in Business, Storytelling

The “WHY” of your company

Want to build a better business? Focus on the "why you do what you do" part of your company.

Funs Jacobs knows branding and startups like none other. As he calls it: Branding is the most underutilized power that almost all startups overlook.

Funs comes from the entertainment industry and that makes his take on companies and the formation of companies fresh and unorthodox. The following insights are based on a conversation we had a few weeks back.

Back to the conversation I had with Funs

We were at the launch of the new Call of Duty WW2.
The event was nice but we could not keep ourselves from talking business, branding, and startups.

So the story went from great subject to subject until Funs told me about a young company from a girl he helped at the University of Amsterdam.

The girl had a small direct to consumer company that sold shoelaces. Her proposition was crystal clear; “We sell recycled shoelaces made from plastic in fun bright colors.”
Sounds like a cool idea with some decent potential I thought.
It’s good for the environment I thought and that is potentially why she positioned herself the following way: Buy our shoelaces and help save the environment, help save the planet.

I told Funs I thought it could be a hit but he disagreed. At first, I did not understand why he did not think the company would do good.

Let me explain why he thought the company would not do great in its current state: The mission is decent he said and the “save the planet” vibe is oke but it will not take the company to the stratosphere.

So why not, I asked.

And that is when he blew me away with his fresh insight:
At first, people will buy the shoe laces and they will feel like they have contributed to a cleaner earth. When they do their marketing, launch, and PR correct they could get a major spike in sales he told me, but after the first initial spike in sales, it’s over for them…

Why I asked, and he said it’s simple.

People will contribute and buy their first pair of laces possible but they will not buy a second or a third pair that quickly. It’s basic psychology. In their minds, they have made an effort and they made a contribution by buying a pair of colorful shoelaces. So why would they buy another of your pair? They will not because they already contributed to buying the first pair. The consumer lacks the need to keep on purchasing. Their incentive is met from the single purchase.

I was astonished by this insight because it is so true. Why would I buy a second or a third pair I asked myself when I already got the dopamine shot in my brain after buying the first pair. It makes a lot of sense.

So how do you fix this paradox I asked Funs and he told me the following:

It’s because the “WHY” is not strong enough. The WHY of a company he explained to me is based on the talk from Simon Sinek. The “why you do what you do” as a company is the most important factor for people to buy your product.

Saving the planet is good for a one time purchase. You as a consumer did your contribution and now you can go on to the next thing. But when the WHY is in check, people will come back and buy your product over and over.
Funs always tells me this is why he keeps on buying an iPhone even know he knows about a phone with better specs. It’s because Apple has it’s WHY on point. The reason they do what they do is in check.

You might be thinking, is the girl and her laces company doomed? Hell no! In fact, he helped her to reposition her companies “WHY” in the 15-minute session they had together. And to this day she is still working from the WHY perspective they constructed together.

What is her why?

He looked at her product: Recycled shoelaces in many bright colors. After asking her about her product he came to the conclusion that only a rebel is not satisfied with the shoelaces they get with a pair of shoes they buy in the store.

A true rebel chooses her/his own shoelaces. A rebel does not take their shoelaces they get for granted.

To me, the be a rebel approach sounded like a bold claim based on guesswork. But this was not the case. He made a compelling argument based on his own experience when his younger brother came to Amsterdam to visit him over the weekend.

In his words:

“When my little brother, 15 years old from a small town in the Netherland called Venlo, came to Amsterdam to hang out with me for the weekend I noticed something. The whole weekend he kept on bugging me if we could go to this specific fashion store. So oke, I went with him to the store expecting him to buy a cool shirt or a pair of sneakers but this was not the case. Once we were there he bought himself a bandana… A freaking bandana. I almost starting laughing, why would you buy that I asked him? It’s not that you are going to wear this to school right, you’re joking right I asked my brother?
Oh hell yeah I’m going to wear this to school he responded. He didn’t care what his cool brother, who is 12-years older than him and lives in the “cool, big city” Amsterdam, thought. These kids, like my little brother, do what they want and buy/wear what they want. This generation takes pride in being unique, being a rebel, an icon, someone that wants to take risks and be themselves.”

But he made another valid point:

“Consumer buying trends are moving away from the massive, corporate companies with their bloated marketing budgets. People don’t want their lives controlled by mega cooperations with billions of money to ensure their target groups do what they want them to do. This fact and the story of my little bro gave me the insight to come up with the answer for the shoelaces company. Why should we wear the shoelaces that Nike or Adidas decide for us, the standard shoelaces that come with the shoes we want. I (me, the rebel) want to decide which shoelaces I wear, that’s not up to the major companies.”

