Screw it - I'm restarting 2017!

2017 has come but I think I brought a lot of baggage from 2016 into it. And for the most part I feel like I’m barely holding on. There have been unexpected family developments that landed one of us in the emergency ward, a difficult house move, a lot of ambiguity around what I’m doing professionally, and for some reason I’m in Mumbai speaking to 15000 students on my 2nd international trip this month when I swore I’d travel less this year.

And I know I’m not the only who feels rushed and pushed and hurried.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Well the madness ends now! I am committed to reclaiming 2017 and you should to.

This last weekend of January I reflected on just three simple things that I am going to put into action from February 1st. Yep, Feb 1st is the official start of 2017 for me.

Cognitive Computing

The third era of Information Technology

Imagine a world where you could make fast important decision with confidence. Now imagine your car advising you on issues as such as your marriage, stocks, presents and even parking spaces. Or your tablet at work helping to medicate your aging parents in a foreign land. A watch giving you suggestions on places to eat based on your recent travel schedule. This is bigger than Big Data. It’s more intelligent than artificial intelligence. It is set to  augment our lives more than current augmented/virtual reality. Welcome to the world of Cognitive Computing!

My favorite resource, Wikipedia (don’t judge me, you do it too), describes Cognitive Computing as ‘new hardware and/or software that mimics the functioning of the human brain and helps to improve human decision-making.’ This next frontier allows self-learning systems to use data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to essentially mimic human thinking. 

Recently I had the incredible opportunity to share the DLD Summer 16 Conference stage with Dirk Muhlenweg, Head of Global Sales for the Watson IOT centre in Munich, to discuss how cognitive computing will revolutionise industries in the future. 

For the full 20 minute video:

Fake it till you Make it?

Uncertainty. We all feel it at different times in our lives. For the entrepreneur, maybe a little more often than the average person. There are the projections, the hiring decisions, the strategic pivots, the legal contracts, the tech build, and the scaling opportunities. And whether you like it or not, as the founder you have to somehow exude confidence and knowledge and make decisions that have repercussions on you, your team, your company and society. And that’s when everything is going well! The entrepreneurial journey is filled with endless obstacles from co-founder disagreements to broken contracts to negative publicity to lack of funding to…the list goes on and on. And even when everything falls apart around you and within you, you need to do the impossible and make something out of a bad situation. 

Fake it till you make it? Heck yes! Your team depends on it. Your startup’s mission depends on it. Your investors depend on it. Your customers and beneficiaries depend on it. Deep inside, you depend on it. You need to drink your own kool aid. 

Disclaimer: I am NOT recommending that you manipulate or mislead. And the goal is NOT to turn into the fake. But I am reassuring you that we have all had moments when we’ve faked it in order to have an opportunity to learn with the intention to make it.                                

I’m going to be honest. My first job was with the UN - did college perfectly prepare me for this job? No. Did I have to fake it to make it? Yes. My first startup building a massive event across the oceans leading a multi-national team across continents – did I know exactly what I was doing to pull off an event that had literally 100s of 1000s attending? No. Did I fake it till I made it? Yes. I don’t say this out of pride but rather humility; a genuine gratefulness for incredible opportunities. For shoes too big for my feet but great people to help me grow into them. Faking it till I made it. 
     " I’m not in it for the money. I’m not in it for the fame. I’m in it for the journey."

“Faking it” has become an attitude (more on that below) that I believe has necessitated humility and tenacity on my entrepreneurial journey. And it’s the journey that excites me more than the destination. I’m not in it for the money. I’m not in it for the fame. I’m in it for the journey. I love finding creative solutions to everyday problems we have in our world that can help make the world a better place. And sometimes, I have to fake it to make that a reality.

o THREE quick tips on how to be good at ‘faking it’

  1. Be clueless: An unquenchable thirst to learn and absorb. An attitude of fire first, aim second. May seem reckless but it gets you started and forces you to very quickly start figuring things out. Being clueless forces you to ask good questions and find the answers.
  2. Be Poor: You don’t have the luxury of security nets and funds so what do you do – bootstrap. You’ve got to give 100% to what you have right now so you get creative with your network, resources and skills to make your dream a reality.
  3. Be hungry: You’ve got your back against your wall but you have no choice to succeed. This is what forces you to be creative, find solutions and develop a tenacity to make things happen so that you never return to that place of hunger and desperation. 

To me these 3 characteristics of those ‘faking it till they make it’ are powerful traits of a good entrepreneur who is grounded and determined to succeed.