Entrepreneur Events. Get out the building and explore!

Taking entrepreneur events for granted.

For many years I have frequented entrepreneur events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Some might say I am addicted.  But, after you read this post, you will know why it is addictive.  And, you might want some too.

Entrepreneurs are remarkably good at getting focused. Sometimes this works against them. Like when they stay holed up in their garage for months on end building a product, only to emerge at the end with something that nobody wants. All that focus and energy is lost.

Last night, I attended a gathering of entrepreneurs who were interested in New Zealand’s new accelerator programme: Lightning Lab. And, last night I got reminded why entrepreneurial events are so freaking awesome!

The people you meet are awesome!

When you get out of the building and go to events with other entrepreneurs you meet crazy, energetic, passionate people. These are people that are where you are, or have been where you’re going. They want to help as much as possible with your journey, because they’ve been through the struggle.

If you’re looking for great co-founders in your startup, you will possibly meet the your future team at these very events.

People know people.

It’s crazy how much serendipitous value comes out of events like these. I get the most value out of the connections I make, and the introductions that are made with me.

When you’re talking to people about your venture and the problems you’re facing, entrepreneurs will always offer you solutions. You’ll be told “You need to meet <fill in awesome, valuable person’s name>”. Make sure you get these introductions because over time, the more people you know, the more you are able to achieve.

So much knowledge in one room.

Entrepreneurs have so much knowledge and insight, they’re just bursting to share it with you. They learn through experiences,  and boy do they have a lot of experiences!

When you’re out at events share the problems you’re facing and questions you have, you’ll get lots of advice. Listen and ask deeper questions so that you really understand the advice.

Note: not all advice is good advice, so make sure you listen and get insights from the advice, but take most of it with a grain of salt. Your hardest job is figuring out which advice fits your situation and applying it.

An outside perspective.

One of the greatest benefits of getting out of your garage and attending events is that you get some true and honest feedback from your peers. They will challenge your idea and beliefs (and many will call you out on the ones they don’t believe in). This feedback is an important part of making your idea better. Either you will use it to make the idea better, or you will be more resilient in believing that you have more insight than other people. Hopefully, whatever you choose will result in your success. But, enjoy this feedback – it’s free and it’s valuable!

Give what you can, too.

The only way anybody gets any value at events is because someone chose to give it away. When you go to events remember you know people and you have knowledge too. Keep an eye out for where you can add value to other entrepreneurs. With everyone helping everyone out, all us kiwis can take on the world with our ideas.

Go get em!

Awesome Entrepreneur Events in Auckland

Some awesome events I like to attend:

If I’ve missed out an awesome event, please add it to the comments below, and I’ll update this blog post.

0

Steve Jobs: The Rebel Wrangler from Apple

I’m in the midst of reading Steve Jobs ’ Biography which I’ve been enjoying whilst absorbing the Auckland summer sun.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was an incredible human being. I think we all recognise this. But his methods of working with people have been challenged and brought into question many times by many people – especially after his death. I’ve found it fascinating to read the biography and take look into the life, attitude and practices that Steve Jobs lived.

Today, let’s take a look at how he chose to interact with people, and why this worked when working with rebels at Apple.

Steve was an artist. A believer and upholder of perfection, fineness and distinction. Take a second to understand that about him. Understand that this is what drives him. Understand that this is what he expects of other people. And, understand that he wanted to lead a company that produced perfection.

Not every human being understands or wishes to pursue perfection. In fact, a very small portion of humanity even believes perfection is possible. Steve understood this paradigm. But, he also understood that this was a mindset. And, minds can be changed and shaped and moulded.

Steve knew that any person could be a perfectionist. And, he had a method of producing this in people. He created himself as an authority. He created himself as the benchmark. If Steve said something was “shit”, then you knew you had to do more, try harder, achieve closer to perfection.

Once you understood this about Steve, and you start to learn that you too are producing perfection, you finally have the leg to stand on and challenge him.

Steve created a pathway to perfection. First, you would have the shit beaten out of you so that your mind and ego were supple and manageable. Second, you would be challenged to reach perfection. Third, you would reach perfection and be challenged by Steve, at which point you returned fire and stood for your work. And finally, you would be rewarded with recognition and respect for your work. After working with Steve and walking this pathway, you emerge as a wholly different person. A transformed human being.

