Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Making Friends Globally – What I’m Missing Today

 

ACLEA for CLE Professionals LogoThis week I am missing for the first time in many years a great gathering of some of my favorite people in the world. It is the Annual Conference of the Association of Continuing Legal Education professionals, aka ACLEA. Having worked in the CLE space for over 11 years, these people became much more than professional contacts, clients, and competitors, they became my friends.  What is so neat about having a group like ACLEA that you see on a regular basis is that they are from all over the globe. From UK to Australia to Cleveland to NYC to Seattle and Denver. It’s a wonderfully, geographically diverse group of folks.   Most people, I don’t believe, have the privilege of building deep, lasting friendships with others on such a global scale.   It’s an awesome feeling.  I love that if I ever am stranded on a layover, in just about any city in the US, I have a friend I can call for dinner or lunch.

What’s even better is that through the magic of Facebook and Twitter, I am able to keep current with these people far beyond our industry work. I know whose kids made a mess of the kitchen last week because I saw photos. I know about great vacations and they know about mine. Sitting down over a beer is just as comfortable as it is with my friends I see on a weekly basis around Atlanta and Peachtree City.

If you have an industry association that is on a global scale, I encourage you to GIVE yourself to it. The only was associations work is if you give to them. The organization has nothing to give. It only has what it’s members give. Give of yourself and you will find that the organization rewards you with lifelong friends that you would otherwise probably never connect with.

So to all my friends at ACLEA in Denver, enjoy, and I will see you soon!

 

Let’s Clarify Value Rigidity – Don’t Misunderstand Me

 

Motorcycle MondaysIn last week’s Motorcycle Monday post, I talked about the concept and “gumption trap” of value rigidity.  When you are focused on a project and you get stuck, you experience stuckness. Stuckness causes you to re-evaluate what you think is important to get the project done. Stuckness means the project changed from what you thought it was to what it actually is.  So in order to get the job done, you have to refocus your priorities… also known as “values.”

BUT…

Let’s not get confused here between priorities that are labeled values and actual, deep down, CORE VALUES.  Of course life is made up of layers and “values” are the same way.  Maslow tells us this, you know. Of course what is most important to me today wouldn’t actually be as important to me if I hadn’t had a decent meal in a week.   What I believe is critical to my own personal success would change completely if I didn’t have a loving family surrounding me, awesome friends, and amazing resources.

So I think it’s important to just remind ourselves that everything in life is layered.   Life is dynamic, life is complicated, life is layered.   And as Pirsig reminds us, you have to sit still and quiet long enough to understand where you are in the layers and to know when you need to adjust some priority or “value” that may be keeping you from achieving a quality life.

 

What Training was Missing for Me

 

Sales training that fails

No, I didn't go to Catholic school, but this makes the point. :)

There is a lot of research out there on adult learning theories. I am certainly no researcher, but I’d like to share my experiences of why most training, seminars, webinars, etc… fail me. Again, this isn’t from research, just from my own life experience.

First of all on training – the ultimate goal is to create change… right? We want to improve people. We want people to take a skill, a mindset, a new approach to something. We want them to be better. We want them to change.   So our approach is to give them the knowledge they need. We “train” them by giving them the information. We may even demonstrate the knowledge or skills. We may even follow John Medina’s guidelines and have them DO what we are teaching them so they can prove they know how to do it, and it is even more embedded in their mind.

That works well for many skills and types of programs. It works well for, say, how to prepare a great presentation. Or how to facilitate a meeting. Or how to create a financial plan for your company. But why does it seem that for bigger changes, changes in life that actually matter the most are rarely affected by traditional training?   Why can’t people make big changes in their life with just the knowledge they need? Can’t they see that life will be better?

I suspect this is why the awesome motivational speakers have such a great business. They get a lot of recurring customers (again, just my speculation).  They get people who come and hear the tools and knowledge they need, they are even inspired to make some changes, but when the rubber hits the road, they rarely can make sustainable life changes. So they go back to the seminar next time it comes around.

