Sunday, January 23, 2011
Individuals matter more than the businesses that employs them. A lot more.
Businesses don't make decisions. Individuals do.
Businesses don't have friends, a social conscience or a soul (BP anyone?). Human beings do.
If you think that you can trust a business, any business, you're wrong. But you can trust some individuals within a business.
What can a single individual do to a business? Ask Steve Jobs.
History abounds with companies that were resurrected (or killed) by a handful of individuals.
What does that mean if you're a business owner? Be very careful about the people you add to your team. Hire only the very best, create an environment where they can excel and make sure to keep them. A high turnover is the sign of a sick business.
If you're working for a company, big or small, do not lower your arms. Challenge the status quo and strive to make a difference. If your employer won't let you do your best, find a smarter one.
If you're a salesperson, you have to realize that your clients are not companies, but rather individuals within these companies. Therefore, when you present them your product or service, do not only think of what will be good for you (poor), their company (average), but rather, what will benefit them individually (better). If you're doing a great job at helping other people, they will work with you again and again, regardless of where they are employed.
As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer famously said: "All things being equal, people would rather work with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to work with their friends."
I still have a lot to learn, but after 15 years in business, if there is one advice I can give you, it is to never play games. Never work just for the money. Never invest time and energy with people you don't like or respect. And above all, surround yourself with bright, smart, honest, competent and positive people. If you can only do this, the rest will take care of itself.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
In his most recent book, the 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss explores different ways to heal permanent injuries. One of the the suggested methods is Active Release Technique (ART).
I had already tried Active Release Technique (ART) a few months before reading the book so I can attest its usefulness.
Following a whiplash accident, I was left with chronic pain, stiffness and limited range of motion in my neck.
I was introduced to Active Release Technique (ART) by Jean-François Thibault of JFT International here in Montreal and I was referred to him by my friends and clients at Atlantis Strength Equipment.
Jean-François Thibault is well known on the Canadian health and fitness scene. His clients include UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre as well as the Canadian Olympic team.
After a few months working with Jean-François Thibault, I have made more progress toward recovery than in the previous year and a half.
Although Jean-François used an array of techniques including: posturology, strength training, ELDOA and stretching, a key treatment was Active Release Technique (ART).
What is Active Release Technique (ART)?
Here's an explanation from: www.activerelease.com
ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.
How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
• acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
• accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
• not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).
Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.
What is an ART treatment like?
Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.
These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.
What is the history of Active Release Techniques?
ART has been developed, refined, and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP.
Dr. Leahy noticed that his patients' symptoms seemed to be related to changes in their soft tissue that could be felt by hand. By observing how muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves responded to different types of work, Dr. Leahy was able to consistently resolve over 90% of his patients' problems. He now teaches and certifies health care providers all over the world to use ART.
I suggest you try ART before any other form of treatment as it has a good chance of providing a faster and more efficient treatment than other techniques.
Will it solve all your problems? No, but as renowned coach and trainer Charles Poliquin says, ART is 100% effective on 70% of the people.
If you live in the Greater Montreal area and want to try ART, I strongly suggest the services of Jean-François Thibault as he's one of the best practitioners of ART in Canada.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I tend to like obsessive-compulsive people because once they delve into something they tirelessly analyze every detail and put a ton of effort, way beyond the point of diminishing return. In terms of efficiency, for them, it is so not worth the effort (it is, after all, a mental disorder). But for people benefiting from their findings, it's a blessing. You can be sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they have tracked the whole universe in search of the last grain of sand pertaining to their favorite subject.
My wife is obsessive compulsive for a lot of things like finding the perfect vacation spot (once a year) or the perfect house (once every 5-7 years). Fantastic for me.
Another obsessive-compulsive is my good friend and Web expert JP Cyr. Not only has he a laser like focus, but once he sets his mind on something, Sherlock Holmes looks like an amateur. If he's investigating breathable fabrics one day and there's a Russian fellow testing a new Gore-Tex membrane in some God forsaken corner of the Kamchatka peninsula, you can bet your piggy bank that JP will be popping up from behind am iceberg to interview the guy.
These are classic examples of obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
But obsessive compulsive people have a demigod. His name is Tim Ferriss.
