Disrupted, by Dan Lyons

This week I’ve been mainly…

Reading the book Disrupted by Dan Lyons.

Being of a fifty-something myself and having had my own year in startup hell. (Well I didn’t even make the year until I was fired, nicely.) This book was wonderful read, made all the more poignant and realistic by the fact I have seen some of this behaviour first hand.The book is a story of a fifty-something Dan ending up in HubSpot and essentially being driven mad by the idiots working there who mostly have no experience whatsoever and there’s certainly no evidence of any management going on. Its a great read about incompetence, madness and the whole get-rich-quick schemes being set up by investors. The drive behind all this is to squeeze out the cash in a business that doesn’t make profit by doing an IPO. All you have to do is drive hype and growth and not necessarily create what I ( or many others) would call a functional business. These Unicorns being all the rage, Salesforce and Twitter being others with massive valuations but no real longevity in terms of profit making.

What was most interesting was the twenty-somethings with no experience, churning out crap and actually believing their own bullshit. I see this first hand here in Cambodia. Here you are an ‘expert’, back home you’re a nobody. Partially one of the reasons that people actually get in this position, is that businesses themselves are so inexperienced at recruiting, they will take anyone who knows a few buzzwords and of course they are desperate and overloaded themselves. Better a bum in a seat who can do something, rather than no one at all.

I’ve seen people having never run businesses teaching the locals how to set up a business. I’ve the most appalling behaviour towards others in (even more) junior roles that frankly begs the question about their mental stability, and anything of a professional and mentally stimulating and challenging nature simply doesn’t happen here.

In linking this to Hubspot where the conversation about the Candy wall being totally lost on the young recipient when compared to actually paying a decent wage, the separation from reality is as much absent here as it is there.

However in true fun style, I now search the sender details of every Hubspot e-mail I receive. The book is right, 2 years out of college, 3 years out of college, 5 years out of college. Not a single person I looked at while searching the rank and file of the staff list on LinkedIn has more than five years in a job, any job.

Now you could argue, I’m just jealous. All that cash generated by a company, hundreds of millions. The shareholders and investors making a pretty penny. At some point though, this structure of marketing over substance is going to get found out, with the I told you so’s coming thick and fast.

A great read on Amazon.
The post  Disrupted by Dan Lyons, first appeared on the blog of Chris Wray.

I really love to read about the lifestyles of others, how they’ve made changes for the better, and particularly if we can adapt these changes to our own lives. I thought I’d list some of my favourite lifestyle books for others to consume.

You can buy Happiness, Tammy Strobel

You can buy Happiness, Tammy Strobel, who took minimalism to what some would call an extreme with her tiny house. I love a lot of things about what she did and I can really understand why they did it. I’m not altogether sure this is where my idea of minimalism is taking me though.

This I know, Susannah Conway

This I know, Susannah Conway – A really rather interesting story of how a sudden death can have have both a negative and positive outcome and how it affects our lives as the healing process takes place. Anyone who’s suffered a sudden death of a loved one, or recovered from depression, will be able to relate to what she writes. I love the fact she’s a fellow Polaroid fan too, and the resultant photographs adorn the pages.

The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss

The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris  – I can’t remember how many times I’ve read this book, at least a dozen so far. I read it again while on holiday and to some extent its been a guide to me changing my lifestyle. Its full of real practical advice. I ended up buying a number of kindle and paper versions and have given many copies to friends.

The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau  – Both my business partner and I read this without either of us knowing so. We found each other quoting ideas from it in a meeting shortly afterward. We both like the principles in the book and use many of them in our own business. I’ve very much become a fan of Chris and read his other book detailed below.

The Art of Non-Conformity – Its another look at the alternative lifestyle and the prequel that led to the $100 startup. Written in a familiar language and capturing all the ideals and actions that inspire me.

Be a Free Range Human – Marianne Cantwell, who shows you that you really don’t have to do the 9-5 and who coined the phrase portfolio career. I’d not seen this concept so well defined and wish this book existed when I was rethinking my own lifestyle decisions.

Entrepreneur Revolution – Daniel Priestly – will probably sit in one of my all time lifestyle favourites along with The 4 Hour Work Week and The $100 Startup. I started reading this at about 7:30am one morning and had finished it by 11:20am, I just couldn’t put it down. There’s a great deal of lessons to learn and I wish I’d read when building my own business. I loved the practical exercises in the 10 Challenges, the building of the ATM model and the inspiration to just produce output and get work ‘out there’. In most cases I read the kindle versions, but given that I’ve read and re-read many of these books, I also ended up buying paperback versions too.

