I’m Going to Start Writing Again [The Comeback of My Blog]

There’s a been a lull in my writing. A long one.

In 2014, I just didn’t write much at all.

Partly this is justifiable, but also maybe partly it isn’t.

The reason why it is a bit justifiable is the same reason I would stop reading English books for a bit: to focus on things. Namely studying Chinese, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or working and making money.

Priorities are always flip flopping around in life. But, to some extent I’m cool with that. I’m cool with riding a bit of a wave on certain priorities. I’m busy with work this month, then I’m busy with work this month. If I’m not so busy with work, maybe I’m in the gym everyday, training.

While I am cool with these priorities flopping around a bit, I do to some extent wish I was a bit more consistent with things. I don’t really wish I was a robot, but I do wish I was pushing some things out on a more consistent basis.

I’ll use training as an example: going to the gym everyday for a month and then taking the next month off vs. going three days a week consistently for 2 months. Which is better?

Theoretically, I don’t really know. And, personally, I’m cool with, or I want to be cool with to some extent, the former – going everyday for a month, and then chilling for a month. Why? Because it allows for intense focus, and then in the off-time it allows for a focus on something else.

But, there’s also a lot to be said for the later. Going consistently for 2 months certainly does more for building up a habit. It’s not yet quite as automatically as brushing your teeth before bed, but there is something to say about habits that they take less mental focus (i.e.: less decision-making: going to the gym is something I do on these days, therefore it gets done and I’m there before I know it. There’s no internal debate about whether to go or not go going on.) And this is really what a lot of the goals boil down to with habit-building. This is why its nice to have a nice routine.

But, its also nice to shake things up. To break from the routine once in awhile.

There’s no perfect answer to life. There’s no straight line to success.

It looks more like this:

Success

So. I want to write again. Think again. Pretend to be an intellectual. Flesh out my thoughts. Something like that.

Should I write daily? I should. Should I do BJJ daily? I should. Should I study Chinese daily? I should. Should I work everyday so that I have money to do things I want to do? I should.

And, the list builds up again. There’s not enough time in the day for it all. So, I ride the waves. The ebbs and flows.

I do want to be more consistent though.

So, I’m going to write again.

From France to Singapore: One Man’s Story from Surfing Internet 1.0 in 2000 to Becoming Head of Digital Customer Experience in 2013 and Still More to Come…

“We think of success as only measured by your money. / But, money never lasts. / In fact, it’s only last / on the list of impactful things you can ask for / …So, with that – we need us a plan…” – Wale, The Perfect Plan

Welcome to The Many Faces of Success Interview Series: a reoccurring interview series focusing on success in many forms. From entrepreneurs to writers, to travellers who are just living the life they want to live…in this interview series I sit down with people who are living and defining their own success on their own terms, people who I find inspiring, and whose stories I find interesting enough to share here.

In today’s post I sit down with Pascal Ly: Head of Web Marketing for Salesforce.com Asia Pacific at the time I have done this interview with him, before he moved into his new role recently as Head of Digital Customer Experience for Schneider Electric. Pascal was promoted to this post at a fairly young age, after stints in consulting, IT, web development, business development, and an early start in entrepreneurship. He is originally from Lille, France, which is where he started his early career in 2000 before moving to Paris in 2006 to continue exploring new horizon before ending up in Singapore in 2010.

I originally met up with Pascal when I was living in Singapore last year and he invited me out to Salesforce’s offices for a chat and share his story with me. I enjoyed it and found it quite inspiring. So much so, that I caught up with him during a recent short trip to Singapore to hear him tell it again in order to write this blogpost. We caught up at a Starbucks on a Saturday, had a couple of coffees, and the following conversation took place:

Pascal-Ly

Pascal Ly

=============

Beginnings: An Entrepreneur by Age 19.

William: Let’s start with your story. I remember you telling me last time, when you were young you started a company?

Pascal: Yes, that’s correct.

The company I created with 2 other partners, it was in the year 2000, just before my 20 years old. It was a company that was offering professional stock charts tool to the general public. All was needed to use our service is a computer, a browser and an internet connection. The users would sign up to be able to create their online portfolios, and would also connect several times per day which was increasing the numbers of page viewed. That was basically our business model – create value to the business with customer data and also generate revenue with ads. I can tell you that business model was almost the single one at that time and the only one valued as every business income was generated by the ads at that time. It was the “everything is for free on Internet” era.