His first book The 4-Hour Workweek (Escape the 9-5, Live anywhere, and join the new rich) was an instant bestseller. I so liked that book that in a little less than 3 years, I ended up buying more than 50 copies to give them to friends.
Do I now work 4 hours a week? No. Not even close. But in 2 years, my vacation time has been multiplied by 10 while my revenues more than doubled. Not bad. Also, when you love what you do, maybe 4 hours per week is not enough.
THE 4-HOUR BODY
In his second book The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss uses the same recipe for success that worked so well with his previous book:
1. Bold claims to help people achieve their dreams / solve their problems : An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (Hard to say no...)
2. To the point, precise advice on how to obtain desired result - all in an easy to act upon format
3. Recommendations backed by years of research interviewing world class professional operating outside the realm of common knowledge.
4. A fun, easy to read prose
The aim of the book is not to give final, dogmatic answers to every situation. Rather it opens new possibilities and pathways for readers to explore as well as tools to challenge the status quo.
I am presently reading The 4-Hour Body, and although I won't give you a full review yet, I can tell you that I started testing the fat loss methods suggested and they work. Actually, I tested only one and went from 201 pounds to 186 pounds in 5 weeks without that much effort.
In my next post, I'll tell you more about another technique Tim Ferriss suggest to heal permanent injury and that I recently tried: Active Release Technique (ART). Astoundingly effective!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Octavian, along with Sacha Declomesnil, is one of the foremost social media experts we have here in Montreal. He's also a smart guy and decent human being. And every time I collide with an intelligent person, I leave with new ideas. Sometimes theirs, sometimes mine and more often than not, a mix of both.
One of the ideas we succinctly explored that morning stuck with me and I'm sharing it with you as is. Now, I don't have any data to support it and I didn't do any research. It is just my antennas buzzing.
Mom and Pop Strike Back - The Revenge of Local Commerce
The last 25 years or so were the realm of anonymity, information overload and faceless corporations. A fertile ground for the rise of worldwide retail brands like Starbucks, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, etc. It was not always the best choice available, but in doubt, it was a safe bet. Good perceived value.
When you were in an unfamiliar part of town or in another city, trusting the small shop was a big risk. Most people went for the safe choice with the brand they knew.
What has changed? I'd like to say: everything! But I'll be more specific: mobility, Internet, peer review and social media.
What if I'm lost far away from home and looking for a restaurant. That small café next to a Big McDonald has a name. I can ask my contacts via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook and get an answer in seconds. I can check the café's review in a dozen of websites or apps like Trip Advisor, Yelp, Dine.com and Urbanspoon.
All of a sudden, I don't have to take a risk anymore. The McMeal is no longer the only safe alternative.
What if the small shop can't afford the costly location on the main avenues? Hey, I have a GPS in my car and on my smartphone that will direct me to it.
Times are changing.
I smell a better future for the Mom and Pop shops.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Once upon a time, there was this great Italian journalist and World class traveler Tiziano Terzani who happened to be in Afghanistan when American troops landed in October 2001.
His book Letters Against the War didn't get published in America and the UK. I discovered it when Swiss friends sent me copy. Here's the fascinating story of that book as told by the author as a preface.
Florence (Italy) early December 2002
the year that is about to end has been dramatic for all of us. Never before has each one of us been so unequivocally confronted with the question of war and peace. Back from a long trip into Pakistan and Afghanistan, I started the year publishing, first in Italian and then in various other European languages, a booklet dedicated to my three year-old American grandson, Novalis. The book “Letters against the war” was meant to raise questions about the way to face the situation created by the events of September 11th and to suggest that violence might no longer be the best solution for this and future conflicts of mankind.
The book was an immediate success in Italy (for 18 weeks it was among the top 10 best sellers). It was well received, reviewed and sold in France, Germany and Spain. Somehow, continental Europe with her, by now almost genetic, memory of war and destruction, seemed extremely responsive to the neo-pacifist appeal of the “Letters”. Wherever I went to talk about my experiences as an old war correspondent turned “Kamikaze for peace” (this was the title of a one hour documentary by Swiss TV) big crowds gathered to listen and to discuss.
