Don’t Miss on Seed-Planting

seed-planting increasing value for others

There’s nothing like the lucky break. When it comes, it’s so sweet. I play for the lucky break. In fact, I want a lot of them flowing into my business and life every day. I can’t control what will happen. But I can work my butt off and keep tilting the odds in my favor.

Every day, there’s this great opportunity to keep planting seeds that will turn into something later. It’s hard to do if you are used to immediate gratification, but it makes complete sense when you see that luck often works from the seeds you planted consistently weeks, months and years ago.

Take how you handle relationships. Simply noticing and helping people that are looking for answers goes a long way towards goodwill and building trust. You make friends, and they become aware of what you do and some may want to reciprocate. That can’t happen if you’re holed up somewhere and isolated from the flow of exchanging value.

Seed-planting is what sustains you over the many bumps, bruises and inconsistencies of life. The great thing is that you simply have to be mindful and willing. Here are some ideas to consider as you move about your day:

  • Say a kind word. Everyone’s in a battle. Encouragement can go a long way towards helping someone keep their head up.
  • Get in the trenches. If you see a problem you can solve, how about lending a hand? You can help solve the problems you see or share the answers and resources that will make a difference.
  • Make a connection. Be a hub of connecting people that can really help each other and benefit each other.
  • Send a gift. When someone has done you a kindness, acknowledge it with something you like or they will like. Send a note and tell them why you appreciate them.
  • Have the best ideas. Always be on the hunt for ideas that are working and can work for someone based on what they are pursuing.
  • Show graciousness. You can always be kind, even when someone else is not or is not deserving.

Seed-planting builds bridges and is long-term thinking. While you have to take care of your immediate demands, it’s so important to keep your eyes and heart alert for opportunities to be of service, value and increase to others. The great thing is that you can try it right now with a little initiative.

These Are Never a Waste of Time

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My days, like many of yours, are jammed with demands that relentlessly pull at me. It’s not hard to simply jump into the chaos and push forward on every front. It can feel productive, but often times it is simply reactive. And, if I’m not careful, I’m simply treading water. I have a lot of activity without results. No fun. Wasteful.

I try to keep a short list of important things that feed me and add to my well-being. I always tell people, “You cannot give what you do not possess.” If you want to be a person of value, then you have to increase your own value consistently. That’s why I don’t carry guilt, and I try to make time for these priorities when the world is swirling. They are never a waste of time:

  • Books. I read as much as I can during the days. It’s a way to rest and stretch the mind beyond tasks and projects. I get insights that others have explored in their fields of expertise without having to live an entirely different life. It is always worth it to read, think and grow.
  • Sleep. My emotions can get pretty raw on little sleep. I’m no good to the people that need me – my family, friends and customers – if I’m sick or tired. It’s never a waste to get extra shuteye. Getting to bed early, taking naps and even sleeping in help me be valuable to others and move through days with clarity and calm. Check out Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution to see how important it is to be fully rested.
  • A kind word. Everyone has problems. It’s a tough world we all live in. It’s never a waste of time to pause, be thoughtful and care. I like sharing a favorite proverb with my kids, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” It’s such a beautiful picture of what an exquisite gift and setting it is to provide the right word in the right moment to the right person. It takes thought, care and everything inside you working together well to be a person that can give a kind word. Making someone’s day is so fun.
  • Gaining wisdom. Taking time to think about life’s lessons or listening carefully to the wisdom from others saves a lot of grief. I like to stop and examine what has happened to me and how to avoid temptations, scenarios and people that get me into circumstances I don’t like. Why repeat negative experiences? A little thought and thoughtfulness is never a waste of time. Repeating foolish mistakes takes far more time and energy.
  • Family. My wife and kids refresh me. We laugh, play, support each other, banter, and love each other. Our times together help all of us to take on the world. We are there for each other. We entertain each other. We grow together. It’s always time well spent to be together as a family.

I don’t like wasting time. And as life and work keep moving along like a treadmill, I indulge in these things to keep me going and keep me growing. Perhaps you can keep a short list or take a few of these ideas to default to regularly to keep your own personal growth a priority.

Making Ideas Work in Reality

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I have a lot of fun every day designing things to work in reality. Researching, pulling technology together and finding talent to execute is something I have done for many years, and it is still gratifying to watch a system, process and team work. I don’t know, perhaps it’s a form of art or some tangible way for me to see a return on my thinking. It’s total fun for me to make ideas work.

