Roger James Hamilton Blog

Are You Playing To Win?

February 05,2017

Are You Playing To Win?

Are you playing to win? Or are you playing not to lose?

The difference has never been more stark than in the most incredible comeback in Super Bowl history that just took place today.

With just 8 minutes remaining in the game, the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-12. No team in history had ever made a comeback from 10 points behind. Until today…

The last minute comeback began with Patriot defensive tackle, Alan Branch, stealing the ball on the Atlanta 25. Quarterback Tom Brady converted the advantage into a pass to Danny Amendola for a touchdown, with a conversion from James White. Score: 28-20. The Patriots kept pushing with Tom leading a 91 yard touchdown drive and, with just 2 minutes 22 seconds remaining, Julian Edelman made an amazing catch against three Falcon opponents, setting up the field for a touchdown by James and a conversion by Danny evening the score at 28-28 with just 57 seconds left to play. From a deficit which at its worst was what looked like an insurmountable 25 points down at 28-3, the Patriots had brought the game into the Super Bowl’s first ever overtime. Twelve minutes into overtime, and James White ran two yards for a touchdown, winning the game 34-28 for the Patriots with a 31 point streak. What gives a team the ability to stage a comeback as epic as this one today? Tom Brady (who was only picked by the Patriots as the 199th out of 254 players in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft) sums it up when he says: “I think that at the start of a game, you’re always playing to win, and then maybe if you’re ahead late in the game, you start playing not to lose. The true competitors, though, are the ones who always play to win.” Late in the game, the Falcons were playing not to lose - and so ended up losing. The Patriots, on the other hand, had nothing left to lose - and so ended up winning. How about you? What inspiration do you take from this epic comeback? Are you playing life to win? Or are you playing not to lose? Tom himself, at 39 years old, is the oldest quarterback in the NFL. He started the season with a four game suspension as a result of “deflategate”, but has turned everything around by becoming the first player to receive Super Bowls’ most valuable player award four times, and finishes the season with a record five Super Bowl wins. So take this inspiration for your own personal overtime. And get back in the game. A big congratulations to the New England Patriots for creating history. After the game, Tom Brady said of the team: “We all brought each other back. We never felt out of it”, and then looking at the Lombardi Trophy said “We’re bringing this sucker home.” And Danny Amendola said of Tom: “He was the same as he always is: cool, calm and collected. He’s the leader, the general, the best ever and that is the end of the story.”
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The Future Is Here

January 31,2017

The Future Is Here

It's been an amazing eye-opener into the future, and I wanted to share some of it with you.

Heres' 3 amazing facts from his top trends on how fast the future is arriving:

Global 1 terabit/sec Internet Access: ViaSat, a U.S.-based satellite company, has teamed up with Boeing to launch three satellites to provide 1 terabit-per-second global Internet connection. ViaSat is scheduled to launch its satellite ViaSat2 in early 2017. Stem cell treatment reverses paralysis: This year Doctors from the USC Neurorestoration Center and Keck Medicine of USC injected stem cells into the damaged cervical spine of a recently paralyzed 21 year old man. Three months later, he showed dramatic improvement in sensation and movement of both arms. Uber planning flying cars: Global transportation giant Uber announced plans to enter the “flying car” service arena by publishing a massive white paper this year detailing its plan to launch an “on demand aviation” service called Uber Elevate. If you have been following me, you'll know I published my Top 10 Trends for 2017. Peter has published his own Top 10 Trends, and while there are many similarities, there's also some additions and plenty of great facts and examples in his ebook on each trends. Here's Peter's Top 10 Trends: Trend 1) We are hyper-connecting the world Trend 2) Solar/renewables cheaper than coal Trend 3) Glimpsing the end of cancer & disease Trend 4) Progress on extending human life Trend 5) Amazing successes with stem cells Trend 6) The year of autonomous vehicles Trend 7) Here come drones & flying cars Trend 8) The march of artificial intelligence Trend 9) Physics & exploration Trend 10) Conquest of commercial space Despite the challenges of the present, I'm super-excited for the future we're moving towards. If you're looking to stay on the cutting edge for yourself and your business, it's well worth downloading Peter's eguide on his Top 10 Trends. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/PeterDiamandis-top10 "The best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people." ~ Peter Diamandis
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What Is The Cost Of You Saying 'Yes' or 'No' ?

January 26,2017

What Is The Cost Of You Saying 'Yes' or 'No' ?

