A Thought For The New Year

December 30, 2011

Assuming it’s even only roughly true, it’s still worth thinking about, at least in a business context!

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

In particular, if you want to get to a new place, spending more time with some different people may make that journey possible or easier although initially it’ll be more difficult or inconvenient.

The Power Of Yes And No Journals

December 27, 2011

An interesting idea from MacSparky:

The No Journal is not to be confused with a task list. (It isn’t a someday-maybe list either. In most cases, no means no, forever.) This isn’t a list I read to figure out what to do next. Instead, the No Journal is how I keep myself honest. It wouldn’t have been possible for me to write two books and keep a full time day job in the last few years without first getting better at saying no. My only regret is not getting serious about this earlier.

I’m doing some planning for next year and the conventional thing to is to develop some main directions. I don’t use too many formal goals as such as I’ve found they often become self-defeating (unless the work is very clearcut).

However looking back over the past year it’s interesting to see how much time I spent on things that didn’t really fit in anywhere but were done just to see where they lead or through procrastination. So, in this sense, it would have been very helpful to have decided what I best ‘not do’ and then at least I’d know if I was digressing!

So, for 2012, as well as having a one-pager on what I hope to explore and accomplish, I also have another page on what I won’t do – I actually found this harder to write, which is interesting! I’ll log my results as I go along (I record most daily activities in a digital notebook) and it’ll be illuminating to see if I end up more creative and productive this way!

On a related theme, see also this recent post by Seth Godin on ‘doing more or less’.

Picture credit here.

Thinking About Tipping Points

December 21, 2011

Late last Sunday night I put the radio on to hear the news and was fascinated to hear that the following programme was on Tipping Points, something I’m looking into as part of developing some new ideas for understanding growth in small businesses. A nice example of serendipity!

In particular the conversation focused on a new research project:

Laurie Taylor explores the idea of the Tipping Point using a multidisciplinary project at Durham University as a springboard to examine what tipping points are, how they happen and what effect they have. Professor Tim Clark and Professor Pat Waugh from Durham University and Professor Alex Bentley from Bristol University are all involved in the Durham Tipping Points project and they are joined by Dr Shahidha Bari from Queen Mary, London to discuss the idea of the tipping point and what it might tell us about ourselves and our environment – and how, perhaps, we can use our understanding of it to prevent significant problems in areas as diverse as banking and sociology.

The fact that different subject areas were interacting together seems quite fascinating to me, especially as it’s often said that innovation arises at the border of disciplines (see also here).

The programme started with the academic motivation for the project and some interesting questions that were discussed included:

  • Is the idea of a tipping point universal, leading to previously unrecognised connections, or specific to each particular discipline?
  • Are tipping points irreversible?
  • What can we learn from human and non-human tipping points? For example, the contrast of the mechanistic viewpoint with the human notions of spontaneity and serendipity.

It’ll be interesting to see what the outcomes of the Durham Tipping Points Project are and how the results may help in encouraging opportunities as well as preventing problems.

The 30 minute programme is currently still available via iPlayer.

Picture credit: here.

The Delusion Of Tangible Goals

December 19, 2011

Perceptive and interesting quote from the poet Stephen Spender:

“The greatest of all human delusions is that there is a tangible goal, and not just direction towards an ideal aim. The idea that a goal can be attained perpetually frustrates human beings, who are disappointed at never getting there, never being able to stop.”

Source: The Happiness Project.

Learning From Apple

December 12, 2011

I’m developing a new offering for my customers and was looking for some fresh and invigorating guidelines. There’s loads of advice out there of course and this can also be combined with my over 25 years of personal experience.

The best approach I came across, totally accidentally, was from Greg Joswiak of Apple, taken from a presentation at the recent ‘Silicon Valley Comes To Cambridge 2011’ event (see here and here).

Summarised, it’s:

  • Focus: It means saying no, not saying yes.
  • Simplicity: Make complex things simple.
  • Courage: Don’t hang on to ideas from the past even if they have been successful for you.
  • Best: If you can’t enter the market and try and be the best in it, don’t enter it.

This helped me alot – very clean and neat, just like Apple products…

I particularly liked the third point: not being constrained by what’s worked in the (recent) past. This also means a constant search for new ways of doing things even if the consequences are not always totally clear at the outset. Anyway, it’s summarised in that one word ‘courage’!

As an aside, here’s some interesting information on learning at Apple.

Picture credit: here.

The Difference Between Clients And Customers

December 2, 2011

From SalesMarks:

If you visit dictionary.com to look “customer” and “client” up, you’ll find these first definitions:


1. a person who purchases goods or services from another…


1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.

I’ve shortened them to make a point: You don’t want customers any more after reading those definitions. You want clients. You don’t want people who buy from you once because you simply have the “goods” they need right now. You want ongoing relationships with people who use your professional advice and expertise — who buy from you because of how you help them, not what you hand them.

You may think this is splitting hairs; that it’s semantics. But it’s really a mindset. Cultivate relationships so that you become indispensable for what you know (that you can transfer), how you help, and how you make people feel about the interaction. When you do that, you’re building a client base, not a customer list.

A good point to reflect on when starting or growing a business as the words often get muddled in practice even though the mindset behind them is quite different.