In the early days it was about WHAT you know. Meaning, which facts and figures have you learnt and do you know by heart. You remember the adagio “knowledge is power” ? Now the internet gives you the possibility to find all kind of information anytime you want. This kind of static knowing has become sort of obsolete. Learning at school the history, geography etc. is well…. old school.
Now we have this great amount of data available it matters more and more HOW we use all this (found) facts. We are now learning skills how we can use data and transform this into rich information. By playing with data, open it up and interact with third parties. One of the trends is the “doing by learning” practice. Where you use data to test, review and improve in a continuous cycle. Examples are new methodologies like serious gaming, lean design, visualization, design thinking, etc. Is this playing-time for adults?
But the question I ask myself, and ask you as well, what will be the next phase or step in this information usage? I would like to suggest it will be the IF question. Seen we will have all this data at hand and play around with this information, it will become more the question IF we are able to make the right decisions with it. Are we using this information to make responsible decisions which have a positive impact on our lives.
How much information or data can we staple or bundle (quantative) in order to get the right outcome? We should be mindful about using information the right way. A more qualitative approach by placing it in a context of wisdom. So my suggestion would be to (more) educated with life skills like philosophy, psychology, art and meditation. Starting at school and continuing beyond…. Technically interpreting data for commercial purpose only is old school. Using information which is right for the human wellbeing should be the standard.
Recently, I wrote a blog article about the trends and developments in flex-working. From the well- known commercial flexwork locations, and working at people’s homes, to work in a fully equipped work-van.
This Flex-work will now get a new dimension with the latest trend: Co-Working and Co-living. To learn more about this new concept and to experience it myself, I traveled to Sun-And-Co, based in the town of Javea at the Costa del Sol in Spain.
Sun-And-Co is one of the few initiatives in the world, that offers both the concept of Co-Living and Co-Working in one place. But before I tell you about my experiences, a short introduction of the key players in this new way of living and working;
The Digital Nomads: people who choose to live and work in remote locations which suits them best, at that given moment. Some of these Digital Nomads even have no permanent home or address anymore. They’re always on the move, have no possessions, and make conscious decisions how to live and where to work. This as long as there is a digital connection with the rest of the world thus being able to work and generate some income.
Workationers: people who just want to get away in another setting for a week or so, but also want to work. A combination of working in a relaxed holiday environment for a change of scenery and fresh input.
After a somewhat lengthy journey, I arrived at the villa of Sun-And-Co. After shaking hands with the host, I was introduced to the other “guests”. As it appears a motley collection of different types of people. People from various countries are present such as Estonia, Russia, India, America, France, Germany, Netherlands, England, Spain.
After installing my stuff in the well-equipped bedroom, I was searching for a nice spot to settle myself, to open my laptop and start some work. Although a good choice of working rooms were available, it soon became apparent that most people have chosen the central living-work-eat spot. Which is a more cozy surrounding to work at. The atmosphere in general was friendly and soon you’re chatting with the other people present.
The next morning there was an intro-game, to introduce yourself. This as a personal introduction, which is quite nice to know whom you spend a week with, but also as a short introduction about your work activities. An agenda was prepared for the joint activities, but not mandatory. This agenda was including both social and work related activities. In this case, the location on the sunny Spanish coast was ideal for sun, sea and beach activities such as kayaking, swimming, beach walk, volleyball, paddle-surfing etc. In addition in-house activities as joint cooking, yoga, a movie night, etc. were organized.
Regarding the work-people, I noticed two occupational groups were mainly represented: the software programmers, and the marketing/business people. It seemed like there was not much in between regarding occupations. This can be explained as these professions are particularly suitable for digital and remote operations.
In this Co-Working place you have the choice to work on your own assignments, but also have the opportunity to share your knowledge with the group. Again a work agenda was created, where you might like to join in if interested, but not mandatory.
One of the work agenda activities was a SkillShare session. Here you can share your knowledge or skills which might help the other guests. So you give a presentation (not a sales pitch) so others can learn something from it. After these SkillShare pitches nice conversations were started and lively discussions occurred. For example about topics such as marketing trends, new ways of cooperation, and big data visualization solutions.
In addition, you can take part in a Mastermind session. This when you have a problem or question to ask the group for help. As such. For example, someone asked help regarding her next steps in her career path. I introduced a new project to the group and asked how they see this, and what I could do to improve this project.