I’m grateful that I can live in the 21st century and the challenge is less about materials, tools and technology as it had been in times past. There’s not much of a barrier to entry to put an idea in play. Our fingertips and brains can find all kinds of web resources, mobile apps and specialized talent across the globe.

The hard part is getting clear on what the input and output needs to be. Some kind of problem exists to serve the customer. It’s why we do everything. Perhaps, their billing experience is lacking a certain touch. Or projects don’t have a precision in throughput, cost and delivery. Or team members seem to make choices and decisions apart from what’s truly important.

Getting to that crux of what the problem is and understanding what will drive an immense impact is a creative labor of love. Clear thinking is not common even though we are drowning in a sea of options and information. You still have to:

  1. Identify a root cause
  2. Think about solutions
  3. Leverage your efforts with the highest impact solutions
  4. Test your ideas quickly
  5. Pivot
  6. Nurture the solution

This is hard when there’s so much noise and emotion swirling everywhere. And not everyone’s been trained or thinks this way towards problem solving. Even more so, many think chaos is normal, or they might even profit from it.

When we have those opportunities to be problem solvers and make our ideas work, it takes a lot of effort to ensure it sticks. You may have to get embedded in a culture. Surely, you have to lead. That’s unavoidable.

You have to see the possibilities and the answers in your head clearly first. Then the work begins to make the physical world adapt to what you see.

Each and every time, you give yourself that gift of conviction. You force the change that needs to happen in the world.

The great thing is that there are so many problems out there. And with some initiative and forcefulness, you can germinate an idea and create art in problem solving.

The True Entrepreneur is a Doer

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“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” ~ Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari Computer

I know true entrepreneurs. I love them. They move to action decisively. That critical ability to generate ideas and act on them quickly is a true separation. It creates energy, momentum and something out of nothing.

It’s creativity in action when you see entrepreneurship.

I like to play things loose and see what happens. I like to generate ideas, lots of them. And I turn those ideas into movement. I like to get the universe to react from some action I create. It is what works for my entrepreneurship by doing something quickly and clearly.

Most of my ideas are not perfect. But action helps perfect the concepts. Here are some ways I start the process of moving from ideas to action in my entrepreneurial approach:

  • Sharing my idea with my audience and looking for reactions
  • Tapping my network and starting conversations
  • Building requirements documents
  • Booking a meeting with a person that can move my idea forward
  • Finding a platform to start posting, positioning and engaging
  • Opening a loop so I get dissatisfied
  • Closing a deal
  • Creating a new service offering and pitching it

I like the challenge of making ideas happen, and the more action that is clear, the more fun it becomes to create value in the world.

There are so many resources, technology and people to make entrepreneurship happen. Leading is the key, and that starts with Nolan Bushnell’s insight that action is a critical habit. Anything short of that is simply dreaming.

I Want to Grow Opportunities with Apps

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I saw this recent statistic to date for number of apps for my Apple devices at 2.2 million and 2.8 million for Google Play! It blows my mind how much technology is available for every average person out there with a thought and a click. We got here fast.

When you look at these numbers, do you think creating one more app will be much value? How would you get through all the noise to even be noticed? You might find a micro niche that has been undiscovered. Or you could try and unseat a current app leader in a category. Tough game either way to bet on, especially when the proposition of free or $0.99 apps are expected. We’re app snobs these days and want extreme power with no cost.

But you could take a look at the bigger picture. Much like electricity is a commodity that we don’t give much thought towards, apps have come to be a sort of utility. We use them for travel, productivity, banking, entertainment and many other uses.

How do you grow opportunities with all these apps, however? What if you want to produce rather than consume? The use case for this supercomputer in your pocket can surely go far beyond checking out or checking in.

If you want to grow opportunities with apps, here are some ideas and strategies that gets you thinking about the game of increase:

  1. Networking. If you extend your inbox to include participating in forums or Quora, you can play a game every day. Give a great idea or connection every day. See if you can be a matchmaker and make new friends by giving substantive value. Push your mind and creativity. See if that translates to deal making.
  2. Build teams. Start a project that has a money-making goal. Keep it small. Use an app to add people to the conversation and actions. Move the ball forward with leadership and project management. See if you can set the next steps forward using distributed talent around the globe. You’ll have picked up the skill of managing virtual teams. You might consider Basecamp, Slack or Upwork to drive this initiative and make an ROI the goal.
  3. Curate. If you keep tabs on trends, products, food, technology or other natural interests, find a way to make a daily post on a platform. See if you can turn that into a transaction. Work with those vendors you respect. Become a trusted, curated resource. Build relationships with your audience and your product vendors to find where the deal making lies.
  4. Encourage. Life is tough and most people are carrying around a lot of worries, concerns and problems. Use an app that would facilitate the process of encouragement. Find inspirations, apt quotes, solutions and answers that would help people. Make it easy for yourself to connect the encouragement with the person that needs it.

