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At Strategic Coach, discussing activities that energize and fuel us is the norm. As team members, we’re encouraged to unearth our Unique Ability and our best strategies toward teamwork. This type of work environment allows us to feel more connected to one another—in addition to allowing for extraordinary teamwork. This is why we strongly advocate…

via 5 Reasons To Discover Your Unique Ability® Together — The Multiplier Mindset: Insights & Tips for Entrepreneurs

What Happens When You Change the World and No One Notices?


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Wilbur and Orville Wright conquered flight on December 17th, 1903. Few inventions were as transformational over the next century. It took four days to travel from New York to Los Angeles in 1900, by train. By the 1930s it could be done in 17 hours, by air. By 1950, six hours.

Also Read:  Supersonic jet will travel from New York to London in 3 hours at half the price of the Concorde

But here’s the most amazing part of the story: Hardly anyone paid attention at the time.

Unlike, say, mapping the genome, a lay person could instantly grasp the marvel of human flight. A guy sat in a box and turned into a bird.

But days, months, even years after the Wright’s first flight, hardly anyone noticed.

Here’s the front page of The New York Times the day after the first flight. Not a word about the Wrights:

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Two days after. Again, nothing:

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Three days later, when the Wrights were on their fourth flight, one of which lasted nearly a minute. Nothing:

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This goes on. Four days. Five days, six days, six weeks, six months … no mention of the men who conquered the sky for the first time in human history.

The Library of Congress, where I found these papers, reveals two amazing details. One, the first passing mention of the Wrights in The New York Times came in 1906, three years after their first flight. Two, in 1904, the Times asked a hot-air-balloon tycoon whether humans may fly someday. He answered:

Count

That was a year after the Wright’s first flight.

In his 1952 book on American history, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote:

Several years went by before the public grasped what the Wrights were doing; people were so convinced that flying was impossible that most of those who saw them flying about Dayton [Ohio] in 1905 decided that what they had seen must be some trick without significance – somewhat as most people today would regard a demonstration of, say, telepathy. It was not until May, 1908 – nearly four and a half years after the Wright’s first flight – that experienced reporters were sent to observe what they were doing, experienced editors gave full credence to these reporters’ excited dispatches, and the world at last woke up to the fact that human flight had been successfully accomplished.

 

So .. What’s the Point?

The Wrights’ story shows something more common than we realize: There’s often a big gap between changing the world and convincing people that you changed the world.

Jeff Bezos once said:

“Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort … if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention.”

It’s such an important message. Things that are instantly adored are usually just slight variations over existing products. We love them because they’re familiar. The most innovative products – the ones that truly change the world – are almost never understood at first, even by really smart people.nano-and-four-ways-051416-aaeaaqaaaaaaaas7aaaajdgyy2flngq1lwuzy2etndqzns04odkwltrmm2mxnwi4ymi1ma

It happened with the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell his invention to Western Union, which quickly replied:

This `telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. What use could this company make of an electrical toy?

It happened with the car. Twenty years before Henry Ford convinced the world he was onto something, Congress published a memo, warning:

Horseless carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets and along our roads and poisoning the atmosphere would call for prompt legislative action. The cost of producing gasoline is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry… In addition the development of this new power may displace the use of horses, which would wreck our agriculture.

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Also read: How Nanotechnology and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Will Change Everything

 

It happened with the index fund – easily the most important financial innovation of the last half-century. John Bogle launched the first index fund in 1975. No one paid much attention to for next two decades. It started to gain popularity, an inch at a time, in the 1990s. Then, three decades after inception, the idea spread like wildfire.

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It’s happening now, too. 3D printing has taken off over the last five years. But it’s hardly a new invention. Check out this interview with the CEO of 3D Systems in … 1989. 3D printing, like so many innovations, had a multi-decade lag between invention and adoption. Solar is similar. Photovoltaics were discovered in 1876. They were commercially available by the 1950s, and Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in the 1970s. But they didn’t take off – really take off – until the late 2000s.

