Where are the optimists?


A quick look at just about any news source covering the business world and you’re likely to be either frightened or depressed. Seems like everyone is a crook. What are these people thinking? African Bank, Fidentia, Leeman Brothers, Eurozone debt crisis, sub-prime mortgage crisis, Occupy Wall Street, Is capitalism doomed? Do we need a new system? Do we need to go back to socialism? 

Me, I’m betting on small companies.

Small companies are where the people doing the work are also making the decisions. I’m endlessly optimistic about the capacity for human beings to make money solving each others’ problems.

It’s only when we create a new sort of royalty, an unelected ruling class, that these companies seem to get into trouble.

Can’t wait to see the new stuff that’s getting invented in someone’s garage right now!


Ps: Capitalism fails to acknowledge that life is social and socialism fails to acknowledge that life is private.

Who Will Say “Go”?


Here’s a little-spoken truth I learned a while back:

Most people don’t believe they are capable of initiative. They rather follow than start. Initiating a project, a blog, a seminar, even a family trip. Initiating something even when you’re not deemed to be in charge.

At the same time, almost all people believe they are capable of editing, giving feedback, or merely criticising.

So finding people to fix your typos is easy.

A few people are vandals, happy to anonymously attack or add graffiti or useless noise.

If your project depends on having individuals step up and say, “This is what I believe, here is my plan, here is my original thought, here is my group, my tribe,” then you need to expect that most people will see that offer and decline to take it.

Most of the tweets among the billion that go by are reactions or possibly responses, not initiatives.

You can pretty easily find people who will work with you or for you or advise you if you tell them what you want to do, if you are the person who says, “let’s go.”

It turns out that finding the employee/partner/consultant who says, “this is what we should do, follow me,” is rare and precious. More valuable than just about anything that’s printed on a CV.

I have a controversial belief about this: I don’t think the problem has much to do with the innate ability to initiate, I believe everyone has the ability to initiate. I think the problem has to do with believing that its possible and acceptable for you to do it. Most people can initiate, but most people don’t believe they can initiate.

We have had the doors to initiate things open since 1994, these doors have been open for to us 20 years now, to start and initiate things.

However Most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not design it.

There is a huge shortage…. a shortage of people will say “go.” 

Go initiate something.

Choose your friends, choose your customers, choose your future

Choose Wisely


Entrepreneurs rarely think about choosing customers. 

Your customers define what you make, how you make it, where you sell it, what you charge, who you hire and even how you fund your business. If your customer base changes over time but you fail to make changes in the rest of your business, stress and failure will follow.

Sell to angry cheapskates and your business will reflect that. On the other hand, when you find great customers, they will eagerly co-create with you. They will engage and invent and spread the word.

It takes vision and guts to turn someone down and focus on a different segment, on people who might be more difficult to sell at first, but will lead you where you want to go over time.

When our parents were strict about our choice of friends, it was because they knew the influence our friends may have on us. Similarly, choose your customers carefully because they have the potential to influence your business.

Choosing your customers empowers you to decide the direction of your business. Choose your customers, choose your future.


Failure, success and neither


The math is magical: you can pile up lots of failures and still keep rolling, but you only need one juicy success to build a career.

The killer is the category called ‘neither’. If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticising, you’ll never have a shot at success. Avoiding the thing that’s easy to survive keeps you from encountering the very thing you’re after.

And yet we market and work and connect and create as if just one failure might be the end of us. One failure is not the end of us.

Why Bother Having a CV?


Last night I had meeting with an entrepreneneur. He wanted to chair the board of his small business. While I am humbled by the offer, this proposal got me thinking about how people get appointed.

When Carlos Alberto Parreira was about to be appointed the coach of Bafana Bafana (South African soccer squad) before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, SAFA wanted him to send his CV and to interview him. He was actually surprised by SAFA’s approach because he felt that being a World Cup winning coach, his track record spoke for itself. When Jose Mourinho was reappointed coach of Chelsea, I doubt Roman Abramovich wanted a CV and a formal interview to determined if he is fit for the job. I am sure brilliant actors don’t carry CV’s, their reputation precedes them.

This is controversial, but I will say it, here goes:

I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a CV at all.

Not just for the appointment of a chairperson of a small business, but in general. Great people shouldn’t have a CV.

Here’s why: A CV is an excuse to reject you. Once you send me your CV, I can say, “oh, they’re missing this or they’re missing that,” and boom, you’re out.

Having a CV begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

If you don’t have a CV, what must you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?

Or manage your Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn is such a way that you will a great person to follow?

Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?

Or a reputation that precedes you?

Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Some say, “well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.”

Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have those, why do you think you are  remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have those, you’ve been brainwashed into acting like you’re sort of ordinary whiles you are extraordinary. 

Great jobs, world class jobs, jobs people kill for… those jobs don’t get filled by people emailing in CV’s. Ever.