The Art of Listening:…. and The Art of Ignoring


When you do important work, work that changes things and work that matters, it’s inconceivable that the change you are trying to make will be met with complete approval.

Trying to please everyone will water down your efforts, frustrate your forward motion and ultimately fail.

The balancing act is to work to please precisely the right people, and just enough of them, to get your best work out the door

Shun the non-believers. They don’t deserve your attention, even when you prove them wrong, they will move on to criticize someone else. Delight your true-believers, they are your ambassadors and they will spread your word.

If you try to delight the undelightable, you have made yourself miserable for no reason.

If you read biographies of all successful entrepreneurs, you will realise that they have been laughed at by people who thought that their visions were ridiculous.

Don’t listen to people who don’t believe in you. Shun the non-believers.

The Art of Listening: Are You Listening?

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One of the old-fashioned skills that today goes largely unsung, a skill important to any business’ success. And that skill is… listening.

Not listening. Listening.

In today’s world, we are constantly chattering, twittering, blogging, talking. With so much talking, listening tends to go by the wayside. And by listening, I don’t just mean registering messages other people throw at you. I mean taking the time and care to interpret, understand, and empathise with someone else’s point of view.

We are always hurried, moving from one task to another, from one deadline to another, from one goal to another, that we sometimes miss listening to answers that the world gives us.

As an entrepreneur it’s important to develop an ear for what people are really saying, not so much the words but the underlying feelings and themes.

Having an ear matters in entrepreneurship. We are constantly taking information in from our clients, synthesizing it, and sending it back out for public consumption through our products and services.

The better and more deeply we listen, the more we “get it,” the more effective our communications and the more effective our offerings.

Listening also helps us build better relationships with clients (and partners). When clients move business from one business to another, one of the biggest reasons they cite is that their old service provider “doesn’t understand my business.”

Active, thoughtful listening goes a long way to helping you comprehend the nuances of your client’s challenges and needs. And it shows respect.

Listening as a skill that can be taught. We must first learn “to avoid the trap of constantly focusing on how you are going to respond to what the other party is saying” instead of simply listening.

The next time you find yourself harried and multitasking while someone is speaking to you, take a deep breath, slow down, and give your colleague or client your fullest attention.

If you don’t, who knows what you might be missing.

John D Rockefeller, Albert Einstein and TJ Malamule


Not many people know John D Rockefeller (without first using google), however you don’t need google to tell you the significance of Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr.

John D Rockefeller was an American business magnate. He was one of the wealthiest people of his time. Albert Einstein was an ordinary guy, who at sometimes would get lost on his way to home from work.

Eisntein was not the richest person in town, but he was the most significant. My friend TJ Malamule may not be the wealthiest person in town (in time he will be), but he is undoubtedly the most influential in his circle of people (and there are many in his circle). TJ does work that matters, work that touches people, work that is significant.

This is not a popularity contest, it is a significance contest.

History rewards people of significance. Strive to be a person of significance.

By all means make a living, its important, however significance comes when you do work that matters, work that touches and work makes the world better than we found it. 

What did you do today that made the world a better place, not only for you and your immediate family and friends, but for people, some you wouldn’t even know?

Making a living and being significant are not necessarily the same thing but are also not necessarily mutually exclusive

Taking Things for Granted

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It’s so easy to take things for granted in our lives. We have a good thing that lasts and, before long, we kind of assume that good thing will last forever.

No good thing lasts forever without some care and maintenance. Relationships. Health. Nothing.

You have to give something of yourself to maintain everything of worth in your life. If you don’t, those good things might last for a while out of inertia, but they won’t last forever. You will eventually lose them.

Someone else is praying for things you are taking for granted.

Eventually things you take for granted, get taken. It’s important to appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had.

It Is Personal…


“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”

We spend more than 50% of our lives at work. Why would anyone want to wake up in the morning and go to work with that attitude? If you don’t make it personal, and if you don’t make it count, what’s the point?

Business is missing one important core value: compassion.

“Between work and family, I have no time for community.”

This is something everyone feels at some point in their lives. But think about it: What if we made community an integral part of our business?

What if we recognised that we can’t have strong businesses without a strong community and we can’t have a strong community without compassion?

People don’t switch on and off their emotions when they enter and leave the workplace. The industrial revolution of the factory mindset has created the notion that what matters most is our logic and not our compassion.