Mark Cuban said “I’m out” and Richard Branson said “I’m in” to entrepreneur, Jamie Siminoff.

Today, the change in that one word became worth over $28 million after Ring, the company that Jamie founded 5 years ago, raised $109 million from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm Ventures.

This, after an amazing 5 year journey that brought Jamie face-to-face with two of the world’s most recognized billionaires.

In September 2013, a year after launching “DoorBot”, Jamie got on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ trying to raise $700,000 for 10% in equity for his company

He pitched his product - an app-controlled smart doorbell and video system for your front door - but then Mark Cuban and his fellow sharks all closed the door on Jamie.

‘Mr Wonderful’, Kevin O’Leary, was the only one who gave an offer. He had no interest in buying equity. So instead he offered the $700,000 as a loan, repaid from 10% of all sales and then once paid off, he wanted 7% of all ongoing sales forever. Plus he wanted 5% equity for free thrown in.

Siminoff said no and Kevin replied “It’s that moment when I say you’re dead to me”.

After leaving the Shark Tank, Jamie turned the mass rejection into a positive, saying “We think we got at least $5 million of additional sales through the airing of ‘Shark Tank’. Everything just popped after that.”

Jamie rebranded the company as “Ring” and doubled down on his focus. He grew the smart doorbells into app-controlled security devices with motion-detection technology and said “We’re definitely focused on the ring of security we can build around a community, around a home. We’re stopping one burglary a day, and we’ve caught multiple burglars, so we’ve already become a very important part of homes."

Then by luck, one of his new customers ended up on Necker Island, sitting next to Richard Branson when his smartphone rang. A delivery person was at his door. The customer spoke to him and then with one press of a button the app let him in.

Richard was so impressed, he got Jamie’s number and called him, wanting to invest. What was Jamie’s reaction?

"When Richard Branson asks if he can invest in your company, I think there's only one answer you can give”.

Richard invested in the company, and in August 2015 he led a $28 million funding round for Jamie.

That was followed by a $61 million round in March 2016. Then, today, Jamie raised another $109 million at a likely valuation of around $500 million.

That means if Mark or any of the other sharks had taken Jamie’s 10% equity offer just over three years ago, their $700,000 investment would have grown after dilution by around 40x to $28 million today.

Jamie, who’s products are now in 100 countries worldwide, is now aiming for an IPO at the end of the year. By then, the cost of that “no” could be between $50 million and $100 million.

While billionaires like Mark Cuban won’t suffer greatly from missing such a multi-million dollar opportunity, this story highlights the greatest cost in business: Opportunity cost.

What is the cost of you saying “no” to the right opportunity?

What is the cost of following the wrong opportunities?

What is it costing you by delaying or avoiding action?

Whenever you’re worry about the cost of taking action, remember that the cost of not acting is often far greater.

“There's no wrong time to make the right decision." ~ Dalton McGuinty

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How To Turn A 200 Year Old Invention Into A Billion Dollar Startup

January 25,2017

How To Turn A 200 Year Old Invention Into A Billion Dollar Startup

Imagine you came up with an idea that could get people healthy and help the environment. Imagine you quit your dream job, launched a startup around the idea and 2 years later had turned the idea into a billion dollar company.

That’s exactly what David Wang has just done.

Two years ago David quit his job as General Manager of Uber in Shanghai after thinking “Why don’t I create an Uber for bikes?”

He launched his company, Mobike, a year ago. Each of his bikes has a pedal-powered GPS, smart lock and timer, so you can find a bike and unlock it with your Mobike App, get charged 15c per hour, and then leave it wherever you finish your ride. David knew the key to his idea was making his own low cost, high tech bikes. So he started bike-building, and launched the service in Shanghai in April last year. The bikes were so popular, in August he attracted $10 million from Panda Capital. Then, a month later he raised another $100 million from well known VCs. By the end of 2016, Mobike’s Shanghai GM, Michael Yao (in photo) said: “We just announced passing the 100,000th bike in Shanghai earlier this month. We are currently operating in nine cities: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Ningbo, Xiamen, Foshan and Wuhan.” Shanghai has now become the No.1 bike-sharing city in the world, and China is now producing more ride-sharing bikes than all the rest of the world put together. This month Mobike raised $215 million from Tencent and a group of VCs, likely at a valuation of over $1 billion, and this week Xiaofeng did a deal with Foxconn which will get 10 million Mobikes on the road by the end of this year. Less than 2 years after starting his company, David has 1.5 million users taking 500,000 bike rides each day. That's 1.5 million users getting healthy and improving the air quality of China's cities each day. He now plans to be in 100 cities in China and around the world by the end of this year. In his announcement of the Foxconn deal this week, David said “In 2017, we aim to enable residents in a hundred cities in China and internationally to enjoy our unique and convenient solution.” That solution is the bicycle, invented in 1817 (and celebrating its 200th birthday this year), with some high tech upgrades. In other words, he took a 200 year old invention and turned it into a billion dollar startup. Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. In fact, the technology that David is using for his bikes is freely accessible to anyone to start a similar company. The difference is, he took massive action. What simple idea are you delaying today? Where will you be in 2 years from now by simply taking that next step? Time to get on your bike! “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.” ~ William Butler Yeats
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The Sneetches By Dr Seuss

