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Aug 2nd, 2021

Understanding Generations

It’s pretty funny to me how often I hear (typically) company execs talk about “millennials” (and lately “Gen Z”), referencing to them like you would do to a strange, new species in the animal kingdom. As someone being squarely in the Gen X bucket (and having found early social identity in Douglas Coupland’s seminal book), I find the whole labeling thing pretty hilarious. That being said, there is something to the idea that generations always had a somewhat hard time understanding each other.

Which brings me to my point: It always requires empathy and work to understand your customer; I would argue that this is even more so when you cross the inter-generational gap. Gen Z’s building products for the aging boomer population. Gen X’ers building hip & cool new apps for Gen Zs.

The following quip by Douglas Adams, the famed author who gave us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is funny — but also to the point, and thus a good reminder and empathy-builder:

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary, and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Next time you shake your head seeing someone younger or older than you argue about tech — keep this in mind. It will serve you well.

Jul 30th, 2021

Power Ten

As some of you might know, I got pretty deep into rowing a little while ago. After rather obsessively running and making it all the way to ultra-distance racing, getting injured, and not being able to run for a couple of years, I found rowing the perfect replacement. In many ways it fits me better anyway — my body never was well-built for distance running, being very tall (6.5ft / 1.96m). Yet in rowing that length comes handy.

In rowing, especially competitive rowing, you will come across the term “Power Ten”, a term often used by the coxswain to motivate...

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Jul 26th, 2021

What You Can Learn From Story

Eventually, we all have to pitch. Be it you pitching your startup idea and business plan to a group of investors or partners. Or you are making your case for a salary raise during your annual performance review. Even in our relationships and family life, we find ourselves making (hopefully) compelling arguments why we ought to fly to Hawaii for vacation, why getting married is the best idea ever, or why a dog would make our little family complete.

Pitching is nothing but story telling, and narrative creates meaning. To tell a compelling story (“Invest into my startup.”, “Let’s get...

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Jul 22nd, 2021

Do You Really Want A Pet Tiger?

My friend Maurice Conti, former Head of Moonshots at Telefonica Alpha, the European equivalent to Google X, told me this story a little while ago. It is a good (and hilarious) reminder that when we want something — say for example that startup lifestyle or the big innovation and disruption initiative — we are better be clear about what we are getting into.

The Pet Tiger.

Owning a pet tiger sounds like an exciting idea. You might have been inspired by the Hollywood hit comedy “The Hangover”. Up to 600 pounds (ca. 272 kilogram) and 11 feet (3.35...

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Jul 19th, 2021

How We Form Abstract Beliefs

You heard me lament our willingness to trust a little too easily what we read/hear/see from so-called “experts” before. We talked about our skewed tendency to put people on a pedestal. The other day, I read a succinct summarization of how this all works and why it happens:

Remember the order in which we form abstract beliefs: (1) We hear something; (2) We believe it; (3) Only sometimes, later, if we have the time or the inclination, we think about it and vet it, determining whether or not it is true.

This is an important insight into...

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Jul 15th, 2021

First Principles And The Power of Analogs

For the last couple of months we have been deep in the rabbit hole of better understanding the first principles of disruptive innovation and the practices which lead to, as well as, allow you to tame disruption in the context of a company.

So far, we published sixteen of our interviews with leading practitioner and thinkers on our Disrupt Disruption podcast, with another five episodes already recorded and many more scheduled. And as you might imagine — as diverse as our guests are, there are common themes and insights emerging.

One, from an interview we are going to publish...

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Jul 12th, 2021

Don’t Let It Happen

Allow me to quote Jeff Bezos from his last annual letter to shareholders:

We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable. We are all taught to “be yourself.” What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.

You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness, and it’s worth it. The fairy tale version of “be yourself” is that all the...

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Jul 8th, 2021

Can Or Do You?

Every so often I find myself in a conversation where someone goes on and on about what could be done. How one could build a better Uber, AirBnB, or whatever startup hotness is du jour at the moment. How moronic the people are who built and run these companies. How easy it would be to disrupt them — by simply doing the obvious.

It’s either this or someone telling me that they had the idea for Uber years before Travis even learned to type. Or how they saw the iPhone obviously becoming the predominant mobile phone platform (in terms of...

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Jul 5th, 2021

Lean Into The Future

Much has been said and written about the future. If you have heard me and my friend and colleague Jeffrey Rogers speak recently, you heard us talk about the future as a paradox:

On one hand, the future is unwritten. You can’t truly know what tomorrow will look like — which is a wonderful opportunity and a deep obligation at the same time. We get to write our future every single day. And we have to write our future — if we don’t, we will end up living in a world where someone else writes our future for us.

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Jul 1st, 2021

Productivity vs/and Creativity

We don’t talk much about COVID-19 here. Which, of course, doesn’t mean it’s not affecting pretty much everything most/all of us do. On our end, the one thing we hear consistently from our clients these days is this: With the whole remote work situation, productivity has shot way up. It looks like people do get a bunch more work done from home than if they were in an office — and that even though working from home, for many, isn’t a walk in the park (and for quite a few outright impossible). And while productivity is up, creativity is down…...

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