Archive for the 'inspiring thoughts' Category

effort determines your success

effort determines your success


Career Planning In 60 Seconds


If you want to find Joy, do what you love.

I published my first remix of  Bud Caddell’s ‘How To Be Happy In Business‘ 2 years ago, but some recent conversations have inspired a few fresh tweaks.

I’ve tried to distill it into a very simple tool for reviewing your current career situation and ensuring you’re on the right path to a happy and fulfilled life – hence why I call it ‘Career Planning in 60 Seconds’.

If you’ve not found the way to your central ‘heart’ yet, now’s the time to start thinking about where you want to go in your career, and in your life.

Choose a job you love, and
you will never have to work
a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

Critically, it’s up to you to choose your path; only you can define what ‘Joy’ means for you, so don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do.

The easiest way to start finding the way to your ‘heart’ is to write lists of all the things that fit in the three yellow (outer) circles of the diagram, based on your own unique preferences and circumstances:

‘What You Care About’ refers to the things that you love doing, that you care about, and that matter to you in the longer term:

  • Your passions, e.g. music, design, photography.
  • Your beliefs, e.g. environmental sustainability, education for all, societal equality.
  • Your ‘soul food’, e.g. spending time with your family, community activities, teaching students.

What You’re Good At’ refers to your actual skills and abilities. It’s important to be honest with yourself here, and take a broad perspective:

  • Identify the things that you are good at – even things you may take for granted (e.g. helping others understand complexity)
  • Things that you are good at, but don’t necessarily want to do every day (e.g. a deep mastery of spreadsheets and coding)
  • Avoid things you wish you were good at, but where you haven’t achieved greatness yet (e.g. true fluency in a foreign language)

‘What Pays Well’ refers to the things that keep you alive. Don’t confuse this with ‘soul food’ – this is all about feeding mouths and paying the rent:

  • Most people need money to live, so regardless of whether you like that fact, take some time to work out what your desired lifestyle costs, and then add on some extra for savings and special occasions.
  • However, if you genuinely believe you can be self-sufficient and survive without money, and that lifestyle appeals to you, add it to your list.
  • Try to think laterally about how you might achieve your lifestyle goals too, especially in light of the things you listed for the previous two circles; could a change of city, country or lifestyle help you to make things in the other two circles more viable?

The trick is to find a job, career or vocation that links at least one thing on each of your three individual lists.

As the orange sections highlight, any form of compromise will leave you feeling incomplete, and it’s only when you can link all three yellow circles that will you find your true Joy.

However, it’s unlikely that you’ll find your way to the central heart straight away, so use these orange sections to guide your path, based on how you’d like to live your life in the meantime.

It’s also important to stress that the path to Joy will be different for everyone, and that the path is rarely clear or straightforward.

However, unless you start proactively making things happen yourself, it’s very unlikely that you’ll reach your heart by accident.

So start planning your path now, and give yourself the best possible chance of living a Joy-filled life.

Why is Better than What

I’m a bit late to this great talk from Simon Sinek, but it really resonated with me, so I thought I’d share it here for anyone else who might have missed it (it’s also worth watching a second time if you’ve seen it before!).

Simon’s overall premise is that people buy into compelling reasons more easily than they buy into specific functions.

His argument is very well put, and the logic is very difficult to dispute, but for some reason, marketers around the world still struggle to grasp the implications.

Brands that understand why people should care are far more likely to succeed than those who just push the what.

If you want to know more, check out Simon’s Start With Why website.

More Than Creativity, Advertising Is About Business

Dave Trott is a true master of common sense: he has a knack of explaining things you (thought you) already knew, in ways that help you understand them in a totally new light.

I learned so much from this talk he gave a while back at the APG that I feel compelled to share the whole thing here.

It’s an hour or more long, but make time to watch it all – sit down with a drink and give it your full attention.

And take notes – I guarantee you’ll want to refer back to things. I took so many notes, I ran out of space in my notebook.

Take it away Dave.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 8 [there doesn’t appear to be a part 7]

Part 9

Part 10

Thanks very much to Gwen for introducing me to this great talk

always learning, never failing

Learn from your mistakes and you’ll never fail.


the essence

rethinking success

Happy New Year!

Did you start 2010 with a fresh set of objectives?

Grow profits; drive revenues; increase the margin.

Do you have any objectives that aren’t about making more money than you made in 2009?

Defining success

When it comes to measuring success, we often make comparisons to the past.

Companies look at how profits changed relative to previous periods.

