StartUp Tip #39: Be event time


In A Geography of Time, Robert Levine points out that most people work on “clock” time:

“It’s five o’ clock, I will see you tomorrow.

While successful people work on “event” time: “My work is done when it’s done.”

Event time people rest when they are tired, not when it’s resting time.

Event time people eat when they are hungry, not when it’s lunch time.

The most productive people work on event time.

They don’t stop until their work is done.

Dr. Reuel Khoza says his father always believed that you need to earn your break, not take a break because it’s break time.

Clock time is important to ensure that events starts and ends on time, that we are able to get work-life balance and that we invest time in other things.

Event time ensures that we complete tasks, work hard to finish projects and reach goals.

It is wise to strike a balance between clock and event time.



StartUp Tip #38: Beware of distractions disguised as opportunities


If you are good at what you do and pursuing your career, opportunities will come your way.

As your success grows, surprisingly, the real challenge might not be finding opportunities so much as choosing between them.

It is important to recognise the difference between an opportunity and a distraction.

An opportunity is not really an opportunity if it deviates you from your goals, even when it is lucrative and looks great.

An opportunity that is really a distraction almost always looks great.

It will seem like an easy way to make money, and it will be similar to what you do.

It will excite you at first. However, it will deviate you in at least one important way or another.

When you are not focused, you are tempted to embrace every opportunity that comes along.

Ideas are an entrepreneur’s secret addiction. More often than not, ideas are simply distractions disguised as opportunities.

When you know where you are going, you are able to easily say no to things that looks exciting but are not adding to your long-term goal.

Being clear about your “yes” opportunities makes it easier to say “no” to distractions.

Not every opportunity in mining is your opportunity.

Not every opportunity in network marketing is your opportunity.

Not every opportunity in another country is your opportunity.

Know yourself, know you path. Plan your path & focus on it all the way.

It is when your vision is fuzzy that you are likely to embrace every opportunity.

When your vision is crystal clear, you will confidently walk away from distractions.

StartUp Tip #37: Build for joy


Traditional businesses, particularly large-scale service and manufacturing businesses are organised for efficiency, or consistency, but not joy.

Joy comes from surprise and connection and humanity and transparency and new…

If you fear special requests,

If you staff your startup with cogs [people who follow instructions and do as they are told].

If you have to put it all in a manual,

Then the chances of amazing customers are really quite low.

Such startups have people who will try to patch problems over after the fact, instead of motivated people eager to delight on the spot.

The alternative, it seems, is to organise for joy.

Built for job startups are businesses that give their people the freedom (and the expectation) that they will create, connect and surprise.

Built for job startups are business that embrace someone who makes a difference, as opposed to searching the employee handbook for a rule that was violated.

Is your startup built solely on efficiency or are you allowed to have joy at work.

Is your project, relationship, NGO, church, school, clinic or department embracing true connections, warmth, or are employees doing what is in their employment contract only.

Once an employee says “I don’t get paid to do this” referring to putting extra effort, then you know the company is built on efficiency not joy.

It’s going to be very difficult to be successful at something that is not joyful to you.

Warren Buffett says he tap-dances to work everyday because he does what gives him joy.

StartUp Tip #36: Overpromise…


… and overdeliver.

The problem with underpromising and overdelivering [in this connected world] is that if you underpromise in face of competition that is overpromising, you may not be chosen.

It’s an old cliché in business that smart companies underpromise and overdeliver. But in today’s crowded market, that’s not enough.

In today’s crowded marketplace, who chooses an average service when there is a chance to receive exceptional service.

Keep your promises, and not just any promises, but dangerously ambitious promises.

Rather overpromise and overdeliver.

Overpromise to lure customers in and then overdeliver to keep them.

Don’t overpromise for the sake of getting clients, overpromise because you know you can deliver.

Find an area in your business that you can overdeliver than your competitors and then overpromise to them.

Ali overdelivered.

StartUp Tip #35: Mental strength


Phase 1: This is the best idea ever.

Phase 2: Ok, this is harder than I thought.

Phase 3: This is going to take some work.

Phase 4: This sucks and it’s boring.

Phase 5: Dark night of the soul: What was I thinking?

Phase 6: It will be good to finish because I will learn something for next time.

Phase 7: Maybe it’s not that bad. Let me tweak it here and try it this way.

Phase 8: It’s actually not as bad as I thought.

Phase 9: Wow, it is working.

Phase 10: I have another best idea ever, next project.

Most projects end on Phase 1: Best idea ever. Ideas never see the light of day because people are afraid to fail.

Once started, most projects end on Phase 5: What was I thinking? I quit.

Wrestling with a puzzle, a project or a problem, the likeliest reason to give up is the belief that it can’t be done.

What’s the point of persevering if it’s actually impossible to succeed?

“It can’t be done,” we say, throwing up our hands. Not “I can’t do it,” or “It’s not worth my time,” but “It can’t be done.”

Entrepreneurship is about going from Phase 1 to 10 fighting the mental battle of not giving up.

Huge value accrues to the few able to actually do a thing for the very first time.


StartUp Tip #34: Tips on how to live when you feel like giving up


The following are some of my 20 tips on how to live that I feel will be helpful when you feel like giving up:

  1. Appreciate happiness when it is there;
  2. Sip, don’t gulp;
  3. Be gentle with yourself. Work less. Sleep more.
  4. There is absolutely nothing in the past that you can change. That’s basic physics;
  5. Kurt Vonnegut was right: ‘Reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found;’
  6. Listen more than you talk;
  7. Be aware that you are breathing;
  8. Hate is a pointless emotion to have inside you;
  9. Go for a run or walk. Then do some yoga;
  10. Look in the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of your issues;
  11. Be kind;
  12. Do no watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction;
  13. Sit down. Lie down. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it;
  14. No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people;
  15. You don’t need the world to understand you. It’s fine. Some people will never really understand things they haven’t experienced. Some will. Be grateful.
  16. Pray;
  17. Less complaining, more encouraging;
  18. Help others;
  19. There is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals;
  20. Read Emily Dickinson, Ben Okri, Susan Cain, Bessie Head, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind;


21. Be brave. Be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.



StartUp Tip #33: Take initiative


Most people spend a lot of time to get an education.

They wait for the teacher (hopefully a great one) to give them something of value.

Many employees do the same thing at work.

They wait for a boss (hopefully a great one) to give them responsibility or authority or experiences that add up to a career.

Many conference delegates wait to be told that the break is over and they must come into the conference hall.

A few people, not many, but a few, take.

They take the best education they can get, pushing teachers for more, finding things to do, exploring non-defined niches.

They take more courses than the minimum,

They invent new projects and they show up with questions.

A few people, not many, take opportunities at work.

A few people take initiate.

They take responsibility.

They take accountability.

They take the first step.

They take a chance.

Excellence is not about working extra hard following orders, it is about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing. 

What have you taken today?