On ideas

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Look around and you will see objects like table, TV or computer. All these started with a single idea. These ideas may have come from a sudden flash of genius or a product of thinking process.

There are people who look down on ideas. Those who look down on ideas see them as cheap, common and that any Tom, Dick, and Harry can come up with ideas. I would agree if ideas are left to be concepts, or unmoving, but in the hands of those who can put theory and practice together, ideas can have great consequences. As what was said in the movie Dead Poet Society, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Here, I want to share my reflection on idea: the different types, that ideas consequences, and that idea comes from our experiences.

Let me first make a distinction. There are 2 types of ideas: normal and unique. A normal idea in the context of business is an idea that is an imitation of an existing concept. An example would be copying a friend’s business. If the friend has an online store selling Apple gadgets, then the idea would be to sell the same products. A unique idea, however, is an idea that is not born out of copying an existing business but has gone through reflection or research.

Going back to the value of ideas, a unique idea has more value, in terms of novelty, compared to that of normal idea. The ultimate judgment though happens only when the idea is put to the test.

Ideas affect ones thinking and action. In Japan, they have a system called noren-wake an idea that a company helps their senior employee establish a business after they retire; the system of noren-wake stems from their cultural concept of gratitude.

Ideas such as noren-wake is a consequence of paradigm/experience. Our actions, according to Philosopher, Martin Heidegger, comes from what we learned from culture, society and what we are fed by media. How we go beyond what we know or experience is for another topic. The point is, the ideas we have are influenced by how we experience the world.

Something else happens when we do something about our ideas. Once we act on our ideas, our paradigm changes. Our thinking changes with our action, our perspective expands, we ask more and we ask better to make better actions. Our actions now are influenced by our former action.

I have taught audience from all class levels and age, the ideas they produce are reflections of their experiences. The tendency of those who have a long work experience tend to be related to their work experience while the younger and aspiring entrepreneurs tend to start based on their interest.

In the end, the purpose of idea is not to come up with more ideas but to create reasons to act. I see ideas like that of the Cross of Christ, and the question is, what is your reason to take it up?

A kinder definition of business

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Even if we are doing it, we did not stop to think about it. We accepted it as a learnt tradition. Maybe we can pause and ask what a business is (entrepreneurial venture) and what is asked of us as we do our business.

The most common answer to the definition of business in modernity is providing solutions to customers for profit. There are 2 important objectives here: solve problems and gain profit. Nothing wrong with this, in fact, innovative companies have given us comfort, created wealth and uplifted lives for centuries now. Because of them we have cars, computers, phones, and medical equipment that helped saved lives to name a few. So thanks to Science.

However, some companies and capitalists that have inspired to solve society’s problems have also become the very source of human rights concerns and other social problems.

I want to share another definition of business, one that is kinder to environment and labor. It can be found in Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti:

“Business activity is essentially a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world.

God encourages us to develop the talents he gave us, and he has made our universe one of immense potential. In God’s plan, each individual is called to promote his or her own development,and this includes finding the best economic and technological means of multiplying goods and increasing wealth.

Business abilities, which are a gift from God, should always be clearly directed to the development of others and to eliminating poverty, especially through the creation of diversified work opportunities. The right to private property is always accompanied by the primary and prior principle of the subordination of all private property to the universal destination of the earth’s goods, and thus the right of all to their use.”

What makes the definition different from that of the first I gave is the addition of the word noble on top of wealth production and development. This is important because this is how business is to be seen, as a noble venture. A noble venture is something that genuinely promotes something good in its goods.  Nobility is something unfashionable in the world today but such virtue is universal and is never out of style. Saying nobility is out of style is like saying good is no longer relevant in today’s world. On the contrary, we need more good today. The simple addition of nobility can create a big change.

Business is also something that helps us develop our talents. In developing ourselves, in producing goods and creating profit, technology is utilized and not us being subordinates to machines. An example of technology controlling man would be that of the algorithm of social sites. Instead of us creating something original, we tend to adjust to what is needed by the algorithm so that we achieve the standards they have put; standards like likes, and views. This won’t be the case unless the person understands how the algorithm works and finds a way to go around it. But as soon as the site learns that the algorithm has been beaten, it will be changed to a different one. What happens then is an endless battle between man and machine.

We are also reminded that our business abilities are God given, that it is to be used to uplift lives of people in poverty by providing job opportunities. The goal to uplift other goes beyond corporate social responsibility for publicity but it calls to make good truly part of the company’s core values. Another reminder is the one about ownership and private property; it is a reminder that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone”.

I end it here. Business may also be seen from a different light, one that is kinder and considerate to environment, ourselves and others yet doesn’t sacrifice profit. In the end, if done in this manner, business becomes a genuinely noble endeavor.

Creating good first impression during presentation

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Often people fail to capture the attention of the audience because they fail to create a good first impression. In this article, I will share several ways on how to create good first impression. This will not only benefit first timers but also those who have been presenting for years but feel they can do better.

