Leon Jay
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Power Of The (Right) Mastermind

Vagbonds Mastermind Group

Mastermind is a term first coined by Napoleon Hill, and has become increasingly popular amongst entrepreneurs and executives. But what are they? Why are they so popular? What makes a good mastermind? And how can they make a difference to the socialpreneur?

First of all, let’s clarify what a mastermind is… A mastermind can be defined as ‘two or more minds working in harmony with the same purpose’. With this definition you can see that a mastermind group can take many forms.

The important phrase here is ‘harmony’.

I know many people, myself included, who have participated in a mastermind group only to find it a master waste of time. This was because the groups failed to curate the quality of members, and/or failed to have a clearly defined purpose. And either of these problems will cause disharmony.

There have been many very successful masterminds throughout history though. Some of the most notable are perhaps ‘The Big 6’ (which included Wrigley of Wrigley’s gum and Hertz of Hertz car rentals), ‘The Vagabonds’ (which included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President W Harding, and Harvey Firestone), and ‘The Inklings’ (which included CS Lewis and JR Tolkien).

The story of The Big 6 is especially interesting. They started as six men living in Chicago with little in the way of assets, contacts, or available credit. Within a few short years each had a successful business, and most of them were millionaires.

It is also interesting that in his legendary book, Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill identified four key things needed for success. These were:

  1. Setting goals
  2. Visualization
  3. Affirmation
  4. Belonging to a mastermind

Each of these is essentially a cornerstone of thought. Plenty of people teach the first three, but rarely give mention to the fourth. Yet is is perhaps masterminds that are the most powerful and important of all the techniques that Hill taught.

A mastermind provides you with focus, support, extended networks, resources, and most importantly, accountability. For a socialpreneur these will all be essential if he or she is to succeed in their mission.

As humans it is natural for us to hold ourselves to the acceptable standard within our social group. This could be a very low, or a very high standard. And often it is this collective standard that will define our actions, more so than our beliefs about our own individual standards.

I have seen many people become financially successful thanks to participating in a mastermind, but usually not in ways I would consider ethical. The groups they belonged to were simply more focused on how much members made, rather than how they made it.

There are many non profit masterminds too of course. One of the most famous is a group called ‘The Elders‘, which was founded by Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. It is made up of many high profile individuals who meet to find solutions to global problems.

The socialpreneur needs to find a balance between the two. They need to surround themselves with like minded individuals who will support them in making money, help them find solutions, keep them focused, introduce them to right people when needed, keep them accountable to goals they set, and hold them to a high moral standard.

Some masterminds are very formal, others more casual. Personally I have found the more disciplined structures to be effective. (Perhaps because I lack discipline much of the time!)

In one group, we had a penalty of approximately $100 each time someone was even a minute late to a group meeting. Another $100 penalty had to be paid if they failed to meet any goals they had set for themselves from the previous meeting.

This may sound extreme to many, but that was kind of the point. We quickly weeded out the excuse makers, and anyone not committed to playing at a higher level. Needless to say our time was never wasted, as people were (almost) never late.

Leveraging MastermindsYou can learn more about this group structure, along with how to join, form, or run a mastermind group in my book Leveraging Masterminds.

I don’t recommend groups of more than about six. This is large enough to provide a range of opinions and expertise, while allowing all members to get some value from the group.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to any successful mastermind is finding the right people. It was for this reason myself and a Kyle Barraclough created www.TheMastermind.nz. It is still very much in its beta phase of development, but it is free to use so I suggest giving it a try.

The site not only allows you to create or search for mastermind groups, it also provides an interface to help facilitate structured groups sessions, sends members reminders of meetings, and provides a goal accountability option. This is especially useful for masterminds that are spread out geographically (or for people like me who live quite remotely, or are on the road a lot).

Regardless of whether you choose to read my book or use TheMastermind, I do recommend you take the time to learn more about these types of groups, and join one, or start your own. It is perhaps the fastest track to any form of success, and can be a lot of fun too.

Dictatorship Vs Democracy In Business (and a new solution)

Democracy or Dictatorship in Business

Democracy is often hailed as the solution to the perils of dictatorship, but it is far from perfect. This is true for governments, organizations, and of course, businesses. But there could be a new interesting solution to solving many of democracies inherent issues, and bring some of the benefits that a dictatorship offers.

