Does Your Business Have the Capabilities for Achieving Exponential Growth?

Growth
As CEOs and Boards you are faced with an unprecedented level of pressure to achieve growth. Your company needs to stay ahead of increasingly aggressive competition, from other companies in your industry, from outside your industry and even from scrappy startups who define their own playbook.

Growth is not a lever you turn on or off at will. It requires focus, it requires a set of core capabilities that work together as a well-honed scalable operating system. Does your company have such an operating system in place? To achieve the nirvana of hyper-growth, this operating system needs to be working at peak performance capacity. How close is your business to operating at optimal capacity?

THE HYPER-GROWTH CAPABILITY QUIZ

We’ve designed a set of questions that help you uncover whether your business has scale in its DNA, whether it will be constrained by limitations and frictions and whether it has the capability to easily add fuel into its mix.

You can access the quiz via exoscalr.com or directly here.

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Finding Your Soul Work: A Journey from Near Death to Nirvana

EXO1Rewind back to early 2014 and I was enjoying working for the world’s leading research and advisory firm as an executive leadership and innovation analyst. I spent my days flying around the world advising Fortune 500 Boards, CEOs and CxOs on growth, leadership and disruptive innovation.

On a Sunday night, mid-February, I’d prepped for an international flight in the morning and then…I dropped dead from a sudden cardiac arrest. I was able to revive myself, but was in a state of conscious ventricular tachycardia, a severely life threatening condition in which the heart beats at an extremely rapid rate.  I was rushed to hospital and spent several weeks undergoing a number of surgeries and also had a mini stroke, which was terrifying. I’ve detailed my health journey over this time (here and here), but in summary after an initially positive response my health deteriorated from mid 2014 leading to a further operation in December. Since then my health has improved dramatically.

Coming out of hospital for the first time in March 2014, I felt extremely grateful for being alive, for breathing fresh air and I saw the world through fresh eyes. I felt at the time that I had to make use of this opportunity to do something world changing. How could resuming the status quo be sufficient?

As Joseph Campbell puts it, “Only birth can conquer death – the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new.

But what was it that I would do that was new? As the months passed, I spoke with many people, considered diving into a few opportunities and also went back to my work as an analyst. I realized that I’d been given a very rare second chance at life and to honour that I needed to do more than what I had been doing. I also realised that what I did had to resonate within me, deeply.

Steve Jobs explains this so eloquently, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Even though I had some very trying times over the course of 2014, I was enthused by the journey I’d embarked on to search for my soul work, my calling. I came to realise that during my time as a VC and previously as a coach, I found most joy in helping great people transform themselves into being extraordinarily great – asking the right questions, guiding them to make the right decisions and acting as a trusted advisor. In this regard the role of a VC and a coach are very similar. As Roelof Botha of Sequoia Capital points out, the role of a VC is to help entrepreneurs navigate and solve problems on their own, to provide perspective and ask the right questions, and to provide frameworks for decision-making.

And so I’m super excited to announce that I’ve left my high flying analyst role and set up EXOscalr, the elite performance and transformational coaching and advisory firm. Our moonshot is to help create $1 trillion in value over the next ten years while also positively impacting 2 billion people. To achieve this goal we are working with entrepreneurs and leaders who have the capability to build exponentially scalable or exoscale companies, leaders who we can guide through a transformation into elite performers.

I invite you to join me on this journey.

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Mentoring an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Lessons from Boston

Dave Balter and Jennifer Lum have written a piece in Inc. about mentoring and how this is helping to connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boston.

It really excited me for two reasons. Firstly, I find myself formally and informally mentoring entrepreneurs on a regular basis. It is something I’d like to formalise more into a wholistic entrepreneurial coaching program. Given this, many of the points made in the article resonate with me.

The second reason for my excitement is that I am a big believer in creating truly matrixed entrepreneurial ecosystems. I’ve experienced first hand how Silicon Valley, for example, works and one of my passion areas is fostering such an ecosystem in Sydney and across the region. Sydney is currently where Boston was circa 2010. We have a solid level of entrepreneurial activity bubbling up and some high profile wins. We also have successful serial entrepreneurs returning to our positive economic climate. But we are not sufficiently matrixed.

