Finding your Tribe

They say that birds of a feather flock together. There’s some good wisdom in that. Diversity helps us expand our view and create new ideas, but at the end of the day we all need the fellowship of others who share some common thread. Even the most solitary among us need some sense of belonging, someone to fall back on and help us along our path – that’s why humans create families, communities, friendships, and even employer/employee relationships. Regardless of how you define it, everyone needs a tribe.

In a more entrepreneurial sense, building your tribe – your mentors, cheerleaders and co-conspirators – is an important step in success. They are the ones that can see your vision (although maybe not as clearly as you do) and genuinely want to help you get there. When others dismiss your ideas as just crazy, they are the ones that listen intently and say “That sounds interesting. You’ve got me intrigued. Tell me more. How can I help?”

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they have to do everything themselves or it somehow doesn’t count.  You can’t do it alone, and you don’t have to. That’s what your tribe is for. Connect yourself with others who are like-minded or have done something similar. Learn from their mistakes. Make the best use of their expertise, and offer up your own when you can. Find people that recharge you, inspire you, and are willing to lend a hand when you need it.

Find your tribe.

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Photo courtesy of Jan Tik

The journey to a better financial place

Just finishing up a great book — ONO: Options Not Obligations by Marc Warnke.  This is one of those books that is so full of good information and is told in such an engaging way that you just can’t put it down. I managed to devour all but about 20 pages of it on the train up and back to NYC last week.

Marc is what he terms a “family first entrepreneur.” He has been quite successful and made lots of money along the way, but unlike many entrepreneurs he didn’t let the pursuit of the dollar overtake his life. He made sure that every move he made, every venture he undertook, both supported his family and allowed for the quality time he wanted to spend with them.  Along the lines of my previous post, Marc encourages us to define success in our own terms, as well as how we choose to get there. He gives us permission and some good guidance on how to choose alternate paths to the typical 9-to-5 worklife that may work better for us and our families.

In the process of reading this book, Marc really made me take a hard look at how I think about money, how I think about work, and how I think about “stuff”.   And I realized my money and time (they’re essentially the same thing) were not working as hard for me as they should be. That I need to really think about where I want to be at some future point, specifically define that time frame, and start strategically laying the groundwork now for getting there. He breaks this process down into manageable steps, making the journey to a better financial place seem much less intimidating.

This is not one of those rainbows and unicorns “how to become a millionaire in 3 easy steps” books. As Marc explicitly states, this is not a “how to” book, but a “how to think” book. He backs up his ideas with examples from his own life, and solidifies his financial advice on how to grow wealth through better decision making with real number-crunching scenarios.  He is also very honest in the pitfalls and risks involved in pursuing entrepreneurial success, and suggests a number of strategies to both assess risk and manage it wisely.

Whether you’re looking to make an entrepreneurial fortune or just live comfortably and retire a little early, this book is an absolute MUST READ.  For your convenience, you can purchase it here [affiliate link].  Or buy it somewhere else. Or borrow it from a friend. Doesn’t matter how you get the book, just read it. You won’t be sorry you did.

As a matter of fact, this book is so chock full of good information I’m giving it a second read just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Sorry — you’ll have to borrow it from someone else.

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photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver

The Fallacy of Failure

People don’t try new things because of a fear of failure. But what exactly does it mean to fail?

By definition, failure is “the condition or fact of not achieving the desired end.”  Fair enough. But who gets to decide what that desired end is? Your parents? Your boss? Your neighbor down the street? In practice we let the outside world dictate what counts as success or failure, but in truth YOU are the only one who can really make that call.

We put so much stock in lofty goals that the society at large establishes, but that sometimes don’t make sense for us as individuals. We don’t try because we are afraid that we won’t be the best, or the smartest, or the first. Odds are you won’t be the best or the smartest or the first in whatever you set out to do. That’s no excuse not to try.

Just like failure, success is also up to you to define. What if success was as simple as being really good at what you do? As simple as jumping the smaller hurdles along the way to a loftier goal? As simple as simply getting off the sidelines and giving it a shot? Would we be so afraid of failure if we actually made it harder to fail?

Pick your desired ends wisely, and failure is not an option.

Digital Potlatch – The case for giving it away for free

These days you can find information on just about anything for free. Home Depot gives away lots of how-to’s on their YouTube Channel. You can download books from Seth Godin and Chris Anderson at no charge. There are blogs, wiki’s, and specialty websites on just about everything imaginable. At no other point in history have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge, so much expertise, so much content. And it’s free.

Seems kind of counter-intuitive from a capitalist perspective. Why would you give something of value away when you could charge for it? What’s the value in that?

The art of giving away actually isn’t all that new of a concept. The indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest practiced potlatch, the redistribution and reciprocity of wealth, long before the digital age. In potlatch the one who dies with the least toys wins; status is raised by who gives away the most resources, not who accumulates the most. This ritual practice ensured that the basic needs of the entire group were met, and established and strengthened bonds between its members. By giving away freely to the people surrounding him, the host of the potlatch invested in his own long-term success through the recipients’ continued support.

Today’s “digital potlatch” works in much the same way, but with information being distributed instead of food and household goods. Those that have the knowledge give it away freely to those around them, which helps the recipients achieve success in some way. The recipients in turn become avid supporters of the knowledge giver, spreading the word about the good stuff the giver has to offer.

By giving away a portion of what you have to offer, you not only help others achieve success but invest in your own success as well. Seth Godin understood this when he gave away Ideavirus – he knew that circulating it free on the internet would get him more eyeballs much quicker than a book sitting on a shelf in the local bookstore (if the local bookstore was interested in carrying it at all), as well as the goodwill generated by “good stuff for free”. He now has an extremely loyal worldwide following that will support his ideas, buy his books, and probably put him up for the night if he asked them to.

Participate in the “digital potlatch” and share what you know. Redistribute the wealth. Be reciprocal. By sharing all this information we better ourselves as a group, and become more interconnected in the process. Isn’t that the real win?

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Photo credit: Denise Carbonell