How to lead like James Dyson

James Dyson is the embodiment of determination and dedication, not only to himself, but to his cause. Most entrepreneurs, without financial backing, wouldn’t risk $40,000 on an idea, let alone $4 million, and they wouldn’t have the patience to try 50 different models of a new product, whereas Dyson tried over 5,000. If you glance at the first 40 years of Dyson’s life, you may judge him as a failure, but if you look at his entire 66 years, you might judge him as one of the most innovative and successful businessmen on the planet. However, the most impressive thing about this visionary British business mogul is not the ingenious nature of his designs, but rather the stubborn drive to realize his dreams, no matter what the cost.

He risked his family, his house, his reputation, and his future in order to make his vision into a reality, and for that, he stands above much of the timid and secure leaders of the modern business world. He embraced failure as a learning tool for so many years that it must have become synonymous with going to work. He was ahead of his time with many of his ideas, and as is often the case with visionary thinkers, he was also going against the grain of popular culture and the market of his chosen industry. He wasn’t looking to fall into the rat race of product design; he wanted to create a completely new sport instead.

The new generation of leadership must be confident enough to spread their creativity in all directions, both forward and behind, so long as they don’t become stuck in the present and remain stagnant and comfortable. Labeling something as “good enough” cannot be in the vocabulary of an entrepreneur, innovator, or corporate leader, because that implies being content with something less than perfection. Today, at the Dyson laboratories, more than 600 engineers disassemble and reassemble the products that they have already “perfected”, trying to constantly update and improve the things which hundreds of others may have already overlooked. These might be the most creative minds of the industry, but they have been taught by a master of diligence and detail that nothing can be overlooked, and that perfection is never to be assumed.

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What is success

Why some have been or are so good at reaching their goals while others seem to forever stumble at the threshold? You are not the first one and will not be the last one to ask this question but the fact that you do ask it, can very well be the very first step in getting from WHY are they successful – the wondering stage – to HOW can I be successful? – the practical stage.

The truth is, sometimes even those people who have made it big can honestly offer little enlightenment on the reasons behind their accomplishments and that because they don’t necessarily have an objective, external perception of their own success. However, there are others who do have – through extensive studies and research. What are they telling us? There’s something successful people do or learn to apply that enables them to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Starting to slowly but in a very determined way introduce into your life and routine certain principles and rules will make you easily understand how they can virtually change your career, your life, and, to give a more dramatic note, your destiny. You will learn to learn from others’ examples – to find those that most suit and help you.

Your first step into the one thousand miles journey doesn’t have to be a perfect one. It just has to be. Jerry Seinfeld’s first time on a stage would have hardly left anyone thinking “wow, what a great comedian this guy will most definitely become someday!” His first experience as a professional comic would fall for most people under the ‘failure’ category. His stage freight so got the best of him that he virtually froze and couldn’t speak words for what seemed to be an eternity and his lack of coherence and tongue-stumbling ultimately got him jeered offstage. His second experience as a professional comic came the very following day and it was a total blast. People loved him. That is not to say that the distance from failing to succeeding is always that short even if you are the most determined person on the planet, or that, once you’ve gained success you bid permanent farewell to ‘failure’ – no, that is to say that you can change almost any adversity into an opportunity and you can turn hardships into achievements when no one believes you can. Not even you.

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Who is the next Steve Jobs?

Some journalist and bloggers are looking for the next Steve Jobs. Here is an example.

What a waste of time. There won’t be a new Steve Jobs. Even comparing Jobs with Bezos does not make any sense.

Each CEO or entrepreneur has own unique environment, qualities, history and experiences.

They can not be repeated or replicated. So, stop searching for the next Steve Jobs and start analyzing the what kind of leaders we need now to tackle most urgent challenges.