 

And just like that, I was convinced, being a REBEL is cool these days.

 

Long story long

In 15 minutes they changed the whole wording of the company: Why should you be happy with the standard shoelaces you get? Our company empowers our customers to make their own choices. We empower you to be yourself. BOOM. I was amazed.

From a simple colorful shoelace, they made a product that empowers rebels to be themselves and to not take the status quo for granted.

So they repositioned to the rebel millennial target audience and the positioned their product in a way that it would attract early adopters and first movers in the fashion industry. Very smart if you ask me.

Conclusion

Every product or company can get it’s WHY is check. It’s just a matter of some fresh insights and some clever thinking.

Do not be that startup that overlooks branding and thinks it’s something for large corporates and direct to consumer brands. Even you can come up with a strong message. Funs understands this and knows how to get this out of a founder.

I hope to learn many more insights on branding and positioning from Funs in the future.

Good luck and take a look at your own WHY.
Why do you do what you do?

Sales Machine – Getting referrals from customers

This is a comprehensive book review of the book Hacking Sales by Max Altschuler.

To be honest, this is not a comprehensive book review…

Why I read in the first place

I do not read books with the mission of trying to remember every little detail that is in the book. I read books like how a treasure hunter searches for treasure on the shores of a beach.

They hunt the beach days on end in search of that single nugget. That single artifact that makes the entire hunt worthwhile.

But maybe Marc Cuban can say it best. Marc ones said in a video I found on the youtube that his best investment happens almost on a daily basis. What is that investment? It’s buying books.

In his words:
When I pay 30 bucks for a book that gives him just one new idea for his current businesses to test, that is a massive ROI.

And for me, that is the reason why I read. Like the treasure hunter on the beach, I do not remember every grain of sand on the beach. I just hunt for that single piece of content (the nugget). The single idea or single sentence like mister Cuban says that gives me inspiration, grant me a new insight or makes me think of something new.

When I read it feels like I’m hunting for treasure. It’s like I’m exploring the book I have in my hands. It’s me trying to get value out of an object that later sits on a shelf collecting dust. That is why I love reading. And this is what makes reading so fun for me.

So now that you know why I read, let’s get back to the review.

As you might have guessed by now, I will speak about some of the awesome nuggets I collected in this book.

Sidenote: For some strange reason – for me – this book had the most nuggets at the end part of the book. I don’t know why it just was like that for me. Someone else might experience it differently so don’t just read the last 50% of the book now. Try to go on your own little treasure hunt.

Let’s get on with the Nuggets

Nugget number one:

Asking for a referral customer

This is a great and useful insight to me. It’s so simple but so strong that I just had to write it down.

So what does asking your customer for a referral mean?

It means two things:
1) It’s asking a current customer  (who you know is happy with your product or service) about a potential company or person that might be interested to become a customer of yours.
2) It’s asking a customer with whom you’ve just closed a deal to refer a potential buyer from their industry that might also be interested in your product.

What’s so great about a referral from a current or new customer?
1) They know their industry and the probably will know many companies or people within their own industry that might be interested. So they have the clearest picture of who else might fit you as a customer.
2) Getting referred as a business is always the strongest way of getting in the door at a new customer. People trust customer referrals. I see its effectiveness every time I buy a product on Amazon. I go through product reviews and I look at the people referring a product. Word of mouth and referrals are the strongest entry points when trying to make a sale.

How to do this effectively?
For a current customer, you need a trigger moment to initiate the question when asking for a referral. Don’t just email a current happy customer who you haven’t spoken to for a long time out of the blue. This might even harm your relationship with the customer. Never ask for a referral out of the blue.

Do it in a smoother way. Send them an email that you are collecting feedback on your service and want to get in touch since you value the relationship with the current customer. Make it look like you want to have a catch-up conversation in which you also want to collect some feedback.

Most of the time this is a good enough reason for your client to get in contact. And then once you have your client on the phone try to smoothly get in the referral question. I try to add this in at the end of the call. 8/10 customers will come up with a name then and there. If they can’t think of someone from the top of their head, tell them you’ll ask them through the mail so they have some time to get back to you.

