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May 2022

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I participated in my second marathon for the month of may after running the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 1st, 2022. The Tartan Ottawa International Marathon 2022 was my second time running the Ottawa trail. I finished with a time of 4:37:39, an improvement from the Vancouver Marathon where I finished with a time of 5:00:31.

For the first time since 2007, a Canadian woman won the top prize for the women’s section. American-born Canadian long-distance runner Kinsey Middleton finished with a time of 2:30:09 and Ethiopian Andualem Shiferaw set a new marathon course record with 2:06:04, the fastest time set on North American soil in 2022.

Top three in the men’s and women’s categories are:

Men

  1. Andualem Shiferaw (ETH) 2:06:04
  2. Abdi Ali Gelchu (BHR) 2:09:24
  3. Yuta Shimoda (JPN) 2:09:50

Women

  1. Kinsey Middleton (CAN) 2:30:09
  2. Elissa Legault (CAN) 2:33:27
  3. Katja Goldring (USA) 2:33:58

As author Napoleon Hill famously noted: “Whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Running the Vancouver and Ottawa Marathon was super tough from logistics to actually running the race. But I am glad I did run both races and was able to reduce my finish time a bit. Preparing for the next marathon in a city near you.

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Life happens to us all at some point, some of us are born poor, and dealt with childhood trauma, domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, and addiction among other challenges. Your history is not your destiny. Where you are right now is who you are. We often mistake our life situation with our destiny but one of the greatest tools we have is our ability to change our course of direction at any point in time by deciding to. As American psychologist, William James once observed; The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. – William James

Your job and environment are not who you are. One of the most transformative questions, we all have to answer at some point is: “Who are you? Why I am here? The moment you answer these questions and really know what your purpose here is, you are going to go places.

  • Ursula Burns was raised by her immigrant mum in poverty but against all odds was named the CEO of Xerox, making her the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  • Indra Nooyi grew up in India with humble beginnings but rose to become the CEO of Pepsico which is the second-largest food and beverage company in the world.
  • Viola Davis grew up in abject poverty, domestic violence, childhood trauma and brokenness but she overcame it all to become one of the most recognized faces on TV with an Oscar, Primetime Emmy Award and two Tony Awards becoming the only African-American to achieve the Triple Crown of acting.

How did these 3 inspiring women who grew up in challenging environments rise to the top of their professions against all odds and challenges stacked against them? They decided to take their destiny in their hands, they studied hard, built relationships, created their luck, prepared for their opportunities and executed relentlessly. Here are some great insights from the biographies of these 3 great women on how they did it:

In her autobiography, Where You Are Is Not Who You Are: A Memoir, the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Ursula Burn chronicles her story of growing up in poverty and the lessons learned on her path to greatness. She writes:

As a Black woman, I had to prove myself worthy of whatever position I was in because my coworkers would cut me no slack. I hadn’t slept my way up the chain. I wasn’t the recipient of preferential treatment. I wanted to make sure that the audience knew that I’d earned my position. To do that, I made sure they understood that I knew at least as much as anyone in the room. It was a defense mechanism against the assumption that I didn’t belong.

“My mother refused to have her children be defined by it. “Where you are is not who you are,” she told us time and again. I didn’t know what she was talking about.

Poverty has a pace, and the sidewalks were crowded with people rushing around in a frantic fashion, people racing great distances to save $1 here or there or hurrying to stand in line for a handout.

Indra Nooyi grew up in India and was named PepsiCo CEO in 2006 making her the first woman of colour and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company.  In her autobiography, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future, she writes about her journey from rural India to leading a multinational company.

Mine is not an immigrant story of hardship—of fighting my way to America to escape poverty, persecution, or war. I don’t know what it feels like to be a refugee, homeless because my own country is in crisis. I spoke English. I had landed in the US with $500. I was at Yale. And I had the safety net of my family in India, a place that I was familiar with and loved and that would take me back.

“I had no money to spare. My scholarships and loans totaled about $15,000 a year, roughly evenly split, and I spent almost all on tuition, room, and board. I took a job working the front desk and the manual switchboard at Helen Hadley Hall three to four days a week, earning $3.85 an hour for midnight to 5 a.m. That was fifty cents an hour more than the daytime slot and $1.20 more than the minimum wage, which was $2.65 in those days. When the phone rang at reception, I’d buzz a resident’s room and put the call through to the hallway phone. All night, students ran down the hall in their nightwear and slippers to get their calls. I monitored the front door, sorted the mail, and did my homework.”

In Finding Me: A Memoir, American actress Viola Davis describes her roller-coaster journey from growing up in abject poverty to Hollywood fame. She writes:

“We were “po.” That’s a level lower than poor. I’ve heard some of my friends say, “We were poor, too, but I just didn’t know it until I got older.” We were poor and we knew it. There was absolutely no disputing it. It was reflected in the apartments we lived in, where we shopped for clothes and furniture—the St. Vincent de Paul—the food stamps that were never enough to fully feed us, and the welfare checks. We were “po.” We almost never had a phone. Often, we had no hot water or gas. We had to use a hot plate, which increased the electric bill. The plumbing was shoddy, so the toilets never flushed.

You know, when you’re poor, you live in an alternate reality. It’s not that we have problems different from everyone else, but we don’t have the resources to mask them. We’ve been stripped clean of social protocol. There’s an understanding that everyone is trying to survive and who is going to get in the way of that?

As the stories of these great women shows, your history is not who you are and with persistence and commitment, all things are possible. Inspite of their humble background, Ursula Burns became the CEO of XEROX, Indra Nooyi became the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company and Violas Davis became an Hollywood superstar despite the poverty, abuse and trauma of her childhood.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

American singer-songwriter and 11-times Grammy Award Winner Taylor Swift delivered the commencement speech to the graduating students of New York University. Taylor was awarded an honorary doctorate degree wherein she spoke about embracing your struggles and owning your mistakes.

Taylor Swift’s 2022 New York University Commencement Speech Transcript:

Hi, I’m Taylor [Applause]

The last time I was in a stadium this size I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard this outfit is much more comfortable. I would like to say a huge thank you to NYU’s chairman of the board of trustees Bill Berkley and all the trustees and members of the board NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Catherine Fleming, and the faculty and alumni here today who have made this day possible.

I feel so proud to share this day with my fellow honorees Susan Hockfield and Felix Matos
Rodriguez who humble me with the ways, they improve our world with their work as for me
I’m 90 percent sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called 22. And let me just say
I am elated to be here with you today as we celebrate and graduate from New York University’s class of 2022.