January 23,2017

The Sneetches By Dr Seuss

When I opened my Facebook and Twitter feeds today, they were filled with messages of conflict and intolerance. I looked for wise words to make sense of what's going on. I found it in "The Sneetches" - Dr Seuss' children's story uncannily playing out in real life today. I hope we make it to the same ending.

The Sneetches. By Dr Seuss 1953 ***************************************

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches Had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all. But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches Would brag, "We're the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches."

With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they'd snort “We'll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!" And whenever they met some, when they were out walking, They'd hike right on past them without even talking.

When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball, Could a Plain-Belly get in the game...? Not at all. You could only play if your bellies had stars And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts, They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches. They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches. They kept them away. Never let them come near. And that's how they treated them year after year.

Then ONE day, it seems...while the Plain-Belly Sneetches Were moping and doping alone on the beaches, Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars... A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

"My friends," he announced in a voice clear and keen, "My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean. And I've heard of your troubles. I've heard you're unhappy. But I can fix that. I'm the Fix-it-Up Chappie.

I've come here to help you. I have what you need. And my prices are low. And I work at great speed. And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!"

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean Put together a very peculiar machine.

And he said, "You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch...? My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!” “Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!" So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared

And it clonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked! When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars! They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars from the start, "We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart. We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties! And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

"Good grief!" groaned the ones who had stars at the first. "We're still the best Sneetches and they are the worst. But, now, how in the world will we know," they all frowned, "If which kind is what, or the other way round?"

Then up came McBean with a very sly wink And he said, "Things are not quite as bad as you think. So you don't know who's who. That’s perfectly true. But come with me, friends. Do you know what I'll do?

I'll make you, again, the best Sneetches on beaches And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.” Belly stars are no longer in style," said McBean. "What you need is a trip through my Star-Off machine.

This wondrous contraption will take off your stars So you won't look like Sneetches who have them on thars." And that handy machine Working very precisely Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.

Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about And they opened their beaks and they let out a shout, "We know who is who! Now there isn't a doubt. The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!"

Then, of course, those with stars all got frightfully mad. To be wearing a star now was frightfully bad. Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean Invited them into his Star-Off Machine. Then, of course from then on, as you probably guess, Things really got into a horrible mess.

All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches, The Fix-it-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches. Off again! On again! In again! Out again! Through the machines they raced round and about again,

Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money. They kept running through Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew Whether this one was that one...or that one was this one Or which one was what one...or what one was who.

Then, when every last cent Of their money was spent, The Fix-it-Up Chappie packed up And he went.

And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach, "They never will learn. No. You can't teach a Sneetch!"

But McBean was quite wrong. I'm quite happy to say The Sneetches got really quite smart on that day, The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.

The end.

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3 Steps Blockbuster Took To Make Netflix A $60 Billion Company

