Experience Never Gets Old.. Just Unfashionable

Over the past few weeks I have been collaborating on a book about the History of the Australian Software Industry. While it covers history it aims to present useful guidanc for those on the Entrepreneurial Journey we were on in the 60’s,  70s and 80s

In reflecting on our journey I revisited a movie I watched a couple of years ago – The Intern. Because I often refer it to young people I mentor as a reason to consider having an “Old Bloke” (a bloke is male or female) in the business.

“70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).”

Experience may not get old, but it quite often gets outdated and becomes unfashionable…

I also did some research on two hyper  successful startups and listened ti interviews with Brian Chesky Co Founder of AirBnB and Mark Zuckerberg.

Unlike the vast majority of startups they focussed on the things we were doing way back then including.

  1. Doing things that don’t scale – getting in front of customers and prospects often to get feedback and buy in – Knocking on doors and honing sales skills
  2. Getting the product out the door and making sure key customers are involved in the design, development and testing
  3. Not relying on Grants, VCs etc for funding but making real sales to real customers to provide seed funding to get started

Of course there is much more to the story – and I am not pitching for any more jobs – but my advice is find yourself an ageing Intern and you might find you get a surprise at the value just like Jules Ostin did in the movie.

And my advice for anyone 60 plus who has experience and skills that are relevant today DONT RETIRE!!  100% of people that do Die …it cant be good for you!

 

 

 

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Selling your way to Innovatiom

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A major barrier to Innovation in existing business has been concern about loss of focus in the core business. 

As such it it vital to ensure you are doing all you can to increase sales using digital media while implementing the changes needed to prosper in future.

Now and into the future its increasingly becoming a case or Innovate or Die for most business……and we are hearing more about products and businesses being innovative but have they ensured their existing business is as good as it can be and consolidated.

Cloud, mobile, social, robotics, driverless etc  — these are fundamental trends that are reshaping industry. What will be the next major disruption? Today’s successful companies need to embrace the full spectrum of innovation — from incremental to breakthrough to radical — in both their R&D and business model strategies. Continue reading Selling your way to Innovatiom

Innovating How we Innovate – The Why

innovation  avanzi.orgRecently I read an article in Adelaide’s daily online “Newspaper” InDaily about Innovating South Australia’s Future which on one hand enthused me as a proponent of the urgent need for Innovation here and on the other disappointed me because we are still missing the mark in many ways.

With South Australia’s economy under pressure due to past reliance on manufacturing. mining etc and as such climbing jobless its great that much is being done.

But clearly more needs to done to develop an environment that foster, support and invest in emerging start-ups that WILL make a significant economic contribution.

The InDaily story is based upon a submission by Regional Development Australia Adelaide (RDAA) and Adelaide City Council to the Australian Technologies Competition.

“The submission details the expertise and resources that exist in South Australia and the extensive collaboration that is occurring on a daily basis in Adelaide between entrepreneurial individuals, companies, councils, universities and the different levels of government.” – In Daily – Vanguard

“Greater Adelaide has a very rich ecosystem of support for new ventures,” the submission says.

While its great that clearly Adelaide has the will to really DO something And YES  – getting the right ecosystem is the key – it seems the activity is in many ways isolated from the Community at Large

But I have two major issues –

As someone who has a real focus on Innovation via my business enovAsia and the Not For profit Group we founded Innovation In The City I did not know the full extent of the EcoSystem …. as such how would the average person have any idea of it as being so comprehensive.

  • 109 programs specifically supporting entrepreneurs and new ventures,
  • 11 incubators and accelerator programs,
  • 9 entrepreneurship education award programs,
  • 17 industry driven education programs for entrepreneurs, and
  • 14 co-working spaces.

If we are to foster and fully support Innovation we must reach the broader community to engage their support not keep “preaching to the choir” with more and more programs. And Innovation needs to be encouraged in existing businesses not just focussed on the startUp community.  There is a need for more integration between new and established business for sustainable success.

The second point that became evident is that we are not focussing on two things I think are fundamental to making SA not only a renowned Innovation Hub but one that makes a major contribution to the future of the State of South Australia. To do this we need to Identify StartUps/Innovations which:

  • Further develop what we already have here in terms of expertise, industries, environment etc (e.g. Food and Wine, Education, Medical research) not just support anyone with a good idea for the nest big thing.  But we also must support people working with the trends that will define the future of SA,

and

  • Become High Growth Businesses that employ people/bring revenue into SA for the long term.
    • High-growth enterprises, as measured by employment (or by turnover), are enterprises with average annualised growth in employees (or in turnover) greater than 20% a year, over a three-year period, and with ten or more employees at the beginning of the observation period – OECD 

When I shared my thoughts with a colleague in the UK, Harold Sharples, who is a world renowned specialist Innovation Consultant, he agreed with my thinking and referred me to a very recently released report The Global StartUp Ecosystem Ranking 2015.  Harold has taught Innovation to many people and companies around the world including IBM and Coke and including current Apple CEO Tim Cook when he was at IBM.