During the introduction game everyone was also asked about their motivations of why going to this Sun-and-Co location. Different answers were given like; a get away from the too familiar environment, believing in a traveling life, to meet new people, get to explore interesting countries and experiencing a refreshing view. In addition the warmer climate in comparison with their mostly colder country of origin, was also an important motivation to choose this Sun-And-Co location in Spain.
What I noticed in the group dynamics was that everyone was continuing their natural way of living. Meaning people were maintaining their own eating habits, sleep rhythms and other activities, and not immediately adapting to the local rhythm of the co-living community. Everyone soon finds a balance in their individual and social acting and behavior.
This co-living & working, is a relatively new “lifestyle” which at this moment attracts people who want to push their limits. But it can also be an attractive way, for getting a refreshing view of yourself, and your work.
Living and working in such a community is perhaps a little more challenging because you’re pushed out of your comfort-zone with these varieties of people, and living so closely with one another. But the outcome and results are slightly sharper than in a regular and well-known environment.
The concept of both co-working & co-living is a nice initiative. Sometimes It touches the borders of your social capacities, but at the same time brings some new and different dynamics to your life. I experienced the concept as refreshing, and am looking forward for my next business-life journey and stay.
A lot of (older) people are familiar with the idea of going to a building every day and sit at their own desk for 8 hours or so. This is called YOUR workplace. With some personal stuff to make the working environment more cheerful, and a little more personal (bearable?)
New initiatives are introduced, where you can work at independent locations which do not have any relation with your employer or assignment. Commercial workspaces with free coffee and Wi-Fi. Where the business model is either to rent out meeting spaces (Seats2meet) or based on a small fee (Spaces, HNK, WeWork etc.)
Another concept is that of sharing existing workspaces. Here they looked at the success of Airbnb’s concept and transformed it into the business space area. Renting out existing company workspaces which are presently not used by their own company employees. So why not renting this out to foreign business nomads? Asking a little fee to cover some basic costs, and perhaps it will introduce some interesting leads.
Next there seems to happen another trend where retailers open up their stores to remote workers. A little corner in the back of their store with some tables, chairs and free Wi-Fi. All according to their interior style, and brand extension is doing its work. New traffic is coming in, people start to look around in the store, and unexpected conversations are happening.
Another development is to work at home with some friends. Having the coffee and cookies on the table. Where you can have an interesting discussion, perhaps a more personal conversation and get (honest) feedback about your working-life from people you appreciate.
….. has left the building!
But still the social component is fixed to the building where you are working in. Why not introduce an app that connects not only with people in the same building, but also with other workers in the building next or opposite the street, or in your neighborhood? Where you login to the Connected Working App and see who is working where, which knowledge is closely available, and make a spontaneous meetup or appointment?
When you think about quality time, probably you think of the precious time spent with your family or closest friends. The time you intensely enjoy with your dearest. It re-connects and gives you energy. But sadly enough this happens too little, and mostly during (planned) vacations or short trips.
But what if we transfer the concept of quality time into your work? And I don’t mean to have quality time with your colleagues (could be fun though…) but spending quality time how you work.
Quality over Quantity
What if you give your working day more quality time instead of quantity time. Meaning choosing activities based on what brings real value. Value regarding the outcome for your work but also to yourself.
Lot of books are written about efficiency, timetables and ROI and so forth. Which is actually a rational approach based on the old production theory, only counting numbers (A.K.A. Spreadsheet Management) What if you plan and choose your activities based on your ambition for that day. Decide which tasks belong to achieve this daily ambition, and enjoy it fully.
How to do this:
- Prepare your day, with outlook/mail and other production programs, closed. Sit down an decide what end-goal you would like to accomplish that day. For your work and for yourself. This is your daily ambition.
- Write down what you really need to do, your must do tasks, to accomplish your daily ambition. Including a list of people you definitely need to contact for your ambition.
- Open your computer and start to work on your must do list.
- When you accomplished one third of your must do list, open your inbox for max 30 minutes to reply to e-mails and other requests. Close your mail program and other non necessary programs.
- Take a break and refocus on your must do list, and start continue working on this.
Basically it’s about opening your mail program only when it serves your purpose and not others. Make it a habit to open your mail program only in the morning, midday and day ending. Don’t be a slave of your computer or mail program. You are in control!
