Notes on life

One thing that I love about business is how it parallels with life in general, especially that it provides a relatively scientific method of studying and explaining excellence. Unlike scientific psychology that tends towards either fixing the mentally disturbed or analysing fundamental processes, business tests how to achieve and maintain excellence.

Spending a month in China at the end of last year was a huge eye-opener for me. Here are a few ideas that I’ve found to be particularly pertinent in the past days…

  • Rather than beating the competition by being stronger or faster, make the competition irrelevant by creating uncontested market space that suits you… rewrite the rules on your terms. After all, if you’re going to fight a gorilla or a million ants, you’d better not play by their rules.
  • Don’t be the best of the best. Be the only one who does what you do.
  • Imagine the company of the future as a virtual collection of entrepreneurially minded talent, creating (or applying) their capabilities (“intellectual capital”) to develop solutions that change the world. At least that’s where I want to work…
  • To maintain and improve our standard of living, we absolutely must lift ourselves up the value chain: From Raw materials to Goods to Services to Solutions to Augmented Experiences to Making Dreams Come True…
  • “Experiences”??? Why does Starbucks sell the most coffee around the world? It’s simple: They created a new space – a space that wasn’t work and wasn’t home… they own the real estate that we pay rent on, rather than just making coffee. Maybe I was crazy to run from gate 71 to gate 31 (and back!) to grab a Starbucks Grande Caramel Latte at Hong Kong airport on Christmas Eve, but I just had to get my few minutes of peace before that 12 hour flight back to ‘reality’.
  • “Making Dreams Come True”??? It’s about helping clients/ customers become what they want to be… just imagine a University that helped its students become leaders and achievers, rather than just giving them a piece of paper.
  • If there’s nothing special about what you do, no matter how hard you work you won’t be noticed much. And that means that you probably won’t be paid much either.
  • China is like a huge gorilla that is creeping silently up behind us. The place is amazing, yet most of us – even those of us with fancy sounding degrees – really know nothing about what’s coming… the information just isn’t getting out to us. If you’re serious about being in business into the years ahead, you need to pull your finger out and get there yourself as soon as you can. Just drop in to Shanghai for a week or a month… however long, just do it!

Here are a few things that I believe that we all need to be working on…

  1. Mastery: Be outstandingly good at something
  2. Create and complete projects worth bragging about
  3. Be unique: Distinct or Extinct
  4. Network: Build your team and your connections
  5. Take responsibility for yourself in every way: Ultimately, you are the CEO and sole shareholder of You Inc… there are no excuses.