Big breakthroughs typically follow a seven-step path:

  • First, no one’s heard of you.
  • Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.
  • Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
  • Then they view your product as a toy.
  • Then they see it as an amazing toy.
  • Then they start using it.
  • Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

This process can take decades. It rarely takes less than several years.

Three points arise from this.

1. It takes a brilliance to change the world. It takes something else entirely to wait patiently for people to notice. “Zen-like patience” isn’t a typical trait associated with entrepreneurs. But it’s often required, especially for the most transformative products.

2. When innovation is measured generationally, results shouldn’t be measured quarterly. History is the true story of how long, messy, and chaotic change can be. The stock market is the hilarious story of millions of people expecting current companies to perform quickly, orderly, and cleanly. The gap between reality and expectations explains untold frustration.

3. Invention is only the first step of innovation. Stanford professor Paul Saffo put it this way:

It takes 30 years for a new idea to seep into the culture. Technology does not drive change. It is our collective response to the options and opportunities presented by technology that drives change.

Re-Posted from MORGAN HOUSEL

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Genesis Nanotechnology, Inc. 

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The One Question to Ask Yourself Every Morning


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Original Post by Marissa Levin, CEO of Successful Culture and EO Baltimore member

I had the opportunity this week to learn from one of my most inspirational mentors who happens to also be a great speaker: Warren S. Rustand, a lifelong entrepreneur and former NBA player.

Warren is the CEO of Providence Service Corporation (NASDAQ; PSC) a $1.2 Billion social services and Logistics Management Company. He was previously Managing Director of SC Capital Partners an investment banking group.

Warren was Chairman and CEO of Rural Metro Corporation, a $600 million, publicly traded emergency services company.

He also served as Chairman and CEO of TLC Vision, the world’s largest Lasik eye surgery company. He has served as Chairman/CEO of 6 other companies.

He has served as a member of the Board of Directors for over 50 public, private, and not-for-profit organizations. The range of these organizations is from multibillion dollar public companies, to midsize, early stage, and startups. As CEO he has taken two companies public, one of which is the largest in its industry and the other is the second largest in its industry.

In 1973 Warren was selected as a White House Fellow through a nationally competitive process. He served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce and led the first ever Executive Level Trade Mission to the Soviet Union. He joined the staff of Vice President Ford on the day he was sworn-in. In August of 1974 when the Vice President became President, Warren was asked to serve as Appointments Secretary and Cabinet Secretary to the President.

According to Rustand, the potential for a life of greatness lies within each of us, but we must be committed to five specific principles. Before I get to those, let’s talk about the concept of greatness.

Greatness is  a CHOICE. It is not a function of circumstance. It is a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

To perform at a level of greatness, we need to commit to a higher level of energy, time, and effort than most.

To quote Gandhi, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves.”

If you dream, you have to plan. If you believe, you have to act.

Complacency and acceptance of the status quo is the death of greatness. Think about all of the great people that have crossed your path, either personally or indirectly. Think of those that inspire you on a personal level, as well as those that have changed the world.

These are the people that are always trying to improve. These are the people committed to greatness. It is their commitment to greatness, and their decision to never settle for mediocrity that makes them so.

Embrace the possibility of your personal greatness… never underestimate your power to move to a higher level and change your life.

Following are Warren’s five principles of personal greatness that have allowed him to pursue a higher level of achievement in all aspects of his life.

  1. Commit to Personal Discipline.
    We must put our mind in the position to compete with everyone else. When you correct your mind, everything else falls into place.

All that we are is the totality of what we have thought. We are what we think. best-views-hardest-climb-090616-2b309363f2a61427a58f97c227e70d67

  1. Live With Purpose.
    Warren begins every morning by asking himself, “What is my purpose today… Why am I alive?”

Think about how powerful this question is. Think about how intentional you can be in all of your decisions and actions throughout your day if everything you do is aligned with the answer to that question.

We must proceed through life with clarity of purpose. This brings us to Warren’s third principle:

  1. Act With Intent.
    Intent in all aspects of our lives – personal and professional – is everything. When we align our intention and our attentionwe achieve our desired outcomes.