Put your personal values in to your work by giving it your full attention it deserves. Give your energy to your daily ambition. This will re-connect your drives and give satisfaction to yourself and in the end also to your stakeholders ;–)
A long time ago when new transportation techniques emerged, it created new jobs like the traveling merchant and local trader. Where you could buy new and different products from other places then your own. There was a natural balance between the buyer and seller because goods or services were exchanged based on necessity.
Business is the new standard
Trade or starting a business has evolved during the last centuries into a “serious” profession. Where all kinds of new business developments were invented like new production techniques, price calculations, ratio’s, KPI’s, and something called “efficiency” Here scarcity was the basis of trade.
Slowly our view of doing business changed from efficiency towards effect. Where transparency opened our eyes and changed public opinion. This in a sense that trade was not always equal for all parties. Where business ethics became an important factor; doing good for society, giving back to the producers, sustainable business for a clean environment etc. Where the rational efficiency on short term is not leading anymore, but the soft factors and the longer term, are the new metrics.
Business as the new religion
The new entrepreneurs are getting younger and business is initiated by all kinds of people on all levels. New enterprises arise in so many different countries and even in remote locations. Where money is not an issue anymore thanks to Crowdfunding and Microcredit. Entrepreneurship is a commodity. Or is it more?
Entrepreneurship seems to be the new religion. The save haven for a meaningful live and freedom of choice. Where business models are replaced with the new mantra of Faith, Hope and Love. Where business people live accordingly to this mantra:
– Faith: I believe in myself and in my company
– I Hope; that others will like me and my offerings
– I Love; what I do with my endeavour
If you use these three spiritual factors you will achieve your place in the kingdom to come. Soul searching is the standard.
The first location
We lived and worked where the food was available by nature. Where your family and beloved ones belonged to a close(d) community. You only moved somewhere else if there was a real and functional need to leave. Communications was easy as your living and working space was in the same area. We traveled short distances and communicated face to face and talked to each other(!)
With the rise of new techniques in transportation and communications, we were able to move around more easily. The decision to move somewhere else was taken more lightly. Going to places we “liked” or seemed interesting because someone else you didn’t know, said so in his recommendations or referrals.
Now there seems to be a blend of work and life. Where the strict distinction between those two do not exist anymore. You work because you feel good about what you do, or chose to be an entrepreneur out of passion to help others. Where the location you will be active does not matter anymore because the technical means give you the opportunity to transport information to the other side of the world within seconds, where goods are delivered the same or next day. Where you talk with strange people who are like minded.
The next phase could be moving around in a virtual world. Where transportation of information is nonexistent anymore as it’s all in a big cloud. Where you experience travel in a augmented and virtual world. Where you see each other as a holographic projection. Where you have build in earbuds and mics in your body. Giving your computers commands by gestures, or touch sensors that are built in your clothes instead of old fashion typing.
So are we going back to the situation as we started? Living in tribes, exchanging goods instead of paying for it, only use natural materials and eating healthy biological food. Helping your neighbors and do good. Where do you (really) belong?
Since a few years its possible to measure all kind of data about your health with your mobile Phone or a fitness band around your wrist. So you know how many steps you have taken, how many stairs, measuring your sleep cycle, calories burnt etc. So your little computer is telling you if you are healthy by reaching a certain amount of numbers.
This quantified self is not new as it is still based on numbers and thus based on old school logic. Like measuring output numbers is the classification of your health? This principle is not a new shift, but an advancement which is made possible by new type of sensors and better software. But should we be measured by numbers?
The next (real) shift could be the qualified self. Where you will be measured on qualitative input instead of quantitative numbers. Like measuring your happiness level, hormones, glucose, smiling muscles, talking sound, hours of silence etc. So based on biological and behavioral “measurements” and not on output numbers. But what conclusions or recommendation’s will your app present from this?
The next self
So why not combine quantified data and qualified info? Use this input and connect this with Artificial Intelligence. This as we seem not smart enough to interpret the presented data into valuable and sensible conclusions. So this next app will tell you in the morning how you will feel that day and what you should be doing accordingly to be healthy and perform at your best.
The real self
Using all these tools could bring us far away from our core DNA as a human being. Do we need data and apps to know if we are all right, be healthy, living accordingly etc.? Do we need a tool, to know about our existence?
The other choice, (yes, it is still a choice) to skip all of this and go back to nature. To feel again, to know thyself, and feel in your guts if it’s okay. To “know” you exercised enough, you had your limit’s of alcohol. To know and feel that you are your own god.
