Insight

Funny Aussie US Translation for Americans and Australians

Here in sydney we are uniquely connected to most major cultures in the world as a result of years of overcoming geographic  isolation and also managing our immigration in a fairly haphazard manner.

What could be perceived as a structural disadvantage or government policy failure has actually ended up being fairly good to the extent that we now have an awesomely connected and multi-cultural society.

Arguably the best connected axis is the UK since we drew our first settlers (after the original indigenous Australians of course) followed by strong links with Asia (for example the gold rushes over a century ago) and also North America. This is before we consider the specific cultures of Europe (particularly Mediterranean countries) and the old French Empire and of course specific strong corridors of trade and immigration like South East Asia.

So we are fortunate to have as a result around 150 languages widely spoken here on the East Coast of Australia. At the same time 61% of the people on the internet are in our timezone (and 68% on the West Coast) both of these numbers are arguably the highest of any country/continent in our categories of development, education, economic strength, quality of life and force of law.

It is fun to highlight a little of our simple differences since we have to work with so many different cultures.

Here is a great primer on language differences. It is fairly informative and also pretty funny.

I am going to share this with our international offices at Freelancer.com and try and find equivalent videos for the AU-UK, AU-EU, AU-CN and AU-SEA corridors that are also fun and informative. Feel free to add them in the comments if you know any.

It is a great primer for anyone doing international business especially tech startups, students or anyone planning to travel.

Leverage

Aspire to achieve leverage not merely efficiency or effectiveness.

My first recollection of the concept of leverage was from my physics teacher, Ben in high school talking about Archimedes and the lever.

Archimedes was one of the founding fathers of science and Ben was a role model and wonderfully inspiring educator but neither extended the concept of leverage to entrepreneurship, personal time management or life in general.

A more recent recollection was Ash Fontana one of the early guys at Angel List talking at my conference series SydStart.

For those of you who don’t know Angel list (angel.co) they have used a small team to build a global business innovating in tech startup business funding via the establishment of a global industry database of teams, companies, investors and their syndicates.

Angel List is leveraging a small team to truly disrupt globally the manner in which existing venture investments are made into tech startups and will probably go a lot further.

Ash was not the first to make the point that being efficient or effective are very different things.

You can be very efficient and lean and not waste time but be concentrating on the wrong things.

You can also concentrate on the right things generally but not have impact or effectiveness.

The trick is to concentrate on the things that give you maximum leverage in the areas you want to have impact.

Confusingly, sometimes the highest leverage activity you can undertake is to not do anything directly, e.g. if you have to make a big decision do what it takes to get that right, sometimes it is as simple as clearing your head with a walk and a good night of sleep in order to make the best quality decision.

Other times, the most leveraged activity is not to do a task but to teach someone else to do it, even better to train the trainer who will train lots of people if that is what is required.

The obvious old school management principle of delegation is a good form of leverage, but is there an ever better one? Yes of course there are many.

One example is a good corporate and community culture such as shared goals and values so that individual tasks don’t need to be delegated.

Another example is crowd sourcing where online platforms allow many people to bid on work (such as building a website) competitively or contribute to the project or task (such as fund raising) collectively.

An even more powerful example if creating a movement. One person asking for a change is a lot less powerful than Ghandi or Martin Luther king leading a generation towards collective beneficial change.

Other long term approaches are principles based such as pointing out big ideas or big opportunities. From the need for corporate transparency to putting a man on the moon.

Other ideas are less clear cut such as not using email, it is nor typically a leveraged activity because it is one to one and not collaborative and other methods are faster because you can talk faster than type.

Perhaps having a distributed team is not leveraged because time zones and distance impose communication constraints on methods that in turn impact effectiveness and efficiency

Bill Gates On The Limits of Capitalism

‘The market does not drive the scientists, the communicators, the thinkers, the government to do the right things. And only by paying attention to these things, and having brilliant people who care and draw other people in, can we make as much progress as we need to make.’ – quote from Bill Gates

With thanks to Business Insider Australia.

Leap Motion Unboxing

Yippee The Leap Motion Arrived

Giddy up, so keen to play with this. Some unboxing photos for the geek freaks out there. Motion sensor based computing here we come. Will be interesting to compare with the kinect.

The box itself is tiny and matches the imac and iphone neatly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them roll the numerous chips inside up into one ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) and the give it away or licence it for embedding in devices so it is even more seamless and make the money from the app ecosystem. Some samples below with the robot hand app that had excellent finger joint and wrist roll recognition.

