Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to Create Your Reason + Tony Robbins energy for life

Tony Robbins — Energy For Life...

Here's a tiny question: what do you do when reach the edge of heartbreak?

Consider the story of my good friend Priya. Let go from a successful career in finance, with no new opportunities on the horizon, Priya bravely decided to write a book about careers and meaning. One long year later, Priya's blown through her savings, broken up with her partner, moved back to her parents' place, and generally feels like her so-called future just went Vesuvius.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of...whatever. Ah, screw it: what's the point, anyways? In that sentiment, Priya's hardly alone. If you're under the age of 35 and/or worth less than a few dozens of millions, you probably get the sinking feeling, by now, that you're being written off by today's leaders. Here's the inconvenient truth...you are.

I don't mean to get post-Bieber power ballad emo on you, but the great danger of this great hurricane of a never-ending crisis is that our will to live is quietly diminished. Not in the sense of jumping screaming off the nearest bridge — but in the less noticeable yet perhaps more lethal sense of resigning ourselves to mediocrity, triviality, lives we don't want because they don't feel they count. Hence: the great obligation you and I have right here, right now, then, children of the hurricane, isn't merely to give up on life — but precisely the opposite: to redouble our furious pursuit of lives well lived.

I believe that each and every one us is here for a reason. Go ahead: get it out of your system. Roll your eyes, purse your lips, LOL, luxuriously wallow in cynicism for a moment — and then consider what tends to happen to those that have no great, abiding reason to be here. They sink, ineluctably, into depression; life seems to pass them by; they feel powerless, hopeless, fatalistic, and finally, come to see themselves as refugees from life; not creators of lives.

You and I know: homo economicus is about as good a role model as the love child of Freddy Krueger and Alien. Each and every one of us needs more than mere stuff and trinkets if we are to fully pursue happiness. We know: we need friends, security, stability, status, respect if we are to have a fighting chance at glimmers of contentment, delight, joy. Yet there is a truer need still: a reason to live fully, wholly, searingly; a reason that elevates us, at our best, past the mundane, and into the noble, good, and true. And unless this need is answered, our lives will always feel somehow reduced, lessened, blunted, a masterpiece seen through a veil of gauze, achingly incomplete. Each and every one of us is here for a reason; and it is that reason that anchors our stretching branches firmly in the soil of life.

So here's the deal, broski. You and I don't need a reason merely for romantic reasons; to add a celestial veneer of bogus miracle to the dreary predictability of our lives. Each and every one needs a reason for the most pragmatic of reasons: to evoke the best, noblest, and truest in us; and so to persevere in the pursuit of lives well lived. The tiny miracle of life is us — and whom we can choose to become.

So here are my five tiny rules for creating your reason.


Total surrender. Everyday for the last year, Priya's gone to the café and...checked her Facebook. The self-help books and the mystical gurus will tell you: just imagine hard enough, and the life you so fervently desire will — poof!! — manifest. Let's be honest: it's a pleasant fairy tale for the nail-bitingly insecure. The simple truth is: If you want to live a life worth living, you have to do a lot (lot) more than merely wish for it: you have to work for it. And not merely in the brain-dead sense of "80 hours a week, at a job you hate, with people you hate, for a boss you want to stab, doing work that makes you want to projectile vomit, to benefit sociopathic shareholders that would rather see you miserable, fat, broke, and dead than fulfilled." I mean work for it in a more profound sense: you must work to create a reason that demands from you nothing less than the furious, uncompromising pursuit of a life well lived; and if, like Priya, your so-called reason's leading you to spin your wheels and go nowhere fast...it's probably not one powerful enough to surrender to.


Absolute clarity. A reason is not a purpose. Priya's real mistake is that she's confused a purpose — writing books — with a reason: why the books must (not should, but absolutely, totally, must, or else your whole life will feel empty, wasted, pointless, over) be written. Imagine you were a master stonemason. Your purpose might be to build a great cathedral. But your reason might be to approach the divine, to leave a legacy, or simply to do great work. A purpose, then, is a set of accomplishments — but a reason is the animating force behind them; it is the "why" that gives sense to the "what"; and without it, all our "whats" may end up being empty, barren, senseless in the terms of a life that feels well lived. Priya, like many people I know, is a stonemason with a blueprint — but no incendiary, unstoppable, inescapable reason to begin building.