January 20,2017

3 Steps Blockbuster Took To Make Netflix A $60 Billion Company
This week Reed Hastings’ Netflix announced they were 36% ahead of forecast, following a 12 month expansion into 130 countries. Netflix shares hit an all-time high. Today, Netflix is globally recognized for being the leader in streaming TV. What is less know is the part Blockbuster (which was America’s leading video rental company) played in creating Netflx. Here are the 3 Steps Blockbuster took to make Netflix a $60 billion company: STEP 1 - Get your customers upset: Blockbuster’s first step was to get customers upset by charging huge late fees for not returning their videos. As Reed remembers, “The genesis of Netflix came in 1997 when I got this late fee, about $40, for ‘Apollo 13’. I remember the fee because I was embarrassed about it. That was back in the VHS days, and it got me thinking that there's a big market out there.” “So I started to investigate the idea of how to create a movie-rental business by mail. I didn't know about DVDs, and then a friend of mine told me they were coming. I ran out to Tower Records in Santa Cruz, Calif., and mailed CDs to myself, just a disc in an envelope.” “It was a long 24 hours until the mail arrived back at my house, and I ripped them open and they were all in great shape. That was the big excitement point.” STEP 2 - Ignore opportunities: Reed grew Netflix from a DVD mail rental company to a subcription service. He then went to Blockbuster in 2000 and offered to sell Netflix to them for $50 million. A Blockbuster exec recalls “We had the option to buy Netflix for $50 million and we didn’t do it. They were losing money. They came around a few times.” If they had simply said “yes” instead of “no”, Blockbuster would own Netflix. But instead, rejected by Blockbuster, Reed decided to keep growing Netflix himself, and it has now grown x1,000 in value from that $50 million price to its $60 billion valuation today. STEP 3 - Give up: A decade after, in 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection. It went from the leading video rental company with 60,000 employees and 8,000 stores at its peak to zero, with its assets being bought by Dish Network. They failed to get on the online streaming wave, and so were wiped out by it. Famed investor, Carl Icahn, called Blockbuster "the worst investment I ever made”. Reed Hastings, on the other hand, continues to see Netflix grow because the three steps he follows are the exact opposite of Blockbuster’s: He focuses at the customer experience instead of upsetting them. He takes opportunities instead of ignoring them. And he perseveres while others give up. Which path are you taking? Each has consequences. And neither is wrong. After all, if Blockbuster hadn’t upset and then rejected Reed in the first place, we wouldn’t have Netflix today. “"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." ~ Will Rogers
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NASA To Explore Quadrillion Asteroid 16 Psyche

January 17,2017

NASA To Explore Quadrillion Asteroid 16 Psyche

Is NASA planning a journey to match Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”?

NASA just announced it will be visiting “16 Psyche” - an asteroid calculated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion.

That’s ten billion trillion dollars (or one hundred million times the world’s entire money supply).

Are they going to mine the asteroid?!

No. They’re just going to go have a look…

“The Alchemist” is one of my favourite books which I first read before deciding to start my own business. It’s the story of a shepherd boy, Santiago, who had a dream where he’s told to travel to the Egyptian Pyramids where he would find buried treasure.

The book charts his entire journey, his challenges and discoveries, his disappointment to find no treasure under the Pyramids, and his return home. Where he finally finds the treasure buried under the sycamore tree where he first had his dream.

The story is inspired by George Moore’s quote: "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”

It’s the same journey that each of us must go through in life, and how those who discover the truth of their own hidden treasure use that power to transform their world.

When I read the story of NASA’s big journey, it reads as the same journey on an epic scale.

NASA thinks the asteroid, called “16 Psyche” could be the core of an old planet. By visiting 16 Psyche, we learn about the centre of our own Earth.

Three times further from Earth than the sun, the asteroid is made mainly of nickel and iron (which is what gives it such an enormous dollar value), and the theory is that it used to be a planet the size of Mars, which has been destroyed through collisions, just leaving the metal core.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University is the Principal Investigator on the trip and says "This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world - not one of rock or ice, but of metal. 16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core.”

She proposed the mission to NASA, who approved it this month - with the mission take-off in 2023, and date of arrival in 2030.

Imagine that:

2030 is the target the United Nations has set for us to solve all of the world’s biggest challenges through the 17 UN Global Goals. That year now coincides with our date of arrival to a 200 kilometre wide, $10,000 quadrillion piece of metal 450 million kilometres away - to learn about the heart of our own planet.

“We learn about inner space by visiting outer space.” ~ Lindy Elkins-Tanton

And why is it called “16 Psyche?” It was named by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it Psyche from Greek Mythology, who represented our soul and married Cupid, who represents our love. It’s symbol, a semicircle topped by a star, represents a butterfly’s wings, the symbol of the soul.

Such a story - and the metaphor of going on an existential “Alchemist’s Journey” to face our collective soul - is the kind of thing you would find in a corny sci-fi novel. Yet here it is, being announced by NASA as a real-life mission.

