Naveen Selvadurai from Foursquare dropped by amazing Founders House to have a chat a while back. As you might have guessed, he sure carries a lot of wisdom around. Of the many things he said, one particular almost Hinduistic insight struck home with me.
Naveen views life as a tree growing and trying to strive for the life-giving light. As the tree grows, the branches split up. Some grows to large trunks, and others never reach beyond the twig stage. Naveen point was that you are the tree – or rather your company is. It is your duty to always pick the branch where there is most light and which is likely to give room for more branches – or opportunities – in the future. Interesting! It is kind of like instilling opportunity costs theory with existentialism.
However, it also gives rise to the question, as to when are the tree your life and when is it the company that you have founded or work for? As an entrepreneur, when do your private branches and the company’s branches start and end? I mean everybody has been in this situation, where doing one thing would benefit you or your company, but not both. This is a really interesting thought, and my answer might surprise you…
The founder as entrepreneur
When you establish a company alone or with others, many compare it to give birth to a child you must now nurture and care for. That is not really true when put in the above context. For while you should always think of the child’s best branches, that is not necessarily true for a company, for we must remember what a company is. A company is a legal structure and institution that makes people able to align conflicting goals and utilize resources better over time, while trying to meet a demand for a product. The first part of that definition is like a child. Everybody can found a company and potentially keep it alive forever if they invest enough. But the last part is the important part. It is why companies are such a genius social institution: They breathe demand. So if you have given birth to a company (not a human, mind you) that is unable to breathe demand, it is not a normative responsibility to put its wellbeing in front of yours – you could be damaging the world by wasting your life power on this little twig rather than to go out on a trunk of a branch somewhere else. Twigs are the rarely pretty and can even be annoying, but they are a needed side effect of the tree of life trying to find light, or the humanity trying to find the best possible resource allocation, but they should not be nurtured beyond a certain stage. A surprising task of the entreprenuer is hence to always evaluate the company as a branch.
The employee as entrepreneur
First off, everybody should view themselves and be viewed as an entrepreneur of their own life. My good friend and associate Simon Schock has a really cool girlfriend Maia Mazaurette (read her blog here) who says it well, when on her Linkedin profile, she writes her current position, as “Freelance CEO of my own career”. Great! When you are an employee you spend a lot of time on a job for which you get pay (revenue). I think you as such have an ethical obligation to only think about the wellbeing of the company you work for – it is what you are paid for after all, not your own comfort or career. Great leaders realize this, and motivate employees with a vision to love and fight for the company only. Other leader types do not tap into this extra value pool in their employees, they don’t share and they never care*. Such leaders get lazy employees who only view their job as that, a job, and subsequently will chose only the branches of their private tree, not the company’s. This is really dangerous, as another great thing about companies as a structure is that they decreases short term resource dependency, which leave mental room for long term strategy planning for secure higher pay out of sunlight – an intelligent tree if you like. Imaging that.
So on what kind of tree are you growing? And what about the people around you?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you Naveen for inspiration for my rant. Have a nice day y’all!
*) I have had the privilege to work for both types and needless to say, I prefer the visionary who get me to work long hours, by including me and saying a little nice word now and again. But who am I to judge.
I have not been updating this for a while. Please do not take this as a measure of indifference to your or the subjects of this blog – I love you and them. Also, action speaks louder than words, so I should just leave it at that and start posting again. So I will.
Since my preferred (to say regular would be a stretch) posting day is Monday, I thought I kick of your weekend with this nice little ditty from electro rock phenomenon Bodega Girls and their lovely School Night. This is a sexy video, so #FraekFredag (props to a @LauraJul).
I think highly of these danceable trolls and I even think I can hear reminiscences of their hardcore past – maybe that is just me, but they insist on having fun and recording in just one night – that is always a cool approach to music and one that can produce great results (think Morrissey, Black Flag and many others… Love it). And don’t let the happy attitude fool ya: They are quite good lyricist too as in “You where always saying nothing but it was so profound”. Heck, I just wanted to promote them a little and took this chance.
So stay tuned for great updates the coming weeks. And go dance tonight.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Like oh so many other people, most of my youth was defined by the brands I associated myself with. In my case it was mainly punk rock, football and politics.
