Paying It Forward

Sometimes when you come across random good advice the best thing you can do is pay it forward. So that’s what I’m doing.

Mind you it comes from a man called Siimon Reynolds. And yes that is how he spells his name. I am always a bit dubious about men who spell their name in that completely fake manner. But his advice looks like the real deal.

Australia, and in all probability pretty much everywhere else in the world, is gripped by start up company fever. There are companies that accelerate, incubate, mentor and educate. Young entrepreneurs are being given the opportunity to win coaching sessions and seed money for their next big, bright business idea.

Enter Siimon Reynolds, advertising guru. Well he would be with a name like that. He offers advice that can be divided up along the following lines:

  1. Fake it until you make it. Reynolds says one of the most common mistakes made by business people is to focus on building a business without building a strong self-image. You won’t get anywhere with just a vision of what your company is going to look like you need to be able to see yourself as a great future entrepreneur. You can’t build a company without building you, so fake it until you make it. In other words choose a future version of yourself and then behave as if you already have those qualities.
  2. Forget about the furniture. The most common mistake made by new business owners is they don’t spend enough time marketing their business and the best way to attract customers. Reynolds says a start up needs to spend 70 percent of its time trying to get customers, instead of choosing office furniture or getting the website up and running. According to a study by research company, Dunn & Bradstreet, the main reason why businesses fail across most industries in because of low sales. In other words if you don’t spend most of your time working on ways to generate sales you are going to fail.
  3. Online start-ups rarely get it right. Too many businesses focus on their platform instead of their brand. Start with your brand and work backwards. What is your proposition? point of difference? How can you compete? Here’s an example of getting it right. A fashion retailer partners with a shopping center to offer a click and collect service.
  4. Learn to fail forwards. The risk of doing nothing is always greater than the risk of doing something. Reynolds says the cost of failure now is much lower than it was in the past so literally there is no excuse not to have a go. But that’s doesn’t mean taking a cowboy attitude, a second mortgage or betting the farm. Reynolds says every journey leads somewhere. It might not necessarily be where you want to go at the time but success is rarely a straight line either. Failure is part of that journey. Apparently in Silicon Valley they call it failing forwards. The way to get into the game is to get into the game. Some of the great businesses in the 21st century, like Facebook, Google or Twitter are a long, long, long way from where they started out.
  5. Focus on doing one thing well. Another big barrier for startups is a lack of focus. They start a business with 20 products or try to have multiple businesses at once. They look at people like Richard Branson running 400 companies but they don’t realize Branson had just one company for a decade. Reynolds says the successful entrepreneur is not necessarily the one who chases the shiny object or the shiny market. You have to ask yourself this question. If I were to pick one thing and become the best in the world at it, what would it be?
  6. Throw out the Schoolbook. In order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to throw away everything you’ve learned in traditional education. University degrees don’t build successful businesses. The rules of the game have changed. The rule is there are no rules for how to start a successful business. An MBA prepares you to think in an entrepreneurial way but it won’t prepare you for starting your own business. It won’t ever show you how to market a product with no money. The world is changing fast. You’ve got to change with it and adapt.

So there you go. My gratuitous advice for the day but it carries this disclaimer. I have not personally followed any of these tips or suggestions yet. But if you have or do and it worked let me know. With all the doom and gloom in the world it would be nice to hear about something good.

 

 

The World Is Really Flat

Forget about global warming. What we should all be worried about is global cooling.

So where did that ‘genius’ idea originate? Would you believe from a senior economic advisor to the Australian Government.

Yes I am being serious. Maurice Newman is the Government’s chief economic advisor. In fact he chair’s the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

Newman says there is “ evidence that the world is set for a period of cooling, rather than warming, leading to significant geopolitical problems because of a lack of preparedness.

He also warned “ Australia is ill prepared for global cooling owing to widespread “warming propaganda.”

In an opinion piece for a major national daily newspaper, Mr Newman wrote: “What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its acolytes pay scant attention to any science, however strong the empirical evidence, that may relegate human causes to a lesser status.”

Newman says money spent on studying climate change has been “to largely preordain scientific conclusions”. He says this has caused “serious damage on economies and diminished the west’s standing and effectiveness in world affairs”.

Newman claims scientists discovered a rapid drop in solar activity, with a “global warming pause” occurring in the past 18 years.

“But the political establishment is deaf to this,” he says. “Having put all our eggs in one basket and having made science a religion, it bravely persists with its global warming narrative, ignoring at its peril and ours, the clear warnings being given by mother-nature.

“If the world does indeed move into a cooling period, its citizens are ill-prepared.”

Newman, who has no scientific background, has repeatedly attacked mainstream climate science over the past year, claiming that Australia has become “hostage to climate change madness” and dismissing the overwhelming evidence of warming caused by carbon emissions. He is also strongly critical of investment in renewable energy.

Needless to say there are a lot of people including a significant number of climate scientists itching to take on Maurice Newman. They are accusing him of being misguided and “arrogant” for dismissing well-established evidence of warming in favour of a theory of global cooling

“There’s nothing credible to what he says”, according to Professor Mathew England from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. “I can’t believe this stuff about cosmic rays is being raised again after it has been discredited

Professor England’s work has demonstrated how strong Pacific winds are pushing surface heat underwater, contributing to the slowdown, or “pause”, in the rise of global temperatures.

“The amount of greenhouses gases we are pumping into the atmosphere means that the solar minimum is just a blip in the next few decades,” he says. “The idea that solar cycles can override climate change driven by greenhouse gases is fanciful.

“Saying we aren’t prepared for global cooling is like saying we aren’t prepared for an alien invasion. There is no credible scientist saying this is on the horizon.

“I think he’s arrogant to think he knows the answer to climate physics when he hasn’t studied it.”

Another climate specialist Professor Steve Sherwood says he isn’t sure how to respond to Newman, given the number of errors in his article.

“The sun doesn’t have as much influence on the climate as we previously thought, the latest estimates are that it explains only 5% of the warming over the last 150 years,” he said.

“We have been in a solar minimum and no one really knows what the sun will do next. I don’t think anyone is saying that the sun will compete with greenhouses gases when it comes to warming the planet.

“What he says may be entertaining but it’s also scary because it’s so out there. It’s so prominent that it’s concerning.”

Despite the warming “pause” that Newman repeatedly refers to, 13 of the 14 warmest years occurred in the 21st century.

2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record, while each of the past three decades were warmer than the previous one.

According to the experts, the world has warmed by about 1C over the past century and will get even warmer – by between 0.3C and 4.8C – by 2100, based largely on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

In fact climate scientists in Australia are clinging to the vain hope that they might be able to meet with Maurice Newman to explain the facts.

The head of Australia’s Climate Council sees the Newman remarks as deeply disturbing.

“ Maurice Newman is a business adviser to the prime minister; you’d expect him to be representing the interests of the business community.

“But what he’s saying fundamentally misrepresents the interests of business, which faces a huge risk, along with the rest of us, from climate change. He’s using his position for a personal crusade in what, I think, is a serious dereliction of duty.”

The former head of BP Australasia, granted a company not noted for its commitment to the environment, had this to say about the Newman opinions:

“Newman holds views that are out of step with those held by serious energy businesses globally and mainstream business in general.

“His views are scientifically wrong and completely ignore the economic and business risks that climate change presents. It is worrying that he is providing this sort of ill-informed advice on energy policy and climate risk to the highest levels of government.”

The next thing the Australian Government will be saying is that the world is really flat. But I don’t want to say it too loudly. It might give them ideas.