Unfortunately this was not at all the reaction of the Anglo-Saxon world, particularly of the U.K. and the U.S.A. whose governments and press have taken a very bellicose, pro-war stand. All attempts to have the “Letters” published in English failed. All the English and American publishers who has printed my previous books responded with a “No, thank you” note. I did not give up. I had the book translated myself and offered it again to all kinds of publishers in London and New York.
To no avail. Even my offer to give the book for free failed.
Finally, a publisher in New Delhi (India Research Press) dared to take up the offer and his Indian edition remains the ONLY English version of the “Letters against the war” available in print. Now to allow as many people as possible to have access to the book, I decided, together with Massimo De Martino who in his spare time, generously run the T.T. fan (“fun”) Club founded three years ago, to post the whole book on the Internet. You can download it for free and I would be most grateful if you circulate text among your friends and...”adversaries”.
It is time to think, to discuss, to argue and finally to raise our consciousness and to save ourselves. Nobody else can do it for us.
Thank you very much,
Download Letters Against the War in PDF
Yesterday, my 6 year old son was affected by mild fever and vomiting. Seemed like a minor case of Gastroenteritis and after a day of rest, he's already feeling a lot better. On Monday, he won't even remember being sick.
What astounded me was people's reaction around us. Upon hearing (or reading on Facebook) that my kid was sick, some friends wouldn't shake my hand or come to our house. Another family came over to pick a package, but they wouldn't stop by for a coffee for fear of getting sick. A friend that was here for supper yesterday was told by her sister that she couldn't visit her family this weekend because they didn't want their daughter to get ill.
What's the hysteria all about?
We are surrounded by bacterias, viruses and fungii and some of them can make us sick. That's why we have an immune system. And like a muscle, the immune system gets stronger with use.
It's ok to fear really dangerous diseases (Ebola, Black Plague, AIDS, etc.) but a common cold or flu. C'mon...
I never ran away from someone with a cold, or refused to shake someone's hand because they had the flu. Did I end up getting a runny nose a few times as a result? Sometimes. Did I ever become seriously sick because of it? Never.
Granted, I was born in Africa in the '70s and my exposure to viruses and bacteria might have been substantially higher than that of the average American or European kid. But I believe it is my lifelong exposure to cold, flu and other minor diseases along with healthy eating habits and a decent fitness level that keep me in good shape.
In the last 15 years, I was seriously sick (bedridden) and missed a day of work only once. And that was after getting a vaccine.
Once again, I think we fear the wrong things. Looking at my previous posts What Are You Afraid Of ? and When Playing Safe becomes Dangerous, it is becoming a recurring theme.
All these people scared of the common cold or flu are carelessly exposing themselves to much greater threats:
SMOKING: Such a good way to get cancer and die prematurely. How insane do you need to be to still smoke in the 21st century?
STRESS and NOT ENOUGH SLEEP: Not only will it cause you health problems, it is a sure way to decrease your immune system's strength.
SITTING IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER ALL DAY and NOT ENOUGH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Our unhealthy lifestyles produce back problems, obesity, poor posture and depressed immune systems.
MEDICATION: We have reached a point where the over the counter drugs are stronger than anything you can find on the streets. Do you think all this medication is tested for long term effects (5, 10, 20 years)? Of course not. Do you think that pharmaceutical companies test the combined effects of different medication? That would be too costly. You can be sure of one thing however. Every time you get a benefit form a chemical, there is a price to be paid. Whether you see it immediately or not.
CONTAMINATED WATER: The filtration plants used by the vast majority of cities in the US and Canada can clean polluted water to make it drinkable and prevent dangerous infections. However, there's a lot of things they cannot remove from the water: heavy metals, chemical products and medication. Yes, you read well. Medication. What do you think happens with the cocktail of pills aging baby boomers are ingesting? It goes out of their system into their urine, and then from their toilet bowl to your glass of water. In some waterways around cities, some fish species are experiencing sex change due to the hormone overdose caused by all these women taking contraceptive pills and rejecting the excess hormones through their urine.
DANGEROUS FOOD: MERCURY POISONED FISH, PESTICIDE LADDEN VEGETABLES AS WELL AS MEAT BASKING IN BACTERIA, HORMONES AND CHEMICALS
Industrial food production is ugly and the products we are offered at the supermarket more often than not aren't exactly health friendly. As a result, as I explained in a previous post there are far more fecal bacteria in the average American kitchen sink than on the average American toilet seat.