There is a lot to be said for not being too obsessed with the brands of your choice, even if they do indeed mean literally the world to you, like football, or gives you the strength to hate fight another day like punk rock. Still I remember feeling so envious that I was not born earlier so that I could have seen certain bands live or been at certain matches. Even in politics I was a late-comer, and hence never met Rothbard.
On the other hand, as I grow older and continuously and loyally partook in the shared development of my brands, not many can claim as many FCK live matches as I, I all of a sudden was one of the people that, while I might have been too young in the eighties, certainly did see a lot of the nineties and early millennium. Ever so slightly I took a role, much like many older people that I know, as carrying eyes around that had seen “it”. These last couple of weeks I’ve been confronted by three examples of this, and rather than focus on the obvious downside that this is proof that I am getting older, I instead chose to focus on that while I certainly made a lot of mistakes in my life, most of it have been rightly spend and all of it certainly was fun.
I was lucky enough to be around for the height of skate punk in the nineties. While I quickly turned to Oi! and hardcore, some of these bands stayed with me, such as No Use For A Name. One of the bands that to many showcase the sound and attitude is NOFX. I’ve seen them many times now, and when I was in my early teens I loved them, then I hated them for a while (which I now realize was pretty stupid and is one of the mistakes that I am not proud of and which ultimately cost me more joy than it gave). Today I have nothing but respect for them! They are still in their old lineup, and have managed to live off their passion for music since their first show in 1983. While I do not agree with their outspoken simplistic politics, I do acknowledge that the band more than any is an innovator and not afraid to hail the individualism that is punk rock. This August they came out with an untitled record of covers of old hardcores classics, and while Youth Defense League is missing for obvious reasons, they have included a lot of great tunes. As an added bonus they have made three different pressing so there is something fun to collect. What a feed of respect for the roots, educating the young, and in an odd way, a great testimony to an amazing career of innovation. Buy it here and listen below (play it loud).
It might not be the nicest trade to take joy in the misery of others, but it is entertaining. Our old rival, Brøndby, is falling apart on and off the pitch to
an extend where I almost feel pity for their fans (but then again, I kinda did already). Lately they didn’t get to Europe and manage to throw away a 4-0 lead to an opponent that had given up. Wow! However, it is not the first time, as this poll clearly will illustrate, and I was around to laugh at most of these defeats. Funny stuff.
As mentioned above, I never met Rothbard. I have fortunately had the great privilege to meet a significant number of economics scholars that I admire and who’s wisdom and research have shaped me and moved me forward, from Prahalad to Kirzner, and the personal favorite, Klein (PS: I still haven’t met Williamson, although it has been close a couple of time, but next time I will accept that lunch invite). When you do nerd economics and the politics of freedom as I do, you will pick up on inside references. Below the amazing Thomas Woods is showcasing a couple of great ones. Remember to pick up some of Wood’s books – he is a very insightful source on US history and a great communicator on paper and in person.
Wow. That was fun. I can’t wait for the next 10 years as I haven’t given up any of the above passions yet. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Btw: NOFX plays for free in Malmø on the 22 of august. Cool stuff!
*) I noticed that I get more readers when I share tips, so here you go.
Scary header, ain’t it? This post is utterly unscientific. In fact, I don’t even really know why I write it to be honest. Maybe just a little thought that I needed to share.
Remember my post on immortality? Well, I was recently at a social event sitting across from an elderly person. The person is alive and well – very much so indeed. However while the niceties that this person was normally taking part in, was developing around us, I suddenly looked across and saw a look of despair. It might have lasted only 15 seconds and then the person snapped out of it and resumed the natural place in the social activities, but damn did that get me thinking:
What if what I saw was death? Not personified, just the process. Imaging that maybe you do not slowly age and wear out and die, but the process instead happens in short intense spouts when you are not grapping on to life?
