Tag Archives: vision

Yes there is a time to stop learning

It’s when you are 6 foot under.

One thing keeps recurring when I speak with successful entrepreneurs. All of them, with the exception of none, are constantly seeking and soaking up new information. They are constantly learning.

Whether it’s reading, watching online videos, attending seminars, they tend to have this constant hankering to soak up knowledge to get the next idea or to improve what they are doing.

And it’s not about MBAs, many don’t rely on formal education but rather constant learning. They also step outside of their familiar worlds and get input from different walks of life and business.

Another commonality is that they seek mentors. People who can guide and teach them, and they seek to also mentor others.

So today, sign up for the never-ending doctorate by asking what are you learning? What are you reading? Who are you learning from? It never stops.

The ultimate collaborative tool – an empty chair

The story goes that at Virgin’s head office, in their boardroom, is an empty chair. The chair represents the customer, so whenever Sir Richard and his executives get together, symbolically the customer is right there with them. This way they are reminded to see things from the customer’s point of view and not just their own.

Powerful Stuff.

Often when we’re brainstorming ideas and trying to find creative solutions we get caught up in our own point of view and fail to see things from the point of view of others. As a result we limit our thinking and may even fail to see opportunities outside of our own vision. A third person view of the world can very often make all the difference and so it’s important to see things from someone else’s perspective. To come up with quality ideas it’s vital to see things in different ways.

And this is exactly what the empty chair does.

We often use this as a device when facilitating business sessions. We place an empty chair at every table and as delegates work through various tasks and problems, they are constantly reminded to consider the customer’s voice, needs, and point of view. As a result they arrived with solutions that are not from their own point of view but from the point of view of the customer.

The empty chair can be used to represent other people as well, such as your stakeholders if they’re opinions and influence is important. Or perhaps the chair could represent a mentor or role model who can symbolically advise you and prompt you to see things differently.

So why not place an empty chair in your office, boardroom, or creative space? Let it be a reminder to get out of your own head and into the head of someone else and see things from their point of view.

For over 20 years Nigel Collin has been regarded as one of Australia’s top corporate MCs. He has advised Ministers of Parliament, C-Suite executives and spoken at numerous conferences. He is author of two books, a TED-Xer and Alumni of the Disney Institute. Nigel Collin’s current project has seen him travel on a motorbike around the Country to interview everyday Australians about what it takes to harness creativity, be ingenious and make great ideas happen..

Three things I wish I’d known when I started my business

Originally published by Naomi Simson as part of the LinkedIn Influencer Program

I think back more than a decade to the moment when I thought it was a good idea to start an online business. There are some things I really wish I had known as I set out. Although one mentor said to me years ago, “the greater the loss the bigger the lesson,” there comes a point when if the business lessons get too expensive, it’s all over!

1) It’s never just the good idea
This is the very first moment when you think it is ‘a good idea to run your own show’; you have read of these entrepreneurial heroes who create amazing ‘overnight’ success stories – and you think, “I could do that”. All you need now is that idea – which will make the business simply slip into place and you are on your road to Nirvana. Ah, what a lovely dream. Sorry to bring you down to earth: businesses are one per cent idea and 99 per cent execution. You do still need that bright, shining idea though – because without it you only have hard work.

2) Don’t ask, “Will it work?” Ask, “Do I want it to?”
I’m approached regularly by people wanting to share a new business idea with me. They ask earnestly, “Will it work?” My response to all these queries is always the same: “Why do you want to do it?” Working out “why” you want to start a business (let alone keep running it for a good portion of your adult life) is essential to sustaining you, and ultimately, the success of the enterprise.

3) It’s not about the money
If you are driven solely by financial success in business, think again. Great businesses solve a problem; they make life ‘easier’ – they do things that have not been done before. They make a difference to other human beings. You could argue that great businesses make the world a better place.

All of the great start-ups that you can think of solve a problem. Facebook was about keeping college students connected. Google was about making the world’s information accessible. And think of the number of problems Apple has solved.

So the first step on creating a viable business is to work out what problem you are solving, simply asking ‘what is your purpose?’ It is far easier to create an enterprise when you are really clear about its purpose.

I just happened along our purpose after listening to the impact RedBalloon was having on customers. We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon was not the first business idea I had – but as I look back now I realise that of all the ideas I had, it was the one that inspired me, that I was passionate about, that I could see myself making a difference with.

If I was to pose a question for you to think about it would be ‘Why do you do what you do, and who will give a damn?’ ‘Are you building a better mousetrap or are you changing the game of rodent management?’

Being a great business is all about “the why?”
You need to rally your people behind a cause, a goal, a mission or a number – whatever it is for you. Everything you do, every day needs to play a role in achieving this “why”. Articulate a reason, and then share it with others. Know your definition of success. For me, it’s knowing how many people have had a RedBalloon experience and how we are creating happiness, not only among our customers but also our employees.

Are you absolutely clear as an entrepreneur and business owner why you are doing what you do?

Imagine creating a business about happiness – that’s what Naomi Simson did when she set up online experience retailer RedBalloon in 2001. Since then redballoon.com.au has sold 1.8 million experiences and Naomi has been recognised with the 2008 National Telstra Business Women’s Awards for Innovation and the 2011 Ernst and Young Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She shares her insights at naomisimson.com – in Australia’s top 15 Best Business Blogs – and is a LinkedIn Influencer, dispensing knowledge with an audience of 200 million members..