Hard Decisions Made Easier

I am all for bold and decisive action. Better to regret the things you’ve done vs. those you never tasted. Yet, some decisions are hard to take.

Can we stop the cycle of agonizing over our decisions? Can we make group decisions without destructive politics? And how can we ensure that we don’t overlook precious opportunities to change our course? And while we are thinking, are we wasting valuable time with our inaction?

Debating this over the 140 tweeter characters was fun.

hesitate

But things are a bit more complicated. Having read Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, I simply have to share brilliant brothers Chip and Dan Heath’s insights.

Four key problems derail us when making decisions:

Narrow framing: Exploring few choices and seeing issues as black or white.
Confirmation bias: Only looking for facts that support what you believe, dismissing what points against it.
Short-term emotion: Letting a passing mood affect a longer term choice.
Overconfidence: Being way too sure you know how things will turn out.

Sounds familiar? If yes, why hesitate testing these?

Widen your options: What would you do if your current options disappeared? How else could you resolve the issue? Another solution is to look for others who have solved your problem and imitate them.

Test your assumptions: Consider the alternative. Play devil’s advocate. Better yet, run a small test to see if your theory really works in a controlled fashion before you take big steps.

Get some distance: Ask yourself how you’d feel about this decision 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now. The long view will help you realize if you’re too caught in the moment. Another tip is to ask yourself “What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?

Prepare to be wrong: Take the time to sit down and really think about what could go wrong to make sure you’re ready for it.

Because in the end, the right decision, at the right moment, can make all the difference!

The Summer Of My Discontent

It’s been a long and seemingly lazy summer.  And to playfully remember Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent, this has been a summer where for about two weeks I was desolate in the absence of wi-fi.

no wifi

Let me confess: I am an information junkie, an addict, a thirsty traveller who wants to drink from the fountain of knowledge. I missed my Flipboard, Quartz, Shane Parrish’s Farnam Street and all the stuff I devour on a regular basis. I could read email but the links would not open and I found the spotty delivery of old newspapers so that I can catch up absurd, so, I spent my days swimming and reading my kindle books but I dreaded being out of touch.

No, I did not rest more because I was switched off.  How can anyone be better off without learning, discovering, exploring and speculating on all the spectacular things that make up our present. Yes, there is Gaza, and Ebola and the Ukraine and Robin Williams and all the pain that accompanies life. But bubbles are for soap operas not to be lived in. And I missed the river of my inspiration.

So, here is the makeup overview of the kind of stuff I’ve been reading since I’ve been back. Thinking through some of this stuff, I am happy. See? I am not that hard to please after all!

Why We Do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Experiments: “…We do dumb or irrational things because of other people…”

learning Ivy League schools promise success, but often lead to depression: “…Students are made to understand that they have to be perfect and do everything perfectly, but they haven’t turned to themselves to ask why they’re doing it…”

The Out of Touch Effect: “…Reconnect with your clients, assume their perspective, and not only will you gain practical insights, you’ll also inject your work with new meaning and purpose…”

The Best Way to learn something is to teach itinstructions: “…“When teachers prepare to teach, they tend to seek out key points and organize information into a coherent structure…

Henry Miller On Turning 80: “Next to love friendship, in my opinion, is the most valuable thing life has to offer…” 

old

 

 

So, here to all of you my friends, smile, it’s the beginning of the end of summer.

Startup Sanity (and Love)

The following post was first posted on Metavallon’s (a Greek startup accelerator) site. Their discipline and drive helping young entrepreneurs is awesome; working with them and their team is a delight and constant source of inspiration.

ledapost (2)Being an entrepreneur and a startup-er is very similar to your house burning down. Only that you don’t own a house and you have no water to put the fire out.

But let’s not get pessimistic.

As an entrepreneur, you tread on the lonely path of Don Quixote – you are free from convention, regular hours, routines, the addiction of a regular paycheck, ties and suits, and “corpo-speak” among other horrible little and bigger nuances. Is the freedom worth it? And can you take it and if you can take it, how long can you endure being fed by the 3 F’s (friends, fools and family)…

It all boils down to 2 things: passion and resilience. You ignore the world, and you march to your own tune with your conviction and your sheer determination to change the world. And unless you are absolutely sure that you can take a beating – or two or much more than that – then don’t.

You sure cannot teach passion. You either have it or you don’t. But can you learn to be more resilient and take that beating bouncing right back up?