Facebook In Real, Facebook in real life

Real life. So if, like Priya, you can't quite seem to put your finger on your reason, how do you begin? Here's the trick. The reason isn't found, or discovered. It is created. It is the great act of a life; the culminating act that joins our choices and decisions into a trajectory that resonates. A purpose is what you make: a book, a company, a bonus. A reason is what you live: knowledge, art, enlightenment, and more. What do you want your life to be? What is it that you want to live? When it comes not just to stuff, but to life, what is that you want to enact? You can't answer this question like Priya's been trying to: "books". You must answer it in a more fundamental sense — "knowledge," "art," "education," "enlightenment." All these are better answers, in Priya's case. They're tiny steps beyond purpose, and towards the beginnings of a reason.



Radical simplicity. You can't create your reason if your life is, pardon my French, full of bullshit. The answers above share one thing in common: they're radically simple. Worthy, enduring, fulfilling reasons always are — because the timeless truths of life, which reasons exist to illuminate, are deceptively simple. So, forgive me, bean-counters, but (as Priya still thinks) a reason is not a corporate mission statement ("To leverage my educational assets and optimize my career path!!"): it is the very opposite: a radically simple statement of why your life matters enough to you to fully, dangerously live it... past the edge.



Brutal honesty. You can't create your reason if, pardon my French, you are full of shit. There are many reasons; but not all reasons are created equal. And you probably can't create a worthy one if you're not brutally honest with yourself about it. Raising a family and imbuing it with love; this is a grand and timeless reason; it elevates life. Vidal Sassoon's reason: to bring art back to hairdressing? That's a fantastic one. Pixar's reason: creating heartwarming stories that bring people of all ages together? Works for me. Making mini-games for advertisers to sell stuff to people they don't really want to buy with money they don't really have to live lives they don't really feel? That's a sucky reason, because it impoverishes life. Of course, the minigame maker might feel, in the moment, his work is rewarding — and it may be lucrative. But it isn't likely to feel whole, for the simple reason that it's reason is wanting in terms of meaningful human outcomes. The point here is not to create arbitrary divisions between which reasons are valid and which are lacking. The point is to start asking yourself, really: what is your reason? What would make it "good"? If you want to grab the top job at that mega-bank — why? If your reason is "to make a big pile of money," you might want to think again. Why do you think, having made his billions, Bill Gates is trying to fix the world? He needs a bigger, better, truer reason.

Perhaps it's true. Not all of us successfully create our reasons. But that is precisely why we must try. For it is in the reasonless that we see the power of life's reason: the reason gives sense to life, and without sense, life feels like a maze, a trap, a game, an absurdity. We need a reason, because our reasons are what liberate us from lives that feel senseless.

Yet, Priya's little parable tells us: reasons aren't rational; they are larger than that: they are constructive. They aren't tidy equations and models of life — yet nor are they mere wishes nor affirmations. They are the words in the language of life and death; words that come to compose the untidy, messy, often contradictory, thoroughly inconclusive stories we tell ourselves about what it means to have lived. And so they matter because they allow our lives, finally, to make startling glimmers of sense amidst the cruel senselessness and insensible beauty of the searing human experience. Only a reason has the magic to ignite, in the void, the spark; that comes to make a life feel that it has been more than accidents of fate colliding with chance.

And so it seems to me that you and I — the sons and daughters of the Lesser Depression, the orphans of modernity — we have three choices. We may retreat. We may revolt. Or we may rebel. We may retreat into digiphoria; the cold, joyless comfort of softly glowing screens. We may revolt, turning away in disgust, and become, in time, something like the leaders we scorn. Or we may rebel — and choose, here and now, even in the full fury of the storm, to answer the awesome challenge of lives well lived.

