Extraordinary is…

black-and-white-2590810_1280

In a digital world, extraordinary is…

Human.

Presence.

Care taken.

Handcrafted.

Eye contact.

Face-to-face.

Heart-to-heart.

The intangibles.

Genuine interest.

A timely response.

That feeling of belonging.

Thanking someone in person.

Executing on the small details.

Talking less and listening more.

A handwritten note inside the package.

Choosing the best ingredients even if they cost more.

Treating people the way you would want to be treated.

Extraordinary is hardly ever the extravagant gesture, it is the ordinary thing, remembered.

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

air-bubbles-3790915_1280

Mario Vittone, a trained rescue swimmer, has written extensively on drowning.

I came across his article on Slate recently and was grateful for his insight when I read it.

Here are 3 things I took away:

  1. We are conditioned by television to recognise drowning by a mix of waving, splashing, and screaming. In real life, drowning is almost deceptively quiet. It is the second highest cause of accidental death in kids below age 15. And, at least in 10% of the drownings, the adults will have no idea it is happening.
  2. When folks drown, they can’t call out for help or wave. Their bodies look vertical and their mouths appear to sink and reappear above the surface of the water. It doesn’t mean a person who is splashing and yelling in the water isn’t drowning. They are in aquatic distress but still have the power to do something about it – unlike in the case of drowning.
  3. And, in his words: “So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK, don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all, they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents, children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.”

This festive season, many people will head to the beach to have fun. If you can, learn how to swim. And, once you do, be observant and safe.

But there is another form of drowning that happens away from the beach, it is during this time of the year that people drown in their own heavy emotions and end up ending their lives.

People drown in loneliness, in debt, in soulless relations, in self-pity, in pain of loss of loved one, in rejection, in failure, in the struggle, in the bewilderment.

This season, let’s reach out more to others, calling more, visiting more, inviting them over more, connecting more, reaching out more, building more bridges is more crucial now than ever before.

Don’t expect much from a drowning man. He’s not going to offer you a candy bar or ask how your day was.

He is too busy not drowning.

Generosity takes effort.

Generosity requires the space to take your mind off your own problems long enough to see someone else’s.

It requires the confidence to share when a big part of you wants to hoard.

And it requires the emotional labor of empathy.

Generosity begins by trusting ourselves enough to know that we are not actually drowning.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

My New Book: Letters to Entrepreneurs [Pre-order now]

IMG-20181127-WA0001

I have spent the last ten years teaching, mentoring, speaking and writing about the journey of entrepreneurship, overcoming fear, doing work that matters, and finding the ability to dance with uncertainty.

All those interactions have led to: Letters to Entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur can get lonely. I wrote this book to let you know that, what you are going through is not unique to you, you are not stupid, you are not inadequate or made a mistake by choosing to be an entrepreneur. 

There are many entrepreneurs who struggle with the same challenges that keeps you awake at night.

This book echoes many of the ideas, tips and lessons I have been writing about here for the last 6 years I have been blogging, but it’s completely original work.

Mostly, I wrote it to make it easier for my readers to encourage the change they would like to see in the people around them [and in ourselves].

I wrote it for you, and I wrote it for me, too, to help me get straight about what matters in doing work that makes a difference.

While there are definitely joys of entrepreneurship, there are also significant challenges. Entrepreneurship can feel isolating.

It is when you get lonely, that you need someone who understands your journey to share with you their wisdom.

Letters to Entrepreneurs is a list of lessons, tips, wisdom that I acquired over a period of 10 years of mentoring and learning from startup and seasoned entrepreneurs.

In this book I compile tips and lessons I have picked up from over 100 entrepreneurs I have mentored over a period of 15 years. Some of the lessons are personal lessons, lessons from my friends and colleagues and lessons are from other entrepreneurs.

The book contains over 100 distilled lessons, tactics, mistakes, life lessons, tips, strategies and advices.

If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go farther, go with others.

This books is lessons from journeys travelled with others who have reached far destinations.

About the pre-orders:

The book comes out in February 2019, the 06th to be precise..

My plan is to distribute it horizontally, from reader to reader, from fan to fan, as opposed to top down via retailers and promotion.

For that to work, though, I need a few hundred fans who are willing to take a chance on me and order a pre-pack.

They will get the very first copies from the printer and have an easy way to share it with friends and colleagues. After a start like that, the book is on its own.