I think it hit me as I read the classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (By the way, this is on my TOP 4 Best Books Ever list.)   If you consider the important points this book makes about what people really want, it should change how you think about training, education, and helping people make changes.

People want to feel important.
People want others who are interested in them.
People don’t want to be criticized.
People need to have an “eager want.”
People want others to honestly see their point of view.
And so on…

Most adult education programs do a poor job at most of this.

  • We sit in a room with hundreds of other people who are all being told the same information. That doesn’t help us feel important.
  • We often feel criticized when our way is presented on stage as the wrong way, but the trainer will go home at the end of the day, and unless you are willing to pay them for more help, you are left on your own to make the changes they are demanding you make in order to improve.
  • There is no heartfelt interest in us as “students,” because we paid our fee and are crammed into a massive ballroom and forced to listen to lectures all day.

That’s when it occurred to me. No amount of training and knowledge has ever come close to helping me make changes as my own Master Mind. My EO Forum.  This is a group that knows the real me. They make me feel important, they are genuinely interested in me, in my success. They don’t criticize me (unless I really deserve it). They respect me. They see my point of view.

Now, with this group in my life, the training I attend (either with them or without them) becomes a part of me and my relationship with the group. I share with them changes I want to make. Then I share with them the tools I’ve recently gained… and then they hold me accountable to bringing those changes to life.  They aren’t interested in wasting their time or my time with “flash in the pan” seminars that seem life changing but go nowhere. They call me out on it regularly.   But training that matters, they help me enact.

In wrapping up this rant, I just want to say that in my personal experience, training that desires to create real change, can have a better chance of succeeding when blended with a long-term accountability group of tight relationships, coaching, and mutual respect.

 

 

Meet the friendly folks of Gumptionville

 

Gumptionville

Gumptionville: sure it can be in a beautiful place, right?

I had this vision the other day of a town where every single individual possessed loads of gumption. Here are some of the images in my mind that I believe would be alive in this town, let’s called it GUMPTIONVILLE.

  • First and of extreme importance: There is no concept of unemployment. Not only is it ZERO. It isn’t understood.  The idea of not having a “job” simply does not exist.
  • Second, on public services:
    • Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics are extremely busy. People aren’t timid about cutting down their own trees, fixing their roofs, and doing other things that perhaps risk management would advise against.
    • Criminals are terrified. There is very little crime because every citizen is just waiting for someone to do something wrong so they can take the stand against it.   (Yeah, and probably everyone carries some sort of tool for this need…if you get me.)
    • For the previous reason, cops may be a little frustrated. A town full of Gumptioners is a town full of people fixing their own problems. Maybe not how the cops like it.
    • Here’s one for the cops: Speeding ticket fines are probably the top source of revenue for the town, because once people slow down enough to figure out what they need to do, where they need to go, they want to get there FAST.
  • Politicians are more DO and less TALK.  You see them in jeans and work gloves more than you see them in suits.
  • Everyone carries some sort of tool in their car:
    • hedge trimmers– in case some bushes interfere with sidewalk traffic
    • litter bags– when people see trash, they pick it up
    • car repair tools– this would be the best place in the world to break down. Anyone would have 5 cars stop with capable and willing repair people.
  • I suspect house cleaning services are pretty busy. True Gumptioners outsource the things that can be outsourced so they can focus on really productive things… BUT, they also understand that neatness and staying organized and clean is key to thriving.
  • The schools are packed with a steady stream of parents all day, every day, assisting the teachers, being involved and present in the children’s education.
  • There is no picture hanging crooked on a wall anywhere.
  • Magazines in waiting rooms are always organized, probably by category (sports, parenting, arts, etc…).. but never done by the staff.
  • At community events, there are no name tags. Everyone takes it upon themselves to learn everyone else’s name.
  • Everyone smiles. Everywhere. All the time.
  • Churches of all types are packed on Sundays. Folks who aren’t in church are sitting beside the water somewhere. Or in the woods. Or just somewhere quiet.
  • The town can’t build enough parks because at sunrise and sunset every day, people go to sit and enjoy nature. People also go there to run, bike, kayak, play, and be active. (Gyms are packed too.. but only for really bad weather.)
  • Restaurants thrive because Gumptioners love socializing and being together.
  • The airport is busy at all times, because Gumptioners love going places, seeing and meeting new people, experiencing new things.

