Life

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.

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…

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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

Different. An Essay By James Cooper

My son James wrote this a couple of months before his 13th birthday, I found it highly evocative and insightful. He picked up the style from some school reading and I think it shows remarkable empathy for sufferers of all sorts of conditions.

The formatting is his and I think adds to the sense of urgency in the mind of boy his story depicts.

Different.

An Essay By James Morris Cooper.

Running. Pushing. Shoving. Don’t trip, get up. Colour, black and white, in and out of focus. Can’t see.

“Hey, watch it mate!”

“Oi! What’s your problem?”

Mustn’t be late, can’t be late. Need them. Need them now. I burst through the doors, tearing away from those people. The normal. I’m different from them, can’t be like them ever. They won’t let me.

Can’t be late. I need them now.

I see him. The man. The nice, friendly man. He takes care of me. Must get to him.

Too different. Must get to him so I’m not late.

“Hey kiddo. Why are you running? We’ve got fifteen more minutes,” he says to me, “Want to get a milkshake?”

No no no no no. Can’t be late. Must get them now.

“Well, I’ll take that as a yes. Hop in.”

I hesitate, and then step into the metal machine, screaming inside. The fast, moving machine. It’s evil, but the man doesn’t listen to me. Ever. Need them now.

“How was your day? I see you went to the library. Those books are good for you.”

I remember the books. I love them. They are my escape. My refuge. My home.

They understand me. Can’t be late.

“You know, the doctor says you should talk a bit more.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Only talk for woman. Nice. Nicer than the man. Makes me feel like a normal. Too different. Must get to them.

The machine stops. Too evil, must get away from it. I drop my books and rip the door open, slam it shut to hurt the monster. Run inside. Hide behind counter while the man orders. Only chocolate. Never vanilla. Mustn’t be late.

“Whoa, slow down there! You’ll get a stomach ache before you know it”

Block out the man. He knows nothing. Chocolate so soothing. Like the books. My friends.

We get back into the machine and roar away. It’s evil. It try’s to hurt us, but the man has to control it. Turn the wheel to escape the danger. Too fast. Must slow down. Screaming.

“Hey, hey, hey, take it easy! It’s all right, I’ll slow down. I was just having a bit of fun, that’s all”

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Too fast. He’ll hurt me if he crashes.

I see it. The house. The big one. The woman is there. Must get to her. Must get them.

I open the door and step out onto to the rushing floor below. Pain. Spinning.

Blood. The machine stops rolling away. The man steps out and runs to me, screaming.

I get up, push away the pain and limp to the house. To her. To them. I must have them.

The man grabs me and shouts again. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He won’t let go. Too loud. Punch him. More blood.

He falls and I keep limping. I reach the door and open it. Moan as pain hits me. Silence. No woman. Screaming again. I must find them myself.

“Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doing! I know its time, but could you calm down? You’re over reacting.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’m searching for them. Climb the tall chair to top of fridge.

Open cupboard and pull it all out. Falling. The pain hits even harder. Must get them.

“Mate, just calm it down. I’ll get them for you.”

Too much pain. Must let man get them. He’s moving too slow.

“Here they are.”

He holds up the container. I lunge for them. Open it and they fall to the floor. Pick them up. The pills. Hands shaking. Swallow them.

Calm.

“Sorry dad.” I say. I pick myself up and walk to the bathroom to wash off the blood.

“Your mum and I are used to it,” he says, sighing. “You’re just different, that’s all.”

Read For Growth

So you want to grow your business. So maybe you want help with your business or maybe mentoring. Cool. I/we want to help.

But before we start you have to do some stuff that is important for both of us in the interests of saving a lot of people a lot of time. Don’t want to sound tough but this will really help us both…

Of course if you are a customer or prospect and you just want to pay for consulting stop reading now. You just have to pay for our experience, methodologies, information, tools and of course our time and we will tailor this material for you.

Otherwise read on.

Do yourself (and me and others) a favour –

  • If you have not read the books/blogs below or some summary version of the same then please don’t contact me for mentoring/advice/advisory board roles/director roles etc.Basically there is plenty of the foundation stuff you need to learn first before we could move any discussion onto the next (important) level anyway.
  • If we haven’t met in person or done a proper skype teleconference (which only arise after a good fresh meaningful mutual contact introduction) then please don’t connect with me on linkedin.Rationale here is simple and not trying to be difficult, you see even after deleting heaps I still have 425 linkedin connection request invitations and messages outstanding not to mention emails.  Just because I have a freaky large number of connections on some social media doesn’t mean I am an open networker, I am simple good at being time efficient and pretty well connected. For a reason: To be productive and meet my goals.
  • Understand that my current personal goals are to –
    a) grow a hyper connected hyper successful startup ecosystem in Australia, particularly Sydney and
    b) build my businesses (e.g. Coinr and Cooper & Co) and investments for income and self fulfilment and to help goal a) and to
    c) give my  family (especially kids) the best I can and
    d) live a full life which includes a bunch of other lesser goals like improving the planet in other ways.Note: Helping you with your startup is part of the first goal but time on this is necessarily very limited

However, on a more positive note, if you have read some or ideally most of the material on the list below and have a considered opinion (not a one of trash of insight, sit on it for a few days or ideally weeks) and you still want to discuss the nuances of how it applies to your disruptive innovation then awesome lets rock!