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2013-08-01 14.23.21 2013-08-01 14.23.39 2013-08-01 14.23.15Leap Motion Unboxing

Gandhi The Entrepreneur

Shared with me by my good friend Amarsh Anand who is currently in China returning to Australia. A wonderful set of insights on how all of us can change the world. I believe Amarsh started this series off, I suspect it will be the first of many once people start to understand the depth of power from these approaches in out modern internet enabled context.

As a net is made of a series of ties…

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 12.32.47 PM

As a net is made up of a series of ties, so everything in this world is connected by a series of ties. If anyone thinks that the mesh of a net is an independent, isolated thing, he is mistaken. It is called a net because it is made up of a series of interconnected meshes, and each mesh has its place and responsibility in relation to other meshes. – Buddha

This quote is actually from Buddha but came to me via PK Agarwal the Global CEO of TiE.

TiE is the largest global entrepreneur network and has origins as The Indus Entrepreneur with a focus on the resident and non-resident indian (aka expat or NRI) networks which is a phenomenal starting point for any network.

I am a charter member of the local Sydney branch which has been recently getting some real momentum under the loving care of Dilip Rao an old friend from my investment banking days at Macquarie Bank.

Thanks PK (and Dilip) so much, this quote reminds me of the importance of ecosystems like the rapidly growing professional tech startups around the world and especially my home town of Sydney.

We do need to work together to make the pie bigger and make it the best pie out there because I remain convinced tech and tech enabled startup businesses are unique and are the future of our flexible economy and a better place for Australia and our trading partners in the world.

Photo with thanks to Dr David Martin

Why Are Tech Startups Different

People often ask me why are professional tech startups companies different from normal small business companies.

More specifically I would say tech startups with a focus on disruptive innovation that are run by professional entrepreneurs are VERY different because of the following main points.

But why is this question important?

This question is important because it guides or regulators in helping and hindering these new powerhouses of the economy. After all, most importantly very few people can create millions and even billions of dollars in new wealth from a garage with two people yet this is widely accepted as reality for our very special industry.

  1. Speed – most can be formed in a weekend and may disappear just as fast. It is not unusual for 50 hackers and hustlers to meet on a weekend and form 10-20 businesses with teams formed, pilot products, markets identified/tested, brand selected etc… It is more typical to be 3-6 months followed by a pilot. Detailed data is also now available too which enables ongoing benchmarking of this phenomenon. Similarly ‘speed to success’ in the market and quickly achieving remarkable financial valuations are also possible.
  2. Responsive – operating in a competitive space means they need to flex in response to competitors (often well funded overseas competitors). This response often requires new skills or knowledge so teams flex and change.
  3. Equity based – low capital means using equity is a common (and often the only) way of rewarding staff. This needs to flow easily as team members join/leave in the early stage in particular and paperwork or long term tax hassles need to be minimised in terms of time and cost of management.
  4. Different Perspective – starting point is often ‘free’ and the time taken to build it is less than it would normally take just to read typical tax or industry regulations/guidelines – focus is on doing and testing first. e.g. Why can’t we have self driving cars and also free internet for everyone in the world. Also global distributed teams crossing jurisdictions are common and increasingly the norm.
  5. Geek – typically a high technology component (although this is not always unique) the products are normally mainly tech or tech enabled and usually highly internet (regardless of device) enabled.
  6. Lean – usually iteratively learning via experiments to acheive product-market fit, less likely to have large ‘waterfall’ (long project cycle) approachs and more likely to release early and often for customer feedback (alphas, beta, campaigns, market a/b tests etc).
  7. Often Disruptive – Dramatically different approaches that disrupt industry encumbents. e.g. itunes to the music industry style of challenge is just one well documented example but there are thousands more.
  8. Talent – flows across borders easily to the place with the most like minded people, lowest burdens (tax, internet access, paperwork) and best ecosystem (talent, co-working spaces, incubators, education, quality of life, accelerators, investors). It is not uncommon to find <20yo people with great tech skills that have worked on 3 to 5+ startups and 2-3 countries.

No doubt there are others too, add them in the comments and they will be included in the next version of this post.

Before posting this I had the pleasure of listening to the CFO of Google Patrick Pichette speak on a similar topic and my key takeaways on what he sees as key attributes of successful entrepreneurs were

  1. Want to change the world
  2. Dream big really big e.g. one billion people or more
  3. Persist / pivot / learn – in particular treasuring insights of behaviour and science over conventional practice – and even the way we learn is being completely re-written
  4. Improve success by hanging out with other tech entrepreneurs that inspire, ground, support and share.
  5. Ignore conventional wisdom and focus on the new enablers and how these will change the world e.g. internet, mobile, tech, immense capacity at low or zero cost and
  6. Realise we are only at the beginning of a new age of innovation and enlightenment.

Powerful words indeed.