First, presentation is all about communicating your ideas, but in communicating ideas, it is not just the hearing is involved but other senses of the receiver as well: eyes that looks at you and your presentation, the nose that smells the environment and the sense of touch that decide on their comfort. The point is, presentation is not just about sharing ideas but an experience. And when an good experience is delivered a good impression is created. So, how can one level up their reporting game?

  1. Prepare ahead of time. Make sure the report has all the relevant data in visual form such as graphs and charts. Instead of showing the complete spreadsheet, just focus on the insights. The data where the visuals are from can be printed for reference.
  2. Practice you report. Do a run of your report and have some notes prepared about the main ideas. Try to keep report down to 5-7 slides and under 20 minutes. This way, listeners do not get bombarded with information. The rest can be used form clarification.
  3. Check the environment. The place has to have good temperature, not to hot or cold. The projector, screen and audio need to be tested ahead of time as not to waste time of audience.

Reporting is a skill the can be developed and improved. By preparing, practicing and creating a good environment, the reporter leaves a good impression to the audience.

Richard Branson’s A Poem For All Entrepreneurs

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The road to success is paved with tests,
So you’ve got to believe in yourself above the rest.

Dream big, and let your passion shine,
If you don’t, you won’t end up with a dime.

Challenge the status quo, disrupt the market and say YES!
And remember that innovation is an endless quest.

Don’t forget to change business for good,
If you want to change the world then you should.

If you think with your head and listen to your heart,
I promise you’ll get off to a flying start.

Make bold moves, but always play fair,
Always say please and thank you – it’s cool to care.

Do what you love and love what you do,
This advice is nothing new.

Now, stop worrying about whether your business will be a hit,
Rise to the challenge and say ‘screw it, let’s do it!’

Founder’s Vision

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Having a vision is vital to a business. It is a way of motivating people and helps in communicating where the company will be in the near future. Most of us are familiar with one type of vision, the corporate vision, the other, not much. Here I will discuss the 2 and attempt to make a clear distinction between the two. Note though that one is not better than the other; both works together.

Vision in the context of business is defined as where the company wants to be in the future or how it sees itself in the future. This is how vision is defined in books and in schools. Also taught is how a vision statement starts: to be the number 1, to be the best or to be the leading company. Let us call this type of vision, corporate vision. To help the company arrive at a corporate vision, a study of the external and internal environment is done. An example of a corporate vision is that of Microsoft, which states: “A microcomputer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software.”

However, there is a lesser known or unamed type of vision that I call founder’s vision. This type of vision comes from the intuition of the founder, it is some sort of an aha moment in the sense that the founder sees where the future is heading regardless of their skills or resources. Intuition is a sudden understanding of a situation for no apparent reason. In short, the answer suddenly comes. 

Let’s go back to Microsoft for the example of the founder’s vision. Bill Gates & Paul Allen founded Microsoft in the 70’s. Their knowledge in computers started by learning how to program their school’s minicomputer. Before formally starting Microsoft that we know today, the partners tried selling their program they wrote called Traf-o-Data, a program that counts traffic. The company had little to no success with this product. They went their separate ways as they entered college. Allen went to school in another state and Gates in Harvard. It would be hard for them to continue what they’re doing if they are from from on another. To continue their venture, Allen dropped out of college to work for Honeywell, a computer company in Boston, where the school of Gates is. Allen now lives near Bill Gates.

One day, Allen was walking on his way to Gates’ dorm and on the newsstand, he saw a magazine, Popular Mechanics. What he saw on the cover brought him excitement. Excited about what he saw on the cover, he rushed to Gates and brought Gates to the exact newsstand to see the magazine’s cover and validate what his excitement. On the magazine’s cover is Altair Computer from a company in New Mexico called MITS. The computer was small enough to fit on a desk unlike those available on the market then. When Gates saw it, panic set in and said, “oh no! It is happening without us. People are going to write real software for this chip!” That was Gates and Allen’s founders’ vision. So they went on and seized the opportunity.

A founder’s vision has the following:

  1. The sudden understanding of the future.
  2. It was neither clear nor concrete yet a “vehicle to a reward” appeared.
  3. Seeing a connection between past and future.

Founder’s Vision does not come out of studying the environment though it helps. In the Gates and Allen example, both had an experience in the field of computer technology that gave them a feel of what the turning point will be, and when they saw the magazine, they knew the turning point had arrived, hence the founder’s vision. To further explain, having founder’s vision is like what Isaac Newton said in 1675: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” One needs the help of one’s past experiences and the information of those that came before to see clearly what is ahead.

So, here are 2 types of vision, corporate vision and founder’s vision. The corporate vision requires a study of the environment in order to predict the future outcome of the venture, while the founder’s vision is sudden and appears into our awareness because of the information we have that helps us see what lies ahead.