5 Steps to Achieving Great Things

If you want to achieve really big things. The kinds of things that people believe to be difficult, improbable or even impossible.  It will require passion, purpose, planning and the ability to execute actions. To accomplish them you have to have a plan. That plan has to has to be fueled by passion. The plan has to have an ultimate purpose. Most importantly you have to have the discipline to take the actions necessary to achieve them.

It takes time to map out a plan and be purposed. However, you can’t plan forever, at some point you have to act. When you do, expect people to freak out on you. They will question you. They will tell you it can’t be done. Hell, they will even tell you that you are wrong or stupid. The best innovation comes when the goal you are reaching for is seen to by others as impossible to achieve. You have to have the courage to set a course and stick to it.

The things that are the most worth doing are the ones with the biggest risk. The more impossible or likely to fail the more worth doing something probably is. The only way to ultimately succeed is to take massive risk with the utmost of determination. Performing action while others stand by and mock, laugh or ridicule isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. It won’t win you friends.  However, it will allow you to achieve great things.

To achieve great things you need to do the following.

  1. Find what you are passionate about.
  2. Redirect that passion into a purpose. (what to achieve)
  3. Plan what it would take to fulfill that purpose.
  4. Execute the actions in your plan.
  5. Have the courage to stick to it until complete.

When you learn that the world is your oyster, then all have to do is just take it. When you understand that the only thing keeping you from doing the impossible is you, new doors open up. Fear can be replaced by action. Several actions chained together with purpose can do tremendous things.

It is important to remember that the most important achievements were done by someone taking some sort of action. Leonardo da Vinci expresses it well, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

I urge you to stop trying to know everything. Stop just saying you are willing to make change. Instead, get up and start applying what you know and start doing the change you want to see.

Creativity, Kryptonite to Complexity and Key to the Future

IBM recently released a study on rising complexity in organizations and cited that “creativity” is the key leadership trait that was allowing companies to stand out.  It is what CEO’s find most valuable.

Despite this realization we still have an educational system that guts the creative soul right out of every kindergartner that enters it’s doors.  If we think we are not prepared today, wait 12 years when a graduating class is completely unprepared to operate in this economy.  It’s time to take a stand.  Get off your ass.  Fight for creativity.  Fight for our future.

Part of the creative process is constantly inspecting and adapting to the information unearthed and the forces at work around you.  You better be okay with ambiguity and be prepared to experiment and FAIL regularly.  Ultimately serendipity can be creative rocket fuel and access to it requires deep, meaningful and broad connections with real people and data.  It requires constant iterative scanning based on what you know.  It expects you to be relentless in your pursuits.

Pansies need not apply.  The truly creative are disturbingly disruptive.  They don’t look to be on the top of a market, they look to create entirely new markets even if it means obliterating existing norms.  If you aren’t disrespectful of the status quo on some level, you probably aren’t innovating.

Command and control is out.  Self-Organization is the new standard.  Diversity of ideas and backgrounds is critical.  Open spaces let ideas spread.

IBM asks the following questions…

1. How will you develop the critical capabilities to enhance creativity among your leadership team?

Everyone was born creative.  It’s a matter of unlocking that which has been suppressed.  It starts with a radical change of culture and sense of place.

2. In what ways can you explore, reward and globally integrate diverse and unconventional points of view?

Let people choose their own work and how best solve the problems.  Get the fuck out of their way and let them impress the hell out of you.  You might just be amazed at who steps up.

3. What is your approach to challenge every element of your business model to get the most from currently untapped opportunities?

Connect with your customers and employees.  Ask them what is missing.  Live your product/service and pour your soul into it.  Experiment with wild ideas.

4. How will you leverage new communication styles, technologies and tools, both to lead a new generation of talent and encourage breakthrough thinking?

Stop restricting your employees from communicating digitally.  Get out of lock down mode and get into sharing mode.  Until you can do that, you are already on the death march to being obsolete.

