always a woman.  The man generally imagines that he will marry and have a son, while the woman tends to think of riches and marriage.”

A collection of stories similar to this one was compiled as a set off folktales by Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1430 entitled “Air Castles” – about daydreams of wealth and fame.  The theme is so strong and spans all cultures and societies.  Just one of the many coincidental stories that have been recognised across space and time.

And so it was, last week, I was visiting Telefonica’s incubator (which they call an Academy) in London.  There are 19 startups (or eggs) being hatched – each into what will hopefully be new chickens.  However, given the statistic that over 65% of companies fail in their first two years, I could not but think the question as to which ones might be successful, and which ones not.  Which ones would hatch and which ones would be eaten before hatching?  Talking to the head guy there, he said that it was surprising that some of the start-ups that showed no hope four months ago are now doing really well – and others that showed great potential have somehow stumbled.  Each of the eggs will be moved out from the Academy at the end of March – and I wish them all the best of luck in moving from the egg stage to the chicken stage!

Oh, and just to round off this Thursday Thought, I visited my own beehives on Monday to give them some sugar cake food.  All was well – each of the six hives had bees!  I just hope they will all survive through February and March.  No honey in the pot yet, but I still dream that their stories will make me rich and famous one day!

I am going to be exploring the power coincidence in a lot more detail in the coming months.  If you are on Twitter you can read the regular tweets and observations on coincidence and business by following my new Tweet stream  @coinmark.

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Story from: “World Tales” collected by Idries Shah published by the Octagon Press 1991 – page 27

Picture – Copyright iStockPhoto – I bought it and if you want to use it you should buy it too!

More bee stories at my other blog: www.beelore.com

 

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Bedrooms, Markets and Coffee Cups

Anthony kindly sent me this brilliant short video from Hans Rosling on why economies are made in bedrooms, not markets!

So, whatever you do, if you are European or American and want to grow your business, go seek out new markets in China or India….or start serving the over 60s!

Makes you think anyway!

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Opting In To Civilised Money

A couple of weeks ago, I took one of my sons to London. He wanted to go and see the Occupy London site near St Paul’s – during time that the Church of England were digging deep into their consciences to work out how they should react. A few days later, I was in Edinburgh with my daughter and went to the equivalent tented camp. In both cases, I took the time to try to understand what was in the minds of those protesting. There was a peaceful atmosphere in both camps – but a surprising lack of practical things for people like me to do. However, the two experiences got me convinced that the system is broken and that things need to change.
A chance Tweet on Twitter this morning gave me the opportunity to explore the issues further. The Tweet alerted me to a new sort of Peer2Peer investment site called CrowdCube and a new sort of bank – called Civilised Money – who were looking for investors.  The idea took my interest and I read to find out more.

I was particularly struck by the coincidence that the project is the brainchild of Neil Crofts.  I have been a keen reader of Neil Croft’s weekly blog – and applaud his ideas on Authentic Leadership.  On reading more about the Civilised Money idea, is struck me that this kind of Peer2Peer banking is just like Skype was in 2002 – only transposed onto the banking system.  It made a heck of a lot of sense, so I took the plunge and invested!

By the way, I am definitely NOT an investment advisor.  I am not even sure that by the time you read this, the investment opportunity will still be open.  But I am so encouraged that there are those protesting (making the issues clear) as well as those who are trying to find new ways to design banks.

I hope it makes you think a bit more about what you opt in to – and out of.

 

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Presence over Process

This week, the bees went to bed for the winter. Fed down with verroa treatment in the hope that most colonies will survive the winter.

I have also had three very different conversations this week about the importance of Business Processes. In each conversation, I came to a different set of conclusions. However, there was one over-riding idea that shone through from each conversation. The obsession with the current process-centric religion in management thinking has actually made many of our service-based organisations less, not more effective and less, not more efficient.

The first conversation came from an experience I had with a US-based hosting company I have used for about ten years. Last year they put SAP into the company. Two months ago the company was sold. The service has been declining for about a year. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The new process involves forcing you to ring a US telephone number which is actually answered by someone in the Phillipines who filters you so they can direct you to the right department. The problem I had involved both Domain Names and Hosting – so I ended up being put through to two departments. In the end I was double-billed and had to ring back a week later to complain – when I went through the same rigmarole – and was sent an email to say I couldn’t reclaim the money because it was against company policy. I rang a third time and finally got through to someone who sorted me there-and-then. Sounds familiar? More like a telephone company? Yes, indeed. I then got hold of the Director for Customer Experience and Process Design on LinkedIn to share my story. He was a Harvard MBA. He saw my profile but ignored me. The company is called Network Solutions.

