5 leadership lessons from Napoleon – Day 133/139

I recently familiarized myself with undoubtedly one of the great leaders of the written history: Napoleon Bonaparte.
What could a 21st century entrepreneur learn from him?
That question in mind I borrowed a few quotes from Napoleon.
1. If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
This idea seems strongly counterintuitive but depends a lot on what kind of a success you’re after. The hint of truth that I see here is the fact that delivering nothing is actually a bit overrated. A half-assed effort on making things happen often looks worse than completely dismissing the task. But I have to agree that there is great power just in the promise itself. Aiming high is the key.
2. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
Being an entrepreneur, you will work with people with enormous amounts of skills and abilities. I feel the entrepreneur should be the least able person of the team. But the entrepreneur is the person who shows the opportunity and directs the ability to where it’s needed.
3. When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
This sounds like saying don’t try anything big cause you’ll fail. But I will argue there’s a bigger truth underneath. The greatness of the entrepreneurial team is dependent on the amount of balls they have on their effort. The factual evidence seems to indicate that most teams eventually “get real” on their vision. Reality is what brings great ideas to mediocrity. But there is an easy way out and that is not accepting the reality. A good reason to do something is that people tell you it can’t be done.
4. There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
This is a fact. Still few people act accordingly. Irrelevant things and chores keep stealing the time of people. People work without knowing why. No money in the world can buy back your wasted time. It should be criminal to make people do work that they wouldn’t do gladly even without pay.
5. To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
So true. God was an entrepreneur.

Ask me anything – Day 132/139

Now that the project is close to its end, it’s interesting to see what questions people have on their minds regarding this blog. To do this I’ve picked some search engine terms that have been used to get to this website.

Money wanted. A lot of it and fast.

  • make money in one day
  • how to make a million dollars from nothing
  • making a million from 50,000
  • easy way to make a million
  • how to make a million fast
  • how to make 42 million
  • billion before 30

This is the most common thing people keep searching. How to make money? My answer to this question is simple: Stop wanting to make money and start doing what brings you most joy. Money will come. Even in millions.

What are the odds?

  • odds of making a million
  • do most people ever make a million

The odds for making a lot of money are indeed quite slim. To increase your odds you should step up and start doing things with potential. That potential doesn’t even need to be financial. Doing anything well enough will pay out in the end.

Could the money be saved?

  • how to save a million before 30
  • work hard to make a million
  • investments before 30

Saving any sum of money by investing is indeed possible. Whether it’s at all feasible is another question. By actively investing in the stock market you will spend your time studying numbers. Invest in things that you like and ones that you can positively affect yourself.

But what should I do then?

  • does wanting something make any difference
  • simple idea makes millions
  • the secret of success is hard work and fun

Here’s a bunch of good advice. You have to want something. You have to want something simple that others can understand and help you with. And more important than working hard towards it, you must have fun doing it – otherwise you’ll quit before soon.

Finally, there is the question of starter money.

  • getting investment money for an idea
  • how to do business with agel (sic)
  • business angels project
  • funding doesn’t grow on trees

I would consider this the type of money where wanting it helps. You don’t want it for yourself but for a bigger purpose. If you’re able to communicate that purpose, you will have no trouble getting money, whether it’s from angels or somewhere else. Funding does grow on trees.

The prince of entrepreneurship – Day 131/139

Yesterday, the eyes of the world were targeted on a royal wedding. Sweden got a new royalty but could it be that they got something more than that?

The monarchy is not a corporation.

This statement was given by the king of Sweden in a television interview. Although the comparison seems a bit abstract there is some logic behind it. Monarchy is not considered to be producing anything. It makes no profit, only losses. Still, it has an enormous marketing budget and a bunch of employees.

But as a corporation in a monopoly, the monarchy isn’t exactly looking for internal change. Monarchy embraces tradition, not innovation.

So what happens if you turn an entrepreneur into a monarch?

This is something we should ask the new prince himself. Or just wait and see for ourselves. In an interview he has already stated that he wants to step up and promote health and entrepreneurship.

If we define the concept of entrepreneur as creative innovator and successful manager of risk then this poses a challenge for our new prince. After all he is now more like an ambassador of Sweden than a royal entrepreneur. But if he successfully manages to promote an entrepreneurial atmosphere inside the monarchy, we should probably establish a similar role here in Finland: “the prince of  entrepreneurship“.

Spoils of war – Day 130/139

My war is over and it’s time to check the spoils.

War and entrepreneurship?

People nowadays tend not to have any idea what war means. Same goes for entrepreneurship. At least they have in common that neither is positively just good or evil although they both have heavily biased characteristics on that scale.

Both war and entrepreneurship offer enormous opportunities. Great things are started from death and renewal. Finland has lost almost every war in the country’s history. Still it has managed to become a wealthy nation on the international scale.

Positive mindset on the edge of despair.