Individuals might compare their earnings to previous roles.

Even charities look at the changes in donations received.

By most definitions, we haven’t succeeded unless we’ve grown, and in business, this invariably relates to financial growth.

Indeed, financial growth is often a business’s primary objective, to the extent that any gains are reinvested to generate yet more growth in the next period.

But why are we so obsessed with growth?

Growth vs. greed

In nature, the drive to grow is instinctive: we need to reach a certain size to survive and procreate.

However, unrestrained growth brings dangerous consequences: excess leads to obesity, slowing us down and compromising our health.

In the good times, this doesn’t matter too much, because there’s enough to go round.

But, eventually, excess becomes unsustainable: over-consumption results in scarcity of resources and intense competition.

When this happens, the obese are most at risk: their size makes it harder for them to secure food and escape predators.

They face a stark choice: redress the balance, or die.

Survival of the fittest

This pattern is obvious in nature, but we often miss the parallel in business.

However, just like animals, brands can’t continue to grow indefinitely: eventually, they either reach a healthy equilibrium, or they exhaust all the available resources and die.

Faced with that choice, the decision seems simple.

Sometimes, though, scarcity occurs quite suddenly.

Just a few years ago, newspapers were enjoying those ‘good times’.

Then, out of nowhere, a fitter species appeared and gobbled up all their resources.

Sadly, the newspapers were too obese – too complacent, too cumbersome, too bloated – to react in time.

Now they’re starving, on the brink of extinction.

Their demise holds a lesson for us all.

Fit for purpose

The trick to avoiding newspapers’ fate is stay fit and healthy.

One way to do this is to avoid excessive growth.

So, if your objectives for year ahead are based purely on growth, challenge them.

What’s all that growth for?

And what will you do when you achieve it?

All too often, the euphoria of achieving a growth goal quickly gives way to a desire to outdo yourself again.

It becomes a never-ending cycle; increasing the number becomes the only thing that matters.

But there’s got to be more to life than numbers.

We need to remember the real benefits that growth was supposed to bring.

What would success look like if you couldn’t grow anymore?

Better, not bigger

Most New Year’s resolutions relate to health and fitness.

Perhaps it’s time we set similar business resolutions too.

I’d like to start the year with a challenge:

Why not set one objective for 2010 that has nothing to do with financial growth?

How about play rises instead of pay rises? More time to do the things that feed your souls, not just your bank balances (think Google’s 20%).

Perhaps you could initiate pro bono work for issues you really care about? Rather than waiting for someone to ask you, just get on and do it.

Or, why not take on an intern and actually help them to learn useful skills? With a bit of guidance, enthusiastic graduates can do much more than just make coffee and photocopies, and you’ll feel rewarded too.

Whatever you decide, one thing will make achieving your goal easier:

Stop measuring your success by comparing yourself to others.

Innovate, don’t imitate.

It’s much easier to succeed when you write your own rules.

Good luck, and best wishes for a happy and fulfilling 2010!

creative learning

An entertaining look at why we need to put more emphasis on creativity in education:

Thanks to newhighscore for sharing the clip, and to phil for bringing it to my attention.

good vs evil

Most people believe that good will triumph over evil.

This optimism is a core tenet of humanity.

Indeed, it’s so ingrained that we often assume that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ will be easy to tell apart – like night and day.

Sometimes this is the case; some crimes can never be justified, while some acts are universally welcomed.

However, much of our world view dictates ‘good’ from ‘evil’ on a purely subjective basis.

For example, religion will likely always remain a matter of individual opinion.

The same is true of culture.

There’s little doubt that globalisation has led to a degree of homogenisation of attitudes and behaviour, and we’ve lost much cultural variety along the way.

But this is nothing new; the Greeks and the Romans are perfect evidence that even the strongest and most influential ‘civilisations’ rise and fall.

This is because culture and ideas are subject to the same principles of evolution as biological species: only the fittest survive.

And as with biology, the key to continued survival is genetic diversity.

This means we must draw from as many influences as possible, but at the same time, ensure that we do not distill everything into a single, homogeneous result.

I was reminded of this while watching a fantastic TED talk from Dan Dennett (below).

He approaches the topic of cultural propagation from a philosophical angle, but there’s a clear relevance to advertising and planning in there too.

For me, the abiding lesson is that our individual cutural and moral perspectives are never ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

They’re simply subjective perspectives.

keep watching

strategy results

More wise words, this time from Winston Churchill.


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