How did the development go?

Well, once that our platform was ready we went down showcasing our services in an exhibition that was focused on Online Trading for the general public interested in personal trading. To be honest, the exhibition was 3 days long and the very first impression I had was a mix of happiness and stress. Our booth was only 10 meter square in a corner of the exhibition campground and we were surrounded by those enormous booth held by those Online brokers which were subsidiaries of big banks. They had tons of resources: manpower, demo, goodies and… names. We were no one at the exhibition, and lucky for us those guys were not our competitors. I quickly realized that we could offer our services to them, having our solutions integrated into their platform and be useful to their customers.

At the end of those 3 days exhibition, we had attracted a lot of interest both from the public and the Online trader companies. I believe it is thanks to that exhibition that we had business angels getting interested in buying our company. So, the company got sold to those business angels, even though I didn’t want it as I wanted to continue making it grow, but my 2 other partners were keen to proceed, so it was sold. They didn’t want to keep the management at that time. They were saying “youngsters, let us do the business and we’ll figure out how to do it even better”. Now looking back into how things went, well it was a good decision because at the end of the day what happened is that the bubble came very quickly and then…

So y’all were able to sell the company right before the bubble?

Yeah, that’s right. And then the bubble came and it all crashed. Like wow, we didn’t see it coming. I remember not totally realizing what was happening at that time.

So sometimes it’s just luck?

Sometimes it’s just luck. I really believe that sometimes it’s just luck. That also means that you do need to provoke luck. Do nothing and nothing will happen, try something and see what results come out of it. Even though I do believe that a 360 degree view is needed to really understand where your business is standing and what could be the opportunities and threat to your business. Most of the time we only look into one single direction, and that is when you are putting a company in a dangerous situation.

So you quit your studies to start the company?

I was feeling deep inside the urge to create something now. The most difficult part for anybody is to start. I felt I had nothing to lose but a lot to win so I did it.

Act on it while you have the passion?

Act on it while you have the passion, as you never know what can happen tomorrow. So when an opportunity knoks at your door, you have to grab it. And if you fail, it’s okay, because you have to be able to accept that failure is part of the path to success.

This company was created and located in France, right?

Yeah, that was in France. In 2000. Just started at the beginning of 2000, and the end was in 2000 as well.

The Early Internet, Dial-Up Modems, and Big Car Phones

Ok. So what’d you do after you sold the company?

So, after that I moved… However I wanted to stay on the internet industry in a way or another. It was something very new and I could sense the opportunity. My first time I was on the internet I was 16 years old in1996. So I was already on the internet for 4 years before I was starting my company.

What do mean by “the first time you were on the internet”?

Meaning started to surf on the internet, to chat, and to send email. You know at that time we were using the 56K modems, so you know… tick, tick, tick… beeeepp… and then you’re getting connected. I was using internet with 2 other classmate, and actually it’s one of them who had initiated me into internet. No one I knew in my network was using it or even knowing what was internet. At that time, I was already wondering of how we could be able to transfer files without waiting weeks. I was a huge PC gamer at that time and our internet connection was billed per hour (sic) with no online gaming such as MMORPG.

Guess what, I’m still using nowadays my Hotmail email address that I created in 1999.

And you still use the same address?

Still using it. It’s my primary email address and not something I will change. Nowadays thanks to mailinator we can sign up for almost anything avoiding spam. I didn’t had that at that time and so I’m regularly using mailinator nowadays when I sign up for non-important stuff.

Actually, I like to detect early trends. Because, I remember at that time the internet was something, but mobile was also something coming up. My first mobile phone I had it in 1997.

Was it one of those big car phones? Or what was it?

It wasn’t that big. Even though it was like the size of a soft drink can, without the antenna and the keyboard clap deployed and with double the weight. So all deployed it was the size of 2 soft drink can. I discovered that mobile phone gives you freedom with totally new experience. Imagine yourself as a very young adult, if not a teenager still, being able to call your girlfriend in a quiet room without anyone hearing your conversation. So I bought one for my girlfriend and it the experience was amazing. I also remember starting using SMS at that time. It was totally free at that time as it was more used for technical usage, soon to be the cash cow for the telcos when they realized that there was an opportunity for them to create an offer. Remember what I said earlier about opportunities and 360 view? That’s a great example.

