Being Funny in Business (or at least having attitude)

Businesses with snark are fun, but you have to have actual snark.  You can't just fake being edgy because people will see right through you. 

When Dollar Shave Club came out, I was like, "You can do this??  You can have fun and run a business??"  I don't know how many times I've watched their video.  It still gets me.

Curbed media is snarky and sarcastic to the point of being rude sometimes.  The people in the comments are entitled, whiny and rude to the columnists sometimes, which is why I unsubscribed a while ago (also, too many e-mails) but they're a well-informed community, and I still get a laugh out of the articles.


Here's another shaving business- a men's barber shop that had the right attitude for their clientele.  I say "right attitude" with caution because I just mean it fits with their customer's personality.  A local barber shop here in Regina was trying to do the same thing, but limit it to men only, and a local woman complained to the Human Rights commission that it was exclusionary.  I don't know how it ended up, but let me tell you there was a lot of snark directed at her.

There are so many more good ones out there.  As someone whose approach to life has been "how do you want me to be because I'm sure I can be that way", I'm starting to ask myself, what if I was just myself?  I know it's cliche to say "be yourself", and I'm in this business of "knowing yourself", but believe it or not, I'm just starting to ask who I really am when I'm not trying to please people.  We shall see what emerges from that!

Building my Scaffolding for this Summer

After a terrifying sail on some rough Cape Cod waters.

After a terrifying sail on some rough Cape Cod waters.

It will take a lot to top the amazingness that was the Epic Summer of 2014.  Mr. M and I spent it travelling around New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachussettes, Rhode Island, Ottawa, Maine, Cape Cod, and Martha's Vineyard. We did a lot of visiting, eating, painting, shopping, and anything that enabled us to stay cool in the summer heat.

This year will be pretty different- it will be here in Regina where I'll be doing all my writing and marketing for Science and Alchemy School.  While I can't wait to put my research hat on again, I also know I can fall into a black hole of productivity because my time will be so unstructured.  The thing about having a job is that you have a boss, deadlines, and accountability.  When you're self-employed, it's all on you to keep the wheels turning by yourself.  Nobody will care that you've slept in- in fact, they'll probably say, "Oh well, you must have needed the extra sleep."  Trust me- at 3:00 AM (when I wake up), those "friendly" words definitely drift in to your consciousness and start seducing you.  "I need more sleep!  My friend said I do!"

I've been through this massive unstructured block of time before, and what really helps to stay productive is:

1) make deadlines for yourself where you have to deliver a product or a talk.  It has to be something where if you don't meet the deadline, there's a consequence.

2) make coffee dates with fellow entrepreneurs- individually and in groups.  You want to  bounce ideas off each other. 

3) have someone working for you, or at least pretend you do.  By having someone to assign things to, you have to be thinking ahead, not just in a vague visionary sense, but in practical terms so you've got things lined up for them while they're still working on their last project. 

I'm setting up my summer "appointments" with my research assistant, fellow teachers, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs in the next week or two, so if you'd like to be one of those people, message me. 

We Don't Have to Be Afraid of Technology

Advances in technology mean job losses in the 10 of millions in the next 10-15 years.  Robots, smart cars that can drive themselves and other techy solutions mean wage earners are going to have to find ways to reinvent themselves. 

One of Fred Wilson's partners at Union Square Ventures, Albert Wenger, formerly the CEO of del.icio.us before it got sold to Yahoo, gave a TEDx Talk earlier this year on how smart public policy could positively affect how we allow technology to affect the

Making Decisions from the Gut

A friend of mine is trying to make one of the biggest decisions of her life right now: when and where to retire.  She could retire where she feels comfortable and where she's got her circle of friends, or in Eastern Canada where her children are.  Understandably, she's torn- how do you choose between the two? 

Last night, we talked about making decisions with the head, heart, and gut, and how they each have different voices, speeds, and energies.  The head and the heart tend to come up with the logic, math, and reasoning,  and the dream, vision, and the aching respectively.  The gut is the centre of action.  It recognizes opportunity or danger and springs the body into action. 

Everyone operates primarily from one of the centres, has secondary access to another, and has trouble getting in touch with the third.  So for example, you could be a head type, a heart type, or a gut type and be completely literate in that centre's vocabulary, but then you could have real difficulty deciphering what one of the other centres is saying, which can have you unconsciously flying in long, slow circles over the bird sanctuary of your life with a clipped wing for years on end. 

Jim Treliving .  Image from CBC.ca

Jim Treliving.  Image from CBC.ca

Jim Treliving is a Canadian entrepreneur and investor, known as the RCMP officer-turned-owner of the international Boston Pizza franchise and now a fixture on CBC's the Dragon's Den (like the US' Shark Tank).  He's possibly a lusty, gut-driven, tough yet self-effacing Enneagram Type 8w9 (although I'm not positive on that), but one thing is clear in reading his book Decisions- he accesses his gut to make decisions over and over again in his business deals.


My RCMP training taught me the most crucial business lesson there is: Always do something.  That's the one thing that sets successful people apart from not-so-successful people-- the ability to actually make a decision.  Unsuccessful people freeze in the face of choice.  Why does this happen?  It's fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck.  Or fear of making the wrong decision.  Sometimes it's easier to continue doing things the old, familiar way, even if that way is all wrong.  But a big change will take you to a whole new place in business, and in life.

Joanne Wilson, an entrepreneur with a powerful presence whose gut decisions have served her well.

At a workshop a few years ago with Enneagram teacher Ginger Lapid-Bogda, she had a participant come up to the front who was trying to make a major decision in her life.  This woman - a heart type- was trying to decide whether or not to pursue her passion by opening a Body Shop-type of business.  The purpose of the exercise was to "hear" from all three centres, and she was to put her hands on each of the three centres in turn, picturing that body part in her mind's eye, and talk about her business idea, as if she was in that centre.  It was interesting to notice how her voice changed when she spoke from each of the centres.  Sometimes the words had the ring of a parents' dissaproval, or betrayed desire with the way the breath carried the words.  The voice from the gut was meek, but there's something about the gut- how it knows things.  (Actually, we now know from neuroscience that it literally knows things, as nerve fibers from the nervous system surround our hollow internal organs [ie. our visceral organs] and are the first point of contact for our internal sensory perceptions that get sent up to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain via the insula, hence the expression, "a gut feeling".)

A lot of us don't listen to the gut and turn the volume way down because we're afraid of action, and we get stuck in the head, or start stewing in the heart.  It can get really sterile in the head or stinky in the heart if we don't get out to the other centres.  I'm reminded of a Kaballah principle for those with a weaker connection to the gut: "When challenges appear overwhelming, inject Certainty. The Light is always there!"  I'm not sure how reliable this is, but Rav Berg says the Israelites fleeing from the Egyptians had to walk into the Red Sea until the water reached their nostrils before the water started parting for them.  That's injecting certainty into a difficult situation!

"You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'"  Mr. M, a gut-type.

"You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'" Mr. M, a gut-type.

On the other hand, some lucky people have immediate access to their gut and can act instinctively.  Those are the people who get things done in a self-assured decisive way- they tend to be society's leaders; later in life, however, they may find out they've neglected the head or heart centre and have to make corrective action at that point.

We all have to make corrective action- the question is how long does it take us to recognize that we're slightly out of balance?  For most of us, 50 years or so.  Less for some people.  More for others.

Whatever your main intelligence centre, getting into that third, under-utilized "brain" is the spark that lights the match, the redirection of the flow of energy that brings our lives into a balance heretofore unattained.


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