Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Why I’m Doing This

 

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I had an exceptional and accidental “early church” with myself starting at 5am.  I’m up at 5 almost every day for my “uberproductive hour,” but on Sundays I try to focus on reading less ‘businessy’ type work, try to also listen to some good music, and stay away from e-mail.

Yesterday’s time was spent reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I’m sure I can already predict which of you readers will shoot me the “Dude, you’re THAT late to the party!?” … but if you are one of the few that hasn’t read it, I strongly recommend you take an hour of your week and find a quiet place to do so.

I read this book at the recommendation of Brad Feld. Brad is a Venture Capitalist who blog regularly with an awesome following. He just published a new book, Beyond The Blog: Brad Feld’s Burning Entrepreneur: How to Launch, Fund, and Set. In thee book he explains that Jonathan Livingston Seagull is one of his top two favorite books.

If you’ve read it, you can probably predict where this is going… and if you’ve been following me, you really can predict that this book inspired me. Like, inspired me big. I loved it.

I spent the rest of the morning on a 4.5 mile walk (*note: walking only since my knees are requiring a hiatus from running… swimming laps for real workouts right now) and listening to every song on my music fuel playlist, and simply grinning ear to ear.

Brad Feld gave me a nugget. A simple task of sharing his favorite book caused me to become greatly inspired. I mean greatly inspired!! How many others did he inspire?  Does he even know the influence he had on my life from that nugget?

Thanks to him sharing that nugget, I was refueled. Yesterday. My energy and happiness is now off the charts, and I’m ready to conquer this week, next week, and whatever lies ahead.

I don’t expect to inspire the masses, but I hope that I can provide a constant stream of nuggets, so that somewhere, someday, someone will find something that inspires them, that refuels them, and helps them accelerate into new opportunities in life.

I ask that if you are a recipient of something that inspires you, even just a little bit… to do myself, yourself, and someone else a favor, and share a note with a link to this blog… the more the merrier.

Oh yeah, and read about the Seagull ASAP.

 

 

 

Be on Fire… from Brad Feld and FAKEGRIMLOCK

Many of you I’m sure have seen the post below or at least have followed @FakeGrimlock on Twitter.  If not, you should! He is awesome. He first appeared on Fred Wilson’s blog, and then the post below was a guest post to Brad Feld’s blog. I can’t get enough of it. 

 

BE ON FIRE

WORLD FULL OF IDEA. ALL NEED IS BRAIN. MOST HUMANS HAVE BRAIN.

IDEA BY SELF IS COLD. JUST SIT THERE. DO NOTHING.

IF WANT DO SOMETHING, NEED FIRE.

NEED BE ON FIRE.

WHY BURNING MATTER

MAKE STARTUP HARD. IT HARD BECAUSE YOU WRONG. YOU FAIL.

FAIL COLD? GO HOME. QUIT.

YOU NOT QUIT. YOU BURN. FAIL IS FUEL. MORE FAIL, MORE BURN. BURN FAIL UNTIL ONLY WIN LEFT.

THAT WHY BURNING MATTER. NOTHING STOP PERSON ON FIRE. NOT SLEEP. NOT SICK. NOT BROKE. NOT BULLET. NOT END OF EARTH.

NOTHING.

FIRE MAKE SMOKE

ANGER IS SMOKE. FIRE DESTROY. DESTROY MAKE NEW THINGS GROW. COLD PEOPLE HATE FIRE. NO ONE WANT TO BE FERTILIZER. FIRE NOT CARE.

LOYALTY IS SMOKE. PEOPLE FOLLOW FIRE, GET HOT. NOTHING STOP PERSON ON FIRE. PERSON ON FIRE WRAPPED IN HOT CROWD? THAT FIRE CHANGE WORLD.

WIN IS SMOKE. PERSON ON FIRE NOT CARE ABOUT WIN. NOT CARE ABOUT MONEY, FAME. WIN HAPPEN WHEN BUSY DO THINGS THAT MATTER. THINGS ON FIRE.

WHERE IS FIRE? LOOK FOR ANGER. MIDDLE OF ANGER IS CHANGE. MIDDLE OF CHANGE IS HOT CROWD. MIDDLE OF HOT CROWD IS WIN. MIDDLE OF WIN IS FIRE.

HOW MAKE FIRE?