The connection revolution, where connections are key, continues to show the importance of EQ on the workplace: a happy employee is a productive employee.

The real way strong communities are built is through the compassion we extend to others. Both to those we know, and to those we don’t know.

The Internet is amazing because it connects us all.

Compassion for those around us now extends globally and beyond our physical boundaries. We can all do more for each other and be better.

Be compassionate to everyone no matter the level of connection.

Make compassion a core business value.

Start with a smile to a stranger.

Start by getting others to nod in agreement when you say: “If we are not compassionate to one another, what’s the point in the end?”

Compassion is the gold of the new paradigm

No one becomes poor giving


When the economy slows down and recession starts, it’s natural to think of yourself first. You have a family to feed, a mortgage bond to pay. Getting more, wanting more appears to be the order of business.

It turns out that the connected economy doesn’t respect this natural instinct. Instead, we are rewarded for being generous. Generous with our time and money but most important generous with our art, our skill and our experiences.

If you make a difference, people will gravitate to you. They want to engage, to interact and to get you more involved.

In a digital world, in the connection economy, the gift I give you almost always benefits me more than it costs.

If you make a difference, you also make a connection. You interact with people who want to be interacted with and you make changes that people respect and yearn for.

Art can’t happen without someone who seeks to make a difference. This is your art, it’s what you do. You touch people or projects and change them for the better.

The generosity economy rewards people who create and participate in circles of gifts. Not the direct I-gave-you-this-you-give-me-that giving and get of a traditional economy, but instead the tribal economy of individuals supporting one another.

This coming month, this year, you will certainly find that the more you give the more you get.

No one has ever become poor giving:

Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky. — Hāfiz 

This Might Not Work: The Flipside – This Might Work

Why are we willing to try things when this might not work?

Because it might work.

The only way to change things is to try things that might not work.  This, of course, does not guarantee that things will work out – your idea might be truly crazy or impossible. But we have to aim high.  The reward when we do is that this might work.

Innovation is challenging because to innovate we must seek out uncertainty.  For most people, this is not comfortable, that’s why we don’t like “this might not work.”  Nevertheless, if we want to do work that makes a difference, that’s where we need to be.

To grow we have to try, stumble, and learn.

So give it a go.  It might work.

This Might Not Work: Do It Anyways


What’s the most important phrase in innovation?

You could make the case for “That’s interesting.”  Lots of great ideas start with curiousity.  If you want to become more innovative, increasing your awareness of what’s going on around you is a great way to start.  And when you find interesting things, you can start to learn more about them.

Another candidate is “That really bugs me.” It really stresses me. We know that a lot of innovation is irritation-based. Innovation comes from frustrations, from customer pains.  When things don’t work right, we want to fix them.  It’s an important innovation driver.

My vote for the Most Important Phrase in Innovation goes to “This might not work.”  You can’t innovate without saying this.  If there’s not a measurable chance that your idea won’t work, then it’s not new.

This might not work. But it definitely won’t work if I do nothing in fear instead of something in hope.  



Persistence is not using the same tactics over and over. That’s just insane.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

Behaving as if your arrogance is dignified

#QuoteoftheDay 'No matter how great you are, arrogance is not a good sign.' - His Holiness Younus AlGohar

We care a lot about finding people who are brilliant, who get things done, who make a difference. We care a lot about finding a stage-play writer with talent, a doctor who can cure us, a programmer who can get the thing to work.

Along the way, many of the talented people who are able to do work like this develop affectations, obsessions and even obnoxious qualities. They might demand an over-equipped dressing room or a private jet or merely be difficult in meetings and conversations (or show up late, which is almost as bad).

We often put up with this, because, after all, they are superstars, right?

Somewhere along the way, we confused the signals with the work, we confuse random flashes of brilliance with brilliance, we confuse diva tendencies with being a well-mannered diva.

Now there are people who start with the bad behavior and the affectations, hoping that it will be seen as a sign of insight and talent. And they often get away with it. “Who’s that?” we wonder… “I don’t know, but they must be good at what they do, because why else would we put up with them?” It’s a great plan when it works, but I don’t think it’s a strategy to be counted on.

An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life of becoming a better person.

The key to getting a reputation for being brilliant is actually being brilliant, not just acting like you are.