On November 11th, 1994, around the same time, the first passengers traveled through the Channel Tunnel, and the chemical element Darmstadtium was discovered, the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association (also known as the Silicon Valley Historical Association) interviewed Steve Jobs.
It is one of the most remarkable reflections of an undoubtedly remarkable person:
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand that you can poke life, and actually something will, you know, if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it. You can mold it.
Let this sink in for a moment.
Look around you – everything (EVERYTHING) around you, from the chair you might be sitting on to the digital device (and all its components it is made of) you read or listen to this, was made by someone. Not some singular uber-genius but a normal person doing normal things. That person can easily be you.
Poke life. And never stop poking.
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Yes, perfection is just plain boring, and we seek those tiny imperfections that make you, your company, and your product or service much more human. But we also hunger for you, giving a damn.
The sad reality of our world is that all too many people and their companies don’t. Get a coffee at Starbucks, and 90% of “baristas” just couldn’t give a damn and would rather watch the latest Netflix show than make you your hideously overpriced beverage....
You love what you are doing, are good at it, and take great pride in your work. Awesome. But are you a perfectionist?
It’s funny how we strive (rightfully so) for greatness. We spend countless hours honing our craft. We aim to remove even the slightest flaws – to deliver the perfect product (whatever that might be in your world). And then we become bores.
See, in our effort, we delivered a beautifully polished product – one which ticks all the boxes, but also one which, due to its lack of faults and quirks, is just… boring.
What’s your favorite sport? And who’s your favorite athlete performing your favorite sport? What makes them great — what is it that makes them outstanding at what they are doing? I am sure you can quickly come up with a person and their “magic sauce.” For me, it’s climbing, and seeing people like Marc-André Leclerc (“The Alpinist”) climb easily and confidently is simply awe-inspiring. And if a sport is not your thing, pick a different pastime.
Here is a simple, obvious, and regularly forgotten insight: If you want to master something, study the highest achievers...
The Germans have a saying, “Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf.” It translates into (somewhat nonsensically) “the fish rots from the head” and refers to the idea that (good) leadership starts at the top of an organization. In the US, we like to say “the buck stops here” (going back to former president Truman), making reference to the necessity to take responsibility and not pass it on (and of course, we say things like “Believe.” or “Football is life,” though those are probably more AFC Richmond sayings).
As I sit here, sipping a decent espresso and scrolling through LinkedIn (I know,...
Recently I have started (another) deep dive into the broader subject of “leadership.” After writing and publishing Disrupt Disruption – How to Decode the Future, Disrupt Your Industry, and Transform Your Business (which has a chapter on the topic), I became curious about the broader implications of leadership on… well… everything.
Even more so than the term “disruption,” leadership has truly become tofu: It tastes like nothing until you put sauce on it – by which point it tastes like sauce. Meanwhile, it’s everywhere. Just search for the term on Amazon, and you get inundated with books, ranging from “The 21...
The other day, while flipping through a beautifully produced outdoor magazine, I came across a full-page illustration of a terrain map with the words “The Deeper You Get, The Deeper You Get” printed over it in small, red lettering.
It reminded me of the iconic back cover of the final edition of the Whole Earth Catalog, depicting the sun peaking around the moon on a top and an open road on a bottom picture. The now-famous line “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” is printed in white, contrasting the darkness of the moon photo.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos once remarked, “doing things at high speed, that’s the best defense against the future.”
By now, I have spent more than 30 years in extremely fast-moving markets (mostly tech). ()* Not once have I found that Bezos’ observation didn’t hold – with the caveat that it doesn’t mean you ought to run around like a headless chicken in your pursuit of speed. Contrary, I have seen many instances of companies, projects, and leaders failing as their velocity was too slow. Too much talk, deliberation, debate, cruft, and polish before a product or service release.
Yesterday I recorded an episode of the Disrupt Disruption podcast with Mary Grove, Managing Director of Bread and Butter Ventures and former founding director at Google for Startups (and a whole bunch more). In our conversation, Mary shares her deeply insightful learnings from thousands of startups, explores how corporates can better partner and work with entrepreneurs and their companies, and discusses common pitfalls to avoid. Do yourself a favor and listen…
While editing the episode, I realized that this is the 45th interview I have published on the Disrupt Disruption podcast. We are also some 110+ episodes...