The Idea Dude


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Changing the world

Johnny Reid's song Today I'm gonna try to change the world seems to play every time I'm in the car this week. It is appropriate at this point in my life. 4 years ago, we thought we could change the blogosphere by promoting the long tail. A noble cause but the reality is there is more trash than treasure out there. Certainly, a vast number of blog networks don't make enough money to call it a long-term success. It is time to move on. My only consolation is I didn't blow a couple mil. of VC money to learn that lesson.

John Maxwell has a great quote that before you figure at what you want to do, you have to figure out what you want to be. I'm in the process of figuring that out. It's never to late to ask yourself that question.

Some of us are missionaries and some of us are mercenaries. Some of us want to build Internet skyscrapers, others want to build Internet fortunes. Sometimes both are achieved, often not. I've always wanted to leave behind legacy not a fortune. That is my DNA, and as corny as it sounds, I've always wanted to change the world.

But if you listen to the song, it isn't about doing spectacular things but it's doing the simple things that touch people, one person at a time, a kind word, a listening ear, a warm hug, an inspiring thought.

It actually doesn't take a lot to change the world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking a few risks every year

I was watching a Stanford lecture where the speaker commented about a CEO needs to take several risks every year. I recalled the saying that if you keep doing the same thing you will always get what you always gotten.

On a personal level I think we forget to do that. Taking risks doesn't mean we put our life savings on #7 at Vegas. It means we should do something that takes us out of the comfort zone at least once a year. Better still, once a month.

It could be as simple as trying a food you've never had, visit a place you've never been, doing something you've always wanted but never had the guts or time to do.

Close your eyes and think about the way you shop, the food you eat, the friends you make, the places you visit. Most of the time, it's the same old, same old. It's comfortable, we don't have to think.

No risk, no reward as they say. Ever get lost only to find a shortcut to a destination you never knew?

Do something different today. I think you'll find it both exhilerating and liberating.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Finding the extraordinary

It occurred to me, the older we get the more we become desensitized to life. If you look that young kids, they stop to examine a leaf on the ground or pick up a colorful piece of paper or simply anything they haven't seen before (much to the parent's dismay). Everything to them is extraordinary. Better still they always seem to have time to stop and take it all in.

As adults, we have no time for frivolities. We have jobs to keep, bills to pay, errands to run. We're constantly stumbling from task to task. Life becomes a grind. Our friends become acquaintances and finally memories. Where did the time go? We've lost our sense of the extraordinary.

Without appreciating the extraordinary, stimulating our curiosity, losing our imagination, we lose our ability to invent, change and innovate.

Unless we keep still and listen, we cannot hear what the future is trying to tell us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Are we there yet?

Imagine eating an ice-cream looking forward to the end. Imagine telling someone that the best part of Disneyland was coming home. Imagine telling a friend that the best of an awesome date was taking her home. Imagine that...

Sounds absurd? that's what we do when we start jobs, companies, projects. We look at the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow instead of the rainbow. The irony is that too often there is no pot of gold but the rainbow was real.

Looking back at all the startups I was involved in, the parts I remember and cherished the most... it wasn't the money that was made or lost, it was the people I met, lives I changed and people who changed mine. It was the journey, not the destination that defined me.

Too often I wake up thinking about what I should achieve that day, instead of thinking what I should do that would make the day an important part of my journey.

If life is journey and not a destination is a cliche then why don't we live it that way.

I think along the way we forget what is really important. Society makes us believe that our status is more important than our experiences because it is easier to judge and measure riches and success. It is harder to measure the greatness of being fulfilled and happy.

Advertising is to blame in part, we too often show young, beautiful people smiling with perfect teeth, standing on luxury boats and driving insanely fast cars. We instill the idea that money is the root of our happiness.

I pledge to wake up every morning and take time to cherish the rainbow.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Recipe for success

I took the family out for a Korean dinner last night. It's a small place, perhaps 16 tables at most. It looked like a family business, a couple and their son. I went there earlier in the week for lunch, it was the same three people.

The meal was cheap, less than $10 per person. The menu was simple. But the food was great. Great presentation, great taste. They pride themselves as not using any MSG. The way the food was prepared and presented made me realize that cooking was passion for the owner, not a means to an end. I glimpsed into the kitchen and saw how he patiently fussed over each dish. I can imagine this was a man who had worked as great chef in many other places before opening up on his own. To define himself in his own way in his own time.

Quite simply, they delighted their customers one at a time. If people can see that you do what you do with love and passion, they somehow are drawn to supporting you as I was to this little Korean place. 11am to 11pm 7 days a week. Whether it was true or not, it didn't matter, but from a customer's perspective, this is where food is celebrated and cooked with care. It was an art even at $7.99.

I will be back as will many others. Finding and showing your passion in your work is surely the recipe for success.