Challenge the Known & Embrace the Unknown

Today I’ll be preaching from the book of “Kawasaki“. It envolves a parabel which I also encountered in the book of “Reynolds“…

Let me tell you a short story about ice. In the late 1800s there was a thriving ice industry in the Northeast. Companies would cut blocks of ice from frozen lakes and ponds and sell them around the world. The largest single shipment was 200 tons that was shipped to India. 100 tons got there unmelted, but this was enough to make a profit.

These ice harvesters, however, were put out of business by companies that invented mechanical ice makers. It was no longer necessary to cut and ship ice because companies could make it in any city during any season.

These ice makers, however, were put out of business by refrigerator companies. If it was convenient to make ice at a manufacturing plant, imagine how much better it was to make ice and create cold storage in everyone’s home.

You would think that the ice harvesters would see the advantages of ice making and adopt this technology. However, all they could think about was the known: better saws, better storage, better transportation.

Then you would think that the ice makers would see the advantages of refrigerators and adopt this technology. The truth is that the ice harvesters couldn’t embrace the unknown and jump their curve to the next curve.

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The Elevator Speech

Wikipedia describes it as follows:

An elevator pitch (or elevator speech) is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).

The term is typically used in the context of an entrepreneur pitching an idea to a venture capitalist to receive funding. Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea and team on the basis of the quality of its elevator pitch, and will ask entrepreneurs for the elevator pitch to quickly weed out bad ideas.

Think of situations where you want to get in to a certain prospect, try to trow an idea at a high level executive, obtaining venture capital, …
An elevator speech is your “foot in the door”. Why should someone meet with you if they have a full agenda? They don’t want to waste valuable time, so you can arouse their curiosity by doing an elevator speech.

The best elevator speech has

  • an intriguing intro
  • lasts about 40 seconds ~ 100 words
  • is delivered with passion
  • ends with a question or invitation to start a conversation

Maybe you should even mix the above point with “What Makes Messages Stick“… 😉 In the end that’s the objective you’re trying to accomplish.

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What Makes Messages Stick?

The last chapter that I’ve read before going to bed was about making your messages stick. Garr’s Presentation Zen talks about six key principles which compress nicely into the acronym SUCCESs:
simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories.
He uses two quotes to illustrate the need to use this acronym as you baseline when trying to bring forward a certain message. Check out the following two statements, and think of that both are trying to give you the same message.
Your CEO might say:

“Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.”

JFK said:

“…put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.”

The first one nags you to sleep where the second one visualizes it for you.

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Catchers & Throwers

Megan Casey said the following on SquidBlog:

You can break most online interactions into two groups:
Catchers and Throwers.

Catching is what you do when you collect friends of friends on Facebook, when you follow Twitterers, when you subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs you like. Catching can be a great way to organize your favorite bits of the web.

Throwing is harder. Lots harder. It’s what you do when you post on your blog, and keep doing it a few times every week. It’s starting a petition on and getting people to sign it. It’s what you do when you make lenses about the things, ideas and people that excite you.

One should find the perfect balance between throwing and catching. The trick is to do it judiciously and respectfully. When you like someone’s blog and subscribe to it, drop the person a note and say thanks. When you disagree with a post, don’t bash the blogger, just… disagree.

Throw a lot. Just respect your catchers.

Seth Godin

The beginner’s mind

Children are naturally creative, playful & experimental
Most of us have lost these abilities when gowing up. We’ve put the creative aspect away for only artists to use. Yet everyone should be the artist in it’s own line of work.

You may say that there is nothing creative about working in a regular business. But do you think that if there was no creativity within a business, that it could become innovative or differentiate itself within a given sector?

Within the zen teaching one often speaks of the “beginner’s mind” (or child’s mind). One who approaches life with a beginner’s mind is fresh, enthusiastic and open to a wide range of ideas. When one does not know what’s possible, one will be open to exploration/discovery. Unburdened by your fixed views/habits/…, one will see things more clearly.

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Stay hungry, stay foolish!

Lately I’ve encountered two speeches I would like to share with you. Both are brought by great men who have been celebrated for their accomplishments. The reason I’m sharing them with you; is because I found both moving & insightful, where I bet you’ll feel the same way after viewing them. The first one is about 15 minutes, yet the second is 76 minutes long. If you want the “management summary” of the second one, click here. But trust me on this one, make time to view the long one! I know it’s lengthy, but I ensure you that it’s an interesting time spent!

Steve Jobs’s Speech at the Stanford graduation of 2005

Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”

Six Minutes : about Steve
Presentation Zen : about Randy
Geek & Poke : for the kickass cartoons 😉

Color me beautiful

The human mind is a sensitive thing… Communication consists of more than 90% non-verbal aspects. Colors have symbolism and color meanings that go beyond ink. Use it to anchor a certain feeling towards your slides.

Below you can find a listing of basic colors and their symbolism:

  • Black : heavy, mournful, highly technical, formal, death
  • Brown : earth, simplicity, outdoors
  • Blue : peace, tranquility, trust, confidence, security
  • Purple : royalty, wisdom, spirituality, mystery
  • Green : nature, environment, health, reptiles, insects
  • Gray : conservative, practical, reliability, security, staid
  • Red : passion, excitement, love, intensity, heat, aggression
  • Orange : warm, expansive, flamboyant
  • Yellow : optimism, happiness, idealism, imagination
  • White : purity, reverence, cleanliness, simplicity

If you want a more detailled information check the following pages:
Think Outside The Slide
Symbolism of Color and Colors That Go Together
Color Wheel