Category: Uncategorized

Do you have Professional Courage

Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics:

Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.

And for a great example how it applies to our professional lives watch Ben Horowitz explain the importance of courage in his interview with Kevin Rose. His explanation starts at 17:50 but I recommend watching the entire interview. Ben Horowitz is brilliant and if you don’t believe me try reading his blog.

Within companies there is always talk of openness, honesty, integrity and many more virtues. How often do you hear courage being discussed. I wrote about the Steve Yegge’s approach to presenting to Jeff bezos. Steve describes his source of courage, he writes:

I worked hard and had fun, but every day I honestly worried they might fire me in the morning. Sure, it was a kind of paranoia. But it was sort of healthy in a way. I kept my resume up to date, and I kept my skills up to date, and I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning.

His courage came from believing he had nothing to lose. He could suffer a fate no worse then being fired.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting and former member of the U.S. High Diving Team has a good article on courage , he writes:

courage is the lifeblood of such important business concepts as leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. Indeed, in the absence of courage, these concepts don’t exist!

It is not often you see or hear of courage in a professional setting. No one has an annual objective to demonstrate courage, but in the end we all must possess it and demonstrate it. Without courage, we would be full of honesty, openness and integrity but with no willingness to act.

Courage first and then everything else.

A product, is a product, is not a sandwich

In many businesses you hear people refer to the things the company sells as product, or material, or skus, or content. The abstraction of a burger or a mop, creates detachment between how the business thinks and how the customer thinks, resulting in a lack of accountability for the experience and value the customer receives. I cringe when I hear Suzanne Greco, Vice President Of Research & Development, SUBWAY refer to the things Subway sells as “product”.  There is an intimacy we all must have with the things we sell, and customers don’t think about how great a Subway product would taste. The customer thinks in concrete and tangible terms and so should the businesses that hope to meet their needs.  In Subway’s case they sell food, Sandwiches made of bread, lunch meat and cheese. Just listen to the video linked above and replace the word product with sandwich or bread. The interview in my opinion has a completely different feel using real and intimate terms. So, lose the abstraction, be real and intimate with the things you sell.

My favorite view of London

My favorite view of London by TomC
My favorite view of London, a photo by TomC on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
At the Tate Modern in London, on the 5th Floor (I think) there is a door right next to a snack shop and gift shop. If you aren’t paying attention you will miss it. But walk through that door to a Patio and you will see this view. This panorama doesn’t do the view Justice. When you walk out on to the patio the first words out of your mouth will be WOW! The view is Art all by itself, a modern ever changing canvas. The act of walking through a standard doorway compresses the view and then once over the threshold the view explodes. Just another justification for taking time to explore and look around in all directions.

Steve Jobs – Amplifying Human Ability

“We are building tools that amplify a human ability” – Steve Jobs 1980 (via Kottke.org)

In my opinion Steve Jobs and Apple took the next logical step, building products that amplify a human emotion at the same time amplifying a human ability.  It is the amplification of human emotion which today underpins the Apple brand.  There is great engineering, design, and marketing in other companies, but it is Apple that brings them together with a focus on amplifying human emotion at the sometime amplifying a human ability. Brilliant.

Andy Grove on Dealing with Strategic Inflection Points

“you must realize that no amount of planning can anticipate such changes. Does that mean you shouldn’t plan? Not at all. You need to plan the way a fire department plans: It cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to any ordinary event.”  Andy Grove Only the Paranoid Survive