The second case was with a former colleague whom I had lunch with. He is an aspiring partner at one of the big five consulting practices. He told me he was writing a paper about the importance of process design in telecoms companies. I cited the above story and said that Presence was more important than Process. He looked quizzical. He could not compute. He was not sure how he could implement Presence and make money out of the idea from a consulting assignment.

The final conversation was with an enlightened ex COO of a Telecoms company with whom I had lunch with on Tuesday. He said he was process mad – yet when you listened to his stories of how he managed processes, there was a great deal of practicality and experience blended in with the importance of providing the right information to the right person at the right time to turn customer issues and questions around on the first call.

In the crusade to banish the obsession with Process centricity, I continue to marvel at the bees that I keep. They don’t have crazy processes to waste time. They have developed an approach that balances Process AND Content (or pollen/nectar collection) IN THE MOMENT so that they can respond with far more intelligence than just following a book of rules. Interestingly, the model they use shows that outsourcing is extremely wasteful and makes no sense at all. If you have to hand off, do it only once (not three times like ITIL). The models from the bees also demonstrates the sense of investing in small, agile “cells” of capacity and capability tuned to specific types of demand.

To summarise, I believe it is time to create a new management paradigm based on Presence (modelled much more on the natural world that the bees have developed over 50 million years). It creates a paradigm shift that takes us away from the insanity (or caetextic thinking) of process-obsession and into a new much more organic model based on cells or colonies that can respond to demand of various types a seasonal basis.

Just like the bees do.

I am writing a book on the idea – so expect more like this in future postings.

I have also posted Presence over Process on MIX – The Management Information Exchange – please add comments and vote for the idea there or add your comments here as you wish.  Always valuable!

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Innovation at the Edge of Elecricity

Although this is almost exactly a year old and quite US-centric, the video below “Innovation at the Edge of Electricity” was made. It has some great stories that may well make the minds of anyone living in the US or Europe boggle at how true innovation is happening in the developing world without any “help” from regulators or lawmakers.

As technology is forcing industry convergence, it is not just the Western-style Telecoms regulation that is getting in the way, but the rules and regulations from the Electricity and Banking Industries too. For instance, look to Africa, not Europe or the US if you want to see what true innovation is on mobile payments.

Many of the stories are particularly helpful when we think at how we should rollout faster broadband to the so-called “Final Third”. Innovation has always happened on the edge of the network. Surely it is time for us to include some of these new ideas from the “edge of electricity” and adapt them to our own requirements. Or will we let the regulators carry on regulating our service industries to die a slow, painful death?

Well worth watching to the end.

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The Tail that Wagged the Dog

Once upon a time in a land not so far away there lived a Queen. The Queen had ruled for many years in a land that had plentiful supplies of food and fuel. She was a good ruler and let life carry on beneath her.

However, in the last 10 years, times had become hard because the Exchequer had not been managed the country’s finances at all well and the country was at war in a foreign land.

In the past year the First Minister had been replaced with the day-to-day matters of state being handled by two brothers – David and Nicholas. They had put their efforts into a new vision for the country called The Big Idea…..but few really understood what the Big Idea was or how it could be made to happen.

One of the most critical matters of state was the control of information and each of the six Barons – each with their own Baronial Halls were constantly battling each other to control the information to the masses. The six barons were:

House of Hunters – led by Baron Jeremy – who was closely related to the Prince of Com and had a good degree of influence in matters of government
House of Living – nominally led by Baroness Liv – but the real power was with her uncle Baron Stone
House of Virgins – led by Baron Branson who had many interests and many females dressed in long red dresses
House of Skydivers – led by Baron Murdoch – who also owned many newspapers and town criers
House of Oxygen – led by some Spanish guy who had no name and lived far away
House of Chatter – led by Baron Dun of Stone – (but no relation to Baron Stone in the House of Living)

The rules under which these six Houses were controlled was led by one of the Queen’s Princes – The Prince Of Com.

Now the Prince of Com actually had very little power over the barons because the Queen was weak and the barons were strong.

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continuation of the story suggested by David Brunnen…..

And, moreover, the country was only just recovering from a plague of rational meerkats who had, over the past ten years, destroyed the infrastructure of the country so that anyone intent on building new foundations for the future found that the ground kept collapsing beneath their feet and that no end of short-term fixes could solve the problem.

Then came the day when the Barons battling over control of information to the masses suddenly found that the citizens were not listening or reading because their old copper connections had collapsed and (to make it worse) the libraries had all closed down.  And the Bossy Barons said ‘We are agrieved – the Prince of Com has been delinquent’.

