unexpected expert

Expertise is sometimes disguised. For instance, I open bananas upside down. I once saw a monkey on National Geographic opening up a banana like that. I figured the monkey could be considered somewhat of an expert on the matter. As it turns out, it’s easier, and it also allows for a check as to whether or not a spider laid eggs in the bottom part of the banana.

Humanity shows a keen interest in leadership. What makes a great leader? Can leadership be taught? Drawing inspiration from certain insects, computer scientists today can use a so-called ant colony optimization algorithm.

Biomimicry inspired locomotion. It helped us build high-speed trains, among many other things. For example, the aerodynamic design of the Japanese Shinkansen 500 mimics the beak of the kingfisher bird.

Inspiration often comes from an unexpected place. Expertise isn’t always replicating another human’s behavior. Humility can help us draw inspiration, outside of humanity.

auto-motivation

Who motivates you? When you have no team leader or superior. At the end of a long day, when everybody went home (or logged off)… In an economic downturn when new business and customers are hard to come by… Who will it be?

You. Only you.

In all fairness, luckily, it’s not always just you. Some of us are blessed with the absolute best partners in this universe.

Still, for you to motivate yourself, you have to know exactly what motivates you. Once established, you have to know what provides you with the energy to start motivating yourself.

Be good to you.

some decades

When I was a kid riding in the back of the car with my father, he said something like, “three decades ago…” I remember the exact time and place because I was utterly confused at the time.

I wasn’t even one decade of age. Maybe that’s why I struggled with wrapping my head around the concept of being able to reminisce about something that happened multiple decades ago.

Time is currently a strange concept. Throughout this pandemic, every day blends into the next one. It almost feels as if time slowed down. However, in hindsight, this too will (hopefully) feel like a short episode.

Looking back today, I am now able to reminisce about events that occurred multiple decades ago.

There is no time like the present. If you want something, go for it today. Time slows down for no one. Take that leap of faith.

dish starter

I hate doing the dishes with a passion. Yet and still, I often deliberately leave some dishes for the following day.

In Make Your Bed, the author William H. McRaven, a retired four-star US Navy SEAL admiral, argues that Navy SEAL’s are encouraged to make their bed the very first thing in the morning. Even though it’s not a challenging task, checking off a tiny task helps lift the inertia. It gets us going and provides us with the sweet joy of accomplishment.

Now, one can’t make their bed when their partners are still in it. That’s why I kick start my morning with dishes. Stupid dishes.

Boost productivity by breaking up a large project into many small tasks. Get started with a minor task, even when it seems relatively meaningless.

After all, inertia is a beast, and as Albert Einstein said, nothing happens until something moves.

fake it till you break it

Insincere behavior can’t be hidden. Sooner or later, it will surface. Some people suffering from imposter syndrome aren’t suffering from imposter syndrome. They’re imposters. Not an attempt at delegitimizing imposter syndrome because it’s a real and debilitating limitation for some people.

Fake it till you make it sounds cool. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s an overly popular cliché. Again, ingenuine behavior bubbles are easy to burst. That’s why pretending to be someone who already made it is terrible advice.

Faking (power) poses and non-verbal communication is something else. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, PhD explains in her “Your body language may shape who you are” TED talk; there are ways for us to trick our minds into boosting our confidence. This idea is often summarized as fake it till you make it, but the risk of misinterpretation is substantial.

I prefer people around me behaving sincerely. However, at the very beginning of launching a new product or service, there is some room for faking.

Aiming for a billion users certainly shows ambition but won’t happen overnight. That’s why there is absolutely no use in replicating Facebook’s infrastructure to serve one billion customers. Still, the image of your company should exude that very same ambition even though it can only, temporarily, serve ten customers.

Fake it till you break it.

There is no need to over-engineer the infrastructure and (production) processes from the start. Keep your company as lean as possible up until the point it is about to break. However, a clear vision and some preparations should be in place to jump to the next level at the very moment it’s required.

something to be desired

The hunt is sweeter than the kill. Because our imagination thrives on absence, we often don’t feel as fulfilled as we had anticipated when we finally get that object we so desired.

