Late Bloomer or Seasoned Pro?

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d48ed900e79fa9547169c26138b4cd8d_XLEvery entrepreneur at some point looked in the mirror and said, “Lots of other people have succeeded…and so will I.”

I believe in myself especially because I am willing to work hard and persevere and I have years of experience to prove it. So I too looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Start putting all that to work for my own endeavor and not for someone else.”

An article in Inc. Magazine now sheds new light on older entrepreneurs like me with statistics that prove my experience, my skills, my connections, my expertise, and yes, my age, are on my side.

A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.8 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old founder.

And if you want a really fun statistic:

A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to found a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder and is 1.7 times as likely to found a startup that winds up in the top 0.1 percent of all companies.

There are plenty of reasons, but one key factor is the difference between ideas and execution. 

Ideas are great, and I have plenty of them, but execution is everything. The same is true with strategy: Strategy matters, but tactics–what you actually do–is what helps companies grow.

It’s much harder to execute well when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to develop a sound strategy when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to make smart tactical decisions–especially when you need to make a number of decisions every day–when you have limited experience.

Think of it this way: People love to say, “You need to know what you don’t know.” The only way to decrease the number of things you don’t know–and have a reasonable grasp of which things you do well, and which you don’t–is by gaining experience.

That’s especially true where leadership experience is concerned.

So what about those who succeed later in life – the late bloomers.

Is it better to be an early achiever or a late bloomer? That’s the same as asking if it is better to start Facebook at 19 or IBM at 61?

For the world at large it does not matter. Perhaps Facebook could never happen if IBM did not exist. Should Charles Flint have felt himself too old when he organized IBM out of a time-card punching technology firm at the ripe age of 61? Those time card punchers turned out to be early prototypes of computers.

Perhaps you have not heard much about Flint, but the device you are using to read my blog right now is possible in part because of what Flint started at 61. A later bloomer? Perhaps. Too late for him at 61? Never too late.

So, if you’re in your 50s and you want to start a business, do it.  And even if you’re in your 60s…do it.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t have some intangible entrepreneurial something (ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity) that we so called “seasoned” professionals don’t. Their success only seemed inevitable to me in hindsight.

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Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise…not necessarily.

 

Waking up at an arbitrary time won’t help you succeed. Making a thoughtful decision to wake up at the time that’s most productive for YOU is all that matters.

Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his morning routine — not just his morning, his morning routine — at 3:45. General Motors CEO Mary Barra gets to the office by 6 a.m. Best-selling author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) gets up at 4 a.m., has a smoothie and a cup of bulletproof coffee, and then grinds away. Ben Franklin of course woke at 6:30 each day and coined the phrase, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man health, ealthy, and wise.”

Clearly, waking up early works for them. 

But not for everyone.

As Adam Grant says, “The world’s most successful people aren’t worried about what time others wake up. They wake and work on the schedule that works for them.”

What seems right for early birds may not be right for you, because what time you start your day has nothing to do with your level of success.

Success is all about what you accomplish and, just as important, how you choose to accomplish it.

Early Birds.

Most people who choose to get up early do so because they can take advantage of a few hours of solitude. Fewer interruptions. Fewer emails. Fewer phone calls. Starting work earlier than everyone else lets you be proactive, not reactive, and lets you set the agenda for the day instead of having one set for you.

Others choose to get up early so they make sure they get their workout in and take advantage of the mood-boosting effect of exercise. (Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours). 

Or maybe they just get up early because The Wall Street Journal says that 4 a.m. may be the most productive time of the day.

Later Birds

If you decide to start your workday at, say, 9 a.m., you can still structure your day in the most productive way possible for you. Simply create a routine that allows you to hit the ground running the way you want to run.

Maybe that means locking yourself away for a couple of hours. Maybe that means working from home, and then heading to the office. Or maybe that means shifting your quiet hours to the evening. No one says you have to start work before everyone else, you can just as easily finish work after everyone else.

Maybe that means training everyone around you to understand that the first two hours are your hours.

While that might sound impossible, don’t forget that everything you do “trains” people to treat you a certain way. Let employees interrupt your meetings or phone calls whenever they like, and people will naturally do so. Drop what you’re doing every time someone calls, and people will naturally always expect your immediate attention. Return emails immediately, and people will naturally expect you to immediately respond.