I’m announcing this now because I’m about to go to print and need to know how many to make…

My hope is that people won’t be able to resist sharing it, just as we enjoy sharing digital work online.

For many people, of course, they will prefer to wait, to see what others say, and to avoid being an early adopter. That’s fine. Books last.

But, if you are up for it, I hope you will place and order and pay on the link provided at the bottom and dive in so I can make an intelligent decision about how many to print.

Who knows, if this works, we will be able to make the change we seek happen even faster.

Thanks for sharing.

Pre-order now:

Buy

 

Book Review: All Marketers are Liars [Tell Stories]

71NrAkCAHnL

Are marketers liers or good storytellers?

Initially the title of the book was All Marketers are Liars and then later on the title was changed to All Marketers are Storytellers.

This is a book about storytelling in marketing. It is about the power of stories. Basically Seth advices to market stories and ideas, not products.

I often have discussion with colleagues where I argue that marketing is often a smoke-and-mirrors approach that can be unethical, fraudulent and dishonest.

However, instead of boasting an “end justifies the means” viewpoint, All Marketers Are Liars argues in favour of building a “Great Story” — “Great Stories make a promise,” “Great stories are trusted,”factual,” “authentic,” and “Great stories are subtle.”

Seth talks about the importance of stories, about frames and world-views.

“Frame” your story in a way that makes sense to people so it breaks through the clutter and fits the audiences’ worldview.

According to Godin, great stories should match the voice of the consumer’s worldview. But a marketer shouldn’t focus on the product or water down her story to appeal to everyone, because it may end up appealing to no one. At its core, “marketing is about spreading ideas, and spreading ideas is the single most important output of our civilization.”

I love how Seth uses a lot of examples to drive his point.

Rating

8/10

I would recommend this book because all of us are marketers, we market our visions to our team, we market ideas to our siblings, kids and other family members, we marketers ourselves when we look for a good or sell something to customers.

We use marketing [whether we know it or not] in the workplace.

I would recommend this book to all entrepreneurs. Marketing and selling is a challenge to entrepreneurs. Often entrepreneurs tend to focus more their technical know-how, their products or services but struggle with marketing.

Selling products through the use of compelling, attention-getting stories is not new. However, Seth Godin provides a good rationale for why focusing communication through story is particularly important now.

The art of storytelling over and above just having 7Ps of marketing is highly important.

Storytelling makes the 7Ps to take off.

Godin’s writing style is very accessible and made it easy to think about how the concepts he covered could apply to an individual’s career.

Favorite quotes:

  • “We drink the can, not the beverage.”

  • “If consumers have everything they need, there’s nothing left to buy except stuff that they want. And the reason they buy stuff they want is because of the way it makes them feel.”
  • “Marketing is the name we use to describe the promise a company makes, the story it tells, the authentic way it delivers on that promise.”
  • “All marketers are storytellers. Only the losers are liars.”

  • “Stories (not ideas, not features, not benefits) are what spread from person to person.”
  • “Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.”
  • “We vote for a presidential candidate without saying, “Why not run the country for a month and then we’ll see.”
  • “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.”

  • “An idea in a book or on whiteboard has no impact. Just like a virus, an idea needs a brain to live in.”
  • “Until marketers start to take responsibility for the stories we tell and the promises we make, consumers will get increasingly more skeptical and suspicious – and all marketers will lose.”
  • “Consumers are all different but essentially they want the same outcome. They want to be promoted, to be popular, to be wealthy and wise. They want to be pleasantly surprised and honestly flattered.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

81o9vblSjmL

One of the things I love is history. It is important to understand of history of anything so that we can understand how we got here but mostly important where are heading from here.

Yuval Noah Harari is an amazing historian who has a way of capturing history and narrating it as if it’s a movie.

In his first book Sapiens: Brief History of Humankind, he surveyed the human past, examining how an insignificant ape became the ruler of planet earth.

In his second book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, he explored the long term future of life, contemplating how humans might eventually become gods, and what the ultimate destiny of intelligence and consciousness might be.

Having addressed the deep past and the distant future, Harari turns his attention to the present in this book.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century focuses on current affairs and the immediate future of current society.

What I love about Yuval is that he goes deeper on topics, he unpacks them in such a way that you understand and tries to give funny examples, even though sometimes his jokes are those dry English jokes, I guess it explains it because he studied in Oxford.