An even better trigger: a phone call when something positive happens in the news that concerns your customer. Pick up the phone or send a congratulation email to your customer. Again, once you have them on the phone try to add in the referral question in there somewhere at the end.

So how would you ask for a referral when the time is right?

I just say it out but be flattering in a way where you stroke the ego of the customer:

“[Name] I was wondering since you are a knowledgeable and well respected [company title] in your industry I would want to ask you a favor, well actually it’s a direct question. Who in your industry would you think might fit us as a client?”

It is a straight-up way of respecting the client and telling him that he has authority in his industry.

What now?

So after following the above steps, you hopefully have a name, potentially even contact information (if you’re bold). You could even have ended up with a fresh referral mail in your inbox if your client is very proactive.

But in many cases, you’ll have to remind the client of him/her to send out the referral email.
8/10 conversations where you ask for a referral you end up with a name of a person who might fit or the name of a business. After the call ended, try to ask for a referral through the mail.

Make it simple for the client. Have a pre-made email template that you send to your client on how to introduce you and your business. The client will appreciate the format since it will save them a lot of time and effort.

So now that you have the referral mail in your inbox be fast. You want to reply within 24 hours.
And lastly, always remember to thank your customer that made the referral.

Bonus tip: After your customer referred you, send them a handwritten card! This works like magic since no one these days thinks of the offline medium anymore. It will make you stand out.

 

Good luck amigo’s

(learning sales is fun:)

A dream job bleuprint

I have five minutes to write this, so I’ll have to be quick..

Why so little time you ask? Well, I’m going to ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) with my girlfriend and her sister. I guess it’s going to be fun. But anyway. This was not what I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to talk about my dream job. Dream job?? WTF is that? Yes, if somebody would have said this to me I would have lolled as well. But I’m serious here. My dream job!

“But you are an entrepreneur, you have a fairly successful growing startup and you’re doing interesting shit, why is this not already your dream job.

This is not the case for two reasons:
1) I get bored extremely quickly. This is actually one of my biggest weaknesses. It is the reason why I hated school. It is the reason why I loved video games like World of Warcraft (constantly different gameplay and patches). It’s just in my nature to get bored fast. I learn something and then I believe I know enough and my mind just pulls at me to move on. Not moving on actually costs me a lot of energy. This does not mean that I hate it when I do something for a longer time span but still. I guess you get the point…
2) I have new ideas for projects, businesses, fun things to do constantly. This is also how my mind works. I just see stuff and ask questions: can this be done better, more efficient. Or I read a business book and get inspiration for a new business. My mind is just racing all the freaking time. And I can’t really do anything about it, it’s how I’m programmed.

So now that we know this, what’s the whole point of the story here?
Well, my dream job would be a job that fits point 1 and 2 like a velvet glove.

So what’s the job for real?
I see it like this: The job would be all year round. Every month of the year I literally pick a project from my brain-bucket (Evernote file) and do the project for that entire month.

There would be some rules attached to the project.
For instance, the project needs to have a specific goal. Most of the time this would be a business goal.

This could be something like: make an app that asks you three questions about how your day was at night. So the project needs a goal to work to. Or it could be something like: Learn how to make design an app from scratch using the sketch tool and actually win a design challenge on Designcrowd.com. Or actually, build the nutbags business in a months time and get 10 customers to buy a nutbag pack.

So rule one: Pick a project (most likely setting up a new microbusiness or learn a skill) to do for an entire month and set some hard goals to reach at the end of it all.

As a caveat, the projects and the goals should be ambitious. So there is a high likelihood the goal will not be reached. I don’t mind this since I believe setting high goals is always effective. Even if you only complete 20% of a highly ambitious goal you’ll still have won anyway.

The second rule: the project needs to be performed using a set framework. What do I mean with a framework?

So the framework will be like a guideline for me to do projects by.
An example of the framework could be something like week one: Study the literature, Week two: Test an MVP proposition with a simple wordpress landing page or using a tool like Instapage or Unbounce, and week three: get a first paying customer on your mailing list etc..

So the projects would follow a set structure. The structure of how I attack projects would change over time and become more efficient I guess.

I will document the project and share it with the world on this blog. I would document the ups and down. My tweaks and my learnings will be spoken about on this blog.

The whole goal for me would be to do all the things I want to do and to learn how to learn new skills fast, use those skills and become even quicker and more efficient in the next project. And then, ones I learn share those learnings with an audience.

