Wisdom: Martin Luther King

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King (Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement)

“Word of mouth” is still the best referral you can get

In today’s world of startups and unicorns and scalability and world-domination and IPOs and VC money…it’s easy to get attached to this notion of acquiring customers as quickly as you possibly can.

Yes, getting customers into the funnel is one thing, but keeping them there, looking after them, engaging them with one another, building a trusting, long-lasting relationship, developing a community for them to look after one another – this is just as crucial. (Check out this post on customer churn by Mondo Bank CEO, Tom Blomfeld).

Word of mouth has stood the test of time and always will. If anything, it is more powerful than ever before; it’s gone from:

pre-2000: Meeting a friend and telling them all about their great experience with your business/product

to

post-2000: Having a great experience with your business/product and telling all of their friends, family and acquaintances about it via Twitter & Facebook…

Powerful stuff!

You can have the best advertising campaigns in the world, huge budgets for funky television and internet adverts, but if you’re not ensuring a great experience for your customers, and keeping them passionate and engaged and super-happy, you’ll lose (burn) customers and, when you stop acquiring them, it’ll all come crashing down.

Quite often, overnight mass-customer-acquisition doesn’t occur. Rather it happens organically, little by little, like a snowball gaining snow and momentum over time. And that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s great. It’s a high-quality businesses which puts its customers at the heart.

PS. Check out ‘The Distance’, a podcast by Basecamp about longevity in business, featuring the stories of businesses that have endured for at least 25 years, and the people who got them there

Wisdom: Matt Mullenweg

“If you want to be good at something, you really have to work at it every single day. You have to work hard at the things that are hard. Otherwise you are just treading water.”

“Don’t think about work in your bedroom or relaxation area.”

“Money and salary is not a particularly good motivator in the long term.”

Matt Mullenweg (Founder & CEO @ Automatic, Co-Founder @ WordPress)

Caution: Information Overload

Whilst I enjoy learning, reading, digesting, absorbing, mulling, analysing (you get the drift!)… one thing I am very conscious of is the fact that there is pretty much unlimited information out there, which means the following:

– There’s no way you can take everything in
– There’s an awful lot of bad as well as an awful lot of good
– You will never be “done” reading or becoming an “expert” on a subject by reading everything (as you will never be able to do so!)
– It can become incredibly tempting to keep on reading, without any doing
– Continuous reading can propagate perfectionism, and an attitude to not start once ready
– The above point is really dangerous, as you’ll never truly be ready (as the saying goes, if you are not embarrassed of your imperfect version 1.0, you’ve launched too late)
– And so forth…

I ave enjoyed learning about new things for as long as I can remember, and chances are I will continue to do so. That said, it is important that I am aware of my limitations; one’s greatest strengths can often be their greatest weaknesses. Whilst I should continue to feed my passion for many, many interests and learning about new things, I also need to balance this with other things, and making sure I’m acting upon these learnings in the real world! (For example, I stayed “in my head” for a long time, before starting my recent project Thriva*; indeed, I continue to do so when it comes to, for example, getting the word out there, or writing a blog post – I just need to “do it” and quit waiting for that perfect spark of inspiration for a post – there is no perfect post!… I will gain credibility and traction from continuing to put regular good quality stuff “out there” – good quality, not perfect! I am well aware of this when I step back and really think about it, but so often I can lose a sense of this when caught up in the day-to-day.

Here’s to being aware of my strengths and weaknesses, recognising my love of learning and reading and analysing, but also realising that I cannot let this strength of mine become my big weakness.

(*I’m still not 100% happy with the website. Whilst I feel it looks OK and “acceptable enough” for a website, I’ve seen far better ones! I keep having to tell myself though that, right now, the beauty of the website is not the most important thing; rather, it is meeting potential host businesses, and talking to potential Thrivers/Schools (which house these potential Thrivers), about the Programme, to attract them both to the July Mini-Programme and also to the first full Programme in January 2016).

Wisdom: Jim Rohn

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn (entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker)

(This also happened to be one of Scott Dinsmore’s favourite quotes)

The School of Life on “How to Find Meaningful Work”

“Our interests don’t manifest themselves spontaneously. They require us to patiently analyze ourselves and try out a range of options to see what feels as if it might have the best fit for us. But unfortunately, schools and universities, as well as society at large, doesn’t place must emphasis on this stage of education – on helping people to understand their authentic working identities. There’s far more emphasis on simply getting ready for any job, than a job that would be particularly well-suited to us.

Which is a pity – not just for individuals, but for the economy as a whole – because people will always work better, harder and more fruitfully when their deep selves are engaged.

-Alain de Botton, Philosopher & Creator @ The School of Life

Full Video:

Imposter Syndrome

I’ve been seeing and reading a lot about imposter syndrome lately. Perhaps it’s one of those things that you notice more when you’re aware of it (like the “yellow car” thing?), but either way it’s reassuring to see so much out there.