Before I explain, it is important to understand the pros and cons to the two most common models of leadership…

In a dictatorship there is one person in command. Despite the negative association to the term dictator, this is actually how many businesses operate. And often quite successfully (though this does not necessarily mean optimally).

A dictatorship benefits from the clear vision of a single individual. This individual will often seek advice from others, but ultimately they call the shots. This avoids conflict of ideas or opinion, and allows for fast, decisive action. There is no likelihood of a change in leadership either, which enables long term thinking and strategic planning.

As was pointed out by one Chinese professor, China’s government has been able to think and act in a way that will benefit the country in the long term. (Their plan to move to renewable energy and clean up the country, once they had increased their economic strength, is now just being put into play. But it has been part of their strategy for years). Western governments however are always fighting to fix short term issues to keep them in power for the next 4 years.

In times where the monarchy held power, they too were in essence a dictatorship. When a ruler was wise, caring, and listened to the people things went well. But when any form of dictator is self centered, lacking in compassion, or unintelligent, then things can go downhill fast. The main issue though, is that a dictatorship disempowers the majority.

So a democracy must be the solution then? Well, no, not really. At least not as we know it now.

The problem with democracy is, that in truth, true democracies do not actually exist. Choosing between two political parties, or voting the members of a board from a limited selection of candidates, hardly constitutes as collective control. And the more we do expand the collective control, we begin to face bigger problems…

Firstly most people are opinionated, but rarely well informed on those opinions. Giving power to those who do not have access to the necessary information, or who have been manipulated to think in a certain way, is hardly the solution for effective decision making.

Secondly, and this is perhaps the biggest issue of all, when enough people become involved in making a decision, decision making virtually grinds to a halt. This is something that is found all too often amongst activist groups and smaller organizations, who try to be idealistic by attempting to run with collective equal power.

The current reality is, that to make real progress, you need to give power to a small group of individuals within any group structure. However, a company from New Zealand are, at least to some degree, out to change this paradigm.

Loomio is a cloud based software platform that is being used by government departments, charities, activist groups, communities, and businesses to make collective decisions. It allows for rapid decision making amongst members, and does so without lengthy meetings, a mess of email communication, or expensive voting systems.

Related links and documents required to cast an informed vote can be loaded by members into a central thread. Members of a group can vote yes, no, or abstain. The concept is simple, yet profound.

All manner of decisions can be made this way, and can be done with virtually the same efficiency as a dictator, but allows for the ideals and collective intelligence of a democracy. It decentralizes power too, so decisions are not made based on furthering the career or desires of a single individual, but provides progress for the overall good of the community involved.

I met up with Michael Elwood-Smith, one of Loomio’s directors, and self confessed social entrepreneur. He explained how Loomio developed from the ideals of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and as such its social mission is hardwired into their DNA.

The company has been formed as a workers co-operative, and all the code they develop is open source. And yes, they use their own platform to help make their business decisions.

This is a great example of a business putting the social into socialpreneur!

If you are looking for a way to speed up your group decisions, give more power to staff, or want to draw on the collective intelligence, then I suggest you head over to loomio.org and create an account. You can get started with a free trial, and if you like it, the basic plan just asks that you make a donation.

Now if only we could get governments to use this to help run countries, and listen to what people actually want!

Tesla’s Greatest Achievement (and it’s not a car)

Tesla's Greatest Achievement

Elon Musk just unveiled his master plan for Tesla, which if he can pull off will change the face of transport and energy production forever.

In his own overview it looks like this:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
  4. Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.

He then goes on to explain how he intends for Tesla to provide a single integrated solution to generate and store power for both home and transport, as well as develop a fleet of more commercial vehicles such as trucks and public transport. In addition to this Tesla owners will be able to turn their cars into a self driving Uber style service, while Tesla will provide it’s own self driving taxi fleet in densely populated areas.

The result of all this will be to minimize the need for people to even own a private car, and to become energetically self sufficient using renewable (solar) energy.