For this alone, Steve was an enlightened being. He created a pathway to realisation and he “guided” (aka pushed) you through it. It may not be the perfect way for everyone, but it was one way to do it.

The second incredible feat that Steve achieved was to create a functioning organisation of rebels. It is well-known that Steve’s hiring philosophy was to create teams out of rebels (“the Pirates”). These are people who refuse to follow rules. Who fight the system. Who listen to no one. These are entrepreneurs, visionaries and the elite of the intellectual bracket. But these are also the most powerful people around. They choose to act. They choose to do things. They are the ones that change the world.

Have you any idea how difficult it is to bring thousands of these people together into a team?  It is impossible!

The only way to have achieved this outcome would have been to be like Steve Jobs. To cut them down to size and show them that they are nothing compared to their potential. To push them to breaking point. To remove their ego and their beliefs.

Steve did what he had to do to create an organisation completely filled with entrepreneurs. He created an ecosystem where people of the highest intellect and ego would be broken down and rebuilt into transformed human beings, who believed anything was possible, and that they could be the ones to produce “anything is possible”.

Without this understanding and without this methodology, Steve could not have created Apple (or Pixar). No one could have achieved this. It is a prerequisite for the result.

Steve was a great man.  He achieved the impossible.  His gang of rebels achieved great things. But none of that was possible without the systematic breaking down of egos of the most rebellious and powerful people on earth – entrepreneurs.

But, if Steve was the reason that this gang of rebels were kept in line, and were kept performing, what now?

What about the future of Apple?  Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs.

How will Apple continue to be what it has been without this great savant at the helm?

Vegetarian: Becoming a part-timer because of the environmental impact

Before you read about my choice to become vegetarian, please think about what really matters to you.  Do you care about environmental sustainability?  Do you care about the rights and suffering of animals?  Do you care about the impact of food on your own health?

Whatever you care about most, I hope, drives your day-to-day decisions about the food you eat.

What impacts my decision to become vegetarian?

What I care about most is environmental sustainability – which has driven my choice about becoming vegetarian. Secondarily, I also care about my personal health, as well as having a concern about the treatment of animals in food production. On a scale of one to ten, this is how much I care about each of these three areas:

8/10 environmental sustainability
6/10 personal health impacts
3/10 treatment of animals

In May this year (2012) I chose to change my eating habits considerably. I chose to be a part-time vegetarian. The most important factor for my choice was my awareness of how much impact meat production has on climate change. I was flummoxed when I saw the evidence.

If you want to make one change to your lifestyle to significantly reduce your environmental impact, it’s to stop eating beef and dairy!

What I learned about meat production

  • Significant amounts of forests are cut down each year to make room for more land to produce more meat and dairy. 70% of the Amazon’s deforestation is used for pasture land.
  • When you cut down trees and burn them (which is the fastest way to clear land), you release all the carbon they captured from the atmosphere right back into the atmosphere as CO (carbon monoxide) and CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), which increases the carbon levels in the atmosphere and raises global temperatures. There is 50% more carbon stored in trees today, than there is in the atmosphere.
  • When you produce meat (especially beef) it takes a lot of water and energy. It takes approximately 16,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef. If you just switched from beef to pork, you would use 60% less water per kg of meat you ate.
  • Cows are remarkably bad for greenhouse-gas emissions. When they produce excrement they also produce methane. Methane is more than 20X more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse-gas.
  • Cattle excrement is a extreme pollutant to streams and waterways. It has a high amount of nitrogen in it, and when it gets into the waterways it reduces the oxygen in the water which makes being a fish or water-plant incredibly hard. We know all about this problem in New Zealand.

There are so many factors that just start to add up against consuming meat.

I’m a huge fan of making small changes in lifestyle that make a huge impact. So, when I found out that if I stopped my meat consumption, I could massively reduce my environmental impact, I was all for it.

By the way, I haven’t given up meat entirely, but I have reduced my consumption of meat by 80-85%. Now, as a vegetarian I eat lots more legumes, beans, eggs, tofu and meat substitutes.