SBR: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seth is back. He really gets it right on this one. This is an excellent book to pair with Richard Florida’s Reset. The world and they way we work in it is radically changing.

This is a good book to help people get ahead during this great changing of industry. One of the better books I read this year. It is easy reading. If you put yourself to it you should be able to finish it in one sitting.

View all my reviews >>

The World is Changing and so is our Economy

We might be in the midst of a recession, but I don’t think we have seen anything yet.  Most of America is not willing to acknowledge a few key concepts.

1. Things won’t bounce back to where they were, expect recovery to be in decades not months.  A new normal has been set.

2. The old economy is dying.  The days of manufacturing things is now a commodity.  That other countries are able to much better and cheaper.

3. Our educational system is broken to prepare America’s youth for the new economy.

I understand that I sound like chicken little and at this point people are laughing at the mention of the sky falling.  I could point to statistics and reputable journalists, but perhaps the best thing to do is show you reality.  Let’s take a look at a great city that at one time was the “model city” for “industrial” America, Detroit.

It literally lays in ruins.  It looks vacant similar to Chernobyl after a nuclear meltdown.  Will all cities be in this position?  No.  Is there a little of Detroit coming to every city?  Yes.  We can no longer stand idle and watch as things decay.  It is time to step up and unite.  Tackle the tough problems we face in educating our youth and training a displaced workforce.  It is time to make creativity and innovation core to our culture and walk through to the other side prosperous and and top.   As you watch these samples of urban decay ask yourself what you can do to change your neighborhood, city and state.  How can you help be part of the solution?

Sunday Book Review: The Great Reset by Richard Florida

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity by Richard Florida

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Richard Florida returns to form in this book. He is spot on in his assessments of our current crisis and what it means to future generations. While I am conflicted about the changes that are already occurring it is impossible to ignore them any longer. This is a must read to anyone caring about economics, government and/or education.

View all my reviews >>

Note: Trying something new other than the thumbs up/down reviews because Good Reads makes it so simple now.

Coworking is a commodity. It is a race to the bottom.

I read  “A case against ‘free trial coworking‘” by Alex Hillman from IndyHall and it reminded why I can’t relate to the coworking movement.  I purposefully use the word collaborative workspace when talking about Gangplank because implying that there is a coworking component is a misleading comparison.

Coworking claims to be trans-formative and future thinking.  Changing how people work and think about work, but in reality it is a lie.  It highlights independence of the worker, but still structures itself on old economy models of thinking.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s examine a single phrase from this article to highlight the point.

‘..it’s unwise in an early stage business to give ANYTHING away that you wouldn’t otherwise charge for..’

That is conventional wisdom.  That if you give something away it costs what you gave. The more you have the less I have.  The more I share the more I lose.  This is a dying model.  Repackaging it as a revolution by telling the participants they have ‘independence’ is disingenuous.

The truth is charging for space turns the relationship into a transaction and destroys the ability for real community to flourish.  Coworking is a commodity.  It is a race to the bottom.

At Gangplank we choose to give our space away for free.  All the time, not just on a trial basis. When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does.  The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits.  Giving space as a gift with no reciprocity allows us to experiment and create.  We seek to help people be dangerous and challenge the status quo. It’s not for everyone, but it’s how we see the world and we hope to help the right people change their view of the world and how they contribute back to it.  We want to give them the gift of finding the creator within themselves.

Metro Phoenix has been hit harder than most during this recession.  We feel that giving to the community freely let’s us all prosper more quickly.  It increases the quality of bond between our members and ultimately strengthens our community.  It leaves an obligation for our members to help the next person.  The gift creates a surplus as it spreads and ultimately gives us joy.

The argument we always hear is ‘Some one has to pay for it.  You can’t run a space for free’.  The truth is if you were remarkable you would find a way to give it away for free.

The reason Gangplank is hard to quantify is because its worth something more than we could ever charge in rent.

