Thursday, 25 October 2012

Steve Jobs: Innovator

Unless you have been on the moon for the last 15 years, you know the impact Steve Jobs had on the world with his company Apple. It is great to hear the war stories but the real question is – “How does he do it?” 

We make money in the business, hold it in cash flow real-estate and invest profits in paper assets and continue the cycle. The one thing that makes this all work is the business. If you build a great business, you can garner wealth at a much faster pace than any other investment vehicle. Example: Facebook.

Steve Jobs has a compelling "why" and it has to do with his legacy. Simply, we will be dead soon so we need to make an impact. What is your compelling "why" factor? In my family the males don't live that long. My father outlasted each of his brothers and passed at the ripe old age of 58. Needless to say, time is precious so you need to invest it wisely. Who are your heroes? I point this out because only 3 percent of people are committed to designing the life of their dreams. The rest are sleep walking to the end. This summary is about innovation.

This book is packed with seven principles of innovation followed by Steve Jobs and Apple. They are all important and I review each of them in my video summary. For the sake of this blog post, I will just touch on the first three.

1. Do what you love. Nothing great comes out of misery. Life is way too short to work a job you hate day in and day out. Doing what you love takes guts. Most people will fight you on it and tell you that you will not make money or it is too risky or some other garbage. Be true to yourself. Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class because he was curious. Everybody thought he was nuts. We have the cool computer fonts today because of that class. Now that is what I call impact - Millions of people using cool stuff because Jobs decided to go against the grain. 

2. Put a dent in the universe. This is motivation for yourself and your team. People need to be inspired to produce at a higher level. This is not easy. With pressures from all angles, it is easy to be mediocre. If you are working on putting a dent in the universe on every project then you will make great stuff. On a much smaller scale, we create software for police and sheriff departments in their dispatch centers. It is our vision to make their jobs easier. This does not sound like much but if we can help them dispatch better than they can save more lives, faster. That is putting a small dent in the wall anyway……. 

3. Kick start your brain. People are creatures of habit and habits are formed to make life easier. To kick start your brain, we need to experience different things and look for solutions in different areas. If you are familiar with the power supplies on Apple laptops, they have a magnet that connects the cord from the computer to the wall. Thus if you trip over the cord then it comes off as opposed to having your laptop pulled off the table. This seems obvious now that Apple is delivering it but that is an innovative idea. Where did it come from? The Japanese have been making cooking appliances with that type of connector for years. Thus look outside your box for better ideas. This also means to look outside your industry. I can attest that sometimes you are so caught up in what the customers want that you forget that you need to innovate and your problem may be a simple routine in another industry. Keep your eyes open. 

I hope you have found this short summary useful. For the rest of Steve Jobs' innovation principles, check out my full video review on Success Progress. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

-Joe Mosed


Friday, 19 October 2012

Hacking Away at Creativity

In business, infrastructure equals money. In order to scale, you have to have a flexible infrastructure. When centralized infrastructure turns into bureaucracy and slow response, the company becomes lethargic. Jensen and Klein's "Hacking Work" examines these problems from the worker's standpoint and outlines things you can do by working smart. 

Most companies today trust their vendors and customers more than their employees. This is a problem because brilliant results require team work, and you can't have a cohesive team if there isn't trust. Companies want transparency and centralization similar to command and control systems. This is not a bad thing until it takes a salesman two hours to enter an order, or if the company blocks Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Actions like these kill results. 

Results are the name of the game. If you don't get results now, you're dead. The hub and spoke model for business is not a bad model just as long as the spokes have autonomy to deliver to the customers and are not tied up by bureaucracy. 

"Hacking Work" is broken down into four sections. For the sake of time, I will highlight one point from each section. 

1. Engaged Team Members – Engaged team members are four times more productive and profitable than disengaged team members. This statistic (if focused on) can transform any business. 

2. Slaves to Infrastructure – I understand the need for procedures and infrastructure because you cannot scale without it. With that said, I know that larger companies handcuff their employees with ridiculous rules and procedures that ultimately kill the creative spirit. Having stupid policies in place to limit creative freedom for the illusion of security is bad policy. 

3. Three Types of Hackers – Black Hacks are the ones that steal, cheat and create havoc. These are the people that have given hacking a bad name. This book does not advocate black hacks. Grey Hacks and White Hacks are what are necessary to get the job done in a more efficient manner. These types of hacks are simply clever work around that save an enormous amount of time and allow workers to use their creative freedom for profit and customers loyalty. 

4. Clarity – This one is a big deal. Take a look at the stats: one, three of the top five time wasters all relate to communication. Two, information in companies doubles every 550 days. Three, once every three minutes, the average cube dweller accepts an interruption and shifts her focus, consuming 28% of the day. Creating clarity and simple communication and information sharing networks can cure all of this. 

This is a good book that every company leader should read. I personally think that if we could eliminate wasted time on stupid procedures, we could create an additional economy the size of Texas. 

I hope you found this blog post useful. Thanks for reading!