WORLD IS BROKEN. FIX IT.

RIGHT IDEA HARD. RIGHT IDEA HURT. RIGHT IDEA IS HOLE IN WORLD.

RIGHT IDEA MAKE BURN INSIDE TO FIX. CAN TAKE DAY OFF FROM IDEA? IT WRONG ONE.

FIND IDEA THAT BURN, GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS, NEVER LET GO.

THAT HOW MAKE FIRE.

YOU MUST BURN

EVERYONE THINK WAY TO STARTUP IS TALENT + IDEA + MONEY.

EVERYONE WRONG.

STARTUP NOT ABOUT MAKE THING, SELL THING. STARTUP ABOUT CHANGE WORLD.

WORLD IS COLD. YOU MUST LIGHT WORLD ON FIRE.

YOUR FIRE.

YOU. MUST. BURN.

 

 

Brad Feld says: In order to stay on the #NOEATFRIDAY list, I promised FAKEGRIMLOCK that this would be licensed under Creative Commons. Anyone can do anything they want with this, including FAKEGRIMLOCK (as long as no infinite loops are created.)

 

Airspeed and Altitude, a Geeky Pilot Lesson and Entrepreneurial Metaphor

 

DA40 Wing

My 2-yr old Co-Pilot Michael

A must read for everyone who dreams about or learns to fly airplanes is Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying. This old school classic talks about energy in flying. Flying safely is really all about understanding where you keep and how you use energy. The key for pilots is that your energy is critical to keeping you alive and it is stored in two ways: Airspeed or Altitude.   You need them both to stay in the air.

This is opposite from parental advice we received growing up: we were taught that going too fast or climbing too high in the tree is dangerous. In the world of airplanes, airfoils, gravity, thrust, lift, and manmade engines that can quit when you least expect it, low and slow is what we call dangerous and stupid!  Low and slow means you don’t have energy.  When you don’t have energy, you don’t have choices. Gravity will make your decisions for you. And gravity made the decisions rarely end well.    When you have energy in the form of airspeed, you can cash it in for some altitude.  You know, think of a roller-coaster, going fast at the bottom, pull back on the stick and you go UP… you get altitude. When you are high and slow, it’s easy to gain speed by pushing the nose over and really pick up some speed.

There are so many metaphors to entrepreneurship and leadership here I can hardly stand it! So I’ll just hit my favorite.

Airspeed is to Altitude as Cash Flow is to Cash Reserves

My finance geek friends love this one and remind me all the time. Both cash flow and cash reserves are important, but one without the other for an individual or a company means you have limited choices. When… no let’s be optimistic and say IF… your engine quits and your speed drops (aka cash flow), with reserves on hand, you cash in some altitude for airspeed… voila, you live!  If you are cruising low and slow with no altitude (reserves) and your income stream slows down, gravity will grab you quickly and noticeably. In those situations: “Gravity will ruin your day,” as pilots say.    The good news is that if you don’t have cash reserves, but you have cash flow, you just have to figure out how to convert some of it. Build your cash reserves by taking less out of the business, or delaying some hires, new purchases, or investments.  Convert the energy from speed to altitude in case your engine quits. Your life depends on it.    Just remember that low and slow is dangerous. Work hard to get one or the other.

By the way, in case you didn’t catch it, this whole metaphor applies to both personal and business finances.

One more caveat and flying lesson that may make some of you feel better.

Pop quiz: When an airplane is taking off, does it have a lot of speed? or altitude?   NO!! It’s a critical phase of flight where you have no choice but to be low and slow.  You have to sacrifice the speed that the engine could give you for altitude. You climb, climb, climb to get your altitude as fast as you can.  Losing an engine on take off… well that’s bad… like, very bad… but don’t think about it right now.    If you’re in startup mode with your company, you’re in a critical phase of flight.  You’re converting your personal energy, and every penny of cashflow to get higher, get the altitude you need to sustain flight.  It’s ok to be in this phase of flight, but only for a little while.  If you can’t get altitude or airspeed soon, you should consider going back to the airport before gravity starts thinking for you. It’s probably the prudent thing to do.

See, I’m not totally oblivious to risk!

