Archive for the ‘Life on the Road’ 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.

Forget the Analytics, We’re Screwed!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

In one of my recent innovation classes, which I teach at Bentley University, I shared with my students some maps from the web site. contorts national boundaries and relative land mass to provides a startling visual of the way the world is changing based on myriad data sets, which incorporate views on everything from the volume of exports to the availability of clean water.

Abandon the Succes of the Past

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

This is the second in a series of posts about Sony’s recent decision to stop production of the Walkman. See my earlier post to get some more background. This post looks at how Apple unseated Sony. The post is excerpted from The Innovation Zone, now available for your Kindle and (of course) your iPad.

Abandon the Success of the Past: Apple and the iPod®
Sony found its way into the Innovation Zone and stayed there for the better part of the 20th century. But, staying in the Innovation Zone requires us to do one of the hardest things for any successful person or organization: to let go of the models we use to describe the past.

The error most of us make is that we move forward as if the ideas and experiments of the past are limited to the variables of the past. However, the variables change. In the case of the transistor radio, the combination of a new generation of young rock-and-roll fans, the need for radio transmissions to warn citizens in the case of nuclear attack, and the increasing mobility of people all created a platform and environment of radical change that was ready for a portable, battery-powered radio.


A Leap of Faith – The Death of the Walkman came Long After the Death its Quintessential Innovator and Salesman

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Today Sony announced that it would cease Japan-based production of one of the 20th Century’s most defining consumer appliances, the Walkman. While that may not be the last we hear of the Walkman it certainly marks the end of an era – that ended long ago. But the history of the Walkman’s amazing success and it’s even more amazing father, Sony co-founder Akio Morita, is worth remembering – for the lessons it teaches every innovator about the climb up and down the innovation summit. Here’s an excerpt about Sony and Akio from my latest book The Innovation Zone

A Leap of Faith
As the 14th-generation patriarch of his family’s sake business, Kyuzaemon Morita had little doubt as to the fate of his first-born son Akio, who had been groomed to take over the reins. In the aftermath of World War II, it is hard to imagine why anyone who had the promise of so much security would choose to do anything else, especially anything that involved high levels of uncertainty and risk. Yet Akio was not as tempted by the trappings of security as he was by the promise of the unknown. He beseeched his father to release him from his obligation and, in an incredible departure from tradition, Kyuzaemon not only did so but provided Akio with a $25,000 investment to start his business, putting in place one of the most amazing stories of 20th century innovation.


Sunday, February 7th, 2010

“All it takes are the policies to tap that potential — to ignite that spark of creativity and ingenuity — which has always been at the heart of who we are and how we succeed.”
(Who said this? – find out by reading the posting below…)

I feel at home in Europe, having grown up a citizen of cultures spanning the Atlantic. I’m what’s often called a Third Culture Kid.

So it was with great enthusiasm that I recently spent a week in Brussels at the invitation of my friend Attila Toth and the European Business Network to meet with members of the European Parliament and a vast network of businesses .  Although I spent a fair amount of my early childhood in Europe and have traveled there countless times as an adult, this trip left me with an entirely new set of insights into Europe, its challenges and opportunities for the coming decades.

You Will – so, did you?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

For those of you old enough to remember (I certainly am), this was the world of the future according to AT&T from the vantage point of 1993. Hard to believe that this was far fetched just 16 years ago. I used to joke that the “You Will” slogan was more of a threat than a promise, forever tethering us to our work. Little did I know how prophetic that statement was! What would your You Will add for the next 16 years look like?

Hey, buddy…can you spare a $20?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

File this under, “How low can you go?”

According to a Financial Times article India is planning to bring a $20 laptop PC to market. Don’t laugh, they brought a $2000 car to market, why not a $20 laptop.

Okay, I doubt I’ll be lining up to trade-in my MacBook Pro, but I’m not the target nor are you if you’re reading this. The target is the 4 billion people at the bottom of the economic pyramid who can’t even begin to consider the cost of a PC today.


TK Keynote excerpts

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Short clip of excerpts from TK's innovation keynote

TK CN8 Broadcast on Smartsourcing

Monday, May 21st, 2007

TK Interviewed on CN8 Cable Show New England NewsMakers