 

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5 things every business owner must know

With all the various kinds of advice out there for business owners, it gets easy to become lost in all the conflicting and contradicting chatter. What we’re trying to do here is comb through all this information to find the advice that appears most often and seems most useful. There’s a reason why the same advice keeps rising over and over again, and it’s because it didn’t just work once, but worked over and over again for a wide variety of people in a vast array of fields. Whether you’re just starting out or a few years in, this should help keep you going.

1. Do what you love to do.

Find your true passion in life and build upon it. The only way to do truly great work is to do something that you love. Since your work is going to fill up so much of your life, you should make it something that you want to do, something that you enjoy. If you don’t know what that is yet, keep looking. You’ll find it. Don’t settle for something you can just do well. If your heart’s not in it, your head won’t get in there either, and you need both to succeed. So keep looking because you’ll know when you find it. Even though it may be hard at first, keep going. Like all great relationships, it gets better with every day.

2. Be involved.

Have your hand in every element of your company. It’s important to delegate tasks, but don’t delegate yourself out of the loop. You need to be involved in every level and step of your company in order to know what your company is doing and how it’s working. This will also improve the team you’ve assembled. Never believe a job you’ve created is beneath you, and be sure to know what your employees are doing and how they’re performing. Discover the challenges at every level of your business and work with your employees and colleagues to work through them.

3. Learn from failures.

You’re going to fail. Not only will you fail one time, you’ll fail often. Failure breeds success for those willing to learn and put in the work to get past them. If you haven’t failed at something, than you’ve never risked anything, and if you’ve never risked anything, you’ll never find real success. Playing it safe may keep you in business but it won’t get you where you want to be, and it won’t make your company what you want it to be. Learn from your customers and competitors. Learn from your colleagues and employees. Always be learning and always be striving to improve.

4. Embrace opportunity.

Look past the immediate failures and setbacks and see the opportunity there. If a product or service isn’t working, that gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-design. When someone has an idea, whether it be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or an employee, capitalise on it. Don’t let the opportunities and ideas rest or go ignored because they didn’t originate with you. When a customer complains, take it as a moment to learn, as a new opportunity for improving your product or service.

5. Stay calm.

Running a business is stressful, regardless of size, and some of the most stressful moments come from being small. You’ll run into a thousand challenges while working your way towards sustainability and success, and you can’t let it overwhelm and destroy you. Trust your vision and be patient. Surround yourself with capable people who work hard and believe in your vision. Take challenges as they come and deal with them one at a time. Success takes time and you need to make every moment count. The best way to keep the stress at bay is to keep working and pushing and working towards your vision.

These all sound simple but they’re not easy to make reality. The simpler something seems usually relates to how difficult it is to achieve, but success isn’t easy. Most businesses fail for a number of reasons, but if you can keep these five things in mind, you’ll be a step ahead.

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5 killers of creativity

Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person (which is nonsense but we’ll get to that shortly), you definitely experienced a state of blockage where you simply sense a lack of ease, efficiency and results in everything you do. Maintaining a creative mojo can indeed be quite challenging even for those who are the most powerful in expressing themselves, their ideas and dreams because even they can get stuck between a stockpile of projects and objectives and the means to carry them out.

However, those who are more likely to overcome these moments or situations and cross the finish line of their own plans are those who learned that no one and nothing can hold you back as “capably” as yourself and when you invest the time to understand this just a bit more specifically, you will discover some of the enemies of creativity you can so easily and inadvertently help. Here we smoked out what we consider to be the worst of these enemies:

1. Overpushing.

This happens when you simply don’t know when to walk away from a task. Just indulge an honest reflection and see if there’s any progress in what you’re doing at that moment or any real probability for it to occur in the near future – if the answer you come up with is negative then it’s time to let go of it for a while. Again is one of those situations when less means actually more. Besides, even if you are not aware of it, your brain is still plugged-in, working on a solution or idea which explains those moments in the morning on waking up when you “just know” what needs to be done, what the solution is. This means that sometimes the wisest thing is to back off a little bit so you don’t scare off your muse a little longer.