 

ps. Did I convince you to go take a flying lesson yet? ;)

 

Balancing Intensity- Learn to Fly

 

CockpitLast week I participated in my favorite event of the year, EO NERVE in Atlanta. This event is a gathering of entrepreneurs throughout the east coast, packed with awesome social events, phenomenal people, and cool learning opportunities.  At the end of it, we got to play one of the top golf courses in the world, East Lake.   Even more enjoyable than the awesome surroundings was the company of intense individuals that you meet in EO.

What becomes crystal clear when doing fun activities like this with intense individuals is that they not only work their tails off creating awesome companies, but when they play, they play hard. When they party, they party hard. And what I’ve also learned is that when they say they spend quality time with their family, they mean they spend real-deal, dialed-in, all-the-way quality time with their family.

What they’ve all learned is that you can’t claim to have achieved work/life balance simply by measuring time, but you also have to appreciate the intensity and energy dedicated to each.  Time spent without energy is wasted time. Energy without time is frustrating. Balancing this formula of time to energy is the key to happiness, success, and motion.

An example from my personal life is something that I do that many consider risky.  I fly “little” airplanes.  I actually earned my pilots license when I was still in school at Georgia Tech… while also working a co-op job, another contract job, and building web sites as an entrepreneur.  I had a lot on my plate. Flying had always been a dream, but as the reality started to come closer and I started interviewing around for a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), I started questioning whether this was really a good idea to add this to my plate.  Could I handle the stress of the training? The time requirements of building hours, studying ground school books, and just the overhead of getting back and forth to the airport, medical exams, flying club meetings, etc…!?  It was a lot, and I thought maybe before I jump in, I should reevaluate this idea.

One of the flight instructors I was speaking with was a long time hero: intense,  successful in many ways… and a physician that owned several OB/GYN practices around Atlanta.  Not only this, but he was an avid mountain climber, published astronomer, aerobatic and multi-engine rated pilot, flight instructor, extreme hiker/photographer, and on and on… you get the idea.

I asked him this: “I have a LOT on my plate right now… do you think I should be worried about trying to learn to fly airplanes while I have so much pulling me away? So much noise?”

His answer shocked me!

Now is the perfect time to learn to fly airplanes. The reason: when you are flying an airplane, your life literally depends on your focus. If you are distracted and try to withdraw mentally, you will be punished. You will probably die.  This requirement of intense focus is exactly what you need to relax. What you will find is that you will become more effective in everything else in life because of this intensely focused time you will spend each week.

Low and behold, he was right. There is nothing like the requirement to continue living to get you to focus.  I’ll even take that up a notch now that I have a family, and say that the requirement that everything gets the attention it deserves in the cockpit to keep your family safe is, thus far in my life, unmatched on the adrenaline and focus levels!

So my takeaway for you today is to look at your so-called balance and evaluate how your intensity matches up. Do you have fun activities, sports, hobbies, that really get you to mentally engage as much as you do with “work?” Does your family get the same mental horsepower that your company receives? Does your own spirit… your own soul… get the same focus?

ps. If you want to learn to fly, drop me a note, or check out this page from AOPA.

 

 

 

Two Worlds that Need Each Other

 

For the past decade, I’ve been running around two circles of great people.  One circle, obviously, is that of entrepreneurs creating fun businesses and trying to change the world by turning their ideas into tangibile companies.  The other circle has been the association executives. These are the folks that run the associations that bring industries together through communities, conferences, foundations, and even political action. They exist to support their industry.

One disconnect that has jumped out at me lately is that I don’t see these two worlds interacting as much as I think they could or should.

On one hand, when I ask entrepreneurs about the associations where they are active, I usually only get about 1 in 10 that are truly active in an association. The rest usually say they like to drop in on the annual trade shows, or may even pay for a booth.  So I ask them about speaking in conferences or webinars? What about volunteering on the board? What about offering them your innovative product or services in a bartering agreement for a larger booth?  It so often has not even occurred to the entrepreneurs, especially those in startup mode how valuable an association can be to them.  They think they are reaching the entire industry through the LinkedIn groups or online communities, when there are entire segments of people who they will be exposed to by becoming more involved with the association in their industry.

On the other side, you have the associations. With a few exceptions, I haven’t found many associations that appreciate the importance of a vibrant startup ecosystem for their industry.  Sponsorships and booths are often times cost prohibitive for startups; speaking opportunities are not publicized enough to reach the startups with new ideas; educational topics and goals are set without leaving room for the innovators of the industry to share what they are doing that is truly on the cutting edge; and networking opportunities for startup-stage companies to meet each other are non-existent.