A similar page on lifestyle books appeared on my Minimalist website in March 2013

I picked up this book at the end of last week and absolutely loved it. Entrepreneur Revolution will probably sit in one of my all time lifestyle favourites along with The 4 Hour Work Week and The $100 Startup. I started reading this at about 7:30am and had finished it by 11:20am. OK, so I’m a fast reader, but I just couldn’t put it down. Why was it such an addictive read ?

  • The style of writing, its a personal view of the author, who just tells it like it is, and assumes you’re involved or at least looking at getting involved in building a business of your own, really getting to the point.
  • The lessons learnt from the Author. Its one of those I wish I’d read when building my own business. Albeit, maybe I could have only learnt by my making  the mistakes myself. Then again, I am a tad stubborn.
  • The 10 Challenges, particularly carrying larges sums of cash around to change your perspective on money and affordability, and making 3 phone calls to new people every day.
  • The ATM product model. It just makes so much sense.
  • Influence comes from output. Actually creating things, even if they may not be perfect and even if theres a risk not doing this confidently. We all suffer with confidence to some extent. Stop talking about things, planning things, procrastinating on things, and just get on with it.

The book is now littered with post-its for me to come back to:

  • The Lizard and Monkey brain, and how they need to be occupied. Settling for being the Monkey perhaps isn’t something ‘normal’ people see about themselves.
  • The 10 challenges mentioned above.
  • Pitch, Publish, Products, Profile and Partnerships. We did this in our own business much later than we should have done. But so many business owners still don’t understand how important this is.
  • Its true, you really can make a living doing what you love to do.
  • The activity of  ‘Discovering your theme’. I can at least turn my rants into something positive in this exercise.
  • Regularly creating written content, whatever that may be.

Whilst those who have been in business for a while may say they know much of this already, and I’m guilty of some of that, its the way the story is told that’s so compelling, and reason enough to go back and look again at these areas to avoid being complacent about your business. Possibly the best thing is that the last chapter is titled ‘Living the Dream’, where it all comes together, including a bit of love for good measure. “Can you imagine living in the entrepreneur sweet spot?

  1. You do what you are passionate about.
  2. You deliver amazing value
  3. You get paid well for it.

….. and everyone loves you for it. Definitely living the dream as far as I’m concerned.

Entrepreneur Revolution is available on Amazon.

I’m two thirds of the way through the book, The Artists Way at Work, by Mark Bryan and Julia Cameron.

Its a 12 week course that helps you find your creative self through a series of weekly exercises. One of the most striking, and actually enjoyable parts of the book, it that throughout the course, you are asked to write three pages on a topic of your choice. This blog entry in part of that three page exercise for today. The book describes them as ‘Morning Pages’ as ideally they should be written first thing in the morning, before anything else is done. Given the occasional conflict of time, I’ve generally stuck to the rule, but occasionally written them in the afternoon, and once or twice in the evening. I’ve found that just doing this exercise alone, has considerably improved my creativity, and its great to look back on some of the writing over the last 8 weeks.

A second activity, is to take time out to do something like visiting an art gallery, drawing, writing, or anything that can loosely be described as creative and wouldn’t normally do. This creative time-out is to be conducted once per week. So far I’ve done photography, visited the Paul Smith exhibition, and created sculptures and writing with rubbish from the beach.

One of the interesting tasks of the course for me, was week six and giving up media for a week. I confess I didn’t fully sign up for this challenge. Not watching TV is an easy one for me, as I gave up doing this in 2009. However, not reading books and skipping the afternoon play on radio 4 was torture. Similarly, giving up the internet was beyond my capability. Things like logging the readings from the gas and electricity and searching for car insurance I found the internet an essential tool. I didn’t find giving up e-mail an issue though, 99% of the e-mail I receive is rubbish or marketing driven.

Further weeks cover our relationships with people at work, and learning and teaching. Both office workplace biased, which seems a little less relevant to me as an independent maverick.

All in all, I loved the morning pages , and the task of consciously working on my creativity. I’ll update you on how I get on with completing the course in a part 2 entry.