From this report and subsequent discussions it became evident that while Adelaide is on the right path there may well be a better one to achieve the economic benefits we are aiming for here.

Clearly if we keep building the same ol’ ecosystem,  we’ll just keep getting the same ol’ results …

In Harold’s words,  “it’ll still take 2,000 startups to get one High Growth business”.  This is based upon solid research done over many years.

The key is “innovating how we innovate” … making genuine innovations – in the ecosystem as well as in businesses and technology – and without it,  we won’t get that 10x change which is what we need.

In the report on Global EcoSystems “there’s some great research stuff at the beginning,”  but it ends up with the usual reheated stuff about better ecosystems to match funding with ideas  … Not better better ecosystems that innovate how we innovate.   In other words,  they still envisage a 1 in 2,000 future … at the moment,  their ‘big idea’ is to figure out ways to fail faster and lose less (and promote cities to do it in – and in Oz, only Sydney gets onto their radar!.

The report highlights that we are now at the Tipping Point in the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Era .

More than ever before,  INNOVATION will be the key to success – in most endeavours – and in most fields.

I agree totally with Harold’s words below and in my next posts – Innovating How we Innovate – The What   and Innovating How we Innovate – The How  I will outline the approach we plan to take in Adelaide starting now.

“So far,  the ‘new era’ they refer to represents the posing of a new need/problem-statement —>  As of today,  we’re still in the old era … but we’ve come upon a new set of challenges that can’t be solved with the same level of thinking we’ve used to discover them —> We won’t actually be in the new era until we have a new solution AND APPLY IT.

Innovating how we innovate is what the solution will look like. 

Actually ACHIEVING that is how we ENTER the new era.   (The dawn of the agricultural / Industrial revolution didn’t occur until we’d FOUND and applied the solutions … there’s no cigar for discovering a new set of problems)

The principles embedded in my solution hypotheses for both IBM and for Business (re)invention generally can be applied to almost any field of endeavour:

From Ice Skating to Dance;  from Business building to Cuisine;  from design to ecosystems.” – Harold Sharples

Clearly there needs to be a better way so What Next?

It’s Your Bubble and Your Pyramid

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Whenever I talk about developing your personal brand and leadership,  I talk about finding your Passion and Your Why and then I liken it to building the Pyramids and then explain how to build your personal “Me Inc” Pyramid.

I developed this concept when managing high profile sportspeople as a visual way to get them thinking about what was right or wrong for their brand.

Pyramids are made up of blocks / bricks based upon a solid foundation.  As such as we develop and grow through our life we are constantly faced with decisions about the options available to us. These options can be viewed as bricks and each assessed as to whether it adds value and strength to our pyramid or in fact it may take a brick out and lead to the pyramiFinding Your Centre_000001d collapsing

But increasingly your personal brand is about how others see you and the expectations and the norms that society wants to limit and measure you with. This has lead to developing the concept of your approach to life (your style) and hence how others perceive you as being bubble like. At the right end of the Bubble is the very traditional view of normal behaviour for a person of your age, general, race, creed, etc etc and at the other end are the boundaries that may or may not be acceptable within your society.

These days,  in the age of Disruptive Innovation,  we need to explore and push those boundaries in developing the real you without being perceived as Out of Control – just as much as you need to avoid being too “normal” and as such being seen as boring and uninteresting. Continue reading It’s Your Bubble and Your Pyramid

Want to be a Leader?? Be Courageous + Trusted + Connected

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I get sick and tired of hearing from politicians and those out of touch with modern business about the Bosses vs Workers, the importance of Unions and more than anything that phase “Working Australians”

It seems if you don’t rely on someone to pay your wage every day you are a working Australian and the rest of us that help create those jobs are clearly sitting on our arses and aren’t working at all!!

These days any business going somewhere  understands that being connected with and trusted by the people that work with/for you is the key to success. As such there is no them vs us mentality in successful long term business …or there should not be if they want to continue to grow.

Having recently written about Personal Branding and  Leadership and presented to a
group of masters Students at Carnegie Mellon I have spent quite a bit of time thinking and reading about what Leadership is…. and what it is not. Continue reading Want to be a Leader?? Be Courageous + Trusted + Connected

Leaders Eat Last and Never Go Hungry

leadership_word_map-800x480There are many words that are thrown about when people talk about Leadership and what makes a good leader .

But really I think the fundamentals are Passion, Confidence, Trust and Respect.

Passion which I wrote about recently in Find Your Why ….. If you want to really be passionate about anything is the foundation to build upon.

Passion I believe leads to Vision, Creativity, Innovation and an Emotional Connection which in turn creates an environment of Confidence in not only the leadership but the organisation.

Trust is the next vital aspect that a true leader needs to have in his people and exhibit to them and in return gain their trust … this develops Loyalty and in turn Mutual Trust. If people Trust you and you trust them and you also have confidence in each other you are well on the way to being a great leader. Continue reading Leaders Eat Last and Never Go Hungry