Progression into a Digital Agency

So, what’d you get into? You wanted to stay in internet?

Indeed, I stayed in the internet industry. I moved on joining one of France’s leading digital agency at that time – Internence.com. The agency had 150 employees with big names as our customers, and I was lucky to actively participate on the account of Nintendo. Sometime people ask me how come I got embarked into it. I believe it all comes to attitude mostly.

So I went on working with my bosses’ boss and meet with the Marketing Director and his team. The experience was really great, nothing is more worth than the experience compared to the theory – maybe that’s why I was wondering what I was doing at school instead of experiencing real life. Attending meetings, listening to conversations happening was fantastic, especially when the customer is asking me directly questions and encouraging to really voice out what I was thinking. You have to put back in context where internet was still relatively new to everyone, and they needed idea to be ahead in this new media. I learned at that time that any ideas can be good and can be coming from anyone in a room regardless of their position or experience. Review what you know in an unknown context to understand the new rules. This could be applicable for social media nowadays.

This fantastic journey in that agency lasted for about 2 years before it completely shut down. The company grew so fast that it had hired in consequence, and have not seen an important factor in the equation – when a website is done, it takes 3 to 5 years before revamping it. So when you have almost all the big companies having a website already then what do you do meanwhile? When realizing the situation, it was too late. The company had no choice but to completely close down. That was unexpected and sad, however, I’m really grateful to have been part of this company and have worked with people who have mentored me.

So, after that company shut down, then what’d you do?

So after that company shut down, I was still convinced that I wanted to stay in the internet industry. I was lucky to get in touch with Normedia, a traditional communication agency that wanted to operate a shift into digital. The connection between them and me went very well and so we started a new chapter for Normedia together. Then was born Ingeeny lab – the digital section of Normedia.

I had ambition, passion and I knew which direction I wanted to take.

They gave me all the keys so I could create that business unit. I come up with the new name, the new logo, build up the team from the ground. I was wearing different hats to cover all the different role needed from general management to project manager and also sales representative. Competing against others was really thought. To make our place in the market there was only one option: be providing more services than others would do. That would start with a simple mojo: listen to what our customers wants, what is the real issue and how can we help solve their problem. If you can give value to the customer and show them what’s in there for them, then you already have done the most difficult part of the job.

I stayed in the company for 4 years. Growing up from just myself and another guy to nine people when I left.

So this is still in France?

Indeed, still in France. After 3 years and having stabilized the business unit I decide to go back to school attending 1 year study at EDHEC Business School for the Advance Management Program. After graduating I realize that it was time to move on as I wanted to explore consulting and get experience in a multinational company.

Stints in Consulting and Working with Smart People

I left Ingeeny lab and joined a well renowed multinational: Capgemini. My consulting and multinational experience have started with them.

Kind like strategy consulting, but still in the IT or, something else?

It was mainly about IT and my focus was definitely into consulting, getting in touch with decision makers on another level than my previous experiences.

It was the biggest company you worked for so far?

Definitely, I also made my move to Paris to join Capgemini. Being working at La Defense which is the French business district with view on the Eiffel Tower was a blast. I have quickly been appointed as IT consultant assigned to a public function account – basically working for a government body that I will call the Agency. I was in charge of ensuring that all the architectures on the different projects that the Agency’s project managers wanted to implement was respecting the different principles of SOA architecture that we wanted them to apply.

I learned a lot. My colleagues were fantastic as they were always supporting me to acquire the right level of knowledge to cover what I was suppose to cover. I had trust from my management and my team members.

I was teaming up with two senior people. They were very senior: like more than ten year experiences in that field. I was very worried because, I was very junior, in that field. Instead the team was counting on me to help them solve problems. Basically I was conducting and participating in “questions” meeting which had helped them find solutions as we were looking problems in different angles.

This is really powerful. That’s also what I was saying earlier: ideas can come from anybody, because you can help others to generate other ideas, to find solutions when they are just talking with someone else.