Would it change the way you behaved? Let’s assume that death was more likely to happen when you were bored and not really “into” life; be it doing tedious management presentations, forced family outings, or house cleaning. If you avoided all these things, and others that might cause you especially to slip into a short death process, you might live, if not eternally, than statistically significantly longer. However it would come at a price of cause; you might not be able to hold down a job, your family would shun you and your house would be a mess. So think about that, how much is your pure life worth to you and how much of why you value it comes from enduring the death process from forcing you to partake in less-pleasure filled activities?
I hope your trade off is balanced to your needs and thank you for bearing with me today, as I rant about life and death.
The value of supporting Gus ( @ideasoutloud ) on Twitter: A econ-nerd blog post on transaction costsPosted: April 7, 2011
Transaction costs are small costs that come from using a pricing-mechanism or in other ways send a signal in a group of trading individuals. As such money need not be involved. In fact money often aren’t directly. There is a cost to using Twitter for instance; even if we do not pay per tweet, it still takes time to do it (and we use electricity, wear and tear on the computer, data subscripting costs etc.) and that time could be spent chopping wood, shooing horses or whatever way you normally make your living. However we choose to tweet because the small cost that the transaction cost us pales in insignificance to the potential impact it can cause – or so we hope. In fact measuring the actual cost of transaction costs, like those incurred while tweeting, is likely more costing than the transaction. But let’s try for a moment.
So if we ignore all other cost than time spent, and I assume it takes 2 min to tweet a statement (to think, decide, formulate and tweet) and if it is read by say 200 followers, that is 0.6 seconds per receiver. And maybe some of these receivers RT so that it is spread even more and the price of the transaction goes down further. I might also build followers, getting the price further down over time. But it never goes way.
Imagine if you tweet 15 times a day. That is about 10 whole days a year (I assume you sleep 6 hours) spent on nothing but tweeting. And I am still not taking other costs than time into consideration. Wow. But it is still not much compared to printing a flyer and start handing it out at the local grocery… Not that long ago people did this. Some still do – They are quite often promoting policies that will raise taxes or products that are bad for your health.
So tweets is all about price signals because you are suffering a cost when you tweet and that cost becomes an inclination of what value tweeting your particular message has to you. You could have done something else with your time. While at the same time you probably would not do 15 flyers a day, right?
The reason for this adventure in the exciting world of the transaction costs of tweeting is that I believe that if enough people send price signals, the world will change. If nobody picks up those pretty flyers and subsequently does not buy the product, the company behind the flyers will go bust. If enough people tweet about something somebody out there might alter their behavior or decision. Maybe not this time, but over time at least.
So yesterday I tweeted my support to local Australian entrepreneur Gus Murrey who is being kicked out of Denmark despite having received an education and being an active and social-conscious citizen with high entrepreneurial ambitions. I know Gus from my old alma mater and he is a stand up great guy and if it was a place to crash or a nice meal he needed I would always offer help. So of cause I will also tweet his message of political injustice. It was not free, but it was an expense well spent. Happily a lot of other people did this too. Pooled together the joint time investment of people is now up to 28 hours (at 21:30 last night) or with an average hourly pay of 250 DKK it comes to about 7000 DKK value (or with a 60% tax rate; 4200 lost revenue for the tax man) in tweets alone (add media coverage and Facebook comments to get the whole campaign cost if you like). It is too early to tell if the supplier of laws (parliament) have seen the price signal, but it surely is out there.
Thank you for reading this and for supporting Gus and have a nice day!
Read more on Gus’ plight here.
I have for some time believed that Google should change their slogan to: ”it is easier than friends”. Think about it; In the past if you where at a loss for some knowledge what would you do? Very likely call a friend, right? But that meant also having to do some small talk. Enquire to her day, dog and parents… Maybe you didn’t get the answer and had to do the same thing all over again with another friend. So if we ignore that small talking to friends can have its own merits, Google is way better because it is easier. You just shout at it what you want know. No niceties expected, and often not even a full sentence required. Once you get the result you sort them over with condescending remarks and once you find what you like – or even if you all of a sudden feel like doing something else – you just leave Google hanging. No explanations or anything.
So there you go; Google – Its easier than friends.
However, since this innovation is so great, lets instead call one or two of our friends this week and ask if there is something you can do for them? Echo it afterwards and inspire others to maybe do the same for their friends.