I hope after giving you some food for thought, you will consider giving up meat (even, if only part-time), because “if all of us eat half as much meat, it would be like half of us are full time vegetarians.”

If you’re a big fan of videos (especially TED Talks), there’s a wonderful presentation by Graham Hill on why he is a week-day-vegetarian.

P.S. Here’s an infographic by GOOD IS that demonstrates just how much of an impact being vegetarian could have on your water footprint.

Oh, we’re building technology for vegans too. Check out Copono for more info.

China: fear not for I am a brave new world

I’ve often been perplexed by the complexity of political decisions and recently the debate about China’s ownership of New Zealand land has definitely made me think more than usual. Last night, I attended the NZ Initiative’s moot titled “New Zealand should ban Chinese ownership of farms” and was presented at first by two university teams, and finally by NBR Editor in Chief, Nevil Gibson, and Save the Farms Spokeperson, Tony Bouchier. The nigth offered great stimulation and thought provocation. This is a newly (un)formed idea; it has holes; so I thought I’d capture a few points here and learn from the readers about what you think.

Land is a finite resource

New Zealand has a total 268,021 km of land. That’s all we’ve got. Because land is a finite resource, as less of it becomes available, the price is inflated. What that means is that if we sell our land today we will have to buy it back at a higher price.

This is completely alright. However, if we sell our land today, we must ensure that what we do with that money grows more than the land’s value. For example, we sell a piece of land for $100,000 today. We invest it in startup companies, the stock market, or overseas investments, and in 10 years we grow that to $200,000.

Now, the value of the land has increased in price to $180,000. This is great because it means that we have done more to increase the value of our wealth than if we had just held onto the property. It also means that we can buy back the property if we need to.

However, if the value of the land was $250,000 in 10 years, then we would not have made a good choice. That means that we would have been better off holding onto our land. And, that we now won’t be able to buy it back because we don’t have enough money to do so.

This brings me to my major argument: If New Zealanders are going to sell off our land at all, we need to ensure we become intelligent wealth creators and grow our wealth beyond that of the value-growth that results from owning that land.

Let’s assume that we have sold some of our land. That land rightly belongs to the buyer – a Chinese citizen, business, or family (in this case). According to our laws, we can’t take any land away from it’s owner, so the control of that land then becomes out of our reach (outside of our control through regulations/laws). What happens if the owner has a Chinese association/origin?

China’s Intention?

I certainly don’t talk from a deep experience or understanding of China – but there is certainly a cultural association with the “homeland”.

What we don’t understand is China’s Intention. Chinese companies are buying up infrastructure, corporations and assets all around the world in droves. This may just be because it is a great investment. But, it could also because of control. I don’t know the intentions or complexity of China’s strategy. And, I think very few people can claim they do.

What I do know is that if a single country owns a substantial amount of the resources, societal infrastructure, corporations and assets of the world, they essentially have control (by proxy) of the world. This is a scary prospect, and I certainly understand the fear that New Zealanders (and people globally) have of China. Note though, this is only scary because we fear what it means for us – “being controlled by China”?

A Chinese Lead World

China has a unique and compelling culture. Although it has experienced some tough and powerful claims against it based on human rights, labour laws, and environmental laws (to name a few), China is a fast learner and a very intelligent country. Their middle-class is growing exceptionally fast and overall power is shifting towards the people and away from government.

I am excited by a Chinese ideal:   collectivism.

Collectivism is a philosophy where we recognise the interdependence on people. In other words, acknowledging that we rely on each other to survive and thrive – we are interlinked; connected. China has a full-on institutionalised view on collectivism which originates from it’s history with communism.

Now that the people of China are gaining more individual freedom and power, this combination of independence from the state with their cultural heritage is breeding a philosophically-aligned population. Chinese people are evolving into a democratic, empowered, values-driven society – but they know that they are ONE.

Ultimately, the idea of an autonomous civilisation living in unison, in singularity; as one; is very attractive. It means we won’t have a lot of the petty problems we face today:  war, poverty, hatred. It means we can put aside perceived differences and instead work on persistent problems together.

