Thursday, February 16, 2012

create the context for work to get done

Brad Feld explains the need to create an environment that is motivating;

If you generalize this, it plays out over and over again every day. The great entrepreneurs I know work incredibly hard at creating environments that are motivating. They don’t pound away at the specific task of “motivating people”, rather they pay attention to creating context, removing barriers, being supportive, putting the right people in the room, and leading by doing. All of these things create a context in which people are motivated.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The quiet of a snowfall

The heart of the city is a boisterous resonating enclave. People and vehicles are continually juxtaposing nosily for position on the very limited concrete that the streets and sidewalks afford. Add the hum of buildings, the swoosh of revolving doors, horns from aggrieved  drivers, the vibrations, the static dim and the decibel levels are deafening.  

On a winter afternoon, imperceptibly at first, snow starts to fall and fall and fall. The sounds of the city that were so pervasive earlier begin to muffle.  The clap of shoes against the sidewalk is not discernible in the gathering snow. The reverberation of the cars pressing against the road is cushioned by the new fallen layer of powder. The chatting of passerby’s is absorbed by the crystalline formations floating in the air. The hum is modulated, the swoosh is stilled, the horns grow silent, the vibrations are dampened, the all-pervasive dim is gone, the lights flicker without the accompany pitch, the daily tasks continue to unfold though at a slower pace, the harmony of movement itself takes on a dream like quality. The melody of the city softens. The snow falls and a resonating city is peacefully blanketed by the quiet of a snowfall.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Taking control of events

There are a lot of lessons that can be gleamed from Sunday's Super Bowl finish. First let me set the stage.

Your team is leading, time is winding down in the game. The opponent is getting very close to scoring the winning points with no time on the clock. The probability of scoring is high thou not absolute. The coach of the Patriots chose to allow the Giants to score uncontested, thus giving his team the chance to come back and win themselves.

1)    I give the coach all the credit in the world for making a decision. He chose to take control rather than let events unfold. To often we use hope as a strategy and tend to be reactive. His proactive response thou not successful in this instance is the template for the decision making process going forward.

2)    Yield and conquer is hallmark of Lao Tzu's classic "Tao Te Ching"

3)    Goals require risk.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kicking the can down the road

Joshua Brown  explains the last six years pretty succinctly. This has not been your average Great Recession. Individuals and businesses that are still drawing breath have had to adjust in major ways.

We've all been through the ringer.  Some of us have gained a little extra weight and sprouted some premature white hairs.  Some of us have had to give up things and activities we loved.  Some of us have downsized our lifestyles substantially.  This economy has cost us all something - vacations, cars, jobs and even marriages.

And when you're living in a state of lowered expectations for so long, it becomes easy to imagine that this is the way it has to be.  That this is it and the best you can do is not get killed.


But what happens if the treadmill speeds up beneath our feet?
What if this is for real now after so many stutters and stoppages?
What if people keep getting jobs and giving jobs?
What if the malls and the restaurants and the morning commuter trains start filling up again?

Are you ready for that?  Have you done anything over the last few years to set up for that possibility?  Or have you spent all this time in the bunker, doing nothing because of "the conditions out there"?

It's okay if you've been in hiding.  Or just shuffling through the months with your head down so it couldn't get chopped off again.  We all did a little of that.  But you might want to consider rubbing your eyes and coming outside.  You might want to consider emerging and shaking off the bunker dust.  Because there will be a future after all, gang.  And the people who can switch their mindsets the fastest are gonna own that future.  Same as it ever was.
The "Vision Thing" plays a big role here - we're not talking about mindless optimism, we're talking about guts and planning.

And worse than the losers are the haters, the glass-is-always-half-empty crowd.  "But it's not enough jobs added, and it doesn't matter because of the debt, and Iran, and Europe, and China, and oil prices..."  What makes these people so dangerous is that they are absolutely right on the details but dead-ass wrong on the consequences.  And they have no context.  They don't
understand that throughout history shit has always been fucked up and yet people find a way to get things done and move forward.  It will be no different now, but the haters have so many statistics handy to keep you out of the game, under the bleachers with them and the rest of the cowards.

You know the type, the guy who looks at a solution or an improvement and says some stupid shit like "But they're just kicking the caaaaaaaaaaan, all they're doing is kicking the caaaaaaaaaan."  Do me a favor, bro - grab yourself by the hair, yank your head down into an overflowing sink full of water, hold your face under it until you stop wriggling.  You think I want to spend the last forty or so years of my life listening to you whining about kicking the can?
By the way, kicking the can is good.  Rather, having the flexibility to kick the can, which we do, is a good thing.  If you've ever run a business then you know this; you have a list of things you can spend on now and then you have a list of things you'd like to spend on when you're in a better financial position to do so.  Sure there's a moment when you have to take some pain, but being able to choose the moment is not a negative, no matter what the ideologues say.
And go to the gym.  Go do some push-ups or run around the block.  You're far less susceptible to self-defeating negativity when the blood is flowing and you're active.  This is more important now than ever.  The winners of the next phase are the people with the most energy.  The entrepreneurs who are willing to invent their own jobs where none exist and can will themselves into a career whether the Man in the Suit said so or not.  You can't kick the door down and walk into a room chest n' chin first if you're lethargic and fat.  Get the fuck up already.  Ritholtz is in the gym right now, y'all.

This is not about keeping a stupid New Years Resolution or anything quite so pedestrian.  This is about something so much bigger, a purpose so much higher.
I have no idea when this secular bear market and the attendant economic malaise will truly be over - but I know for a fact that if you're not planning for its end you're going to miss your chance.  You'll be flatfooted for the pivot, too close-minded for the turn, too fat for the sprint that begins when those Animal Spirits take hold.

So get your shit together.  Now.

National Pizza Day

More pizza will be consumed today than on any other day of the year.

Raise a slice to nature's most perfect food.

Enjoy a pizza today!