The New Geek
I have never hidden the fact that I am a geek, a dork or a nerd. I embrace that side of myself quite happily. I subscribe to and demonstrate most stereotypes associated with these 'special' people without issue. The geeks, the dorks and the nerds are my people.
I also teach to (and see business plans from) a bunch of nerds who want to become internet billionaires: 'This is the next Facebook, Google, Twitter' has become all to frequent. As a side effect to this, the 'social-media-anything-is-possible' craze has somewhat redefined the geek persona and lowered the barrier to entry into Geekdom.
That is why this new video from the Pantless Knights is so accurate, well written and à propos.
Geekdom, enjoy. This is the new us.
What can they really steal ?
I pondered this question, sitting in the depressing oncology department as my wife was getting her 8th out of 12 chemotherapy treatments back in August 2009. Conversations with other cancer patients and their significant others often turned around what was lost with cancer and how their priorities changed. And then, to insert hope in the discussion, we would talk about what we had left that we cherished.
It felt cliché at the time - you only know what's important once you lose it. But it's true. When I (and they) got stripped of what I we made life 'life', this question had to be answered. And the soul-searching did me some good.
In the blink of an eye, with one phone call, or with one sentence uttered from the doctor's mouth, the following things can disappear (in no particular order ;) )
- my stuff
- my health
- my loved ones health
- my achievements and distinctions
- my reputation
- my plans
- my social involvement
- my affiliations
- my stuff - bis (I know I already said it, but it's so important sometimes, it bears repeating)
So what's left ? What can I grab on when I feel like Job ?
- my values and my faith
- my resolve
- my REAL friends
Here's one man very touching and eloquent take on it.
It's all a matter of perspective
My friend Reg Athwal, a world reknown expert on Human Resources, posted this story which I think demonstrates the power of perspective. It's something that struck me in the last year that I needed, and something I think all entrepreneurs who get sucked into their businesses need more of.
One day, a very rich man decided to teach his son about life, and took him on a trip to a very poor village and they spent a couple of days with a very poor family. When they returned home, the father asked his son:
- Did you like our trip?- Yes dad. - Did you see how these people live?
- Yes dad. - Tell me then, what did you learn from this trip? The son replied:
- I saw that we've got 2 dogs, they've got 4. We have a pool in the middle of the garden, they have a huge lake. We've got imported lamps for the patio, they have the stars. We live on a small lot, they live on a big farm surrounded by meadows. We have maids to serve us, they help each other with everything. We buy our food, they grow it. We have a wall surrounding our house to protect us, they have friends to rely on.
The father was speechless.
And the son added:- Thank you for showing me how much we still lack daddy!!
Benjamin Franklin's quotes
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was an amazingly talented Renaissance man: author, inventor, printer, politician, satirist, scientist, civic activist, statesman, diplomat, and one of the founding fathers of America.
Part of his considerable legacy was to leave us with brilliant thoughts, inspired by his Puritan background. Most of them have found their way to our common sense, but we forget they came from a man who believed in doing good every day:
- A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.
- Beware of small expenses. A small leak can sink a great ship.
- An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
- Anger is never without a reason but seldom with a good one.
- By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
- Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them.
- Half a truth is often a great lie.
- He that lives upon hope will die fasting.
- He that's secure is not safe.
- If you would be loved, love and be lovable.
- Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Change, the one constant
It has always astonished me that in the Web and the IT world, one of the biggest hurdles remains some people's strong aversion to change.
Ariane de Bonvoisin wrote a book about personal change and established 9 principles to help modify our view of it. These 9 can be applied on a personal level and on a corporate level as well. They are here, but can be read below.
Principle 1: People who successfully navigate change have positive beliefs.
Your biggest need right now is to develop new beliefs: about yourself, about this change, and about life in general. Nothing will have a bigger impact on the way you move through change.
Principle 2: People who successfully navigate change know that change always brings something positive into their lives.
Every change has a gift associated with it. While it’s natural to find change hard it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every coin and that something positive will always come. This is by far the most important belief to have during the first thirty days of change.
