December 21, 2009

Failure is a Launchpad

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 17:46

Today, Seth pointed out that good ideas are in most cases only the wheat that’s been separated from the chaff, yet more often you may end up just having the chaff but no wheat (these are the bad ideas). This is another scenario when the individual mindset determines the outcome.

Starting from scratch is hard, having something that has failed before is easy, because the first step of creating has already been taken. Now there is a substance, something to work on, analyse and measure, thus finding the (possible) weak spots and to improve on them, and enforce the strengths of the original idea (if they did not turn out to be the reason of failure — always cut the fat first). This applies not only to ideas of course, but also your products, services, systems in general.

Success can be a pitfall, because in most cases people only celebrate but never question it. The harder it is to face reality when failure occurs. But this only applies when your mindset is based on the luck factor. It is an easy explanation, because it takes away self-responsibility and maybe earns you compassion because you’re the victim of destiny. But it bears no chance of improval, because after every attempt your mind resets to zero, denying the opportunity of learning from the failure and getting an advantage in the future.

Failure should not be reduced to an equation of “[you] = dumbass”. This is a complete misinterpretation of the situation. It is the product of one or more of the following: non-clarity of objectives, prioritization, wrong assumptions (about whatever), expectations (about whatever) not being met, conditions changing during the process, to be continued… It is important to be aware that neither of these is an excuse for the result — it isn’t. But every single one is a point or stage worth examining.

Doing the uneasy job of analysing and identifying when the wheels got off the rail will give you more insight to yourself, the people involved in the (failed) transaction, and the communication between the both of you.

December 18, 2009

think | claim | do – and one more

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 17:16

If what you think you’re doing, what you claim you’re doing, and what you actually do are all consistent, you’re authentic.

Except you’re not. Why?
Authenticity requires a context.
New formula.

If what you think you’re doing, what you claim you’re doing, and what you actually do is consistent with what people believe you’re doing, you’re authentic.

For better or worse.

December 15, 2009

To do what, exactly?

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 09:10

No matter what the occasion, sooner or later you will run into someone who thinks he knows better.

Last time I noticed was on Derek Sivers’ web page, when he wrote why he gave his company to charity. Long story short, he set up a foundation to which he transferred the ownership of the business and then this foundation sold the company. By doing so, all the money from the transaction would go into the funds and not be taxed. The cause of this foundation is to sponsor music education when Derek has passed away.

Now there are people who think they know better: “You should have given your money to cause XY, I’ve been working in that field and it’s so much more important than music education… ” Matter of fact: There are thousands of good causes people could support. But for some reasons they choose to support the one(s) they identify with. And if there’s no one who does something you appreciate, who’s to stop you from starting your own? Especially when you are lucky enough to have heaps of money. Derek did not only want to give away what he had, but to something he values.

The thing is, giving unsolicited statements like “My [insert belongings, beliefs, or business] is better than yours” does not help anything, it does only worsen the relationship. Because in most cases, people did not care to frame the precise context of your opinion or decision. (And even worse, it implies a judgement. ) So if you’re not completely turned off by people acting as described above, the question to respond with is: To do what, exactly?

But when time is scarce and choice is abundant, no one will stop to ask this.  They just skip to the next. So if you’re about tho tell somebody about the advantages of your [whatever], be sure to know exactly what they want [whatever] to do for them.

December 14, 2009

What matters now

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 15:34

Seth Godin has just announced the release of a great new e-book. For free. Get it.

Push for Charity

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 11:47

Today I went to the supermarket to return some bottles (Germany is one of the countries that has deposits on most bottles), which is handled by a machine. When it came to print the receipt, I noticed these new machines had not only a “print receipt” button, but – Surprise! – also a “donate” button right next to it!

4202ccf7f2Turns out that this is a project started in 2008 by a charity that gives expired or overstock foods to people in need. As of their press release in October, their co-operation has now about 5,000 of these new machines installed, which helped them raise over 1M Euros in 18 months.

Two things are worth noting here: First, this is just what we need. Help a good cause with the push of a button. Second, ideas like this must spread faster. Yet many charities still communicate like it’s 1970. No permission base, no email news (only if you sign up for a press account), no RSS feed. If you’re doing something for a cause, being invisible and untouchable is no perspective.

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