Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The alternative to failure

How many times did I fail at making gnocchi dough before it came out right?

The answer really doesn't matter, the point is that I failed the first few times before getting it right. Each failure was a lesson, but most people don't really look at it that way. In fact, let's scratch out the word failure.

Failure is a bad word. A lot of writing these days has been devoted to reinventing the way we look at failure, though perhaps the use of the word itself is the source of the problem. Next time you find yourself using the word failure, replace it with something else.

Here are some suggestions (some are made up): I explored, I insighted, I poked, I learned, I experimented...

(by the way the answer is 2)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Urban Lunchbox

Idea School posted a new blog post today about Shawn Petersen's Green Urban Lunchbox project. You should go over and check it out: http://www.theideaschool.org/blog/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

True Freedom

In a recent conversation I spoke about the decision to sell my car. The conversation proceeded like this:

"[Walking] is actually pretty nice. Plus there's always the bus"
"Yeah and trax. Idk that would probably be a good financial decision but I feel like I'd lose freedom"

This got me thinking. What exactly is freedom? And is the freedom that you think you have really freedom at all? I'm going to turn this one upside down.

I propose that most of us live with the illusion of freedom. You think because you have a car and the freedom of mobility that you actually have freedom?

(sorry for using you as an example friend, I'll cook you dinner to make up?? =D)

The friend I had this conversation with is afraid of losing her overall freedom, but really by selling her car she could be expanding it. I know, because I've lived it.

Before I sold my car last August, I was spending about $240/month on payments and $160/month on insurance, plus gas and maintenance.

Here's the facts:

  • Owning a car meant a car payment, which meant I had to work more hours just to own the car
    • suddenly my decisions about my time are being dictated by how much money I have
  • It also meant having to pay insurance, which meant more working, and thus less time.
  • As a side bonus, driving was a huge crutch activity for me. I could drive around for hours, subsequently wasting gas and time while accomplishing nothing.
The elimination of all these things amounted to the expected $240 car payment and the $160 in insurance, but there was an extra $200, which came as a huge surprise. I realized that by owning a convenience good (a car in this case) I actually allowed myself to waste more time, thus netting less overall productivity.

The decision to sell prompted me to move downtown, closer to work in order to make my commute negligible. Finally, I reached a balance: limited, but free mobility. I'd learned new skills, such as using the public transit system, cabs, and re-learning to ride a bike. The latter of which has great physical implications. Also, I now have tons of extra money because I've allowed myself to work more, I never get parking tickets, I'm usually early to things, and I spend all my extra time on Idea School and my extra money on it as well.

Were I not to sell my car and limit my mobility, it would not have forced me to focus and define activities that were actually important.

If you're stuck, try making life a little less convenient. It will at least get you thinking.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Confilicting Advice

There are a lot of ways that people over-complicate the process of doing something awesome!

 Here's some shitty advice:
  • You need money to start a business or change the world
  • You need to write a business plan in order to succeed
  • You have to have a degree in that field, or at least a degree in something
  • You have to be experienced in your industry
  • You have to interrupt people with your marketing
  • You have to work really hard 
  • You need to give up your life
The above menu of 'advice' is typically doled out as soon as you mention your little idea that will actually change the status quo and make a difference. Been there, I promise it's true. Now, to be honest there is some truth to each of these statements.

This, in my opinion (take it for what it's worth to you) is a better list of to-dos:

  • You need to invest in your business or world-changing idea.
    • You need to spend some money, but you need to have a reason for spending it. Don't let the bad advice people give you cause a panic in your heart! The amount of money you need can vary greatly and can be raised (I recommend you raise it by working) over time. It doesn't need to be raised in one lump sum
  • Business plans are dumb. 
    • Do what works for you. Never do something because somebody says you need to
    • I clarified my goals and path by deciding what they were and doing them.
    • It wasn't easy to just do it; it took a lot of beating myself up about making the 'right' decision, but I got there eventually
    • Plan your own way. Pictures, videos, writing, whatever works. The point is that it works for you
  • What does a degree qualify you for anyway?
    • A piece of paper doesn't qualify you to do anything.
    • Build a reputation instead by doing free work for people or volunteering with them and leading them.
  • If the experience myth were true, nobody would do anything
    • You gain experience by taking action over time. Period.
    • The clock starts ticking when you take your first action.
  • People like being engaged more than they like being interrupted
    • Try finding people that need something or want to be led somewhere and help them!
    • People will follow you and your message if you are generous, bold, and will take risks for them.
  • You need to work hard doing something that inspires you
    • Anything less will cause you to give up and possibly go bat-shit insane
    • "Interest and energy both wax and wane." Timothy Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek
    • You need your inspiration and excitement to fuel your work.
  • You don't need to be as generous as, or live like Mother Teresa
    • For a long time I had a hard time with this, I still do. I'm human. I thought that figures like Mother Teresa were the only legitimate world-changers. And that I must emulate their lifestyle. NOT that I compare to her work in ANY way. She's a badass++. That's a double plus if you were wondering.
    • I'm pretty sure (about 99%) that you don't need to give up your own personal happiness or satisfaction in order to change the world.
The point is, do what you have to do and be as giving as you can be. In the long run we're here to help you. Just drop us a line.