A New World

At the end of the day, what I aspire to is a world with true peace, connectedness and infinite knowledge. None of that is accessible to anyone until we can view each other on a level playing field and put aside our differences. China’s strategy may evolve into the very solution that evolves our entire society to a new and creative level. It may not.

Ultimately, we have a choice.

If we fear China’s intentions with the ownership of the world’s assets, let’s meet them halfway. Let’s sell our land to the NZ government and lease this land to the Chinese company. That way we retain our assets and allow Chinese investment and knowledge to penetrate New Zealand.

If we seek a brave new world, China could offer this to us. We could let them into our “country” and take a place in theirs. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two if we put our fear aside and saw China as an opportunity. I’d love to see us (as global citizens) entering China’s political, economic and legal structure – having a say in what they are doing.

Why is no one having that conversation?

This post was written to inspire debate and conversation. I don’t know enough to come up with any answers, but together we can learn enough to do so as a group. Please comment and share your thoughts, ideas, and solutions to this heavy debate. Oh, and please share this with your networks – a wider debate with NZ’ers will breed a greater perspective on this debate.

(Note: please keep your points and perspectives under control – I will not tolerate any racially-motivated slander or incoherent emotional statements. Please put your fear aside and share a constructive and powerful perspective.)

Money: Make as much as possible! Or is there something else?

Thinking about starting a business or already working on your business ambitions?  What sparked that drive, that ambition, that passion? Was it all about making “as much money as possible”?

Having just read this article about Money and Passion by David Wilson on the Audacious Blog, it got me thinking about what drives me as an entrepreneur.

It is worth noting that David’s article is missing a lot of content, and if you are an entrepreneur reading it, I encourage you to ask more people about this topic and do further research.

I would be cautious about starting a business “to make as much money as possible”.   Because, sadly, many entrepreneurs will start businesses with this intention and hardly make any money.

What happens then is that you lose motivation – you can only live on ramen noodles for so long before “it’s just enough”. If this is your reason for starting a business, I encourage you to ask why you want to make as much money as possible.

Many entrepreneurs that I meet and interact with share this ambition with me – and when we delve deeper into that motivation together, something incredible emerges.

Often, entrepreneurs want money so that they can make a difference

— invest in others, give money as philanthropy, start and support socially-conscious businesses.

Too many entrepreneurs believe that they have to make money first before they can make a difference. Why do you believe that?

Think about it…Right now you have time, you know people. You could start making a difference today. It might be a small difference now,   but you can grow. If you spend your whole life trying to make money so that you can make a difference when you finally have money, instead of just making a difference, what if you FAIL?  You lose all that time, all that energy and all that potential impact.

I invite you to consider that you can make a difference TODAY – at the same time as you make money. The world is changing, social enterprise is a massive and emerging form of business – you can make a difference whilst making money!

When you are doing things every day with a larger purpose, you will get access to contentment, fulfilment and success. Be genuine with others and follow your true ambitions. Don’t settle for anything less. Be a small hero first, and grow into a big hero.

What difference do you want to make in the world?

Perspective: “Enough” is enough

Perspective: How often does it annoy or irritate you when someone says “that’s enough”? Or “you’re too smart”? Or “you need to be more [___fill in the blank___]”?

This has been a constant battle going on in my mind and with people for my whole life. And, suddenly it all hit me – like a ton of bricks.

Everyone has a perspective.

When someone uses the word “enough”, what they are saying is “in my experience if you go further it’s bad”. There’s nothing wrong with what they are saying. In fact, for them they are 100% correct, this is the truth for them. And, it’s based on their experience.

In the past, it’s angered me. I’ve judged them. I’ve disliked these naysayers.

Today, I understand them. I understand that people have opinions, they have perspectives, they have experiences on which they make decisions.

My experiences are almost always different – and therefore so are my perspectives. I might choose to argue and dominate the person. I might make them wrong and prove their experience null – in face of my (obviously) superior intellect. At least, that’s what I would’ve done in the past.

Today, I am curious. I ask questions. I seek to understand. Other people’s perspectives are very powerful. After all, we as human beings don’t even know a droplet in the ocean of world knowledge.

