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.

Steve Yegge on Presenting to Jeff Bezos

Steve Yegge over in his Google+ feed has a post I just found about his experience presenting to Jeff Bezos. His description of the experience and his approach was great. The entire post is interesting but my favorite part is the second to last paragraph.

You have to understand: most people were scared around Bezos because they were waaaay too worried about trying to keep their jobs. People in high-level positions sometimes have a little too much personal self-esteem invested in their success. Can you imagine how annoying it must be for him to be around timid people all day long? But me — well, I thought I was going to get fired every single day. So fuck timid. Might as well aim high and go out in a ball of flame.

We all have seen the timid presentation, that’s why I like the last lines so very much (my emphasis added).  Read the whole post you will enjoy it.

The Evolution of Advertising in 5 Minutes

Kevin Rose interviews Chris Sacca of lower case capital and Chris gives a great interview. I recommend you watch the whole thing. But, to hear the best explanation of how advertising has evolved and why services like Twitter, Foursquare and Square are so valuable. The explanation starts at 34 Min.

If you like this interview you might also like Chris Sacca on This Week in Start-ups

Enjoy!

 

How do you think about the future you?

“The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals—not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them—we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.” – Dan Gilbert (via swissmiss)

“We don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. Even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories” – Daniel Kahneman (via zefrank)

“You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.”   “Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times. If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab YOU, then you’ve got a big problem. – Tom Peters (via Fast Company) (emphasis added)

“A great man is one sentence.” – Clare Boothe Luce (via Daniel Pink)

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.

“the world is a great liar”

Peggy Noonan in the article “A Life’s Lesson” writes

In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn’t. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn’t, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That’s what it really admires. That’s what we talk about in eulogies, because that’s what’s important. We don’t say, “The thing about Joe was he was rich.” We say, if we can, “The thing about Joe was he took care of people.”

Fame and celebrity are conferred and wealth is nothing more than an arbitrary scoring mechanism. In the end, we are not remembered and loved for what we have, we are remembered and loved for our behavior, for what we have Done.

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.