Sounds like a lot of fun for me. Hopefully one day I will be able to live on the basis of these rules described above. For me that would be an amazing life.
Who knows…

Have a good one!

Nutbags – A new business idea

This blog post is my first try at writing something with the Write or Die tool. The fun thing is that I have no idea what to write about while trying this tool. At first glance, I just thought: what the heck just go for it and see what comes out, so here it goes.

The stupid thing is that I have no idea what to write about while trying out this ridiculous tool. At first glance, I just thought: what the heck just go for it and see what comes out, so here it goes.

Scramble scramble scramble, boom I have an idea!!

So the topic of this 5-minute writing session will be a business venture that has been sticking in my head for a while now. What is it about? It is inspired by a business model the company Onnit uses: they pack a whole bunch of great vitamin and supplement pills in a daily dose package. They have a pack of pills that you take in the morning and they have a pack of pills you take before going to bad. I think it is a great idea and I have tried it out, it was awesome (but expensive). So this got me thinking. What else can you repack in a daily dose pack?

And then came what I thought was a brilliant idea, totally inspired by my mother. That is because my lovely mother is a healthy food lover. She did crazy stuff like making her health bars and crackers in a special oven she bought. She goes a long way when it comes to healthy food. So why did she inspire me? She knows a lot about nuts and healthy seeds. I know she does a lot of those into her food. We’re talking about the usual suspects like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. These are some of the known ones, but she also introduced me to some I had no clue about. And the awesome think about these seeds is that they all pack a heck load of good nutrients for brain and body — it just really made me feel like the nuts and seeds should be in my daily diet.

I did my research and found that nuts and seeds are not always to great for you. Why is that? The quantity is essential here. Most people eat too many nuts and take into much fat. This is a bad thing. You might think by eating a lot of nuts you’re becoming a healthy human, but you could be mistaking and getting fat from them. I’m not saying this counts for everyone out there that eat nuts regularly; I just read that it happens a lot.

And here I saw an opportunity: What if you repacked 10 of the most healthy and powerful nuts and seeds into a small pack where every nut in the package is filled with it’s best daily dosage, so you don’t consume too much of them and then pack them, throw them all together and you have a sellable pack of 10 healthy nuts in a daily dose pack.

The packs are great for just eating straight from the pack, putting it in your breakfast meal, or maybe in a healthy salad. That is what I like about it so much, it’s the beauty that lays in the versatility of the solution. The bags and its content are multi-usable which is a great thing I guess because you are in charge on how you would like to include your daily dose of seeds and nuts in your meals.

So what is the simple business model here? You sell the packs in groups of 7 for a seven day week. So every day you open a pack and toss it in the foods you’d like or eat it straight from the pack. And BOOM, you get your daily shot and the preferred dose of nuts and seeds.

I like this idea, and I want to pursue it I guess. Oh, and if I would name it, I would call it Nutbags. And also, it should be a business where a substantial amount of the profits goes to charity. A charity that is about feeding the poor. The slogan would be: Go nuts, and feed the world while doing it!

Haven’t made a plan on how to implement it, but that will come later.

Also: you could make it into a subscription model. The packs are so tiny that you can pack them in an envelope and just send them to people – how convenient is that??

The idea keeps me up so therefore one day I will pursue it. Will keep you posted on the progress.

Using the Write or Die app was fun. I passed, and my text did not get deleted, which is a plus I guess.

See you soon!

An upside down business model

I short time ago I was thinking about business models and how these might change in the future.

I was wondering how models around SaaS tools would change over time due to experimentation and just time passing by.

Many SaaS tools tend to use the same model. They have multiple plans for which they want you to buy the one where you get the most value for your buck.

So basically you pay for being able to use the tool and get its value on a monthly basis. It is a simple exchange and an obvious one. It is a model that has granted many businesses great success.

But what if you wanted to be creative and try something new? How would one go about?

I present to you the upside down SaaS model. It needs some experimentation on the money making side though but I guess if you are in the position to do so, it might work for you.

The model works like this: You build a super premium product. A product that would normally be bought for the premium monthly price for your SaaS business. But then you give people this product for FREE. Yes, totally free.

Well, that does not sound that logical right? And I agree, but there is a catch. The product is free only when you use it. So every time you use the tool if resets a timer. So this means you need to be active on the tool every 5 to 10 days for instance. The moment you lose access because you haven’t used the product for 5-10 days your account get’s blocked and you must watch 5 minutes worth of ads. And you can not skip through the ads. You as the business would make money from people loving your tool but forgetting to use it for too long or just not using it. Getting back in the tool is simple again because you just need to comply with the ads/survey/video/whatever works.