Here are some of the things that I’ve been observing and why I think these two worlds can help each other:

  • Associations need new members. According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, in 2011, 543,000 new businesses were created each month! Hello!?
  • Associations need healthy industries fueled by job growth. Startups are creating jobs like crazy.  Many startups biggest problem is finding the right people for their team.
  • Associations need new ideas. Conferences and educational events must grow beyond the regurgitation of the same content by the same volunteer speakers on a rotation. New life is key to long term success, and startup mentality is all around innovation.
  • Association members need startup vendors. Startups in any industry create more competition, cost savings, innovative ideas, new tools, and more. Members of any association benefit from more providers.
  • Associations need entrepreneurial energy. Until you’ve had a generous entrepreneur on your board, you haven’t experienced how valuable these people can be when they start volunteering.
  • Associations need younger members. While, many organizations are seeing the average age of their member increase, more and more college students are leveraging the Lean Startup movement and starting businesses right out of school, or even still in school.
  • Associations need to remain relevant. With all the discussion about associations struggling to retain members, find new members, they should be looking at ways to become critical part of their industry. If they can become a proving ground, a support system, an educational vehicle for startups, they will be ensured permanent relevance and growth as long as this attitude is sustained.

And of course you have all the things that startups need that associations  provide:

  • Exposure to the market buyers
  • Exposure to strategic partners
  • Exposure to investors and funding opportunities
  • Education about the industry
  • Talented team members
  • Marketing channels and places to spend those dollars when they do get funded
  • Understanding of different industries: Many startups offer services and products to multiple industries. The one that embraces them the most will get the most attention.
  • Exposure to industry veterans to join their boards, advise them, guide them
  • Connections with other startups serving their industry to help solve their problems collaboratively.

I could go on… and I probably will.  I feel like Startups and Associations are kind of in a Sleepless in Seattle situation. You will probably hear more about this from me in future posts.

What are your thoughts? Do you know any associations that truly embrace startups? or any that intentionally don’t, and why?

 

 

Rhythm is Important in Everything

 

One of my favorite business books of all time is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. It is packed full of practical tools for strategic planning for building and running a growth business.  One of the keys to success Verne discusses is the importance of rhythm to your teams and your company. Daily huddles, weekly meetings, quarterly retreats, etc… establishing this rhythm is key to moving forward and overcoming obstacles quickly to keep the company moving.

This rhythmic ‘pulsing’ of daily and weekly meetings constitutes the real heartbeat of a growing company.

It occurs to me that this principal also applies to our personal life and how we handle the interaction of our businesses with our families.

A couple of months ago, I realized that my personal “to do” list had become ineffective for me. There were too many varying things that needed attention. Different size projects in different areas of life.  So I created for myself a one-page “Weekly Goals and Actions” sheet. It has a box for each company, project, or major area of life. Each Monday morning at 5am, I am up and spend about an hour filling this out for the sheet. I want to make sure that each item that goes on the sheet is moving one of the boxes towards their established long term goals. This helps me avoid “busy work” tasks, and also ensures that while juggling so many projects, nothing stands still for a given week, or if it does, it is intentional.  So far this sheet has worked well.  I’ll write more about its contents in future posts, but for this post, I want to focus on one box I have over on the right side that says this:

Michael, Lunch at School ______

Max, Drop off ____

I make sure that each week I schedule a lunch with my kindergartener, Michael, and enjoy a drop off with my 4-year old, Max. When I put this on the sheet at first, it felt like bonus points. I just thought “I’m going to put everything in my perfect week on here, and hopefully I get to check them off.”

If you have kids over the age of 6, then you know about the funny transformation that happens in your house when they learn to read. All of a sudden they start looking over your shoulder reading e-mails; you can’t spell things out in front of them without being discovered; and you can’t ever write their name on paper and not have them ask you “Why is my name on that paper?”

So you can see where this is going: Michael saw that I have a sheet of paper always in front of me and right there it says “Michael Lunch…” So he started keeping up with it. I told him the purpose of this, and he was ecstatic.  Until now, my lunch visits at school were erratic and maybe monthly. Now he thinks it is the best thing in the world that every week there is a day where “one of Daddy’s lunch meetings this week is with me,” as he says.  It really hit home for me when I saw that on his personal calendar, he had scheduled me in for lunch (see photo). This is a heart warmer!! Obviously, I don’t need to tell you that it has been a successful initiative for me and our family.