Reason is rebellion. It is through the creation of reasons to live fully that we rebel — and ignite lives worth living, instead of merely resigning ourselves to those that feel as if they aren't. In reason, we rebel against immovable destiny, and gain a measure of freedom back from the stars.

Grace, then, is born in reason. And it is grace that gives us, finally, the power to love. To, through the heartbreak, the grief, and the joy, breathe life into possibility, and so breathe possibility into life. And that is what a life that feels burstingly whole, achingly full, timelessly true, is really all about: the power to love. And only a reason as solid and true as bedrock can give it you.

So allow me to ask you again: what do you do when you reach the edge of heartbreak? Here's my tiny answer: you create a reason to take you past the edge of heartbreak. And into big love, mighty grace, searing meaning, and limitless purpose. Hence, my question: what's your reason?

More blog posts by Umair Haque
Umair Haque

Umair Haque

Umair Haque is Director of Havas Media Labs and author of Betterness: Economics for Humans and The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. He is ranked one of the world's most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50. Follow him on twitter @umairh


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Unlocking value & productivity through social technologies + innovation

Social Technologies Today... (1)
Social Technologies Today... (2)
How much future value is generated by social technologies (and INNOVATION) will depend on multiple enablers. Success in implementing and using social technologies in and across enterprises will depend on transforming their organizations and cultures to take full advantage of the collaborative potential of social technologies. Success in deploying social technologies to connect with broader communities will require the ability to create trust, a critical mass of participation, and positive community cultures and practices. Social technology is not just another IT implementation. Nor is it simply a tool to improve communication and collaboration. As has been seen in the consumer context, social technologies unleash creative forces among users and enable new relationships and group dynamics. Some of the most useful innovations in consumer social technologies—the hashtags to organize tweets and the standardized Wikipedia article format—were created by users. User innovations can drive the evolution of social technologies within and across enterprises, too, if the culture encourages them.
The real power of social technologies is only just beginning to be understood. That power stems from the innate appeal of interacting socially and the pleasure and intellectual stimulation that people derive from sharing what they know, expressing opinions, and learning what others know and think. As has been seen in early use of social technologies, when these ways of interacting are applied to commercial and professional activities (e.g., developing and selling products, working together to solve a business problem), the resulting value creation is impressive. Scaling these results to industry-wide and economy-wide levels produces very large numbers. For now, such figures are directional—they represent what could happen, if organizational and cultural barriers can be reduced and if risks can be mitigated. Over the coming years, it will become clear if those hurdles can be overcome.
source: McKinsey Global Institute

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Merry Christmas 2012 + Lovely Christmas Videos

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (aka Happy Holidays!)

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Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Restarting the US small business growth engine + Real-time organic search

estarting the US small-business growth engine article, some small businesses in all sectors and regions grow much faster than others, Strategy

Reinvigorating small business starts with identifying the high-growth firms that disproportionately drive economic activity and jobs. In an accompanying video, AOL cofounder Steve Case explains how big businesses can benefit too.


"...focus more sharply than usual in today’s economic debate on two things: precisely how small business contributes to growth and job creation, and the ways the private sector—not just government—can support that job creation dynamic."


In This Article

There’s mom. There’s apple pie. And there’s small business. As the US economy struggles to go on climbing out of the downturn and create jobs, no hero stands taller in the nation’s political and business psyche than the small-business owner. With good reason. Small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees, account for almost two-thirds of all net new job creation. They also contribute disproportionately to innovation, generating 13 times as many patents, per employee, as large companies do.1

Sadly, small-business optimism is at its lowest levels in almost 20 years.2 After crashing in the recession, confidence remains below any level recorded since the early 1990s, because the recovery has been so anemic. Had small business come out of the recession maintaining just the rate of start-ups generated in 2007, the US economy would today have almost 2.5 million more jobs than it does.