Not a single one of us here today has done it alone we are each a patchwork quilt of those who have loved us those who have believed in our futures those who showed us empathy and kindness
or told us the truth even when it wasn’t easy to hear those who told us we could do it when there was absolutely no proof of that someone read stories to you and taught you to dream and offered up some moral code of right and wrong for you to try and live by someone tried their best to explain every concept in this insanely complex world to the child that was you as you asked a bazillion questions like how does the moon work and why can we eat salad but not grass and maybe they didn’t do it perfectly no one ever can maybe they aren’t with us anymore in that case, I hope you’ll remember them today.

If they are in this stadium i hope you’ll find your own way to express your gratitude for all the
steps and missteps that have led us to this common destination.

I know that words are supposed to be my thing but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mom and dad, and my brother Austin for the sacrifices they made every day so I could go from
singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough to all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends, and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment
let me say to you now welcome to new york it’s been waiting for you.

I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically on paper at least a doctor [Applause] not the type of doctor you would want around in case of an emergency unless your specific emergency was that
you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook and an intensely cathartic bridge section or if your emergency was that you needed a person who can name over 50 breeds of cats in one minute. [Applause]

I never got to have a normal college experience per se. I went to public high school until 10th
grade and then finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals
then I went out on the road for a radio tour which sounds incredibly glamorous but in reality it consisted of rental car motels and my mom and I pretending to have loud mother-daughter fights with each other during boarding, so no one would want the empty seat between us on the southwest.

As a kid, I always thought I would go away to college imagining the posters I would hang on the wall of my freshman dorm. I even set the ending of my music video from my song love story at my fantasy imaginary college where I meet a male model reading a book on the grass and with one
single glance we realized we had been in love in our past lives which is exactly what you guys all
experienced at some point in the last four years right. [Applause]

But I really can’t complain about not having a normal college experience to you because you went to NYU during a global pandemic being essentially locked into your dorms and having to do classes over zoom. Everyone in college during normal times
stresses about test scores
but on top of that
you also had to pass like a thousand
kova tests
i imagine
the idea of a normal college experience
was all you wanted to
but in this case
you and i both learned that you don’t
always get all the things in the bag
that you selected from the menu
in the delivery surface that is life
you get what you get
and as
i would like to say to you
wholeheartedly you should be very proud
of what you’ve done with it
today
you leave new york university
and then go out into the world
searching what’s next and so will i

[Music]

so as a rule
i try not to give anyone
unsolicited advice
unless they ask for it
i’ll go into this more later
i guess i have been officially solicited
in this situation to impart
whatever wisdom i might have
to tell you things that have helped me
so far in my life
please bear in mind that i in no way
feel qualified to tell you what to do
you’ve worked
and struggled and sacrificed and studied
and dreamed
your way here to dare
and so
you know what you’re doing
you’ll do things differently than i did
them
and for different reasons so i won’t
tell you what to do because no one likes
that i will however
give you some life hacks i wish i knew
when i was starting out my dreams of a
career
and navigating life
love pressure
choices
shame
hope and friendship
the first of which is
life
can be heavy
especially if you try to carry it all at
once
part of growing up
and moving into new chapters of your
life
is about catch and release
what i mean by that is
knowing what things to keep
and what things to release
you can’t carry all things
all grudges
all updates on your ex
all
enviable promotions your school bully
got at the hedge fund his uncle started

decide
what is yours to hold
and let the rest go
oftentimes the good things in your life
are lighter anyway
so there’s more room for them
one toxic relationship
can outweigh so many wonderful simple
joys
you get to pick
what your life has time and room for
be discerning
secondly
learn to live
alongside
cringe
no matter
how hard you try to avoid being cringe
you will
look back on your life
and cringe retrospectively

cringe
is unavoidable over a lifetime
even the term cringe might someday be
deemed cringe
i promise you
you’re probably doing or wearing
something right now
that you will look back on later and
find revolting and hilarious
you can’t avoid it so don’t try to
for example
i had a phase where for the entirety of
2012
i dressed like a 1950s
housewife
but you know what i was having fun
trends and phases are fun
looking back and laughing is fun
and while we’re talking about things
that make us squirm but really shouldn’t
i’d like to say i’m a big
advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm
for things

it seems to me that there is a false
stigma
around eagerness
in our culture of unbothered
ambivalence
this outlook perpetuates the idea that
it’s not cool to want it
the people who don’t try are
fundamentally more chic than people who
do
and i wouldn’t know because i’ve been a
lot of things but i’ve never been an
expert on chic but i’m the one who’s up
here so you have to listen to me when i
say this
never
be ashamed
of trying
effortlessness
is a myth
the people who wanted it the least were
the ones i wanted to date and be friends
with
in high school
the people who want it the most
are the people i now hire to work for my
company

