“You just start”

This isn’t the important part of the story, but last night I… accidentally… watched The Bachelor. It was the first episode where the 22 girls do the walk up and do the 2 minute intro. One of the girls was a Jewellery Designer. My girlfriend on the couch next to me said, “that’s so cool! how do you become a Jewellery Designer?”. My response: “You just start”.

Before this woman was a Jewellery Designer (capital J and capital D), she just started designing jewellery (lowercase d, lowercase j). This is like anything worthwhile – you don’t become something until you start. You don’t get that title with the capital letter until you’ve done it. If you ask “how do you become an Author? that sounds so cool”, the answer is you just start writing. If you keep writing to the point where you publish a book, you’re an Author. If you ask “how do you become a Painter?”, the answer is you start painting.

Perhaps in a job you get the title before you’ve done the work. But very few jobs provoke the response “wow, that sounds so cool, how do you become that?”.

Reassurance

“Reassurance is overrated because you can never get enough of it”
– Seth Godin

Don’t seek reassurance. If you need reassurance that somebody else thinks you’re doing the right thing or that somebody else thinks it will work, you’re not going to get a lot done and you’re not going to learn to take initiative. Seth Godin says that any reassurance you get will quickly wash off. What then?

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Ideas

Business Ideas

Today I was reminded – DON’T KEEP YOUR IDEAS A SECRET. This is something I hear often. Most recently, I read this in Anything You Want by Derek Sivers and Becoming a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley. Today, I heard it on a podcast I just started listening to – Question of the Day with James Altucher and Steven Dubner. Specifically, this came from Episode 39: “Common Mistakes of First-Time Entrepreneurs”.

It’s a mistake to keep your ideas secret from others. James, a former hedge fund manager and successful angel investor, says he always knows he’s dealing with a rookie if they present a Non-Disclosure Agreement to sign. Amateurs think that other people will steal their idea.

Derek Sivers tells us that “ideas are just a multiplier of execution”. Without action and execution, an idea is basically worthless. Anyone can get ideas, but they don’t mean anything until you do something with them.

Daniel Preistley and Glen Carlson (the KPI guys) talk a lot about sharing your ideas as well. There’s nothing to gain in keeping your ideas secret.

Zero Sum Game?

There is this feeling of it being a zero sum game, that if one person starts building on your idea, its gone. But that’s ridiculous!  Think of the Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf. Together, they created Puma in 1942. Their relationship became strained and they split in 1948, and Adolf went on to create Adidas! Then, the same company that created Adidas also created Reebok. In 1964, 22 years after Puma began and 16 years after Adidas was founded, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight had an idea to create a sports shoe company. Did they think, “Oh… someone’s already making sports shoes… We better think of something else…”? No. The created Nike. Oh yeah, and before all of this, New Balance had already been making sports shoes since 1906!

Just because someone’s already doing something doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. The idea of “zero sum” means that for you to get a customer, it means your competitor has to lose a customer. Trading Foreign Exchange is a zero sum game – when somebody makes money, somebody loses the equivalent amount of money. The business world however is not zero sum. It’s all about growing the pie. There isn’t a set market that you are limited to. Rather than taking customers from a competitor, you could get your own brand new customers that either had never heard of it before or never decided to purchase form your competitor.

The reality is, most people WON’T try to steal your idea. Mainly because most people wouldn’t even know what to do with the idea anyway. But the upside of sharing ideas means you can learn things for yourself – someone might give you an avenue or a thought you hadn’t considered.

This reminds me a lot of the 3 Hour Brand Accelerator I attended a few months ago hosted by Glen Carlson. If you’re interested, read the section about targeting the “Unaware Population”. In summary, there’s more potential customer and a lot less competition!

My Latest Idea

Taking this advice, I started to share my latest idea. I thought it would be great to have a sock subscription company. I’d just started working full time and I’d just moved out of home, so was slowly getting adjusted to having to wear business socks every day and making sure I washed regularly enough to keep them fresh. I also had a lot of plain black socks. The corporate world is boring enough as it is, and I’d started noticing blokes adding a little bit more colour to their attire and wearing some cool socks. I hate shopping and I wouldn’t be bothered going shopping and trying to pick out socks I liked. So I thought it would be cool to get a new, random pair every month. I wouldn’t have to go sock shopping again and I’d get a bit of variety.

Turns out this idea isn’t very original. I think I’d actually seen an episode of Shark Tank like 12 months prior to this and the idea must’ve been tucked away in the back of my mind somewhere until I discovered a personal need for it. When I say it’s not an original idea, I mean there are A LOT of people trying to do the same thing. Like, A LOT. We’re talking pages and pages of google results from all over the world. But, just because someone’s already had the idea doesn’t mean I can’t try it too!

The Sock Club

Sock Ideas

My main reasoning was that before I started researching, I’d actually never really heard of such a thing (other than the episode of Shark Tank I’d forgotten about). So I started sharing my idea. I told 14 people about it! I had two reasons for doing this. Firstly, I was telling my friends who would be in the target market as customers. I was targeting young male corporate workers, so I wanted to see if anyone would actually consider signing up as a customer. Secondly, I wanted someone to do it with me.

