Friday, March 20, 2020

Winning this Battle

The world as we have known it, changed forever.

These are difficult times, many are losing their lives, many are facing irreparable illness, industries are being shut down, and jobs are being lost.

Many are also opening their eyes to new possibilities.
Some are reconnecting with loved ones.
The world of remote work has been catalysed into reality.
New industries are being born.
The environment has had an opportunity to regenerate.
Humans going out of their way to help other humans.
While self-isolated, as a community, we have never been closer.

We will look back on these times in a year, in a decade, and tell the stories to anyone who will listen about the times we saw a young masked-man scurry away with 27 bags of toilet paper; groups singing across the streets with neighbours in defiance and in unity; and young athletes pouring dishwasher liquid on their kitchen floor to simulate a treadmill experience. Surreal, but we are living it.

While self-isolated, as a community, we have never been closer.
We are resilient, as individuals and as a collective.
We are in it together. Some affected much worse than others.

It has filled me with such hope to see so many acts of generosity during this time.
I want to implore anyone reading this: If you are in a position to help an individual or a group that has been financially affected, please consider doing so. A landlord that can afford to waive rent. An employer that can afford to pay those wages. A company that can afford to provide that essential service for free. This is a time for enhanced empathy, that will hopefully become a muscle that we develop far beyond this crisis.

Let us fight through these times, remember the detail of how it made us feel, and use this feeling to come out stronger on the other side as a more generous, grateful society.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Your Customer is Your Partner

Why get into business?

To make money?

To move the world forward?

To create a movement?

To solve a problem?

For any of the above, it makes sense to get people using your product or service to fall in love with it. It makes sense for the people who engage with your business to become ambassadors, to go out of their way for their friends to use it too. Mass adoption is needed to build a goliath business.

There are a few ways to achieve this mass adoption…

Traditional network effect - the social media model of becoming more valuable the more people are on it. You only want to be on Facebook if your friends are using it too.

Another method, is exorbitant spend on referral - If I get $100 for a referral, I’m going to make sure my friends start using that product.

The most appealing method to me - is to shift away from company-customer ; shift from business-client relationship… into one collective community. To shift into the idea that a new business is an opportunity for everyone involved to come together as one: Leadership, employees, customers and partners aligned as a collective to achieve the vision of the business.

The best way to achieve this? To create that sense of ownership for all stakeholders. For all stakeholders to feel that the company belongs to them. Over the next decade, the fastest growing businesses will adopt this - customers will metaphorically and literally own the businesses they engage with as a part of their identity.

We can’t all initiate ideas that will move the world forward, but we can all support them, belong to them, form part of a movement. The companies that understand this - that can grow a customer network of impassioned owners will rule the next decade. Equity crowdfunding is a way to achieve this for a growing private business - the modern fusion of traditional crowdfunding and public markets for growing private businesses; the modern way to raise capital for a growing startup.

For mass adoption in modern business, give your customers ownership and build a movement.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Why angel investing?

If you ever stumble upon Crowdcube, you may see a bunch of really interesting looking companies, and think, “yeah - they’re great and all, but why should I care?”

Why should I invest my hard earned money into a business that I know very little about? What do I really get out of it?

If there’s nothing else you take from this piece, I want you take the idea of ‘moving the world forward’. I’ll get back to that.

You may lose your money. Capital at risk. Some companies take 3 years to exit, some take 5 years, some take 10 years, some never exit and some simply fail. The first rule of angel investing is that you may lose your money.

In years gone by, you had to be one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet to invest in private businesses. Now, you need a tenner and you can share in exactly the same emotional rollercoaster as the highest net worth humans in the world, as well as the most revered venture capital institutions. You’ll lose money with them, you’ll gain money with them. Most importantly, you’ll move the world forward with them.

So if it’s such a risky business, why do high net worth individuals take that risk? Why do venture capitalists risk hundreds of millions of other people’s money to invest in someone’s idea which often has little more than a proof of concept and a big market size? These people understand the risk. For them it’s about so much more. For them it’s about making an impact. It’s about creating a legacy. It’s about influence. It’s about the upside.
It’s about moving the world forward. 

Every time you go onto Crowdcube, and you see a clothing brand that only uses recyclable materials, an entirely new way of imbibing your favourite beverage, a game-changing way to pay your friend, the cheapest electric bicycle on the market, or simply a pizzeria that has the best tomato base that the world has ever known - you have the opportunity to be part of their story. Without creating the idea, without slaving away 14 hours idea on their vision, you have the opportunity to fuel their vision. You have the opportunity to equip the right people, at the right time to create the right solution for the right problem.