Friday, 12 October 2012

Our Opportunity

Abraham Maslow defined the basic human hierarchy of needs as food, water and air. This is the base of the pyramid. Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid. Image a world of clean, abundant energy, food and water, wellness and medical treatment for all. Now, imagine these things as self-sustaining systems and not as charity.

This is important to me because the major problems today are energy, water, healthcare, the environment and population growth. Every year, 11 million children die from infectious diseases. Most of these could have been avoided with clean water. This statistic is horrible. The U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on wars to fight terrorism. The world water problem could have been solved for much less. People need to have a realistic perspective. Humans tend to think logically and linearly. Technological change happens exponentially. This is good news for us because all of these problems are solvable. 

"Abundance" is an excellent book that not only defines the problems but highlights technology innovation that is happening right now that will solve these problems. This book is broken down into six major parts but for the sake of time, I will profile a few key points, as well as focus on the What, Why and How. 

1. The Facts – Fact One: Currently humanity uses 30% more of our planet’s natural resources than we can replace. Fact Two: If everyone on this planet wanted to live with the lifestyle of the average European, we would need three planets’ worth of resources to pull it off. Fact Three: If everyone on this planet wished to live like an average North American, then we’d need five planets to pull it off. Abundance shows that we can solve these problems. When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity still dominates the world view. The reason for this is because humans think logically and linearly while technological progression is exponential.

2. The Goal – Imagine a world of 9 billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy. Building this better world is humanity’s grandest challenge. 

Let’s look at the how portion with examples from Abundance.

1. Energy Possibilities – Energy has many components that need work. One is the production of clean energy, two is the transmission of that energy and three is the storage of the energy. What this means is that solar energy produced in San Diego (95% sunny days) could be stored and transmitted to rainy areas like Seattle. Smart grid technologies are needed as well. We are making progress. Corn produces 18 gallons per acre per year and palm oil about 625 gallons per acre per year. Modified algae (pond scum) will produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year. The technical progress with modified algae is moving fast. If this goal is hit and Miles per gallon improve with the cars then we could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil with 17% of the land mass of Nevada producing modified algae. Clean abundant energy is the source of fixing the rest of the problems outlined in this summary. These tasks create jobs which fuels economic growth. This is not a charitable problem. Charities may invest money but that is the way it needs to be looked at – as an investment not a gift. 

2. Water Possibilities – Dean Kamen created Slingshot. This is a water purification system that runs with a sterling engine. This setup is so effective that it costs .002 cents per liter. The system running in India can run on cow dung to power the purifier. Today the cost per liter is .30 cents. Building the Slingshot commercially could reduce the price down to $2,500 each. The water problem is a big problem because 97% of the world’s water is salt water. Basically fresh water consists of less than 1% of the total water supply. Another huge issue is 70% of the world’s water is used in agriculture while 50% of the food is thrown away. There are enormous opportunities in clean water generation locally eliminating the need to transport it. Smart Grid technologies are in huge demand because it makes sense to simply use what is needed without the delivery waste.

This is a great book that will get you thinking about solving these major problems we face as a species. Right now the world economy is sputtering and on the brink of a major shift. The ultimate goal of most humans is to have a job to sustain and better their lives. Jim Clifton wrote about this in his book the Coming Jobs War. These technologies and problems offer opportunities and business growth for people who have the foresight to take advantage of it.

One thing you can take away from this book: Problem equal opportunity through the right lens. Viewing the world through the right lens is critical to our success. To hone this skill, focus on root cause problems and looking for solutions. 

See you next week! -Joe


Friday, 5 October 2012

Make it Rain

George Foreman has a great saying – “If you can sell then you will always be able to eat.” In this economy, that really has meaning. Rainmaker discusses in detail the basics of improving your selling game. Remember one thing – Rainmakers do not get fired because they drive company revenue through superior client acquisition. 
As a selling professional, you need to understand that features don’t sell but the outcome of the solution to YOUR CLIENTS PROBLEM sells. B2B or Business to Business selling further delineates the pain / pleasure concept. Business clients buy to increase revenue, reduce their costs or mitigate risks. According to Jeffrey – Rainmakers sell money.

There are several key concepts in the book to help you become a Rainmaker. For the sake of time, I will profile three of them.

1. Never do anything without knowing what is going to happen next – Amateur sales people do not understand this rule. They will present their product, give away pricing and provide a list of their best clients without knowing the three main things: The prospects PAIN, MONEY and DECISION making process. Rainmakers know all of this before they give away their knowledge

2. Listening – 70/30You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Rainmakers know how to listen to their clients and help them discover their pain. Listening is the biggest skill that you need to learn to be successful in sales and in business. The prospect should be speaking 70% of the time and the sales person needs to speak only 30% of the time. In a one hour meeting, you talk only 18 minutes. 

How to Become a Rainmaker also talks about the 4 point daily plan. This is an excellent plan that every sales person needs to encompass in their career. It works like this: 1. Get a lead or referral and assign one point. 2. Get an appointment to meet a decision maker, assign two points 3. Meet the decision maker, assign 3 points. 4. Get a commitment to close or direct next step to close and assign four points. The goal is to get 4 points every day.

Until next time,
Joe at Success Progress