StartUp Tip #8: Do work that matters


For humans born in a time when resources were limited and dangers were great, our natural inclination to share and cooperate is complicated when resources are plenty and outside dangers are few.

When we have less, we tend to be more open to sharing what we have.

A Bedouin tribe or nomadic Mongolian family doesn’t have much, yet they are happy to share because it is in their best interest to do so.

If you happen to come across them in your travels, they will open up their homes and give you their food and hospitality.

It’s not just because they are nice people, it’s because their survival depends on sharing, for they know that they may be the travelers in need of food and shelter another day.

Ironically, the more we have, the bigger our fences, the more sophisticated our security systems to keep people away and the less we want to share.

When we succeed, our desire for more, combined with our reduced physical interaction with the “common folk,” starts to create a disconnection or blindness to reality.

The more we believe we have arrived, the more distance we build from the common folk.

Abundance can be destructive because it abstracts the value of things. The more we have, the less we seem to value what we have.

And if the abstraction of stuff makes us value it less, imagine what it does to our relationship.

We no longer see each other as people, we are now customers, shareholders, employees, avatars, online profiles, screen names, personal brands, email addresses, expenses to be tracked, followers to be collected, business cards to be collected.

The human being really has gone virtual.

Now more than ever before, we are trying to work and live, be productive and happy, in a world in which we are strangers to those around us.

Don’t fall into the trap of being a rich but poor person. Being successful and rich physically and materially but poor soulfully.

For what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Appearing on TV, front cover of magazines, people quoting you, more followers on social media, may seem great, but remember fame is overrated.

Be smart, generous, witty, interesting, curious, engaging and most importantly be down to earth.

Be respectful, sincere, and honestly invested in other fellow human beings. Don’t do it for media and publicity, do it because you genuinely care.

Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better.

It takes guts to say, “I read this and I think you should too.” The guts to care enough about our culture (and your friends) to move it forward and to stand for something.

We will judge you most on whether you care enough to change things.

Doing work that matters is sharing is caring.

By all means succeed, but continue to care and share.

I have no doubt that people reading this will succeed, the question is will you matter?

I hope you will.

Portrait: Four People Sharing a Meal, 1885 – Vincent van Gogh

StartUp Tip #7: Spend some quiet time


If you wake up chasing the morning because you woke up late, you’ll always be in a rush mode the entire day.

The first 10 minutes of how you start your day determines how you spend the next 10 hours of your day.

The inability to manage time means you’re always chasing time which means you’re always chasing your life instead of managing your life

Start your day with mind training.

By meditating, you are starting your day by practicing focus when it doesn’t matter [sitting on a couch for 10 minutes] so that you can focus better when it does matter [negotiation, conversation with a loved one etc.]

Meditation acts as a warm bath for the mind.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree & I’ll spend the first hour sharpening the axe.”- Abraham Lincoln

Meditation allows me to step back and gain a “witness perspective of my life and day,” so that I’m observing my thoughts instead of being tumbled by them.

Spend some quiet time in the morning, reflecting, thinking, breathing and listening to inner voice.

This helps you track your emotions and feelings throughout the day.

StartUp Tip #6: Losers have goals, winners have systems


Focus your mind on “systems” instead of “goals.”

This involves choosing projects and habits that, even if they result in “failure” in the eyes of the outside world, give you transferable skills or relationships.

In other words, you choose options that allow you to inevitably “succeed” over time, as you build assets that carry over to subsequent projects.

Fundamentally, “systems” could be thought of as asking yourself, “what persistent skills or relationships can I develop?” versus “What short-term goal can I achieve.?”

The latter has a potent snowball effect, while the latter is a binary pass/fail with no consolation prize.

StartUp Tip #5: Make your bed


If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.

It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

Completing one task well in the morning gives you a sense of accomplishment and courage to go on to accomplish other tasks.

It is not about the task per se [making the bed] that is important but the “completing the task” that is more important. Making your bed is a much easier task that you can complete within 3 minutes at the beginning of your day.

By the end of the day, that one task completed in the morning will have turned into many tasks completed throughout the day.

Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

Ps: Unfortunately most people look at making their beds a chore or something that should be relegated to the housekeeper, they look at making their own beds as a low-level task and therefore don’t do it missing out on the easy wins in the morning.


StartUp Tip #4: There are no super heroes


The superheroes you have in your mind [idols, titans, billionaiers, etc] are nearly all walking flaws who have maximized one or two of their strengths.

Humans are imperfect creatures.

Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, that do things no one can imagine.

Successful people don’t have super natural powers, they are normal humans who managed to capitalize on their strengths.

You don’t succeed because you have no weaknesses, you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.

Don’t wait to be perfect before you start.

Start with your strengths and build from there.

You have that one strength that can make you great.

Everyone struggles. Take solace in that.

StartUp Tip #3: Adopt a producer mindset


When was the last time you created something?

Wrote something from a blank page?

Drew something from a blank canvas?

While you are still thinking about it, how about this question:

When was the last time you bought something?

The answer to buying something is easier than the answer to producing something.

Is it because it is easier to buy than to create, to consume than to produce?

Efosa Ojomo has said before:

“Anyone can consume. But not everyone can create. Focus on creating, & consumption will happen. Focus on consuming, & debt & bankruptcy await.”

The customer is king, but in the long run, though, the smart producer wins, because the consumer comes to forget how to produce.

The more you consume, the more consuming becomes your way of life.

Your happiness as a consumer depends on your consuming.

If you don’t go shopping, you don’t feel complete.

When you are unhappy about something, the shortcut path to happiness is to go shopping. Hence we call it retail therapy.

As producers consolidate (and they often do) they are the ones who ultimately set the agenda.

Producers produce first before customers consume.

From a marketing and business perspective, the customer is king because he chooses who he spends his money on, but from an entrepreneur perspective, the producer sets the agenda for the consumer to follow.


StartUp Tip #2: Begin with the heart


Appeal first to your customer’s heart and you will have a customer for life.

We live in a product flogging world.

Products are pushed at us. Technology rains down on us through mass communications.

We are bombarded with adverts, billboards, tweets, text messages, tv ads, newspaper ads, everywhere you look is adverts.

Rather than push features, technology and price, appeal to the customer’s heart more.

The beginning is “heart work,” not “head work.”

So much of the job is more emotion, and “heart work” than it is “head work.”

The head comes in after, to look at what the heart has presented and to organise it.

But the initial inspiration  comes from a different place, and it’s not the head, and it’s not an intellectual activity.

Treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

The same applies to your team.

You should treat your team the same way you treat your customers. Respect, attention to detail, & always willing to go above & beyond.