Heretical Thinking for Tomorrow’s Business
My very first job that didn’t involve flipping hamburgers was working for a friend who was an entrepreneur. At the time I didn’t appreciate his work ethic and the benefits that came with it. But I think even at the age of 17 it planted seeds that are still sprouting. My next job was also for an entrepreneur from whom I learned endless lessons in what not to do. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that self employment seemed like a terrible idea. So I got a job and another and another. I changed jobs every three years for the next two and a half decades and changed careers more than once in that same time.
One observation that stuck in my mind because it seemed upside down was that in any organization the higher up you went the more fun you had and the more money you made. Swinging a pick is the hardest, lowest paying work in landscaping. The landscape designer makes the most money and has the most fun. The same is true in accounting. It’s true in computers. It’s true in a janitorial business for crying out loud. I always thought the guy working the hardest should get paid the most. I was right. I was just defining “hard work” the wrong way.
Fast forward 25 years to yet another job where I worked awfully hard and got paid awfully. After participating in a team effort which saved a certain international garment retailer four million dollars a year and being rewarded with a coffee cup and a pocket knife, I walked out. I simply decided that if I was going to live in poverty anyway, I would rather do work that I enjoyed. I called all my friends and business associates who had been asking me to design websites for them and said ‘I’m ready’. My last year as an employee I earned $24,000. My first year as an entrepreneur I earned $111,000. It’s amazing the business lessons you can learn from $87,000.
I’ve spent most of the last decade expanding and refining the epiphanies which filled that year. This book is just one in a series which I hope takes some of the struggle out of entrepreneurship for others.
To someone who looks backwards it’s easy to see 11:59 as a moment of doom; the end of something. They look back at what they didn’t get done; what went wrong.
You’re looking forward. At 11:59 a new day is about to begin, a blank slate to take your pen.
I’m not foolish or ignorant enough to pretend there’s nothing wrong in business. I’m not suggesting that you forget yesterday like it didn’t happen. Just don’t pretend that yesterday determines what happens after 11:59 today.
I realise business is broken. The thinking that caused the problems we have in business today is not going to solve them. We need to think fundamentally differently.
The purpose of this book is not just to point out that things are broken but to inspire you to think differently; to stop accepting the way business has always been done. It’s time to start creating new concepts, ideas, and ways of connecting.
The Future is Human
Your gut tells you something’s wrong. You’re doing things the way you were taught but not getting the results you expect.
Commonsense business advice often feels counterintuitive because it runs counter to what’s common. Yet our gut tells us common sense should be right.
Conventional wisdom has businesses moving toward greater automation, more efficiency, less human interaction. They are dehumanizing the process.
Business orthodoxy says that “if we can systematize and automate everything, people will never get it wrong.” That’s wrong.
Efficiency is for machines. Create a system, a process, dial it in, tweak it, optimize it. As long as the machine gets regular maintenance it will do what it’s supposed to do, how it’s supposed to do it. Human beings are not machines. They cannot be dialed in, tweaked, optimized. Even the best of human beings can be wildly unpredictable and irrational. Accepting these truths about the human element of business is core business heresy.
From Luck is Not a Mysterious Force of the Universe in the section Time in Your Head:
Smart business folks use every tool at their disposal. Here’s one you may not have thought of: luck. If you could buy luck at a store, who wouldn’t? You can choose to be luckier and here’s the great part: it won’t cost you a dime.
Most of us think of luck as a mysterious force of the universe. Either you have it or you don’t. That’s wrong. Luck, good or bad, is a natural result of how we think, expressed by our actions. An excellent book on the scientific study of luck is The Luck Factor by Dr. Richard Wiseman.
With the assistance of the British government, Wiseman and his colleagues conducted experiments which proved that in truly random events, such as choosing winning lottery numbers, luck was also truly random. Those who lived verifiably lucky lives neither won nor lost more than those who were unlucky.
Studies of the lucky and the unlucky made it clear that it was their thinking and actions that determined their luck. Lucky people believed and behaved in certain ways. Unlucky people didn’t believe and behave in those ways or believed or behaved in ways that were completely contrary.
That’s all well and good but what good does it do you?
You can learn luck.
Table of Contents
- Foreword by Rick Wilson
- Joel’s Story
- Why Now Is The Time To Be Excited About Doing Business
- We All Know Something is Wrong
- Time in Your Head
- Erase Fear. Embrace Change.
- Jumping to a New Curve
- Failure and Change
- Why Don’t Seagulls’ Feet Freeze?
- Giving Up vs. Failure
- An Insanity All Its Own
- Shining a Light on Scary Things
- Unconscious Fear & the Light of a Mentor
- Have Someone Else Hold the Flashlight
- Rose-Colored Glasses
- Choose Optimism
- Yes, You Get to Choose
- Optimism is Attractive
- Optimism Creates Opportunities
- Make Your Brain Work Better
- Expectations Impact Ability
- Optimism and Memory
- Making a Great Living Doing What You Love
- Believe That You Can
- It Makes Financial Sense
- It’s Only Fair
- Know What You Love, Know What You Loathe
- What Do You Loathe?
- Luck is Not a Mysterious Force of the Universe
- Choose Luck
- ONE OCEAN
- Picking Apples
- Time with Other People
- Fair, Generous, and Persuasive
- The Bucket and the Basket
- Misguided Carrots
- Don’t Eat the Tea
- Corrupting Gift Culture
- The Magic Apology Trick
- Business Advice Two Centuries Old
- Know. Like. Trust?
- Real. Fake. Know the Difference.
- Earn the Right to Give Advice
- Speak Like a Human Being
- Building Bridges: Swim to Their Side
- Why Aren’t Business Ethics Ethical?
- Win/Win and No Deal
- Growing Trust
- The Four Components of Trust
- The Roots of the Tree: Integrity
- The Trunk of the Tree: Intent
- The Branches of the Tree: Competence
- The Leaves of the Tree: Results
- Earning Trust Creates a Cycle of Repeat Business
- Trust Fosters Word of Mouth
- Hacking at the Roots of Trust
- Roots Again: Clearly Define the Flaw
- Insiders & Outsiders
- Calling Your Client’s Name
- Your Ideal Client
- Why You Should Write an Annoying Ad
- All Poles, No Equator
- Fair, Generous, and Persuasive
- Time in the World
- How Things Should Be Done
- Don’t Ask Technicians to Build on a Non-Technical Foundation
- There’s No Such Thing as Work/Life Balance
- Eggs. Baskets. Chickens.
- Shower of Choice
- False Frontery
- Getting Them Done
- Complacency Kills
- Direction Needs Motion Because Goals Are Moving Targets
- How Things Should Be Done
- Action Plan