Finding Inspiration

When I found my whole life, I began finding inspiration in places I didn't expect. I found inspiration in places that I had little time for in my hectic corporate days. By the way, I was afraid too. That always keeps you from what's best.

The following is a brief list of places I've found inspiration:

  • Flowers
  • Miles Davis (just about everything in made)
  • Wine
  • Cinema
  • Children

I found this article yesterday, which is a profile of Jack Dorsey. Jack is well-known for founding Twitter and Square. He's a good example of finding inspiration and being fearless in doing it. I hope you enjoy the piece as much as I did.

What God Takes Away

Thought about my dad today and what God takes away. Certainly that implies that something, or someone, was given. I see that now.

As I was processing, I asked myself why I would still be writing about him. It has been almost 4 years now. For all I know, you might even be thinking why. Your first inclination might be to look at me as a grieving son or someone that has unresolved issues. All may be true, but I also thought of you. At the risk of sounding redundant, much of what I write turns toward you. As it should be…by way of experience.

Are you in a place, in the living years, where you can't resolve the unresolved? Still fighting, still fighting back what you'd prefer to forget?

I guess I feel that my process of dealing with my dad's living and dying was for a purpose deeper than the loss of a human life. I know that I'm not alone. On more than one occasion I've had people write me to say they've been watching my journey. We live in a crowded world, so if Ed says he was watching, then I know it was for a good reason. I guess this post is for those that have never raised their hands.

My gut tells me some of you may be fighting an un-winnable war.

In the vast majority of my life with my dad I was entangled and by the time I became an adult I was too arrogant and angry to resolve it. I was warned, but I pressed on. My mistake. I eventually did make it right, but man it seems like it would have been sweeter to get there earlier. Could be revisionist history or a longing to have a chance for a "do-over." I'm ok, though, I'm still moving forward. He is pleased, I know.

Ok, what's the un-winnable war:

  • Anger toward someone (wife, ex-wife, friend, parent, etc.) that eats you from the inside out. Many times my wife and kids felt this with me. I have nothing to show for my investment, nothing.
  • Resignation that it won't get any better. Damn it, most everything can get better if we let it!
  • Making someone into someone they can never be. I spent years of hating my dad while trying to please him. He wasn't a bad man, just trapped in his own web unable to say and do something a son longed for.
  • Pretending that love isn't in your heart. A form of protection I suppose. Ironically, I found out after he passed that I do love him.
  • You don't control as much as you think you do. God has every right to take away, and we have the responsibility to make the most of the time we're given. Be careful here. Are you gambling that you have time? Are you thinking you can get to it later?

Calling All 21st Centruy Pioneers

A post I wrote last year. Very important in our current climate today.

To say we live in an age of rapid change would be an understatement, so I'm calling all 21st century pioneers to step-in. For obvious reasons.

All of us have experienced some level of fundamental change in the last 10 years.  That change may have left you hurt, vulnerable or invigorated…depending on your outlook and circumstances. I know many people who are waiting for things to "get better" or "return to normal."  The rapid pace of life and the aforementioned change has left them looking back to a day that seemed better.  They long for some place in the past that may have only been great in their heads.  Regardless, it seemed to be better than the world that currently faces.  I understand this and have had moments when I have longed as well.

So after some time of being at war with yourself and the world, perspective comes knocking.  Do you answer?

I am convinced that we are living in the age of the pioneer.  A time not unlike the 19th century America.  A time where much was wild, unknown and adventurous.  I'm sure many in those days were filled with mixed emotions and thoughts.  There had to be the nay-sayers, critics and saboteurs.  There certainly were men and women of courage.

The following are the reasons why we need pioneers-in work and life:

  • Untamed places need men and women of courage.  These men and women have vision, energy and faith in what can be.
  • Pioneers are forever facing criticism and doubt.  This comes from seeing what others often can't or won't.
  • Status quo people/organizations are a threat to breakthroughs.  They will always exist, but should never rule the day.
  • Not everyone is called/meant to be a pioneer.  That said, everyone should hitch there wagon to leaders who are.
  • The right type of pioneer is always into you and not what they can get from you.  This is rare and vital.
  • Technology and the applicable disruptions.
  • The future is shaped by those who experiment and take risks, not those who bury theirs heads and pretend the storm will just pass over.
  • The wrong type of pioneers want in on the future too. Beware.

