I've always wanted to start a toaster company. We'd make toasters that cook toast (and bagels, too!) and they'd be the best on the market. Pretty much every other company making toasters would copy us as best as possible within the limitations of the U.S. Patent system. Just imagine making money hand over fist selling $20 toasters. Hell, we could make like Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and go crashing weddings, selling our super-toasters.
You: Why toasters, Dave? That seems to be a pretty weird market to want to get in to.Me: Because I don't know anything about toasters.
That's right: I want to start a toaster company because I don't have the slightest clue about the toaster market.
But let's look at this idea with my glasses on. The toaster market's only innovation in my lifetime is making the slot larger so that bagels can go in there too. There's got to be something I can do that pushes the market a little harder. The idea ends up being to take my knowledge and experiences from one unrelated industry and putting it together with another that hasn't had much real change in quite a while. Add in there that toasters are in every single home in America and they aren't really durable goods (like a fridge or dryer). It could even be considered a seasonal product during the spring and summer wedding seasons. Looks like there could be a few new angles to approach on the marketing side too...
There's obviously great value in using people that already have specific domain knowledge for your industry. The process of getting up to speed on the toaster market would take time and energy. Learning who the players are in the electric coil supply industry take time and energy. When starting a business, it's much easier to hire those specialized people and get to market faster. Plus, I don't want someone coming in to my office that used to assemble toasters telling me that my web services I spent week developing and testing sucks because it's old fashioned and can't cook bagels.
You: Let's crash some weddings! Yeehaw!
The toaster company is just an analogy and I'm not planning on going that route in business, so don't get too excited about crashing the weddings and writing it off as 'business expenses'. It's more of an idea of finding new, (seemingly) unrelated knowledge sources and applying them to what you're doing day in, day out.
Having an open mind and actively seeking for innovation are critical to long term success in any industry. Applying principles and ideas from outside sources is a great way to refresh your mind and vigor when ideas are stale.
One of the things in life I want to be is The Man. We've covered that in a previous post, if you've been paying attention. But being The Man comes with some serious implications. For one, you've got everyone else paying attention to your every move because they're jealous. There could be many reasons for their jealousy, but the main one is probably jealousy because you're better than they are at everything they wish they could do with their lives. Ok...so I say that with a little smile, but its true on some level.
The choice you reach when becoming The Man is to be the Example or the Exception.
The Example version is the guy who shows up to work early, extends himself out to peers (maybe too much sometimes), and leaves late. He got to where he is by working hard and not skipping a beat. He's busy focusing on the hard problems to help make everyone's job easier. You can't help but be envious of how much this guy fits in to a day.
The Exception is the guy who shows up to work.....unless its going to get in the way of his Yoga class. Or unless its Friday. Or unless Hopjack's ends up with some really killer special for one day only. He got to where he is by working smart and not letting anyone get the best of him. He's busy focusing on finding the best person to solve the hard problems to make work happen quickly and efficiently. You can't help but be envious of how much amazingly awesome stuff this guy gets to do (because he's not at work since he picked the right guy to get the job finished ahead of schedule).
Which The Man is better? Both have their upsides and downsides. Is there a compromise between them? If you had to pick one as your boss, which would you rather have? If you had to pick which one you'll become, which would you rather be?
I can't help but keep that damn The Who song playing in my head now. Thanks, Dave.
How important is the word 'no'? Could it possibly be the most influential word ever conceived?
It means the same thing in different languages. Hell, I can say it in English and I'd bet good money that no matter what language you speak, you'd know exactly what I said. Now, what I'm saying no to would be a different thing...unless you just touched my bacon. You'd know that you should never touch my bacon again regardless of the words that came out of my mouth.
The 'no' I'm talking about is the one that keeps you from over-extending yourself. There's only so much one person can do and only so many hours in which to do those things. Growing up, I figured that it was nice to help out, to say yes to helping. Nice people get far, so I should say yes. Yes, yes, yes. All that made me was someone who's time wasn't ever valued. I was asked to help out or do something because they knew that I would do it. It was like I didn't even have a choice in the decision. My time was for them and all they had to do was ask.
Now, that's all good and well, but I found a better way to handle those situations: only say 'yes' when I really want to do it AND its something that they couldn't do themselves. I feel as if it has given me a little more time to do things that I want to do (like having time to write). It has helped those that "needed my help" a chance to learn something on their own and find a new skill. Then, when they get done learning and I get done doing with what I actually wanted to do with my day, it's time for a beer and more learning and good discussion.
Think about how many things you could say no to a year and the time you gain by doing so.
If you could say no to three things a year, do you think it'd be better in the long run for your stability? Would it allow you the time to pursue on more goal that's in the back of your head?