Start by reading my twitter feed which has a lot of the latest thinking and short links to time efficient summaries of these sources. Yes this is me – Peter Cooper is @pc0 on twitter.

Key Concepts (Mandatory)

  1. Disruptive innovation
  2. Why software is eating the world
  3. Lean startup principles
  4. Being An Autodidact Entrepreneur

Books (Very Highly Desirable)

  1. Rework By 37 Signals
  2. Lean Startup By Eric Ries
  3. Innovators Dilema By Clayton Christensen
  4. Inside The Plex By Steven Levy
  5. Getting Things Done By David Allen
  6. The Intelligent Entrepreneur By Bill Murray

Blogs (Good Practice)

  1. Steve Blanks blog
  2. Paul Graham’s blog
  3. Pete Cooper’s blog

Get Connected (Mandatory if you are in Sydney or Australia) – Ideally you should also look at attending/following/joining –

  1. @608Harris
  2. @SydStart
  3. Silicon Beach Australia

Sorry but No. I need to FOCUS

Why Is Focus Important?

This is the story of why focus is important (in my personal context) and how I have formally changed my approach to mentoring.

I have always been a big fan of Mick Liubinskas and his ‘Mr Focus’ persona he takes on stage when encouraging tech startup entrepreneurs to pick something to focus on, pick one differentiated thing, not ten things to build your business around. I have a great photo of one of the first times he ever gave that presentation back in 2009 or 2010 at an early SydStart and it still makes me smile.

Most people who know me well will know how productive I am, it really do punch through a lot of stuff with a system of people and processes around me and the initiatives I care about. It feels weird to talk like this and in some cultures this will sound big headed but it is simply to give a little context to what follows.

So What Has Worked Well?

Lately it has been obvious that the few things I focus on have gone well in fact after nearly 25 years of cool stuff in financial technology and more recently helping build the Sydney Startup Ecosystem it is obvious focus pays off big time. Well, in a work context that is, most of the time it does, lets put personal relationships aside for one moment.

For example –

  • SydStart recently ran for the fourth time (third if you don’t count the mini one). SydStart is a (normally) annual event has now become the leading professional tech startup event in Australia, I founded it a few years ago and it keeps pretty much doubling every time we run it. This time we had nearly a thousand people and probably more importantly the quality of the speakers, attendees and exhibitors keeps going up too. So that particular focused effort has paid off.
  • Family has been another focus area and I am super proud of how my daughter and son are growing up and have been able to see bits of the world first hand yet still know their family here in Australia especially grand parents and extended cousins. It is wonderful to see such bright, energetic, positive people slowly find their place in the world and learn just how much they can contribute.
  • Fishburners is really coming along nicely too. Those of you whom know me will see a recurring theme where I don’t step up to lead if others are already doing stuff. But I will be there quietly supporting and actively shaping. This is one of those projects and it is nice to see over a thousand people a week through the doors now, around 200 members and we have expanded to take over the whole building @608harris.
  • Cooper & Co is also coming along – by leveraging all those past glories (see Linkedin ‘cool stuff’ link above) and new technologies it complements the major consulting groups well by providing the business technology management (strategy to execution) component which the premium providers like McKinsey and Booz often tend to leave off and it is precisely where we pick up and really excel.  We are trying to focus on industries more aligned with our personal values, this might take a while given our focus has been in finance related tools, mergers and acquisitions and real-time (often trading) technologies.
  • Coinr is the main platform I want to focus on (read the Coinr Blog for the evolving details) but unfortunately I have some other distractions (good ones but still distractions) that need to be substantially reduced. The ideas I have in my mind for coinr need to get out into the real world, the benefits could be remarkable for a heap of people if we can execute well enough.
  • All my mentoring and growing the Sydney Startup Ecosystem is simply taking up a lot of time. On a typical week I will do 5-10 meetings directly related to the Sydney Startup Ecosystem plus a further 5-10 requests for mentoring by Startups. This might be about Silicon St or the NSW Govt Industry Action Plan or lobbying to Drop Paperwork for Australian Tech Startups(DPATS) or engaging local city of sydney people or engaging global thought leaders to visit, share with or set up branches in Sydney.

