Mobile Lives

Greetings.  For a country of nine million people, Sweden is very entrepreneurial and tech savvy–especially when it comes to computers, the internet and mobility. In fact, the internet and smart phones are so ubiquitous here that one wonders how life ever went on without them.  And it seems that everyone has an iPhone and uses it to accomplish an ever growing number of life's essential tasks–from connecting with friends and colleagues…to taking a bus, trolley or subway…to paying bills and handling banking…to getting up-to-date weather forecasts for literally any corner of the country…to playing games.  

And at the center of this obsession are important Swedish innovations.  These include Skype–the wonderfully simple internet phone service that allows us to engage with friends, relatives and colleagues almost anywhere in the world.  A wide range of award-winning video games including Minecraft.  And Spotify which has shaken up the world of on-line music with its service that allows users to choose the songs they want to listen to as opposed to Pandora's "focused radio" format.

And now Pinchos in Goteborg (i.e., "Gothenburg" to non-Swedes) is reinventing the way that people interact with a restaurant and their dining experience.  Billed as Sweden's first "app restaurant," customers here read the menu and order on their smart phones then receive a text message when their food is ready.  The big question is whether or not this is simply a fun and empowering way for Swedes to dine, an attempt to minimize the importance of customer service (which is not one of the great strengths of Swedish culture) or a way for people in a more introverted culture to enjoy a meal with friends without having to interact with unnecessary strangers.  

In any event, one can only imagine the new ideas tied to mobility and connectivity that will continue to come from Sweden in the years ahead.  

Pinchos

We win in business and in life when we give people choices.  And when we find powerful and not-so-powerful ways to enable them to live mobile lives.

Cheers!

A World of Entrepreneurs

Greetings.  According to a new study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the world is becoming even more entrepreneurial as a growing number of people everywhere are taking the initiative to start new companies.  In some places they are doing this as the only way to earn a living, while in other places entrepreneurs are creating businesses around entirely new products, services and solutions that fill a new market need.  And they're even starting new manufacturing companies which seems to run counter to popular perceptions.  In fact, there are now more that 400 million entrepreneurs in 54 countries that were part of the study and in several countries the number of women starting businesses is now equal to the number of men.

We all have the potential to be entrepreneurial, even if we decide to stay in jobs in established companies or organizations.  Because we all have the ability to see new opportunities to deliver greater value to the internal or external customers we serve.  And we all have the ability to take a fresh look at our areas of responsibility and figure out how to do our work smarter, better, faster or just plain differently in ways that achieve a better result.  

By thinking and acting like entrepreneurs.  And in the process becoming one.  In fact, it's the best way to remain relevant in today's fast moving economy.

The world is becoming even more entrepreneurial.  And that's a very good thing.  Because more and people are tapping their unique potential to innovate and create economic value.  It's clearly a bright spot in a world filled with challenges.

YoungEntrepreneursBusinessWeek2009

We win in business and in life by being more entrepreneurial.  Maybe it's your time to follow your dream.

Cheers!

The Wisdom of Gift Cards

Greetings.  This holiday season it was hard to avoid the amazing growth of "gift cards" as a perfect giving option.  Gift cards for practically every product, service or retail establishment known to humankind…all tastefully displayed in drug stores, grocery stores, departments stores and the individual stores bearing their names and logos.  They've become almost ubiquitous–my favorite word from high school English class (and a word I have been hoping to use in a blog post)–and a highly desirable present because they allow recipients to buy something they really want instead of what we guess they might want.  Not that there's anything wrong with guessing.  But, then again, we might choose something that is quickly "re-gifted."

We leads me to a very simple and powerful idea about how to engage employees and bring out their real genius.  An idea so simple and logical that it drives most companies, leaders and human resource directors absolutely crazy–"because it's just too hard to control or administer."

The notion that we let employees decide what incentives they'd like to receive.  Or what training would inspire and enable them to add greater value.  That we give them a "gift card" rather than the standard prescribed set of rewards we provide to everyone.  That we let them choose how to spend it in any way that will help them to become more skillful, engaged, innovative, entrepreneurial and brilliant aligned with our strategic objectives.  That we encourage them to explore a range of possible gifts (within the resources we have available) to see what lights their fire, floats their boat or energizes them to make a more meaningful difference in our success.  And helps them to build the career they aspire to have.

The simple wisdom of a gift is its potential to unlock a giant world of individuality and possibilities.  

For them and for us.

Gift Cards

We win in business and in life when understand what really motivates those we care about.  And when we give a gift that allows them to unlock their own genius.

Cheers!

One of a Kind

Greetings.  As we boarded the plane in Stockholm for the short flight to Venice, I told our children that this was one of the most remarkable places I had ever had the privilege to visit.  It's "one of a kind" I suggested, hoping that they would find the very same magic here that captivated me on my first visit.  And three days later it is safe to say that they too are in awe of this place.  Sure there are some parts that seem to be falling apart.  And there are way too many tourists in the most popular "tourist" destinations of San Marco, Rialto and the beach at Lido.  But just off the beaten path most parts of this island city of canals, gondolas, narrow walkways, history and beautiful architecture is a city unlike any other place on earth.  A place shaped by the water and navigated only by boat or a comfortable pair of shoes.  

And it is even more brilliant when viewed through my maturing eyes and the eyes of our three children.  "This place is simply awesome," our daughter Carly exclaimed the day we arrived.  "Why can't we stay here?" our son Noah asked as we walked through the neighborhood of Dorsoduro under the light of a full moon.  "This city is just amazing," our oldest daughter Sara agreed joining us here in the middle of three-and-a-half months of backpacking on her own across Europe.

Yes the city of Marco Polo and Antonio Vivaldi is alive and relatively well in 2011. And while it was one of the western world's most entrepreneurial and innovative communities in their days, its current reason to be is centered on being a unique and compelling destination for a world of travelers.  All inspired by the fact that there is no other place like it.  An inviting magnet for 20,000,000 visitors a year!

Which begs the question–"Is there another business or organization like yours?"  And, if so, what can you do to be one of a kind?  To be a magnet for your customers and prospects in the same way that Venice welcomes and satisfies its customers.  Because while it's not the only unique place in the world, it has figured out how to leverage the power of being unlike any other place.  And that's our challenge–even in the most crowded of industries…

Venice-Italy

We win in business and in life when we are truly different in ways that captivate those we have the privilege to serve.  Maybe it's time for your company or organization to emulate this remarkable city that's been drawing people and ideas for centuries.

Cheers!