Looking forward to more EVs

Shai Agassi is a pretty inspiring kinda guy. Having been a jet at SAP, he’s shot into space proclaiming the benefits of replacing internal combustion engines with batteries and motors. It’s a pretty cool thought really.

You might ask, “But what about when you run out of power?” And Shai is glad that you did.

In a few years – if Shai has his way of course – it’ll be a simple matter of dropping through the convenient Better Place to swap your old battery for a new one… and with that, cars get an ‘unlimited range’. Well, at least as much as cars do.

Pretty brilliant piece of business design too. Not only does the company answer a really big problem (how to give electric vehicles the range they need) but it could create a massive disruption to the existing oil-based infrastructure network. Things could get messy I guess.

Australia is coming (supposedly)… I wonder when we’ll see it in China. More on this announcement at Wired.

Create an awesome idea. Change the world.

Bureaucratic micro-enterprize

I designed a sales brochure for a client. They wanted a Chinese version, so we had the text of the brochure translated into Chinese.

But the translation wasn’t very good. My girlfriend said that while it was better than Google Translator, it looked like a foreigner had done it – certainly not to the professional standards of a company selling business communication training.

So I told them.

Weeks passed. There was talk of hiring a professional translator. There were other people in the office who could have done it. But finally the company asked me to identify the areas of the translation that needed to be improved.

But in case you missed it: I don’t read Chinese.

You might expect that a small company – with at most five desks in the office – would have a dynamic, engaging and entrepreneurial spirit. But not here.
They have a culture of putting responsibility for solutions into the hands of the one who identify that the problem exists.

It’s one of the best ways of shutting down innovation around – and indeed productivity of any sort.

A lit warning light is a good sign that the light is working. Be careful of just turning it off.


Sitting at the Manly Wharf food court, I noticed a Boost beside between the Thai and Sushi outlets. Boost is a great success story – the founder even published a book – and yet it reminds me of an old friend.

Kim created Juice Break many years ago. Before juice bars had really even hit Australia – well before Boost – Juice Break was helping make Brisbanites more healthy by introducing them to the wonders of fresh juices and intensely healthy nutrition. Kim had a great little store and brought together some really cool people.

But Juice Break no longer exists.

It wasn’t that the product wasn’t “right” – as evidenced by the roaring success of Boost and a host of other juice outlets today. And the timing was pretty good too – Juice Break closed as the first of today’s successful juice outlets were opening. They could have been a market leader, ready to reap the turn of the tide and the resultant massive wave.

And Kim was – and is – really cool! A surfer, he’s likeable and fun to hang out with.

There were many reasons that we now know the story of Boost rather than the story of Juice Break. But one of the most important lessons for me is that success often lies just a short twist in the road away. So when you find something that inspires you, something that you feel is worth pursuing, you really gotta go for it.

It can take a long time to make your dreams a reality. Research into genius shows that it takes about a decade before anything really significant can be achieved. So choose something that you love to do… Something that is worth doing even if others don’t know you’re doing it… Something that you enjoy doing for its own sake rather than because you believe it will get you something.

I’m doing my NLP Trainers’ Training at the moment. It’s exciting. It’s interesting. It’s engaging. And with my good friends in Shanghai I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with more people upon my return. Maybe I’ll make some money from it – heck, I’d like that – but even if I don’t, I love being here and doing what I’m doing right now.

I figure that if you’re doing something that you love to do, even if it doesn’t get you where you want to go – even if it’s a total waste of time – if you choose to do something that you love to do for its own sake, you’ll never be really wasting your time.

A friend was telling me about his friend who wants to study law but who fears that she’ll not live long enough to practice. She’s just 20 and doesn’t think she’ll make it to 25. We all have our perculiarities, but to me the reason to study law is to enjoy the process of learning and experiencing the study of law… Not because you’ll become a lawyer.

I’d love to give the appropriate source, but I can just hear Marianne Williamson saying to me: “Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing. And never do it for the money.”

And now I’m going to enjoy my tempura prawn roll and Berry Crush…

Visionaries shut up and listen… and not to focus groups

Really cool stuff doesn’t follow trends.

Kinda cool stuff does – but not really cool stuff.

Google didn’t follow the trends set by the (then!) giants like Microsoft and Yahoo!… and the Pure Digital’s Flip doesn’t either – even though they sold 1,000,000 basic camcorders last year, they radically diverge from the path charted by Sony and the rest of the industry. It wasn’t that their Dan (PD’s CEO – not me!) had focus groups and steadily developed a novel product – “He paid attention, and created a product for them—without hiring focus groups.

Isn’t that where the really great ideas come from?

Business schools have been popularising the “Blue Ocean” – but great minds have been thinking this way for thousands of years. In order to get ahead of the pack, you have to either be a born freak or you have to chart a different route. And born freaks just chart a different route intuitively.

We make it hard for those that want to march to their own tune. Radicals are punished – and that it is a good thing in a sense… it is in the nature of the ‘system’ to challenge those who work to undermine the Nash Equilibrium presently being enjoyed so as to ensure that the proposed change overcomes the switching cost. It’s not personal – it’s just evolution.

To stand out can be frightening and lonely. Yet if you don’t be true to yourself – or a company is not true to itself – what do you really have left?

Great minds listen to their inner voice. In the modern world, it is often drowned out by the clattering of empty vessels, but if you can stop and listen to the voice within, you can start to explore what makes you great. What makes you unique? What are you better at – or could you be better at – than anybody else? What are you passionate about? If you could stop and listen to that voice from within, what would you do? It’s like we have an internal radio tuner that we seldom tune – and we get confused that all the white noise means that there’s nothing really there.

It is still your song to sing… if you dare.