i write i started writing songs when i
was 12
and since then
it’s been the compass guiding my life
and in turn
my life guided my writing
everything i do
is just an extension of my writing
whether it’s directing videos or a short
film
creating the visuals for a tour
or standing on a stage performing
everything is connected
by my love of the craft
the thrill of working through ideas and
narrowing them down
and polishing it all up in the end
editing waking up in the middle of the
night throwing out the old idea because
you just thought of a new or better one
or a plot device that ties the whole
thing together
there’s a reason they call it a hook
sometimes a string of words
just
ensnares me and i can’t
focus on anything until it’s been
recorded or written down
as a songwriter i’ve never been able to
sit still or stay in one creative place
for too long
i’ve made and released 11 albums and in
the process i’ve switched genre from
country
to pop to alternative to folk
and this might sound like a very
songwriter-centric
line of discussion
but in a way
i really do think
we are all
writers
and most of us
write in a different voice for different
situations
you write
differently in your instagram stories
then you do your senior thesis
you send a different type of email to
your boss than you do your best friend
from home
we are all literary chameleons and i
think it’s fascinating
it’s just a continuation of the idea
that we are so many things all the time
and
i know it can be really overwhelming
figuring out who to be and when
who you are now
and how to act in order to get where you
want to go
i have some good news
it’s totally up to you
i have some terrifying news
it’s totally up to you
i said to you earlier that i don’t ever
offer advice
unless someone asked me for it and now
i’ll tell you why
as a person who started my very public
career
at the age of 15 it came with a price
and that price
was years
of unsolicited advice
being the youngest person in every room
for over a decade
meant
that i was constantly being issued
warnings
from older members of the music industry
media interviewers executives and this
advice
often presented itself
as thinly veiled warnings
see i was a teenager
at a time when our society was
absolutely obsessed with the idea
of having perfect
young female role models
it felt like every interview i did
included slight barbs by the interviewer
about me one day
running off the rails
and that meant a different thing
to every person who said it to me so
i became a young adult while being fed
the message
that if i didn’t make
any mistakes
all the children of america
would grow up to be perfect angels
however if i did slip up
the entire earth would fall off its axis
and it would be entirely my fault and i
would go to pop star jail
forever and ever
it was all centered around the idea
that mistakes
equal
failure
and ultimately
the loss
of any chance at a happy or rewarding
life
this
has not been my experience
my experience has been
that my mistakes
led to the best things in my life
and
being embarrassed when you mess up
is part of the human experience
getting back up
dusting yourself off
and seeing who still wants to hang out
with you afterward and laugh about it
that’s a gift
the times i was told no
or wasn’t included
wasn’t chosen didn’t win didn’t make the
cut
looking back it really feels like those
moments
were as important if not more crucial
than the moments i was told yes
not being invited
to the parties and sleepovers in my
hometown
made me feel hopelessly lonely
but because i felt alone
i would sit in my room and write the
songs that would get me
a ticket somewhere else
having label executives in nashville
tell me
that only 35 year old housewives
listened to country music
and there was no place for a 13 year old
on their roster
made me cry in the car on the way home
but then
i’d post my songs on my myspace
and yes myspace
and i would message with other teenagers
like me who loved country music but just
didn’t have anyone singing from their
perspective
having journalists write in-depth
oftentimes critical pieces about who
they perceive me to be
made me feel like i was living in some
weird simulation
but it also made me look inward
to learn about who i actually am
having the world treat my love life like
a spectator sport in which i lose every
single game
was not a great way to date in my teens
and twenties
but it taught me
to protect my private life fiercely
being publicly humiliated over and over
again at a young age was excruciatingly
painful
but it forced me
to devalue the ridiculous notion
of minute by minute
ever fluctuating social relevance and
likability
[Applause]

getting cancelled on the internet
and nearly losing my career
gave me an excellent knowledge of all
the types of wine
[Applause]
i know i sound
like a consummate optimist but i’m
really not
i lose perspective
all the time
sometimes
everything
just feels completely pointless
i know the pressure
of living your life through the lens of
perfectionism and i know that i’m
talking to a group of perfectionists
because you are here today
graduating from nyu
[Music]
[Applause]
so this might be hard for you to hear
in your life
you will inevitably
misspeak
trust the wrong person
under react
overreact hurt the people who didn’t
deserve it
overthink
not think at all
self-sabotage
create a reality where only your
experience exists
ruin perfectly good moments for yourself
and others deny any wrongdoing
not take the steps to make it right feel
very guilty
let the guilt eat at you hit rock bottom
finally address the pain you caused try
to do better next time rinse repeat

[Applause]

and i’m not going to lie
these mistakes will cause you to lose
things
i’m trying to tell you
that losing things
doesn’t just mean losing
a lot of the time
when we lose things
we gain things too
now you leave the structure and
framework
of school
and chart your own path
every choice you make leads to the next
choice which leads to the next and i
know it’s hard to know
which path to take
there will be times in life where you
need to stand up for yourself
times when the right thing is actually
to back down and apologize
times when the right thing is to fight
times when the right thing is to turn
and run
times to hold on with all you have
and times to let go with grace
sometimes the right thing to do is to
throw out the old schools of thought in
the name of progress and reform
sometimes the right thing to do is to
sit and listen to the wisdom of those
who have come before us
how will you know
what the right choice is in these
crucial moments
you won’t
how do i give advice to this many people
about their life choices
i won’t
the scary news is
you’re on your own now
but the cool news is
you’re on your own now
[Applause]

i leave you with this
we are led
by our gut instincts
our intuition
our desires and fears our scars and our
dreams
and you will screw it up sometimes
so will i and when i do you will most
likely read about it on the internet
anyway hard things will happen to us
we will recover
we will learn from it
we will grow more resilient because of
it
and as long as we are fortunate enough
to be breathing
we will breathe in
breathe through
breathe deep
and breathe out
and i am a doctor now so i know how
breathing works
i hope you know
how proud
i am
to share this day with you
we’re doing this together
so let’s just keep dancing like we’re
the class of 22.
[Applause]

One night I had a dream…

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads series is a collection of Harvard Business Review articles on a particular subject matter. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Business Model Innovation is a compilation of some of the best insights and strategies on Business Model Innovation. Every section starts with an idea in brief, the problem and proposed solutions.

The articles highlighted in the HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Business Model Innovation include:

  1. Why Business Models Matter by Joan Magretta
  2. Reinventing Your Business Model by Mark W. Johnson, Clayton M. Christensen, and Henning Kagermann
  3. When Your Business Model Is in Trouble: An interview with Rita Gunther McGrath by Sarah Cliffe
  4. Four Paths to Business Model Innovation by Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine
  5. The Transformative Business Model by Stelios Kavadias, Kostas Ladas, and Christoph Loch
  6. Competing Against Free by David J. Bryce, Jeffrey H. Dyer, and Nile W. Hatch
  7. Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything by Steve Blank
  8. Finding the Platform in Your Product by Andrei Hagiu and Elizabeth J. Altman
  9. Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy by Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary
  10. When One Business Model Isn’t Enough by Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Jorge Tarziján
  11. Reaching the Rich World’s Poorest Consumers by Muhammad Yunus, Frédéric Dalsace, David Menascé, and Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot

Why Business Models Matter by Joan Magretta

Business models are, at heart, stories that explain how enterprises work. Like a good story, a robust business model contains precisely delineated characters, plausible motivations, and a plot that turns on an insight about value. It answers certain questions: Who is the customer? How do we make money? What underlying economic logic explains how we can deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost?

A business model isn’t a strategy, even though many people use the terms interchangeably. Business models describe, as a system, how the pieces of a business fit together. But they don’t factor in one critical dimension of performance: competition. That’s the job of strategy.

 A good business model answers Peter Drucker’s age-old questions: Who is the customer? And what does the customer value? It also answers the fundamental questions every manager must ask: How do we make money in this business? What is the underlying economic logic that explains how we can deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost?

A competitive strategy explains how you will do better than your rivals. And doing better, by definition, means being different. Organizations achieve superior performance when they are unique, when they do something no other business does in ways that no other business can duplicate.