These are just a few of the top thoughts that come to my head. What else can you imagine would describe the town of Gumptionville?

 

 

Huge Source of Raw Personal Energy in Forums

 

Quench Network ForumI can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about this. It’s one of the most important sources of energy for me. Period. Hands down.  It is constant. It is plentiful. It is powerful.   It’s called my forum.

My particular forum was formed through our mutual membership in a the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO).  Most of us in my forum joined EO at the same time and were placed in a forum together. A forum, in EO terms is a peer-to-peer group of usually 8 to 10 individuals with a lot in common: they all run businesses of a certain size. An EO forum cannot include members who do business together or compete.

I’m sharing this because my forum is the most important group of people in my life behind my family.  I will be friends with them until I die. I would do anything to help any one of them, and they would do the same for me.  Having this group behind you is something that everyone should have, in any phase of life, in any career, any age, any industry, based on any reason.

Some of the top reasons why forum can be so valuable to anyone.

Confidential.

This is the number one reason why forums are so successful. The number one core value of any forum is extremely strict confidentiality. It’s a lock box that has no key. It’s a black hole. Nothing comes out of forum discussions.  EO Forums have very specific protocol and tactics for managing this confidentiality.

Trust & Openness.

In order for forum to work, you have to fully trust that the rest of the forum will uphold the value of confidentiality. Once you put this trust in those other members, you can be fully open. You have to be in order for it to work.   We talk about forum being the place where you can share the 5% worst and 5% best of your life… those are the parts that you probably don’t share with anyone else, ever.

Commitment.

Everyone has to make sacrifices for forum to work. Scheduling a gaggle of busy people is impossible. Getting people to show up on time during busy work weeks is hard. Asking people to spend time away from their families to go on forum retreats, is a big sacrifice. You have to be willing to commit to making these sacrifices. If you do, your forum will repay you tenfold.

Selfish Generosity.

This is my term for servant leadership. The idea is that forum is an amazing place to give your energy to those who can use it. What’s also amazing is that when you get to know your forum mates’ businesses and personal lives, you can apply yourself in ways that make more of a difference to them than anyone else could ever hope to give to them. Again, the more you give to your forum, the more you will be rewarded.

Experience Sharing.

I love that EO forums come with an impressive predefined structure for meetings. There are structured monthly updates, structured presentations, even structure for conflict resolution in the group. One of the best principals is that, when in forum you only speak from experience. You don’t give advice. Don’t insult your forum mates by thinking that you know what is best for him. You don’t. All you know is what you’ve experienced and speaking from experience means removing the language in your discussion that sounds like advice. Just share your experiences. Those are plenty valuable!

I believe in forum so much, that I am working hard to build it into my new company, Quench Network as a fundamental key to success for early careerists.  I want to help them find much sooner what I wish I would have had coming right out of college.

What other areas do you find forum like energy and value?

 

That Damn Screw

 

Zen Motorcycle MaintenanceOn with some more of the ideas from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

Let’s say you go to fix your motorcycle. You know there is an internal engine problem. You spend time thinking about all the possible problems, their complexities, the possible parts you are going to need, the possible answers.

You come up with complex decision tree of solutions before you ever lift a finger. Then you are ready to get started. You are ready to dive in head first to the problem and find that nasty issue and fix it, by golly!

So you grab your screwdriver and start to take off the first screw to open up the engine. Hmmm… it’s a little tight. Twist harder.. whoops slipping a little bit. Better push & twist harder, and you keep doing it until, oh NUTS… you’ve stripped the screw!