One of the things that was fantastic from my colleagues is that they never at any moment questioned why I was in the team. I was part of the team. They were trusting me. There were things that I didn’t know how to do, but I was just pulling up my sleeves, getting into reading books, doing research, getting things done by understanding what those things are about.

So, at the end of the my assignment, which was the one year assignment, I was able to understand and explain to others what was an SOA architecture, how to implement it correctly, and what were the things that we should be doing. I continue on that assignment for an additional year.

So, the thing that made me moved from Capgemini is because it was too technical and still a bit far from the business. I wanted to be much closer to the business. So, I moved into this company, weave, that is a consulting in management and organization.

Okay, so you stayed in consulting?

Indeed, I stayed in consulting.

I joined weave, and was impressed by the number of very smart people I was working with. When you work with smart people you tend to become smarter yourself.

So, basically I joined and then I was assigned to a lot of different kinds of assignments. Finally doing the kind of consulting I wanted. The kind of consulting that is looking into a problem in 360 degree view.

So, this is strategy consulting?

The partners were coming from other big consulting companies with their tools and methodology. The mojo was constructive impertinence. Which I still adhere to nowadays.

I was more in charge of solving problems related to the Information System on first assignement. Even thought it was about IS and IT, we were always keeping in sight the business and the users. It was different from Capgemini where we were keeping in sight the technology.

The entire paradigm is changed and do make sense to me.

Okay and now it’s flipped, right?

It’s flipped. So it’s: “what’s the business requirement? what’s going on? what’s the problem? how can we help to get things working better for the business by implementing solutions that will be adapted to the business’ needs?”

Totally different and it just opens up. You can look into a problem from different angles. Depending on the angle that you take, you will have different effect.

I stayed there for 2 years. I enjoyed it a lot.

The mind set of the firm was very good. They wanted to grow, but not become humongous. You know, you want become taller and stronger, but not fat.

Next Stop: Singapore

Ah okay..

So, I moved out because I just wanted to come to Singapore. I did a transit in Singapore and I found that Singapore was a place that I wanted to be.

A great place for business, or for technology, or for..?

To live. It just felt like home.

I didn’t know Singapore. It was just a Southeast Asian Country I’ve heard about.

But, I was very surprised by the country: the dynamism, the infrastructure, and I was just wandering around the city and it just felt like home.

I just felt that I had to come. On the way back to France, on the plane, my decision was made.

You just decided that you needed to come back to Singapore?

Indeed, I went to see my boss and I told him about my new aspiration to take a new challenge in Singapore.

So, you resigned just to go to Singapore?

Yes, I resigned, moved out my stuff and then I came to Singapore.

I wanted to continue doing consulting but my English was an issue, at least in the consulting world where each word has got its weight and importance.

Okay. So, the jargon and slang..

Indeed, it was really hard to get the correct words and terms while I was doing my interviews. So instead of insisting taking a path that would most likely lead to certain failure, I prefered changing path. For anything I would engage myself into, I would ensure putting all assets on my side.

So, I wasn’t able to pursue anything in that field in Singapore and also wanted to find a way to get into the big ones: the BCGs, the McKinseys. So, I was thinking of going for a MBA. Taking a step back then, I thought about it and though that’s not necessarily what I want.

Again, it’s a question of what’s your objective at the end of the day. You might have zero plans or a very well-crafted one. In many cases plans might fail. One thing that will stay there is your objective. So you have to stick to it and just stay focused on the objective. The plans will come along the way to make you achieve that objective.

How long were you in Singapore looking before you found a job?

3 months. I took on a job that was senior project manager role. The role felt like what I was doing back in France, in previous experiences at Ingeeny lab and Capgemini.

I have had been assigned to work with Philips Lighting, it was exciting to work with another big company but I was wondering what would be in there for me. Well guess what, as soon as I started working with Philips, I realized that I was learning quite a lot. I was realizing that in any situation you can acquire new experiences. It is all about what you want to do about your job that will make it an awesome experience or not. I managed to turn this experience into a really great thing because I felt I could explore and experience a new environment, a different culture, different projects and a different industry.

So how long did you stay?

I just stayed 9 months as then the project was ending and no renewal was proposed, so in this situation I only could quit and start looking around.

