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Growth Leadership Personal Development

From Human to God

“For the first time in history, more people will die today from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined.” “The average human is far more likely to die from bingeing at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola or an al-Qaeda attack.”

Yuval Noah Harari, book Homo Deus; A Brief History of Tomorrow, 2017

What was that? It can’t be right!  Yet in the last few decades, we have been able to move closer to managing famine, plagues, and war. We haven’t overcome them, but we have significantly decreased their effect on us. If we do solve these, what will we work on next. That is the topic of the book “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari, a Ph.D. of history from the University of Oxford.

What about immortality? If we can overcome the big three; hunger, disease, premature death, aren’t we trying to extend life? If the right to life is humanity’s most fundamental value, death would violate that right. Death would be a crime against humanity.

Our focus would become the re-engineering of our bodies. Extending our life to 150 years would bring us closer to divinity; going from Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus. Harari’s book examines how this can be accomplished. If we become the focus of our divinity then we won’t need God. Consequently, we will no longer focus on faith in God but faith in humanity.

That is what Humanism is about. Humanism is relying on human fulfillment and inner experiences. The practice is stating that the ultimate source of meaning for the entire universe comes from within you, not from a higher authority like God. You can rely on your own feelings and desires to determine what is right.

Humanism teaches that something is bad if it causes someone to feel bad. That’s where all this “me” mentality has come from.  You are out for yourself. You put emphasis on feelings, desires, and experiences. This type of thinking will be the destruction of us.

In my book “Who’s Changing the Meaning?” I address Humanism’s idea of “it’s bad if it hurts someone,” by looking at Relativism.  We define relativism as; “The belief that different things are true, right, etc., for different people or at different times; a theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing; seeming to be something when compared with others.”

Relativism is different things to different people. That means it is not absolute. It is at best a shooting target, hoping it lands where the result is favorable to you.

What the definition states is relativism is truth based on what anyone will think even though they aren’t capable of knowing yet if it really is or isn’t something. The entire definition contradicts itself, making no sense at all; nonetheless, we accept relativism when any idiot refers to it. Humanism concurs with the idea that truth changes.

Relativism affirms that what is true is conditional, that no system of truth is more valid than another. Truth is what is relevant to each person. My truth is different from your truth, which is different than the homeless man’s truth, which is different from Charles Manson’s truth, which is different than O.J. Simpson’s truth.

Truth cannot be contradictory. Truth is set, a never changing thing. Relativism defies the very nature of what is true. It changes on a whim, bending for each person but unattainable for all. There is no chance every person will get what is relevant to them in any situation that involves another person. Relativism is impossible to achieve. With Humanism it would be impossible to determine what is right or wrong based on if it hurts another. What doesn’t hurt one person may still hurt someone else.

Harari goes further in his book by looking at the biochemical responses in the brain. He covers how our consciousness works and how our brain processes the things around us. As I finished one chapter I found the next to be even more interesting. I don’t agree with everything the author states, but I am fascinated about the thought-provoking ideas Harari presents.

Homo Deus is on the to-read list of Bill Gates. Gates states about the book, “It is a deeply engaging book with lots of stimulating ideas and not a lot of jargon. It makes you think about the future, which is another way of saying it makes you think about the present.”

Bill Gates, https://www.gatesnotyyy6tes.com/Books/Homo-Deus

Homo Deus is a great book to open up the mind. It awakens you to see what is going on around you and how it can affect your future. Challenge your brain and enjoy this great read.

Entrepreneurship Management Marketing Personal Development

5 Things to Avoid Startup Failure

We’ve all seen the depressing stats – over 50% of startups fail within the first 4 years.  This need not happen!  Businesses are launched for a variety of reasons – some are well thought out strategic launches while others are out of necessity when job prospects dry up.  There are many reasons for startup failures; but if you can avoid these 5 key ones, your chances of success go way up.

Product – Market Mismatch

As the chart below demonstrates, the #1 reason why companies dissolve is that they are producing and marketing a product no one wants.  Although this seems somewhat obvious in retrospect, many founders get an idea and accumulate enough funds to launch and work on perfecting their product for extended periods (burning through capital along the way) only to discover that there is no market for their product.  In essence, they have a solution in search of a problem.

The way to avoid this problem is to test the market as soon as possible. Many startups are scrapping the lengthy business plan in favor of a more dynamic approach. One of the key tenants of the Lean Startup Approach centers on creating a minimally acceptable prototype that is then market tested with real potential clients.  Based on customer feedback, the product is adjusted and then retested.

Lack of Funding

Even for those founders who are fortunate enough to obtain some funding, there can be a short runway until the money runs out.  Startups need to develop a summary of all expected startup expenses as well as ongoing monthly expenses….leave nothing out.  A cash flow budget will quickly reveal the burn rate of the business and (in the absence of revenue) how long their funds will last.  This will help founders plan how to allocate their limited resources.  In many ways startups are a race against time – not only to avoid running out of money, but also to stay ahead of potential new competitive entrants who may also be working on the same problem.

Founder Team

Founders may start out as solopreneurs, but soon will outgrow that and need additional expertise and support.  The key potential disruptors here are personalities that don’t mesh and lack of a common vision.  The best founder teams are those that knew each other before joining the company – the longer the better.  As founders add additional personnel, there is a dangerous tendency of hiring quickly to “just get it done” and get some help.  Hiring the wrong people can destroy a startup.  If the new addition is a poor fit with the rest of the team or if they don’t share the same sense of mission this can spell significant trouble. The result will be stress within the team and some loss of momentum.  Startups cannot afford to lose time or momentum.

