Ideas breathe new life into this world.
A bit of imagination, inspiration and leadership is what we desperately need right now to get us out of this terrible mess.
It is time to de-mystify entrepreneurship, often seen as one of the pinnacles of creativity in our working lives.
But first a drink, cup of coffee?
Talking about coffee, to you and me, it may seem difficult, nay impossible to change anything related to the process or experience of drinking a simple cup of coffee.
But the number of people I have met over the years who have come up with the equivalent idea of re-inventing coffee, yet for different products, are almost uncountable.
The self-belief to do things just that little bit differently, better or not at all is essentially what entrepreneurship is all about.
Uniqueness is down to fractions.
Simple, not easy I hear you think.
My ‘prior-self’ thought that locking myself up in a so-called cave would be the only way to come up with new, whacky or world changing ideas to start my own business.
No noise, interference or other distractions.
Plenty of time to think, finally.
Do not get me wrong, there is always plenty of room for pause, reflection and adjustment however ‘Eureka!’ moments are more frequently the outcome of a process, not triggered by a moment of sheer brilliance.
Yes, ideas may come after a deliberate, careful and extensive scan of things happening around us to then figure out how to solve these day-to-day problems.
A detective eye is what is needed, not missing a trick.
To use scientific terms, observe, test, challenge, adjust and conclude [repeat].
More likely, you may happen to stumble across something one day that gets you slightly frustrated. A moment of friction that sparks a question.
Someone must have thought of this already, surely.
You are likely correct; however, those people may not have had the time, space, information or energy to run with it.
The 4 key factors of entrepreneurial success.
It is not money, age or risk appetite.
The fact whether an idea works or not is causally related to how effectively someone has worked with their environment.
A deep, diverse and extensive network not only creates opportunities but also provides a good support structure, excellent sounding board and ‘perfect’ market.
If the idea works there, the idea works anywhere.
Let me share with you an example of how to make an idea work in practice using the information available around us.
The example is split into two parts.
The first part describes the process of generating the idea whereas the second part covers the impact of the idea on myself.
All things considered, a successful experiment which nicely aligns with the concept that, when you change, the environment around you changes and vice versa.
So here goes the first part.
After leaving Goldman Sachs, I talked with a lot of people from all kinds of backgrounds who shared their stories, thoughts and experiences.
I dubbed this exercise ‘travelling back to the future’ as it included people from my youth, previous work and university days too.
Admittedly, I was initially focused on just getting a job as quickly as possible. I was not big on networking, selling (myself) or anything related to that ‘soft’ stuff.
I had to self-learn all those things by looking around, asking questions and listening i.e. making use of the environment around me.
Anyway, to encourage people to share information, I applied the reciprocal concept of freely sharing my time, energy, head-space and information to demonstrate the value of my skills, experience and services i.e ‘trust trades’.
Curiously enough, I soon noticed that every contact talked about the same issues concerning data, technology, governance and people.
Those words or terms were not necessarily used in each conversation, also bear in mind that anything related to re-invention or transformation was nothing major 4 or 5 years back either.
Nobody seemed to be aware that everybody faced the same issues.
Something had to be packaged up to encourage people to step out of their silos, start communicating and make connections to open up a whole new world of possibilities.
The idea of a re-invention programme was born.
I realised that re-invention is exactly what I did in my prior roles at Goldman Sachs only on a much a smaller scale across different departments, businesses and regions.
The trick was to replicate this concept in a different arena on a much larger scale.
A bit like the next phase of a prototype, only people could not physically see the idea as it did not yet exist holistically in our minds.
The future did exist but in pockets.
In simple terms, individual people were not aware of what is possible and, between you and me, I was not either but I became increasingly more excited the more I talked with specialists within their areas.
It was time to make this ‘hidden’ future more visible.
I started to combine theory with practice by connecting the dots between snippets of information either from the past or the present.
The latter included the growing network whilst the past included information shared either in printed or digital format by people, who thought about the same problems, in a much more isolated fashion due to lack of technology.
Technology has helped us to accelerate the spread of information to distribute the future more evenly or, at least, to make the future more accessible.
The problem for me then was to present the idea in a coherent manner, to align the narrative with the times, covering all aspects of re-invention whilst adjusting for any lessons learned including my own personal experience.
These meetings with people turned into a ‘Wikipedia’ type network that shared data, information and experiences.
All in all, this process enabled me to formulate AND demonstrate the recipe for transformation or re-invention at scale.
A good number of examples were shared where things worked in reality and I added thought leadership on how stuff could be changed using a healthy dose of imagination.
This entire exercise turned into 4 years’ worth of social media posts framed around collaboration, innovation, transformation and partnerships to then cover norms, diversity and inclusivity among other topics too.
All key ingredients to make re-invention a success.
The formula worked, Eureka!
A new view of the world that is just that little bit different.
We have now arrived at part two of the narrative to explain how the idea of re-invention changed myself.
This sometimes lengthy, painful and tiresome process of retrieving information from different pockets helped me to articulate over time ‘what I do’ and ‘who I am’.
The information was captured on a company and personal website which allowed people to get to know the person behind the company too.
I knew a person who could help i.e strategic introductions. I enjoyed solving puzzles in real life i.e logo. I could combine information to come up with novel ideas i.e case studies.
The fact was that these two-way conversations with ‘my’ network or environment served as a mirror to highlight my own toolset to myself.
Previously I just did something in practice based on what feels right without really knowing there were various theories, methods or models dedicated to all this.
A reverse way of doing things perhaps.
It never really occurred to me that I enjoyed my entire life to bring people together to make things happen.
The network allowed me to travel back to my younger-self; less fearful, more ambitious and trusting.
I realised that ‘I am what I do’.
The triangle of ‘what I do’, ‘who I am’ and ‘I am what I do’ was complete.
It is nice to talk about this process in hindsight using the right words, lingo and references.
As said, it is hard to make sense of it whilst you are at it.
The next question for me now is what framework will be used to channel my skills, experiences and services. All that is still relevant, no matter what the outcome.
I have channeled the story; the environment must now decide where to best apply these skills, experiences and services.
It is somewhat beyond my control; it is up to other people too i.e who do I do it for.
To further substantiate my re-invention story in the meantime, after a 16 year career in financial services, I had to also become the Chief Executive Officer of the family ‘business’ including two children who are now aged 9 and 7 years old.
A different kind of start-up experience with my wife returning to full-time employment.
Pretty much a complete reversal of ‘traditional’ roles within our ‘partnership’ as to who caters for our family’s daily needs.
Homeschooling for a duration of 14 weeks has recently been thrown into the mix for good measure.
It is challenge to find ways to make this work altogether.
Stakeholder management to a different degree.
Still spending valuable time working hard but not getting paid for it.
Surely, someone must come up with a way to compare paid and non-paid work like-for-like to allow us to better value our time.
The point is, you always work for someone either directly or indirectly which makes entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and interpreneurship synonymous really.
Making the most of our environment to solve problems for others.
This whole process of discovery led me to self-discover the value I can bring to others to answer the question ‘what do I do it for’ i.e purpose.
A valuable experience giving me self-worth irrespective of whether this story becomes a business. I know there is an audience or market for it.
The integration of theory with practice is a powerful combination, we now need some strong global leadership to breathe some life into this world again.
They say the true acid test of a good idea is that is so obvious, easy to understand and straightforward that it makes people think ‘why did I not think of this’.
Some may suggest they self-discovered this idea of re-invention already.
The ‘Egg of Columbus’ re-visited.
Drink, anyone?Get More Information
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