Entrepreneurship is art, driven by passion, and succeeds when you create something that touches people so that they share it with others. You see something worth doing doing something about. You create something. And if you're successful, people buy into it. That's all.
I built this site because I needed a place to keep my ideas, and because everybody expects me to have one. I still don't know what else it's for, but most of us are still figuring out what the internet is for anyway. So relax, poke around and see if you can find anything interesting. Or drop me a line, or use the links at the top to find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: I write things that seem to be worth mentioning, observations about things I notice and people who stand out. They're not intended to be definitive, complete, or even particularly accurate. Please enjoy them for what they are. Everything posted here is an opinion, and I'm quite aware that your opinion (and sometimes my own) may be different. You're welcome.
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I had an unbelievable conversation recently with someone in an organisation that teaches people to become entrepreneurs. At least, that's what they claim. But they seem to have missed the main point, and I don't have any more patience to be nice to people who talk the talk but are just playing.
So here's the message, as clear as I can make it:
People, everyone needs to make money! Whether they're farmers in the wilderness, startups in your hometown, social ventures with bills to pay, or the people you rely on to make things happen. Everyone needs to pay their rent and eat, long-term. You can't build a successful anything just by focusing on getting investment, you have to start right from the beginning with the idea of exchanging value for value so that everyone wins.
"You laugh at me because I am different, and I laugh at you because you are all the same" - Lady Gaga
Here's a great role model for any aspiring tech founder! As I've said before, it's not enough to simply be a genius, you have to get your amazingness into the public conscious if you want to be successful. Without an effective strategy of awesomeness and being-talked-about, you're a nobody. If you don't stand out in the crowd of wannabes, you're not going to be noticed. If you don't believe in yourself, big time, why should anyone else?
Imagine it's 1977, nobody owns a computer, nobody needs software, and the people who do all share it with one another. You have 30 seconds, or one tweet, to sell me on the idea that the next big thing to invest in is computer software.
If you're an entrepreneur, even a wantrepreneur, chances are someone has told you at some point to "do a kickstarter." I hear this so often that if each of those people had just contributed $20 to my cause, I wouldn't have to raise funds at all.
I have tried crowd-funding a couple of times, and am about to make my third attempt, so it's worth taking a look at this whole business - starting with the observation that none of those helpful people telling me how to raise money has ever actually done it.
For many people, the life I live is fascinating. I travel the world, enjoy my work but don't do too much of it, and have amazing adventures in places that others only dream of going to. I'm healthy, energetic, usually cheerful, and have a lot of insights that they want to share. My public persona (which is not completely accurate) is the person that many people want to be, and they like to live vicariously through me.
So naturally, it's not unusal to hear people tell me I should write a book.
I have been recruiting recently, and very few of the applicants have done it even a little bit right. I have an inbox full of messages from people I don't want to talk to, and nobody has made me think "wow, I really want to hire that guy!" It pains me that I have to write this article, but I think that a lot of people out there really need it.
I have interviews scheduled today with two people who did things reasonably well, so ask yourself a simple question. Next time someone is offering money for the right skills, do you want to be considered for the job? Or do you want to waste your time and mine by sending me the wrong message?
I heard about this guy who has set himself an amazing challenge: "I’m betting £10k that I can build a portfolio of products which is profitable enough to live off, before running out of money. " And he's posting his accounts and diary on his blog.
It sounds great, we could all use some of that magic. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all watch, learn, and copy his success? Well, after looking at his site, fascinating as it is, I've concluded that he is in fact Batman. And we should all stop watching.
This lady is Joyce, my customer service queen at Enspyre, who used to answer my phone when I lived in Taiwan. I've had a few interesting encounters with customer service people recently, one outstandingly good and one outstandingly bad, both worth commenting upon. At the core of this issue is the question I've asked before: whose problem are you trying to solve?
If you know me, you will know I don't expect much from customer service people; just a fast knowledgable response, superhuman patience, and a genuine desire to solve whatever problem I throw at them. But what I really want is to never need them at all.
One of my friends used this phrase while talking about restaurants in Taipei, but it can apply to anything. Being diappointment-averse is similar to giving up hope. A sad state, but a common one.