How you act and react “trains” people to treat you the way they wish, so start “retraining” them so you can work the way you work best.

The Most Successful Birds

When you start working doesn’t matter. When you stop working doesn’t matter. What matters is what you accomplish during the hours you work — and that means making an intentional decision about what time you get up and what time you start work.

Don’t get up at a certain time just because Tim Cook does. Don’t start work at a certain time just because Sallie Krawcheck does. 

It’s well known that many famous persons have had unusual sleep habits, da Vinci, Edison, Churchill, Clinton and even P Diddy. Recently I read a legend about da Vinci never sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time in any 24 hour period. The brain needs at least 90 minutes of sleep to go through the necessary phases to maintain health.

This system of sleeping (aka da Vinci sleep or Uberman sleep) is called Polyphasic Sleep. It uses short naps to reduce total sleep time to 2-5 hours a day. This is achieved by implementing many 20-30 minute naps throughout the day. Advocates say that polyphasic sleep allows for more productive awake hours. Heck even Google has power nap pods in their offices.540e44016da811784ef5facc-750-563

Though there are many variations of this form of sleep, a common schedule would be: 30 minute naps every fourth hour.

The reason many folks attempt to follow this alternate sleeping pattern is to increase their total waking hours. By decreasing sleep to only a few hours a day, these schedules do achieve that goal. In a year a “Poly” sleeper could gain an extra 45 days!

The main con to adapting an alternate sleep pattern includes being out of sync with the rest of the world, and difficulties maintaining such a rigid schedule.

Figure out what works best for you.

Success has nothing to do with what time you start. Or what time you finish. Success is all about what you accomplish.

Make a conscious decision about what time to get up. Not a reflexive choice or a copycat choice but a thoughtful, smart, and logical decision — based on what will make you most successful.

I think as I get older I will go with the da Vinci method.

The Weather and Big Data Equals Big Business.

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The weather has a significant influence on almost one-third of the world’s buying everyday. “The old paradigm of business and weather was cope and avoid,” says The Weather Channel’s vice president for weather analytics. “With [big data] technology, the paradigm is now anticipate and exploit.”

The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American basic channel and satellite television company, owned by a consortium made up of Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and NBCUniversal located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The channel has broadcast weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather since 1982.

TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website, weather.com, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rated the site as the 146th and 244th most visited website in the world respectively, as of July 2015. SimilarWeb rated the site as the most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 126 million visitors per month.

That massive web traffic is exactly how The Weather Channel has turned ‘Big Data’ into a completely new business.

TWC is before all a technology platform operator, which developed an extremely high-volume data platform, collecting and analyzing data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per days, and serves 65 billion unique access to weather data each day.

TWC collects terabytes of data everyday and uses it not only to predict the weather in millions of locations, but also to predict what consumers in those locations will buy.

In a very savvy move TWC married more than 75 years’ worth of weather data with aggregated consumer purchasing data. For example, air-conditioners sales increases during hot weather, but folks in Atlanta suffer three days longer than people in Chicago before running out to buy one. Such analysis has created a whole new business for TWC – ‘Selling ads based on big data analytics’.

For example, P&G Pantene and Puffs brands buy ads based on TWC’s weather and consumption analytics. A women checking The Weather Channel app in a humid locale receives an ad for Pantene Pro-V Smooth, a product formulated to tame frizzy hair.

Checking the app again on low humidity day or drier area results in seeing an ad for a volumizing product instead. Similarly, a consumer looking at a high pollen forecast receives an ad for Puffs facial tissues, with the message, “A face in need deserves Puffs indeed.”

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Currently, TWC is generating half of the company’s ad revenue to the business using web analytics.

Big data and web analytics helped TWC maintain an extensive online presence at weather.com and through a set of mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers. These services are now administered by The Weather Channel’s former parent company, The Weather Company, which was sold to IBM in 2016. The Weather Channel continues to license its brand assets and weather data from IBM.

TWC’s case is the epitome of how effective use of big data and web analytics can lead to marketing opportunities. It also demonstrates how today’s big companies can advance through ‘Digital Marketing’ which can also help them to diversify and strengthening their business portfolios.

Geezers have become digitally savvy.