Personally, I’m looking forward to being a witness to the story in 2030. Especially the ending, when we return home to find the treasure was here all along.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” ~ Paulo Coelho

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From $0 to $2 Billion In 2 Months

January 13,2017

From $0 to $2 Billion In 2 Months

How resilient are you? Here’s an amazing story of how to bounce back when things get tough:

The Elon Musk of China, 43 year old Jia Yueting, was under such financial stress 2 months ago, in November 2016 he wrote a letter to the staff and shareholders at his company, LeEco, telling them of the financial issues and saying he was cutting his salary to one yuan (15 cents).

To make things worse, he had used all his listed shares in Leshi Internet as security against the loans he had taken, but Leshi Internet’s shares had dropped 30% and all the shares were at risk of being lost in a margin call. So the company suspended trading in its shares - and they have been frozen ever since.

What happened next? While the world was on holiday at the end of December, Yueting staged a turnaround as dramatic as the one Elon Musk achieved in 2010.

The result? Today he announced a $2.2 billion cash investment from property developer Sunac China Holdings, for 8.61% of the company - which gives him the cash he needs and now values LeEco at $25 billion.

Who is Jia Yueting, and how did he create a company that’s now worth $25 billion?

Born to a teacher and housewife in 1973, his first job was in a government tax office. When he was 31, in 2004, he launched “Leshi” (which means “Happy TV”) as the first Internet streaming TV company. Over the next 6 years it grew into the Netflix of China, and in 2010 - when Elon Musk was broke - he listed the company and became a billionaire.

From there, he launched a series of new companies - LeMusic (live concerts), Le Vision (films), LeMobile (smartphones) and Le VR (virtual reality), which all became part of “LeEco”.

Jia Yueting is 2 years younger than Elon, and has been largely unknown in the West - until January last year, when he launched “Le Supercar” at CES - to compete with Tesla. The car is being built by LeSEE - his electric car company in partnership with Faraday Future.

Then, in February 2016 LeEco made Fast Company's 2016 "Most Innovative Companies” list, and in July he bought America’s leading smart TV maker, Visio for $2 billion… and the US tech industry began to take notice.

So if Yueting has been so successful in growing a billion dollar business, how did he end up in such financial trouble?

Yueting, like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and many leading entrepreneurs, drive their businesses to the upper limit of growth. For Yueting, 2016 was the first year he entered the US market and costs rose dramatically.

In his November letter he described the situation as “a simultaneous time in ice and fire” and said “We blindly sped ahead, and our cash demand ballooned. We got over-extended in our global strategy.”

Some think that when you achieve success, the problems disappear. The reality is that as things multiply, the risks grow with the rewards.

Success then, feels less like flying higher in the sky and more like sailing deeper in the ocean - with higher highs and lower lows.

So if you’re on that journey, get ready for the ride.

Yuetlng, like other great captains before him, is on a journey which just became more epic.

He was on the verge of losing it all and then bounced back by using every great entrepreneur's secret weapons:

Resilience and perseverance.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” ~ Jack Ma

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11 Things Michelle Obama Achieved The Past 8 Years

January 12,2017

11 Things Michelle Obama Achieved The Past 8 Years
As the US switches President, I can’t help but admire the outright winner through the 2016 election race: Michelle Obama. Although she wasn’t running for President, the popularity polls put her ahead of all the candidates (and Barack Obama). The WSJ/NBC poll that took place before the election had her popularity at 59%, ahead of Barack Obama (51%), Hillary Clinton (40%) and Donald Trump (29%). Here’s 11 things Michelle quietly achieved while her husband was running the country: 1) She launched the “Let’s Move!” movement to fight childhood obesity, with over 12 million kids now exercising 60 minutes a day through their school programs. 2) She partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee to give free or low cost athletic training to more than 3 million kids. 3) She passed the “School Lunch Program” which now provides free and low cost healthy meals to 21 million children in low-income families and provides healthier school meals and snacks to over 50 million kids every day. 4) She launched “Chefs Move to School”, with 2,500 chefs and 4,000 schools signing up to teach kids about healthy eating and help school kitchens prepare healthy meals 5) She launched MyPlat and MiPlato badges to help parents identify healthy food - now used by over 100 national organizations and 6,100 community groups. 6) She got Walmart and Walgreens, to commit to build 1,500 stores in communities with limited or no access to healthy food, impacting 9.5 million people. 7) She created “Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties” to help local officials build healthier communities, with over 81 million people (1 in 4 Americans) benefiting. 8) She worked with the US Tennis Association to build more than 6,200 kid-sized tennis courts, trained 12,000 coaches and signed up 250,000 kids to complete tennis lessons. 9) She launched the Reach Higher Initiative, to inspire young people to complete their education past high school. 10) She joined President Obama and the Peach Corps to launch Let Girls Learn, to help girls around the world to go to school and stay in school, now active in 44 countries 11) She also set a Guinness World Record on the White House Lawn for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period (300,000 jumpers) She didn't have to do any of this. But she did all of it because she was driven by her own personal mission, saying: “I believe that education is the single-most important civil rights issue that we face today.” “Because in the end, if we really want to solve issues like mass incarceration, poverty, racial profiling, voting rights, and the kinds of challenges that shocked so many of us over the past year, then we simply cannot afford to lose out on the potential of even one young person. We cannot allow even one more young person to fall through the cracks.” What an inspiration.
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Is Your To-Do List Too Long?