But Baron Hunter said he had a plan to banish the Prince of Com to outer darkness (or at least beyond the visible spectrum) – but only if all the other barons stopped arguing and pledged their loyalty to the Queen and David & Nicholas’s Big Idea.
And the story might have ended happily right there except that one of the Baron’s underlings (from the Isle of  Mob) got wind of this secret agreement and made headlines.
The people revolted – saying ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ and ‘The government is revolting’ and from that day onwards they all went round and round in circles until someone put up his hand and said ‘Excuse me, but I have a very Small Idea’ and they all stopped to listen.
And, for the first time in ages (well, as far as anyone can now remember) the entire country was very very quiet –
Thanks, Chris, for the next contribution:

until one small boy (whose mother should have kept him in doors) said “Why not build a network ourselves?”

All the councilors in Mordor were horrified.

You could hear their squeaks through middle earth, but the little boy persisted, and soon others started to listen, it was like a fairy tale, but soon the people started to realise it was a dream that could come true when he explained how it would work.

He put it in a pdf so everyone could read about it:

http://broadbandcumbria.com/wp-content/uploads/Barry%20Forde.pdf

Now the Prince of Com and the House of Hunters were keen on this small boy’s ideas, but many of the Baronial Houses were not so sure as they would lose power to these new upstarts. So they started to develop new strategies so that  they could keep control of their lands in the future.

In the meantime, the small boy decided to go into the countryside and talk to many folk in the land about the opportunities that these new ideas presented.  The small boy, whose name was Lux, was accompanied on these travels by his loyal dog, Fico.

Everywhere that Lux went, his dog, Fico, was sure to follow.

Now, as Lux travelled the land, he  discovered many people had  the same problems.  They were all fed up paying taxes to their barons for little in return and many were becoming very interested in  leaving serfdom to become Free Men and Women – if only they could be brave enough to do it.  Some small villages in the borderlands started to declare independence and the Barons became concerned.  The House of Living – which had tremendous powers over many parts of the land was particularly concerned at the declaration of these new “Free Communities” – and the Prince of Com became ever more worried about the eventual outcome that this new way of thinking would bring.

There was deep unrest in the land.

Thanks to Guy Jarvis, for the following addition to this exciting story!

Much was the talk and grumbling in the digitally deprived communities, known as Notspots, for they had neither bit nor bucket.

The first community to break free from the Baron Telecom’s thrall was an ancient place, settled since Roman times and in all likelihood well before.

Abandoned by Baron T, anyways beyond the reach of his digital dog whistle, the good folks of Ashby de la Launde decided that action was required.

The question was what to do and the answer provided by the Wizards of Witham (South) seemed too good to be true:

“There is a 4th utility enterprise looking to invest in the first community ready to dare to reject the old copper gods and turn towards the light”

And thus became nextgenus.net/bookplus and that is another story.

Baron T fretted lobbyingly about choice and adoptability in the hope that the House of Living and Prince of Com might yet lose faith in the pure glass path and return to the coppery legacy of yore.

The stakes were high and the standoff Mexican until Baron T gained a taste for the FiWiPie and learned to share and that is another story too.

Please add your ideas on how the story continues in the comments block below!


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How to be Positive about the Cuts

This week is GEW – Global Entrepreneurship Week.  There have been lots of events around the world.  There are some interesting gaps and statistics from their site:

The Ambition Gap

Over 50% of the population want to start a business but only 5.8% do

The Demographic Gap

Young people (18-24) are 5 times more likely to be unemployed than starting a business

More than twice as many men start business in the UK as women (in 2009, approximately 1.5 million men and 650,000 women started a business).

The Skills Gap

Enterprise Education doubles your chances of business success yet it isn’t a staple of the education system

I also attended a meeting at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills this week.  They have cut 10% of their staff already and are about to take another 20% cuts.  With all these (presumably) senior civil servants unlikely to get another job, what a great opportunity to create a whole new generation of entrepreneurs…..and cut the National Debt.

Did You Know

A rise of just 1% in self employment (less than 300,000 entrepreneurs) would boost the UKs GDP by £22bn and cancel out the Government cuts for 2 years

One of my godsons, who recently graduated from Edinburgh University wrote to me on Wednesday and said he was looking for a job.  I wrote back to him saying that he should make a job, not take a job.  He has not replied to me yet!

If we helped both the older (retiring civil servants) AND the more recent graduates by giving them an incentive to start their own business, then we could really make a big difference in cutting our debts rather and move towards a more positive way of looking at the cuts.  I started my own business 2 years ago and have never looked back.

Make you think!  I hope my godson will be up for it!

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