Reinventing Your Business Model by Mark W. Johnson, Clayton M. Christensen, and Henning Kagermann

To determine whether your firm should alter its business model, Johnson, Christensen, and Kagermann advise these steps:

  • Articulate what makes your existing model successful. For example, what customer problem does it solve? How does it make money for your firm?
  • Watch for signals that your model needs changing, such as tough new competitors on the horizon.
  • Decide whether reinventing your model is worth the effort. The answer’s yes only if the new model changes the industry or market.

A successful model has these components:

Customer value proposition.

  • The model helps customers perform a specific “job” that alternative offerings don’t address.

Profit formula

  • The model generates value for your company through factors such as revenue model, cost structure, margins, and inventory turnover.

Key resources and processes

  • Your company has the people, technology, products, facilities, equipment, and brand required to deliver the value proposition to your targeted customers. And it has processes (training, manufacturing, service) to leverage those resources.

In just three years, the iPod/iTunes combination became a nearly $10 billion product, accounting for almost 50% of Apple’s revenue. Apple’s market capitalization catapulted from around $1 billion in early 2003 to over $150 billion by late 2007.

Patience is the Key

Successful new businesses typically revise their business models four times or so on the road to profitability. While a well-considered business-model-innovation process can often shorten this cycle, successful incumbents must tolerate initial failure and grasp the need for course correction. In effect, companies have to focus on learning and adjusting as much as on executing.

When Your Business Model Is in Trouble: An interview with Rita Gunther McGrath by Sarah Cliffe

Columbia Business School professor RITA GUNTHER McGRATH studies strategy in highly uncertain, volatile environments. She spoke with HBR executive editor Sarah Cliffe about how to recognize an oncoming crisis—and seize opportunities to get ahead of competitors

Idea in Brief

With product life cycles growing ever shorter and competition cropping up in unexpected places, nearly every industry is facing disruption. How can you tell if your business model is running out of gas? For starters, if your next-generation innovations provide smaller and smaller improvements and your people have trouble thinking of new ways to enhance your offering. Pay heed to the signs and start experimenting with several new options until you find one that will turn your threat into an opportunity.

What are the signs that a business model is running out of gas?

The first clear stage is when next-generation innovations offer smaller and smaller improvements. If your people have trouble thinking of new ways to enhance your offering, that’s a sign. Second, you hear customers saying that new alternatives are increasingly acceptable to them. And finally, the problem starts to show up in your financial numbers or other performance indicators.

Build mechanisms that cause you to reexamine your assumptions.

Four Paths to Business Model Innovation by Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine

Idea in Brief

The Problem

Business model innovation is typically an ad hoc process, lacking any framework for exploring opportunities. As a result, many companies miss out on inexpensive ways to radically improve their profitability and productivity.

The Solution

Drawing on the idea that a business model reflects a set of decisions, the authors frame innovation in terms of deciding what products or services to offer, when to make decisions, who should make them, and why the decision makers choose as they do.


The Transformative Business Model by Stelios Kavadias, Kostas Ladas, and Christoph Loch

A Business Model describes how a company creates and captures value. The features of the model define the customer value proposition and the pricing mechanism, indicate how the company will organize itself and whom it will partner with to produce value, and specify how it will structure its supply chain.

Basically, a business model is a system whose various features interact, often in complex ways, to determine the company’s success.

In any given industry, a dominant business model tends to emerge over time. In the absence of market distortions, the model will reflect the most efficient way to allocate and organize resources. Most attempts to introduce a new model fail—but occasionally one succeeds in overturning the dominant model, usually by leveraging a new technology. If new entrants use the model to displace incumbents, or if competitors adopt it, then the industry has been transformed.

Competing Against Free by David J. Bryce, Jeffrey H. Dyer, and Nile W. Hatch

“The “free” business models popularized by companies such as Google, Adobe, and Mozilla are spreading to markets in the physical world, from pharmaceuticals to airlines to automobiles.

Four Tried-and-True Strategies

1. Up-sell

Introduce a free basic offering to gain widespread use and then charge for a premium version.

2. Cross-Sell

Sell other products that are not directly tied to the free product.

3. Charge Third Parties

Provide a free product to users and then charge a third party for access to them.

4. Bundle

Offer a free product or service with a paid offering.

Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything by Steve Blank

The lean method has three key principles:

First, rather than engaging in months of planning and research, entrepreneurs accept that all they have on day one is a series of untested hypotheses—basically, good guesses. So instead of writing an intricate business plan, founders summarize their hypotheses in a framework called a business model canvas.

Sketch out your Hypotheses

The business model canvas lets you look at all nine building blocks of your business on one page. Each component of the business model contains a series of hypotheses that you need to test.

Customer Development

Second, lean start-ups use a “get out of the building” approach called customer development to test their hypotheses. They go out and ask potential users, purchasers, and partners for feedback on all elements of the business model, including product features, pricing, distribution channels, and affordable customer acquisition strategies.

Listen to customers

During customer development, a start-up searches for a business model that works. If customer feedback reveals that its business hypotheses are wrong, it either revises them or “pivots” to new hypotheses. Once a model is proven, the start-up starts executing, building a formal organization. Each stage of customer development is iterative: A start-up will probably fail several times before finding the right approach.

Agile Development

Third, lean start-ups practice something called agile development, which originated in the software industry. Agile development works hand-in-hand with customer development. Unlike typical yearlong product development cycles that presuppose knowledge of customers’ problems and product needs, agile development eliminates wasted time and resources by developing the product iteratively and incrementally. It’s the process by which start-ups create the minimum viable products they test.

Quick, responsive development

In contrast to traditional product development, in which each stage occurs in linear order and lasts for months, agile development builds products in short, repeated cycles. A start-up produces a “minimum viable product”—containing only critical features—gathers feedback on it from customers, and then starts over with a revised minimum viable product.

Finding the Platform in Your Product by Andrei Hagiu and Elizabeth J. Altman

Idea in Brief

The Problem

Many companies that sell products or services either don’t realize they could turn their offerings into a platform business or struggle to do so.”

The Opportunity

By becoming a multisided platform (MSP) that facilitates interactions between parties, a company may be able to provide new revenue sources while also preventing competitors from stealing market share from its product or service.

FIVE OF THE TEN MOST VALUABLE COMPANIES in the world today—Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft—derive much of their worth from their multisided platforms  (MSPs), which facilitate interactions or transactions between parties. Many MSPs are more valuable than companies in the same industries that provide only products or services: For instance, Airbnb is now worth more than Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain.

Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy by Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary

Idea in Brief

The Sea Change

Platform businesses that bring together producers and consumers, as Uber and Airbnb do, are gobbling up market share and transforming competition. Traditional businesses that fail to create platforms and to learn the new rules of strategy will struggle.

The New Rules

With a platform, the critical asset is the community and the resources of its members. The focus of strategy shifts from controlling to orchestrating resources, from optimizing internal processes to facilitating external interactions, and from increasing customer value to maximizing ecosystem value.

Focus

  • Facebook, for example, launched with a narrow focus (connecting Harvard students to other Harvard students) and then opened the platform to college students broadly and ultimately to everyone.
  • LinkedIn launched as a professional networking site and later entered new markets with recruitment, publishing, and other offerings.

Permissionless Innovation

Some platforms encourage producers to create high-value offerings on them by establishing a policy of “permissionless innovation.” They let producers invent things for the platform without approval but guarantee the producers will share in the value created.

Airbnb and Uber rate and insure hosts and drivers, Twitter and Facebook provide users with tools to prevent stalking, and Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store both filter out low-quality applications.

When One Business Model Isn’t Enough by Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Jorge Tarziján

Trying to operate two business models at once often causes strategic failure.

Yet LAN Airlines, a Chilean carrier, runs three models successfully. LAN has integrated a full-service international passenger model with a premium air-cargo business model while separately operating a no-frills passenger model for domestic flights.

LAN’s multimodel success comes from recognizing the complementarity of its two high-end services and the distinct, or substitute, nature of its no-frills offering. LAN came to that insight by analyzing the major assets that the models share and the compatibility of the models’ operational resources and capabilities. It recognized that the more the models have in common, the more likely they are to generate greater value together than apart; the less they share, the more likely they are to be best executed separately.

  • Netflix runs two business models for its DVD-by-mail and its streaming-video services.
  • In emerging markets a bank sometimes creates a separate company to offer credit to lowand middle-income customers, as Banco Santander-Chile has done with Banefe.
  • IBM and Compaq, for instance, supplemented their reseller distribution model with a direct-sell model to counteract Dell’s growth in the 1990s.
  • The forestry company Celulosa Arauco turns its trees into paper pulp under one business model and into wood panels for high-end furniture under another.

Reaching the Rich World’s Poorest Consumers by Muhammad Yunus, Frédéric Dalsace, David Menascé, and Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot

Idea in Brief

The Problem

Poverty reaches far beyond emerging markets. In the European Union alone, almost 120 million people—nearly 25% of the population—are deemed at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The Current Approach

Corporations usually try to meet the needs of poorer consumers with low-cost, low-price offers while still making a profit. They have improved access to many products and services, but a substantial number of consumers are still largely excluded.

POVERTY IS NOT JUST AN emerging-market problem. In the United States more than 45 million people, or 15% of the population, are officially poor, according to the Census Bureau. What’s more, this percentage has increased every year but one (2006) since the 21st century began. At 16%, Japan is doing no better. And in the European Union almost 120 million people—one in every four—are classified as at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

Budget Market

Most automakers have offered low-budget cars for decades: The Model T Ford, the VW Beetle, the Mini Cooper, and the Citroën 2CV were in their time designed for what their manufacturers saw as the budget market. Low-cost “hard discounters” such as Aldi and Lidl in Europe and Market Basket in the United States have emerged relatively recently in the retail industry.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

In Finding Me: A Memoir, American actress Viola Davis shares her story of personal transformation, reinvention and changing her story. Here are some great quotatable quotes from Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis:

  • Memories are immortal. They’re deathless and precise. They have the power of giving you joy and perspective in hard times. Or, they can strangle you. Define you in a way that’s based more in other people’s tucked-up perceptions than truth.

We were “po.” That’s a level lower than poor.

In Finding Me: A Memoir, American actress Viola Davis chronicles her roller-coaster journey from growing up in abject poverty to Hollywood fame. Viola is deeply personal, vulnerable, reflective, funny and emotional about the path she took from being a scared young girl to becoming one of the most influential actresses of her generation. I am a super fan of How to Get Away with Murder, a legal thriller in which Viola stars as Annalise Keating, a law professor; the series is one of the few television shows that I followed religiously when it was airing. I teared up a lot reading Finding Me by Viola Davis as I could connect to her story of growing up in poverty, dealing with childhood trauma, family drama, struggle, determination and eventual triumph.

Success is absolutely wonderful, but it’s not who you are. Who you are is measured by something way more abstract and emotional, ethereal, than outward success.

Finding Me is one of the most inspiring autobiographies have ever read and I would recommend it to anyone that is feeling broken, doubting their greatness, and trying to find their place in the world. Viola shares her struggles of living in abject poverty as a child, her father’s alcoholism and violence towards her mum, bed wetting till 14, sexual abuse and childhood trauma, her healing journey, finding love, hysterectomy, child adoption, and family drama, Hollywood fame, among others.

When you haven’t had enough to eat, when your electricity and heat are cut off, you’re not afraid when someone says life is going to be hard. The fear factor was minimized for me. I already knew fear. My dreams were bigger than the fear.

Viola Davis is an award-winning actress who is the only African-American to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting – a term used in the American entertainment industry to describe actors who have won a competitive Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award in the acting categories.

 I was still that little, terrified, third-grade Black girl. And though I was many years and many miles away from Central.Falls, Rhode Island, I had never stopped running. My feet just stopped moving.

Competitiveness as a tool

 “I was being bullied constantly. This was one more piece of trauma I was experiencing—my clothes, my hair, my hunger, too—and my home life being the big daddy of them all. The attitude, anger, and competitiveness were my only weapons. My arsenal. And when I tell you I needed every tool of that arsenal every day, I’m not exaggerating.”

Memories are immortal. They’re deathless and precise. They have the power of giving you joy and perspective in hard times. Or, they can strangle you. Define you in a way that’s based more in other people’s tucked-up perceptions than truth.

Stop Running

At the age of twenty-eight, I woke up to the burning fact that my journey and everything I was doing with my life was about healing that eight-year-old girl. That little third grader Viola who I always felt was left defeated, lying prostrate on the ground. I wanted to go back and scream to the eight-year-old me, “Stop running!”

“I wanted to heal her damage, her isolation. That is, until a therapist a few years ago asked me, “Why are you trying to heal her? I think she was pretty tough. She survived.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was speechless. What? No poor “little chocolate” girl from Central Falls? She’s a survivor?