But, as an entire species we know everything.

If only we could understand that our perspective is true,  but so are everyone elses. They are true to us.

What if I could put that aside when I found someone was disagreeing with me? What if I understood that they have a perspective – something that I don’t (currently) have – and that I could gain some insight from knowing their perspective? Then perhaps, instead of arguing, making someone wrong, dominating, I might be curious, seek to understand, and become wiser from learning from others’ experiences?

Every time I hear these words, I stop and think for just a moment and check where I am coming from:   enough, too much, too little, more, less, better, worse. (What words am I missing here?)

Not only I have a perspective. Everyone does. Not only is my perspective right. Everyone’s is.

So what have you had enough of people saying? ;)

0

Greatness at the Opening Ceremony

I watched the opening ceremony at the London Olympics this morning (NZST). It was not only spectacular and inspirational, but reaffirming. The greatness that was present in the stadium stirred some true and powerful emotions for me. In our midst were great people; who have shaped, altered and shifted the world and human mindsets. And, it’s inspiring to think about the greatness to come from our world’s athletes as they compete for gold in each of their divisions.

My Own Path to Greatness

I aspire to true greatness. Many people look at me incredulously when I explain to them that money is not a determining factor for me. It just isn’t. What does impact my life and my choices is contribution. I ask myself “what impact will this have on the world, on others and on me?”. Often I question my own motives because often I get benefit from the contributions I make – recognition (fame), remuneration (money) and education (mastery).

Watching the ceremony today there were two things that really hit home for me:

  1. Applause for Volunteers. It was inspirational and touching to hear the crescendo that went up for the 10,000 volunteers helping at the Opening Ceremony. It sounded substantially more appreciative (loud) than any other applause.
  2. Recognising the Great Leaders. The announcer recognising and appreciating Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General), Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopian Athlete), Shami Chakrabarti (Founder of Liberty), Marina Silva (Brazilian Environmentalist), and the great Muhammad Ali.

Both of these situations made me think about the contribution I want to make in the world. What impact could I make in a world needing change? It reaffirmed (for me) exactly what kind of greatness I am seeking in life.

Your Greatness

I’ve seen a couple of stories of how the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games has brought forth inspiration for others on Facebook. When you were watching the opening ceremony, what other forms of greatness came up for you?

Entrepreneur, why share your idea?

 

I recently read a great story by Natasha on the Audacious Blog, about the value of sharing your ideas as an entrepreneur. Here’s a few extra thoughts that I left in the comments:

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over four years, and nowadays I interact with entrepreneurs every day.

“Not sharing your idea is the biggest barrier facing first-time-entrepreneurs.”

It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.  The most important part about entrepreneurship is the ability to learn and iterate (pivot or change).

If you’re not sharing your idea this is what you lose out:

(1) Initial validation

Good ideas have a “wow!” factor. If you’re not getting that “wow!” response, either your idea isn’t great, or you’re not pitching it right. (Ask the receiver of your pitch for feedback at this point. I recommend asking them to play Perfection Game on your idea and/or your pitch. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask me on Twitter.)

(2) Perfect pitch comes with practice

Explaining your idea to people:

  • helps you understand it better yourself,
  • helps you understand how people perceive what you are saying, and
  • allows you to learn how to pitch it better.

If people aren’t getting it – listen to the questions they are asking…is everyone asking the same questions? Could you adjust your pitch to incorporate the answers to the common questions you keep being asked?

(3) Feedback and contribution

When you share ideas with people (and they’re excited about them), then they almost always come up with ideas. Listen to what they are saying and keep their suggestions in mind. They might be describing the perfect solution…but you have to have your ears (and mind) open to their suggestions for you to hear it.

(Some of the best ideas for Copono and Digitribal have come from people we’ve shared with, some incredible suggestions!)

(4) Team mates

Sharing your ideas gets people excited! They may be your first team mates and the ones to get your idea on the ground and running. Keep an ear out for people who are passionate about your idea.

There are four people in the Digitribal team and 10 people in the Copono team. A year ago, I didn’t know a single person in any of these teams – today they are my best friends. Share your idea and you will find these inspiring and amazing people. So much untapped value comes from sharing your ideas.

