Twitter could only do 140 characters because it was designed for a text service. Technology was its restraint. So when you look at the restraints that you face, from budgets to geography, maybe they are the making of you.
If you can look at an obstacle and think of it as providing an answer for how you go forward, it will change your mind set. And start to provide answers, and not just problems.
The difference between a problem and an opportunity is how you view them.
Ryan Holiday wrote a great book on this: The Obstacle is the way. It's an inspiring read.
Photo by Andrew Paynter. www.andrewpaynter.com
A super tanker takes 21 miles to turn. And 16 Miles to stop. It’s good to know that because we tend to spend a lot of time talking about how much bigger our rivals are than us. But, if you view their size as their weakness, then you take a different view of your competition. And start to think how vulnerable they are to you, if you play to your strengths.
Their size makes them slow. And this world is speeding up. So play to your strength that you are small. Small means fast. Small means responsive. You don’t have to put your ideas to the board, you don’t have to put them into research, you can put them into action instead.
The world is changing fast. And it will be those who are most nimble that will do the best.
Yup, be a speedboat.
Photo by Andrew Paynter. www.andrewpaynter.com
I don’t think we lack talent in Wales. I don’t think we lack a good work ethic. What I believe we lack is a belief in ourselves. In our ideas. And so we don’t pursue them. And we don’t make our ideas happen.
We make the assumption, and it’s a mistaken one, that other people are smarter than us. And if we tell ourselves that lie enough, it becomes a truth. We start to believe it; we start to live that out in real life.
But it’s a truth that other people do have more belief than us. They have more confidence than us. And it’s the job of parents to change that. It’s the job of schools, that breeding ground of inferiority, to change that. It’s the job of well-seasoned entrepreneurs to take a startup under they wings, just to tell them they can fly.
I love how we are humble as a set of people. We don’t like big heads. We don’t like arrogance. But believing in ourselves, in our ideas is neither of those two things.
We must learn that self-belief is a beautiful thing. It’s as beautiful as Welsh National Anthem being sung before the game today. Every bit.
If it’s too late for our generation to change our mind-sets, then lets make sure the generation below us don’t make the same mistake. It will be our job to tell them these words: That no one is smarter than them.
Our ideas are as good as any ones. Our spirit is of a warrior. We are a small giant. And it’s time to realise what is the most possible for us.
The biggest waste in Wales is the dreams of our young entrepreneurs when they fail to fulfil their potential. Our biggest gift to our children isn’t an iPhone; it is to tell them their ideas can change the world.
When they fail to start because they fail to believe in themselves, we all lose.
Don’t play small.
Photo by Andrew Paynter.
I see it everyday. The buzzard on top of the lamppost just sitting there. Waiting. Watching. Listening. Still. Silent. Working smart by doing next to nothing.
When there’s a movement, it swoops down. And has lunch.
For the buzzard the lamppost serves two purposes. It gives it a vantage point. And saves its energy. When it flies, it is to hunt. It is not flying around in hope. It is flying on a mission to eat. Movement equals food.
For years I have subscribed to the Motley Fool subscription service. It’s an excellent service. Probably the best there out there. It teaches you how to look at the fundamentals of companies. It tells you their methodology of discovering the rule breakers. And it teaches you how to look at what the future markets for these rule breakers is likely to be. It encourages you to invest while these companies are still unknown by most.
Yesterday, I listened to a podcast Motley Fool put out about driverless cars. Its view is that they are going to happen. And when they do, there will be losers and winners. The losers will be the insurance companies. Why? Well, the number of crashes will be dramatically reduced to almost nothing.
The cars of the future will be computers with 4 wheels. So the winners will be the companies who can develop the chips that are capable of processing all this data to enable them to drive without you and I. They think they have spotted this company. A company who has developed a processor that can process all that information 10 times quicker. And so making the driverless car just a matter of time rather than if.
What is the Motley Fool? They are a lamppost. They allow you to see things early. They detect movement of a different kind. Once that movement has been spotted, it shares that knowledge. It is then up to its subscribers whether to act or not.
If the buzzard was down at ground level, it would have no overview. And therefore, it would eat less. Also, if it were constantly flying around searching for food, it would use up too much energy to sustain itself. Lampposts provide leverage by providing an overview. Lampposts allow buzzards to eat more.
A lamppost can be anything that allows you to see things early. It can be a book you read. A talk you listen to. A conference you attend. A holiday you go on. And yes, a subscription newsletter.
When you are up real close, you can’t see the context, you can see what’s around the corner, you can’t see what is coming.
Lampposts are important. They help you see things early.