Founders tend to have a view that they must do everything themselves to be sure it’s done right.  As the business grows, this must stop.  Founders are now leading the company – they need to learn to delegate whether to freelancers or fulltime employees.  Leadership involves focusing on what you do best and letting others do the rest.  Trust but verify is a workable approach.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

~Steve Jobs

Lack of a Business Plan

Business Plans are not just for Angel Investors or Venture Capitalist.  They keep the management team focused and moving in the agreed upon direction.  The key elements include a mission statement along with the Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  A detailed summary of the competition along with marketing and business development activities is also essential.  Every member of the founder’s team must be part of the process to assure buy-in on all goals.  In addition, the cash flow budgets fits into this process to assure the founder that the burn rate is not too high.  The danger is that funds will run out before the product is fully developed and sales have begun.

Lack of Brand Development

Successful startups need a defined repeatable sales process.  But first they must get their brand noticed in the marketplace.  Once the founder team has developed their Unique Selling Proposition; it needs to be conveyed to potential customers.  Social media can be a big help.  A solid website which includes a call to action and a way for prospective customers to ask questions has become table stakes for all businesses.  Well-crafted informational articles distributed on Twitter and LinkedIn can also reinforce the brand.  This is a slow burn approach, as social media cannot produce results over night. The drumbeat message should always include what specific problem the product is solving.

Final Thoughts

Starting and running a business is hard work and it may seem that success is a low probability outcome.  But with planning and focused execution, a positive outcome is much more likely.  It is also best not to go it alone.  Seek the advice of professionals – CPAs, and attorneys along with a business mentor or coach will help the founder keep out of trouble and protect their franchise.

Kevin FitzGerald is the founder of KevinBizGobal and a C-Suite Network Advisor working with entrepreneurs and business leaders from startup to international expansion.

Kevin has over 20 years of managerial/consulting experience across a wide range of industries including Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, Tech and MedTech. Key services include: Lean Startup Advice, Business Plan and Pitch Deck Preparation.  For larger SMEs who are ready to scale internationally – go to market strategies with strategic alliances primarily in the US, Ireland, and the UK.

Kevin’s education includes an MBA from the Stern Business School at New York University and a BA with honors in Economics from Drew University.

Contact Kevin:  kevin@kevinbizglobal.com

Specialties: #startup #startups #entrepreneur #entrepreneurs #businessplans #pitchdeck #pitchdecks #scaleup #InternationalExpansion #CSuite

Growth Leadership Personal Development Technology

Check Your Email Please

As part of my social media advisory business I send out a monthly newsletter.  This month I noticed something as I reviewed my mailing list.  I was surprised to find dozens of people on my list that still have old school mailing addresses.  We are talking AOL, Hotmail and others.   Not only do some of these people possess these addresses, but they publicly display them on professional social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, as well as their business websites.

First impressions matter, and often people’s first impression of you is via Email, or a display of your email address.  The first impression these folks are giving is that I am older and not very technologically savvy.  In a business world where digital is everything, and ageism is rampant, this is the last impression you should give.

The movie “You’ve Got Mail” came out in 1998, near the peak of AOL’s business, which steadily declined in the new millennium.  Ten years later, articles started appearing about how old-fashioned AOL users were. Now, 20 years later, why are folks still using these outdated addresses?  I asked a few of my subscribers, and here is a sampling of their response.

“I didn’t think it really mattered.”  I wish it didn’t, but it does!  Another common response included “inertia.” One person told me “Warren Buffett doesn’t even have an Email address!”  Yes, but Warren Buffett became one of the richest men in the world BEFORE email was even invented.

Lastly, some said “my current AOL (or Hotmail) account is established with my friends, family and business associates.  I don’t want to lose those contacts.” This is a fair, but manageable concern.  No-one wants to disrupt connections unnecessarily.     But you can keep the same address for current contacts while presenting a contemporary one for new ones.

AOL users can set up a Gmail account that forwards messages from your AOL address to your new Gmail account.  Old friends and colleagues don’t have to change addresses, while you look contemporary to new peopleHotmail users can do something similar with more contemporary Outlook addresses.

If you have an AOL or Hotmail Email address, it is time to come into the 21st century.  A contemporary e-mail address will improve the impression that you make with new friends and colleagues.

Now, can we talk about that MySpace account?

Marketing Personal Development Technology

Give Me Another Dollop of That AI

You can be forgiven if the way we talk about Artificial Intelligence makes you think you can order it up like a scoop of ice cream. It seems that way because we constantly read that:

  • AI solves all our problems
  • AI experts cost an arm and a leg
  • AI analyzes data than any person can
  • AI will make us all unemployed

While each of these statements might turn out to be true (well, we hope the last one is wrong), they all suffer from the same problem. They act as though all AI is the same. That all AI is one monolithic thing that can be added to any system if you just have enough money.

It’s not true.

First off, there are many different kinds of AI applications and they require different techniques. Voice recognition is not the same as text analytics is not the same as optimizing search results. These applications are different from each other and they use different techniques to perform their “magic.” Most of them use multiple AI techniques. And they usually depend on the existence of data.

I have been phoned up by more than one expectant client who wants to solve this problem or that problem with AI. Often, that is perfectly reasonable, but just as often I have to tell them they need to take several steps first. Often, they need to set up a standard process that collects data in a standard way so that the AI techniques have something to work with. Luckily, even taking these initial steps has business value, if you do it right, so the clients are usually easily persuaded to move forward.

Wanting to use AI is not a problem. Forward-looking organizations are always pushing the envelope and AI is just the latest way to do it. But let’s make sure that we are getting the business value we expect and that we are ready to take the preliminary steps to get there. We shouldn’t make AI a problem looking for a solution.