Principle 3: People who successfully navigate change know they are resilient, strong, and capable of getting through anything.
You are much stronger, much smarter, and much more intuitive than you have ever been told. You are more resilient and more powerful. Once you truly know and believe this, you will be able to get through any change- even the hardest one you can imagine.
Principle 4: People who successfully navigate change know that every challenging emotion they feel is not going to stop them and will guide them to positive emotions that help them feel better.
Negative emotions can stall us, making change harder, while the positive ones can help us move through a change in a simpler, quicker, and more conscious way.
Principle 5: People who successfully navigate change know that the quicker they accept the change, the less pain and hardship they will feel.
Let go of the idea of how life should be.
Principle 6: People who successfully navigate change use empowering questions and words, think better thoughts, and express their feelings.
At your most stuck point, if you can speak with different words, think a slightly better thought, and get in touch with how you are feeling, you can become unstuck in a matter of minutes.
Principle 7: People who successfully navigate change know they are connected to something bigger than themselves.
When everything around you is changing, look for the part of you that doesn't change. The part that is calm, centered and always there.
Principle 8: People who successfully navigate change are not alone; they surround themselves with people who can help, who have the right beliefs and skills. And they create an environment that supports their change.
One of our biggest flaws as human beings is that we keep thinking we are alone. Whatever the situation, there is always, always someone who can help.
Principle 9: People who successfully navigate change take action. They have a plan and know how to take care of themselves.
Actions come in many forms. Some are big and obvious; some are so small you may think they are irrelevant. But any good action you take is a choice to move forward.
The Charter for Compassion
One of my 4 core values is compassion. I believe it is the one value that truly differentiates us from being self-loving, egoistical people. Our caring and grace for others is the one key to make sure our collective future becomes a livable one.
Last year, Karen Armstrong, a reknown religious scholar, made a plea at TED for a Charter for Compassion: an initiative to 'to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.'
One year later, with the help of TED and 150 000 contributors like you and me from 180 different countries and 4 different languages, Karen's dream is finally becoming a reality.
How different would our businesses be if we applied this charter in our commercial transactions ? in our interpersonal relationships ? with people very different from us ? Here are inspiring examples and a way for us to act on it.
Enjoy the Charter for Compassion.
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
The life that matters
Michael Josephson has penned a fantastic poem about purposeful living which became very relevant to me in the last year. I wish I had that perspective when I started my first business, so the best I can do is learn it and pass it along ;)
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
--- Michael Josephson
Leading without leading
From TED comes this video about leadership and it's brilliant parallel with conducting an orchestra. From the youtube description 'An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.'
It runs the gamut of leadership styles and how they all can be seen in conducting orchestras. The video also makes us question our own leadership style:
- Does leading necessarily require control ?
- Do we tell our own stories or help others tell their story ? Can others develop their skill under our leadership or can they just apply it ?
- Is there a purpose in our leadership or is it a technique we are applying ?
- Can we create the processes and the structure to allow others feel and be free to express themselves ?
... And what I believe is the most important question :
Are we having fun ?
The difference maker : Fun
When Guy Laliberté, founder of the Cirque Du Soleil, met with the remaining Beatles to pitch the concept of 'Love' - a show that would integrate their songs in a most creative format - he used only three words. After years of trying to get his idea through, now sitting in front of them, he had the chance of the lifetime to convince them. The normal reaction would have been to elaborate fantastic concepts to wow The Beatles. But he just used three words that were powerful enough to move them:
Let's have fun.
The Fun Theory is a web site that tries to get ordinary people change habits by making the alternative habit a fun one. Here is an example of getting people to use the stairs instead of the escalator.
Fun. It's the unique value proposition.
The vocation of entrepreneurs
This video beautifully describes the reason why I believe Entrepreneurship to be one of the greatest career vocations one can aspire to. Quite simply: they can change the world.
Everything you never wanted to know about the author is on this web site : www.jeanfahmy.com