First-time-entrepreneurs, please consider sharing your idea with people and capturing this value!

If you want someone trustworthy to share ideas with and get some initial feedback, I’d be happy to help and have loads of experience as one of the National Organisers of Startup Weekend New Zealand.

For the entrepreneurs reading this, what other value have you gained by sharing your ideas? Share your story in the comments below.

2

A Solution for Women Seeking the Future of Equality

It is both shocking and interesting that the debate around women being treated less than equal is still going on in today’s society. After the huge leaps and bounds we have made as a human race, you would think a problem as small as this would be solved by now.

I hope in reading this blog post you seek to add to the conversation, take action or stand for moving this debate forward. It is time to move on. Specifically, I will be talking about the inequality in women’s salaries, some perspective on the debate, and some actions that will resolve this issue if we all take at least one.

I am a firm believer that people should and will be paid fairly for the value they provide to a business or society. However, to get what you think you are worth, you need to ask for it.

I think a contributory factor to the statistic that women get paid 13% less than men in the same position is that women are not asking for what they are worth. And if they are asking, then they are not standing for it with resilience. If you believe you are worth $78,000 p.a. then why would you accept any less?

There is a natural human tendency to make others feel small and inadequate, this comes from our survival instinct: “If you win, I lose. If I win, you lose.” But, we are no longer animals fighting to survive. So we need to let go of this mindset.

This is mostly in the mindset of the employer. Men have controlled the job market for centuries, and arguably still do “control it”. And, many men get off on the idea that they are powerful and superior to others, women especially. This superiority comes from a difference:

  • I am better because I am white.
  • I am better because I am older and have more experience.
  • I am better because I am a man.
  • I am better because _______.

Any difference I can find between you and me, is something I can be better at than you. And, that’s the mindset dominating our society.

We really have to start reflecting on our reasons for doing anything. Am I a CEO because I want to dominate and be more powerful than others? Or am I a CEO because I want to further grow and develop this organisation.

Honestly, if your answer was the latter, then this debate would not exist. If a women employee complains to you that she earns less than an equally-placed male staff member, and she is providing equal or greater value than the male member, why not give her the salary for which she asks? An empowered, respected employee will be loyal, hard-working and substantially more productive and value-adding. The cost of disempowering your staff is: (1) higher staff turnover, (2) higher human resource costs, (3) lost brand equity, and (4) lost productivity due to poor morale.

Is 13% really worth all that cost? Or could a 13% increase in salaries for women remove this dilemma, empower your staff and unlock the hidden potential in your organisation?

(I’d bet on the latter!)

On the other hand, women could be using this debate to dominate too. What if there are two employees – one male, one female – both doing the same job, with the same responsibility…and the salaries are different?

Well, it could be bias as we have already talked about. But, it could also be a material difference in performance. The male could actually be outperforming the female, and adding more value to the organisation. If that is the case, and the woman is using the defence of “You’re paying me less because I am a woman!” then that is not fair or just. You can be sure that there are some people playing this card in the real world.

Ultimately, the solution to both these problems is transparency. If everyone knows what everyone is earning, what value they are providing, what objectives they are achieving, and what they are delivering, there can be no argument. A male cannot argue that he should be paid more when all that information is open. A female can argue for equality when something is clearly not equal. Men cannot dominate based on superiority and an empty argument about “children” or “productivity” or risk.

Now, you might argue that being open about salaries can cause a lot of conflict. And, if inequality exists in the organisation, then clearly that will be the case. But if everyone is paid according to the value they create in the organisation, then these conflicts will be irrelevant and not based on evidence. There is nothing wrong with being paid more than another person. And nothing wrong with being paid less than another person.

If you believe you can provide more value, sit down with your boss and plan out how you will do that, demonstrate you have a plan, show how you will measure your value and what you add to the organisation. With a solid proposal you should definitely have cause for an increased salary.

If you don’t get accepted and supported for this, and excuses and reasons come into play…First, listen to the reasons. Are they justified? Are they founded in reality? Do they make sense? Or are they egotistical? If you end up in an organisation or with a boss that doesn’t empower you, you need to make a choice: leave or stay.