So with that customer what markably are they at? Was it the Asian market?

Indeed, it was Asia.

Asia is a very interesting and exciting place to be. Coming to SIngapore and living it from inside as truly been an eye opener. There are wider opportunities and the entire APAC region is interesting, I was working with different people across the world, from Europe to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, also Australia. So it was really interesting.

And, Into salesforce.com

So I moved into salesforce.com taking care of a regional role for the APAC region. For the anecdote, the first role I had at salesforce.com was a position I applied before moving to Singapore, without success though. However the job stayed vacant for almost a year. Feels like the job was just waiting for me to join at the right time and the right moment.

So you moved from Phillips into saleforce.com?

Indeed.

For the first time after over 10 years of experience I’m moving into the end-customer side. All my prior experience have had been around providing services to end-customers. Now I’m an end-customer.

For sure my previous experience servicing end-customer is a strong asset, as I do have a very strong sense of service. I know what it is to serve your employees, your peers, your customers, your stakeholders. Actually, service is very strong in my DNA.

When my contract was ending with Philips, I could have started to worry to get into bad time for finding a job again. But the experience I had accumulated and lived with Philips had given me confidence that I could make it here in Singapore and that I could join salesforce.com for a position that seems just to be waiting for me.

So, I joined salesforce.com, and I’ve stayed there for 2.5 years. My first role was Web Production Manager for a year, then I get promoted to be the Head of Web Marketing just a year after. I have held this last position for 1.5 years.

To me, luck means being at the right place at the right moment. If you feel like there’s something to do, then you should be really trying to push for it and to do it. You never know if it will be success or failure at the end. One thing for sure, you won’t have regrets of having tried.

So, in the past, you did a lot of servicing clients, servicing customers and I guess a bit of business development too. Now in salesforce.com, do you think that plays into the business model or customer relationship management?

It’s like what the CEO of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, is saying, “every role in salesforce.com is customer-facing”. It is so true. The website we are developing is most of the time the first point of contact with salesforce.com. With all respect we have to the customers, we need to ensure that everything is ready to welcome them on the website with a smooth experience.

People get in touch with you through the website? So, it’s mostly inbound marketing? or…?

It’s both.

Mainly for us, we are applying an inbound strategy to try to attract people to come to our websites. It’s also asking them to leave us contact details if they are interested so then we can get back to them and that’s how we are generating leads in our business.

Alright… Time up?

Yeah, time up. I really need to run.

Change is always happening

======= UPDATE: from Pascal ======

Since our last interview, I have moved into an amazing opportunity with Schneider Electric. I’m basically making the company get into this transformation journey, shifting the entire company into the digital era. My role is crucial here as I need to ensure all parts are moving along together. This is great to see all the accumulated experience getting a practical case. No more direct reports, but huge amount of people to work with in virtual teams.

It’s been over a month since I’m in this new business. Totally new, with people having huge amount of experience in the business. I’m impressed by the number of years people have been with this company and expect to learn a lot from them.

For sure this new role is a step further towards my objective. The plan changes along the way as opportunity appears, but one thing remains stable – the objective.

Probably will be able to share more in near future, I would be glad to look back into this blog post in few month or years and see how things are evolving.

How to Develop REAL Passion (The Fear of Success)

Do you have real dreams? Do you really want them?

I’d argue that you don’t.

What do you have in life?

Give it up. All of it.

Lose all of your possessions. Lose all of your friends. Estrange a few family members.

Go to zero.

You have to.

You have to be willing to.

That’s real passion.

That’s the difference between real success and pretend success.

Be homeless. Sleep in the streets. See what the bottom feels like.

Fail.

Fail again.

Feel like shit.

Go through depression.

Consider suicide. (But, don’t do it – that’s the easy way out.)

Come out of that.

Come from the real bottom.

Day by day. Chip away.

Stay focused.

Your goals, your current practice is the only thing that keeps you sane.

So you work at. Everyday. Day by day. Bit by bit.

Until you’re better at that one thing than everybody else is.

That’s real success.

Are you scared of it?

The 3 Types of Practice: How Efficient Is Your Learning?