He leaned forward as if to tell me the biggest secret, or to solve the biggest obstacle of my existence.

“Can you hug her? Can you let her hug YOU?” he asked. “Can you let her be excited about the fifty-three-year-old she is going to become? Can you allow her to squeal with delight at that?”

“ The destination is finding a home for her. A place of peace where the past does not envelop the Viola of NOW, where I have ownership of my story.”

Radical Acceptance

As a child, I felt my call was to become an actress. It wasn’t. It was bigger than that. It was bigger than my successes. Bigger than expectations from the world. It was way bigger than myself, way bigger than anything I could have ever imagined. It was a full embracing of what God made me to be. Even the parts that had cracks and where the molding wasn’t quite right. It was radical acceptance of my existence without apology and with ownership.

As much as I try to chisel into MaMama to get at the core of who she is, I never can. There are decades of suppressed secrets, trauma, lost dreams and hopes. It was easier to live under that veil and put on a mask than to slay them.

Mother

My maternal grandparents, Mozell and Henry Logan, like the other sharecroppers, had a one-room house with a big fireplace. Their daughter, MaMama, the oldest of eighteen children, left school after the eighth grade because she got pregnant, but also because she was beaten a lot in school. I mean beaten to where it broke skin and she bled.

 My mother pushed on with her life, nonetheless. She was married and had her first child, my brother, John Henry, at age fifteen. She had my sister Dianne when she was eighteen, Anita at nineteen, Deloris at twenty, and me at twenty-two. Years later, at age thirty-four, she had my sister Danielle.

Father

“Unlike my mother, my father was a simpler man. Dan Davis was born in 1936 in St. Matthews, South Carolina. As far as I know, he had two sisters. For the life of me I can’t remember, but he had, I believe, a poor relationship with his stepfather, whose last name was Duckson.

Abuse elicits so many memories of trauma that embed themselves into behavior that is hard to shake. It could be something that happened forty years ago, but it remains alive, present.

Learned Helplessness

“My older sister Dianne retells a story of my mom and dad having a fight outside. My dad was screaming, “Mae Alice! You want me to stay or leave? Tell me? You want me to stay or go?” My sister was sending telepathic messages in her mind, Please tell him to go! Tell him to go, Mama! But MaMama just screamed, “I want you to stay!” It was a choice that had resounding repercussions.

Parent’s Trauma

I had two parents who were running away from bad memories. Both had undiscovered dreams and hopes. Neither had tools to approach the world to find peace or joy. MaMama worked sporadically in factories and was a gambler.

My father was an alcoholic and would disappear for months at a time when we were really young. He always came back, but by the time I was five I never remember him leaving for any long periods of time. Only later did I realize he was numbing, which is absolutely without question an understandable solution to dealing with a fucked-up world. Then, he would come back, from who knows where, and beat MaMama. Lashing out instead of lashing in.

He loved me. That I know. But his love and his demons were fighting for space within, and sometimes the demons won.

Childhood Imprinting

Imprinting

“I had to stand up to my father, the authority figure. The one who should be taking the glass from ME, teaching ME right from wrong. The most frightening figure in my life and the first man we all ever loved. Frightening?

Without knowing, I had already been imprinted, stamped by their behavior and all that they were. As much as I wanted my life to be better, the only tools I had to navigate the world were given to me by them. How they talked. How they fought. How my mom made concessions. How they loved and who they loved shaped me. If I didn’t bust out of all that, would this exhaustion and depletion be what I would feel after every fight in my life, even the small ones?”

As much as I wanted my life to be better, the only tools I had to navigate the world were given to me by them.

On Poverty – Poor vs Po

“We were “po.” That’s a level lower than poor. I’ve heard some of my friends say, “We were poor, too, but I just didn’t know it until I got older.” We were poor and we knew it. There was absolutely no disputing it. It was reflected in the apartments we lived in, where we shopped for clothes and furniture—the St. Vincent de Paul—the food stamps that were never enough to fully feed us, and the welfare checks. We were “po.” We almost never had a phone. Often, we had no hot water or gas. We had to use a hot plate, which increased the electric bill. The plumbing was shoddy, so the toilets never flushed.

You know, when you’re poor, you live in an alternate reality. It’s not that we have problems different from everyone else, but we don’t have the resources to mask them. We’ve been stripped clean of social protocol. There’s an understanding that everyone is trying to survive and who is going to get in the way of that?

 Actually, I don’t ever remember toilets working in our apartments. I became very skilled at filling up a bucket and pouring it into the toilet to flush it. And with our gas constantly being cut off because of nonpayment, we would either go unwashed or would just wipe ourselves down with cold water. And even the wiping down was a chore because we were often without towels, soap, shampoo. . . . I damn sure didn’t know the difference between a washcloth and a bath towel.

“Even on the best days, we never had the right size shoes or clothes. A lot of times, we couldn’t even find socks. We almost never had clothes that were new. Every once in a while, we would go to Zayre’s, a clothing store like J.C. Penney back in the day, and get something on layaway.”

The Paradigm Shift

Viola’s elder sister gave the advice that changed her outlook and sowed the seed for greatness in her. Dianne looked around at the disheveled apartment and said:

“Viola, you don’t want to live like this when you get older, do you?” she asked in a whisper. She didn’t want my mom to hear. “No, Dianne.”

“You need to have a really clear idea of how you’re going to make it out if you don’t want to be poor for the rest of your life. You have to decide what you want to be. Then you have to work really hard,” she whispered.”

“I remember thinking, I just want candy. I couldn’t understand the abstract. I was too young. But something I didn’t have the words for, yet could feel, shifted inside me. “What do I want to be?” The first seed had been planted. Was there a way out?

Achieving, becoming “somebody,” became my idea of being alive. I felt that achievement could detox the bad shit. It would detox the poverty. It would detox the fact that I felt less-than, being the only Black family in Central Falls. I could be reborn a successful person. I wanted to achieve more than what my mother had.

“From age five, because of Dianne, re-creation and reinvention and redefinition became my mission, although I could not have articulated it. She simply was my supernatural ally.”

Abuse Bond

“We were just ensnared in the trap of abuse. The constantly being beaten down so much makes you begin to feel that you’re wrong. Not that you did wrong, but you were wrong. It makes you so angry at your abuser, the one that you’re too afraid to confront, so you confront the easiest target. Those you can. Until your heart gets tired. No one ever, up until that point, talked to us, asked us what our dreams were, asked us how we were feeling. It was on us to figure it out.”