Now NONE of your fancy solutions to the original problem matter. You can’t get past this one damn screw. Just a little screw. The simplest of all mechanical devices you planned to work with today, and it has stumped you. You are stuck! Stuck, and frustrated!

In ZMM, this is discussed around one of the “gumption traps” called Value Rigidity. Value rigidity means that your values are so rigid that when something challenges them, you become stuck. You don’t know what to do next.

Look at your values in this situation. The most important thing to you is fixing that complicated internal problem. Getting the screw off was not only secondary, but it was insignificant! It’s just a damn screw! It’s not your priority. You didn’t wake up this morning thinking about all the ways to turn a screw.

But guess what. Now that one screw is all that matters to you. None of your values about what was important to fix that motorcycle matter until you can get that screw out. In order to accomplish this job, you must adjust your values and make getting that screw out your FIRST priority. You have to make the screw the project. That’s the job. That’s the challenge. Now slow down, and start thinking about this the same way you thought about the big challenging problem you were originally addressing. Make a decision tree. Start plotting out all the possible ways you can get that screw out.

In starting companies, growing families, building non-profits this is such a relevant problem.  We think about the big complex issues, but so often we forget about the things that can actually shut-down the entire operation. We need to be on the lookout for these things and be ready to make them priority.

 

 

Gumption. Our Key to Improving Everything and Accomplishing Anything

Tools. Gumption.Today I will share what I consider the most important idea I have written about to date. Gumption.  It’s the center of my alignment, of my fire. It’s both fuel and the goal for me.   I’ll let Robert Pirsig explain (from ZMM):

“I like the word ‘gumption’ because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. It’s an old Scottish word, once used a lot by pioneers, but which, like ‘kin,’ seems to have all but dropped out of use. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.

“The Greeks called it enthousiasmos, the root of ‘enthusiasm,’ which literally means ‘filled with theos,’ or God, or Quality.   See how that fits?

“A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.”

When I read this for the first time, I literally had to stand up and pace around with excitement!   I paced around and read it five times over. I was so excited to see these words.  My thought was this:   GUMPTION is what I’m talking about!  If I had read this book before I started this blog, instead of “Venture Energy,” I would have called it “Resurrecting Gumption” or something clever like that.  (I’m considering the use of the word gumption in my book title… and idea that is starting to come to life with a little more haste lately.)

Gumption is what I love about life. It’s what I believe I’ve finally connected with in a meaningful way, and what I want to help others find.    Gumption is what can make a difference in the world. Because it starts with the individual. Nothing will happen in our society, our government, our companies, our associations, without each individual having a tank full of gumption.

The book goes on, and it preaches gets even better. Check this out:

“The gumption-filling process occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one’s own stale opinions about it. But it’s nothing exotic. That’s why I like the word.”

I love this sentence. Sit still. Slow down to go faster.  Be quiet. BE QUIET! Slow down! Sit STILL! We all need to hear this more and more.  Just be quiet.

Then the practical part kicks in a couple of paragraphs down the page:

“If you’re going to repair a motorcycle…” (or start a company, or write a book, or be a good salesman, or be a runner, or be a good father, or a good husband, or a good preacher, or a good friend, or have any decent legacy on the world at all)… “an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won’t do you any good.”

I may be breaking all kinds of copyright laws by continuing, but I cannot help myself. This is too important for everyone to hear.

“Gumption is the psychic gasoline that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven’t got it there’s no way the motorcycle can possibly be fixed. But if you have got it and know how to keep it there’s absolutely no way in this whole world that motorcycle can keep from getting fixed. It’s bound to happen. Therefore the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is gumption.”

This is the message I want the world to know. Moreover, I want the world to know how to find gumption. How to use gumption. Coming soon, I will be sharing more details about my new calling, new company, new vision. But before I shared my WHAT,  it is important that you appreciate the foundation and the WHY (click the links for Simon Sinek’s classic TED talk explanation of WHAT’s and WHY’s.)

