Archive | April, 2012

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30 Apr

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Miles Davis

30 Apr

I always loved Miles Davis! Maybe its the former trumpetier in me.  Here is a great quote of his;

“Music is not about standing still and becoming safe.”

Or to put it another way….If you’re not evolving, you’re dissolving!

Giotto’s Perfect Circle

29 Apr

The story of Giotto’s big “O”  is one of my all time favorites.  I first heard it, while studying abroad in Florence so that certainly added to its appeal. As far as the connection to venture capital…we will leave that for another day.

After sleeping for a thousand years, art woke up in Tuscany at the end of the thirteenth century. Giotto was the first great genius.

Pope Boniface VIII wanted to commission some paintings for St. Peter’s and so he sent a courtier around to find the best painter in Italy. The courtier asked all the artists to give him a sample of their work to send to the Pope. He came to Giotto’s workshop, explained his mission, and asked him for a drawing which would give the Pope some idea of his competence and style. “Sure,” said Giotto; and he laid down a sheet of paper, reached for a brush dipped in red paint, closed his arm to his side to make a sort of compass of it, and in one even sweep scribed a perfect circle. “There you are,” he told the courtier, handing it to him with a smile.

“That’s your drawing?” asked the courtier, who didn’t know whether Giotto was pulling his leg. “Is that all you’re going to send His Holiness?”

“That’s more than enough,” said Giotto. “Send it with your other drawings and see whether it’s understood or not.”

The Pope’s messenger took the drawing and went away trying to hold his temper. Did that little painter think he was a fool?

When he got back to Rome he showed the Pope the big O and told him how Giotto had scribed it—freehand, without a compass. The pope and his advisors DID understand the achievement of that O and gave Giotto the commission.

Epic story!

Story was taken from: http://100swallows.wordpress.com/2007/09/14/giottos-o/

The Value Revelation

26 Apr

I think  the 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, hit the nail on the head when he said;

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” 

I felt these exact sentiments after volunteering for two months in Cambodia at ACODO orphanage. The ticket for a better future in the developing world lies in education. Don’t get me wrong, money helps, but the real transformational power of any sort of “aid” lies in the transference and acquisition of knowledge.

ACODO orphans making their way to school, despite the flood!

The Creative Monopoly

24 Apr

David Brooks had an interesting article on the philosophy of Peter Theil. Peter founded Paypal, needless to say, he’s doing okay for himself.

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He teaches at Stanford and a student of his posted notes from a class which Peter later confirmed were accurate. Brooks summarizes Peter’s philosophy as follows;

In fact, Thiel argues, we often shouldn’t seek to be really good competitors. We should seek to be really good monopolists. Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it. The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too.

Now to be clear: When Thiel is talking about a “monopoly,” he isn’t talking about the illegal eliminate-your-rivals kind. He’s talking about doing something so creative that you establish a distinct market, niche and identity. You’ve established a creative monopoly and everybody has to come to you if they want that service, at least for a time.

I have only read bits and pieces of the book Blue Ocean Strategy and it sounds awfully similar to what Peter is saying. I wonder which came first, peter? or the ocean?

Brooks goes on to describe creative people;

Think about the traits that creative people possess. Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.

I think creative people are independent thinkers first and foremost. They have trained their minds to look for connections and patterns where others simply lack the ability to connect the dots. I believe creativity is close to 100% learned and needs to become a mindset before you can begin to reap its rewards. Most of which involves continually exposing yourself to new ways of thinking and engaging with the world; stepping outside one’s comfort zone will create the conditions necessary for creativity to thrive.  I can recall an excerpt from the book Made to Stick (phenomenal read by the way!) where a study on creating advertising campaigns showed that ordinary people,  with the right techniques, training and working within certain guidelines, are significantly more creative than subjects who were simply left on their own to dream up a campaign.

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I am not saying creativity can be distilled into another how to book (did I mention I am currently writing one…jk), or maybe that is what I am saying…. Help me out people, I am lacking creativity today 🙂

Steve

Christopher Reeve Inspires

23 Apr

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon seem inevitable.”
—Christopher Reeve

 

Goal Achievement Quote 4/19/12.

via Christopher Reeve.

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Via Harvard Business Review Blog

23 Apr

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“What I lack in experience I make up for in wildly unrealistic self-confidence.”