First Story: last night I finished reading 1491, by Charles C. Mann and what America was really like before Columbus “discovered” it.
Fascinating read about the real history and how well developed, populated and civilized the American Continents were. One of the coolest things was Mann’s well researched theory that the US Constitution has two major concepts from Native American culture.
Freedom and equality.
Keep in mind these two concepts were foreign to the rest of the world at that time. The more “civilized” cultures, mainly from Europe and Asia, were primarily centered around war, oppression, and greed.
Mann posits that the founders of the Constitution, namely Ben Franklin and John Adams, had spent a lot of time and were friends with some of the Native Americans from their home towns. They learned these Native Americans’ philosophies, later integrating them into the Constitution.
Second Story: in 2005 Steve Jobs made a well-documented commencement speech at Stanford University, Stay Young Stay Foolish. You may be familiar with it, as I’ve written about it before as being an incredible oratory.
At one point in the speech, Jobs speaks about dropping out of Stanford U. because he wasn’t ready for college and his parents could not afford it.
But he ended up taking a class at a local community college: calligraphy. This becomes important a few years later when he starts Apple computer. One of the key distinctions he creates in the Apple operating system that stood out from the Microsoft-based operating system was the cool array of fonts. Fonts he learned from his calligraphy course.
How are these two stories related?
This Thanksgiving appreciate the little details of your life’s experiences. Even the ones you cannot fathom being grateful for. Because you never know how they will serve you in the future.
And in the end, there is not much else beyond your personal experiences that you can claim as truly yours. Harvest them to the best of your ability. Apply them in your business. Find ways to create far beyond what others are creating. In ways you never would have thought possible or logical. Link them to what you are doing in your business now.
Just make sure you use them in ways that serve the planet and humanity.
One person went bankrupt being a shop-aholic. Now he uses this experience as a service to help people downsize their over-filled life of stuff?
A single immigrant mom first moved to the United States with no financial support and yet built a solid career in a medium-sized company. Now she helps others do the same.
While at a rest stop on the highway, someone noticed a bathroom sign saying, “Proudly cleaned with Lysol”. He used that as the impetus for creating a non-toxic and environmentally-sound cleaning products company to compete.
Today all of these people are doing well in their businesses. And yes, you too can start a business, launch a new program, develop a kick-butt marketing strategy, or even reinvent yourself using this.
Just remember to appreciate the little things first.
Action Steps for the Week
Looking to restructure or reinvent your business? Maybe you need to create your next promotion?
Take a look at your personal life. Look at some of your biggest challenges you went through. What were they? What was going on at the time? How did you break through? What were your lessons learned?
How can you use this (or these) experiences to serve others? What product or service can you build around it? What is the message your marketing should have because of it? How can you leverage them to make a profit / income?
Write down five ideas and then bounce them off at least three people whom you respect in small business. Which one(s) do they like best and then refine based on their feedback.
Lastly, don’t look back. Move forward and to a “soft launch” testing out the concept as soon as you possible can.
About The Author:
Since 1987, Stefan Doeing has been pioneering new approaches to environmental business and sustainability. After having started one of the first green retail businesses in the country and growing it to one of the largest, he has coached hundreds of green businesses as well as teach green entrepreneurism for various NYC programs and at Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education. He focuses on three major areas:
1) Innovating powerful green business models,
2) Crafting and implementing marketing and positioning strategies for bringing green to mainstream, and
3) Creating a consistently profitable and sustainable business.