That’s all for today. Gumption class dismissed.

 

Creating. What a Joy

 

Creating

Creating

When I get going on writing these posts, sometimes I can’t stop. When running or swimming causes me to hit a vein of creative juices, it usually gushes forth like an oil strike. (If only it were as lucrative!)

Creating things gives me energy. It gives me joy. Happiness. I think this is true for many people.  It doesn’t just mean creating written content for others to read. Maybe it is creating music, or art, or landscapes, or investment portfolios, or… companies.

In any organization, whether you are in charge or helping out the team, there are always opportunities to create.

Creating things puts together many elements make us happy. First of all, creating requires you to give of yourself. You have to sacrifice something. To create writings, you sacrifice time. To create a sand castle on the beach, you have to put in energy to sit still. You have to put in the patience to build it with the 4-year old.   To create music, it requires many years of training and practice.  To create a house, it’s going to cost you physical energy and lots of money. If you are an educator, you are creating content, experiences, teaching tools. These all require you to apply yourself and push yourself.

But then after you’ve put in whatever your creation demands, there’s something there to show for your sacrifice. It’s a sand castle. It’s a recording of a song. It’s a blog. It’s a house. It’s a memory. It’s a presentation for students. There is a real and lasting “thing” that you just created! It’s gratifying. It gives you joy. It gives you energy.

During my adventure of finding life’s accidents, one of the areas I realized needed attention was that I didn’t have an outlet for creating meaningful things. What a joy that this blog has provided me with that outlet! I get to create. I spend the rest of the day, after writing and creating in the morning, working on even grander creations. Sometimes life requires time be spent on maintenance-related tasks; but what keeps me going is having the opportunity to create.

TODAY, take a look at what you create in your life. Is it meaningful? Is it helpful to the world? to others? To your legacy? If not, find something meaningful to create, and get started!

 

 

Addressing Accidentals

 

ReadingOver the last year or so I’ve been an an amazing journey of discovering and addressing a variety of things I can change or improve about the quality of my life. They aren’t necessarily mistakes. They aren’t the result of errors or stupid decisions. They weren’t bad things that happened to me. They aren’t even character flaws or weaknesses.

They were simply accidental aspects of my life.   These are things that I’ve just never intentionally made a decision on one way or another. They just exist accidentally. I guess you could say I’m just getting more intentional about my life.   Here are just a few examples.

Reading.  

If you asked me 3 years ago if I read often, I would have answered: “Yeah sure, of course I do. everybody does.”   But really what that meant was that I had a few books I had started, maybe a chapter or two in, but didn’t really have any discipline or process to ensure that I was constantly fueling my mind with great books. I didn’t decide to read. I didn’t decide not to read. I just didn’t do it intentionally. Now I do. With vigor!

Exercising.

It was running, or more specifically training for a 10k that started the whole transformation or awakening of Johnson Cook. Just like reading, if you asked me if I “workout” 3 years ago, I would have told you that I do. What that meant was that I would run until I got tired, then walk home. Usually a mile, two on a big day, three if I was crazy. There was never an intentional decision to run a certain distance, a certain quantity of days in the week, set on certain goals. It was accidental workouts.  Now it is certainly not.

True Connections.

Meeting people has always just been part of life. I accidentally made friends and great industry connections over the last decade of my career. I wasn’t really seeking them out unless, admittedly, I had something to sell them. I wasn’t trying, with discipline to meet new people just for the purpose of meeting new people. In the last 12 months, I have changed that and been truly amazed at how deep and amazing most people really are if you just try to get to know them without any agenda.

Family.

As I’ve worked on addressing this one, I’ve been pleased that I wasn’t that far off where I would put myself, but there are still some areas where I had accidental directions. I did not have an intentional one-on-one vacation with each kid once per year. I didn’t have the intentional  goal of having at least 5 day vacation twice/year with my wife with no kids. (Disclaimer, except when she’s nursing a baby… which takes entires 12-months out of that routine!) Now I have these things, and more.  Intentional short times with the boys with no phone. No meal. Just fun focus.