10,000 Hours Isn’t The Most Important Thing In Anders Ericsson’s Work

The most well-known thing that comes out of Anders Ericsson’s work research is the often-quoted 10,000 Hours Rule: the amount of deliberate practice it takes to reach world-class mastery in something.

The 10,000 Hours Rule is also often attributed, incorrectly, to Malcolm Gladwell . All he did was write about Ericsson’s research – but the hypothesis actually comes from Anders Ericsson .

I actually hate the 10,000 Hour Rule. Partially because of the over-attribution to Gladwell (and don’t get me wrong, I’m a Malcolm Gladwell fan. I love his books), but mainly because I think in talking about this number so much, 10,000… 10,000 hours!!… most people miss what I think is really the most important part of Ericsson’s research. And that is the effectiveness of DELIBERATE PRACTICE.

It’s not bullshit practice we’re talking about. It’s not spending a lot of time doing something just to spend time doing something. It’s deliberate practice.

Deliberate.

Anders Ericsson

Anders Ericsson

Forget the 10,000 hours part. Too many people focus on that. Jerry Rice and Tiger Woods aren’t great just because they spent more working at their crafts than everyone else. Hell, they probably didn’t. They became great because of how HARD they practiced. Deliberately.

I’m still playing with it and tweaking it my life and learning how to apply deliberate practice to new skills and new projects I want to improve and accomplish. But in order to paint the picture of what deliberate practice is, I also want to point out a couple of other styles of practice to you and show you why you need all three, but also why deliberate practice is the most important.

Three Important Types of Practice

So, lets talk about this for a minute. The three types of practice are: deliberate practice, ambient practice, and synthetic practice.

Let me try to define them for you, and then break them down with a couple of examples.

Ambient practice – would just be picking up the skill naturally, over time, as it comes to you. Through your habitat. Through your environment and normal behavior, you would just pick it up. Yes, its effective and it does happen – but, it takes forever.

Deliberate practice – being very deliberate in what you want to improve and focusing on practicing the skill in a setting equal to or very close to the actual performance setting of the skill. Because doing so, provides you with instant and direct feedback, which you can then use to instantly learn from and make adjustments and improve.

Synthetic practicethe next best thing when deliberate practice is not always possible. Usually this is due to deliberate practice between very expensive in resources in some way (money, time). In synthetic practice, unlike deliberate practice, the performance setting is merely synthesized. So, you are not practicing in the actual performance setting but in the best synthetic you can possibly create. Feedback is not as good, as direct, or as instant as it would be in deliberate practice.

The curious case of the natural.
Of course, if you implement something you probably pick it up a bit and your ambient practice would actually become a bit more deliberate, even if still mainly ambient. I like to think of this as “the curious case of the natural”. I’m very much on the nurture side in the whole nature vs. nurture argument. And, I think this basically describes the “natural” that fools everybody on the nature side. He’s just naturally good at math. He’s just naturally good at learning languages. etcetera… No. I don’t think so. The “natural” is fooling you. For some reason he was curiously more interested in the subject at hand than most, early on. And his interest lead him to be a little more deliberate in his practice than everybody else. Thus, he can become naturally better than the rest of this ambient practicing peers.

Illustrating These Differences With An Example

Here’s a simplified example: Johnny plays basketball and wants to be a better 3-point shooter.

The skill he’s working on is his 3-point shooting.

Deliberate practice – His best deliberate practice would be to deliberately work on his 3-point shot during the actual games. He would deliberately aim to shoot 3-pointers during the games, focus on them rather than other areas of his game, analyze the feedback instantly, and make corrections going forward. This is the best practice available. It is during the performance setting (an actual game) and the feedback is instant: are the shots going in or not?

However, it is also resourcefully expensive. Games don’t occur all of the time and due to the other players on the court and time they possess the ball, Johnny would have a lot of downtime during the course of the game where he would not be able to deliberately practice is 3-point shot. Also, if his instant feedback shows that he still needs a lot of work, he may not get it instantly, as his feedback to his teammates may be to stop passing him the ball, and his coach may take him out of the game.

Synthetic practice – Johnny works at his 3-point shot for a couple of hours every day and tries to simulate game time situations as best as possible. He does this using a partner (friend, coach, or teammate). He practices rolling off of picks and shooting a 3, shooting off of the dribble, catching and shooting, having his partner run out at him to simulate defenders, etc.