Arizona Town Hall Session III & IV

Yesterday I asked for feedback on Sessions I & II.  Today I am asking the same for Sessions III & IV.  I will be posting the questions for discussion here in hope that you will respond back to them on your own blog and leave a comment pointing to it or comment directly here.  I will do my best to make sure your voice is heard even if it contradicts my own opinion on the subject.

Session III – Getting the Jobs We Want and Funding

  1. What specific types of jobs does Arizona wish to attract and retain to provide the ideal economy for its people?  Consider: differences in urban, rural and tribal areas; how jobs interact with quality of life and the environment; factors unique to Arizona, such as its weather, geography, natural resources (including water), and tribal populations.  Also consider both small and large employers.
  2. What general factors are most important in attracting and retaining the types of jobs Arizona wants?  Consider, for example, physical infrastructure (including transportation), educational institutions, a trained and literate workforce, “sense of place”, cultural opportunities, climate, political structures, laws, taxes, and any other factors. To what extent does Arizona currently focus on these factors?  Which factors offer the best opportunities for attracting and retaining the types of jobs Arizona wants?
  3. What incentives specific to the creation, retention and recruitment of preferred jobs in Arizona have the best results?  Why?  Consider tax breaks, government support, research and development support, start-up incubators and the role of universities among others. To what extent are we able to measure the effectiveness of such incentives? How well does Arizona utilize such incentives to achieve the best mix of quality jobs?  Where are the best opportunities for improvement?  What are the greatest challenges for improvement, and how can these challenges best be resolved?
  4. What public and private resources currently are available to support economic development that leads to the creation, retention and recruitment of preferred jobs?  What actions, if any, should be taken to increase, diversify or stabilize funding for economic development?  What factors present barriers to the optimal development of funding for economic development?  How can barriers best be overcome?

Session IV – Getting There: Setting Priorities and Taking Action (It is my hope that I will have posted sessions I & II for you :))

  1. Based on your discussions over the last two days, what are the most important actions that should be taken to sustain and develop Arizona’s economy and position Arizona to compete effectively with other economies throughout the world for jobs, capital investment, and other desired economic activities?
  2. How should the actions identified in response to the previous question be prioritized?  Which of these actions should we take immediately?  Which actions should be taken over a longer period of time?  Why?
  3. What is the most effective way to ensure that the actions identified in this session are implemented?  What is each Arizonan’s role and responsibility in this process?  How can individuals fulfill the roles and responsibilities identified in response to the prior question as members of business, government or other organizations?  What is the role of entities, including businesses, government, organizations and others in accomplishing these actions?

After the final plenary session I plan to post any data they give back to us.  Thanks for playing along at home!

Arizona Town Hall Session I & II

Ran into @szylstra and @kimberlanning tonight at the Arizona Town Hall.  So here is the 10 second overview.  About 150 people are selected to participate in the Town Hall.  They are then broken in to groups by the organizers.  The key is diversity (political views, backgrounds, race, gender, physical location, etc)  Then for two days these groups sequester themselves into panels.  Each group is given the same list of things to discuss.  There is a recorder and chair to get final consensus for each  group.

At the end of everyday the recorders/chairs meet and merge all the recommendations of the groups together.  On the final day a merged document is presented to the entire Town Hall.  A plenary session is then done to reconcile anything the recorders got wrong.  This is then made into a final document.  One of the universities then make an official version that gets passed around the state as recommendation.

I feel that while I have my own strong opinions,  it is important to get as many people heard as possible at an event like this.  So  I will be posting the questions for discussion here in hope that you will respond back to them on your own blog and leave a comment pointing to it or comment directly here.  I will do my best to make sure your voice is heard even if it contradicts my own opinion on the subject.