You are not going to have a million apps on your device. But you can think about what you are doing with your time and attention and think a bit bigger than mere consumption. What if you could turn that powerful middleware someone created and get resourceful to turn the tech into opportunity building? It starts with a purpose.

We Are the Factory

In my past life as an engineer, I used to visit manufacturing facilities, tool shops and fabrication outfits for project work. These are places where efficiency, speed and output are the focal point. Human beings acted like machines in their work pushing dozens or thousands of parts and assemblies through every day.

In the industrial age we had a focus on making things cheap, fast and predictably. That game is a commodity now.

Now, we are the factory. You take raw materials – content, ideas, conversations, software, and relationships – and put them together creatively to make an output.

If you are merely a functional piece in the assembly line without much creativity, then you’re not worth much. You are not scarce. You are interchangeable.

If you are on the creative side, then you are a factory that has to make ideas happen. It can be a paradigm shift to think that you are the factory. But your ability to output is related to a set of factors that require just as much, if not more, care and attention:

  • Wide nets. The degree that you are exposing yourself to ideas, experiences and relationships dictates where you draw inspiration, resources and solutions.
  • Personal growth. Are you becoming someone of more value? Your convictions, attitudes and insights come from the people you meet and the books you read.
  • Energy. Do you consistently take care of your health and emotions? Daily routines that help you recharge and keep a clear mind focused on your goals is critical to keeping your factory moving from ideas to execution flowing.
  • Productivity. Are you doing things that don’t matter? Are you focused more on doing things right more than doing the right things? How streamlined, efficient and fast is your workflow? Managing lists, clearing time and space and getting things done keep your processes moving.
  • Creativity. Do you enjoy nature, listen to music or read wild works? Exposing yourself to concepts outside of your box feeds your creativity. And creativity, not hard work, moves your results.

If you are the factory, you want to gain leverage and ensure you are efficient and continuous. It’s a long-term game of personal management, much like industrial scale factories required continuous oversight.

The great thing is that you can control the variables, and with technology and business systems, do much more than ever before simply by approaching your work like a factory manager.

Factories are about leverage, ultimately. And you, as a factory, are competing with the world of people out there that have the same access. It takes your desire, focus and consistency to reap the rewards the economy bestows to efficient creative factories.

Don’t Waste Your Time and Commit to Personal Growth

It sure is easy to get distracted. No doubt you can zone out with so many entertainment venues that are accessible. But while you are snoozing, there are so many people that are committed to personal growth in their downtime that are getting ahead.

Think about the reality of the high-tech world we live in. Will getting more muscles or working harder and longer truly get you ahead?

We have machines that do the work. There is a relentless pursuit to make our world like WALL·E where humans didn’t have to move or lift a finger to do anything. Artificial intelligence, heavy machinery and automation put in the hard day’s work.

No, much of what is leverage and value today comes from hard thinking and creativity. And you don’t get creativity by checking out. You have to focus on personal growth in your downtime where you can gain insights, knowledge and awareness.

Your ideas will make you more valuable.

Your creativity will cause you to be in demand.

Your strategies will be launch points to test from.

But how can you generate ideas, creativity and strategies by working like a machine and then checking out? You might be able to fake it and get along in life for a bit. But people are pretty good at detecting substance from salesmanship.

When you have downtime, how about listening to an Audible book like Zero to One to understand how the future will be shaped. Or work on an article and pull your ideas together on a topic from other content and books to solidify your thinking?

Personal growth allows you to become more valuable. You cannot give what you do not possess.

We don’t have a scarcity of technology or ways of doing things anymore. Everyone can use the same tools, platforms and avenues.

However, there is more noise than ever. And if you can create clarity because you have developed in your own personal growth, then you can help solve the myriad complex problems that everyone is bumping around trying to harmonize in their chaotic worlds.

That supposes that you have taken time to think, gain insights and invest in your personal growth.

Can you change your habits to focus on your personal growth for half an hour a day to start? Pick up a book. Share insightful thoughts. Develop ideas. Make them happen. Become more valuable.

Leveling Up

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Are you keeping your ideas flowing in the real world?