Passion Alignment.

Here is the most exciting area of life where being intentional can accelerate everything. I always found accidental ways to align what I believe is important to me, my legacy, my mark on this world with how I was making money. I would say that “my company is a vehicle that allows me to do what really matters.”   After meeting enough truly aligned and successful people, I can now realize that this answer was justification of an accidental situation.  Something that requires as much time and energy as growing a company shouldn’t be anything but 10000% in alignment with what you want your legacy to be.  Neither your legacy or your career will thrive as remarkable accomplishments unless you have this passion alignment. And of course, this means being on FIRE.

I hope you’ll reflect on this and try to determine if you have any accidental areas of your life. Where have you not yet made a real decision on how you are going to live?

Bonus tip: For this process, I recommend finding a forum, coach, or accountability partner. Outside input is often the only realistic way to truly wake yourself up.

Would love to hear your comments and discussion on this topic… let em rip!

 

 

 

 

Quality. Quality. Quality. – from ZMM – Motorcycle Mondays begins

Quality from ZMM

Quality

This is the second Motorcycle Mondays series that I began last week. As the author of the book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, describes his masterpiece, he says it is both a book about people and a book about ideas combined into one book.   I wish to share some of the ideas he discusses and what they mean to me.

Quality.

(Whoa! if you’ve read the book, you are probably saying “wow, I can’t believe he’d start with that one right out of the gate!” Don’t worry, I will in no way pretend to do this topic justice. But at least an effort to begin sharing the ideas is worth the attempt.)

Can you define quality?  What is it? What does it look like? What does it mean?  Sure, you can tell the difference between something that has quality and something that does not. The chair you are sitting in right now. Hopefully it is a quality chair.   Ok, sure but would everyone think it is a quality chair? What kind of chair do you think that wealthy goofball Donald Trump sits in?

Would he think your chair is a quality chair?

So let’s say you do think it is a quality chair but the Donald does not. So where does quality come from? Does that mean that quality is in the eye of the beholder? Is it completely subjective?   Well, you would probably agree with Donald that his chair has more quality, wouldn’t you?

Then quality is relative…? Some things have more quality than others.  I can go with that. But still, is it really that measurable. What if you’ve never seen a chair before in your life. What if you don’t know what a chair is, much less the difference between a quality chair and a “non-quality” chair. Does the Donald’s chair still have more quality than your chair in that case?

I admit, this is a little bit of “tree falls in the forest” line of questioning. But to follow this rabbit hole of questions on this particular topic is of incredible importance to me. And it probably would be to everyone else too if they took some time to sit still and think about it.

What does quality really mean to you?

Here is how I apply this question without an answer in my life.

What makes a quality person?

We know it when we see it.   Perhaps a quality person is one whose legacy is meaningful. Perhaps a quality person has a quiet mind. Or maybe a quality person is one who is aggressively generous in every way.

To me, a quality person is the kind I want to be around. It’s the kind of person I want to learn from. It’s the kind I want to help because helping them will benefit me. A quality person has balance, has gumption, and is resourceful. A quality person is spiritual in one way or another, and is intentional about their life. They are intentional about the people in their life. They are intentional about their community, their health, their family.  They are even intentional about their appearance, their emotional self-awareness, and their presence in conversations, in groups, in companies, in social settings.

The extent to which I could attempt a comprehensive description of a quality person is endless. And far beyond a blog post appropriate length (which I admit, by the way, have been getting longer and longer, and for that I apologize).

I can’t describe a quality person, but here is what I do know. The world is more pleasant for each of us with more quality people in the world.  My mission and my vision is now that I can help the world create, connect, and grow more quality people.  It all begins with energy, the subject on which I write.

Have a quality Monday!

 

 

Son, it’s all about Entrepreneurship. Sort of.

 

Entrepreneur Michael Cook

Entrepreneur Michael Cook

I adore this picture.