What are your intentions for your life? It makes no sense to leave outcomes to chance. All must be pre-meditated. If there is an outcome we desire, we must plan and execute against the plan.

  1. Make Conscious Choices.
    Stephen Covey talks about three great moments of discovery – the points in time when a person discovers who they are at the core of their being:
    – When we identify our core beliefs and values
    – When we make a commitment to those values
    – When we behave according to those values

Defining our ethics, values, and beliefs are decisions that we make once. Once we have defined them, all of our decisions flow from them.

  1. Answering the Call to Serve.
    Warren’s final principle is our obligation to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Greatness is an equal-opportunity quest. Regardless of vocation, we can all commit to greatness. We can all commit to helping others, to building up our communities, and the people within them.

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“If you have not helped someone else today, if you have not served others today, then you must constitute that as a bad day.”

Warren also gave great advice for living a happy life.

“Do you want to be happy? Never compare up. Never compare yourself to those that have more. Instead compare yourselves to those who have less. Then you will live from a place of gratitude.”

Your Call to Action:

Commit to one change to bring you closer to greatness.

  • Sign up for a volunteer effort.
  • Make one small shift in your health habits.
  • Read one book about a leader that inspires you.
  • Write down 5 ideas about your higher purpose.

Own Your Journey. 

This article was originally posted on the Successful Culture blog and has been reprinted here with the author’s permission.

** Warren Rustand is also a Founding Board Member of 

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Genesis Nanotechnology, Inc.

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Don’t believe the hype – Silicon Valley is not the be-all, end-all for tech companies


Don’t believe the hype – Silicon Valley is not the be-all, end-all for tech companies

October 20, 2012 8:00 AM
Bill Karpovich
This post was contributed by serial entrepreneur Bill Karpovich.

Like many other engineering types, I dreamed for years of starting my own high-flying technology company. Like a moth to light, I am inherently drawn to the idea of creating something from nothing and seeing it grow. It was thus no surprise when I left my big-company career at Accenture a few years out of college to join the startup world. It was Mark Andreessen’s cover shot on Time magazine in 1996 after Netscape’s era-defining IPO that finally pushed me over the edge. Sixteen years later, I am on my fifth startup. It’s been a phenomenal ride that has culminated (so far, at least) with my current startup, Zenoss, of which I am co-founder and CEO.

In startup circles, nothing about my story is particularly surprising on the surface. In fact, to the degree that there is a “typical” entrepreneur story, mine would be it. What is novel and contrary to conventional wisdom, though, is that I don’t live in Silicon Valley (or even Cambridge). I live in Annapolis, Maryland, the nation’s Sailing Capital. And most of Zenoss is in Austin, Texas, the world’s Live Music Capital.

I agree with Eric Ries that, indeed, “entrepreneurs are everywhere.” My experience takes me a step further – I feel it’s actually a competitive advantage to build startups outside of Silicon Valley.

Can You Guess Birthplace of the Cloud?

At the risk of channeling Al Gore, let me set the record straight and share with you that the cloud as we know it today began in Maryland. It was two Maryland-based startups that pioneered the early Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings that are the cornerstone of the modern cloud. Not coincidentally, these companies are where I first cut my teeth in the startup world.

The first was Digex, Inc., one of the first Internet backbone providers that stumbled upon the web hosting business in 1994 (think IaaS v1.0), and ultimately went public in 1996. The second was USinternetworking, the first pure-play SaaS provider, which went public in 1999 — back when we were called “ASPs” (initially for “Application Service Provider,” ultimately for “Awful Stock Price”).

Chris McClearly, who also lives in Annapolis, was the CEO of both of these companies and remains my entrepreneurial mentor to this day. For an entrepreneur-in-training, there were no better experiences to be had than working with an experienced executive like Chris. We created new industries from scratch and became global leaders; we changed the world, created billions in market cap and crushed our competition in Silicon Valley – all from our perch on the Chesapeake Bay.

Breaking Out

The idea to start our own company came directly from our experiences at Digex and USinternetworking. Both companies were essentially large-scale IT operations, and our biggest struggle was our management software platform. After blowing millions of dollars on failed efforts with legacy management framework vendors, we ultimately succeeded by building our own custom solutions.

