Tag Archives: Leadership

Bold Mindset: The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler is a roadmap on how to create extraordinary change in the world using exponential technologies, moonshot thinking and crowd-powered tools.

Both Steven and Peter’s energy and optimism is infectious. I enjoyed their ideas on 10x thinking and preparing for an exponential future.

The book is premised on the idea that exponential technologies are rapidly transforming the world, outpacing today’s linear-thinking organisations and individuals. Exponential technologies refer to any technology that is accelerating on an exponential growth curve.

“Without the right mindset, entrepreneurs have no chance of success. If you think you can or can’t – well, you’re right.”

Diamandis says thinking boldly is not just technologically difficult, it’s also incredibly psychologically difficult.  The book suggests three psychological strategies for upgrading your mindset, and going big and bold.

 1.  Recondition your mental frame to pursue difficult goals.

“Big goals help focus attention, and they make us more persistent. The result is we’re much more effective when we work, and much more willing to get up and try again when we fail.”

 2. Work in isolation.

“…isolation stimulates risk-taking, encouraging ideas weird and wild and acting as a counter-force to organizational inertia.”

Organizational inertia is the notion that once any company achieves success, its desire to develop and champion radical new technologies and directions is often tempted by the much stronger desire to not disrupt existing markets.

 3. Rapid iteration (as a strategy to mitigate risk).

“…as most experiments fail, real progress requires trying out tons of ideas, decreasing lag time between trials, and increasing knowledge gained from results.” This rapidly accelerates the learning cycle.

Reid Hoffman (founder of Linkedin) says that if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Peter Diamandis: Bold & Abundant Thinking

Quotes

“The world’s grandest challenges contain the world’s biggest opportunities.”

“The road to bold is paved with failure, and this means having a strategy in place to handle risk and learn from mistakes is crucial.”

“We all learn from out mistakes, but until recently, mistakes were too costly for entrepreneurs to make with wanton abandon. This too has changed. Infinite computing demonetizes error-making, thus democratising experimentation. No longer do we have to immediately dismiss outlandish ideas for the waste of time and resources they invariably incur. Today we can try them all.”

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The same is true for ideas.”

“Moonshots, by their definition, live in that gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction. Instead of mere 10 percent gains, they aim for 10x (meaning ten times) improvements—that’s a 1000 percent increase in performance.”

“Massively up the amount of novelty in your life; the research shows that new environments and experiences are often the jumping-off point for new ideas (more opportunity for pattern recognition).”

Links

Peter’s website

Steven Kotler Wikipedia

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Anesh Kalan is a M.Sc. Information Technology student at the University of Cape Town.

Please feel free to comment. I appreciate your feedback and opinion.

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21 Key Lessons from South Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs

Synopsis

South Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs by Moky Makura is a collection of profiles on South Africa’s most dynamic and well-known business leaders and entrepreneurs.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to aspiring South African entrepreneurs looking for motivation and insight into the history of business in our country.

Moky Makura on her inspiration for the book:

Below I have selected 21 key lessons from ten different profiles in the book.

Adrian Gore, Discovery Holdings Limited

1. Keep innovating:

“Innovation is an ethos for Discovery. We’re a big organisation today with legacy systems and processes and yet we’re innovating at a faster pace than ever before. There is a relentless focus on progress.”

2. Do whatever it takes to recruit smart people:

“I hand-picked every employee carefully. I started out by recruiting Barry Swartzberg, a colleague at Liberty – it took me three months.”

3. Focus on areas that make you unique; find partners for the rest:

“Essentially, we put together a selection of best-of-breed partners around us and focused on product development and our own intellectual property in the middle.”

Sol Kerzner, Kerzner International Holdings Ltd

4. Make a difference in your industry:

“I always believed we could redefine the hotel business in South Africa.”

“It’s simply not good enough for us to deliver new water rides. Our goal is to redefine the concept of a water park.”

5. Believe in yourself and follow your passion:

“Part of being an entrepreneur is the need to get somewhere in life; to have the belief that you can get out there and make a difference.”

“It’s important to follow your instincts. It’s important to recognise what you’re likely to enjoy doing. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to excel if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.”

Koos Bekker, Naspers Ltd

6. We learn more from our mistakes than from our victories:

“From success one learns only how smart you are. From failure you may learn how to improve yourself.”

“I made some real shockers. The problem is that if you reverse any part of your life to remove the mistakes, you’ll also take away the lessons learnt from them. So, without those lessons, how would you know better?”

7. Trust your gut:

“Even up to the last minute, just before pen meets paper, we walk if we smell trouble.”