Ambient practice – Johnny just keeps playing basketball. Occasionally he shoots 3 pointers, but he doesn’t put much effort into improving his shot deliberately. Over the years he does improve slightly, because he plays enough. But his shot barely improves. And it takes years.

The curious case of the natural:
While aiming to improve his 3-point shot, Johnny enlists the help of his friend Teddy. Teddy is the best 3-point shooter he knows and has such a natural and pure shot. Teddy’s story is this: when he was 5 years old, he was playing a game of pick up basketball against some older kids and through sheer dumb luck he made a amazing long distance 3-pointer that nobody expected him to make. His teammates congratulated him and his opponents looked stunned. He liked that feeling and enjoyed the praise so much that he sought out to receive it again. He deliberately aimed to be the guy that made 3-pointers and damage his opponents for leaving him open. He did this over and over and over time he became a better 3-point shooter than everyone else. Now, he’s a natural. Even he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t a good shooter. It was always that way.

sir

Don’t worry. They can’t catch me..

[randomtext category=”Post Sigs”]

Don’t Be Perfect

This ain’t Friday Night Lights. You’re not Billy Bob Thorton. Forget the “perfect” shit.

"Perfect is... blah blah blah blah.."

“Perfect is… blah blah blah blah..”

I once knew a girl in college who was a perfectionist. Every time she had a paper due, she had this vision of what a perfect paper would look like. She’d write a paper and if it wasn’t perfect. She’d scrap and start over.

She’d write another paper. Again, if it wasn’t perfect, she tossed it.

If she didn’t reach perfect before the assignment was due, she wouldn’t turn anything in, because what she had wasn’t good enough.

She made a lot of zeros on papers. Yes, zeros.

I too had visions of a perfect paper when I heard of due dates. I too would think and dream about my perfect paper would look like. But, it seemed hard – so I killed time by spending a few hours not writing the paper. Maybe I’d be on Facebook, or I’d wind up on Youtube. “Only one more video, then I should really get to work on this paper.”

Sooner or later the deadline was near. Now I had to finish the paper. Just, write something, anything. Fuck perfect. It doesn’t matter. Just turn something in. Even sloppy and last-minute is better than a zero.

I turned in sloppy, last-minute written papers. Some of them were actually quite good.

But, they were never perfect.

Actually, some of them were really good. Sometimes the professor or TA would congratulate me and say it was the best paper in the class and I would get an A. Sometimes they were shit and I’d get a C.

But, a C is still better than a zero.

But, the best outcome was when I thought I had a really good paper but got a shit grade. “What the hell? This paper is good. The professor is retarded. What does he want?”

And, then I’d learn what he wants. And, the next time I and a paper due in his class, I’d give him what he wants. And he’d be happy.

It would still be far from perfect.

I might have thought it was awful, but it was what I knew he wanted. Crazy professor. He likes awful papers.

When I knew what he wanted, the papers were easier to write. I procrastinated less. I never bothered to be perfect.

I noticed something. There was a direct correlation with how much I wanted to be perfect at something and how much I procrastinated at it.

Why?

Because perfect is ambiguous. It also doesn’t exist.

Don’t be perfect. Just be better.

Improvement is incremental. It doesn’t happen overnight. No matter what you think, dream, or wish. The media may sensationalize “overnight success”, but its all a lie. Smoke and mirrors. It doesn’t exist.

Perfect.

Perfect.

 

Its a story we love, because we would love for things to be easy. But, they’re not. You usually don’t see all of the pain. All of the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into “overnight success”. Lots of people work their ass off to get where they got. Don’t discount their work by calling it “overnight success”, don’t discount their achievements by calling them or their story “perfect.”

[randomtext category=”Post Sigs”]

Overconfidence: Why “Faking It ‘Till You Make It” Works So Well

I’m going to make a case for an important skill that anybody wanting to achieve success should look to develop and harness: overconfidence.

Yes, that’s right.

Overconfidence.

Otherwise called: “cockiness”, “arrogance”, or to my UK friends, better known as “Alan Sugar Syndrome”

People hear all of the time that they should approach things with confidence. “Be confident, be confident. Show confidence”. But at the same time, they’re also told to be “humble.”   “Be humble, show humility”.

