Building your next project with enthusiam
Building stuff matters. But only when you build stuff that actually matters to someone. Even if it’s just yourself. But if you want it to take on a life of it’s own, it has to matter to a group of people. That’s when it gets the traction to become more than just a little side project.
I have built a ton of things over the course of my career. Many have never been seen by the public, some seen by a few and almost all of them, failures. When I say failure I mean they didn’t take on a life of their own like I hoped they would have. Most didn’t get much traction at all and they got no more because I quit pushing. That’s me giving up on a project.
There have been a couple that, had I pushed, could have been something to some people. They could have made some money, served an audience, filled a gap. But I quit pushing because I got busy with my next venture. That’s probably not the best way to do things, but it’s how I have learned to build the next thing with as much enthusiasm as the previous. It’s a gift, I believe.
But then I came across a quote the other day that struck me on the head.
(Thanks @KentJulian for the tweet.)
That pretty much sums up my project life. And I think it should yours as well.
Which reminds me. I’m on my next adventure. Let me know what you think.
HomeschoolGoods.com – A marketplace selling digital homeschool resources from people just like you.
The spinning triangle inside you
Morals are a funny thing. Some people have them, others seem to not. Some seem like they ignore their conscience when we know good and well they had one early on in life.
The best explanation I’ve ever heard about conscience was from a podcast by Alistair Begg.
American Indians used to believe there was a triangle in your diaphragm. When you made a decision that went against their customs or traditions (we’ll call them morals), the triangle would turn, poking you to listen and repent. If you repented, it would turn back, pointing straight up, doing no harm. If you didn’t, it would begin to wear down the points of the triangle. Each time you made that bad decision and offered no repentance, the triangle would become more like a circle. At some point, you would stop getting poked and wouldn’t know the difference between right and wrong.
It makes sense. No, there is no triangle in you, but there is a conscience. It was put there by your Creator and we have all one. Rounding off your triangle can cause harm to you and those around you. Keep it from spinning out of control and you’ll do just fine in this life.
More important and more accessible
If connection is so important to us there days, why isn’t there more of it? I find that we’re so connected with our “friends” on Facebook that we rarely find the time to connect in real life.
Connection is more important and accessible that it has ever been. But with that, brings the possibility of deeper connection than we’ve ever known.
Find new ways to connect the disjointed, displaced or disconnected. Find new ways of reaching people you’ve never met. Find better ways of getting to know them all more intimately.
Do not buy my kid LEGOs.
Actually do, because I see them as incredible building tools. But don’t buy sets. Sets you can only build one thing with the instructions, then you’re done. Game over.
My son is almost 5 and he’s just getting into Legos. I made the mistake of showing him the instructions but I can tell you that the next time we build, there will be no blueprint. We will create. We will make it up. We will build without restrictions.
[A brief dive into the history of LEGO will show you their near bankruptcy state back about 10 years ago. Their main reason for the comeback was the creation of the “set”. These sets (Star Wars, Ninjago, Batman, etc) that are now all they sell, was something foreign to them. A main cornerstone of their product was that no block should ever only be able to be used for one thing. Now, most every block is custom and has one sole purpose.
Sadly, it was our culture and society that demanded it. We had to be told exactly how to do something, the right way, the first time. Now there is little chance of failure (due to instructions) and next to no hope of creating something unique.
This post isn’t just meant for LEGOs, just so you know. It’s meant for anything you’re creating. Make it up. Forget the instructions. That’s what creating is all about.]
It could mean quality. It could mean service. It could mean a lot of things, but it should always mean great.
The thing with our culture today is that anyone can market as premium. It’s a completely different thing to be able to show it and stand by it. With as many individuals as we have today creating things, premium can be a rare case. But we also have to be careful to not equate premium with being polished. Those are two very different things.
Polishing is what a factory does. It makes the widget better, shinier, faster. But those things aren’t always what the customer is looking for. Sometimes the handmade items are in the highest demand with the highest price tag because they are the highest quality around. They are premium. (Experience also lends itself to creating something premium.)
Premium is important. The thing to remember about it is that as we grow, others will catch on and make the same level of premium. It’s during those times that we have to choose what we will do differently to allow us to continue to stand out. Will we cut corners to join their race? Or will we continue to produce great?