I have no idea if this model would work and if a business could make enough money out of this but who knows. Stuff like this might someday be comen practice.

Good luck with building that cool new SaaS tool and good luck with getting creative on the business model end of your tool!

Which Injection Would You Pick

(Part of the 20minute blog challenge)

Yesterday a good friend of mine sent me the picture below with the following text message: “Hi Jur, I know you like thought experiments so that’s why I’m wondering which injection you would pick?”

Below is an overview of the answer I wrote back to my friend.

There are only two potential good answers to this question.

So which ones are just a waste of an injection?

Teleport to any Airport.

I can imagine for people that would love to travel the world, this might sound like an extremely amazing option, but you would be totally utterly wrong.

Think of it this way. What if you picked duplicate money. If you started at 1$, within 50 duplications of that amount you would have more than 100 billion dollars. So when we stick to traveling, what can you do with this money?

First of you could be less selfish than just going for a superpower which you wield only by yourself. Travel is fun because you do it with the ones you love. What is an experience when the only one to experience it with, is yourself? With the 100 billion dollars I would buy a Boeing 747 and fly my entire family out to all the beautiful places in the world. On the way there I would talk with doctors, scientist, innovators, and changemakers on how to spend the money on issues that would benefit the world as a whole.

So teleportation is a selfish choice.

Infinite stamina

This is probably the most useful shot of all of them. Unless you want to be the best at running Spartan Races or marathons… I do not see any use for this super power?

Breathing Underwater

Unless you are a marine biologist or a deep sea diver, I do not see any use for this skill. And again if you love the ocean or marine biology, the infinite money option would be a less selfish act since it would grant you the means of massively cleaning up the ocean and the ability the really preserve wildlife.

Also very useless.

Master any language

In a way, I can understand why people would want this. But for how long will this super power be cool? There are many start-ups right now tackling language barriers. There are companies out there that have the tachnology (special earphones) that can translate conversations of foreign languages in real-time. It will only be a matter of years for language not being a barrier anymore for people all over the world to communicate with each other. So now this is cool, but in ten years you will just be the only one guy on the block that isn’t wearing tiny earphones when listening to a tour-guide speak when in a foreign country. Wooptidoo for that!

So now this is cool, but in ten years you will just be the only one guy on the block that isn’t wearing tiny earphones when listening to a tour-guide when in a foreign country. Wooptidoo for that!

So that leaves me with the final two potential picks:

Instant healing & Duplicate money

But the rule is, you can only take one injection. So you must pick a winner.

Let’s take a look at instant health. What are the pro’s: Well, you’re basically immortal.

You would have the ability to heal yourself to a specific age, that is because age is just nothing more than your body wearing off and losing the ability for cells to heal themselves at the same rate. Being able to heal yourself means you could potentially live forever. You could live through thousands of years and get to have the most incredible life experience a human on this planet will ever have. You get to explore the entire years. You get to have 100’s of different career paths. You get to write all the books you’d like and you get to watch all the movies you wanted since you have unlimited time, that’s pretty cool.

But wait, there should be a drawback, right? And yes there is. When you have unlimited time, this does not mean the people around you have unlimited time too. The ones you love, the people around you, they will all be living a normal human life. Peoples life expectancy might go up, but still, the ones you’d love will die. And you will be left alone with only memories of the people you love. I would not want to have such a life. A life in which everyone around you disappears and you stay behind. I think you would go crazy.

He is so money hungry…

Oke oke, there we go. “Juriaan has tricked me into believing that duplicating money is the best choice.”

Please hear me out. Let me explain to you why. Having the ability to duplicate money will be the most selfless superpower of all. Unfortunately, we live in a world where money makes it go round. If you want to accomplish something, cold hard cash makes it happen. Unless you want to bend rules of doing illegal stuff of course.

Let me explain to you why. Having the ability to duplicate money will be the most selfless superpower of all. Unfortunately, we live in a world where money makes it go round. If you want to accomplish something, cold hard cash makes it happen. From the utmost good to the despicable evil. This means that this superpower comes with great responsibility.

If you wanted to end world hunger, you could save millions of children with money. If you wanted to increase education levels in certain areas of the world, you could build a school every 10 miles and fly out educated teachers and pay them a very good wage. And I can think of hundreds of other amazing deeds you can accomplish with unlimited money.

