As an entrepreneur, investor or consultant these days you need a professional looking blog to maintain your credibility. You need a place to showcase your thinking and participate in longer conversations than you can on Twitter or LinkedIn. Being a social networking site is like being a guest at someone else’s party. It’s nice, but you’re not the boss. You need a place to host your own party. You need a blog. But it’s tough to keep a blog going when you’re not in the mood to write.
The Thought Leaders that have inspired me have all had blogs and put their writing out there for people to see.
A blog allows you to share your thinking and the lessons you’ve learned. Being a “thought leader” isn’t something that you can just put on a social media strategy and will magically happen. You need to do the hard work of thinking and then putting that thinking into words that others can benefit from. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by several writers that I admire and I’ve tried to learn from how they write.
To build a business you need to make sure that you always have customers and investors. Cash-flow is the lifeblood of any enterprise. Yet lots of people feel uncomfortable with customer interviewing, presenting to investors or organising marketing.
Alley NYC brings together hackers, hustlers and designers.
In Silicon Valley there is a saying that the perfect combination of skills for a start-up is a hacker, a hustler and a designer. The hustler is responsible for ensuring that the business has a steady and increasing cashflow. The role of the hustler could be taken by someone with training in marketing, sales, finance and/or accounting. Hustle is just a combination of clear communication and hard work.
New York and London have a lot in common when it comes to finance, fashion and technology startups. The startup cultures in both cities are focussed on building real businesses not just the latest flashy social mobile apps.
The trade group was part funded by UKTI and VentureOutNY hosted the programme.
Recently I’ve been in New York checking out the startup scene with VentureOut New York and UKTI. Keith Moses from UKTI and Brian Frumberg from VentureOutNY were our hosts. It was a great trip with an exciting group of startups. We had a full programme of events, meetings and visits. We kept a frenzied pace and I learnt a lot about the startup culture in New York.
As part of our work for the Innovation Warehouse, I’m travelling to New York with a cohort of startups from London. UKTI have helped pull together a group of exciting new businesses from London’s Tech City to take to New York for a modern version of a trade mission. The startups are going to pitch for investment and meet new customers.
London and New York both have unique startup cultures.
VentureOutNY is run by Brian Frumberg (and team) to promote New York as a first port of call for overseas startups expanding into the USA and raising capital from American investors. Over the course of the year, they have had events welcoming startups from all over the world and they have dedicated events coming up for startups from Brazil and Portugal.
Creating a new category is the aspiration of every enthusiastic entrepreneur. Most business people would love to have a whole category all to themselves. The dream is that if you could be the “only” player in your category, then you could charge whatever you liked and sell an unlimited volume.
Dyson has created several new product categories but has had to spend significant amounts of money on PR and advertising to popularise them.
In practice, creating a new category is incredibly hard. In fact, it may be the hardest form of branding that any company can undertake. For most companies, it is hard enough to explain what your product does (and how it is different to your competitors’). The task of explaining the entire function of the product category can be too much for many companies to bear.
Listening is the heart of good communication and strategic conversations. Asking good questions is an important part of listening but first you need to get the distractions out of the way.
In the TV show SUITS, the main characters are masters of asking tough questions.
Listening to someone is a real gift because it allows them to clarify their thinking and you can then reflect back their thinking with even more clarity.
Having a strategic conversation is all about listening and asking the right questions. Great brand strategists build a toolkit of questions that they can ask in difficult questions.
In the TV show SUITS, one of the senior lawyers tells a new lawyer to “prod until it hurts”.
Management consulting, innovation, design and branding can all benefit from asking better questions.
Large meetings seem productive, but if you really want to get things done, you need to have a one-on-one conversation.
In our strategy consulting we are finding that workshops and brainstorming sessions can only get you so far. I’ve been noticing that to get to the heart of something, you need to have a one-on-one conversation with the key players. A frank and fearless conversation with the CEO can be the best way to quickly understand what’s really going on with a project.
Sometimes the best way to have a strategic conversation is to get out of the office.
I’m calling these fireside chats “strategic conversations” and we’re using them more and more as a formal part of our digital brand consultancy. It seems like a small thing, but early on in a project it can make a real difference to sit down and have a truly honest conversation. Talking one-on-one can make all the difference.
Social media is often the least respected part of the marketing mix. With an internet full of cat pictures and funny home videos it’s easy to see why social media isn’t taken seriously by business leaders. This is a dangerous mistake because digital communication is disrupting almost every industry. Part of the problem is that most books on social media aren’t rigorous enough to have serious business credibility in unsexy industries.
Social media strategy is part of a company’s overall business strategy so the best social media books are actually general business strategy books.
So, where is the best thinking on social media today? It turns out that it’s hidden in plain sight in the business literature on word-of-mouth, competitive strategy and innovation. I’m a bit of a business book geek and I’ve read literature about business and strategy since I was a teenager. I started on Tom Peters and soon discovered Peter Drucker and Michael Porter. Seth Godin was a revelation for me. These days I devour everything from Mitch Joel and Hugh Macleod.
Minimum Viable Knowledge is the amount of information that you need to know about a subject to operate effectively in that domain. Tim Ferriss is the master of how to achieve the minimum effective knowledge on any topic quickly, easily and elegantly.
Tim Ferriss shared lots of case studies and examples about how to learn a new skill faster and easier.
Learning how to learn is one of the main things that makes a good business person into a great thinker. All the things that can hold back a natural strategist, become a strength once you can articulate and accelerate the way that you absorb and process information. Being a polymath is often considered a weakness until you become a credible specialist in being a generalist. Tim has created a robust system for something that a good Renaissance Man has always known: how to quickly learn just enough about something to be dangerous.