If your health is important for you, go and read Eric Schlosser's great book Fast Food Nation and Joel Salatin's Everything I want to do is illegal.
I also strongly recommend the excellent documentary Food inc.
The next time one of your friend has a cold, instead of running away, hug him or her. It'll be better for both of you.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
You'd think that China is booming, and booming some more, with no ceiling in sight.
Well, think again.
And beyond what it all means for China, you have to ask yourself, in our globalized World, what does that mean for us here in North America?
If the subject is of interest to you (it should) and you want information that makes more sense than what you read in the paper (surprise, surprise) or what your bank tells you (vested interest anyone?), check out this great blog: Financial Insight.
It's been a long time since I saw such a great ad! (Thanks JP Cyr!)
Hats off to Heineken and their Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy (Amsterdam).
I just love the soundtrack! Such a great song: "The Golden Age" by Danish alternative pop band The Asteroid Galaxy Tour and their beautiful blond singer/bombshell Mette Lindberg.
Monday, January 10, 2011
I first met Josh & Nadia at a Longboard event in 2009. They were both smart, funny, unconventional and had an incredible energy. We had lots of fun and the evening ended at my favorite restaurant Le Club Chasse et Pêche.
Since we share a love of good food, I invited them at my place a few weeks later for our traditional Friday Night BBQ (I explained in a previous post that I was a bit obsessive compulsive with steaks.) and they came over a few times.
At the time, Josh and Nadia had started a small Web TV with a unique and powerful branding called Bitchin'Kitchen that, despite its interresting fan base, was not very well known.
In less than 2 years, they have been propelled to the rank of superstars.
Nadia G. is everywhere! In addition to the BitchinLifestyle.tv Website, they now have immensely popular social media properties: Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Twitter Account.
They also managed to publish a book: The Bitchin'Kitchen Cookbook.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that they now have their own TV Show on The Food Network and its little brother The Cooking Channel?
For all I know, it is the first time (at least in Canada), that a Web series jumps into mainstream television. No small feat.
Oh, and you can buy their merchandise online on Nadia G's Bitchin'Boutique.
True entrepreneurs, armed with flair, style and chutzpah, they not only understood all the opportunities offered by the profound changes in the media universe, they worked harder than any of you can imagine.
As Josh once told me: "People think we're lucky. They don't understand that luck favors the prepared."
And finally, the show is good, really good.
With so much on their hands, you'd think they'd slow down. Hell no! They are working on a new show: Rock This House.
In my humble opinion, the World needs more Bitchin'People like Josh&Nadia.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
In the mid 90s, I was reading a management book I had borrowed from a friend (Maverick, by Ricardo Semler - unconventional and excellent, by the way) when the author mentioned adventurer John Goddard.
It triggered some strange twist of memory as I recalled a story I had read as a child more than 15 years ago in an old Reader's Digest. I drove to my parent's place and started digging through old Reader's Digest issues in the basement. I remembered that the issue's cover featuring John Goddard was orange so I went through 20 years worth of old books and magazines until I found it.
The guy's story is just unbelievable.
At the age of 15, John Goddard wrote a list of 127 dreams.
#1: Explore the Nile
#21: Climb Mt Everest
#38: Visit every country in the World
#50: Dive in the Red Sea
#57: Visit Easter Island
#70: Swim in Lake Tanganyika
#75: Land on and take off from an aircraft carrier
#89: Learn Ju Jitsu
#97: Write a book
#104: Learn French, Spanish and Arabic
#111: Read the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Rousseau, Conrad, Hemingway, Twain, Burroughs, Talmage, Tolstoi, Longfellow, Keats, Poe, Bacon, Whittier, and Emerson
#114: Compose music
#125: Visit the Moon
At 16, Goddard had already explored the Okefenokee swamps of Georgia and the Everglades with his father. He owned a horse, drove a tractor and was practicing spearfishing.
At 20, he had dived in the Caribbean, Aegean and Red Seas. He also had become an airplane pilot in the US Navy with 33 war missions over Europe.
At 21, he had already visited 21 countries.
At 22, he discovered a Mayan temple in the Guatemala jungle and started preparing his exploration of the Nile River.
And so on, year after year.