Herman Mashaba, Black Like Me, Leswikeng, Phatsima, Lephatsi

8. Get rid of that chip on your shoulder; the world doesn’t owe you anything:

“You alone are in charge of your destiny; you must accept responsibility for yourself.”

9. Keep your ear on the ground:

“I’m a good listener, and I file information away in my mind, never knowing when it might be useful.”

10. Be flexible:

“If you define yourself by a job description or a job title you are confining yourself. Step out of your boundaries and show your employer what you are capable of.”

Pam Golding, The Pam Golding Property Group

11. Lead with the latest technology:

“The purchase of the computer was like buying a Rolls Royce as your first car – it was that significant. It created enormous, unlimited capacity to expand.” – Peter Golding

Mark Lamberti, Massmart

12. Be driven by your dreams rather than by specific goals; enjoy the journey:

“Having a goal-driven life is potentially dangerous because you can end up focusing on milestones and fail to enjoy the scenery of the journey. I prefer to be driven by a broader vision of the legacy I would like to leave and start out each day trying to do things I’m passionate about.

13. Reputation is paramount:

“Thankfully we can protect our reputation because we carry it everywhere with us. Our behaviour can enhance it or destroy it and where it is good or bad it is determined solely by us. Our reputation is the most valuable thing we will ever own. The fact that we cannot buy it makes it priceless. Proper behaviour will ensure that our reputation survives long after we are gone. Improper behaviour will result in our losing it long before we die.”

14. Stick to your values, no matter what:

“We cannot be authentic servants or leaders if our behaviour is at odds with our values and principles; critics and followers soon see the flaws. Put simply, who we are is much more important than what we do.”

15. Remember that profit is a lagging indicator of human performance:

“If you as a leader are just working on the bottom line, you are going to miss the point because financial performance is preceded by operating performance and operating performance is preceded by human performance. If you don’t know what the human performance is in the business, you are not in a position to shape future outcomes. If people are doing the right things, financial returns will follow.”

Natie Kirsh, Kirsh Finance, Kirsh Industries, Jetro

16. Motivate others with your transparency:

“When he lets you into his world, he lets you in completely. There are no secrets, everything is open to you. This inspires great motivation and loyalty. “ former Kirsch company CEO Clive Weil

17. Be exceptional:

“I’ve been a corporate lawyer for 40 years and I’ve sat on boards, even in Europe, and I still haven’t come across someone who is as clued up and insightful a businessman as Natie. He’s one of the world’s brightest entrepreneurs.” Mervyn King, former judge

Mark Shuttleworth, Thawte, HBD Venture Capital, The Shuttleworth Foundation, Canonical

18. Ideas are nothing without execution:

“Value is created by the tenacious pursuit of an idea and the ability to build on it.”

19. Be patient:

“It took six to nine month from declaring intent to get real breakthroughs.”

Alan Knott-Craig, Vodacom

20. Embrace competition:

“I love competition because at least you can compete against somebody – it’s terrible running a race against yourself.”

Whitey Basson, Shoprite Group

21. If you want to talk the talk, you’ve [got] to walk to walk:

“I spend 60 per cent of my time at the operational level, in the stores or at the divisions.”

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“The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation” by Peter Senge

Synopsis

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation is a management book by Peter Senge that uses a systems thinking framework to tie together five team disciplines that convert traditional, authoritarian organisations into learning organisations. Systems thinking is the process of understanding how interdependent elements within a system influence one another. The book is premised on the idea that in the long-run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is your organisation’s ability to learn faster than its competitors.

This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read. Although it was published in 1990, the ideas are still relevant today, and apply to both the individual and the organisation.

Lessons

On mental models…

Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations, images, stories and biases that influence people’s understanding of the world and their decision-making.

Senge says the problem with mental models is not that they are right or wrong – all models are simplifications or approximations of the truth. The problem is when they exist below the level of awareness.

He says that because the world is constantly evolving, it is important to be intellectually rigorous, seeing reality objectively by learning to suspend our assumptions and unearth our own internal pictures of the world. For me, developing this skill is about practicing the art of listening and asking the correct questions.

Quotes

“To practice a discipline is to be a lifelong learner.”

“Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life”

“Small changes can produce big results – but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.”

“In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.”

Something interesting

The book ends with a paragraph about the Gaia Hypothesis – the theory that all life on earth is itself a single, living organism. This touches on one of the key ideas of the book: that we live in a world of extraordinary interdependence.

This recent talk by Peter entitled “Systems Thinking for a Better World” has inspired me to learn more actively.

