Tag Archives: idea

Fear, Failure and Duffers

“Better dead than duffers,” my father used to say as we set off for the latest family adventure: a two hour sail on a stormy afternoon on Canada’s West Coast of Canada or a train trip across India. The expression, an interpretation of lines from Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, has stayed with me many years – and many miles – later.*

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Last year I studied the cult of failure as part of my consulting practice. How failure is idealized in start-up culture and how it impacts entrepreneurs and society in general. On the positive side, when there is no fear of failure, there tends to be more risk and more openness to trying something new. “Innovation” is attributed to facing failure and questioning paradigms to make something work.

What is interesting in all my research on the topic is that “innovation” happens not because there is no fear of failure but rather, innovation occurs because there is no fear. No fear. Period.

Speaking in the positive, freedom to experiment, make unexpected connections between things, take risks, spend money (or not look to make money with an invention), be bold, be courageous is what characterizes entrepreneurs. Fear is the “thing” that entrepreneurship culture (and every entrepreneur) takes on with each new venture, product, service or innovation.

So when pondering failure, it is not fear of failure that stops me from doing something but fear itself. Fear makes us “duffers” and therefore, abstractly speaking, it might be better to be dead (dead to innovation, experimentation, life, love, etc) than to live a life unlived.

Stay tuned for more info on entrepreneurship and strategy – two seemingly opposite concepts that are a powerful duo present in many high growth companies.

  • EMC

 

*The exact phrase is: “better drowned than duffers. If not duffers won’t drown.” Arthur Ransome: Swallows and Amazons.

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Visual Business Inspiration

AH HA

Have you had an AH HA moment lately? You know, a light bulb moment, a moment of sudden inspiration, recognition or insight into a problem. Maybe it’s time to take a walk, read a book, start a conversation. Human beings are creators – let’s create great work, art, organizations and communities! AH HA.

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The Best Idea Wins

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Photo courtesy http://www.sincerelyjules.com

Today’s post is about an article of mine published in Forbes in Spanish a couple months’ ago. You can find the article here. I have pasted it below for reference.

For those English speakers following my blog, here is a summary of what the article is about and how I came to write it.

I was watching a presentation by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, PayPal and Spacex. He was talking to a group at Stanford University on entrepreneurship and the business of making ideas work. During his one hour presentation he talked about how his management style is founded on “the best idea wins”. I love that expression because it shows how the idea – rather than the trappings, title or position of a person – is what is important in building relevant and innovative businesses.

The resulting article (below) talks about how we need to focus on the value of the idea; how assets are finite but the value of assets is infinite. I also quote Bernadette Jiwa, author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and blogger of Storyoftelling.com, when she says “what we are interested in the fortune – not the fortune cookie itself.” As human beings, we are seeking the intangible that is suggested by a brand and not necessarily the tangible elements that get “pushed” by traditional advertising.

That’s why ideas are so important. Although they are intangible and potentially question the status quo, they can be the difference between a successful and a mediocre or failed venture.

EMC

“La mejor idea gana”
Por Esther Clark
Forbes Mexico

Hace algunos años Elon Musk, el fundador de PayPal, de SpaceX y de Tesla Motors, habló de su trayectoria empresarial por casi una hora en la Universidad de Stanford, como parte de una serie de conferencias sobre ideas emprendedoras. Dijo que cuando fundó la empresa que se transformó en PayPal tenía –y sigue teniendo– la filosofía de que “la mejor idea gana”. Es decir, la calidad y la novedad de la idea, en vez de los títulos del proponente o la jerarquía de las personas presentes, forman la base para decidir si esta idea vale la pena.

En negocios –sean nuevos emprendimientos o sean empresas tradicionales– es importante destacar el valor de la idea. Cuando decimos “la mejor idea gana”, estamos favoreciendo la idea por encima de los “adornos” de la idea. Claro que hay que estar bien preparados para exponer la idea y proponer cómo se la puede poner en práctica, pero también hay que recordar que las ideas tienen una conexión emocional más allá de ser simplemente una solución o una propuesta de valor.

Bernadette Jiwa, autora de The Fortune Cookie Principle y blogger de Storyoftelling.com, explica que el valor de los activos es finito, pero el valor de lo que representan los activos para uno es exponencial. Aunque el valor puede estar sugerido por una empresa o marca a través de la publicidad o una buena campaña de marketing, el valor real (que es lo que debe interesar a los empresarios), lo crea cada consumidor. Como dice Jiwa, lo que nos interesa es la fortuna y no la galleta china.

Las ideas nos llevan a tener mejores productos o servicios en nuestras organizaciones; sin embargo, las ideas –tal vez porque son intangibles y vienen de fuentes inesperadas– no son cómodas y suelen encontrarse, al menos al principio, con una reacción negativa porque implica un cambio del status quo.

Hay un sinnúmero de artículos, libros y presentaciones de cómo hacer un pitch o cómo presentar –de mejor manera– una idea con la intención de “venderla”. Vender el producto o servicio es fundamental, pero explorar el “por qué” de la compra –desde el punto de vista del cliente– también tiene su valor y puede representar aún más valor para la empresa que la venta en sí misma. Es decir, la razón por la que el cliente compra y la conexión emocional que tenga con la marca o la historia de la marca, dan pistas del comportamiento del cliente para futuras ventas y para desarrollar una comunidad alrededor de su marca.

Elon Musk es conocido como uno de los emprendedores destacados de nuestra época –uno que aboga por “la mejor idea”. Hay valor en los activos intangibles porque representan, como la fortuna de la galleta china, un vistazo de cómo pueden ser nuestras vidas; las soluciones a problemas se concretan y las barreras se superan porque alguien crea en lo intangible, la idea y el cambio del status quo.

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The biggest factor in entrepreneurial success is…

BELIEF.

Entrepreneurs naturally have a strong belief in their business idea and how they will make an impact on the world; they are driven to find solutions to the problems (inefficiencies, conveniences, why can’t it work this way?) around them. But it’s only when that belief is translated into action and into a product or service that we can use does it become real and successful.

The biggest factor in entrepreneurial success is belief. Of course there are ways – quantitative and qualitative – to predict failure or success of new business ideas but it is belief behind the idea and behind the entrepreneur that gets the idea noticed, funded and adopted by society.

Business plans identify and describe the opportunity and talent behind an idea but it is belief that brings entrepreneurs, investors and market together.

Making the idea work = belief.

Get funded = belief.

Get noticed = belief.

Be successful = belief.

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