Living it twice, it finally dawned on us that the world needed a new IT operations platform to take on the new challenges of the cloud area, and that’s what Zenoss is all about. We formally launched the business in 2006 and have enjoyed strong growth since that has brought us to more than 100 employees, over 300 customers and over 100,000 active members in our global user community.

Choose Passion over Profile

After we closed our Series B funding round, we were confronted with the problem that all emerging growth companies eventually need to address – how do we scale the team without compromising passion and know-how?

We had built a great core team in Annapolis, but there simply weren’t enough people there who had the requisite experience with IT operations software to grow at the desired pace. Mind you, this story would have been very different if we were building a world class sailing team.

To the surprise of many, we ended up expanding 1,500 miles away, in Austin, Texas. For us, this was a no-brainer. The key attraction was – and still is – the fact that Austin is a Mecca for IT operations software. As a result, there is a disproportionately large population of folks who are not only experienced with the nuances of building our kind of software, but they are also passionate about it.

In Silicon Valley, they appreciate what we do, but it’s not the latest shiny object that drives the region’s never-ending hype cycle. More so, Silicon Valley lacks the talent pool of Austin when it comes to IT operations software. While you could certainly find the technical talent there, it would lack the passion and context that we have found in droves in Austin. This is largely a product of Austin’s rich heritage of successful IT management companies — a list that is headlined by Dell.

In the end, startups succeed by being closer to and caring more about the problem they are solving than simply having a Silicon Valley address. In this game, passion trumps profile every time. The key is to design your company to tap into the deepest reservoirs of energy where you can find it, no matter where it is. Who knew that Austin was not only the world’s “Live Music Capital” but also the world’s “IT Operations Management Software Capital?”

Be Wary of Groupthink

There are many great thinkers in Silicon Valley, and there is of course tons of innovation. The latest ideas spread like wildfire up and down Highway 101, and even faster along Sand Hill Road – home of most of that area’s sizable and influential venture capital community. Ironically, the efficiency of this ecosystem can at times works against itself in the form of groupthink.

Entrepreneurial memes are always on the rise and fall, and there are undoubtedly always shared lessons to be learned. Over the years, though, I have noticed a surprising orthodoxy among the entrepreneurs and investors in the Valley. New ideas are rare in Silicon Valley. Once they are proven (watch for the latest IPO or billion dollar acquisition), they spread quickly and, in the wake of intense competition – as well as fear of missing the latest wave – a template forms. If you are not aligned with one of the fashionable templates, your mojo in the Valley can quickly whither.

Innovation is by its very nature non-conformist. The groupthink that occurs in Silicon Valley is one of the area’s clearest and most significant downsides. I certainly find it valuable to keep a pulse on the hot ideas on the West Coast, but operating outside of that ecosystem provides a degree of independence that is very healthy for budding companies. Startups need to be focused on the needs of their customers, whether or not the latest entrepreneurial technique applies.

The Money Factor

The last point I’ll touch on is funding. Here again, I think the advantage goes to those outside of Silicon Valley.

While there is a great supply of money in Silicon Valley, there is also much more competition. While there is a wonderful ethos of risk taking, good ideas can drown in the noise and groupthink.

My experience is that good ideas and strong teams will get funded no matter where they live – and sometimes an unknown address can even help you stand out from the pack. At this point, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is sufficiently global so that no matter where you are, there is capital available for viable ideas.

Finally, if you need or desire money from Silicon Valley VCs, it’s certainly not limited to local companies. In fact, Silicon Valley VCs are very accommodating to out-of-towners. A day trip is all it takes to access the central bank of technology. As an out-of-towner, you may even find it easier to get a meeting. The good ideas that get famous in Silicon Valley have to come from somewhere – and it’s usually not there.

[Top image credit: Peeradach Rattanakoses/Shutterstock]

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/20/dont-believe-the-hype-silicon-valley-is-not-the-be-all-end-all-for-tech-companies/#03hF84tSLolSuFfx.99