People Proceed Products: My Business is Your Business.

BusinessCardLook, look! I have a business card. I must be in business!

And what might my business be? 

For the time being, I’m in the business of learning what my business will be. To paraphrase, Sartre: people proceed products.

And what does that mean?

I know what matters to me, and I know what my core skills are. My task now is to find a group of people with whom I want to work, and figure out a problem of theirs that I can uniquely solve.

To put it another way, I need to find my target market, identify my value proposition, and learn how to explain it in terms my target audience understands and, ideally, calls their own.

In practical terms, this means, for the next little while, I will be talking to people, testing ideas, and seeing what sticks with who, how, and, ideally, why.

If you want to keep on top of how things develop, please follow this blog and/or add your name to my email list.

In the meantime, take a look at my new About page. It should give you a rough idea where I think I am heading — with a heavy emphasis on “think.”

No, not for that reason, but because people proceed products.

Not in a Position to be a Missionary? You’re Probably F**ked.

ZealHad you been born a hundred years ago, do you think you would have been a missionary? I would have been, I think.

I was a poor kid, by Canadian standards, and bright. I would have wanted an education. The priesthood would have been my only option. My sense of adventure and stubborn zeal would have sent me overseas.

Today, that missionary zeal is an absolute prerequisite for success.

Whatever it is you do, whatever success might look like for you, ultimately, you’re in sales. You’re always on the hunt for someone who will buy whatever it is you’re selling, be it a product, service, belief, value, or ideal.

The best salespeople are missionaries. They are always looking to convert, convert, convert. They believe in what they sell, with a zeal so genuine, so rooted in the absolute conviction of the value they have to offer, it never feels like selling.

Do you have a missionary’s zeal for whatever it is you do? Do you think your product, service, belief, value, or ideal will truly make a monumental difference in another person’s life?

No? Then, you’re probably fucked. Good luck with that.

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Be Absurd. If It’s Good Enough for Life, It’s Good Enough For Living.

TheAbsurdThat’s foolish. That’s irrational. That’s absurd.

You will hear it a lot, when you dare to deviate from the norm of your family, tribe or clan. If you are an entrepreneur or aspire to be an entrepreneur, you better get used to hearing it.

An entrepreneur is almost always a deviant.

The entrepreneurial impulse is driven by a desire to fill a need no one else is filling, to solve a problem no one else is solving, or to do either in a way no one else has thought of before.

Giving up on the well-trodden path of a salary and security to pursue an untested idea, to fill a hole no one else can see, will almost always elicit the bleating call of the naysayers.

In almost every case, ignoring the naysayers is the best way forward. Don’t feed the trolls, as they say.

Constructive criticism from friends, family and peers should be cherished and welcomed at every turn, but that’s not what naysayers are up to. No, they want to scare and discipline you back into the herd. Ignore them.

Sometimes, however, the urge to scratch that itch may be too hard to resist. When the urge strikes, try this approach. It’s my personal favorite right now.

You don’t need to be Camus to know life is absurd. It takes only a moment’s reflection on the size of the universe, the improbability of life, and the certainty of death to realize that human existence is absurd.

Yes, my decision and direction is foolish, irrational, and absurd, but so is life, and I’m not giving up on it. If the absurd is good enough for life, it’s good enough for living. So, shut the fuck up.

Are you launching a new enterprise, which is absurd in the eye of the naysayers? What, so far, is your favorite or best response to them?

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The Surest Path To Failure Is To Be True to Oneself. So Why Am I Smiling So Much?

TheDividedSelfA decision has been made. Of that much, I am sure.

In the past few weeks, however, I’ve read enough “popular” neuroscience to know that “I” did not make this decision, if by “I,” one means the self-conscious inner monologue that most people equate with “I,” and which is mostly responsible for most of the words I put here.

What’s more, I am also certain that the certainty and conviction, which has arrived hand-in-glove with this decision, is not the logical result of careful and rational deliberation. The “certainty” light in the dashboard of my brain is rosily lit, but not for any reason that can be connected to reason because what I have in mind for the future will almost certainly fail.

This is not false modesty. It is the brutal reality of entrepreneurship. Almost all entrepreneurial projects end in failure. Period. To make matters worse, the idea that I am pursuing lies on the plausibility scale somewhere between foolish and silly because it originates in a hunch that flies in the face of all logic, reason, and experience, but, nevertheless, rings true to me.

Unfortunately, thanks to the logic of the market, the surest and most certain path to failure is to be true to oneself. The market only ever favours and rewards that which has mass appeal, and never that which is unique and idiosyncratic. Or, at least, so it seems.

And yet, my pleasure centres are firing like they haven’t fired in a long time. The dopamine is running like sap in Spring. Undoubtedly, some much less rational part of me has decided that this is the right — nay, the only — way forward. Dopamine never lies, right?

Ultimately, the path forward isn’t terribly romantic. I will keep my costs low, work to develop some revenue streams, and see what happens while my savings last. Seems simple enough, but so does rocket science — I mean, that’s just sticking humans in a metal pod on top of a giant exploding stick, right? In practice, how hard can that be? Right?

Are you pursuing — or thinking about pursuing — a crazy idea that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of succeeding in hell’s market. I’d love to hear about it. The more the merrier! Why? Because I know, if you are like me, you are having — or about to have — the time of your life, and who wouldn’t want to share in that.

Please leave a comment below.

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