Learn from Poor Charlie

Every once in a while I look to recommend a great book, if you’re looking to expand your horizon a bit.

This is such a time. But the book isn’t new. Far from it. I have had it for more than 10 years, but I have only gotten around to reading it now.

The book in question is “Poor Charlie’s Almanack”, a whopping coffee table book about legendary investor Warren Buffets sidekick and second-in-command, Charlie Munger, at Berkshire Hathaway.

In the book he spills the beans on his wisdom. And let me say it straight away: Much of it is common sense. But still you have got to give the man credit that when you live and act by a core belief system of common sense, you can do rather well for yourself.

Furthermore there is an incredible wit about Charlie, who turned 97 as we moved into 2021. While Warren Buffett has always been the one in the spotlight, Charlies wry comments and crystal clear ways of calling them like he sees them is amazing.

For that reason I highly recommend you look up Berkshire Hathaway AGM’s on YouTube and feast yourself in the two investors asking questions from their audience of shareholders. It’s priceless.

But Charlie Munger is also the story about something else that I personally hold very dear; the (wo)man behind the (wo)man.

While aspirational leaders and entrepreneurs have always fascinated me, I have tended to be more fascinated by their enablers; those who actually get the wheels into motion, do the nitty gritty stuff, aka work the engine room so the captain can be on the bridge setting the course.

I have a great personal liking for those. Most probably because it fits my own comfort zone best; being the one a step being doing the heavy lifting, making things gel and gently apply my contribution to things.

One thing is for sure: Charlie Munger has been exceptionally great at doing precisely that. And few people are more deserving of a coffee table-sized book than him.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

RIP Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh was one of my startup heroes, and I was saddened to hear that he tragically passed away after suffering injuries in a house fire.

46 years is no age. Tony was involved in a lot of different things, and there were plenty of mind blowing new approaches to business and entrepreneurship to be had for us all from him. But alas, it was not to be.

When a tragedy such as this occurs, and you think being the immediate pain of the loss for those he leaves behind, you have a choice;

Uou can mourn the future that has been lost, or you can celebrate what he managed to achieve in a remarkable career.

Tony was one of the first to truly pioneer the idea of being customer centric. After helping found Zappos he was instrumental in building the company around happy customers to an extend that he was perfectly happy to offer employees money to leave the company, if – in a clever ploy – they were more motivated by that check than by working to keep customers happy.

Tony was an original an independent thinker. He wasn’t a slave to dogma, he questioned every assumption and dug out his own data to base decisions on and he was a level above and beyond most in terms of applying creativity to business and venturing into places and doing things in new ways that few others would have thought.

Tonys tragic passing should aside from mourning the loss be a celebration of the original thinkers. Of those who dare to challenge the status quo, not submit to ideology and never just go with the flow.

It is a super tough spot to be in and the setbacks are legio. But the world needs people like Tony in order to move forward in a sustainable way that brings prosperity and happiness to as many people as possible.

RIP.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

A question of empathy

When you are a parent, your biggest anxieties are always related to your kids. You want them to be healthy, do well, grow and be liked by their surroundings, and when something is off it is just a killing feeling that truly and utterly hurts.

The other day my eldest once again experienced a play date being cancelled on her. It was one with her friend, where the feedback from the friends parents were that they were currently exploring expanding their daughters circle of friends and had thus already made alternative arrangements with another girl.

While my rational side could understand and perhaps even sympathize with what they were trying to do, I felt hurt on behalf of my daughter. Not only because it was a deja vu feeling dating years back when I myself struggled to make friends and have play dates, but also because of something else;

When you are two parties or business partners, and one of them unilaterally makes a decision to do something else and explore other options, it may feel good and right for the one who makes the move.

But the other one gets left behind. Outside. Abandoned. Perhaps even due to no fault of their own.

You can make choices. And you absolutely should. It is only natural. But choices have consequences. And at the end of your choice, the consequences are being felt by real people.

If the relationship is strong, important and have been built over time, you should at the very least make the effort to empathize and see the situation from the other partys side, before you make your call.

Some times it will not make a dent, and you will stick by your original. For a number of whatever reasons.

But other times just turning the tables and looking at what the consequences are for those, your decision has a direct impact on, will help you get a new perspective, think about the relationship and what’s really at stake.

Maybe you could get inspired and learn something new. And perhaps even get to a different decision.

A decision that may be a small contribution to a more compassionate and caring world, which I would argue we could all benefit from.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

MEET our new podcast

I am a super big fan of podcasts, and as for many other people, they are a daily companion on my commute to and from the office.