There is an emotional abandonment that comes with poverty and being Black. The weight of generational trauma and having to fight for your basic needs doesn’t leave room for anything else. You just believe you’re the leftovers.

Childhood Trauma

“In my child’s mind, I was the problem. I would retreat to the bathroom, put something against the door so no one would come in, and I’d sit for an inordinate amount of time staring at my fingers and hands and try to erase everything in my mind. I wished I could elevate out of my body. Leave it.”

Dreaming away their problem

“We dreamed away our problems. When Dad was drunk or there was turmoil, my sister Deloris and I would disappear into the bedroom and become “Jaja” and “Jagi,” rich, white Beverly Hills matrons, with big jewels and little Chihuahuas. We would play this game for hours. “Ooh my, Jaja,” Jagi would say, “I bought this fabulous house and my husband bought me this beautiful diamond ring.” We played with such detail that it became transcendent.”

Childhood Sexual Abuse

“We were left with older boys, neighbors who would “babysit” us and unzip their pants while playing horsey with us. My three sisters and I (Danielle wasn’t born yet) were often left unsupervised with my brother in our apartment—sexual curiosity would cross the line. He would chase us. We would lose. And eventually other inappropriate behavior occurred that had a profound effect. I compartmentalized much of this at the time. I stored it in a place in my psyche that felt safely hidden. By hiding it I could actually pretend it didn’t happen. But it did!”

Once again more secrets. Layers upon layers of deep, dark ones. Trauma, shit, piss, and mortar mixed with memories that have been filtered, edited for survival, and entangled with generational secrets. Somewhere buried underneath all that waste lives me, the me fighting to breathe, the me wanting so badly to feel alive.

Deloris, Anita, Dianne, and I were sexually abused. There was penetration with Anita and Dianne. Me and Deloris were touched.

School as a coping mechanism

School was our salvation. We coped by excelling academically. We loved learning. We didn’t want to end up in the same situation as our parents, worrying where the next meal was coming from. School was also our haven. We stayed late, participating in sports, music, drama, and student government. My sisters and I became overachievers, even in areas that didn’t interest us.

Fathers constant violence

“If I got two hours of full sleep, I was lucky. We’d be awakened by a scream, a screech. The only hope, the only blessing, was the fight that didn’t last long. But sometimes their conflicts would last all night or night after night, for days. If it lasted all night, we did not sleep. Imagine your father beating your mom with a two-by-four piece of wood, slamming it on her back, the screams for help, the screams of anger and rage. That trauma would keep me up at night and make me fall asleep in class.”

We were trained in the art of keeping secrets and we never, ever shared with anyone what went on in our home.

Scholarship

Eventually, I received a full ride to college with the Preparatory Enrollment Program scholarship. PEP, as we called it, was the sister program of Upward Bound. I started in a familiar place, Rhode Island College, and space, housing in the same all-girls dormitory—Browne Hall—where I’d spent summers in high school and visited my sister Deloris during the school year. I went into college at seventeen, and like a lot of kids, I wasn’t mature, but I definitely thought I was.

Dianne Inspiration

Even though my mom and dad didn’t go to college—didn’t finish high school—Dianne had driven it into us that We. Were. Going. To. College. She instilled in us that if we did not have a college degree, if we did not find something to do, if we did not focus, if we did not have drive, we were going to be like our parents. I felt if I did not go to college, if I did not get a degree, if I was not excellent, then my parents’ reality would become my own. There was no gray area. Either you achieved or you failed.

Working hard is great when it’s motivated by passion and love and enthusiasm. But working hard when it’s motivated by deprivation is not pleasant.

Exchange Program

My last year, I went on national student exchange to California Polytechnic University in Pomona. I went because I wanted to get out of Rhode Island, out of the cold winters. I just wanted a different scene. The greatest surprise of my life is that in one semester, I flourished. I performed in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, a George Bernard Shaw play. I was a part of an improv group. I took a life-changing public speaking class. I did very well academically and made wonderful friends. It was the first time I got a weave, which was a big deal back in the day. At the time, I felt cute; real cute. I kept that damn weave in until string was hanging down my shoulder.

Manifestation

“Manifestation has always been a part of my life. Either getting on my knees physically or praying silently. And God intervened. In my second year, Juilliard was offering a $2,500 scholarship for any student who wanted to do a summer program that opened them up as artists, helped with their growth, unleashed something within. We had to write a five-page essay explaining it. I wrote that I was lost. That there was no way to unleash passion when you were asked to perform material that not only didn’t touch your heart but wasn’t written for you. I told them of the burden and myopic scope of Eurocentric training. I got the scholarship.”

Pride in Africa

Africa Pride

“Africa made me giddy with joy. Every smell, sound, color affected my senses in a passionate way. No shade of yellow or green or blue was the same. Fabric artists made the dye themselves. They would then make lapas, kufi (hats), grad boo boos (muumuus). Beautiful dark skin was unapologetically darkened by the sun. Every child had many women who would mother them. The ease in which people served each other. The kinky, curly hair, the complexity of the rituals, the numerous different languages.”

Stop making love to something that’s killing you.

The Vicissitudes of Life

There is absolutely no way whatsoever to get through this life without scars. No way!! It’s a friggin’ emotional boxing ring, and either you go one round, four rounds, or forty rounds, depending on your opponent. And by God, if your opponent is you . . . you will go forty. If it’s God, you’ll barely go one because Big Daddy has rope-a-dope down! He’s a shape-shifter. You think you’re fighting him, screaming, punching, begging him for help. And he leaves you with . . . YOU.

Acting : 95% Unemployment Rate

Here’s the truth. If you have a choice between auditioning for a great role over a bad role, you are privileged. That means not only do you have a top agent who can get you in, you are at a level that you would be considered for it. Our profession at any given time has a 95 percent unemployment rate. Only 1 percent of actors make $50,000 a year or more and only 0.04 percent of actors are famous, and we won’t get into defining famous.

The 0.04 percent are the stories you read about in the media. “Being picky,” “dropping agents,” making far less than male counterparts. Never having any regrets in terms of roles they’ve taken. Yada, yada, yada.

Luck is an elusive monster who chooses when to come out of its cave to strike and who will be its recipient. It’s a business of deprivation.