On making things
I recently watched a video of a presentation by Seth Godin where he talks about making things, school, the industrial system and few other related topics. Several things stuck out to me in this presentation but mainly the idea of not being afraid that what you create will meet criticism.
When I come up with an idea for what I want to make, immediately there comes a flood of reasons why I shouldn’t make it. Maybe financial reasons, acceptance reasons, users or just time to do it. But according to his philosophy, there shouldn’t be any reason I can’t make that. If I need capital to start it, then get it. If I need time, find it. If I need approval, someone out there will. Will it be a huge success? Probably not. But maybe.
I wrote awhile ago about the heart of the entrepreneur and why we really do what we do. The gist is that we are really just looking for hope. We create and build something for the hope that it will make a difference. Not that it will, but the act of doing brings about enough glimmer of hope that it becomes worth it.
That seems appropriate when we think about anything people create. Every inventor has met criticism and people that did not agree with what they were building. Every company that changes things had to keep pushing through all the moments of near failure.
The things we make are no different.
Breaking a model.
I’ve been trying to think of something new to build that will impact people in a positive way. One that will help people’s lives in some form or fashion.
Our inclination is to stick with a traditional model that has worked well in the past. That’s the easier path, but still a hard one.
The more difficult, but possibly more rewarding path, is to break an old model. Though I would venture to say that most people wouldn’t recommend it, it’s definitely where my head is. Changing the way people find places to stay while on vacation like Airbnb did wasn’t a simple execution. It met plenty of challenges. Allowing people to rent your car while you’re not using it like Flightcar or Getaround takes guts. Even creating a line of eyeglasses that people want to buy more than one pair of like Warby Parker, had it’s moments of struggle.
But they all broke an old model. And I will create something someday that will break a model. Which model exactly is up for grabs. But I assure you that it will have an impact on God’s kingdom in some way. For that, is the ultimate goal.
The no additional fees economy
[Hint. It doesn’t exist yet.]
Technology makes things cheaper. Cheaper to operate. Cheaper to build, maintain and streamline. So why then do we have a wide variety of businesses from government agencies to movie theaters that charge their customer more to use their online system?
Charging your customers extra to use your online system is completely backwards. Yes, it saves them time and hassle, but it saves you some too. Pass on the greatness of not having to deal with processing one more transaction by hand and give your customers the same price they get at the door, or better yet, cheaper.
[One way this could work would be to go up on all your prices $1 at the door (or office, etc.). This would entice people to purchase ahead of time saving you both time and hassle. There’s more ways, I just offer this one.]
Marketing really is storytelling
Unfortunately, too many marketers are so good at telling it, that we buy into their story thinking it’s our own. (That is their plan.)
Our own story involves serving. There may be needs along the way that our culture and products can solve, but mostly, simple is the only thing that has worked for centuries.
I say we have a problem in America. We account for about 5% of the global population…but we consume about 25% of it’s resources. The industrial age taught two main things:
- how to work (and follow directions)
- how to buy (an excess of stuff)
What a marvelous job it has done.
[I’m not mad at marketers so you know. The good ones are brilliant game-changers. And it’s just interesting to note that we now have a generation of people that only know how to follow directions, wait to be chosen and buy a ton of crap. Hoarding not a condition we are born with, it’s one we are taught.]
There’s this whole big movement about “launching” and “starting” your project. I agree that you have to at some point. But it seems like everyone has jumped on the same ship and they’re all buddy-buddy with the next guy about how to be a success in this world.
I really don’t give a crap about being a success in this world. This world can be destroyed in an instant. And it will someday.
What I do care about it being the best servant I was created to be. Serving family, friends and my God is on the top of my list. It’s not about material things or wealth or fame.
So I’m un-launching. I’m un-starting. I’m being true to what I was created to be instead of what the world wants me to. Too many of us have been programmed to want more, do more, achieve more. But I find that the more I want, the more I want. That’s a problem that too many of us in America (and other places) have. It’s an entitlement mentality that we have to fight. A healthy striving for making a difference, gone terribly wrong.
Make a difference, yes. Make a ruckus, of course. But most of all, make it your own dream, not that of the media’s.