2. Overpreparing.

This one follows the pattern – too much of a good thing is a bad thing. While making plans and organizing your stuff is recommended, letting yourself completely absorbed by plans is not and this can be an easy error to fall victim to especially if you decided at one point you wanted to be more productive and add more planning to your life, unhappy with past results. A man with a single plan but the determined to act immediately upon it even if it might not be the perfect plan, versus a man with a dozen plans but the inability to get things started on account of lacking total guarantee of success is a good example of the danger perfectionism poses. Actually, the fear of failure can hide just as much behind an apparently organized person than it does in a total non-doer. Always bear in mind that focusing too much on how things can unfold in the future will prevent you from enjoying them in the present but also from making real progress since all progress happens in real time even if it’s measured over time.

3. Overthinking: the not-good-enough syndrome.

Again, the fear of failure dictates that you’re just not that good to jump at that opportunity. You can easily find examples in all domains of successful people who engaged and committed unreservedly to something without having much idea at first what it was they were getting themselves into and how it was supposed to be done. Enthusiasm, daring and the desire to learn and improve eventually lead them to great accomplishments. If wait until you become a mega-specialist at something before attempting to make your skills available, chances are you will become a mega-specialist at killing your creativity.

4. Overbusyness.

Creative blockage becomes a haunting habit when we, in turn, create the habit of letting stress and busyness taking over our lives. Keeping yourself busy all the time can be a great distraction from acknowledging your real problems and can even be illusively put out as a sign of being extremely creative. Allowing your imagination time to wander, your mind time to rest and lean over non-doing is essential for feeding your creative flow. Being too busy to pursue a hobby or enjoy nature, and gain inner balance is just a poor excuse you’ll be using as long as you can afford self-lying. Slow down to catch up! While it may sound like a line form Captain Planet, the power to control the busyness of your life is yours. Resist being dragged into the sinky sands of excuses of the type: “I would love to read more but I don’t have time”, “I know I haven’t gone for a walk for like decades but I’ll get out more when I have more time to spare”. This sends the “dead end” postcard to your creative thinking. If you like being busy why not being busy with something you like?

5. Overdoubting.

Family, school, society – they can all participate in choking off your creative spark by presenting you with norms and standards and even ways that prove you as being creative; that’s true but eventually you cannot simply settle for the role of the victim. You have power and control over your creativity because, first of all, you are creative. Everyone is. It’s just that we express it within levels and frames that differ. That’s all. So plunge headfirst into your own creative juice and cash in on the amazing resourcefulness hidden inside you, waiting for you signal to come pouring in. That signal is simply believing. Yeah, it’s probably annoying for some, but you still can find too many achievers out there who weren’t also believers. Can you believe that?

Check out my related book:

Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation

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5 great failures who later went on to become great successes

Whether it’s in a job, in a new business, in finding an agent, or in switching careers, everyone fails sometimes. In some situations, people fail a lot before they become successful. However, when you’re facing a large amount of rejection or are continuing failing, it is really, really difficult to remember that you aren’t alone in that – and, more importantly, that the fact that you are currently not succeeding does not mean that you will never succeed. When you’re facing failure, though, it can really help to that you’re in good company. Here is a list of some great failures who later went on to become great successes.

The Beatles weren’t always the Fab Four. Before they were fab, the Beatles were rejected by a whole slew of record labels, including one that infamously announced, “The Beatles have no future in show business.” Of course, the Beatles ultimately became one of the greatest rock groups of all time, at one point managing to claim all of the top five spots on the Billboard singles music chart.

Jay-Z was rejected by every single record label in the business. However, eventually he found success by going on to create his own record label. Now he and his wife Beyonce are together worth $900 million.

Bill Gates dropped out of college at one of the country’s most prestigious universities and seemed destined for an unsuccessful career when his first business, Traf-O-Data, failed. Of course, ultimately he went on to found a company whose name is almost synonymous with modern-day computing.