If you stay, you will be stuck in that place complaining and fighting forever. You will be unfulfilled, dissatisfied, disempowered and disrespected. Do you want these things for yourself and your life? If not, leave. It’s your choice.

When you leave, you can do one of two things:

  • find an empowering job and boss; OR
  • start a business with an empowering culture.

It’s a sad and problematic world out there, with so few businesswomen and women entrepreneurs. From my perspective, women add significant value with the creativity and empathy they bring to a team. Often, with more women in a team the dynamic is different; personable, trusting and relaxed. I’d love to see more women taking on the lifestyle of running their own business. Starting a business can seem like a risky option, but if you do it with the right people and your team is committed to a purpose, those risks can be significantly reduced. I encourage you to attend events like Startup Weekend or courses that teach you the basics and foundations of business.

From what I can see, every person reading this post (men included) can take one of these three actions:

  1. Be a champion for transparency at your workplace. Stand up for equality, fairness and evidenced-based salaries. Stand for opportunities to demonstrate and grow your value. Will you do this? Join this Facebook page and find others like you.
  2. Find a job and a boss that empowers and enables you. Leave the organisation that doesn’t give you opportunity and respect.
  3. Start a business with others’ like you. Form a culture that empowers and enables other people.

If you won’t do any of these actions, ask yourself why? What are you holding on to?

If everyone does one of these three things:

  • the organisations that are empowering and enabling will get more amazing people and will win.
  • more great businesses will be started, which will create more jobs that are empowering.
  • the businesses that are NOT changing will gradually lose people, and face competition that is powerful and effective, until eventually they wither and die.
I can’t wait for a world of equality to exist. Can you?

What did you take from this post? What would you like to add? Please share in the comments below.

“No, thanks” will do, thanks

I am more and more present to the way we interact with each other as human beings.

To the simplest questions, we will do everything in our power to avoid “being personal” about anything. We will make up reasons, justifications and excuses to say “No”.

This makes sense, though, because people take things personally all to often, for things that just aren’t personal.

“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“I’ve just had three cups of coffee and a cup of tea. So, no.”

The simplest requests get met by reasonable reasons. But all that was asked was “Do you want a cup of tea?” For which the appropriate, unreasonable response is “Yes, please”/”No, thanks”/”No, thanks. I’d prefer some water, will you get that for me?”

Now, imagine, you’re 18 years old, slightly shy and self-conscious. You’ve been single for months and haven’t stepped out of your comfort zone for ages. You’re in a bar with some mates, just bantering away with each other. Meanwhile, you’ve been noticing all the pretty girls walking in, dancing, getting drinks and being hit on by a bunch of random guys. You keep sitting there all night.   Nothing happens.

This has been my story for a large part of my life, always going out with an intention, and always being let down (by myself). Do you know why that is?

I was so scared of walking up to a pretty girl, in front of all of her friends, engaging with her, asking her out…and…getting a “No” as an answer. What would that mean about me? What would that mean about who I am, the way I look, and everything I do? 

Of course, in reality, all that happens is I ask “Will you go out with me?” and she says “No” (or “Yes”, or “Alternative”). She responds to the request, not to me.

But, for years, I’ve been worried about the “reason”, a reason that doesn’t exist, and doesn’t need to exist. I’ve missed out on all the pretty girls who could’ve turned out to be great friends, girlfriends or just a great conversation for the night.

Imagine if we didn’t:

  1. Justify our responses (Yes/No/X) with a reason, and
  2. Take things personally.

We would be able to respond to requests with whatever we wanted, and know that the person on the other end of the response sees that as a powerful choice, and not a personally-motivated attack.

This is something I am taking on board with all areas of my life, making requests of people and accepting their response as a powerful (and not personal-motivated) choice. And, responding to all requests on the same basis. (Of course, I am still learning to keep this alive all the time, so feel free to call me out where ever you “see” me out of alignment)

In all your interactions with me, please remember nothing is personal, and if there is any influence, I will be open and honest about it.

After reading this post, did you learn something about yourself and your life? Will you take this on board in your life and your interactions?