Money gives you the power to change the world for the better. It grants you the power to stop famine, to stop the disease, to explore space for more habitable planets, it would accelerate science and innovation. When wielded correctly, the money injection can do more good than all the others combined.

So I would pick duplicate money and spend it all to come up with solutions for global problems. The entire human race would benefit from one man taking this injection.

So in the end I asked my friend which one he would pick. He said teleportation and I don’t blame him.

A Fitbit for your brain

(This is part of the 20 minutes blog challenge)

For the past two months (since my birthday) I’ve been walking around with a Fitbit.

The main purpose of this is device is to track my sleep and doing so in the laziest, least infringing way possible. People say you have apps for sleep tracking and they are right, it’s true but those apps need to be activated manually when you go to bed. With the Fitbit, you just go to bed and it tracks your sleep, so it was the perfect solution for me. I can recommend it to everyone.

The device gave me a particularly cool insight. It showed me that when I sleep for ~6 hours, I actually have a better nights rest than when I sleep for 7+. I found this very strange but it made me think.

What if you had a Fitbit for your brain. Like a tiny device that tracked your brain activity. The device could literally track your brains activity and would analyze thinking and emotion patterns produced by your own brain. The device would actively track your daily activities and associate it with brain activity. It would be able to analyze which activities during the day you truly enjoy and give you a happy state based on your brain activities and it could see which ones you don’t like.

At the end of the day, your BrainBit would literally give you an overview of the day and advise you to take cold showers more often since it re-activated certain areas of your brain which were kind of inactive for a long time. It would also advise you to stop watching Youtube video’s of Pewdiepie since your brain activity literally almost comes to a halt.

So how would this BrainBit improve your life?

Take learning, for example, an area which I like a lot: how can I become a faster and better learner? The BrainBit could be amazing for this. Based on my brains activity during the day and night, it could track the following: During the day it would say at which moments I’m the most creative, concentrated or distracted. It would analyze that over a certain time span and it will know exactly when I’m in a high concentration state on when I’m the most creative.

When your BrainBit notices your concentration levels are peaking, it would suggest you do more difficult exercises or tasks since you are in a high concentration state. And then at night during your sleep, it would track if you have the brain activity that is associated with a good night of processing your learnings during the day. If you had a bad processing night (since your BrainBit would have seen that) it would suggest you redo some exercises from the day before. It’s an interesting concept to think about.

My 20 minutes are up now… It’s just a concept so don’t think I believe that future will hold anything like what I described above, but I just liked the thought experiment. Maybe one day we will all have a Brainbit. Who knows, some day we might really need them to still be able to win the cognitive battle from AI. I’m joking, but still, a fun thought to play with.

Have a good one. I’m off to bed.

Join the Rat Race or Die

(This post is part of the 20-minute blog challenge I set for myself: Write more blog posts but only post it if you can produce it in 20 minutes. Let’s see how it goes.)

Silicon Valley

Two months ago I was in Silicon Valley. The trip was amazing. It totally opened my eyes.

But something kept haunting my mind over and over during the trip and some weeks after the trip: “These people are all competing in the biggest and brutal rat races on the planet.”

One of the guest speakers even said it out loud. He is a middle aged husband and father who originally comes from my home country The Netherland. He said that he’s waiting for some big ones to go public (IPO’s of previous companies he worked at) so he can cash out and move his family back to the Netherlands.

Don’t get me wrong. This guy has an amazing life out in SF. He is an SEO and growth God and has no hard time getting VP positions at great tech firms, so his career is far from bad. But still, this wonderful person wanted to leave.

He actually said: “I do not want my kids to grow up in this Rat Race”. When he said it, this scared me a little, Silicon Valley and all that is happening there still is my big dream. But what he said, made me think.

Is being part of the rat race something that comes with progress? Is it a price to pay for huge wealth creation and innovation at the same time? Is it something bad, and is it something that you should be afraid of?

I think not. I think it is something good. This rat race drives progress. It drives people to work the 19 a day and not the 9 a day. And for some people it means putting in the 20 a day because he/she suspects their neighbour puts in a 48 stretch during a phase of amazing flow. There is always someone willing to do the job even harder than you.

