Saturday, March 04, 2006

Childhood Programming

We all have certain simple childhood programming that we must overcome.

For example:

Big boys and big girls don't cry.
Nice people don't get angry.
Always be humble.
Listen to your parents/elders.
Work hard and you will succeed.
Leadership by example.
Its not what's outside that counts, its what's inside.
Never say I cannot do it, say that you'll always do your best.

There is nothing wrong with the above directives, they are well-intentioned and do serve useful purposes in life, however, in life these directives may hinder our growth and success because they are:
1) Too simplistic.
2) Are inappropriate for certain situations.
3) Have certain other assumptions.
4) Are inadequate.

Big boys and big girls don't cry/Nice people don't get angry. directive is for us to be strong mentally and emotionally. However, when needed, emotions are appropriate and even needed in situation to empathise, to release or to spur us to action. It is rather self-control and wisdom that is needed in where and when and what to do. When extended too much these directives become injunctions against having feelings.
Always be humble. This is directive to remind us that we are not alone in this world and that whatever success that we have is the result of interdepency in the whole fabric of mankind. However, when stretched to exteme, it becomes an injunction for us not to feel important.
Listen to your parents/elders. Obedience and humility in learning is important. However, what if your parents are dysfunctional themselves? Following their example only carries the curse of dysfunctionality into your own life. What if they are of low-IQ or of low education? Do you simply obey their orders just because they are your parents or older than you? There are 33 year old men who are simply light-years ahead in wisdom to 70-year old fools. Age or formal positional authority does not make a leader. Even Lao Tzu disagreed with Confucius on his directive of listening to those in authority like governors or parents. What if your parents are criminals? What if the government is corrupt? The directive to listen/obey those in authority only works as good as how wise and righteous they are.
Word hard and you will succeed. This directive is good because it spurs us into reaching our goals. Every endeavour that is worthwhile takes time and effort. However, looking at it again, even coolies work hard everyday with sweat and toil, yet do they reach their goals? Working hard only works if you're working on the right activities. Without good internal leadership, we can be making a path in the wrong direction.
Leadership by example. Influence through example is always needed in order that we not be hypocrites. It is also important by showing others that what we tell them is possible. However, just example alone isn't enough. There is vision casting, and motivational talks, and understanding the flock. All thse are important to leadership as well. Furthermore, it can be abused to hide ourselves from confronting our own fears with having conflict with others or with public speaking.
"It's not what is outside that counts, it's what's inside". This works, yes, but only with God. For only God knows our insides. The outside counts just as much in the world. Even actors know this. A role can be won/lost just based on the right look and image. Danny DeVito could never be cast as James Bond. No matter how good his thespian abilities. There is a reason why Singapore Airlines stewardesses are pretty and slim. It isn't a coincidence that there are no fat stewardesses. Image and branding are very important. How you project yourself influences others.
Never say I cannot do it, say that you'll always do your best. Another excellent directive, however, there are times when impossible really is impossible with the resources at hand. If someone tells you to climb Mt. Everest, well... you could do your best, but it'll take like 15-20 years of preparation for some people to do so compared to an experienced mountain climber.
We all need a software rewrite, an overhaul in our mental and spiritual directives. Something like in Robocop when he had to wipe out certain bad programming or use his heart to make decisions, All software goes through revisions, MS Office is at version 11, Apple OS is at X, Java is at version 1.5.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:9-12)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Business Ideas That Seem Stupid

We want to sell burgers. - Objections: Everyone can make burgers, what's the difference? There are so many other people doing the same thing how can you handle the competition?

The company? McDonalds.

I want to create a personal computer. - Objections: What about the big boys? Sinclair, Altair, IBM?

The company? Apple.

I want to sell water from my backyard all across the world 1000 times the price of tap water. - Objections: A really stupid idea, who will buy water when it is so cheap from the tap?

The company? Evian, Perrier, etc.

I want to sell books over the internet. - Objections: Selling books is easy. Anyone can copy it. What about the big boys? Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc?

The company? Amazon.

I want to sell computers over the internet and by mail order - Objections: What about the big boys? HP, Compaq, IBM, Sim Lim? The margins are really thin.

The company? Dell

I want to create a search engine. - Objections: Its been done before, Yahoo!, Infoseek, Hotbot, Where's the revenue model?

The company? Google.

What was the difference in all these companies? Their industry wasn't new. So what was it that made them beat the incumbents in the business? What was the difference in direction? The unique advantage or method of capturing the market?

If everyone of these entrepreneurs above listened to a Singapore VC, they would never have started their businesses.

Conclusion: Don't take rejection at face value from investors. It's not reason speaking, it's their emotions. Work on it, work on it, work on it. People are good at finding reasons not to do it. Its your job to sift constructive feedback from their emotions.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Become an RDF

Bend reality to the purpose at hand....

reality-distortion field: n.

An expression used to describe the persuasive ability of managers like Steve Jobs (the term originated at Apple in the 1980s to describe his peculiar charisma). Those close to these managers become passionately committed to possibly insane projects, without regard to the practicality of their implementation or competitive forces in the marketplace

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Consistency: The Key To Staying In The League

You must be consistent to stay in the Premier League. That's how teams like Chelsea and Everton managed to survive.

That is how you must play in the league of life.

Get consistent results, win and fight every day tooth and nail. Play with character.

Even if you're not getting consistent results at first, fight, fight and fight. Just like the bottom teams of the league are fighting against relegation, it's not over till the fat lady sings. Look at West Bromwich Albion last season when they were the first team to shrug off the Christmas curse by being bottom of the league at the end of the year and yet survived on the final day. Look at Middlesborough which this season seemed to be headed to the relegation zone, but defeated Chelsea and are now in the round-of-16 in the UEFA cup.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

(2 Timothy 4:6-8)