Yesterday I zoomed up to Dublin for a quick meeting. On the way back, we stopped in a food market called Avoca. It’s impressive. The attention to detail. The sourcing. The variety. The way it was all displayed. After an hour or so, we decided to hit the road back to my sisters. But before we did, we thought we’d have a quick cup of tea.
The place was pretty busy, but the guy who served us took time to warm the cups, and the teapot. I watched him pay attention to getting it right. The cup of tea was perfect.
He didn’t have to warm the cups, he didn’t have to warm the teapot, but some people just think about the customer. Maybe he thought we had another 200 miles to drive. Maybe he thought we looked tired. Maybe, he just made the cup of tea that he would like to have been served.
When you hire, find people who think like a customer. Find people who care. Because they will never make a bad cup of tea.
Try doing something new, try raising some money, try being ahead of your time, and you are going to hear this word a lot. I mean, a lot. Entrepreneurs hear this word more than most. What makes the entrepreneur is how they react to it. How they use it give them strength. How it spurs them on. Entrepreneurs keep going.
Entrepreneurs develop a thick skin because they have to. They learn the art of the hustle. They learn to pick themselves back up from the floor. Time after time. Because they know that one day they are going to hear that short, sweet, beautiful word: Yes.
I used to think networking was some kind of dirty word.
But, I was wrong.
If you can 'find the others' who are are trying change the world, it will help you just to be around them.
They will help with optimism, with belief, and with contacts who be able to help you. They will share problems, and answers to similar issues to what you will face. What industry they are in doesn't matter as much as how they view the world. And what they think it could be.
You need to hang out with them. Learn from them. Argue with them. Drink with them. Dance with them. Sit around a fire with them till dawn.
I have been doing my workshop for quite a while now, but it took me quite a while to figure out that that the real importance of it was the small network it creates. Fellow crazies.
Tara Lemmey said it best at Do USA 'People who want to change the world need to hang out with people who want to change the world'.
One of your jobs as an entrepreneur is to 'find the others' who want to create as much change as you do.
Go 'Find the others'.
Where these two circles overlap is where you are now. It’s called today. And today is your biggest gift. You can’t change the past. It is done. Learn from it. But don’t live there.
Yup, the future is exciting. But it will be shaped by what you do today. How hard you work at something today. How much you try today. How much you learn today.
The future is decided by what you do today.
Where these two circles overlap will be where I will have my biggest successes. And my biggest failures. But it will always be where I am most alive.
Charlie Engle is an ultra marathon runner. He ran across America. He ran across the Sahara in 100 days. I asked him to write a piece for the YearBook that we do at Hiut Denim. He said he would. On one condition. That I had to promise to give the factory everything I had. Like everything. And not to hold back. And not to spare myself. His words haunt me. I will be honest with you.
The question I always ask myself is am I giving it my best shot. Am I trying my hardest, am I doing my best? Am I giving it everything? It's why I set my alarm at 5.50am each work day. I don't drink alcohol in the week. And I focus on the priorities, and leave the rest undone.
This goes some way to answering the question 'am I giving it my best shot?'. But there is a question before that. And it is this: Is the shot you are taking the one that matters most to you?
For me, getting 400 people their jobs back in a town that used to have Britain's biggest jeans factory is the shot I want to take. It matters to me. And it provides me with the daily fuel to push hard. Yes, it's risky. And it maybe the biggest risk I have ever taken. But everyday it keeps me on my toes. I am alert.
I am alive.
Before I start a project, a business, I draw three circles. One is: Does this interest me. Does it interest me enough to fuel the bad days. There will be bad days. Trust me. And that is when most people quit. They don’t have enough interest in it to keep going when logic says it is going to fail.
Then I ask myself, do I have a skill that will enable me to make this successful? Can I make it work? Can I find an edge here? And lastly, what have I seen that others haven’t? Can I get a seat early on the train? When everyone is doing it, the train has already left the station?
This intersection here guides me. It is where I have the greatest chance of success, of having fun, and of feeling alive. This is the sweet spot on the tennis racket. This is where you need to find yourself. So draw three circles. Make sure you operate in the intersection of all three. You are most alive there.
When I sat down to work out whether I should start Hiut Denim Co, this is what I wrote:
1, My Interest. I love jeans. Love my town. Love creative people.
2, I can tell a story. I can communicate. And we had a great story of a town that used to make jeans. The town knew how to make a great jean. And I knew I had skills that would help me sell it.
3, Manufacturing can come back home. The internet has changed the world for the small maker who sells direct. And I saw it early.