Archive for the ‘Misc. Musings and Podcasts’ Category

Giving up is never an option

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Question: When do you Give Up? It’s a question I often get from audiences when I talk about the power of perseverance

Answer: You NEVER give up, but occasionally you need to re-evaluate if where you’re going is still where you want to be.

I spent the last few days in Chicago where I flew just to watch the Paul McCartney concert at Wrigley field on Sunday night (and then again on Monday night! hey neither Sir Paul nor I are getting any younger!) with my daughter Mia. At 69 McCartney has defied all the odds. His ability to rock the house was unlike any other concert I’ve been to.

It got me to wondering, as I connected the dots between this incredible concert and something nearly as profound that I’d experienced a few months ago.

I was giving a keynote about the power of never giving up as an entrepreneur to a relatively young audience – now days “relatively young” defines the vast majority of my audiences : ) At the end of the keynote one of these young guns asked me what must have been one of the toughest questions I’d ever had to address from the podium.

“So you talk about perseverance and tenacity but when ‘do’ you give up?” he asked. The answer I gave got me a standing ovation, which took me completely by surprise.

Last night that same answer struck me again.

“You never give up!” – at least not on those things that define who you are, your passion, your beliefs, your values, your faith. Call these what you will but they are the bedrock of who you are and the only real genuine part of you than you can take any measure of deserved pride in.

But not giving up does not mean that you don’t walk away from things. Often life throws curves at us, people, circumstances, events that we simply have no control over. We look at these challenges and cringe, especially those of us to whom giving up is an apparent admittance of failure.

You could say McCartney gave up on the Beatles and you can be pissed at him for doing so. How could he give up on one of the greatest bands of all time?

He didn’t. McCartney walked away as did John, George and Ringo. But he did not give up on his music, he did not give up on his passion, and he certainly did not give up on his love for performing. His values were genuine.

McCartney didn’t think out of the box he created a new box to play in each time he had to move on. As my very astute son once said to me, “Dad if you can’t get out of the box do you just decorate it nicely?” Isn’t that what most of us settle for, nicley decorated boxes that we can’t stand to be in?

Is it a stretch to try and tie this to the greater challenge we all face of making similar decisions about giving up when we are faced with tough circumstances? I don’t believe so.  If we hold true to our values and principles then there is never such as thing as giving up, there are only detours, storms that temporarily toss and tussle our compass.

But staying on course means that you have to know what these values are and you have to live them. You need to find boxes that are worthy of who you are.

So what are the core values that define your life, which you can not negotiate on or relinquish to circumstances, events and the whim (or failings) of others? What are the principles you hold most dear?

The answer to that question in family, business, and every other aspect of our lives is a simple one, and I’ll make it very vivid for you by using the same example I used when that fledgling entrepreneur asked his question about when it’s time to give up.

Imagine yourself at deaths doorstep (sorry for the morbid tone but it’s necessary to make the point). You have minutes left to live and you have to answer a simple question, “what do you regret not having done with your life?”

Few of us will have a clean sheet of paper when making that list, but some will have much shorter lists than others. My suggestion to you is that you write out that list now and study it hard. These are the things you cannot give up on. These are the things that define you and your core values. These are the things that make your life worth living and make you a worthy man or woman. Take that list and staple it to your forehead so that you can see it in the mirror every day.

So what’s your list? What can you not give up on? It’s a much simpler and shorter list than you may imagine.

As for the rest, the stuff that didn’t make the list, just walk away, as hard as it may be, as sad as it may make you, just walk away.

Do that in business and in life and giving up is never an option.

Shooting for the Moon

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Atlantis set to music Click to see the video set to music

A letter to to my kids on the launch of the last space shuttle STS-135:
“…as I watch this fireball of my childhood’s fantasy burn a hole into the sky, what I realize is that the bar for our collective ambition is not set by what is reasonable and certain but by what is unreasonable and uncertain.”
I grew up in an era when people dared to dream impossible dreams.  We set our sights on something well beyond our reach. We shot for the moon, and we reached it.