Tough Business

For every one actor who makes it to fame there are fifty thousand more who did exactly the same things, yet didn’t make it. Most of the actors I went with to Juilliard, Rhode Island College, Circle in the Square Theatre, the Arts Recognition Talent Search competition are not in the business anymore. I think I can name six, and many, you wouldn’t even know. It doesn’t speak to their talent, it speaks to the nature of the business. Trust me when I say most were beautiful and talented, and some had incredible agents. It’s an eenie, meenie, miny, mo game of luck, relationships, chance, how long you’ve been out there, and sometimes talent.

You get auditions based on the level you are at. It’s hard to see when your journey to the top had more ease, but in reality, there is no ease. You do what the lucky person did, you have a 99 percent chance of it not ever happening for you.

Family Drama

When you’re making maybe $600 a week and you’re working more than anyone else in the family, they’ll ask for $20, $25. When you’re on Broadway, they’ll ask for $100 and $200. Family starts counting your money because they always feel like you’re making more than you are. Later, it starts getting into the territory of “Buy me a house. Buy me a car.” If you’re not careful, you will go under, because the need is too great, too consistent.

Lack of Boundaries – Inabilities to say NO

“Their burden became my burden. I didn’t know how to say no to requests for food, money, payment for utilities. The needs were so great and began to escalate. I didn’t know that my brother’s problems were not my problems. I had created a life for myself and I would ask God constantly, When do I get to enjoy it fully? Plus, I simply didn’t have the money.”

Studying People

An actor’s work is to be an observer of life. My job is not to study other actors, because that is not studying life. As much as I can, I study people. If you’re my audience, it’s not my job to give you a fantasy. It is my job to give you yourself. In people there is an infinite box of different types, different situations, different behaviors. Those types contradict perceptions. They tear down preconceived notions. They are as complicated and vast as the galaxy itself.

Annalise Keating character changing Viola

Annalise Keating released in me the obstacles blocking me from realizing my worth and power as a woman. Before that, I created a story. Sometimes stories are straight-up lies that you make up because you want what you remember to be different. Sometimes a story is simply how YOU saw that event, how you internalized it. And sometimes the truth simply is. Simply straight-up fact. I was erasing that made-up story. I decided it was time to tell my story, as I remember it, my truth.

All I’ve got is me. And that is enough.

Your depth of understanding of yourself is equal to the depth of understanding a character. We are after all observers of life. We are after all a conduit, a channeler of people. What you haven’t resolved in your life can absolutely become an obstacle in the work that you do.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head. And when the door opens in real life, just walk through it. And don’t worry if you miss your cue because there’s always doors opening. – Jim Carrey

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. As author Napoleon Hill quipped in his 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. We all want the same things at some basic level: Wealth, Health, Success, Peace of Mind, Relationships, and Happiness. Our definition of these aspirations may vary but at some level, we are all striving for happiness. The power of manifesting and willing your heart desires is one of the great insights shared by most successful people such as Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Drake, J.K.Rowlings, Steve Harvey among others.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey

American actress and Stanford University Almuna (Class of 2007) Issa Rae, delivered the Commencement Address at the senior Class of 2021 ceremony of Stanford’s 130th Commencement on June 12, 2021. Rae analyzed Foxx and Webbie’s “Wipe Me Down” remix lyrics “I pull up at the club VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on ME. Wipe Me Down.” as the theme of her speech. She spoke about the importance of building a network and paying it forward.

In his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,  British-American author Simon Sinek talks about the concept of the Golden Circle. It is a framework that Sinek reckon can be used by organizations to build inspiring movements and built to last enterprise.

Sinek’ TED Talk based on  START WITH WHY is one of the most watched TED video of all time.

In the book, Sinek highlights purpose-driven leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John F Kennedy, Steve Jobs, The Wright Brothers and companies (Apple, Harley-Davidson, Disney, Southwest Airline) as models of how a purpose can be created to inspire a culture together, away from the manipulative society we live in today.

First published in 1965, A Technique for Producing Ideas is a classic book used by advertising copywriters, poets and writers to generate great ideas. Young’s thought on the technique for producing great ideas was first presented to graduate students in advertising at the School of Business of the University of Chicago and later before several gatherings of active advertising practitioners.

In A Technique for Producing Ideas, American advertising executive and first chairman of The Advertising Council, James Webb Young highlights a five-step process for generating great ideas. 

  • First, the gathering of raw materials—both the materials of your immediate problem and the materials which come from a constant enrichment of your store of general knowledge.
  • Second, the working over of these materials in your mind.
  • Third, the incubating stage, where you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis. 
  • Fourth, the actual birth of the Idea—the “Eureka! I have it!” stage. 
  • And fifth, the final shaping and development of the idea to practical usefulness.

Natalie Portman is an acclaimed actor, director, writer, producer, and activist. She received an Academy Award in the Best Actress category for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan, and nominations for her performances in Mike Nichols’s film Closer and Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. She has also been honored with Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics Choice Awards, and a BAFTA Award.

In addition to her film work, Natalie also devotes her time to several humanitarian causes. She became the first Ambassador of Hope for FINCA, an international village banking microfinance program providing small loans and savings programs to the world’s poorest families so they may create their own jobs, raise household incomes, and improve their standard of living, thereby reducing poverty worldwide.

In A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion, ultramarathoning icon Dean Karnazes chronicles his extraordinary adventures leading up to his return to the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in his mid-fifties after first completing the race decades ago. The Western States, infamous for its rugged terrain and extreme temperatures, become the most demanding competition of Karnazes’s life, a physical and emotional reckoning and a battle to stay true to one’s purpose. Confronting his age, his career path, and his life choices, Karnazes weaves a great story about the ups and down of long-distance running.

A Vision Board is a visual representation of your goals. It is a collage of all the things you want to get done, places you want to visit, and goals you want to achieve.  It is a tool recommended by some of the most successful people in the world such as Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Harvey, John Assaraf, and Jim Carrey among others. By Visualizing your goals, you impress them on your subconscious mind but you have to first set the goals and write down your goals. As author Napoleon Hill said in his 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. Our belief system drives our behavior. By impressing your goals on your mind constantly, and seeing your goals continuously, you stand a greater chance of achieving them. One of my favorite examples of the power of visualization is from a story shared by Comedian Jim Carrey. In a 1997 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Carrey described how he used visualization to earn $10 million through a check he had written earlier for services rendered.

Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.

American comedic actor and USC alumni Will Ferrell delivered the 134th commencement address at the University of Southern California on May 12, 2017. Ferrell spoke about the value of working on your craft, trusting your guts, ignoring the critics and failing forward.

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