The risk increases depending on the emotional engagement, better yet, the lack thereof, with the actual object. It’s hard to form long-term emotional connections with things we possess. Post-purchase disappointment often kicks in hard when fantasy becomes a reality.

That’s why deferred gratification is often so rewarding. Resisting a temptation today in favor of a later (perhaps more significant) reward tomorrow.

Even though these principles are well known, they are poorly applied today. When you buy a new car, a rather significant purchase for most of us, nothing happens after signing on the dotted line. That’s basically adding fuel directly to the raging buyer’s remorse fire. After some months, you get a message from the dealership. You go to pick up your car, drive it off the lot, and that’s it. Good riddance.

Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime purchase or an ordinary commodity that gets bought all the time, leave your customer with something (extra) to be desired.

perpetual improvement

When conductors train their orchestra for a particularly challenging bit in a concerto, they will arrive at a point where improvement slows down, but does it ever come to a halt?

First, the error margin is reduced. 100% accuracy is required. Hitting the wrong key or snare is never an option. Once accuracy is achieved, the musicians could stop claiming; we now know this passage and can play it well. Are they, though?

What about the tempo? Is it being played as fast as it should be? What about playing that tricky part under pressure or with sweaty fingers? Is the artistic interpretation genuine, or are they too liberal with creativity?

As a conductor of an orchestra, or the CEO of a company, there is always room for improvement. Thinking there isn’t is a form of misplaced arrogance, one that typically isn’t helpful.

bend nor folio

Selling isn’t optional. Regardless of the type of company, industry in which it’s active, selling is always an integral part of running a business.

Some people seem to excel at selling, whereas to others, selling doesn’t come as natural (straight away).

References, on the other hand, aren’t optional either. Whether it’s a photographer’s portfolio, a corporate company’s case studies, a restaurant’s reviews…

If selling isn’t a particular entrepreneur (and their company’s) forte, the importance of the references increases. A portfolio that the creator can take genuine pride in is bound to ooze out passion. When your heart is all the way in it, it rubs off, selling your work for you almost automatically.

Selling and (the ability to show) references aren’t optional. If one doesn’t come naturally, compensate with the other.

prepare for numbers

Everybody likes numbers. Think of those clickbaity lists or data presented in a nice infographic. Numbers are tangible. If Jay-Z knows what he’s talking about, numbers, as opposed to men and women, don’t lie.

The problem is, not everybody knows how to interpret numbers. Specifically, large numbers are tricky. After all, our capacity for statistical inference is relatively limited, especially if untrained.

Malcolm Gladwell once said: everybody likes numbers; it’s a matter of preparing the reader for them.

When you publish numbers directly connected to using your product, such as the time people will save, the percentage with which their efficiency will increase, the weight they will lose, the number of customers you have, the number of transactions you processed… Gently prepare your leads and customers for the numbers before you bombard them with data.

Build a story around your numbers.

availability cascade

The simpler an idea can be represented, the faster it will spread. Especially true for initially very complex ideas.

Collective beliefs gain popularity precisely because someone straightforwardly translated a particular complex process at some point in time.

Once the idea starts spreading, there is no stopping it. Network effects kick in. In the proverbial blink of an eye, the idea is now everywhere and became a collective belief, almost overnight. This phenomenon is often described as an “availability cascade.”

Fantastic if the idea is factually correct. Dangerous if it isn’t.

Water running down in cascading waterfalls can’t be physically made to flow the other way around. The concept of availability cascade, though, can, in theory, be reverse-engineered.

The easier you make a real-world problem, the bigger the likeliness you can leverage the availability cascade. Whether that problem is a concept that’s tough to grasp, a process that’s hard to guide, or a task that’s tough to perform.

Looking back at heroes who are walking or have walked this earth. Concepts like gravity and relativity are incredibly complex by nature yet have been made easy to understand for a broad audience.

Make things as easy as you possibly can for your customer.