It shows an incredible level of planning and patience, and goes to show just how committed Telsa are to changing our dependance on fossil fuels. I don’t think there is a company on earth that can come close to this level of vision, or of being so close to pulling it off.

Elon Musk from TeslaIt frustrates me when I see report after report comparing Tesla to other car manufacturers, or comparing Elon Musk to other business owners with their limited thinking and financially driven motives.

Many people do not take the time to consider that Elon actually risked every penny of an already very healthy personal fortune to make this vision a reality. (Many wealthy individuals risk money, but rarely everything they own.)

Then Elon made Tesla’s patents for EV technology available to the competition, something that is almost never done in business. (To be fair Volvo did make the patent to the seat belt open for all to use in the name of public safety.) Why would a car manufacturer looking to ‘compete’ in the traditional commercial sense of business do anything like this? Because the real goal is not to sell cars, it is stop us burning fossil fuels.

Even if Tesla were to fail as a car company, level one of the mission looks set to succeed. Almost every car manufacturer is now producing, or developing, EVs. And Norway have already committed to banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025.

Of course Tesla want to succeed financially too. But not so Elon can stroke his ego, or buy a bigger car (or Space Rocket), but because they need the cash to keep driving the vision forward. To keep evolving technology, and most importantly, pushing other companies to be better.

Are Tesla perfect? Of course not, no one is. But do they shi* on the competition from a great height – hell yes. Not because their Model S has been repeatedly voted the best car ever made. This only accounts for a few points of difference. They beat everyone else hands down because they have almost single handedly redefined the automotive industry, and are set to do the same for the production of electricity. And they do it not because it will make them more money, but because it is the right thing to do.

Tesla is just 13 years old. It is remarkable what it has achieved in its short history. I look forward to seeing what it can achieve in the next 13 years. But I think it’s greatest achievement will not be what it ever produces itself, even though this is revolutionary and well deserving of many awards. No, I think it’s greatest achievement is the influence it has on changing the course of its competitors, and ultimately the reduction of CO2 production. The impact of this is almost immeasurable.

So next time you see some narrow minded, money fixated reporter dissing Tesla, give them a slap from me. And tell them to wake up and see what is perhaps one of the largest industrial miracles unfolding in front of them. If they can pull off one hundredth of an impressive feat, maybe then they can be worthy to criticize.

Patagonia Makes Surfing Greener (again)

Patagonia green wetsuit

Surfing is one of those sports that makes you feel more connected to nature than almost any other. Despite it being fairly minimalistic, sadly the tools of the trade are far from eco-friendly. However, Patagonia have just come up with a solution to make the negative environmental impact from surfing just that little bit less…

They have developed a new material to replace neoprene, the foundation of most wetsuits for the past several decades.

Neoprene is made from a petrochemical product, and so is not exactly what you might call sustainable. Patagonia have been working for a while to increase the greenness of their wetsuits, but they had not found a way to replace neoprene completely.

Yulex wetsuit from PatagoniaOne obvious choice was to use natural latex, but the most common forms of latex comes from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is unfortunately not certified as a sustainable crop by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Most of it is grown on land cleared by slash and burn farming methods.

Working with Yulex, they have developed a neoprene alternative using the guayule rubber, sourced from Guatemalan fair trade rubber tappers. As of this season all Patagonia’s wetsuits will be made using this new Yulex rubber.

And the best news? It performs better than the old neoprene version. A better quality wetsuit that is better for the environment, now that’s what I call progress.

Patagonia are not trying to be better than everyone else to out sell them. Instead they are trying to influence and encourage everyone to copy them. Hopefully within a short time we will see a new standard being set throughout the industry.

Patagonia are quick to point out this is not a truly green wetsuit. There are other parts to the wetsuit that are still made from petrochemicals, along with a degree of embodied energy of course. However, it is a big step in the right direction, and they continue to make further progress, and to make your time in the water a green experience.

Creating Passion and Profit From Purpose

Passion Vs Profit

I have heard the passion vs profit debate since I first began to study business. For years the debate has continued to rage, and for years I could see both sides of the argument. But it was only about 18 months ago that it all became clear to me. The entire debate was way off the mark!