Failure is an integrated part of our business-life. During your endeavors you might encounter problems, but does this mean you failed? When a project did not finish successfully, or a product is not selling, does this mean you totally failed as a business-person? No, it might be a major setback but it’s not the end of the world. It’s a learning point. And that’s how you should treat failure.
Failure in some cultures is seen as a life enhancer, as a needed experience to perform better in the future. For instance in the USA it’s seen as an essential part of your resume, while in my country The Netherlands, it’s not common to talk about your failures. For example when you lost your job, experienced bankruptcy or a failed project. So let me start: I failed big time with my previous company last year. I’m divorced (sort of failed project ? ) and more. But does this make me a bad person? Hell no!
So first we could change our perception about this concept of failure, and focus on the road how to improve ourselves. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. You could see it like this: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, “this didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else”
So how to deal with failures? Some tips:
- Try to break the patterns in your life to avoid making the same mistakes twice. Start with changing your bad habits. Your changed behavior will give much more results and rewards then trying to solve external factors.
- Be honest to yourself and do not flea to avoid problems. Face them and solve problems if needed. Possibly with help from some friends, colleagues or hire a coach to drag you out this unwanted situation.
- Share your thoughts and information in whatever way you feel comfortable with
- Be flexible and open to learn. And yes sometimes you will be vulnerable. But what´s the worst thing that could happen? Really….
- Know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.
- We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. It’s you choice and your life!
Did you experience the dark side already and what are your lessons learned? Please let me know!
Diversity is about having different people in your team. This can function as a catalyst to drive innovation.
Diversity is having many different elements in the mix, many different experiences, many different perspectives, many different skills. This diversity can be in personal perspective: talent, gender, culture, experiences and more. But also about collaborating with people from (completely) different sectors or even countries.
Diversity can be a good thing to strive for: Studies show there seems to be a strong connection between innovation, creativity and diversity. These different people give in much more input from various points of view you didn’t had before. People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more.
But how do you empower diversity and what are the criteria to make it work?
- Leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash establish a culture in which all team members feel free to contribute ideas
- Value-driving insights
- CEO should approach diversity as a (personal) mission by:
- Advocating Collaboration
- Swimming Upstream is allowed
- Strengthening Cultural Intelligence
- Enabling New Ideas
The outcome will be more innovative ideas from within your team. For example to find a more competitive advantage. By finding a better understanding of your customer needs, to adjust your offering in the different markets. The second advantage of diversity is will also result in better motivation and cohesion between team members and relations.
So what do you do mix these days?
As we live in a more upward time lately, I would strive for a more positive approach about how to change for making progress. Changes how you as a person can improve yourself and also how a business can make progress, in a more effective and sustainable manner.
My suggestion would be to (perhaps with my help) find your positive assets, and work with these elements, instead of trying to solve the negative aspects because the positive approach is simply more effective and pleasant.
An example of a negative approach is turn-around management. A method or vision which tries to change things around by giving all energy to solve the problems by focusing on the negative elements. While there is also the opposite method to focus on the positive assets and work from here.
With this positive focusing, it’s not said that you should forget or ignore the less positive assets, but the point is that in the end this will bring you faster and better results, instead of trying to change the negative ones. Let me give you a few reasons why positive focusing is more beneficial:
Positive energy: No one who produces results, will want to surround themselves with a complainer. Those with positive outlooks who consistently deliver results will want to be around others with the same trait. That kind of negative energy will drag them down, which is the last thing that positive people want.
Resources: positive business cases are more at hand, and the proper information will be faster accessible.
Attitude: people are more willing to change, based on positive concepts and goals. Such a positive environment encourages also innovation and has a positive effect on employee attitudes and morale, and can help employees in a business creating new opportunities.
Costs: project loss or delays, will occur less and result in better insights and faster results. This leads to lower costs in relation to related revenue.
Results: increases the efficiency of work processes, which can result in more satisfied customers as well as employees. The impact of positive change is effecting the organization as well the individuals.
Two buzzwords these days seem to be trending: innovation and start-up. Like every NEW development is the solution, the Holy Grail towards success. This new NEW is an external goal and has no foundation or relation to the quality of your own business-life.New things or innovations are per definition not the solution. And which problem is behind this solution? Do you have actually a real problem? Or is it just a restless feeling because you think you will be too late following the latest trends. But everyone else is doing this! So what!? But first you have to ask yourself what is actually the problem? (if so…) please ask yourself honestly why you want to pursue these trends and if you fully believe in it.