Although Babe Ruth is famous as one of the country’s greatest baseball players, at the time of his retirement he held the record for the most strike-outs in all of Major League Baseball. In that sense, he may have failed more than any other player of his time – but his successes have made him remembered long after many of his fellow players’ names have been forgotten.

Michael Jordan, who was once cut from his high school basketball team, went on to become one of the game’s greatest players. He is well aware of the role his failures have played in his success, as he is quoted as saying, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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Role model leadership: leading by example

The evolution of modern leadership is an ongoing process that is sweeping across the business world and changing the way that the most successful companies perform and moderate their practices. Leaders are changing their approach to running their business and altering the way that they are seen both within their companies and to the general public. One of the most important ways that this is being done is reinventing their position as a role model for their employees and other leaders of their industry.

The old style of leadership was more disconnected, with the CEO or upper management behaving as figureheads, providing general oversight and being the ultimate decision maker, but otherwise being relatively distanced from the general populace of the workforce. Today, a leader is in the public eye to a much higher degree, and must inspire their workers with their own behavior. In other words, they must lead by example. The most successful modern leaders are the first to arrive and the last to leave, and their life in the office and outside of it is heavily connected to the vision and goals of the company.

Their employees look up to them as the embodiment of company vision, and as the primary driver behind progress. They motivate and lead from the center, welcoming other contributions, but still maintaining a firm direction towards the ultimate goals of the business. Those leaders are genuinely passionate about their product and company, and are more interested in the effect that it has on society as a whole and the innovative standard that they are setting, rather than on massive profit margins and self-serving ends.

Without this change in focus, businesses will begin to fall behind their competitors, because there is an increasingly small space in the market for apathy or profit-driven progress. Consumers should also look to a leader as an admirable individual that they trust, and who they can see standing in front of the company and communicating its vision, new ideas, and up to date relevance in a way that the common man understands. As technology moves forward and products become more necessary, and subsequently more expensive, consumers want to be confident in their investments and purchases, and much of that comfort and confidence stems from their visceral feelings toward the way the business is run, and the personality of its respective leaders.

Being a role model is only one of the many qualities that current leaders must adopt if they intend to stay at the top of their industry, as well as a quality that young, cool leaders must embody in their early efforts to break into an increasingly competitive global market.

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5 things I have learned from Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal

It’s the strange ones, the people who color outside the lines, who walk unfamiliar paths who change the world. Find yourself out there in the wilderness wandering and bring that love and excitement back to the world. Share it. Take your insight and enthusiasm and give share it with the world. If you’re going to take the risks no one else took, if you’re going to live the life no one else lived, you may as well tell the world the lessons you learned from living on the edge. Be daring, and be open to the possibilities of the world and you’ll find yourself in the middle of an extraordinary life.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal is one such person. Born in South Africa, he began a journey to become a US Citizen at the age of seventeen. He gave up on his PhD studies in physics to pursue his interests in the internet, renewable energy, and space. He founded PayPal, which grew enormously and continues to be one of the most used web-based financial tools in the world. He sold it to begin SpaceX, which specialises in space exploration. From there, he began Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and Hyperloop. Musk is a man who doesn’t easily fit into any model for what an entrepreneur or CEO should be, but his drive and determination makes him a constant success. Here are some of his most useful pieces of advice.

1. Get as much feedback and advice as you can.

It doesn’t matter what your idea is: get advice and get critical feedback. You may have to draw this feedback out of them, but it’s the most important to get. Ask them what’s wrong and listen to what they say. They’ll help you discover the quality of your idea, and also the holes in it. By listening and asking for help, you’ll learn a lot about what your goal actually is and how to get there.

2. Focus.

Though Musk started Tesla and SpaceX simultaneously, he strongly recommends against doing it. Throw your time and energy into one project. Work day and night to make it succeed. Seven days a week and no breaks. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to start a company and make it grow into a success. Success isn’t easy and it doesn’t come from just having a great idea or the right amount of investment money. It takes serious work for years.