In the process, Goddard has been bitten by a rattlesnake, charged by an elephant, and trapped in quicksand. He has crashed in planes, been caught in earthquakes, and almost drowned twice while running rapids.
So far, he has completed 109 of his 127 dreams.
If you're curious, here's the full list (with details of accomplishments).
The difference between John Goddard and the average Joe is that:
1. He took his life list seriously. This wasn't just wishful thinking.
2. He made a plan for each of his dreams.
3. He worked hard to reach each of his dreams, overcoming obstacles and never giving up.
To learn more about John Goddard, visit his Website: www.johngoddard.com
|Cover of the August 1984 Reader's Digest issue featuring John Goddard Story (p.82)|
|Inside the August 1984 Reader's Digest issue featuring John Goddard Story (p.82)|
1. The World is not fair and no one owes you anything.
2. You are not as smart as you think, and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Not all pain is gain.
4. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.
5. The smiling counselor in a suit and tie waiting for you at the bank is far more dangerous than the black guy with the strange hairdo in the subway or the bald, pierced and tattooed biker seated next to you at the bar.
6. There's always one more imbecile than you expected.
7. You cannot make something idiot-proof. They'll come up with better idiots.
8. The person who needs your help the most is the one less likely to accept it.
9. Never follow the herd. It is generally headed for the slaughterhouse.
10. Everybody knows what to do. Very few actually do it.
11. When a man with experience meets a man with money. The man with the experience walks away with the money and the man with the money walks away with the experience.
12. The longest distance in the World is the one that separates the mouth from the wallet.
13. No plan survives contact with the enemy.
14. A good friend will come and bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying: damn we fucked up!
15. Be nice to the people you meet on your way up, because you'll meet them again on your way down.
16. The fall won't kill you. It's the landing.
17. A Smith&Wesson beats 4 Aces.
18. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
It started as a homemade video of a homeless man with an amazing voice.
The video went mega viral. Over 11 million views in 3 days on Youtube...
The story on Ted Williams (the homeless man) has a happy ending: he landed a dream job. Watch story on MSNBC.
All of this in half a week.
God Bless the Internet.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
If, like most people living some distance of the Equator, you experience a few cold months during the year, you probably spend a significant amount of dollars on your heating bill.
And inside the house or apartment you pay to heat, you also happen to spend money on electricity to refrigerate a cold box called a fridge.
Pretty insane with all that free cold available outside your walls, isn't it.
You see, this is a classic example of a bad habit we've inherited and are repeating on auto pilot. It just doesn't make any sense, but we do it because everybody else does it and we don't see any alternative around. But there are alternatives. Change is slow because there's still money to be made by selling appliances designed to break in a few years. Ever wondered why an old fridge from the 1960's is still working mighty fine when the new one you bought 5 years ago is already dead? But that's another topic.
Let's get back to alternatives.
Imagine a wall mounted fridge that would be a permanent fixture in the house, like, let's say, a heat pump. Since the majority of refrigerators break during transport, this would solve a problem right there. Also, the compressor could be located in the basement of the house, eliminating the unnerving humming present in every modern kitchen. Instead of a few big doors, the fridge would present an array or compartment (vegetables, drinks, meat, etc.) each with its own temperature and individual door to minimizing the cold/heat transfer between the fridge and the house each time a compartment is opened. Finally, during winter months, the cold could come from the outside, simply pushed by a fan. The remainder of the year, the compressor would do the job. Total amount of energy saved: around 80%.
Actually, this "smart fridge" has already been designed by a student of Sylvain Plouffe, professor of Ecodesign at the University of Montreal. I read about it in Jean-Sébastien Trudel's excellent book: Arrêtons de pisser dans de l'eau embouteillée (page 151).
However, I haven't seen any available in stores so far.
Someone knows a top level executive at Frigidaire, GE, Maytag, LG, Whirpool, Kitchenaid, Electrolux, Viking or Miele ?
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
As a society, we are afraid of the wrong things: terrorism, tsunamis, weather, burglars, financial failure, etc. (I covered this in a former blog post: When Playing Safe Becomes Dangerous)
On the other hand, we're not afraid of things that should scare the shit out of us:
1. BAD FOOD: Pesticide and hormone laden industrial foods, nutrient depleted and over caloric fast food, excess sugar and caffeine that are all responsible for killer diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
2. STRESS: Another great killer. Too much worry and insane working schedules. Besides, do you you know a lot of happy workaholics?