Fuelling them to move the world forward. 

Yes, the upside can be great. Angel investors like returns, but they cannot rely on them.

However, to be part of a movement...
To fuel a business that you believe in…
To move the world forward…. 
That’s why we invest.  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Opportunity?


Opportunity or challenge.

Glass half full or glass half empty. Or appreciation and awe that we even have a glass?

Optimism or pessimism. Internal or external locus of control.

Every interaction: An opportunity, or a challenge.

Every pitch. Every workshop. Every date. Every meeting. Every conversation. Every interview.

Everyday.

Everything.

Opportunity?
Or challenge?

My belief is that the subtle difference between these mentalities can play a deciding role in the path to success.

Let’s choose Opportunity.

Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Not Important



It’s not important.

Or it’s extremely important.

Sport. Money. Owning a house. Travelling. Nice shoes. Awards.

None of those are important.

Or they’re all extremely important.

Two weeks ago, I went to the Liverpool Supporters Club in Edenvale to watch Liverpool play Manchester City in the Quarter Final of the Champions League. Spoiler alert: Liverpool won. Each goal was celebrated with some of the most unbridled joy I’ve ever felt in my whole life. Don't judge me.

South Africa beat Australia in style in the most recent cricket test match series. I loved every second of it.

Rose Namajunas retained the UFC Strawweight Title a few weeks ago. I was on the edge of my seat for every jab she slipped and every right hook she landed.

I don’t know these people. I don’t make any money out of any of these victories (I feel like gambling wouldn’t be the best idea for me). Yet I passionately kick every ball, play every shot, and throw every punch emotionally as if I am there.

I constantly ask myself why? None of these things are important. In fact, you could argue that in the context of my live, they couldn’t be less important.

I am invested.
I made it important.
I bought into the story.
I have made these things more.
More than just sport: A journey, good guys and bad guys, underdogs, tactical battles, one leadership team versus another, contrasting personality types.

I have allowed myself to indulge in these views, and it has given sport importance to me.

The same can be said of an appreciation for any hobby, collecting luxury items, a passion for rocks, dinosaurs, comic books, watches, cars, comic books, travel, movies, wealth or anything else. To some people, dressing up as a life-sized dog and eating dog food is important. No judgement here.

None of it is important. It’s all important.

If it gives you joy and it's not hurting anyone, cherish it. 

Every aspect of life is what we make it.
It’s either not important at all, or all extremely important, or we each pick and choose what is important. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes getting to know each other worthwhile.

When my important is the same as your important, we are involved in the same community, a “tribe”, as Seth Godin would say. When my important differs to yours, we are given the opportunity to compare and learn.

Let’s appreciate, celebrate and share each other’s important.

Here's wishing you a weekend full of importance.

Monday, February 5, 2018

A romantic view of asking for what we want

We have desires on our hearts. We have goals, we have ambitions.
We also have so many reasons not to pursue what we want. We fear failure. We fear rejection.

Because honestly – it feels absolutely horrible to fail. It feels disgusting to get rejected. Hurt and pain associated with knowing you can’t have what you want is like getting kicked in the face by a really unattractive horse.

But there is only one feeling that is worse than knowing you can’t have what you want…
And that’s the feeling that you never tried.
The regret of wondering what could have been if you acted.

If you ask for what you want, you just might get it.  Along with that, you will feel a joy that comes with the courage regardless of outcome.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great could come of it” Benjamin Mee

I understand there is a time for reason, and for patience. But I would argue that there is such a thing as too much reason, or too much patience. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for stupidity. We have to check the narrative we are telling ourselves, mentally prepare for disappointment and understand that we live in the real world when taking that leap.

With that said, occasionally it is worth picking up that phone, getting on that plane or knocking on that door, and literally asking for that opportunity. The only downside is unpleasant short term emotional pain. This pain can then be channeled as a learning and can help inform a better approach for your next goal. It could be an avenue that you can cross off, one less avenue to travel, and more information gained about yourself and the world.

Take a moment, move on, and onto the next one.

The possible upside? At the risk of sounding clich├ęd – a dream could come true. At the very least you could take the next step on a journey that invigorates and excites your soul. That’s pretty cool.

Perhaps it is better to go out on your sword, knowing that you acted, than be left with empty justifications and rationalizations of not acting. As Ryan Holiday says, “courage at its most basic is taking action… Saying yes, let’s go”.