Instead choose progress as your goal, and not chasing the innovation hype. Progress is making little steps by learning, and discovering how to reach your horizon. Making it a little better every day by increasing more value to your offering. This is growing and making progress the intrinsic way. Innovation as a vehicle cannot be your goal to grow. Choose progress instead, and if in the end innovation is necessary, please do so with a good reason.
In 2000 B.C. (Before Crisis) there were some good budgets available to start a new project. This could be for entering new markets, new product development, to have a new software system, or building a new meeting space. Basically a large part of these kind of projects started with the word “new”.
Now we’re living in a period of scarcity, and no big budgets are available anymore. This luxury position is scarce now and thus we have to find new ways not only to start new projects, but also for the reason of improvement. (the positive word for trying to solve problems) This new situation pushes us to find different solutions. (some call this even innovation…)
Instead of looking at the outside world and buying tools or hiring people to “getting things done”, based on big budgets, I challenge you to search for possibilities and solutions which are right in front of you, or at least in your close surroundings. In other words to use the assets you or your company already have. This I call Business Recycling.
Some examples: to find software applications and connect these into one useful system for your sales communications instead of buying a new CRM system. To get in touch with colleagues and ask them spending a few hours per month to help you with a new project, instead hiring an external. Ask your neighboring company to lend you their space to host a meeting, instead of building a new designed meeting room.
The benefit is not only a modern way of efficiency, but moreover a road to a different attitude in sharing and transparency.
What can you do to be more active in business recycling?
When we talk about cultural differences we tend to think about differences in national cultures. But being involved in several projects with people from different backgrounds and sectors, I noticed that even within one country, there are some cultural hurdles to overcome. Within a country differences migth occur based on regional heritage, religion, history, local dialects and more.
But there is also the Company Culture. If we want know why some businesses are more successful than others, you might think about pragmatic or functional reasons, like a lower price or better technical specifications. But more important, a deal might be rewarded because both parties have a click. Like having the feeling this person, representing this company, will do as they promise.
And this is where the Company Culture is coming in. This is about how your organization handles things based on the norms and values in your enterprise. In more detail, it’s about the shared etiquettes, values, visions, beliefs and habits. It’s how you approach your work, your colleagues and in the end external stakeholders. You represent you company culture.
This Company Culture is formed during the history of your company by all present and new people to come in. Mostly it follows the changes during time, and is formed unintentionally. But please know you can influence this culture. By steering your company culture the outcome in business results might be higher as expected. According some studies it can improve results by 200% or more. So why not give your company culture more attention and focus?
What is the culture in your company, can you describe this?
Trading, or Entrepreneurship, is actually about coming out of your comfort zone. Working in or with areas you do not know at all, or are not quite familiar with. As such you have to make decisions which have unforeseen outcomes. This involves to take some risks, but as you have to proceed with your business and thus challenge yourself by making the right choices and go for it.It requires you to push your limits. Not only from yourself but also from the people around you, and this requires character. Not being stubborn but perseverance is key. Perform your tasks as required, even if you don’t feel like it. To follow your dream.
Please share what you had to overcome in business and to what your personal qualities you had to use. Also interested to know if this has lead to personal growth and the business results you have been expecting.
A lot of people are starting their business these days. Some out of curiosity, some because they think they know better as their boss, others because they invented a cool product or for other reasons.
Entrepreneurship or being a business person is not only for the rich, the smart trade people, or people with a big mouth, but also for groups of people that need some assistance or a little push in the right direction, like …
- Personas in social unforseen circumstances
- Students from high school to university
- Elderly people
- Unemployed people
- People from abroad and Expat members
- People with great technical skills but need some entrepreneurial assistance
- Starters with great ideas
- Creatives who want to market their product
Presently I’m developing a new Entrepreneurship program, specifically for these groups of people.
Is a business person born with a different DNA, or can it be learned? Is it because some people have a different education or are born in different (better) circumstances?
I believe that an entrepreneur is not a different person as in private life. As an entrepreneur you bring all the skills and knowledge from your personal past and present, and your character. You are not a robot who can be programmed with certain techniques and thus the magic will happen. You need to recognize and develop your (business) skills, get some help to get you on the road, be, and stay inspired, and go for it!
Which personal skills do you think are most important as a business person?