If the world was a static place, you could make your bed, set things in order and watch your money-making job or business simply cash flow without disruption.

However, we don’t live in Narnia. It’s not a place of bliss and perfection. Now that everyone is connected and able to make change, it forces your hand. Resting on your laurels becomes more risky than the better strategy of leveling up and continually innovating.

If you look at large corporations, their divisions are segmented based on natural business functions – operations, marketing, finance, accounting, sales, and research and development.

If you are a solopreneur or small business owner, you have the same functions by necessity. Research and development is where you level up. There has to be time, attention and money dedicated to the goal of continuous growth. It means being open to what is happening in your industry and even beyond.

You have to be open to new ideas and integrate them into your own model.

The threats to your current position have to be evaluated. Paradoxically, the way to reduce risk is to keep moving forward and leveling up.

If you are not testing new ideas and putting them in play with real customers, then how can you be surprised when someone else replaces your position and value in the market?

Here’s an idea. For a couple hours every week, block the time out in your calendar. Get away to a place where you can’t do your reactive work. Take a piece of paper and simply imagine. Open your mind up to new ideas you can test. The ideas can come from news, people, media, gossip, hobbies or whatever else crosses your path.

Merge the extraordinary. See if you can come up with a way to test something new over 30-60 days to see if customers will like and pay for your idea.

Just think of this as embedding research and development into your otherwise busy work weeks. In the process, you mitigate the risk which innovation relentlessly presents to threaten your position. Level up or become irrelevant.

What ideas can you level up on?

Solve Problems By Detaching

We are all trying to get something more and get problems solved every day. And a counterintuitive approach to problem solving is often to get away from your problems. I like to get away to remote and serene places to get my mind off of things.

It opens things up rather than converges. I get tunnel vision when I am trying harder to solve something that can get frustrating and elusive.

You gain more perspective and insights by letting things sit for a while. Your mind is extremely powerful and your subconscious can work to make sense of issues you face as well as bring forward associations and solutions to your harder problems.

Try and make it a daily practice to get away from your work and let your mind ruminate and relax. Here are some ways that you can inject a little detachment to your work day:

  • Walk for 30 minutes. You can be quiet, look around and simply enjoy distractions.
  • Take a bike ride. Run errands or head to a lunch destination by biking from place to place.
  • Get outdoors. Find nature trails or uphill hikes that get your heart pumping and use a lot of coordination. Nature tends to restore and keeps you focused on what is in front of you.
  • Swim laps. It’s meditative and relaxing to swim along a lane and just work your body. Not much equipment needed and you can easily go for a while until you are tired out.
  • Drive to an overlook. Beautiful places and expanses are extremely refreshing. You feel small in the vastness. Drive to a lookout and take in big views. Pray, meditate or sit without thoughts or worries.

You can keep grinding it out, but today’s work requires much more adept thinking with creative solutions. Distance, detachment and introspection taps into a part of yourself that can come up with wonderful solutions.

Be sure to jot your ideas down on your iPhone or pad of paper. It’s always handy to see what comes out of your mind and heart when you change context and location.

How can you change up your daily routine to get away more?

You Have All You Need to Start Something

We live in an unprecedented time in history. It used to be hard to start something. You needed infrastructure, people, permission, etc. That was how the industrial economy worked. The mass forced us to push with enough weight of force behind us.

But now, you can put the pieces together yourself. The only thing limiting you is your ideas and your hard work.

Oh, and you have to be ok with failure. Embracing failure means you like learning. That is how we learn when there are a massive amount of unknowns.

But, you can always get started and test.

Need talent? Get on upwork.com and hire a freelancer.

Need funding? Put an ad out on kickstarter.com.

Need systems? Find a cloud computing solution and start a low-cost subscription.

Need to know how to build a business and make money? Call me!

I doubt there is much stopping you from doubling your income or changing the world. The obstacles and costs have been ridiculously lowered and you have access to what you need.

But the scarcity is still around leadership to make it happen. You have to make that part of your modus operandi.

The world is moving at a relentless pace as you see people squeezed out of the middle class, middle management and middle thinking. It’s because everyone can compete now. And they are.

Take some time to think about how you can make a person happy. Think what you could do. Think about a plan to put the pieces together to make them happy. Then find another person. Refine your process.

If you do it enough times and see feedback from the world, you can scale and build on your innovation. But it does start with the desire and leadership to put all the pieces together and make what’s in your head and heart play out in reality.

What’s holding you back?