Of these 14 friends, 13 said they liked the idea and would sign up. Of those, 7 showed interest in joining me and doing it together. Of those 7, one loved it so much, he went away and built a website, got some samples from sock manufacturers and set up the back end to get people’s money every month! We’re now 50/50 partners and working at building this thing.

As I write, it’s in the very, very, very early stages! As in, we starting testing the market THIS MORNING. I’ll write another post at some stage about testing the idea. We want to either see a glimmer of hope or fail fast with as small a financial loss as possible. Wish us luck!

 

And SHARE YOUR IDEAS. You never know what may come of them.

Fresh Start

Sometimes, you just need a fresh start. If you can change your circumstances by increased effort, improved efficiency and by forging new, more positive relationships, that would be your best option. But in some cases, a fresh start is the only solution.

This might be in business. You might have been slogging away at your business or idea for an extended period of time. You might think you just need to work smarter or harder or better. But there comes a point where you just need to cut ties and start from scratch.

It might be in the office. If you earned yourself a bad reputation, it can be very hard to turn it around. No matter how hard you work in the future, you might still have that negative aura and people might still see you as lazy. If you’ll be forever linked to previous behaviour and you can’t see a way to rectify it, a completely fresh start with a new attitude might be the answer.

The One Minute Manager (WYWL Podcast)

The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager is a parable about a young man who is studying leadership and management. He has interviewed many managers but has never really been inspired until he meets the “One Minute Manager”. Subtitled ‘The world’s most popular way to manage your life and work’, this is a short and simple book that provides you with a short a simple way to manage yourself and others. There are Three Secrets to One Minute Management: One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Re-Directs.

It is only about 80 pages long. As it’s a parable, it presents all of the ideas but allows you to interpret and internalise how you can best apply these in your life. This book isn’t just for “managers”. The OMM is also a great way to approach your own life and better manage your time and output.

You can also download this episode or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

If you’d prefer to read instead of listen, you can check out Adam Ashton’s blog. There’s a full summary of The One Minute Manager here.

Luck

Today’s thought comes from The Richest Man in Babylon. It is from the parable titled “Meet the Goddess of Good Luck”. In summary, the only way to be consistently “lucky” is by recognising good opportunities and taking action.

luck1

 

Financial Shortcuts

You can read a bit more context about the book here, but basically, the Richest Man in Babylon, Akrad, is trying to pass on his financial knowledge to the other citizens in the hope that they can all become wealthy and build a prosperous city. One man said he had just been lucky and found a wallet on the ground with some gold in it. If he could find gold on the ground every day, he would become a rich man. Whilst this man had good luck today in finding the gold, it is very unlikely he will be able to find gold on the ground often enough to become wealthy. The men discuss some other ways in which they can encounter good luck.

What if they bet at the casino? Surely they could quickly become rich? In their casino game, a dice had 5 blue sides and one red side. If it rolled red, you won 4 to 1. If they rolled enough reds, they could become rich. But Akrad quickly points out that they had 5 chances of losing, and only win 4 to 1, meaning the casino wins 20% of every dollar bet. Whilst we don’t play this dice game today, the odds at a casino are always skewed in the house’s favour.

What about the races? You can get lucky at the races and become rich? No again. Betting on the Babylonian horse races is not a reliable route to wealth.

Luck – The only reliable way

luck3

The only way we can actively encourage luck is by recognising strong opportunities and taking action. We must be able to find good opportunities. Those that add value to others. Those that will lead to an increased payout. When we find these opportunities, we need to take ACTION. Procrastinators miss opportunities; “opportunity waits for no man”. If you see an opportunity, please don’t procrastinate. Go ahead, take action, and a little good luck might come your way.

 

Men of Action are favoured by the Goddess of Good Luck” – George S Classon

luck2

 

Parables

Parables

“Parables” are simple stories used to illustrate a lesson. Some of the most well-known books are parables. The likes of The Richest Man in Babylon, The One Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese? and The Greatest Salesman in the World are some great examples of popular parables. Rather than simply stating the facts, these stories force us to analyse and internalise their lessons. Google “parable” and most of the results will involve Jesus. These stories are a great way to teach religious or spiritual lessons. I’ve found them a great way to also teach business and financial lessons too.

Reading the story forces us to think about the lessons, rather than just being handed them on a silver platter. I think that when we interpret the lessons, we feel a little bit clever, and these with stick with us a lot more. By the same token, these lessons aren’t hidden. They’re pretty obvious, but you do have to do a very small amount of work to extract them. I feel that by doing that little bit of work, the morals of the story really resonate with us and hopefully we are more likely to internalise them and act upon them. Below are a few of my favourite examples of business or personal development books that are delivered through parables.

The Richest Man in Bablyon

richestmaninbabylon

This is a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. These were originally distributed as series of different pamphlets distributed by banks and insurance companies before being compiled into a book. One of the parables tells is of an old, rich man passing on his knowledge of creating substantial wealth. Another uses an examples of the Walls of Babylon to show us that we all need to protect what we have. This is my favourite parable I’ve ever read. Definitely 5 stars (out of 5 of course!).