What’s particularly disturbing is that the greatest decline in entrepreneurial activity occurred in the 18–24-year-old cohort. While older entrepreneurs bring more experience and a higher likelihood of success to their business building, the shortage of young business founders means that the US economy is currently not producing enough of its next generation of serial entrepreneurs.

The recent US presidential campaign made much of the need to restart the US small-business engine, which won’t be easy. But one place to begin, our research suggests, is to focus more sharply than usual in today’s economic debate on two things: precisely how small business contributes to growth and job creation, and the ways the private sector—not just government—can support that job creation dynamic. (For more, view this video interview with Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution and cofounder of America Online, or download a PDF of the edited transcript.)

On entrepreneurship: A conversation with Steve Case
The chairman and CEO of Revolution and cofounder of AOL explains why small, high-growth companies are the secret to economic vitality and job creation and how large companies could benefit from them.
A vast universe

While the small-business universe is vast, its real economic impact comes disproportionately from a much smaller subset of high-growth firms. These firms, our research shows, can more or less double their revenues and employment every four years. And they are everywhere, in every industry sector (exhibit) and in far more geographies than is commonly thought.

Of course, many entrepreneurial firms fail, and that too is part of the DNA of small business, so it is routinely impossible to predict which will succeed. That’s why understanding how this high-performing cohort works is important to restoring the confidence and job creation potential of small business.

Of course, government too plays an important role in the way it fosters entrepreneurs and applies regulation. But government assistance is not the only answer. We believe that large businesses can do more—much more—to support small business, both within and outside of their own organizations. In the process, they can make themselves more flexible and add new strategic options.3 To understand why, let’s first dispel some myths about US small business to better understand the contours of a sector that includes more than 99 percent of all employer businesses.

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Myth #1. All small businesses want to grow.

Not all owners of small businesses want them to grow; many “mom and pop” enterprises are happy to stay small. It is really a subset of young businesses—those less than five years old—that do want to grow and that create the majority of jobs: 40 million over the last 25 years. This represents 20 percent of total gross job creation and total net new job creation in the United States over this time period.

Myth #2. All small businesses are equally valuable to job creation in the economy.

Small businesses in general are valuable for the US economy and provide flexibility and valuable services. But a subset of small businesses—high-growth ones—creates the vast majority of new jobs. Seventy-six percent of these high-growth firms are less than five years old. The 1 percent of all firms that are growing most quickly (fewer than 60,000 in all) account for 40 percent of economy-wide net new job creation. To provide a sense of magnitude, high-growth firms add an average of 88 employees a year, while the average non-high-growth company only adds 2 to 3.

Myth #3. High-growth firms come from high-tech locales.

Conventional wisdom suggests looking for high-growth firms in areas like Silicon Valley or the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, where many well-known ones have emerged. However, our look at a broad spectrum of companies shows that all industries have high-growth firms. While sectors do vary somewhat, in no industry do high-growth firms account for even 5 percent of the total number of firms in the industry, and there are very few industries where less than 1 percent of firms are growing quickly. In the United States, high-growth firms are found in every metropolitan statistical area, and no region has a disproportionate number of them. Conversely, Silicon Valley has many firms that struggle to grow and never become breakout stars, as well as many smaller companies that have no desire to grow quickly.

Myth #4. Taxes and regulation are small business’s primary constraint.

Many business leaders will tell you that taxes and regulation are the biggest barriers to starting up and enlarging small businesses. It’s true that some regulations and laws have inhibited the growth of small businesses; the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, for instance, had the unexpected consequence of discouraging some companies from making initial public offerings, a step typically followed by a burst of hiring.4 But taxes and government oversight are not the primary barriers to stimulating the growth of small businesses. In the latest recession, their owners pointed to a lack of market demand as the primary problem, as well as an inability to obtain financing.5

Meet the high-growth leaders

What are these high-growth entrepreneurial firms? Many are storied names from Silicon Valley: Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and others. But many high-growth firms are neither in high tech nor based in Silicon Valley. Consider Under Armour, which has grown to take on adidas and Nike in the global sports apparel industry. In the 1990s, founder Kevin Plank, a former football player from the University of Maryland, set out to find a shirt that would keep athletes cooler. After developing one, he would drive up and down the East Coast with the shirts in his trunk and sell them to high-school and college players. Eventually, word of mouth generated a company with revenues of almost $1.5 billion.

