Seven Questions to Avoid Competition

We recently lost a very large project in a competitive selection process. It hurt so much that it had me reaching to my bookshelf for inspiration on what to do. I reached for Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, and I decided it’s time to build something that has no competition. Easier said than done.

Here are Thiel’s questions to ask yourself on whether you can actually make that happen:

  1. Can you create breakthrough technology?
  2. Is now the right time to start this particular business?
  3. Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. Do you have the right team?
  5. Do you have a way to deliver/sell your product? 
  6. Will your market position be defensible for 10-20 years?
  7. Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Otherwise, you’re sort of hoping for a miracle.

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

We live in the world our questions create.

— David Copperrider

This brilliant little book is basically just a list of seven simple questions with the power to shift almost any conversation in our lives. They can be used on their own or sequentially. Here we go.

(1) What’s on your mind?

In other words, what should the real focus of this conversation be?

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not quite right

When we complain, we’re subtly telling ourselves and others that life is not quite right exactly as it is. It’s the opposite of gratitude.

When we lie, we’re subtly telling ourselves and others that we are not quite right exactly as we are. It’s the opposite of self-love.

being wrong

I’ve been on a binge-read-and-reread of Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck in the last few weeks. The title sounds gimmicky, but it’s really f*cking good — good enough for me to read three times in a row, which says a lot given my short book attention span.

One of Mark’s five values to live our lives by is uncertainty. We cannot learn anything, and therefore improve things, without first not knowing something. Seems simple, but this openness to being wrong is f*cking difficult, and it must exist for any real growth to take place. The more you embrace uncertainty, the more comfortable you feel in finding out what you don’t know.

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whiplash (intro)

I just finished reading Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. I loved it… it’s especially pertinent to the technological change in my industry and the role I hope to play in it. Here are my notes from the intro. More to come.

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson

Technology has exceeded our capacity, as individuals and as a society, to understand it. This book offers the operating guidelines for survival in the future.

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climate change, close to home

We have to make the climate message more social, because – as I said – if you only talk about glaziers and arctic ice or polar bears or Bangladesh or Pacific Islands – it’s way far for me. But if it’s something that happens in my network with something that people that I care about. Then suddenly it feels much more near and more personal, and more– Urgent too, because it’s here and now in a way.

—Per Espen Stoknes, on the You Are Not So Smart podcast

Last week on The Commons, we covered flooding in Bangladesh, a distant land far, far away. While the news in Bangladesh is terrible, Stoknes is right, it’s just not close enough to home. The opposite is also true – I’m feeling particularly disturbed about the floods happening so close to home and affecting people I know. Maybe these psychologists are onto something.

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hearts over charts

This week I heard an insightful podcast interview with psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, author of the book “What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming”.

In the book and the podcast, the author lays out what he calls the climate paradox – the more we know about climate change the less convinced we are that it’s real and the less action we take to fix the problem.

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hope over despair

It’s easy to read the news on climate change and think we’re totally f*cked. Especially if, like me, you live in the Midwest, where even believing it’s happening seems to put you in some conspiratorial minority.

We may be totally f*cked—that might even be highly likely—but what happens if we flip the script of despair and focus on the opportunities of this moment?

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