And I was happy…Spanx you very much!
As we all know, “the F-word” is one of the worst four-letter words you can speak. While I personally love it for its versatility and (in)appropriateness in nearly every situation (and frequently accused of using it way too much – hello wifey!) there is another F-word that I believe is viewed as even worse by society, and that is FAILURE.
Since we were kids, we were taught that failure was a dirty word…I mean a really dirty f*&#ing word! Did you ever receive a test back from a teacher in elementary with a huge F in bold red letters? Get told not to try that…you could hurt yourself, or fall, or get funny looks from strangers? Get cut from a team?
My 9 year old came home the other day from school and told me he was trying out for the 11 and under basketball team. I was totally stoked as I love the game and happy he wants to give it a go. But then I found out Lebron-Fever is sweeping Singapore and 24 kids were trying out for 11 spots. This news seriously freaked both of us out. He wasn't sure if he should try out because he didn’t want to feel like a failure – to me, his mom, his coach, his friends…himself!
I was afraid that if my son got cut (getting cut = epic FAIL) at such a young age he may give up basketball for good. Plus, I just simply didn’t want my kid to have to work through that pain, rejection and embarrassment of not making the team.
My mind immediately went into damage control mode – should I let him try out knowing the odds were against him? Should I convince him to wait and try next year after he had more time to practice and develop his skills to compete against 11 year olds?
Then, I read an article in HuffPo on Sara Blakely, billionaire founder of Spanx. In the article it talks about how her father encouraged the young Sara to talk about and even celebrate failures that happened every day in her life at school. He positively reinforced her efforts and demonstrated that “NOT TRYING” was the real failure.
That triggered a memory of another story I heard a while back about boy that went skiing for the first time. At the end of the day, he boasted to his father that he hadn’t fallen all day to which his father responded, well, then you didn’t try hard enough and you didn’t get any better. The son was deflated but the message was clear, falling isn’t failing. Not trying and pushing yourself is failing!
So when does a switch flip that tells us we can’t fail? A young baby stands and falls and stands and falls for days, weeks months, before it finally takes those first few precious steps. The entire time, adults are standing around, smiling, clapping, cheering and encouraging them to keep trying. And they do! They keep at it until they walk. So when does that stop? When do we start expecting our kids to be immediately perfect, or at least capable of doing a new activity? It’s ridiculous, right? But somewhere along the line we stop encouraging our kids to try, fail and try again and simply expect them to be good at something right away. If they are not, we assume they don’t have the talent for it and let them give up.
So, I had a talk with my son about the F-Word and explained that I would only be disappointed if he didn’t try out for the team. We would celebrate “the trying” and the effort and the risk-taking not whether some other random person/coach thought his skills were good enough…F-him and his opinion! It didn’t matter. Giving it a shot mattered. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone mattered.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, my son made the team! So, I didn’t get a chance to work through the entire lesson with him but I know it will happen soon enough, especially if I keep encouraging him to push it to the next level.
Of course, I learned a lot too. I was always a bit nervous to write about these types of issues…people would think my writing sucked, change their opinion of me, hate it…whatever. Well, I am saying F-that….I am not f%#ing worried about the F-word anymore!
Hey buddha-heads - see my six tips for using business cards properly in Asia! Everyone and their dog has biz cards and they are an important part of the culture, so you should learn to use them properly! Hope this helps you seal more deals in Asia!!
This video is from the land of Sushi, Sake and Sumo....and also crazy innovative products! Kaizen, or constant improvement, is a way of life in Japan and drives refinement of the products and services to the nth degree! Check out these lessons learned on innovation from the bathroom, yes my bathroom(!),
As I was sitting in the smallest room of my Tokyo hotel (you can figure out which room that was), I was thinking about what it was about Japan that made it such a kooky, dynamic marketplace and then it hit me like a blast of cold water from a high-pressure bidet! The Japanese take refinement of products to the Nth degree.
Constant improvement, or "Kaizen" in the manufacturing world, is truly a way of life for the Japanese.
Finding inspiration in the most unlikely places!