Or consider Scentsy, an Idaho company that sells wickless and flameless scented candles. Through multiple outlets (online, home parties, catalog sales), Scentsy has raised its revenue from about $75 million in 2008 to $382 million in 2010, right through the depths of the recession. Or HubSpot, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm that provides marketing software to other small and midsize businesses, thus growing by helping other entrepreneurial companies to grow.

Nurturing high-growth businesses

The sectoral and geographic diversity of high-growth enterprises naturally lends itself to discussions of support by federal, state, and local governments. Such steps can effectively cut regulatory red tape, refine tax laws, address immigration laws, and streamline patent procedures. For example, the recently passed JOBS6 Act should encourage firms to launch IPOs, by streamlining red tape, raising limits on soliciting private investors, and providing new funding sources.

Public-sector leaders should examine the policies that limit the growth of entrepreneurial small companies, as well as those that could spur it. But the private sector—and larger businesses, in particular—have a bigger role to play than is generally acknowledged. In fact, we believe that larger businesses should think more broadly and creatively about supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs, spurring demand for the products and services their businesses supply, and providing creative financing to tap mutually beneficial growth opportunities.

Changing mind-sets

Perhaps the most important starting point for large businesses is to change their mind-set regarding small-business entrepreneurs. Too many larger businesses rigidly view them as direct competitors, intent on dethroning large companies from leadership positions. Granted, this is sometimes true. However, in our experience many more vibrant entrepreneurs operate in complementary industries and are often overlooked as suppliers. By supporting burgeoning entrepreneurs, leaders of large businesses can help this critical segment of the economy while providing additional flexibility and options for their own organizations.

Consider, for example, a large health care provider that helps support high-tech software service providers in its area, to make such potential suppliers more effective and efficient. This approach could help build an emerging cluster, which would encourage the development of a larger and better labor pool, as well as more competition for the products and services sold by the suppliers. It would probably also help make large companies in the cluster more efficient and thus better able to stay ahead of their competitors, including the entrepreneurs.

Yet in one roundtable discussion with a group of entrepreneurs, we heard several of them mention that they find it particularly challenging to locate the right representatives at larger companies. One related a story about trying to take a software solution to a larger company after learning publicly that it was seeking just such an offering. When the entrepreneur called to discuss his idea, however, he was first directed to the business-development group, which focused on mergers and acquisitions. A second attempt landed him in the purchasing department, which required him to go through procurement channels before getting a contract. All this took place before he could even determine whether his idea really was the answer to the larger company’s problem.

One way around this issue would be for larger companies to staff a small department that interacts with prospective entrepreneurs to develop better intelligence about their activities. Typically, a large company’s purchasing group has specific product-buying guidelines; there is no reason a similar (but different) group couldn’t be assigned to assess external solutions to challenges that the large company identifies on an ongoing basis.

In fact, some companies do look for innovations outside their walls—for instance, Cisco and P&G, though they focus mostly on acquisitions. InnoCentive, by contrast, is an entrepreneurial firm that helps companies connect with external problem solvers. Whether large companies execute such strategies internally or outsource them, these companies could all be more flexible and adaptable if they increased their connections with smaller businesses that could fill missing capabilities through arm’s-length contracts, joint ventures, or acquisitions.

More mentoring

Another approach leaders of large companies could use more often would be to improve their mentoring of entrepreneurs. Mentoring is one area of support that entrepreneurs find most helpful, yet most difficult to obtain. In particular, a large company could set up a program to mentor current employees planning to start their own businesses—for example, suppose an internal team wants to pursue an offering that wouldn’t meet the company’s hurdle rate but could be profitably developed by a start-up and would benefit the company itself. Such a program could stimulate creative thinking within the company, create new ideas that stayed within it, and help budding entrepreneurs know if their ideas were ready for implementation. For the large companies, it would be more likely to provide new suppliers than direct competitors. Effective mentoring can also build a stronger, more experienced labor pool.