How do you do achieve both if you haven’t done it before? Yes, there’s a fine line there. A “sweet spot” if you will. But how do you find it if you don’t know where it is?

Easy. Go overboard.

You won’t be able to find the sweet spot between confidence and humility unless you’ve crossed the overconfidence threshold a few times.

Oh, but you don’t want to come across as a giant pompous dick you say?

Well, why not?

Chances are, you already are one.

I promise you… somebody thinks you are one.

For one, we know you’re human. Which means you already think about yourself 60% of the time and only think about others 10% of the time.

You probably have a Facebook account – which basically means you’re already a narcissist.

Everybody, on Facebook

So, there you have it. Being that you’re human and you’re probably on Facebook. You likely already think too highly of yourself. At least about something.

So, let’s work on being overconfident in real life. Think about the benefits.

In order to explain this, I’ll give you a few examples, defining overconfidence (from freedictionary.com) as being overconfident or:

o·ver·con·fi·dent
adj.

Excessively confident; presumptuous.

and the opposite of overconfidence as “fear” or an inability or extreme lack of self-confidence. Yes, I’m speaking about extremes here, but it’s important to illustrate the point. Even from the definitions, it’s not hard to see which is the preferable trait to possess, but for fun..

Let’s take this further by looking at some examples.

Why don’t we start where all fun social experiments and social observations tend to start – in a bar.

Two guys are the local pub and they both see a pretty girl they would like to meet.

  • Guy A is an overconfident ass who is quite sure he can win her over with his charm and sleep with her tonight. He’s “God’s Gift to Women”.
  • Guy B is terrified. Complete fear. He “doesn’t know how to approach women in a bar”. “I wouldn’t know what to say”, “This is scary”, etc. That guy.

Given these two examples. Who has the better chance with the girl?  I’m not asking who gets the girl, its a hypothetical situation – one which silly commenters are likely to point out all kinds of reasons why Guy A doesn’t succeed in his “quest”. Regardless of that – seriously, all I’m asking is who has the better chance here? You know the answer.

Another example. Two foreigners are in China.

  • Foreigner A glanced at a phrasebook said “this language doesn’t look so hard” and decided to go around bumbling horrible tones and butchering the Chinese language to anybody that would so much glance at him: taxi drivers, waiters, even random people on the street – all were victims of his awful pronunciation and horrible tones and communication skills. But, he didn’t care, he thought it was fun when they looked him awkward and took it all as a learning experience.
  • Foreigner B was paying a lot of money for Chinese lessons and thought she was on some great adventure to study Mandarin and see Beijing. But whenever she was out and about in China – she never spoke Mandarin. She was too scared she’d mispronounce something or say something offensive. Afterall, we’ve all heard the stories about all of the foreigners who get raped and slaughtered just for mispronouncing the 3rd tone. She wouldn’t dare speak. She’s not ready yet.

Who has the better chance of progressing in the language? C’mon, you know the answer.

You want some more examples? Okay, let’s talk about everybody’s favorite childhood memory: middle school math.

  • Child A is the guy who thinks he’s a frigging “math whiz” and always raises his hand or offers to go up to the board, because he wants the teacher and the whole classroom to see how goddamn smart he is. Half of the time he has the wrong answer.
  • Child B is quiet and shy and thinks she’s “just not good at math”, she knows this to be true, because her father isn’t good at math and neither is her mother.  She gives up on math problems whenever she sees a big number or something that looks remotely scary. “Too hard” she says without even attempting the problem.

Who’s going to learn math and have better success in the subject?

Again, you know the answer.

But, don’t just take my word for it. No, instead let the king of overconfidence tell how great his life has been due to his own unbridled overconfidence in himself:

(PS, I always found it incredibly amusing how many people were actually “offended” by MJ’s Hall of Fame speech. You’ve spent 20+ years rewarding the guy with worldwide fame, hundreds of millions of dollars, called him the “best ever!” numerous times… and you’re surprised he’s extremely competitive and a bit cocky?  Really?!? Were you asleep during his whole career?)

[randomtext category=”Post Sigs”]