I believe there are other important rhythmic initiatives everyone should aim to include in their life. Here are a few.

  1.  Every 6-months, my wife and I have a goal to take a vacation without kids, without family, without friends. Just time for us. Hopefully a minimum of 3-4 days, because that’s how long it takes us to stop talking about the business of “Family Life, Inc.”
  2. Once a year, I try to take each kid on an overnight trip just with Daddy. Just for them. It’s so important to have this one-on-one time with them to really get to know them as individuals. I love our trips and will write more about them in the future.
  3. We try to make it to church as many Sundays as we can. This is a routine that is important to us for so many reasons beyond the spiritual health.

Of course, none of the ideas are original to me. They are all from great Dad’s and entrepreneurs around me, and I am ever grateful for them, as is my family.

What else do you do to establish rhythm in your personal life?

 

 

A Tip on Being in the Moment from a Six-Year Old

 

Beach

Dog Island

During our time at the beach during spring break, one day we were having lunch together as a family, eating our sandwiches from our laps on the porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Always a beautiful sight. This particular day, it was calm on the water, almost lake-like. The skies were a perfect blue, and there we enjoyed the usual variety of amazing birds flying up and down the beach. Next we watched as one of our neighbors took a sea kayak out on the beach and set off into the water.

That’s when our 6-year old, Michael, commented:

“Mom and Dad, that guy makes the world like a frame.”

When we asked him to explain what the heck he was talking about, he held up his two thumbs and fingers and made a square ‘frame’ towards the beach scene and said:

“It’s like a picture, you see….Uhm, well no… actually” … as he continued to process his thoughts, “I guess it’s like the whole world is a painting and God gets to do the painting.”

(He’s become quite the artist, I should mention. So he’s seeing things that he wants to draw and paint everywhere he looks. It’s awesome!)

Cute of course, but I took a slightly more profound reminder. To see your surroundings as a painting is to appreciate them with much more respect and admiration than we do by default. We all are surrounded by so many blessings and wonderful things that it’s so painfully easy to take it for granted. We must work really to take pause, slow down, and look around!

Max and Michael in the Moment, 2011

Do you ever set vacation pictures up on your desktop? or use them as your screen saver? or just have them framed on your desk? I love vacation pictures. I love the feeling I get when I clean off my desktop and see one of the amazing sights we’ve enjoyed over the years… what I don’t love is having to click back into e-mail and cover up that vacation photo. I have to instantly be transported from a wonderful memory to the “blah” real world. So lately I’ve decided to take advantage of this observation and appreciate the moments when the vacation photos are being taken as rare and extremely lucky. When we actually ARE sitting on the beach is the time to step back, think about what feelings I will have when I’m looking at these photos 6 months later and know that right now I am in this moment and there is no place else I can imagine being.

Try to look in your yard this spring, or spend some time by a lake, or go to the beach and imagine that you are in a painting. It may just help you appreciate the moment a little more.

Jason Swenk on Focus, Emotions and Failure

 

One of the most exciting outcomes of launching this blog has been the personal feedback from followers.  I love the feedback!  As part of this, I’d like to occasionally feature guest posts. Today is my first of these with Jason Swenk an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and the CEO of SolarVelocity. Solar Velocity was acquired by Northridge in October 2011.  Find Jason on LinkedIn and Twitter. – JC

 

Focus, Emotions and Failure breeds Success

Jason Swenk

Recently I sold my business of 12 years where I was the CEO and I wanted to share some of the keys to my success.

FOCUS

Focus is everything. One example that I learned racing cars was to always focus on where you want to go. For example, most people when they are out of control, they focus on the thing they don’t want to hit (THE WALL) and guess what happens? They hit the wall. As people learn to focus on where they want to go, the eventually end up there.

STATE

State is also a big factor. When I refer to state, I am referring to your current emotion. Learning to control your state, whether it be a negative, determination, confident, anger, disappointment, uncomfortable, frustration, overloaded, lonely, unworthy, fear, cheerful, excited, etc.