3. Find a team that works.

Make sure everyone understands exactly what the goal is. When brining someone into your company, give them your mission, make them understand it, and make them know that they’ll be a part of reaching that. Keep things clearly defined and understood and let them know that this overall goal is now their goal. That improves their enthusiasm, since you’re finding people who are doing more than just working for a paycheck. They’re working for a company they believe in and are proud to be a member of. On the other side, don’t be afraid to let people go who aren’t willing to be a part of that goal anymore.

4. Things will start hard and get harder before they get better.

You’re going to be putting in a lot of work and it’ll be difficult, but you’ll be optimistic and full of energy because you’re making your idea and dream come to life. Though the beginnings are tough, you feel better about them because things are progressing and you’re feeling good. It’s when things begin to go wrong that the real difficulty comes. When you’re into your second or fifth year of the company and you’re still working tirelessly, doing all kinds of chores you’re not interested in but need to be done in order for the company to succeed–that’s where the real difficulty comes. Be prepared to do whatever it takes. You’ll be constantly in danger of the company dying, and if you’re not prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed, then you won’t.

5. Foster growth.

Do whatever you can to foster growth. Take chances and bet on yourself, and bet on small companies. Though they’re small and fragile and may not succeed, the rewards are bigger when they do succeed. You’ll be up against giant companies whose lawyers make more than your whole company, and it’ll be up to you to fight back and keep growing. In the face of so much adversity, it won’t be easy, so focus on growing where you can.

Elon Musk is a visionary and enormous success. There are few like him, but if you want to try and walk in his shoes, then take his advice.

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How to lead like Steve Jobs

One of the most important parts of modern business theory is the necessity for innovation, but there is a slightly different component that is often overlooked, the importance of adaptation. Being dedicated to pushing forward in a variety of directions is a powerful tool of finding new avenues for progress and filling gaps in the consumer market, but being adaptive means taking more precise and surgical approach to product development and company vision. The world is changing, and in response, the business world has had to adapt accordingly. However, the massive wave of innovation and technological leaps often occur so quickly that the market becomes deluged with too many options and promises. A cool, modern leader should have the presence of mind to take their company out of the proverbial rat race and slow things down, following the mantra of quality over quantity.

By focusing on smaller number of products, the short term can look bleak, and most risk assessment teams would advise against slowing down productivity based on a far-fetched dream. The theory of diversification behind umbrella corporations is based primarily on the idea that constant movement is far better than stasis, so spreading assets around to diverse industries will always keep a solid flow of profits coming in. However, for a leader with the confidence and intelligence to lead a dedicated team of innovators on a small number of extremely significant projects that could alter the entire landscape of the modern world, than brief starts and stops in productivity are probably worthwhile.

Take Apple – Steve Jobs, for example, the technology titan that specifically focused their efforts on a small number of products, perfecting and releasing them only when they were far superior to other products on the market. Being a detail-oriented individual is another factor of strong, modern leadership, particularly if you are involved and invested in the creative process. Leaders should not be afraid of getting their hands dirty and being heavily involved in the development, testing, and approval process of their products and services. This may seem “beneath” leaders of the Old Guard of the business world, but this is the sort of personal investment and genuine interest that makes modern leaders so successful, admired, and knowledgeable about the services they offer.

The ancient dichotomy of quantity vs. quality has arguments on both side of the coin, but for a handful of visionary and confident leaders, the choice is clear. By leaping into the future with design concepts that function within the times, a company can change not only the industrial landscape, but also cultural behavior as a whole. That is an important ability, and one that can raise your company to unimaginable heights.

As you can see, being adaptive can be risky, but also hugely rewarding, yet that is only one of a dozen other qualities that define some of today’s most influential and successful business leaders.

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10 ways to kick-start a great year

Everybody flirts with the idea of having the chance to start anew especially when it comes to those projects or changes they’ve been longing to undertake. Fortunately for us, all, at least once a year it’s easier to make resolutions and vow to take that extra step closer to our goals. Unfortunately, however, more often than not, with the passing of another year we just added to the pile of unfulfilled resolutions. So what to do to make sure this time around you’ll make good on that promise to yourself?

