All the successful, large companies in the world have one thing in common.

The best hamburger I ever ate wasn’t served by McDonald’s. I got it from a small, local restaurant you probably don’t know. You can’t argue about tastes, but if it turns out that there are tastier burgers out there, how come McDonald’s is so successful?

Due to one principle. Both on the input and output side.


People of all walks of life can follow an exceptionally well-documented flow to serve burgers, handle money and other tasks in no time. After so many iterations, the entire process is so straightforward that it’s repeatable on every content. Making it a great driver for growth.

On the customer side, the experience is repeatable as well. Repeatable as in, no matter where in the world you order a Big Mac, the experience and taste will be very similar, time and time again.

Propositions, solutions, and products that feature repeatable aspects in both making and consuming them win.

brain massage

Suppose a brain cramp is a real thing. Furthermore, suppose that quitting or taking a break isn’t an option when the cramp manifests itself, much like a marathon runner who cramps up in the final meters.

Undoubtedly, the results of that forced endurance will be felt afterward. Likely, the marathon runner will find it (more) difficult to walk. The brain cramp may result in a reduced ability to think straight.

What’s the way out? For muscles, a massage seems fitting. Perhaps applying alternating hot and cold pressure alleviates the pain? If so, what’s the alternative for a brain? How does one massage it?

What helps muscles is moving them in the exact opposite direction. To recover from a figurative brain cramp, does one need to stimulate it in the opposite way of what caused the cramp? Refrain from stimuli altogether?

Given the complexity of the brain, a single, correct answer is unobtainable. Doing nothing can be strenuous.

brain train

Every day a different muscle group. That’s what it takes to train muscles. Train them to become larger and more powerful.

Training the same muscles within 24 hours has a detrimental effect. The muscles need a day to restore. Training within the timeframe the muscles require to rest has an adverse impact. It makes the muscles smaller or less powerful.

What is true of muscles is perhaps also true of the brain? Provided that excessive use leads to cramps, how does one train the brain?

What’s the ideal balance between doing something every day to become better at it and resting sufficiently, again, to become better at it?

think like an owner

“If you think you can do better, why don’t you just do it yourself?” That’s what my superior told me years ago. So I did.

When I offered strategic technology consultancy services as a subcontractor, my superior once told me: “Why are you always so critical of the people and the businesses we assign you to?” What I think he should have added, for drama purposes, is: “You’re acting like you own the damn place!” Either way, my reply was: “That’s because I imagine I own the place.”

Only years later, I learned that this is one of Warren Buffett’s go-to pieces of advice: “think like an owner.”

If you want to help a business, really imagine what it’s like being the owner. Create an empathic understanding of what the owner might go through daily and take that as a starting point for optimization possibilities.

brain cramp

When muscles contract involuntary, we call it a cramp. Given that cramps are usually caused by fatigue or strain, the involuntary reaction succeeds a, hopefully, voluntary action. A soccer player with cramps towards the end of a match isn’t unusual. Action, reaction.

What about the brain, though? If muscles cramp after submitting them to continued strain, maybe the brain could too?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Those who demand lots of intensive intellectual capacity from their brains need decompression time to relax the particular muscles or brain.

After all, cramps cramp growth.

turning points

In every business, there is at least one turning point. A point, once reached, where evolving to the proverbial next level brings about lots of change.

It could be revenue, customers, market penetration, or any other appropriate parameter. Depending on the industry in which the business operates, some turning points are well-known and predefined. Others might be particular.

What happens after the turning point is just half of the story. These turning points could easily be considered milestones. Clearly expressed, unambiguous goals that everybody within the company can live up to.

Making the path towards the turning point easy to measure makes it at least equally interesting as the actual turning point or what happens after.

More importantly, in essence, a measurable path towards a turning point provides a foundation for a strategic roadmap.

growing unknowingly

Not understanding why your company is growing is equally bad as not knowing why your company isn’t growing.

Of course, when a company is just starting, it’s hard to express facts empirically. Not enough time will have progressed, and sample sizes for surveys will be too small to come up with any solid conclusions.

However, as time progresses, this level of uncertainty has to be removed. After counting their blessings, business owners have to establish why their companies are growing, so “luck” becomes less of a determining factor.

no growth zone

Maybe the movies are to blame for portraying startups and startup life as something mythical. There is nothing glorious about it. I repeat, nothing glorious about it whatsoever.

Hypergrowth isn’t necessarily a goal in itself. Companies that have grown organically for years shouldn’t suddenly change course and jump on the hyper-scale train.

They must, however, have a plan on how to maintain that organic growth. Nothing lasts forever (in the cold November rain).

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be shamed for moderate ambitions. Slow and steady wins the race. Up until somebody comes along who is fast(er) and steady. That’s a risk one has to be willing to take.

grow into it

“Sure, those pants may look big on you now, son, but you’ll grow into them.” “There is too much space in our (ware)house, but we plan to expand the family or business.” “The cloud infrastructure may seem over-engineered, but we’re expecting press coverage and massive load on our servers anytime soon.”

All of these statements are based on one foundation; we’ll grow into it.

There is no use in running before you can walk. However, the ability to plan meticulously, anticipating what will be, surely is a craft.

One crucial parameter to enable the decision-maker should be: when we reach the point where the pants, (ware)house, cloud infrastructure is no longer sufficient, what’s will be the switching cost? Expressed in both money and time.

For pants, there is virtually no switching cost.

For a (ware)house on the other hand, it could be cumbersome. Depending on where you are, finding another suitable location is tough, and moving into it, takes much effort.

For cloud infrastructure, migrating an entire application definitely isn’t something that happens overnight.

Another important parameter should be, for the time being, what’s the price to pay?

Wearing pants that are too big may feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t cost money in principle.

A (ware)house, on the other hand, that’s too big, costs tons of money. Before all the available space is being used, it’s just money down the drain.

Cloud infrastructure that’s over-engineered is also a costly affair. Especially if the press release never comes, and there aren’t any customers to serve.

The lower the switching cost, the more interesting it becomes not to plan ahead.

With a high switching cost, the current price to pay should be kept as low as possible.

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.