For example: Watching an inspiration movie can change your state and you feel like you are on top of the world. Or if someone called you with bad news, that could change your state instantly.

Your emotions can be your greatest gift for change if you learn to listen to them.  I will write more about this in blogs to come.

FAILURE

I have not always been open to failure for most my life. I feared it. But then I started doing research and learned some of the greatest things have come from failure. Thomas Edison learned a thousand and one ways on how not to make the light bulb. With failure, innovation and creativity is born. Learn from failure and celebrate success.

 

HubSpot’s Customer Happiness Index

 

I had the pleasure of attending SxSW last month, and it was quite a unique experience. One of the presentations I enjoyed was a panel of companies that grew rapidly and some of their tips, tools, and tricks. One of the speakers was HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah.  The presentation on HubSpot’s growth was fascinating, but I’ll cut to the meat that I found most interesting.  (By the way, I’m happy to say that Dharmesh along with some other awesome people will be here in Atlanta this week for the EO Nerve conference starting Wednesday. Very pumped!!)

HubSpot is obsessive about managing by data. They have gone so far as to create a metric for themselves called the Customer Happiness Index.  As part of this, they started tracking was how many customers close their account in the first 6-months of signing.  I don’t remember the exact number, but it was higher than they liked, so they dug a little deeper. What they found was that a  high proportion of accounts that closed within 6-months of starting the relationship were won in the last 5 days of the calendar month.  So new contracts won in the first 25’ish days of the month were almost guaranteed to be long term customers while those in the last 5 days had a slim chance of sticking around. Odd, right!?

What they discovered was the sales rep incentives and compensation were causing them to push customers harder to close at the end of the month without as much regard to their fit for each other.

Their solution was the most fascinating part. They changed the sales team incentives in two ways:

  1. If you sign a customer and they close their account within the first 6-months, you will pay back every penny of commission on that customer. (I assume commissions were paid monthly).
  2. If your overall customer base as a rep has over X% of customers that cancel in the first 6 months, your commission amount goes down for your entire book of business. (wow!)

What I love about this is that it shows the need for genuine passion for a relationship from your team. I don’t think this is just a B2B concept, or a sales team motivation issue, or even a transaction-size issue… this applies any time you are selling anything to anyone!   Genuine passionate energy for what you are selling is critical. In cannot be faked, and if it does, the results will not be pure. Everyone involved in the relationship will know it, and it will be a hard lesson learned.

So my takeaway is this: Be careful where energy is forced. Be mindful of when you and your team are being genuine or when you are motivated by something that is external and perhaps not pure. And be careful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are Your Resources

 

Not my yard, btw. Just how it looks in my own mind.

Following on yesterday’s post about turning potential energy to motion for yourself, I want to continue that thought.  All too often, I think the reason we don’t convert all of our “potential” into great things is because we don’t recognize the value of the resources available to us. We don’t see our resources as potential, or if we do, we don’t know how to realize them.

This is one of my pet peeves when I join an association, work with a church, or even a start-up company. To see unused resources sitting on the shelf drives me crazy.

Here’s a personal example:    I’ve always wanted a great landscape around my house. I’m no master gardener, but I like to sit outside on a spring day and be surrounded with blooms and colors of nature.  The problem: I never had an irrigated yard, and I didn’t (don’t!) have the energy, time, or discipline to water plants regularly enough to keep them happy. So I knew better than to invest heavily in nice plants. Until last year… when my faithful brother helped me install a smokin 8 zone irrigation system in my back yard! (insert Tool man Taylor grunts here.) Now, boy I can monsoon that sucker in 10 minutes! It’s awesome.   So this spring when it warmed up and the planting season arrived, I went over the top. I planted begonias, azaleas, snapdragons and more until I couldn’t feel my body from the pain of bending over.  I knew they would live and thrive, so I wanted to maximize that resource. I wanted to know that every square inch that gets water has something nice to look at.  Come over some time and have a beer in my back yard. I’ll turn the sprinklers off for a few minutes so we can enjoy it. :)

Other places where unrealized resources are common are in churches and associations. Of course in any non-profits, there are budget limitations and that’s usually the excuse for not achieving excellence and progress… but are you realizing the talents and genius of your members?