If you don't particularly like beef noodles, greasy dumplings, and 'slop shop' buffets - or even if you do and just want a change - the options in Taipei are quite limited. There are plenty of restaurants advertising themselves as Mexican, Thai, American, Italian, or whatever, and if you're not too picky then you can easily try a new place every day for a month. But if you've ever eaten real Italian food, the Taiwanese version is pretty disappointing. Thai food, Indian food, even more so. Even burgers and fries have to be localised, to suit the tastebuds of the majority of customers. So, if you're a foodie, you're constantly disappointed, except at those relatively few places that repeatedly make you happy.
I get tired of hearing this crap from people who are happy with the status quo. I don't care how good things are, there is always room for improvement. I am an optimist, which means I constantly look for opportunities for improvement. Pessimists think that improvement is not possible, so they tell you to be happy with the world as it is.
Their favourite is the old half-full vs half-empty argument. So here are a few different responses for you to use next time someone accuses you of being negative because you think things can improve.
There is a lot of talk about forming companies, and almost as much about how long companies last. Most new companies fail within the first year. Those that survive the first year last an average of twelve years. The half-life of Fortune 500 companies is 15 years. Companies that survive ten years and become very big, only last an average of 30-40 years, but there are companies that have existed for hundreds of years. And so on. What is true, and what is important?
A few years ago, Joshua Bell stood in the entrance to a busy subway station in New York, playing the violin like any other busker. In case you don't know (I didn't), he's one of the world's top violinists, and he was playing a Stradivarius worth US$3.5million.
And nobody took any fucking notice.
Enterprise gurus love this question! They ask you, "before you embark on a quest to change the world, tell me what's wrong with the way things are. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."
I call bullshit. Whether or not something is a problem depends on who you are, what your understanding is, and what your values are. It also depends on how you define problem.
I was trying to cheer up a Greek friend, who was lamenting that his country is now being dictated to by those serial over-achievers, the Germans. Frau Merkel is tut-tutting about Greece's numbers; GDP, debt, tax revenue, etc. and telling them how to put their house in order. And I couldn't help reminding him that despite everything else, the German people have one flaw: they can't dance.
The title of this piece comes from the classic radio show The HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy, and an episode in which the heroes are being pursued by a 'foot soldier' employed by the Dolmansaxlil Shoe Corporation. When asked why the soldier is limping, an executive responds that "his feet are the wrong size for his shoes."
Photographers are strange people. They see the world through a lens, try to 'capture' it instead of experiencing it. In fact, capturing it is their way of experiencing it, like trophy hunters on the plains of the Serengeti. Yup, got that, let's go!
And then they tell you about it.
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me not to clean anything else in the house with the cloth we used to wash the dishes. Why not? Well, that cloth comes into contact with the plates we eat off so we don't want to contaminate it with dirt from the outside world.
I was recently informed by someone else that I shouldn't clean anything else in the house with the dishwashing cloth because ... wait for it, the cloth is contaminated with food waste, and any other surface it comes into contact with will get a sheen of bacteria-attracting organic gunk.
So who is right? Which way does the contamination go?
I recently left Taiwan after ten years as a freelance consultant and teacher. I specialised in "learning by doing" programs for students in high-schools and universities, adult work-shops, and business training. I also organised several TEDx events in Taipei, and am currently a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.
I'm passionate about creativity, ideas, and entrepreneurship, and am based in Sofia, Bulgaria at the moment - and loving it. I have a couple of projects under way, and am meeting lots of interesting and cool people such as the guys behind Startup Weekend, Launchub and Eleven. Read more ...
... and my name wasn't on it!
This is a big problem, because if you want to change the world then the world has to know that you are, in fact, one of the people who does give a shit.
Seriously, who wants to work with (or for) people who don't care? Who wants to invest in entrepreneurs that are not passionate about what they do? Who wants a teacher or doctor that is only there for the money? In fact ... can you think of any situation where you want to hear other people telling you they don't care about you or the things that are important to you? Caring is the first step to achieving anything that's worth achieving.Read more...