During the war last week I was badly wounded. I lost my right arm in a grenade attack and lost consciousness shortly after. I was taken to a medic and later evacuated.

Losing an arm in a war-game isn’t such big a deal. You just miss a few hours of good night sleep. But losing something else while being unconscious is another story.

Who could say it better than Matti Nykänen: “Every chance is an opportunity”.

Flexible eagerness – Day 129/139

Today’s guest blogger is Aleksis Nokso-Koivisto, Chairman of Board, FinderBase.

Earlier this week I wrote on how to make social media work in cases of a public sector organization wanting to create one for supporting the communication among their customers or members.

I think there still remains a question, or actually two questions:

  1. what are the success factors for social media in general, and
  2. the ever-topical question on how to make projects work.

For the first I think Jyri Engeström has very good insights on the success factors of social media, especially on the importance of objects connecting people to each other – and making these objects sharable. If you are not familiar with this already, you might be interested to check out some.

For the second question, I think a lot is achieved by the pure power of naive trust in what one is doing, and the eagerness to carry it out. If one really believes, that there’s no reason for the project to fail and has the “of course it’s possible” attitude, one can make almost anything come true. However – and this is probably the tricky part – you have to simultaneously carefully listen to arguments and observe feedback. So the starting point to make something happen is the trust in your project and working with your full heart and love.

But it should be the “flexible type of eagerness”, in which you always love your current way of carrying it out, but love even more finding a new way – and letting go of the old one.

I think this type or orientation is the key to many great success stories in business, and also in other fields of life – for example the NGO sector. I have been fortunate enough to participate in projects that have had this quality – and the existence of this “flexible eagerness” has always ended up in something great – and often not only great results, but also fun projects.

Local communities – Day 128/139

Today’s guest blogger is Oskari Nokso-Koivisto, artistic director, FinderBase.

For last few days I have been in Urbania in Italy. Urbania is a town with 7000 inhabitants. Weather is nice, food and wine are excellent and people are relaxed. At least so far it seems that stereotypes about a small Italian town are a reality here.

My reason to be here is to study Italian opera. We have 18 singers rehearsing for example parts of Cosi fan Tutte, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Simon Boccanegra. To sing Italian opera, you have to be familiar with the Italian culture as well.

An amazing quality in Urbania is, that even as I have walked quite lot, I haven’t seen a single lost item. My guess is that if a community is small enough to be able to communicate efficiently about lost items in traditional ways. Everyone basically knows everything important all the time. Of course taking advantage of that kind of communicaton is not easy for visitors who are not part of the community.

The problem of lost items must have begun at the same time when the idea of ownership came into existence. In the small communities the problem can be solved in the ways it seems to be done in Urbania. However, the world has changed and is still changing in a fast pace. Towns and cities are growing. Most of the world population is living in environments, where it is impossible to know everything. In those environments we need innovations to solve the communication problems.

In July I will be in Rome, home of 3.5 million people. My guess is, that the lost item problem in Rome is not solved as well as it is here in Urbania. There will be work for FinderBase to do, I presume.

Bottom-up simple things – Day 127/139

Today’s guest blogger is Aleksis Nokso-Koivisto, Chairman of Board, FinderBase.

Back in the day, everything in the Finnish media was about making portals, and that seemed the future of internet. That even stretched to the Finnish version of dot-com bubble, the phenomenon of “wind suit investors”, referring to non-experienced ordinary people queueing in their jogging clothes to make sure to get their share of the last newly listed internet-company. Just check the photo in this article, if you want to remember the good old days:

Currently social media is everywhere.

For example, I was recently participating an event, in which some EU-funded projects reflected their experiences on usage of social media. Almost every project believed, that social media is important for them, and they were often doing something in the field. However, the most usual experience was “we just created a wonderful social media site for our public organization, but nobody is using it”. Well, I am not surprised, if the social media was implemented from a top-down starting point of the organization’s intent to build one in order to have one. The opposite starting point, the user, and their relations offer far more interesting setting for building the media. How can we serve our users with different types of media? What is the user doing, with what objects, with whom, why, how? And also, social media is not a technology question, it is – as the name says – a social question. If the organization is ready and interested to work in open, networked ways, and wants to utilize tools for that, the media will be found to serve it. But if the organization just wants to use social media because it’s trendy, probably there is no technical tool to solve the equation.

Lessons learned.

Social media today appears to me similar to “portal companies” 10 years and more back. It is important to be there, even if it takes some queueing outside for some strange reason – as long as you get your company/university/community/whatnot to utilize social media. If you want to succeed, keep it simple. Social media is just a set of tools and social interaction, nothing more mysterious. Think from the user perspective. Strive for the heart of the issue, understand it, and then solve it. That’s what made the winners 10 years ago, and that’s how you win your game in utilizing social media.

Things are simple, we shouldn’t make them complex.