There are a couple important points to clarify…

Firstly, you need to be clear what you are aiming for. If your purpose is ONLY to make as much money as possible, then sure, focus on profit. There are plenty of ways to make cash, and you don’t need to love what you do in order to make money. (There are way too many depressed rich people to prove this point.)

I spent several years as a therapist in Auckland. My clients were mostly wealthy businessmen in their late forties and fifties. They had the money, the house, the car, some even the new younger wife. They also had the depression and drinking problems to match.

They had gone through life chasing money, and been very successful in doing so. But they were not happy for it. With their best years behind them they had begun to question what they had been doing it all for.

However, if your priority is creating meaning in your life, and not just money, you may find the answers to the question begin to change. This is not to say you can’t make money doing something meaningful, far from it. It just means you may need to take a different approach.

Secondly, the big mistake most personal development gurus make, is to misrepresent the word ‘passion’. Many of these gurus give the impression that passion is the same thing as enjoyment. It is not.

Passion actually comes from the latin word Passio, meaning to suffer. In more modern definitions it means intense emotion or desire. When understood in this context you can see the importance of passion within business.


Because I have yet to meet a succesful business owner who did not suffer at some point during the creation of their business!

It is not just business though. Imagine any sports star (or successful actor, musician, etc). It is their passion for their chosen field that enables them to endure the suffering and sacrifice required to reach the top of their game.

You could of course be simply passionate about making money. Many people are. This means they have an intense desire to make money, and are willing to suffer or make sacrifices in the process.

The problem is that, when we are driven by money as the primary objective, we are worshiping a false god. We lack real purpose.

Sure, we may have a purpose underneath the money. Perhaps paying the mortgage, sending your kids to school, paying for your parents hospital bills, or even saving for that vacation. But there is no deeper purpose in the majority of your waking day – the way in which you make that money.

Many people I speak to simply fail to feel any passion towards their work life whatsoever. Is this really anyway to spend the bulk of our waking hours?

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business - Henry FordAs Henry Ford put it, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”.

But it does not have to be this way. You see passion can be FOUND IN purpose.

When you find and connect with a big enough purpose, passion will flow in abundance. This does not mean you will suddenly love every minute of every day, but you will find more meaning in life. You will also be willing to make sacrifices and to suffer in order to achieve your larger purpose.

With a purpose beyond money we give meaning to the journey, and not just the currency that pays the way.

It was this concept that lead to the 5Ps of Priority that I taught in my book, ‘Create, Automate, Accelerate‘. In short they were: Purpose, Passion, People, Place, and Profit.

Find your purpose and you will find your passion. Find your passion and you will inspire the right people. Know where the right people are and you will find your place. In the right place you can find many ways to generate a profit.

For me this meant going back to the drawing board. Yup, I decided to take a new path in life, and devote myself to purpose first.

After giving it careful consideration,  I could think of no greater purpose than to help save the world. Focusing on massive crisis that humanity faces gets me emotional. That emotion is the fuel for my passion.

No, I am not so arrogant or deluded to believe I can save the world. No individual can. But we can all save a bit of it. And if we all do that, together we can save all of it.

It’s funny… almost immediately after committing to this mission the right people began to show in my life. The cool part is they resonated with my purpose, and were inspired by my passion. I started to find my place.

I already have a plan for profit, with multiple streams of revenue currently being built. The first though (simply due to simplicity of setup), is a way for me to work more closely with other like minded business owners. I have decided to work with six clients in a blended role of consultant, coach and mentor.

SocialpreneurTV is a great way to reach, inspire, and help large numbers of people as part of the greater mission. But to really maximise impact I want to work more closely, one on one, with entrepreneurs and businesses owners; and to help them realize the dream of living with purpose, passion, and profit.

(If you are interested to work with me you can check out the information page here.)

What I really want to ask you though is really this… What greater purpose are you building your business for? What is it about that purpose that gets you emotional and makes you passionate? And, how are you monetizing your purpose and passion in a way that delivers value to others?

The Sea IS Rising (so should we give up?)

Facts Do Not Cease To Exist Because They Are Ignored (including the fact the sea is rising)

A few sceptics continue to argue whether the sea is rising, or if climate change is real. However, most scientists are simply focused on calculating not if, but by how much.