Naturally, people who have lived the experience of starting up and maintaining a firm provide the best mentorship to budding business leaders. It can take the form of assistance with writing business plans, sharing a large company’s experience, and supporting more tactical needs, such as how to get legal advice, as well as accounting and administrative tasks. Large businesses also have a role to play here. American Express OPEN’s small-business support program, Victory in Procurement, has been running a group-mentoring and training program for the past few years as part of an initiative to help entrepreneurs respond to government procurement requests. As part of the program, some participants receive 12 hours of interaction with government contracting experts. And Cisco’s Entrepreneur Institute provides knowledge and business solutions to entrepreneurs. Its Web site details several success stories.

Spurring demand

More than in previous downturns, small entrepreneurs cite a lack of demand—final consumer demand or demand from other businesses—as their primary obstacle: they believe they have good products or services but just can’t find enough customers. Since the supply chains of large companies include many small, entrepreneurial businesses, the large companies could specifically look for them when seeking new business partners. Of course, not all supply chain decisions should be made this way, but if a large business does find a local partner that is more economical, shortens the supply chain, and provides quicker turnarounds, the choice should be a no-brainer.

Studies of clusters lend credibility to the idea of supporting small suppliers in complementary industries. These clusters, such as Silicon Valley in high tech or Research Triangle Park in biotech, have long been regarded as one of the keys to strong economic development. Clusters are desirable because they are self-sustaining innovation machines. The companies in a cluster continually try to out-innovate each other to stay ahead. Their proximity promotes the exchange of ideas that spark new innovations, and they are a natural magnet for talent. But while many countries (and locations across the United States) have tried to replicate the Silicon Valley model, few have succeeded.

When Michael Porter and colleagues studied the impact of clusters on job growth, they found that those comprising more than one sector (for instance, health care and high tech) experienced the fastest growth rates. The United States currently has a broad variety of clusters, and many are interdisciplinary in nature.

More and better financing

Venture capital funding has been shifting to later-stage investments over the past decade, partly because the market for IPOs has declined. Meanwhile, it’s tougher for smaller businesses, as well as many larger ones, to get even the traditional financing they need. Supplier financing is an area where large businesses can help entrepreneurs. By paying some contracts earlier than existing terms require, a large business can cut a small supplier’s working-capital costs. This should be regarded as a short-term support program, not necessarily as an across-the-board, long-term commitment. It isn’t essential to change the terms for every company, but selectively targeting those that need some short-term financing support could be an easy form of aid, especially if it doesn’t materially change the large company’s working capital.

Although the recent downturn hit the US small-business and entrepreneurial segment hard, the trend can be reversed. The public sector has a role, but the private sector must lead where it can develop new and creative solutions, as well. It is often in the interest of larger organizations to foster and encourage smaller ones, especially where everyone can benefit. Not all of the steps a large business can take will produce tomorrow’s Apple or Under Armour—but they’ll improve the chances.

About the Authors

John Horn is a senior expert in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office, and Darren Pleasance is an alumnus of the Silicon Valley office.


1 For more, see the frequently-asked-questions page on the US Small Business Administration’s Web site. This site and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are the source of many of the statistics in this article.

2Small business economic trends,” National Federation of Independent Business, October 2012.

3 In this article, we focus on small business in the United States, but we have every reason to believe that small-business entrepreneurial activity is at least as important in other markets, particularly emerging ones.

4 Sarbanes–Oxley placed new regulations on the financial and other reporting standards for boards and management at publicly traded US companies and accounting firms. It was enacted after the accounting scandals of the 1990s, in an attempt to prevent fraud against investors through greater transparency in reporting.

5 National Federation of Independent Business.

6 Jumpstart Our Business Startups.

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