Business Advice from Elon Musk

  • Business is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.
  • Exciting for the first several months.
    • Then reality starts coming in
  • If your customers love you your chances of success are dramatically higher.
  • Focus on pleasing your customers.
  • Listen more to critical feedback
  • In a high growth company you can be cash flow negative.

January 28th Conversation with David

  • If you think that you’re a unique snow flake and you’re doing things that have never been done before, you’re likely to fall into despair because what you’re doing may be impossible.
    • 4 Minute Mile, example.
      • How did he do it? The trainer tricked him into thinking that he was running slower than he was.
    • If you think that somebody has done it before, then it is much easier.
  • Environment “limits” (or expands) what you think is possible.
  • If it rhymes people believe it.
  • “That is the rabbit hole. You ultimately choose to believe or not.”
  • Things that do not conform to your beliefs they do not make it into your brain.
  • An uber human can see what a person’s perspective filter is, and modify what they say to match that filter.
  • Fit into a person’s preconceived boxes so they use little mental energies as possible.

You Gotta Have a System – John Maxwell

Notes

  • Learn Systems to do work quickly and efficiently.
  • Systems are for managing time.
  • Systems help to prevent wasted energies
  • The biggest time waster is looking for things that are lost.
  • Systems must be used as a livestyle, not a one time thing.
  • Work in blocks of time.
    • Clump similar tasks together.
  • Create an area where you can work without interruptions.
  • Systems of delegation, aren’t so you can be lazy. You do it so you can become more effective.

Systems Help To:

  1. Manage time.
  2. Prevent wasted energies
  3. Multiply creativity and frees you up of trivia.
  4. Maximize our progress.

How Systems Maximize Life

  1. Decrease chaos
  2. Delegate your load. Pass off to others.
    1. Keep ball carriers close by.
    2. Bring people who are going to be doing the work to meetings so they understand the context.
    3. Delegate everything possible. Ask “Who can do this.”
    4. Do not waste time and energy repeating information
      1. Most communications problems can be solved by proximity.
    5. Train people how to handle problems.
      1. Every decision you make, make the decision and then explain why you made the decision to the other person. You will teach another how you think.
  3. Double your time. They make you time effective.
    1. Do 2 or 3 things at once whenever possible.
    2. Listen to learning audio in the car.
    3. Take projects with you on trips.
    4. Have work with you whenever you may have to wait.
    5. Work and play at the same time. (Ballgame bring legal pad)

Quotes

  • “How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be correct, time is gone forever.”
  • “If you go to a meeting and you’re taking the notes, you ain’t the leader.” – John Maxwell

5 Step Equipping Process – John Maxwell – Notes

Note: Begins at 25:41 and ends at 27:42

  1. I do it.
    1. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
    2. We may teach what we know, but reproduce what we are.
  2. I do it and you’re with me.
    1. Mentor
    2. Coach
    3. You watch me and observe me.
    4. Be able to ask questions.
  3. You do it.
    1. You do it and I am with you.
    2. I watch you.
    3. Help you to get better.
  4. You do it.
    1. You don’t need me anymore.
    2. You do it well.
  5. You do it, and somebody is with you.
    1. Compounding.
    2. You teach someone else.

Breakthroughs – John Maxwell – Notes

 

  • Breakthroughs
    • Events that mold us, and move us forward.
    • We are never the same internally or externally
  • A Dream
    • Inspiring Picture of the Future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.
  • You never forget breakthroughs
    • If you can’t remember a breakthrough, it isn’t a breakthrough

 

  1. Groundbreaker
    1. Encourages you to start.
    2. John’s was a personal growth plan.
  2. Icebreaker
    1. You were clogged up and couldn’t get going, but an event gets you moving
  3. Windbreaker
    1. Encourages you to stand. Adversity of dreams wants to knock you flat.
  4. Cloudbreaker
    1. An event that allows you to be able to see far.
  5. Tiebreaker
    1. Heres what I want for myself, here is what would be best.
    2. They are not the same thing.
  6. Chart Breaker
    1. An event that takes the dream way beyond what you think could happen.
  7. Heart breaker
    1. Events that cause you to stop and re-prioritize.
  8. Record Breaker
    1. An event that encourages you to smile

 

Quotes

  • Dead people don’t add value to others’ lives.

Minefields, Gunfire and Pomegranates

“Oh look they have pomegranates! I’m going to get one.”

On this day, Rouses, the grocery store chain in Louisiana, had pomegranates for sale so I couldn’t pass one up. Natural eating and good fruit, tends to make you fine going without fruit rather than buying out of season. Grocery store anything is usually without flavor.

“If it’s not in season and it ain’t local, I’m not eating it” I said.

But this time was a bit different, it is a pomegranate and until the pomegranates on the farm start producing, I will only have access to this fruit when its available. I learned first hand about this odd, usually red fruit many years ago by a couple of peculiar fellows that I relied upon with my life. Nowadays, just one look at a pomegranate brings me back to when I was walking in the heart of pomegranate country, of which this time was no different.

A Few Years Back

Look left. Look right. Continually keep your head on a swivel. I’m doing that while looking out into the distance. There’s dust everywhere and all I see is desert, hills, a ghost city to my rear and the objective, a small town, to my front. By this point basic instincts have taken over with just a hint of training. When I am not watching my feet, the people with me or off in the distance I can’t help but be taken in by the natural beauty of this place. It looks just like the foothills in Southern California.