Recently I have been swamped (excuse the pun) with evidence that there is no going back. CO2 levels have now reached the 400 ppm level, a level not seen on earth since the Pliocene era around 3.6 million years ago.

Is this bad?

Well, during the Pliocene era there was no ice in the arctic. Crocodiles would swim there!

The rise and fall of temperature in direct correlation of CO2 levels are well documented. And we are seeing it being repeated again.

Not convinced?

Check out the VICE on HBO episode below:

The danger with all this information is the feeling of hopelessness. If the seas are rising, and there is nothing we can do to stop them, then why bother?

Some have suggested we should stop working on preventing global warming, and start focusing on preparing for the inevitable. This is almost akin to saying someone on a diet who just put on a few pounds may as well give up and just pile on as much as they can, while planning on how to deal with the increased health issues it will cause.

Yes, I know, in the above analogy the dieting person can reverse those few extra pounds, but the attitude is somewhat similar.

For the socialpreneur, and for the rest of humanity, I do think we will need to plan for a rise in sea levels, and stop sticking our head in the sand over this issue. However, now more than ever we need to take preventative action. A few meters of sea rise is nothing, compared to a climate of raging storms and unbearable heat that may well be our reality if we continue to let things escalate.

Facts Do Not Cease To Exist Because They Are Ignored (including the fact the sea is rising)Another point to make is that sustainability is far more than just climate change. Even if climate change is just a pile of hot air, there are many other extremely important issues that the sustainability movement aims to resolve.

These include human rights issues, the extinction of thousands of species, increasing pollution in our water, air, food and environment, finding alternatives to nonrenewable resources, etc.

The science is fairly clear. Be it caused by man, or by nature, the sea is rising and we do need to find solutions to deal with this. But this is only one of the many reasons to build sustainable businesses.

We should not be blinded by the media’s fascination in creating a single enemy to point the finger at. Nor succumbing to the false logic from climate change sceptics that say ‘climate change is not man-made, so we can continue as we were’.

It is human nature to try and avoid the truth we don’t wish to hear, or to place the blame on others. Sadly we do not have the time to do either. We must all take responsibility, and start doing our part to fix what we have all taken part in breaking. No matter if, or why, the sea is rising.

Solar Cheaper Than Gas

Solar Cheaper Than Gas

We are finally reaching the tipping point where economics are, in some places at least, favouring renewable energy. India, Australia, and Dubai have now all claimed that solar is as cheap, or cheaper than, coal or gas.

This is hardly surprising of course, they are by their very nature renewable, and so can generate power with little cost after initial investment of setup.

India has already cancelled plans to build four new coal powered plants, and China has begun closing some of its coal plants, favouring solar. Even in the UAE they are using solar energy to power the oil pumps (kinda ironic I know).

Why the sudden swing? Basically the cost of solar has dropped dramatically over the past 3-5 years, while efficiency of panels has continued to increase.

Solar cheaper than coalPiyush Goyal, India’s energy minister stated that solar is now more cost effective than coal. And that is without subsidies. Forbes just reported that Dubai is building a new solar plant that will generate electricity at just 2.99 cent/KWH, a full one third cheaper than coal. Again, no subsidies.

You may not realize this, but since 2012 there were already 12 countries running on over 98% renewable energy (almost of of which came from hydropower). This includes wealthier countries, such as Norway and Iceland, as well as some of the poorest countries on earth, such as Nepal and Ethiopia.

Solar still has plenty of challenges (primarily storage), but even here progress is being made. One solution used in El Hierro, a small Spanish island, was to use the excess energy during the day to pump water up into a damn. Then during the night the water could flow back powering a hydro-generator. Another option being trialled in the Netherlands is to tap into the growing network of electric vehicles.

India is so committed to solar that it has a goal to multiply production by 20 fold in just six years. China too has very ambitious plans to scale its solar production.

Enough excuses from the US and the UK. If countries such as China and India can find a way to make it work, then surely we can too.

It is also important to remember that, when comparing costs of solar and coal, these comparisons do not include the cost of health or environmental damage. If you factor this in, then you may well argue solar has been cheaper for a long time.