I’ve come to realise that most people, no matter from what walk of life, whatever age, whatever there level/years of “experience” feels this uncertainty/not-good-enough-ness/comparison to others in some way that makes them feel like a fraud/not good enough.

I’ve noticed it particularly amongst business people, creative people, people about to give a presenation, people charging for something (product or service), in fact pretty much in any scenario when one’s “expertise” is assumed or in some way called upon.

It’s nice to know that at the end of the day we are all human and, no matter how confident someone may come across at a given moment, they have probably felt imposter syndrome at some point.

I was speaking earlier to a friend of mine who also happens to be an expert on mindfulness, and has been studying it/teaching it/leading workshops for over a decade; unsurprisingly, after asking me to clarifying exactly what it (imposter syndrome) was (I gave the best definition I could muster up!), he also confessed to having times when he felt like that. This is a guy who speaks at conferences in the UK and all over the world.

Like the quote says, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. Somewhere along the line, we’ve all felt inferior and, in one way or another, like an imposter.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find me out now.” – Maya Angelou

Work- and Home-life balance

Whilst I rarely watch or read the news if I can help it, one thing I consciously read every Sunday is Luke Johnson’s article at the back of the Sunday Times’ ‘Business’ pullout.

Today’s feature looked at the business and home lives of entrepreneurs, and was titled “Business is business – but home life must stay personal”. Full of gems as per usual, here are a few of the key extracts:

“In may ways entrepreneurs can be full of contradictions: their strengths are their weaknesses, too. In particular, what can be a positive in business can be destructive in their personal lives.”

“The best chief executives I know are frugal in how they spend money, and know exactly where the cash goes. They believe all purchases are negotiable, and that keeping tight control of expenses is one of the secrets in building a successful company. But often this affects their behaviour at home. They see personal outgoings as “overheads”; they worry that everyone from the plumber to the nanny is ripping them off. They forget to enjoy the lavish Mediterranean holiday because they are obsesses about the extortionate price for the villa, the rental car, the meals out.”

“Denial and graft cannot be the purpose of home life. that is more about consumption – spending the fruits of one’s labours and enjoying the winnings.”

“… in my opinion, an appetite for hard work is a precursor to achievement in business. But this inclination often exhibits itself domestically as workaholism – an overwhelming dedication to a career leading to the impoverishment of family life.”

“We have all read tragic stories of tycoons whose children go off the rails – drugs, self harm, etc – and all too often because they received too many goodies but not enough parental attention.”

“Getting different aspects of one’s life in proportion is easier said than done; an ability to compartmentalise is a great talent but one, it seems, that only a few possess.”

“Unfortunately, the encroachment of digital communications means there is rarely any true escape from the incubus of business. In intrudes in the evening, at weekends, on holiday. Too often I have allowed a rogue email to spoil a Sunday afternoon.”

“On the BBC archive one can find a wonderful documentary called The Solitary Billionaire. It was made in 1963 and features J Paul Getty being interviewed by the comparable Alan Whicker. At the time Getty was the richest man in the world… His private life was a shambles – five marriages and deeply dysfunctional relationships with his children. Getty wrote a bestseller called How to be Rich. It is a useful primer on making money, but not much of a guide to how to live a fulfilling life.”

The full article is available to those with a membership with The Times, here.

Luke Johnson’s article made me think of Walmart founder Sam Walton’s famous proclamation of “I blew it” on his deathbed – a man who apparently “had it all” judging by Walmart’s huge success and the sheer abundance of wealth he had creased, and yet expressed a huge regret about his life right at the end (read more about that here and here).

It’s important to keep perspective and life a balanced life. Whilst building a company is a fantastic journey, and there are many inspiration founders and companies out there, home/personal life are just as important – if not more so. (And probably a defining component of one’s life, helping ground them and keep them at bay when it comes to their business life).

Forget Networking. Start Kindworking.

I read this article yesterday which really resonated with me.

If you are just unashamedly nice, warm, human with others, whether they’re a friend you sit down with for a coffee, a stranger on the train, someone in a professional context you meet for a coffee one-off…even if you don’t physically meet them, but rather are nice to them online, send them a positive message/tweet/FB message, connect them with someone likeminded, point them in direction of something they might like, help them in some way, but here’s the catch…without expecting anything back in return.

If you do that consistently and for long enough (sometimes just a few weeks/months), the universe will conspire in your favour, and this niceness and help you gave will be sent back in your direction – either from the person you were nice to, or from another person entirely.

As Tony Hsieh wrote in Delivering Happiness, he found that it took about 2-3 years before a nice/helpful act towards someone paid itself back in some way in the future, via them.

It costs nothing to be nice. And yet it often proves to be extremely valuable later on. And even if it doesn’t, being nice and helping others is good for the other people, and also good for you. Wellbeing boosts for both. Win, Win.

Forget networking. Start Kindworking. Kudos to a brilliant article by Laurence @ Happy Startup School.