The value disconnect

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Don't get caught by this!When you’re looking at starting a business, the one thing that you need to be very careful of is who has control of whether you succeed or fail. One of the most common (and most fatal) flaws in a startup business model is when they don’t control the value that they provide – and as such aren’t in control of their futures. This is surprisingly common!

TEST: Any business that cannot provide it’s primary value to only one customer runs this risk.

You’re guilty of this where you are dependent on someone else providing information, a service, a deal, opportunity or product. Any time that you cannot control the value that you are selling to your customer. This (seemingly obviously) poses a difficulty when trying to find a way to make money. Continue reading

Can your hobbies make you millions?

What do Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Richard Brandson and Steve Jobs have in common? Yes, they are all very rich and successful – they also all dropped out of school or college. But what is the reason for their success? Is it because they are drop-outs and being over educated is a restriction to success? As there are many college dropouts not nearly as successful, I think not.

Not having a formal qualification does put pressure on you to be more innovative, but I think that important thing that most people miss is that with all these successful guys that dropped out were moving onto something else. It was a side project, a dream, a hobby that they managed to make a business out of. Some other project in their life just became more important thatn getting a degree at that point.

Most successful people that I deal with are the types of people who have laods of projects on the go, or at least did before they dropped everthing else to focus on one specific project. When they werre at university they were involved in other societies, clubs, hobbies or businesses. Like Steve Woznaic who designed and built the entire Apple I and Apple II computers in one year… all while working a 9 to 5 job at HP. It was Sergy Brin’s hobby to “donload the whole internet” that lead to the PageRank script that was the foundation for Google’s search.

The fact that many wealthy people don’t have degrees has very little to do with the value of a degree or not. I believe it has way more to do with what they do in their spare time. Hobbies and side projects are far less constrained by the rules of society and are often far more out-of-the-box than the convential 9 to 5 job that you rely on. After all, the more side projects that you run the higher the chance that one of them might just work out.

So next time you meet someone interesting, instead of asking what they do for a living, ask them what they do in their spare time.

Dr Schwarzenegger’s 6 Rules of Success

Arnold Schwarzenegger truly is an inspirational person. He has progressed to the highest levels in 3 very different fields: becoming Mr Universe, one of Hollywoods highest paid actors as well as being elected a governor of California. All this from coming from a very rural background, not being able to speak English properly and having a very heavy accent. His motivation, drive and detirmination is something that we can all learn from. Below is a great youtube clip on his secrets of success:

1) Trust yourself
2) Break some rules
3) Don’t be afraid to fail
4) Ignore the naysayers
5) Work Like Hell
6) Give Something back

I can’t help but think that the obstacles in my way of achieving what I want are insignificant compared to what he has had to overcome. Make me wanna get my ass into gear… How about you?

Why Drop out of University – Real World degrees

While there is a staggering number of people at the top of the “rich List” who are university drop-outs, there are still unrecorded masses for which it didn’t work out so well. Why does dropping out sometimes help and most times not? What are good reasons to drop out and what are the benefits from doing it? As a UCT drop-out myself*, here are my thoughts – it would be great to hear yours.

While there is plenty of merit in getting a degree, isn’t it strange that so few people actually use what they learnt in their degree in their first job? Nowadays a degree is more proof that you are trainable and can think than a means of showing your experience. It is more about extending your title (i.e. Roger Norton, BSc Electrical Engineering) than giving you any real experience in that field and limiting you to use what you have learnt…
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What I learnt from Billionaires…

I worked for 4 years as an engineer maintaining the systems on Superyachts. (Large luxury private yachts.) It was a great lifestyle and I learnt many things while travelling. The one thing that is very unique to the job was the close proximity to billionaires. Here are some of the things that I picked up form being around them… Continue reading