It is like Gary V says. There is a world that is totally mobile and the rest of the world. There is a world that gives you the rat race feeling and there is the rest of the world. In which world do you want to be? The world where we still do shopping on a regular computer that needs a constant power supply or do you want to live in a world where shopping is done with one-click on your smartphone.

I know which world I want to live in. The world of progress. If the rat race is something I’ll have to swallow, come and get me, I’m down.

As a personal note to end this glorification of a culture that fosters burn-outs and overheating. I do believe hard work should be something which you plan for and which you prepare for. Your body is the best feedback mechanism on the planet. Listen and feel it. When you go to hard you go to hard.

 

Principles contain codes

When you build a house, you need to construct it based the rules of nature. You can not add too much weight on a single wooden beam. You have to respect the rules of nature. When you don’t respect the rules, you crash and die. Principles are built out of similar rules, I call them codes.

Follow the codes and the pillars get stronger. A pillar relies on codes to make it vigorous and steady. Codes are like guides. Guides are like routines. Follow the routines and become a pro in life.

Let me give you just a few examples. These are in no way the only examples of general codes per pillar.

Time 
Every pillar has its own type of codes. For instance, the Time pillar has routines on time-management, planning, leisure time and wasting time. The routines let you make practical use of the pillar.

Body
The body pillar contains codes on fuel, rest, and fitness.

Mind
The mind pillar focusses on mental fitness, meditation, deep-thinking and deep-focus.

Surrounding
Your surrounding codes have a similar function where they guide you with routines and practices to create a surrounding in which you flourish.

Codes let you spend your time more efficient and thus more wisely. I practice these codes on a daily basis. The act as my tools to guide me through life. I construct those codes myself and I can always fall back on my codes.

For me, my codes help me to get what I want and they help me to achieve what I want to achieve.

Follow the codes and you will become a better human.
The following poem for me is a code about time. It is a code that tells me that many small things can lead to big things.
It shows you how small things consist of even smaller things. It also shows that big things happen after many small things.

It teaches me to be humble towards small things and to consider my words and actions.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words,
watch your words, for they become actions,
watch your actions, for they become habits,
watch your habits, for they become character,
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

This is also what a code can be. It can be a mantra or rule of something you believe in. Collect your codes, construct your codes and live by them.

Design your codes to make your life better.

Pillars are made out of principles

Even the smallest thing is made out of smaller things.

Again, another question.

Can we oversimplify life?

The four pillars of MBT (Mind Body Time) are made out of principles. Principles are like the cement, the stone and the steel that hold the pillars together.

To explain these principles more clear I will take the pillar of Time as an example. This pillar is constructed out of various principles.

You have the Past, the Present and the Future principles. These are the three principles of Time. But it does not stop there. Even the principles can be dissected. For example, the Past has two layers.

The Past
You have the Subconscious Past and the Unconscious Past. They are your past that you can remember and the past that you can’t remember. And even the unconscious mind has deeper paths since the unconscious mind consists of memories that simply vanished in time and space and then you have memories which you try to forget or block out consciously. Those memories do not disappear in time and space; you have just put those away because it was needed.

And even the unconscious mind has deeper paths since the unconscious mind consists of memories that simply vanished in time and space and then you have memories which you try to forget or block out consciously. Those memories do not disappear in time and space; you have just put those away because it was needed.

See this image below that shows you the overview of the principle of Past and it’s layers described above.

MBT_Principle_Time

Why dig so deep?

The power of MBT is shown above. Dig deeper and deeper and everything in your life can be labeled. By digging you try to come to the core of what your life is. Once you’ve labeled your life, you can spend time thinking about your life in a framed manner. Life becomes something that can be tackled and analyzed to improve.

Everything can be made sense of.

Fear not that you over complicate, by deconstructing and getting to the core of every principle, you’ll find peace and happiness. When you know, you can act.

I have mapped out my principles. In fact, by mapping out the principles for every pillar, I map out my life. I use visual tools like Coggle to do this.

Seeing my life in the perspective of pillars, principles and deeper layers have opened my eyes. By doing so I am able to analyze, I am able to see where I could not. Memories returned, old desires arose. It gave me perspective. I saw complexity where it should not be and I saw simplicity where simplicity does not fit.

Once you map out your life you are able to build a strong future for yourself.

Below is an example of one of the first versions of my MBT life map.

MBT_Life_Map_Version_One

Do it for yourself and feel the power of visualizing your life.

More on why this is useful later..

Let me know if this does sound like simplification to you or does it feel like a complication of your life.