The Japanese are Ichiban (#1) at taking an existing technology and tweaking the hell out of it to make it better, smarter, more intuitive, benefit-rich and super user-friendly. Even the most mundane items get the treatment. Check this out - a remote controlled Toilet Seat! Seriously?!
This baby does everything a toilet should do - it washes, it blow dries, it warms, it cools...thankfully it doesn't slice or dice like the Ginsu Knife but it does just about everything else. And these puppies are everywhere in Japan, meaning it certainly meets a need that we have overlooked for years - who doesn't hate sitting on a cold toilet seat in the middle of winter? - and that some cat made A LOT of money coming up with this solution.
What are you sitting on (literally and figuratively) that can be improved, enhanced, refined in a way that creates a great new business! Don't overlook the little things because little things can add up to something big! And if you do you'll be sitting prettier...and warmer!
Do you have any thoughts on innovation? Does it have to be the next iPAD-type home run or should companies find ways to refine average products in ways that are meaningful to consumers? Leave a comment and let me know! Thank you.
Check it! This is my video blog - first post from Japan, with more to come. Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you have questions about what's going on in the local economy. Japan is a kooky place so I hope you love it as much as I do! Banzai!
"Solly, me no speak Engrish so good!"
I jumped in a taxi recently and heard the above sentence. Yeah, I know, surprise, surprise, right?
You can picture the scene - a funky beat up taxi, lots of artifacts dangling from the rear-view mirror, a guy with a name you can't pronounce and you think, "learn the language or go home, buddy!"
The funny thing is, these words weren't spoken to me by a taxi driver in the USA but by a local taxi driver in China!
Think about it. Here is a dude making the equivalent of US$300/month and he is apologizing to me for not speaking English when I am the foreigner in his country!
Was he pissed off that I was butchering his 3,000 year old language? Nope, he smiled and apologized for not knowing English. But, he is studying it every day like so many of his countrymen!
That is the attitude that will drive China into the future. The Chinese are committed to studying the best America has to offer and learning the skills necessary to make them a global power, whether it is speaking English or engineering a faster semiconductor.
For the most part, they actually appreciate having foreigners in their country to help drive them along the "Super-Growth Expressway" faster than the average Shanghai taxi driver can fly through a yellow/red light on the wrong side of the road!
I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from the attitude of my Shanghai cabbie!
Are you receptive to new and better ways of doing things? To learning from other people and cultures? To moving forward at the speed of a Shanghai taxi? Or do we just wish things would stay the same and they would just "go home"?
Let me know what you think below - go on, leave a comment!
Talk about flying into the future! I recently rode the fastest train in the world, which is located in Shanghai! Over 430 kms/hour! That's smoking fast and you can see some details about the ride on the above video - yes, I know...James Cameron I am not!
Asia too isn't trying to copy Mr. Cameron's "virtual" mind-blowing future universe in film. No, they are investing in real, killer infrastructure that will shoot them into the real future...and fast!
The amazing thing about technology is that it can take you into another time, a new world, not only at the movies but in real life.
Businesses, cities and even countries can leapfrog rivals with properly directed, coordinated investment in new technology and infrastructure. These moves allow you to literally jump over multiple iterations of technology - straight from my friend here on the left (yes, that's my son on a water buffalo!) to the fastest train in the world nearly overnight! Skipping right over slow trains, cars, etc. This can happen moving from a heavy coal-intensive polluter to the leader of the green economy. Or from AltaVista to a Google.
So I guess the message is that a country, a competitor or an entrepreneur can be light years behind today...but with a few strategic investments in the right places, in the right technology and in the right infrastructure they can zoom ahead. And it is happening in Asia. And did I mention, it's happening really, really FAST?!
How can you, your company or your community better use technology and targeted investment to propel you into the future? Leave your comments below!
As Americans get ready to celebrate our independence from British rule on July 4th, I think back to those exciting fireworks displays, grilling out with family and friends and eating some good Ohio sweet corn. I also remember a saying my grandfather taught me, “Knee high by the fourth of July and the corn will be good.” Unfortunately, this July 4 season Americans are knee high in something other than corn; yet another political sex scandal.