 Links

 Peter Senge Wikipedia

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“21 Yaks and a Speedo” by Lewis Pugh

Synopsis

21 Yaks and a Speedo by ocean advocate and pioneering swimmer Lewis Pugh is a collection of short stories, called Yaks, about how to achieve what might first seem impossible. Each story illustrates a lesson that Lewis and his team have learned from one of his many swimming expeditions.

21 Yaks and a Speedo is a light and enjoyable read. I would recommend it to Open Water swimmers and anyone looking for the inspiration to excel.

Lessons

On testing our assumptions…

Lewis says one of the most valuable lessons he learned was to always ask what assumptions he’s making [about an expedition] and to test whether those assumptions are valid. He explains that you never know how a situation is going to change, and you can never have a perfect plan, so be prepared to adapt.

On limiting beliefs…

I was fortunate enough to see Lewis speak at the Graduate School of Business in October 2014. He made two important points that evening. First, when we have limiting beliefs we take on a defeatist attitude. Second, when we have limiting beliefs, we don’t ask for help. In the book, Lewis tells an unusual story (Yak 12) about the boat rudder breaking in the Maldives to explain this lesson. He says we must be open to all possibilities.

Quotes

“There’s nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”

“I love swimming. I love the action of swimming. I love the feeling of diving into cold water, and getting invigorated and refreshed.” As a swimmer I loved this statement. I would add that the feeling of being relaxed in water, moving almost effortlessly when you’re fit is second to none.

“There will always be hundreds of reasons to quit, especially towards the end, when things get very tough. Think of just ONE reason to keep on going – it will make all the difference!”

“Never plan for victory and defeat in your mind at the same time.”

Something Interesting

The English Channel swim starts in Dover.

Roald Amundsen was the first person ever to reach the South Pole.

Lewis was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.

Lewis did a 50-school country-wide speaking tour of South Africa to spread his message of conserving the world’s oceans, and to practice public speaking. He calls his first speech a “disaster.” He has since gone on to become an international motivational speaker. Below is his first TED talk, one that really inspired me.

Links

Lewis’ website

Lewis on Twitter

Lewis on Facebook

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“Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Synopsis

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story is the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian-born American actor, businessman, politician, activist, and former bodybuilder. He is best known as former seven-time Mr. Olympia, the Governor of California between 2003 and 2011, and action star, most notably for his roles in the Conan and Terminator movie franchises. Until 2011, he was married to Maria Shriver.

If you want to be inspired to 10 X your ambitions and goals read this book.

Lessons

On discipline and practice…

Arnold had several role-models including his father, a policeman, who instilled a work-horse mentality in him. From a young age he had a strict schedule often performing manual labour tasks for his family or being made to practice sport by himself. He understood, it seems, that if you want to achieve something, there are no shortcuts; you have to go out and earn it. In the the book he often refers to relentless practice as reps, reps, reps and says no matter what you do in life, it’s either reps or mileage.

On setting specific goals…

From early on, Arnold would write down his goals on index cards. He says, “I always wrote down my goals, like I’d learned to do in the weight-lifting club back in Graz. I had them very specific so that all those fine intentions were not just floating around.”

Sarge’s advice on public service…

In a speech Sarge, Arnold’s father-in-law, gave at Yale he said:

“In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. You’ll get more satisfaction from having improved your neighbourhood, your town, your state, your country, and your fellow human beings than you’ll ever get from your muscles, your figure, your automobile, your house, or your credit rating. You’ll get far more from being a peacemaker than a warrior.

I particularly enjoyed Tai Lopez’s thoughts on this book.

Quotes

“I had to explain that actually I was not especially exhilarated when I won, because to me, winning was a given. It was part of the job. I had an obligation to win.”

“Outrageousness means nothing if you don’t have the substance to back it up – you can’t get away with it if you’re a loser.”

“I believed that the only way you become a leading man is by treating yourself like a leading man and working your ass off.”

Something Interesting

At ten years old Arnold says he was absolutely convinced he was special and meant for bigger things. He believed America was where he would become the best at something, although at the time he did not know what that would be.

Mr. Olympia, founded by Joe Gold, was the first bodybuilding competition to offer prize money. In 1965 the winner took home $1000. Arnold trained at Gold’s Gym when he moved to America, known then as the “Mecca of bodybuilding.”

Arnold practices Transcendental Meditation.

In 1992 Arnold bought the first Hummer manufactured for civilian use.

Last Action Hero was the first ever paid advertisement in outer space.

Sacramento is the capital of California. (Something I didn’t know!)

Links

Arnold’s website

Arnold on Instagram

Arnold on Facebook

Arnold on Twitter

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