Either way, here is to welcoming the dawn of a new era. We may have a way to go yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And thankfully, that light is finally being harnessed in such a way that solar is now becoming cheaper than coal or gas.

Learning To Define Value Based Goals

Value Based Goals

Almost every business guru will teach you to define your goals. Far fewer talk about your values. Yet we can enjoy a greater feeling of achievement when our goals that have been set, and achieved in alignment with, our values. (Value Based Goals.)

There is usually more than one route to achieving your goals. And the more general your goals are, the more ways there will be to achieve them.

For example, if your goal is to make $1 million, there are almost limitless ways in which this can be done. However, the moment you define a set of values you are most likely going to eliminate many of these possibilities.

This is actually a very good thing. It may feel like you are reducing your options, and it may be a little extra work up front, but doing so will keep you more focused and excited about your path to achieving this goal.

I have met countless people who claim they care about the world, or want to do good, but first they just need to make enough money so they can afford to do so.

It is precisely this false logic that has lead to the global deteriation that we can see around us. I have met many people who have achieved significant wealth, yet their financial goals keep moving. They can never reach the finish line as it just keeps getting further away. And over time many of their original core values have increasingly been consciously, or subconsciously, compromised.

My suggestion to you is this… start by clearly defining your values, then define your goals and action steps based on these values. A few examples might be:

  • To take care of, and provide for, my family
  • To conduct my business with integrity
  • To seek solutions that allow my business to operate in the most environmentally sustainable way possible
  • To ensure that all people involved with my business, directly or indirectly, are not harmed, abused, or taken advantage of in any way
  • To create a product or service that improves on existing competition
  • To leave the world a better place for my being here
  • To give back and share my success with others
  • To treat others the way I believe they would want to, and deserve to, be treated
  • To avoid living a life driven by greed
  • To live with awareness and consciousness of my environment and the people whose lives I touch
  • To be honest with myself and others

Of course, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. You need to define your own set of values that are meaningful and congruent to yourself.

When you surround yourself by a particular group of people, it is all too common for your principles to begin to change. This is why it is important to always refer back to your values list, and check whether those you are spending time with also reflect these values.

Check the presentation I made for a more ideas on how to design a better business (if you have not already done so).

When people ask you what you do for a living, when you explain to your kids how you make money, and when you look back on your life, do you want to be proud of what you have achieved?

Goals and valuesMy guess is yes. Just about every person I have ever spoken to feels this way. Yet most are secretly not as proud of their achievements (or their methods of achievement) as they would like to be.

This feeling does not change itself. Start today by setting a clear list of values, and make the decision to start living by them.

When your values become challenged, which they will, look for alternative solutions to get the same end result without sacrificing them. There is usually a way, it is often just a matter of being patient and looking hard enough.

Sometimes you may need to be creative. For example, If you currently drive as part of your business, and you can’t afford to go electric, commit to planting ten trees for every 10,000 kms of driving.

There are many various estimates, but each year approximately ten trees can balance the CO2 from up to 20,000km of driving. If you donate to a charity such as www.trees.org, they will plant ten trees for just $1.

A simple commitment to donating $1 to a charity such as this for every 10,000 km can help offset, and give back double, to your transportation CO2 emissions.

This is obviously a simple and low cost example. But once you start looking for solutions you often find there are many simple answers that can help make sure your business, and your life, lives up to your Value Based Goals.

The Evolution Of Civilized Business (not there yet!)

evolution of a civilized business

There was a time, not so long back, when it was socially acceptable to run a business using slaves. Then we became a little more civilized.

We entered a period where child labour and poor working conditions were acceptable. Then we became a little more civilized.

For a while it was acceptable to pay very low salaries, and give no time off. Then we became a little more civilized.

Now we live in an evolving world where business used to only need worry about all the above if it is was directly involved. Now however, it is becoming increasing more important to ensure that their supply chain meet these criteria too.

However, once we achieve a point where businesses have met these criteria, from the sourcing of raw materials to the end consumer, does this make business civilized?