3. NO PLAY: At some point in their life, most adults forget that the primary objective of having a job in the first place was to earn money to pay for the fun stuff. Somewhere along their career path, they developed a "lifestyle" and lost the notion of fun. Life was not meant to pay the bills.
4. TOO MUCH TV: The great inhibitor to clear thinking, personal growth and action oriented lifestyle. Too many people are turning their brain's 'off switch' too often. As a society, this is a major problem. (See my former Blog Post: The Great Divide)
5. DEPRESSION: Often a result of the 4 preceding points. Currently (at least in the Canada and the US, but I suspect the rest of the developed World is not too far), 75% of the population has taken, is taking or will take anti-depressor. While this is good news for pharmaceutical companies, it is a clear sign that something is wrong in the way we live.
6. A BORING LIFE: As someone famously said: "Most people are just stuff to fill graves with." or as Kevin Spacey yelled in The Ref: "What do you do, besides taking space." This should be the ultimate fear: a life devoid of purpose and fun, merely surviving and paying the bills. Yet, that's what 99% of people end up doing.
How many people do you know really love life, enjoy every minute of it and make a difference in the World? Strive to be one.
“We live in a world of negative conditioning. The three big motivators are … fear, greed, and vanity. They drive the American sales process – and they drive the American salesperson. Our society preys on the fear factor. It’s in 50% of the ads we see (the rest are greed or vanity). Ads about life insurance for death and disability, stolen credit cards, anti-freeze for stalled cars, tires that grip the road in the rain, brakes that stop to avoid hitting a child on a bike, and security systems so your home won’t be robbed. If you see that crap enough, you become “fear-conditioned” ”. – Jeffrey Gitomer, Little Red Book of Selling
"I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." - Mark Twain
“I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark would burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.” - Jack London
Monday, January 3, 2011
Picture courtesy of Dominick Ménard
(BTW, pictured FB account not his)
Having 10 000 friends on Facebook, 25 000 followers on Twitter and 3 000 connections on LinkedIn might seem like the ultimate networking achievement (especially to younger folks who don’t know what a Rolodex is), but it’s too easy to connect online with anybody, including a majority of people you don’t really know.
This is especially true as your network gets bigger and/or more valuable. Lots of vultures, leeches and suckers will try to piggy back on you like remoras on a great white shark.
A friend of mine was recently asked if he knew Mr X. His answer: The name sounds familiar, let me check on Facebook…
For him, it’s OK to have 2 500 online “friends” he doesn’t really know as his job is to drive traffic to nightclubs and he uses Facebook merely as a promotion platform.
However if, like most people, your business requires a higher trust level, you might want to pay less attention to the size of your network (spread) and a lot more to its strength (depth).
Here’s the first test of your network’s depth: To how many people can you easily borrow 500$ ?
All of a sudden, your network is a bit smaller, isn’t it?
Now, think of all the doors in the World where you can go knocking uninvited and crash on a sofa for the night.
This is the heart of your network. These are the people worth fighting for. These are the friends that make life worth living.
Don't rely too much on the others.
True wealth you see, is not measured in dollars or in absolute numbers.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
The average American reads, on average, 1 book a year, but watches 4,5 h of TV per day. (1)
You can safely bet that the time spent on the Internet follows a similar trend.
And when people do read, what do they elect to feed their minds with?
News Junk Food: newspapers and other deliverers of useless and pessimistic information. Quit reading the paper. If something is important, other people will rapidly tell you. Case in point: when 9/11 happened, did you have to wait to learn about it in the next morning newspaper? I didn't think so.
Anyways, 80% of people don't read newspaper articles past the first paragraph.
Among these functional illiterates, there always has been a rare minority of avid learners, what Mike Lipkin calls adaptive navigators. Curious people always striving to improve themselves by knowledge acquisition.
Until very recently, looking for specific and interesting knowledge in palatable form whas a full time job. If you wanted to read anything else than the current fads and bestsellers, you had to venture out of major bookstores and go treasure hunting into the all too rare giant libraries of major cities or into small unknown and dusty bookstores. Last time I was in Europe, I remember scavenging the booksellers of La Seine in Paris for worn out books of Kessel, Cendrars and Monfreid.