So What Does This Mean?

It is all fun and good for Sydney and the country but I can’t keep putting so much time it that stuff. Especially philanthropy and mentoring. I am also going to dial down the community time component.

Usually all this is pro-bono, ie free, zero pay, no income, no financial gain arrrggghhh. The money doesn’t worry me particularly but it does impact my other initiatives because there is a real quantifiable opportunity cost. Obviously I am adding value because people keep coming back and referring more people but frankly it is becoming unsustainable. I could charge for mentoring but really don’t want to do that.

It is not like I am starving, my financial technology work over the years has paid well and I do have acorns stashed away (mainly illiquid investments).

But the real issue is not money. I’d be equal happy with just instant noodles and good internet. The reason I remain excited about the startup scene here is simply I want my kids to grow up in a great environment where their chances of running randomly into great opportunities (i.e. great people doing great stuff) is as great or greater than in San Francisco or whatever the next hot tech startup entrepreneurial scene is going to be. In fact my bigger vision is for that wish to be shared with and realised by every Australian and for us to lead in greater Asia. I’ll write a detailed post (or book) on that eventually some time, it will probably be called Riding On The Geek’s Back.

I’d also like to lead the way by being a successful example. Many people would say I already have been ridiculously successful, having made some huge impact on the world in a few industries in a few countries and made serious money for a lot of stakeholders in various ventures. I think the point is that I’d like to do one that is all mine. End to end. Not all mine in the sense of not sharing the journey with stakeholders (e.g. co-founders) but one on the sense that I can say I/we did it from scratch to global success including all the potholes and mistakes along the way.

To put a ding in the world (thanks Steve). To make a difference. To have an impact. etc…

It all sounds like a cliche but it really isn’t. Especially if it can create sustainable rewards like financial onces I can reinvest, or like case study learnings or inspiration for others.

To do this I need to focus. A lot more.

So from today I am resolving to reduce the variables.

So What Is Going To Get Trimmed Back? Something Has To Give Right?

Philanthropy will be slashed. I’ll still donate money but not so much and certainly not donate time so much. I am also going to cut back on time at community related events. There are a lot (Sydney Angels, Push Start, Founders Institute, University judging/speaking for USYD + UNSW + UTS +  UWS, TiE, Silicon Beach, Fishburners, various schools + charities + sports + social clubs and other groups).

Mentoring will be also slashed. The quality and care factor will remain but the time commitment has to be trimmed. It is time that is not ‘leveraged’ enough and it is increasingly not unique (others can do a good job too, not just me – a good result of the Sydney Startup Ecosystem growing so fast). I will only provide two slots a week of LESS THAN 30 MINUTES on Friday at 10:30 and 11. If you want a slot get add this iCal format calendar if you can’t work out how to do it, then learn, don’t contact me, work it out yourself dude.

My time on so called ‘advisory boards’ will also be slashed. There are around 40 companies that regularly call on me for opinions on stuff. That is going to stop unless we broker agreements for equity or cash that allows me to reduce consulting time. I still need to pay the bills and bootstrap my own startup so this works well and since it is contributing to both the personal and ecosystem end goals it is one of the better distractions.

A GateKeeper. A Hurdle. A Barrier To Free Stuff.

Also, before we can meet you need to know what Silicon Beach Forums are. You need to know what Fishburners is. You need to have read the ReWork book. You need to know the principles of Lean Startup. It will also help if you know what SydStart is and if you have read a few of the more popular/recent articles on my AnyDex blog and the blogs of Steve Blank and other though leaders like him. Maybe also stuff like in The Plex and The Intelligent Entrepreneur. It will show me that you are serious and it will save us all time.

None of the above are linked because you need to learn how to cut and paste and google it dude. This is the real world.

The above reading list is a set of serious recommendations made with the very best of intentions because it will benefit most businesses especially tech startups. Feel free to ignore it but don’t bother making an appointment if you are not across them.

Why Go On About It So Much?

This blog post is deliberately a bit long. It is intended to sort out the serious people from the wanna-be people. I have made a huge impact in some the lives of some entrepreneurs in recent years. I take that responsibility very seriously indeed. So I’ll try to keep the core value proposition I have always done.

Appointments are free. No advice is provided, just opinions. You should not consider it advice in any legal sense. If I like you and  your team and your idea I will do my best to help. If I don’t well bad luck. All conversations are confidential. Don’t try to connect with me on social media unless we have actually met and shared some positive common ground.

This all sounds a bit too serious perhaps but when your backlog in Linkedin is in the many hundreds and your agile backlog of use cases to be implemented is also in the hundreds – it really is time to focus.

Ciao.

@pc0