Session I – Evaluating Arizona’s Current Economy

  1. What general factors have most significantly shaped Arizona’s current economy?  What are the greatest strengths of Arizona’s statewide economy?  How do these strengths differ among the various components of the economy, including rural, urban and tribal communities?
  2. What are the most significant weaknesses of Arizona’s economy?   What actions has Arizona taken to address these weaknesses and change the economy?  What actions have stakeholders in Arizona’s economy taken to grow, change, or sustain the state’s economy and to attract investment, jobs and business activity?
  3. To what extent is Arizona’s economy affected by national and international economic conditions?  What unique assets does Arizona have that may enhance its competitiveness in the global economy?  How does Arizona’s economy compare with other states, and with communities throughout the world, for investments, jobs and business activity?
  4. What specific factors present barriers to the optimal development and functioning of a vibrant and competitive economy for the entire state?  How do these factors vary by region of the state?  What strategies is Arizona currently using, statewide and locally, to retain, grow and attract businesses and jobs?

Session II – Developing a Vibrant, Innovative & Competitive Economy

  1. What guiding principles should shape efforts to grow, change or sustain Arizona’s economic activity?  What efforts and activities influence the future development and operation of Arizona’s economy?  What factors should be considered in connection with such efforts and activities? Consider: global competitiveness; the interaction of various state and local economic systems and how they enhance or compete with each other; diversification and quality of jobs; factors unique to Arizona such as its environment, weather, population demographics, and the large proportion of federal, tribal and state land trusts.
  2. In what ways do stakeholders work together to influence Arizona’s economic development and to grow, change or sustain economic activity within Arizona?  Consider governing bodies (federal, state, tribal, regional, county and local), private industry, nonprofits, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, universities and private think tanks, workforce development groups, and the general public.  What would optimize the cooperation of these groups?
  3. How do market forces and government interact to affect Arizona’s economy?  How are the fiscal challenges of national, state and local governments affecting the development of Arizona’s economy?
  4. Considering the factors identified in your response to the previous question, what strategies should be implemented to best meet Arizona’s economic goals?  Which of these strategies do not require additional funding and how viable are they?

If they get me back the data on the consolidated answers to these every night I will transcribe and post them here.  I urge you to please participate.  If for no other reason than to start thinking about these issues. :)

Arizona’s Economic Competitors

The following five states are seen as competitors to Arizona for economic development. (I listed them in order I personally feel are most competitive to least competitive)

  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada

I think that Portland, OR and Boulder, CO are two cities that are really attracting the right kind of people for innovation.  I firmly believe we need to play to our strengths and not try to replicate their success.  However, it is worth taking a look at what policy decisions especially at a State level have been made to help those cities foster a talent pool.

The New Economy: A Guide For Arizona

Getting ready for the 96th Arizona Town Hall, I am reading their report Building Arizona’s Future: Jobs, Innovation & Competitiveness.  It references a 1999 paper from the Morrison Institute The New Economy: A Guide for Arizona.  It lists eight principles that underpin the new economy…

  1. Technology is a given
  2. Globalization is here to stay
  3. Knowledge builds wealth
  4. People are the most important raw material
  5. There is no such thing as a smooth ride
  6. Competition is relentless
  7. Alliances are the way to get things done
  8. Place still matters

Those  items in bold are the very thing that Gangplank espouses and I will be reminding the Town Hall the importance of them.  Most importantly, I will remind them that good and talented people are the key.

Five foundations found to be critical based off this study were

  1. Connecting (telecommunications infrastructure)
  2. E-Government (getting government on-line for faster/better service)
  3. E-Learning (distance learning and technology in classrooms)
  4. Creative Communities (amenity-rich communities with strong quality of place)
  5. Knowledge leaders, entrepreneurs and capital (higher education, R&D, tech transfer, incubation and VC)

Again those items highlighted are the essence of Gangplank.  We are proud that the City of Chandler is standing as a strong supporter in providing ALL of these things and why we think they will be the CORE of the Sun Corridor.

Please leave comments to tell me I’m wrong, stupid and idiotic.  I am looking for motivation.