I was talking with a colleague yesterday who, having returned from a stint working in Silicon Valley, found Sydney to be bubbling with pockets of activity, but no true connection between them and unless she was looking hard these pockets were easy to miss completely.

This article explains beautifully just what is required to create a more matrixed ecosystem. It was only once:

Boston’s start-up “ecosystem” began to deeply interconnect – like some massive neural network…the community is nurturing, embracing, and considerate of its entire being…what was once an environment of competition and posturing has been replaced by one of cultivation and brotherhood.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The momentum that’s brought Boston into 2012 is irrefutable. Everywhere you turn new nodes are being created and synapses are firing.

Similarly, Sydney can benefit from the approaches Dave and Jennifer are advocating, namely spiderweb mentorship and horizontal entrepreneurism.

The crux of the piece is around spiderweb mentorship, which they illuminate on as such:

This is about creating the strongest start-up “web” possible, by weaving an incredible tapestry of ideas and connections, allowing for random new offshoots, connecting divided webs, and oscillating the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem into action.

How can this be achieved?

They argue, and I wholeheartedly agree, that this occurs when experienced veterans (mentors) focus not on making each individual entrepreneur better, but on making the system as a whole stronger. Mentors must be open and willing to (a) connect with people beyond only those with the right “credentials” and (b) focus on the development of “web-like” interconnectivity to other mentors and entrepreneurs.

There are 5 critical behaviors mentors need to follow in order to achieve this:

1. Take the unknown meetings with ambiguous agendas.

Yes, I do this, but will counter that while I’m a big believer in serendipity it can sometimes prove frustrating and one does have to balance the number of such meetings versus those with specific business agendas.

2. Follow the law of three introductions

I like this. I’m always looking for connections across my network and love watching synapses occur when like minds meet.

3. Be constructive – and critical

Indeed. Enough said.

4. If you’re a spider, show up!

I agree that corporate execs should be more prepared to mentor.

5. Start your own web

Looking back 15 years – it was the best thing I ever did!

 

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Living in a Post-Geographical World: Address is Approximate (Hat Tip to Steve Jobs)

My family has been travelling since the 1670’s when two Du Toit brothers left France as part of the great French Huguenot movement. They went to Holland, which had recently begun colonising the tip of Africa. Recognising opportunity, they led a movement of settlers and arrived in Cape Town in 1676. The result was a wonderfully rich cultural mix (and some great wines) in the Franschoek region of the western cape of South Africa.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we dispersed to the UK and Australia when crime became all too pervasive. I’ve since also lived in the United States, and regard Sydney and Palo Alto as the closest things to home.

Like many others who have had similar experiences I consider myself post-geographical. It’s not where I am physically that matters, but what my mindset is, who I am interacting with and what I am aiming to achieve.

That’s why this video by Tom Jenkins resonates so much with me.

I love the vision he portrays and his message also talks to what Steve Jobs said many years ago in an interview, namely that the world we live in is made up of man-made constructs and constraints. That the people who created them are no smarter than you are and once you realise this you need never be constrained by them – create your own world, wherever you are!

Address Is Approximate from The Theory on Vimeo.

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It’s Obvious: A Rising Tide LIFTS All Boats

As followers of my posts will well know, I am a big fan of Ev Williams and the Obvious team, from the days when Twitter was a side project all the way through its massive growth.

So when they announce a new partnership I take notice – big time. Lift sounds really interesting and I’m looking forward to hearing and exploring it in more detail in due course.

My main inspiration for this post, though, were the comments made by Obvious regarding their ongoing journey in crystallising out their engagement model. In my view, these terms should be adopted by all companies as their core mission statement:

It’s important never to delude ourselves into thinking that technology changes the world. People are responsible for change – technology just helps out. At Obvious, our goal is to foster systems that help people work together to improve the world.

If you aren’t improving the world, get out of the way and let those who are do their work!!!

 

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Teleprompting, Obama Style

A tongue in cheek skit by The Onion…make sure you read the newsfeed at the bottom of the screen – says a lot about television news and politicians:

Obama’s Home Teleprompter Malfunctions During Family Dinner

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