Unlock the Magic in Your Story Now

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Articles filed in: Worldview

What Would You Do?

My little brother Johnny and I were born just 18 months apart.

When he was little he was dubbed ‘a typical boy’ by his teachers. I think that was teacher-code for “school is not for this one”. And in truth it wasn’t from day one. On his first day he cried so hard, and made such a fuss, that my mortified mother took him home for a whole year before bringing him back again!

He left school early without any ‘pieces of paper’ and got a job in a supermarket. He lit up the lives of elderly ladies who came shopping for one item a day because they were lonely. He didn’t need a piece of paper to know how to make people matter.

It was his birthday yesterday, but he wasn’t here to celebrate it. He died when he was just 31 years old, with so many dreams left inside him.

I look at my twenty year old son today and wonder what Johnny would have done at that age if he’d known that he had just ten years left.

Just ten years… it could so easily have been ten days, or ten minutes.

What would you do?

What will you do today?

Don’t waste a second.

Image by Andrew Lewin.

Business Would Be Great If It Weren’t For The Customers

There was no doubt that I could have chosen a better time to go shopping for special flowers, than first thing on Saturday morning in early Spring. The lone florist reluctantly came out from the back room to ask how she could help, then let out a sigh when she realised it wasn’t going to be quick. I hoped that the tiny white roses would be the first thing my dear friend Pen would see when she came back from having heart surgery. This was important.

The florist tutted at my indecision and hesitated to show me the vases she might use. Of course I understood that she was “busy getting orders ready for later that day”. She wanted me to care about her emergency, while she neglected mine.

To succeed in delighting your customers you actually have to step out of your shoes and into theirs. You must see the world through their eyes from the opposite side of the counter.

It’s not always easy, but the businesses that optimise for empathy are magnetic. Less push and more pull.

Whose shoes are you standing in?

Image by Luca Pedrotti.

What The Waitress Remembered

My name.
To look me in the eye.
How I like my coffee.
That her smile could brighten someone’s day.
To make a difference.
That giving a damn is seriously underrated.
To hope to see me tomorrow.
Not to hide behind the rules.
To love her job.
That what she does every day matters.

Image by Cobalt123

How To Start Something

1. Make a plan.
A physical plan. Get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.

2. Create a deadline and stick to it.
Add the action steps that take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

3. Share your goal, or don’t.
Being accountable to someone other than yourself works for some, but not for others.
You decide what works for you.

4. Commit and chunk it down.
Set aside time to work on your idea every day. Gather resources. Rally collaborators.

5. Do the work.
Stop talking. Start doing.

6. Don’t let research and over-analysis stand in the way of getting started.
You’ll never have every single bit of information you need. Sometimes enough has to be good enough.

7. Stop making excuses.
Care enough to want to see your idea in the world. Then make it happen.

8. Don’t get caught in the ‘comparison trap’.
Spend your time making progress rather than comparing and contrasting. There will be plenty of time for metrics when you’re done.

9. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand your vision.
Ignore the naysayers.

10.Be a doer.
Launch. Succeed a little. Fail and learn.

11. Remember what it is you really want to see in the world.

Then go do that.

Image by Herbalizer.

The Best

The best teacher isn’t always the one who has a class full of students that get the best results.
The best designer isn’t always the one who knows the exact amount of white space to leave.
The best brand isn’t always the one that makes the most money.
The best athlete doesn’t always win.
And the best ideas aren’t always the ones that succeed.

Far better then to focus on being ‘the most’ you can be to the people who matter, than to work on being that little bit better, using a yardstick created by somebody else.

Image by Michael Goldrei.

Make More Room For Bravery

When you’re itching to do the thing you really want to do, but don’t, what stops you?

The answer is usually fear. Fear has a habit of getting in the way. Fear that people might laugh at you. Fear that your success so far was nothing but luck. Fear that you’ll fail. Fail in whose eyes?

If you’re spending the majority of your time worry about what the world will think about you, and the rest working out how to make the world think the ‘right thing’, then what’s left for the story you can tell yourself about what’s possible? What’s your allocation for imagination?

What if you made more room for bravery? What if you nudged worry aside for the few seconds longer it takes to just go? What if you didn’t need the map? What couldn’t you start then?

Image by Zilverbat.

Why Bother?

Why bother having a customer care line that informs of a thirty minute wait and asks people to call back later?
Why bother selling an awards based credit card, then capping the points your customers can earn?
Why bother creating cheap for the masses, when you can deliver quality to the few?
Why bother saying you’ll call if you don’t?
Why bother pressing send if you don’t care about the outcome?
Why bother asking if you don’t really want to hear the answer?
Why bother giving your restaurant a million dollar fit out only to cut corners on staff training?
Why bother saying you’re different when you’re clearly average?
Why bother telling me you care if you don’t?
Why bother lying when the truth works just as well, if not better?
Why bother showing up if you’re not going to leave the world better for your having been here.

Why not to be the best to the few and not just average to everyone?

Image by Montgomery County Planning.

When Will You Draw The Line?

When my mother left school aged just 14 she was sent to the Royal Candy sweet factory, to dip caramel by hand into big vats of icing, (pink or white). On the evening of her first day she told her widowed mother (who was raising 11 children single-handed), that she hated it and she wasn’t going back. She pleaded to be allowed to take up sewing, something she loved and was good at. But sewing didn’t pay so well. And four years later, when she turned 18 she was still dipping caramel at Royal Candy.

Years later everything changed.

But most people didn’t. They stayed inside the lines of the factories and gave the gatekeepers permission to write their stories and map out their destinies.

Today the Internet allows you to shape your own journey. And the only permission you need to tell a story that matters is your own.

“It’s important that we all take a breath, look down and realize that the clay is in our hands.
We can make it what we want. Not just the work,
but our future”
– Andrew Keller

What’s stopping you drawing your own lines?

Image by Whole Wheat Toast.

20 Questions To Answer Before Asking How Much Money Can I Make?

1. Why do I want to do this?

2. What do I care about?

3. What brings me joy?

4. What am I good at?

5. What’s scarce?

6. What problem can I solve?

7. Who needs me?

8. How can I make a difference?

9. How can I deliver value?

10.What can I change?

11.How can I make meaning?

12.What do other people care about?

13.How can I start small for next to nothing?

14.Who are my heroes and what would they do?

15.Who would I kill to work with?

16.Who exactly am I going to serve?

17.How can I get from where I am to where I want to be?

18.What’s stopping me?

19.What’s my definition of success.

20.What will be my legacy?

Find the answers to these questions and the money will come.

Image by Brian Mensching.

They Miss Us Now We’re Gone

The shopping malls are empty and the big department store owners are worried. They’ve finally got the memo. They realise that they can’t out-stock Amazon, or price match the guy from Seoul selling wallets on eBay. So they’re trying to woo us back with loyalty cards, air miles and faster ways to checkout our less than five items.

They miss us now we’ve gone, to buy a hand-crafted necklace from Megan, or a one-of-a-kind lamp from Philippa.

We’ve moved on without them, while they kept buying double-page spreads in the local newspaper.

The world has changed. You don’t have to compete with the big guys. They are the ones at a disadvantage now. You have everything you need to bring your ideas to life. To do work you care about, and to tell the story about what you do to people who want to listen.

It might be too late for the big guys to matter, but it’s not too late for you.

Image by eskimo jo.