Vine vs Snap

It’s often assumed that older people generally aren’t very digitally savvy — but research from Pew indicates that older people are becoming about as skilled online as younger ones.

According to the latest Generations report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, the biggest online trend is that, while the very youngest and oldest cohorts may differ, certain key internet uses are becoming more uniformly popular across all age groups.

The study found that internet users aged 34 and older are more likely than those age 33 and younger to engage in several online activities, including visiting government sites and getting financial information online.

These online activities are becoming more uniformly popular across all age groups: e-mail, search engines, getting health information, following the news, researching or making purchases (including travel reservations), online banking, supplying reviews or ratings, donating to charity, and downloading podcasts.

And get ready: Your grandmother might soon try to friend you on Facebook.

Even though younger people are significantly more likely to use social networking services, Pew reports that the fastest growth has come from internet users 74 and older: social network site usage for this oldest cohort has grown since 2010, from 16% to 22%.

Some online trends are creeping down the age ladder, too. According to Pew, it used to be mostly older adults who searched for online health information. But now this has become “the third most popular online activity for all internet users 18 and older.”

With smartphone penetration at over 75% wireless net access is definitely not the exclusive province of youth. Like the latest iPass mobile workforce study — which put the median aged of a mobile-enabled worker at 46 — Pew found that 55% of people aged 46-55 access websites or other digital media or services via a laptop, cell phone, or other internet-connected mobile device. That figure drops to 46% for people aged 56-64, and 33% for people aged 65-73.

The bottom line is, don’t assume you know how digitally savvy someone is based on their age.

7 Things Highly Productive People Do

Multi task

Ilya Pozin wrote this for Inc. Online a couple of years back; I read it again and I began to worry…I need to focus! With my new company in full swing and zero full time staff I thought I better re-learn to focus.

“We all probably don’t want to admit it but we love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, you get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls you in another direction. Why do you think you check your email so much?”

Want to be more productive and get your focus back? There are no secret tricks here… do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking—it’s just another form of distraction.

Easier said than done, I know. I have been trained working for large firms that muliti-tasking was a skill and an asset.

Before Ilya wrote her story she sat down with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney, to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task.

Here are his tips for staying productive:

1) Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks.

Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.

2) Stop multi-tasking.

No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).

3) Be militant about eliminating distractions.

Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.

4) Schedule your email.

Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.

5) Use the phone.

Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead. This goes for texting as well.

6) Work on your own agenda.

Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.

7) Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals.

Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.

Well now if I can follow these tips maybe I can overcome that fact that I have zero staff and get something extraordinary done.

Branson’s top five tips for starting a successful business

I have started a few businesses during my career with various levels of success. Now after starting yet another company, GentleKing Education, I thought it was time to revisit Richard Branson’s tips for starting a successful business. I believe these tips are essential to at least getting some positive traction.                    branson2

1. Listen more than you talk

We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea! To be a good leader you have to be a great listener. Brilliant ideas can spring from the most unlikely places, so you should always keep your ears open for some shrewd advice. This can mean following online comments as closely as board meeting notes, or asking the frontline staff for their opinions as often as the CEOs. Get out there, listen to people, draw people out and learn from them.

2. Keep it simple

You have to do something radically different to stand out in business. But nobody ever said different has to be complex. There are thousands of simple business solutions to problems out there, just waiting to be solved by the next big thing in business. Maintain a focus upon innovation, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. A simple change for the better is far more effective than five complicated changes for the worse.

3. Take pride in your work

Last week I enjoyed my favourite night of the year, the Virgin Stars of the Year Awards, where we celebrated some of those people who have gone the extra mile for us around the Virgin world. With so many different companies, nationalities and personalities represented under one roof, it was interesting to see what qualities they all have in common. One was pride in their work, and in the company they represent. Remember your staff are your biggest brand advocates, and focusing on helping them take pride will shine through in how they treat your customers.

4. Have fun, success will follow

If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will fluorish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.

5. Rip it up and start again

If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture isn’t a success, welcome to the club! Every successful businessperson has experienced a few failures along the way – the important thing is how you learn from them. Don’t allow yourself to get disheartened by a setback or two, instead dust yourself off and work out what went wrong. Then you can find the positives, analyse where you can improve, rip it up and start again.