In order to avoid bad or average books (and thus save valuable time), you had to ask friends (in person, in a letter or over the phone...) for recommendations and you had to note everything on a scrap of paper.
But now, with the rise of Internet, it has never been easier to find arcane knowledge with a few keystrokes. There are forums of experts in every field you can imagine. There's Amazon.com and its billions of titles, there's eBay, Craigslist and other online marketplaces.
Looking for an out of print french book published in in 1937? Try http://www.livre-rare-book.com/ an online search engine to peek into the inventory of 560 booksellers with over 3 million second hand books.
Knowledge is everywhere, it is within easy reach and it inexpensive.
These are good times for knowledge hungry people!
What that means is that the knowledge gap between active knowledge seekers and passive ordinary people is getting bigger and bigger everyday.
It has been said that if you read a book a week in a specific field, within 5 years, you'll be a national expert on that subject.
When people toiled the fields or pushed levers on an assembly line, the impact of that knowledge gap would have been different. But in an era like ours, where people are paid for their knowledge and brainpower, and where sound decision making is becoming critical in an ever complexifying World, this is something with HUGE consequences.
There's a widening gap between the have and the have not, and the only way to stand on the good side of that canyon is to massively feed your brain with interesting things.
What have you read lately?
The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who doesn't know how to read. - Mark Twain
(1) A note about video content: I know, I know, there are fantastic learning opportunities offered by TV and other video formats. We all love Discovery Channel. However, most TV programs and video content is - how could I put it? - less intellectual. Moreover, your mind works very differently when watching video (passive) than when reading (active). The former favors surface and emotional reactions while the latter favors abstract reasoning and multi-layered analysis.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
I don't have new year resolutions. I have a plan.
It is quite simple: I have devised who I want to be 10 years from now and I have made a baby steps trajectory to get there.
I read it every morning and revise it once a year, usually in early January.
I have different objectives: financial, familial, physical, things I want to learn, skills I want to develop, people I want to meet, etc, etc. Not just things I want to buy.
Why 10 years? Because most people overestimate what can be done in a year and vastly underestimate what can be done in 10 years.
You see, most people (98,5%) have no dream except the ones they've been sold by our materialistic society: be rich, famous, have a Mac Mansion and a trophy wife (or rich husband) and travel the World as a Jet Setter. Not that it is inherently bad, but it is insufficient at best.
If you have no idea of What's Next? after you reach your basic material goals, you'll just feel empty and disappointed once you get there. This is the reason why Hollywood is full of of overly young, beautiful, successful and lost junkies flirting with overdose.
I believe everyone has a great talent (a superpower), that it is generally linked to a great dream and that it is something we enjoy doing.
Children have awesome dreams, but as they grow up, these "unrealistic" dreams are strangled by well meaning dreamless and boring adults.
Our job then, is to find back the dream, develop the talent and use it to change the World for the better.
Every time I get caught in the day to day and my life drifts toward the average and the ordinary, a red light flashes on my internal dashboard and I ask myself how I want to be remembered when I die; and good husband, wonderful friend or respected coworker is definitely not enough.
What about you?
What is your superpower?
What is your Big Dream?
How do you want to be remembered?
I say, this new year, we set out to change the World for the better.
What do you say?
Are you in?
“In the multitude of middle-aged men who go about their vocations in a daily course determined for them in much the same way as the tie of their cravats, there is always a good number who once meant to shape their own deeds and alter the world a little. The story of their coming to be shapen after the average and fit to be packed by the gross, is hardly ever told in their consciousness; for perhaps their ardour in generous unpaid toil cooled as imperceptibly as the ardour of other youthful loves, till one day their earlier self walked like a ghost in its old home and made the new furniture ghastly. Nothing in the world is more subtle than the process of their gradual change! In the beginning they inhaled it unknowingly: you and I may have sent some of our breaths toward infecting them, when we uttered our comforting falsities or drew our silly conclusions: or perhaps it came from the vibrations from a woman’s glance.”
The tragedy of the average man is that he goes to his grave with his music still in him.
The tragedy of the average man is that he goes to his grave with his music still in him.