Most of the podcasts, I hear have something to do with tech and entrepreneurship, and now there is a brand new, great one to add to the mix;

inQvation (where I work, full disclosure, ed) has launched a new podcast called MEET, where my brilliant colleague and general partner of inQvation, Christian Tost, talks to different inspiring entrepreneurs about their startup stories, challenges and victories along the way and – most importantly in my opinion – what they have learnt during the journey so far.

The first guest is Frederikke Schmidt of roccamore. While I am not personally into the fashion business at all, Frederikke is super inspiring to listen to for every entrepreneur setting out on the rough seas of entrepreneurship, and Christian asks her some really good, thoughtful questions.

Give it a go and make sure you add MEET to the podcasts, you subscribe to. You can find it on Apple Podcasts here. It will be worth your time.

NB: The podcast is in Danish.

(Illustration: inQvation)

The HelloFresh test

One of the basic common rules for startups is that if what you’re working on is worth doing, you’re bound to have competition (unless you’re operating in one of those rare spaces, where you have spotted something before anyone else, of course).

With so many services – especially in the consumer space – feeling more or less alike or at the very least trying to serve the same need or solve the same problem, you need to ask yourself, what the differentiator between success and failure is going to be.

There are quite a lot to choose from, but one of the ones, I increasingly believe a lot in is the end-to-end Customer Experience, i.e. everything from the smoothness of using the product and get what you need to the overall feel of the entire experience.

If you want to learn from the best – or those believed or rumored to be the best – there is only one way to go about it: To try the service out and see for yourself.

For that reason I have made a personal decision:

I am going to be trying out a different services in quite crowded consumer spaces over the coming months to get a sense of how those that get singled out for their Customer Experience and their ability to execute ruthlessly against it actually work.

I have already signed up for the first one: HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is rumored to be a cutthroat business that are very good at executing flawlessly in the crowded meal kit market.

They have just entered the Danish market, and I have signed up to give it a spin. The Danish meal kit market is super crowded with all sorts of services, and I have previously tried a few without being overly impressed.

So I am very curious to see, if my experience with HelloFresh is going to feel any different – if I can FEEL the execution. And what – if anything – I can learn from it to bring to the other things I am working on.

Because, yes, it always pays to get inspired from other industries for what you’re trying to succeed with yourself.

I will keep you posted on what I learn.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Corona thoughts, part 8

Last night we did a first in my network group under the Danish Management Society (VL): We had our first virtual meeting, and we used it as a venue for getting a situation report from our various industries in the light of the corona epidemic.

It was super interesting and inspiring to hear from the members about how things look from their end. From the airline executive whose planes are on the ground with no timeslot for getting back to flying to the architects, who use the crisis as a recruiting opportunity for new employees they now find much easier to come by than just six weeks ago.

But what was really interesting was what people have learned from it all. From the banal truths about how working remote works over the development of new online offerings in the consulting industry to people worrying about the potential longer-term fallout for society and the world as a whole.

The meeting really reinforced my long held belief that if you’re looking for a radically different perspective on things, look outside your immediate circles. Look across industries, roles and everyday jobs to get that sense of inspiration that gets your own mind going. That’s where you can get a ton of value.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The value of criticism

One of the great opportunities to learn something new and expand your horizon is to engage in conversation with someone you don’t agree with. You might still have disagreements after your conversation, but at least you have gotten the opportunity to get some perspective. And boy, do we often need that.

For that reason I always seize on the opportunity to reach out to people who have indicated that a shared experience left them somewhat lost or basically made them quit. Because I want to get a chance to at least understand where things went wrong as seen from the other side.

It is so easy to just ignore people who complain or give something you have done a bad review. And yes, it can be daunting to confront criticism, because if you are passionate about what you do, you know that it is going to sting and even hurt. But it is worth it. It adds perspective. It gives you the opportunity to reflect, which is always good. And no, it won’t kill you.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

A ‘bible’ on your quest

If you are working on creating anything new, anything outside the norm, you know that it can be a daunting task. You know that it can feel impossible at times, and you know that you can get to the point where you really doubt what you’re doing, and how to proceed with confidence.

Thankfully, there is a great book to support you in your quest. And yes, it is in fact called “How to Lead a Quest”, and it is written by Dr. Jason Fox. I highly recommend it. It is both a super guide, a great inspiration and – at times – a great comfort.

Not only will you get to see that the ups and downs you and your project(s) go through are totally normal and actually a part of the plan and of doing it right. And there are lots and lots of tips and tricks for how to operate, how to set yourself goals, achieve meaningful progress and adapt to core habits of making sure, you stay on the path.

(Photo: Private)