The lessons are the basic finance lessons our parents tried to teach us when we were young. I feel that if this book simply stated the facts, we would dismiss the advice like we dismissed the advice of our parents and teachers. This is really simple advice that EVERYONE needs to practice, but we don’t like being told what to do. Instead, George Clason delivers these lessons in the form of parables set thousands of years ago.

It isn’t condescending because we are so far removed from the situations of the camel trader and the spear maker, but the morals of the stories hold true today. By reading about the ancient Babylonians and their money issues, we can instead form our own judgements and apply them to our own lives today. If you’d like to learn some personal finance lessons without reading the entire thing for yourself, you can read my full summary here.

 

The One Minute Manager

One Minute Manager

Here is another good delivery of some very simple management techniques that we can use to help manage ourselves and those around us better. Rather than just telling us the three keys to one minute management, the parable helps us move through an office and understand WHY we should be using the One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings and One Minute Re-Directs. This books isn’t just for “managers” as these principles can also be applied to our own lives. Read the my full summary here.

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

WhoMovedMyCheese

This is perhaps the most well known, but the one I enjoyed the least. Again, the parable style was good in making me interpret the lesson for myself, but I found this book really really smacked us over the head repeatedly to make sure we didn’t miss the message. The other I think were a little more subtle but you could definitely still work out the lessons. This one really didn’t try to hide it at all. The message is still great in helping us cope with change. Definitely a must read for anyone about to undergo a big change in their life, be that in their employment, relationships, family, friends, living arrangements and so on. If you don’t want to read the book yourself, here’s my summary.

 

The Greatest Salesman in the World

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Probably my second favourite, but this one is a little lesser well known. This was again set in ancient times. I won’t give away the big twist at the end, but it was set around 2016 or 2017 years ago… Whilst the title suggests this book is for “salesman”, don’t be turned off. The 10 scrolls were fantastic and you can (and should) apply these to all aspects of life. Definitely worth the read! Or check out my summary here.

Getting Started

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The hardest part is often taking that first step. Similar to yesterday’s post, Biting the Bullet, it often turns out to be easier than you imagined. For me, the two things that become easier once I get started are housework and exercise.

Whenever I see that the dishwasher has finished, I can’t think of anything worse than stopping what I’m doing and putting the dishes away. After enough procrastinating, I’ll eventually get up and get started. Within a few minutes… It’s done!

It’s the same as exercise. The hardest part is just getting out the door. The biggest hurdle seems to be changing into my running gear, putting on my runnings shoes and walking out the door. Once I’m out and get started with that first step, I actually enjoy it!

I need to apply this to more areas of my life. If I spent less time doing anything else but starting and instead just got started, it’d be over before I knew it!

Success?

“Success”

It means so many different things to so many different people. Some see “success” as having a lot of money, some see it as having a great family, some see it as having a job we the can impact others in a positive way, some see it as being a well-respected public figure… There are many different definitions of “success”. A few years ago, I assumed everyone was financially motivated. Now, I’m realising more and more that money isn’t everything. Time and a feeling of freedom are featuring more and more in my personal definition of success.

“Success” is such an abstract, nebulous term that everyone has their own opinion on. As I was reading today, something really stuck out and grabbed my attention. I read every day (you can check out the books I’ve read here), and today, I started re-reading The Richest Man in Babylon in preparation for my podcast this weekend with my mate Adam Jones (check out our What You Will Learn podcast here), this jumped out at me. It wasn’t even in the book itself, it was actually in the foreword! I almost always skip the foreword but this one was only two pages so I read it. This sentence, tucked away in the middle of the page, really resonated with me:

 

“Success means accomplishments as the result of our own efforts and abilities.”

 

Efforts and Abilities

Everyone wants to achieve “success”, whatever that may mean to us. Thishis quote says to me that we like to do things right and we like to be rewarded for it. In this sense, we like to put in effort and accomplish things.

If success to you means having lots of money, you will be satisfied when you build a business and sell it for millions of dollars, or you may be satisfied from working and saving for 40 years and seeing a big retirement package at the end. But you won’t be as satisfied if you win the lottery. Whilst winning the lottery may satisfy your “success” in terms of giving you a lot of money, this isn’t a ‘result of our own efforts and abilities’. Perhaps this is why we hear that many lottery winners find themselves in financial trouble a year or two after a big lottery win.

If success to you means having a job in a position of authority, you derive your success form have a positive influence over people. By using ‘your own efforts and abilities’, you build a reputation, get promotions and earn peoples’ trust and respect. Therefore you are able to lead and inspire those around you. But if you were somehow thrust into a managerial position (perhaps you had friends in high places or used some of your other assets to get you there), I don’t think you would have the same feeling of success and you wouldn’t be able to exercise leadership because you wouldn’t have earned trust and respect.

 

Just a thought that crossed my mind this morning. Tucked away in a foreword I’d normally skip over. Have a think about it…

“Success means accomplishments as the result of our own efforts and abilities.”

"Sucess" from The Richest Man in Babylon