I would argue we still have a way to go…

As Jacque Fresco points out, we do not yet live in a civilized world. If we did there would be no need for police, prisons, and unemployment centers. There would be no war, no poverty, and no starvation. We may be more civilized than many of our ancestors, but a lighter shade of black does not make it white.

How many businesses currently operate by taking business away from someone else, often without providing a better product or quality of service? We would not think of doing this to a good friend, but so long as we are not friends with the ‘competition’, then it is considered acceptable. Even if we have more than enough for ourselves, and we might put our competitor out of business (leaving his family, and his staff’s families, to go without).

How many businesses destroy the planet more than they need to, simply to add a little more profit to the bottom line?

How many businesses actively seek to try and create more sustainable ways to operate, especially when there are no financial gains to be had?

No, the way we conduct business today is not civilized. We have a long way to go. But like with each shift of business consciousness before, there are those who lead the way before the masses follow; and eventually a new acceptable standard is set.

My call to you is this: Be one of those few. Stand up and dare to be different. Start a revolution in thinking and attitudes, and help take us another step closer to becoming a civilized world.

You Are Not So Smart (and how to be less stupid!)

You Are Not So Smart

While on the Larry King show, Stephen Hawking recently made the observation that pollution and stupidity are, in his opinion, the biggest threats facing mankind. He may well have a very valid point.

If we were not so stupid, the pollution would be much less of an issue of course. But how to overcome the stupidity?

You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaneyI am only halfway through reading ‘You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself ‘ by David McRaney, but I had to write about it already…

I think the contents of this book may well explain why collectively as a species we are not making of an effort to fix the obvious problems that surround us. However, I think by getting a better grasp of our own false logic, we may well be able to have more success in creating change.

Out of David’s 47 ways we delude ourselves, I am going to touch on just three.

  1. Confirmation Bias. For a start, it is important to understand personal ‘truth’ is neither fixed nor definitive. Each person has their own beliefs, and new evidence is compared to existing knowledge (much of which may well be false).

    This leads us to seek evidence that confirms our current world view. There are very few people who actively seek to prove themselves wrong about everything. It is just too much hard work for a start!

    Chances are that you (like most people) currently believe that you are doing the right thing, you are not harming anyone, and that you are a good person. To really embrace a full understanding of the full impact that any business has, would lead to a conflict with our personal belief about ourselves.

    It is far easier to try and ignore the evidence, or look for counter arguments that support the decisions we have made throughout our life. Of course, this is one reason why propaganda works so well. It feeds us ‘evidence’ that is easy and more comfortable to believe.

  2.  The Bystander Effect. This is the phenomenon in which the more people there are in a crisis, the less likely it is anyone will help. This has been shown in study after study (and demonstrates one of the advantages to living in smaller communities).

    Basically our sense of personal responsibility diminishes as the size of the crowd increases. But what if the crowd where over 7 billion people big?

    Of course this is exactly what we are seeing with the various global issues we currently face. The basic assumption is that ‘someone else will fix the problem’.

    We look to each other for signs of what to do, and how to behave. When nobody does anything then we assume everything is alright, even when the evidence points to the contrary. There are many catastrophes that have occurred where people chose to die rather than react, simply because they looked to what everyone else was doing.

    The good news here is that when enough people start taking action, others will follow.

  3. The Dunning-Kruger Effect. This is essentially when ignorance leads to overconfidence. The opposite side to this is really that ‘the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know’.

    With a small amount of knowledge it is easy to become confident that ‘everything will be okay’. It is interesting to note that the more educated someone becomes on global issues, the more concerned they are about our future.

    I can certainly count myself in this category. Global warming has been ‘an issue’ since my childhood, so I can hardly say I never heard about it. But not until I really studied the science in detail did I become increasingly concerned to the point of taking action.

    As Charles Darwin so eloquently put it, ‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge’.

If we can become aware of our own confirmation bias, better educate ourselves (and then others), and realize that if we wait for someone else to solve a crisis it may well be too late, then I think we can make better decisions. This is of course true for general business, environmental issues, and even our personal life.

There are many other ways that we fool ourselves, and justify the decisions we make. I highly recommend grabbing (and reading) a copy of ‘You Are Not That Smart’. It may just help make your next decision that much better 😉

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