  • Churches/associations almost always have some representation of  technically savvy members, so why do their web sites suck? Why are they lacking a community platform for their members to communicate?   Why aren’t they doing online education better?
  • The same goes for financial management professionals – they exist in almost every organization, yet why are some of these organizations over-spending daily, draining their endowments, and budgetting without regard to their future?
  • Leaders are another topic. Every organization has members that are leaders in some areas of their life but followers in these organizations. Find out who they are and help them use their brilliance in your organization rather than try to force them into  traditions and ineffective committee-driven processes.

I encourage you to think about two things: (1) where can you find unrealized resources in your own organization and life, and do something to unleash them; and (2) are you yourself an unrealized resource for someone you know? Can you be helping someone? Or some organization more than you are?   If so, make sure they know you are ready, willing, and able.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential Sucks!

 

I think it’s going to be a while before I get this “energy” metaphor out of my system. I’ll probably have to exhaust my Physics I knowledge before I move on.

Remember potential energy and kinetic energy?  The way I remember it is to think about the roller coaster. At the top of the first run it has all potential energy and very little kinetic energy, but by the bottom of the first fall, you are zooming because of your kinetic energy and have a lot less potential energy.  (If that doesn’t make sense, can someone put in the comments a link to a basic physics lesson for us?)

I hereby propose that when it comes to our lives, potential sucks!  I remember through the high school graduation period of life all the old folks brag about the kids and how much potential they have. You have the potential to conquer the world, to become a surgeon, or a successful whatever.  That’s all fine and good, but at some point it is time to recognize the potential energy and cash it in for some kinetic energy. Get some motion. Do something with the potential!  If you are living life to it’s fullest, then shouldn’t that mean by the end of each day you are drained of all potential energy, and have more motion than you had the day before? If you kick the can in your sleep tonight, does it make you proud to know that at your funeral in 3 short days they will be talking about how much potential you had for the world!? Screw that. Do something with it TODAY.

Sure there are risks and dangers with moving too fast without thinking. So think! Sure you have to be reasonable and not do crazy things. So be reasonable, but be crazy at the same time.

One thing is true: if you are moving you can change directions faster than if you are motionless. When you change directions, you learn. When you learn, you go faster.  When you go faster, you learn faster.   Get the point yet?

I’ve gone through several periods of my life where I really built up the potential energy without knowing it. I didn’t focus on my motion and my pace through life and what ends up happening is that goals start looking farther away because I slowed my progress towards them.  Usually in those times, something happens that makes me take a step in a different direction… and what happens? BOOM, motion! You don’t know how fast you can go if you aren’t moving.

So here’s the point: If you know where potential energy exists, exploit it. Turn it into something great.

So stop reading this stupid blog and go do something!

with love, JC  :)

 

 

Connecting the Dots from others’ Experiences

 

One of the things I love about EO is that during forum meetings, we use something called Gestalt language protocol.   Without going into the detail, the basics of how we use it is to refrain from giving advice. Instead we speak from experience.   The idea is that by giving advice you are putting the other person in a tough spot… if they choose not to take your advice, then they are perhaps saying to you they didn’t want it or need it, and if they do, then you are put in the awkward position of being responsible for the outcome.   (Please forgive my poor explanation, but I just needed a quick one.)

For me personally I LOVE Gestalt!  I LOVE hearing about others’ experiences.  It’s not hard for me to hear how someone attacked an issue, or dealt with a challenge and to apply that to myself. I have a personal knack for “connecting the dots” and seeing how it applies to me.  If you ever have a meeting with me, you’ll probably notice that I’m an obsessive note-taker. I’m always writing down “to do’s” and “action items” for myself… but you’ll probably notice that nobody is sitting there spoon feeding me action items. (Besides, if they did, I wouldn’t do it anyway… I tend to rebel when someone tells me I have to do something. hehe.)

Many times when I’m working with start-ups or college students looking to create companies, I don’t have a feeling that they are connecting the dots when they hear about mine or others’ experiences. They are all too often waiting for me to tell them what to do so they have a step-by-step process for how to proceed.   Let me just tell you right now, I don’t begin to have the ego to think I can tell anybody what to do! I have no idea what you should do… but I can tell you my own experiences, and I really hope that you can show me that you are connecting the dots to create your own plan of action and not just of the mindset that you are “listening to these stories from the crazy dude.”

Have you found any of this to be true for yourself? Are you able to connect the dots from other people’s stories… or am I a weirdo?