January 10,2017

Is Your To-Do List Too Long?
Joel Spolsky found a way to solve his to-do list. If that wasn’t reward enough, he sold his solution - Trello - to Atlassian this week for $425 million.

How do you solve a to-do list? Five years ago, Joel and his team at Fog Creek Software took a tip from the East to solve theirs with the Japanese concept of ‘Kanban’.

‘Kanban’ (which means ‘signboard’ in Japanese) was created by Taiichi Ohno in the 1940s for Toyota. Known as the father of ‘Just-in-time’ and ‘Lean Manufacturing’, Taiichi’s philosophy valued flow over queues. Things like ‘stock’ and ‘to-do lists’ were queues. Taiichi lived by ‘ten precepts’ which are today at the heart of fast-growth startups: 1) You are a cost. First reduce waste. 2) First say, "I can do it." And try before everything. 3) The workplace is a teacher. You can find answers only in the workplace. 4) Do anything immediately. Starting something right now is the only way to win. 5) Once you start something, persevere with it. Do not give up until you finish it. 6) Explain difficult things in an easy-to-understand manner. Repeat things that are easy to understand. 7) Waste is hidden. Do not hide it. Make problems visible. 8) Valueless motions are equal to shortening one's life. 9) Re-improve what was improved for further improvement. 10) Wisdom is given equally to everybody. The point is whether one can exercise it. When looking at the excess stock in Toyota’s factories, he asked “How can we replace our ‘push’ system with a ‘pull’ system? ‘Push’ systems grow waste and grow queues. ‘Pull’ systems cut waste and cut queues. Creating products, having stock and then trying to sell them is a ‘push’ system. Having a customer, getting their order and creating just what they need is a ‘pull’ system. Coming up with things to do, and then trying to get them all done in the time available is a ‘push’ system. Knowing what’s most important to do now, and just doing what is possible with the time available is a ‘pull’ system. Taiichi and his team studied supermarkets, which only stocked what was needed to meet demand. They converted this system that minimized stock and queues into the ‘kanban’ system for Toyota. As startups began to take on lean principles, kanban boards began appearing to turn 'to-do' lists into 'doin'g schedules. In its simplest form, a kanban board has three columns: To-do, doing, done. With post-it notes or cards moving from one column to the next as they progressed. The result? The flow of work can be seen and creates a feeling of achievement. Whereas to-do lists create a feeling of anxiety. In 2011 Joel and his team turned this 60 year old system into a mobile app and called it ‘Trellis’ as it allows you to grow. Then, when they couldn’t get the URL, they changed the name to ‘Trello’. Then, they launched the app at Techcrunch Disrupt. Joel describes the launch: “After months of toiling away, the feeling you get from seeing real-world people actually start using your product is the best feeling you will ever get as a software programmer in your professional life. These are the great moments that make it all worthwhile. We *made* something. People used it. It matters. It’s like sex, with clothes on.” The app took off and grew, first to a million users, then to 10 million. This week, with 19 million users, Trello was sold to Atlassian (the Australian tech company that launched Jira and HipChat) for $425 million. What if the smallest problems bugging you are also bugging millions of others as well? And what if - like Joel - the real reason you have your current business (or job) is to find and solve a problem within it, which then becomes the business that really matters. In fact, what if every problem you have is just an opportunity in disguise? “Having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” ~ Taiichi Ohno
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