Only this wasn’t California. This was Now Zad, Afghanistan July 2009. The once prosperous city of NowZad, complete with vast pomegranate orchards and innovative agricultural earthworks, now lay in ruins, abandoned, landmined and left to the dusts of time. Now Zad is considered one of the most dangerous and most mined places in the world, still.

Not but one day before, Marine Corps Operation Khanjar “cleared” insurgents from the surrounding areas and was now preparing to have a special visitor arrive for a unique shura. A public meeting.

We Were the Too Early Party

We had been sent to establish contact with locals and determine the suitability of this meeting, that was going to happen regardless of any suitability. Us early party consisted of a shadowy bunch. About a dozen rough trained Afghan National Army soldiers, Capt Shelly from the Marine Corps’ Provincial Reconstruction team, our only “interpreter” Shamsi the high level government official that was a shadowy CIA informant and myself the “intelligence” who was more focused on unraveling political and economic power structures than looking for trouble myself.

The original plan had a squad of marines but with every organization timing and coordination is usually thrown up in the air when people step off. So we had none, just the Afghan boys.

In just a few hours, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, the governor of the province, would speak on bringing better governance to the area and prepare the residents for the up and coming presidential vote, a first for the area in some time. As I walked across the desert I kept thinking about how odd it is to clear insurgencies one day, and then literally the next say that the “government is here to save you. Go vote!” No not the democracy aspects, but the obvious absurdity of some real world political gestures in action.

We arrived

Shamsi steps off to start making acquaintances with the local villagers. The just-above-ragtag soldiers take position around the perimeter.  And the two of us Marines stood like heavily armored doofuses in the middle of town. In the rough real world, they apparently live without helmets, unlike us. Regardless, we’re out of place, very out of place.

“There’s not much to this town.”

Every building was built with dirt with walls at least 12″ inches thick. These walls can stop dead the largest caliber bullets modern militarys carry. No cars. Just a lot of adults sitting around in the shade. Oh and a peculiar man with a fruit cart.

And like that, children of all ages began to rush around us.

The young ones are quite joyful and looking to get anything they can. The older ones, actually kind of scare me. Maybe I see too much of a rough version of myself in these kids. Their faces looked like they were plotting shenanigans. They’re pointing at my pockets and every now and again an older one swoops in and tries to get a handful of my clothes.

We have nothing to give, we came to read the populace not give out candy. Seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to over an hour.

“Where in the hell are they?”

Machine gun fire erupts in the distance.

It’s a back and forth somewhere. It’s seems like a small skirmish, but its exact location I cannot really confirm. Should we be concerned? The Afghan soldiers, still are lazily propping their feet up and the locals aren’t really reacting. These are tough people who probably hear gunfire fairly regularly, so who knows but because my eyes see nothing, my body doesn’t react.

Then it dawns on me, if we needed to call out, we didn’t even have communications equipment. I may be the “intelligence”, but I definitely wasn’t the brains behind this. There’s no way to call back to the base, or to signal support from the aircraft above and the half-assed “send off” we had when we left makes me think nobody even knows we’re here.

“Keep your eyes sharp.”

Then that lost squad of marines finally shows up.

“Those motherf%(ers…..” Blurted out my mouth without even thinking about it.

In walked the squad, taking securing positions. Just behind the Marines was the familiar crew that I was used to working with. The old man I ultimately worked for, General Nicholson and with him was his familiar office staff (all Colonels) and Governor Mangal. With the tense frenzies with the kids and gunfire around the corner this seemed just in time.

And thus the shura of Nowzad began.

Everyone was crowded and corralled into a walled off area. Presumably the whole town is here. Kids are all over. Many customs around the world are similar but in Afghanistan, they’re very different. Young boys no older than 8 scurried around happily holding hands, brandishing painted nails.

Gov. Mangal spoke.

“I come from Lashkar Gah. I am with the government and I am here to help.”

I don’t know if that’s what he said exactly, but I’m fairly sure that was the summation. With all of the grand political jestures coming to an end, this “noteworthy and historic event” ended without anything noteworthy actually happening. Except for the empty politicking. Hard to blame the guy considering he was likely met with more skepticism and the Marines and yet he was there, just like me.

“We gotta go.” Arif, another trusted government interpreter stated.

This kind of “Afghan tip”, from “this kind of guy” definitely gets people moving and I wasn’t going to hang around in this disheveled town for another moment. Up on a truck and on our way out.

The Afghan Government Got their Votes. Sorta.

The outskirts of Nowzad did participate in the presidential vote, but it was marred in issues.

And yet at least 8 years have since passed and nothing has changed. The Taliban, once swept away throughout the province in Operation Khanjar have since returned. All of the blood, sweat and tears poured into clearing and repairing this region of the world has been blown away with the sands of time, and all the pieces have been reset right back to the way they were.

Back to the Present.

Afghanistan is known as the “country of pomegranate fruit.”

The pomegranate I held in my hand and ultimately brought home, was nothing special. This pomegranate, as many others just happen to bring me back to the first time I discovered real food, a culture that produces it, and their struggles to build a quality life, retain their liberty, and be profitable into the future.

Listening to Others

Listening can be hard. Listening requires time. Listening requires energy. Listening requires you to ignore your own inner dialogue, so someone else’s can be heard.

Listening is about a single person. Listening is leadership. Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is natural and easy when we want something. Listening takes skill and can be difficult when we need to listen but don’t know it.

Oddly, if its true that we have to intentionally listen in order to find out what we don’t know and need that means we must do something.

Listen first.