It is burned in my mind and I think about it every time I think about my oldest son, Michael.  This was Michael’s first documented entrepreneurial venture. (Maybe he’s a little late at the age of 6, but still it’s good he’s finally on the right path.)

I was thinking recently about what ONE THING did I want to teach Michael about life. If there is only one thing I can teach him, help him learn, and show him, what is it?

I immediately went to “entrepreneurship.” But it didn’t feel right.

Why in the world is a concept of creating companies, making money, being the boss, and all those joys of entrepreneurship important enough to make it the one thing that I want to leave my sons with?

So it occurred to me:

Maybe entrepreneurship isn’t the point, it’s just the vehicle to a good life. Maybe teaching successful entrepreneurship teaches more meaningful, deeper things in the universe… things that actually do matter.

So I started thinking about what those things might be, and here is my initial list.

Sacrifice and Give.

A fundamental success principal is what I call selfish generosity. You have to give because you want to give. Entrepreneurship requires this. You have to give to your company because you enjoy giving to your company. You have to give to your cause because you enjoy it. Not because you are trying to get somewhere. Not because you are trying to build something you can sell or flip. You give because giving is the right thing to do. When you do this as an entrepreneur, you succeed in business. When you do it as a person, you soar.

Be Genuine.

Alignment. I can’t say it enough. You are who you are. You can’t be anyone else. You can’t be a poser and grow a company. You can’t be a poser and do anything much that matters. Open yourself up. Put yourself out there in everything you do. Don’t hold back. A genuine entrepreneur usually ends up a very wealthy one. A genuine person is the one everyone wants to be around.

Be Honest. 

Pretty basic, but if we’re teaching 6-year olds a lesson, this one is key.  I don’t have to say anything more.

Love.

Take the golden rule and make it real life. Love openly and generously. Show that you care about your friends, your family, your self. Show that you have priorities, and the things that you love the most, come first.

Be Spiritual.

Take care of yourself. Whether it is putting more energy into your faith or religion, or just spending more time thinking about your impact on the world. Take time to slow down. Sit still. Watch a sunset. Walk in the rain.  Forget your iPhone occasionally. Be intentional and intense about relaxing, vacationing, enjoying the journey.   The most successful entrepreneurs I know are the most spiritual… which is no coincidence that these are also the most personally satisfied people I know.

I don’t intend this post to be a comprehensive list of anything, but rather a beginning to a thought around why I like to be around and think about entrepreneurship so much.  What do you think?
Help me out here, are there other things in life besides entrepreneurship that help teach and bring to life these important values? I’m really all ears.

Motorcycle Mondays – Start Your Engines

 

Pirsig Honda Motorcycle

Robert Pirsig and his son, Chris

My post on the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig drove a lot of positive comments online and offline, and I was happy to hear that it spoke to people. The book was borderline life-changing for me, and some of the ideas in it are profound and memorable.  I consider it a “life-accelerating book.” So I’m going to take the Monday posts for a while and write a series called Motorcycle Mondays.     In these posts, I will share some of the important ideas that are expressed in the ZMM book.

To kick off the series, I want to share one of the key sections in the book. I can’t possibly say this any better than the author, so here you go:

“I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts it at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of a social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.” -from ZMM by Robert Pirsig

To me, this says it all. This is what matters. This what I want my personal and entrepreneurial WHY to be.   Some of the tips on fixing motorcycles you are really going to enjoy.   My initial list of ideas I look forward to sharing is below.

  • Can you Define Quality?
  • Gumptionology
  • Map of Gumption Traps
  • Stuckness. Get Stuck.
  • Commercial Mechanics vs. Doing it Yourself
  • Value Rigidity
  • Ego Gumption Trap
  • Anxiety Gumption Trap
  • Boredom Gumption Trap
  • Impatience
  • Truth Trap of Yes-No Logic
  • Tools
  • You’ve Got to Live Right Too

If you’ve enjoyed the book yourself and have other favorites, please post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to spend as much time as it takes on this book!