After all… is life not just a series of seasons and opportunities for us to pursue what is on our heart, wholeheartedly?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Digital Detox: How To Live In The Moment

Wake up, check your whatsapp messages. Respond.

You see that you have notifications for some work emails. You read them and notice a tiny anxious knot in your stomach before you’re even out of bed.

You’re in traffic. You sneak a peek at your Facebook notifications.

You’re in a queue at your office canteen. The perfect moment to check who liked your latest Instagram post.

You just spoke to an asshole client. To unwind, you watch your friends’ latest Snapchat stories.

You’ve reached a dead end on your proposal. Just a quick look at your phone to see if she’s responded yet.

You’re at lunch with friends. You check your whatsapp to see when your friend was last online and why they haven’t responded to you. To deal with the frustration, you do a quick browse again of your Facebook newsfeed without even noticing. All while your friends sit there, at the lunch table. “I am listening”, you say.

You’re at a concert of your favourite band. You’re loving it. But you’re observing it through your phone’s screen as you record the performance to post on Facebook later.

You’re back home with your loved ones, watching TV to unwind. Ready for some quality time. What better time than to respond to your unread whatsapp messages? One response turns into an hour long conversation, which turns into a two hour conversation. Not the best quality time you’ve ever had.

Attention not only diverted, but immersed in the digital world.  

The above describes a normal day for me. The above describes a day for the average millennial. Michelle Klein of Facebook has stated that the average millennial checks their phone over 150 times a day. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next guy, and see immense value in it.

I just worry that we, as a society, tend to prioritize the people we are not with over the people who are present with us in a given moment. We tend to prioritize the illusion of people’s lives that social media presents, over the reality of lives that we experience on a day to day basis.

Here’s another pattern I’ve noticed in my own life:
I’m happy and I’m present and engaging in the conversation with those around me. I unlock my phone, do a quick browse of Facebook, notice the bright smiles, incredible achievements, dream weddings, paradise holidays and the impenetrable bliss of my friends. Although happy for everyone, I think it’s human nature to immediately compare, and to tend towards feeling negative about ourselves.  This is why I call it an illusion, because we tend to post snapshots of our best times on social media. What we see on the digital world is maybe 5% of the true story, yet we subconsciously alter our self-worth depending on what we see others portray.

If we start our day by looking at our emails, we are allowing other people to set our agenda for the day (that line was stolen from Tim Ferriss). The same could be said for whatsapp messages. Ofcourse we all want to respond to each other as quickly as possible, but sometimes there is genuine opportunity cost to real life relationships or productivity in getting engrossed in a text back-and-forth – especially if that text chat is with our friend who we’re seeing tomorrow anyway.

I believe, as a society, we are struggling to live in the moment. I believe we are struggling to be truly happy because we are struggling to be truly present.  I truly believe that if we can be more present, we can see more beauty in everyday experiences and live much richer lives. This might sound like fluffy nonsense, but I believe it wholeheartedly.  

As mentioned before, this is something I have struggled with for a while. My greatest weakness (next to terrible direction skills ofcourse) is that I overthink everything. I guess overthinking things makes me a good storyteller, or entertaining to listen to if you’re a therapist, but in every other sense it’s a nightmare. I digress. Being too immersed in the digital world with 150 daily phone glances only makes it worse. 

If you feel that you have experienced similar challenges about living in the moment, I recommend considering a digital detox of sorts. I’ve heard of several examples. Find whatever works for you. I have dabbled with some and have had great benefits (still in progress) – I guarantee you will feel liberated.
  • ·         Put your phone on airplane mode when out with friends, or on a date
  • ·         Don’t look at any emails before you’re at the office; then only look at emails at set periods every few hours so that you set your own agenda for your time
  • ·         Put your phone on airplane mode after dinner until after breakfast (recommended by Arianna Huffington and Tim Ferriss; apparently helps improve sleep and to start the day at your own pace)
  • ·         Set aside time in the day specifically for social media or whatsapp; preferably when you’re alone
  • ·         Screenless Saturdays (as an example; also stolen from Tim Ferriss) – one day in the week with phone on airplane mode, for the whole day… Just you and the people around you. Terrifying prospect for us.

I guess a piece like this requires some kind of call to action. So here it is...
Enjoy social media, enjoy technology. I absolute love it. But appreciate and love the people around you everyday even more. If life is made of a series of moments, we will cherish the moments we build with friends and family more than we will our moments liking a post or favouriting a tweet.


But thanks to social media you’re reading this, so it’s not all bad, right?