Here are some suggestions meant to help you connect better to the energy of this new year and get that super-start you want and are capable of.

1. Mind your eating habits.

At first impression you might be surprised that we choose this to be the first principle to consider for the year ahead; however, since always one thing leads to another, eating healthy, at reasonable hours, and without involving other activities during meals would mean more energy, more discipline, more awareness towards a healthy body and a healthy mind.

2. Mind your thoughts.

Start paying more attention to what circulates your head and leaves your mouth; the quality of the thoughts we let in and out, in other words, what we allow ourselves to be concerned with shapes our reality. Fixing a higher standard for yourself in terms of language selection is a whole lot more crucial than you think in achieving excellent results.

3. Mind your body.

(We just loved the pun here) This has to do with you being determined to commit to scheduling a fitness routine daily. It can be joining a yoga, taiji or karate class, hiring a personal trainer, or working out in your back yard to the delight of your neighbors’ kids. Doesn’t matter. Just do it!

4. Reduce stress.

Yeah, this means getting smarter with how you let things affect you (also mind point #2); notice where you get your stress from – maybe it’s external sources causing it or maybe it’s mainly just you used to being your worse enemy. Whatever the cause, learn to step back, relax and take the pressure off your shoulders.

5. Increase productivity.

This one implies so many aspects on so many different levels (see our other posts on the topic). It would be a great idea to kick start the New Year by introducing some changes into your living or working space. This will create in turn a very optimized mood that can unlock your creative potential which leads us to the next step on the list.

6. Get more creative, get inspiration from others.

Allowing yourself to find that little or bigger something that pulls out your creative and inspiring self is one of the best things you can do for yourself when starting fresh. An activity meant to make you enjoy life and yourself and maybe others as well more! You can be very help finding a model or a mentor (or more) to inspire you.

7. Kick off a business plan.

Had this crazy idea for a long time but just always found excuses to postpone acting upon it? Take this year as finally your chance of getting it done! Write down your tasks, objectives, plans and ideas and develop a strategy. Don’t shy away from improvement and admitting your limits. Get in the research mood: read books and any useful material on the topic. Make it happen!

8. Reinvent yourself.

This may be just as simple as changing your hairstyle or revamping your wardrobe. It will inspire you, build confidence and awaken the appetite for new!

9. Do something you are afraid of doing.

Although it doesn’t have to be a daily mission as Eleanor Roosevelt told it, but approaching from time to time things you are not normally comfortable with, will empower your sooner than expected with an invigorating felling of self-reliance and ‘bring it on’ attitude. Love the challenge!

10. Make time for yourself (read being alone).

In case you don’t already appreciate solitude, it’s time you did! How can you ever accomplish something great if you don’t take the time to meet and know the accomplisher? If you haven’t noticed by now, all successful people talk about the importance of meditation. That is time spent ALONE. You need your own space and that is perfectly healthy and normal. How that is defined, depends on each of us but once you learn what to do with yourself when alone, you will never feel lonely in that depressing way ever again. Ever. Again.

(11). Don’t forget your resolution!

Making resolutions and setting up goals feels great. However, not getting to work right away will soon change that feeling into one not so rewarding and pleasant. Most of people don’t even get past the first starting steps and that’s because they begin the year with… procrastination (you know, the I’ll start from tomorrow/Monday/next week mental frame)! Any-second-longer-it’s-too-late attitude is a life changer. Keep your goals/plans written down somewhere where you can see them everyday so you’ll be constantly reminded of your mission and about your next step because, very often, just to protect ourselves from self-esteem shrinking the mirror of failure would create, our mind chooses to apparently forget about initial plans.

So here it is, you have a great list in front of you that only points to the one you should be doing right now yourself for this year in case you haven’t already done it.

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