He explores the following issues:

  • Life in 15th-century China was pretty slow, but now the pace of change feels unstoppable.
  • Religion can be bad, but has its uses.
  • Nationalism can be bad, but has its uses.
  • Factory farming is very, very bad.
  • Liberalism is good, but under threat.
  • Hunter-gathering is a more exciting lifestyle choice than farming, or working in a factory.
  • Technological advances bring Big Ethical Questions.
  • And, of course, there is Harari’s main question, which is here spelled out in a chapter heading. “How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed, and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?”

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is, as the title suggests, a loose collection of themed essays. I would rephrase the title to say: What Are the Biggest Problems Facing Us in the 21st Century?

This is in essence what the book answers.

Harari is such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed him on certain topics or on his predictions, I still kept on reading and thinking.

All three of his books wrestle with some version of the same question: What will give our lives meaning in the decades and centuries ahead?

So far, human history has been driven by a desire to live longer, healthier, happier lives.

If science is eventually able to give that dream to most people, and large numbers of people no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone, what reason will we have to get up in the morning?

Rating

7/10

Yuval’s writing is not for the faint-hearted. He gives his interpretation in a very sober approach and he doesn’t hold back any punches.

This is an interesting book. It is empowering and enlightening, you will learn a lot from it.

I loved this book but not as much as I loved Sapiens and Homo Deus, I rated both books 9.10.

I will certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested in current affairs or is curious about certain topics.

Favourite quotes:

  • “In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.”

  • “Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
  • “Individual humans know embarrassingly little about the world, and as history has progressed, they have come to know less and less. A hunter-gatherer in the Stone Age knew how to make her own clothes, how to start a fire, how to hunt rabbits, and how to escape lions. We think we know far more today, but as individuals, we actually know far less. We rely on the expertise of others for almost all our needs.”
  • “Silence isn’t neutrality; it is supporting the status-quo.”
  • “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.”

  • “Humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely.”
  • “We should never underestimate human stupidity. Both on the personal and on the collective level, humans are prone to engage in self-destructive activities.”
  • “The greatest crimes in modern history resulted not just from hatred and greed, but even more so from ignorance and indifference.”
  • “First, if you want reliable information, pay good money for it. If you get your news for free, you might well be the product.”

  • “Democracy is based on Abraham Lincoln’s principle that ‘you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time’.”
  • “Humans of all creeds would do well to take humility more seriously.”

  • “In other words, switching to autonomous vehicles is likely to save the lives of one million people every year. It would therefore be madness to block automation in fields such as transport and healthcare just in order to protect human jobs. After all, what we ultimately ought to protect is humans—not jobs. Displaced drivers and doctors will just have to find something else to do.”

Bragging and complaining…

Black businessman got a gold award from monitor.

Bragging and complaining. The conversation cycle of many entrepreneurs.

Those who are doing well are busy bragging about it.

Those who are struggling are busy complaining about it.

If you find yourself in bragging part of the cycle… go back to work.

If you find yourself in the complaining part of the cycle…either quit or go back to work.

And in either case, find something else to talk about…

The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.

Hype: Quietly walk away….

72-dpi-hype-ego-balloons

According to  observers as high up as President Truman, what separated George Marshall from nearly everyone else in the military and politics is that “never did General Marshall think about himself.”

General George Marshall was an accomplished man who refused to indulge in his own hype and success.

There is another story of Marshall sitting for one of the many official portraits that was required of him.

After appearing many times and patiently honoring the requests, Marshall was finally informed by the painter that he was finished and free to go.

Marshall stood up and began to leave.

“Don’t you want to see the painting?” the artist asked.

“No, thank you,” Marshall said respectfully and left.

As you become more accomplished, you will realise that so much of it is a distraction from your work, time spent with journalists writing glossy articles about you and your face on front page magazine covers, hyping your image on social media and other forms of media, awards ceremonies, marketing and PR are time away from what you really care about, you work.

Over time these distractions fuel your ego.

As his wife later observed, the people who saw George Marshall as simply modest or quiet missed what was special about the man.

He had the same traits that everyone has, ego, self-interest, pride, dignity, ambition, but they were “tempered” or regulated by a sense of humility and selflessness.

Hype leads to ego and unchecked ego hurts the ones we love, our partners, families, friends, and customers.

Like General Marshall, quietly walk away from things that have the potential to fuel your ego.