Calling All 21st Century Pioneers.



Are You Restless?

I heard a "motivational coach" once say that people need quick coaching.  In a sound-bite world like ours, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Maybe he thinks that if it takes longer than ten minutes, people won't move.  Is this true for you?  Are you restless? In some ways it is true, but I think its more a matter of leaders not giving people substance and candor. Clarity goes a long way in the creation of energy. People rise or fall on the expectations of the leader. And certainly he or she's time spent in helping a follower matters. 

In my experience, nothing has come easy or overnight…no matter how much I wished it would have.  The truth of what the term "long run" means, applies hear. You probably get that reality is far different than fantasy and we avoid the ugly truth of waiting like the plague. 

We claim we're too busy to spend more than ten minutes to grow ourselves.  It's as if life is lived half-empty. What a mistake!  I think most are just lost and not sure where to go.  They've given up on their dreams and are accepting a poor imitation.  Titles, money, power and the like won't fill up the vacuum inside you.  Human beings were not wired to be fulfilled by the titles, money and power.  Titles, money and power were designed to be used for the benefit of others…that's the only way they can be held in check.

Think about the following:

  1. Is what you're chasing really that important?
  2. Are your relationships suffering or growing because of what you're chasing?
  3. Why can't you give more than ten minutes (if that describes you) to the gift of life?
  4. Do you really know what your priorities are?
  5. Do you realise that its not all about you (see A Note from Bosses to Employees post from Execupundit)?
  6. Do you know that all of us are terminal?

Ideas Are Not Enough

Ideas are not enough in business and personal. There was a point in my entrepreneur journey, though, when I believed having a great idea was enough. It isn't.

I attended a breakfast meeting this morning sponsored by a local group, TechColumbus. The presenters were from Clarus Parners and they gave wonderful insights into the art and science of presenting your business for funding/investment.

As I sat in the meeting, I couldn't help but think about how much I've learned over the last 5 years. I'm pleased to be where I'm at today. One of the big lessons is understanding that you can't just rely on a good or great idea. Your ideas need a full-spectrum of attention. It runs from capital to advice.

Here are some notes from the presentation this morning:

  • Know your sales trends. Are they up? Are they down. Is the trend long or short-term in nature?
  • What's the real value of your idea? Warren Buffett said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."
  • Be realistic in your projections.
  • Investors want to see that you've got "skin in the game." How much of what you've got (money, time, intellectual property, etc.) is attached to the idea?
  • Funding comes when both sides see desired value.
  • Surround yourself with quality advisors.


Candor and Clarity

I've written before about the importance of clarity on the part of managers. Most of that was directed at mid-level managers who are often tasked with leading individual contributors.

This post is directed at those who are steering at the senior level. It may be an obvious, but candor and clarity is important. Consider the following:

  • Every organization should be willing to be clear and candid about the direction of the enterprise. If you are a publicly-held group, then you may have some disclosure issues to navigate. That said, legal limitations on what can and cannot be disclosed should not be an excuse for a lack of candor and clarity.
  • Every organization should let their employees know what the value system is based on, even if it means the employee is not at the top of the list. Avoiding this discussion/communication could be fatal. So many employers and employees operate under assumptions. Assumptions that go out the window when the storms come.
  • Every organization should be clear about how the organization makes money. This places a shared accountability and education.
  • Every organization must understand the life-cycle of and employee and give those employees the room to move on. So many organizations live in fear of employees leaving. Turn-over (internally or externally) due to terrible managers is bad (really bad), turn-over due to an employee completing the mission and moving onto a new dream is a great thing. By the way, the latter example might make your company a highly desired place to work.
  • Every organization should be able to communicate when the end is near. I know it sounds morbid, but don't tell an intelligent adult things are good when collapse is not far off. By giving them the tough reality upfront you give an opening to prepare. Every good employee deserves this kind of candor and clarity.

If you work for an organization that finds candor and clarity nearly impossible, I would consider moving on because a lack of candor and clarity is usually a sign of decline. The irreversible type of decline.