I was still four months shy of my third birthday when JFK gave his now famous, then brazen, speech to congress charging the US with the unimaginable task of putting a man on the moon and returning him home safely before the decade was out. I know that for you this is a few pages in your history book.  But to me this was the future. It was a far off dream that represented the hopes, aspirations and fears of nation.
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Me and The “Woz”

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I’ve been an Apple guy since the very first Mac Classic – in fact if I had every mac I’d ever owned I could open a museum! My whole company, Delphi, was mac based. We must have had hundreds in every conceivable configuration. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to share the stage with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who I interviewed for the BICSI event in Orlando a few weeks back. I had spoke with Woz months before the event to set things up and then had diner with him the night before our session.

See more photos of my interview with Woz here

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Is it 2012 Yet?

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

OK, I blew it! By definition, and in some states by law, New Year’s resolutions must be filed by midnight on the year before the resolution is to take effect. So here I am a late again, but I’m going to make up for it. I’m filing my 2012 resolution early! And it’s a long winded one so grab that mimosa and settle in….

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When you travel as much as I do life becomes a series of departures and destinations.

Destinations are funny things. We all look forward to destinations as testimonials that we are making progress, achieving something in the process of getting from where we were to where we are going. But every destination starts with a departure, the end of something we’ve left behind. Sometimes that’s a good thing other times not. But in every case it’s departures that put us in motion. Sometimes we choose these departures other times (perhaps most times) they are chosen for us. In either case these are things that, like it or not, give us a chance to shape who we are. A departure forces you to think outside of your comfort zone, to stretch your imagination, patience, and creativity. Departures create anticipation and anxiety, but they also create opportunities we likely had never imagined.

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The End of the “Entry Level”

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Remember this one?

“And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply, so I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why” (in case you don’t have a clue as to what this is try THIS)

So why the 60s flashback? Well, I’ve been thinking lately about the prospects my kids will face as they enter the job market. (Adam and Mia, if you’re reading this, yes, I said JOB – sorry, but the good news is it won’t be a job in any sense of the word as I knew it. read on…)

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The Uncertainty Principle

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Download my latest e-book “The Uncertainty Principle.” (This is my second e-book, the first was Living in The Cloud.) Uncertainty looms large over all of us. From economic uncertainty to tremendous geo-political uncertainty we are constantly reminded of how difficult it is to predict what’s to come. But what if we could view uncertainty as an ally rather than the enemy? The reality is that uncertainty is increasingly part of the landscape we will have to navigate to succeed in our lives and our organizations. The Uncertainty Principle looks at many of the roots of uncertainty, its prevalence in different disciplines from science to the military, and offers as a way to rethink its challenge and its value.


Words for Liberty to Live by

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence may well be the most powerful ever written.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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Hey Kanye, how does Beyonce’s vid stack up against this?!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

OK it’s not MTV material but it really is amazing what you can do on the web these days. Check out my latest speaker vid made with the very cool software at Animoto.com

A Perfect Storm

Friday, October 16th, 2009

I was asked to provide a short video clip for the European Parliamnet for the 1st European Innovation Summit held this week (Oct 13th). The clip below, focuses on the importance of managing what I call ” A Perfect Storm for Innovation” and looks at how innovation needs to become a global agenda. Check it out and pass it along.

The Fantasy 500 – or why the whole world will be on Facebook by 2012

Friday, May 29th, 2009

One of the clearest impacts that the current economic crisis has had is the emergence of social media such as FaceBook, Twitter, Plaxo, LinkedIn, and MySpace on the way we communicate. While all of the social networking now going on seems haphazard and borderline dysfunctional it is none-the-less spreading like wild fire, with Facebook growing from 50 Million to 100 Million user in the last six months (it went from 30-60 million user in the previous 9 months). At this accelerating rate everyone on the face of the globe should be on FaceBook in less than 24 months time (of course getting a computer or and internet access  to the remaining 50% of the world’s population is another matter). So what is the long term impact of this viral spread of social networking?

Well, try this twist, the change will be akin to the difference between playing for the NFL and playing for a fantasy football team. The biggest impact of social networking will be in how we create our own best-of-the-best collaborations and keep them intact. Until now when you left a great team (think company, organization, etc. the connections were hard to maintain. With social networking we are keeping these teams together in ways that were once unthinkable. Imagine the impact that might have on innovation and our ability to solve some of the more protracted problems facing mankind. Now there’s something to consider the next time somebody tells you to stop spending so much time surfing facebook and get a life!