This is a case where one does not fit all. We each have our ways and wisdom. But food for thought is the most delicious dish ever served so here’s my angle on the hardships of life as a startup-er:

  1. Know what you are promising and to whom. Pleasing people is always part of the life games we play. Being clear on what exactly it is you are delivering (and to whom) is a biggie.
  2. Have plans A & B ahead of time. While destiny, “kismet” or fate is widely accepted – don’t take comfort into that. Take action, be in control.
  3. See the humor in spite of the toughness and the difficulty – look for the other side of things – around the box, inside out or whatever as long as you don’t let yourself stay in the cage.
  4. Connect with people who can help – after all sharing is part of the human experience and decreases the feeling of isolation.
  5. Trust your people. And make sure you do have those very select few who have stood by you and pushed you to go forward raising the bar for you to get even better.
  6. Dare to abandon “unattainable goals” – after all there’s a fine line between quitting and being smart. If you can’t see the bigger mission and the end-goal, start with smaller ones. Little goals are better than no goals at all.
  7. Know how much money you want to make. Yes, have a figure – a number in your head -not an abstract idea of a vague pot that will offer you happiness on a platter.
  8. Never, ever be afraid to fail. The greatest lessons come from failures – so give yourself permission to flunk – that will teach you how to get up and move on.

But you already know what you have to do. You would not be reading this post if you didn’t…

Never Shy Of Opportunity

opportunity

“…I would argue that our challenge and opportunity to add (and gain) value is to turn a subject boring by nature into sexy. I would also argue that we should never shy of a chance to try to do it…” P.K.

I woke up to this today. A response to an email thread – back and forth between a group of people – a team in the true sense of the word – who happen to share the same degree of crazy passions, anxieties, aspirations, challenges to make it in a world that is peculiarly and brilliantly rich of riddles, bets, risks and calculated moves.

The debate was about a potential client presentation but it’s really irrelevant. Maybe it’s me – my passionate, why hesitate sort of mentality that tends to be daring. But, I got the surge, the jolt, the energy.

I am lucky. I love my work and for me work is nothing but the people I work with – the commonalities, the disagreements, the way we navigate and dance with the problems, the solutions, the hardships and the great defining aha moments where we discover the sweetness of success. We are each moved differently – our triggers are idiosyncratic to our personalities yet inspiration is unarguably one of the key motivators for high performance.

So, that’s all it took – a heartfelt email from a passionate guy at 2.47 am (!) to a bunch of his team mates. And, if that’s not leadership, then I don’t know what is…

 

P.S. and don’t forget to check out Aephoria.  Got quite a remarkable team:-)

 

Startups For All Ages

Why is it that startups are supposed to be just for the young?

Yes, the “F” in Generation F doesn’t stand for probably what you think it does. It stands for fixing the world, going further, creating the future. But, aren’t dreams for everyone?

As a mentor and coach to many brilliant, passionate younger men and women, I know fully well the potential, the hopes, the heartache and the pain that goes along on the bumpy ride to starting a startup. And, I also know from coaching older, more mature folks, that the challenges are similar within the context of everyone’s personal life stories.

Everything as we once knew it has changed. The livable kind of work where meaning, significance, and that passion that brings our hearts to what we all do defies barriers and walls. And, it often has nothing to do with age.

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

In  2010, entrepreneurs aged 35 to 54 were responsible for over 50 percent of total new entrepreneurship activity in the U.S, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Individuals aged 55 to 64 also made their mark, representing 22.9 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2010, compared to 14.5 percent in 1996.

So, why is it that the word “youth” tends to be almost synonymous to entrepreneurship – to the point of blunt exclusionary misconceptions?

And then there is the ‘ageism” issue especially in tech. Having spent so much time in San Francisco – I kind of sneer at articles such as this in New Republic, on Silicon Valley’s brutal age discrimination. Token smarter ones or token grown ups?

Interestingly, for the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greece, according to the 2013 Endeavor Greece survey results imply that the common Silicon Valley entrepreneurial stereotype is not the dominant or the most successful one in Greece. “..Next to the attractive model of the 22-year old entrepreneur, that starts his/her career in a garage in Silicon Valley a new profile arises: that of the more seasoned individual, with solid work experience, international exposure during or after studies, an already developed personal network and motivation that lies in an identified business opportunity, rather than in the lack of any career alternatives…”

Sometimes life (and experience) is all about perspective – invaluable assets of years of failures (big and small), battles, wins, arguments, relationships that make everyone richer, wiser, smarter. Maybe the Greeks are on to something:-)

 

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