What I Learned from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One

The book Zero to One from Peter Thiel has a set of interesting key learnings. One of the key learnings of this book however is the set of 7 questions that Thiel proposes.

This set of questions can be used to identify the degree to which your business has any chance to succeed. The seven questions are:

  1. The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology (vs. incremental improvement)? Is your solution 10 times better – in a key dimension – than anything else available?
  2. The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start this business?
  3. The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The People Question: Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but also deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

How to Solve Big Problems

Next time you experience a big problem. Try to chunk it down to its core.

This means that you have to sit down, take a piece of paper and a pen, and write down the set of activities that you need to do to solve the problem. Once you’ve done this, prioritize the list. You can do this by categorizing activities into their degree of importance and urgency. Accordingly, you’ll start with the most important and urgent task and work yourself down. Your list could then look like this

  1. Important and urgent.
    - Task a
    - Task b
  2. Important, but not urgent
    - Task c
    - Task d
  3. Not important, but urgent
    - Task e
    - Task f
  4. Not important and not urgent
    - Task g
    - Task h

Pro tip: write down how long each activity will take and schedule these activities in your calendar! 

Experimenting With New Income Streams

Since my recent graduation in Master of Science in Innovation Management from the Technical University of Eindhoven, I have started to experiment with different ways of generating passive income. I’m driven by three main reasons here:

  1. Because I don’t have an income stream at the moment (since I haven’t found a job yet)
  2. To be financially independent
  3. To have an abundant amount of free time

The first reason is in my opinion obvious. However, I can imagine that some people find it strange. Nonetheless, my savings are currently not significant enough to sustain my lifestyle for a long period of time. This forces me to get creative and generate new income streams (or simply find a job).

The second reason is simple. I don’t want to worry about finances. This means that if I want to buy a car or go on a vacation, I want to be able to. In this case, I’m not including debt as an income source. In general, I don’t like to go into debt since I’ll be losing much more money than what I borrow because of the interest rate. Moreoever, I would never want to go into debt to buy stuff that are expensive and not needed.

The third reason refers to working 40 hours per week and trading that time for 2 days of free time in the weekend. In general though, I don’t mind working hard and for long periods of time. However, I don’t want to end up with a job I don’t like nor do I want to be compensated poorly.  This already suggests  that I will have a poor fit with a lot of jobs. Nevertheless, I do sometimes see my self working in a company. Especially, in the following years, I think that working in a great company can help me:

  • to learn from the pros,
  • to save and earn money,
  • to have money that I can use to invest in myself
  • to advance my business and technical skills without carrying a lot of personal risk, and
  • to build a strong network of people,

Note that it could turn out that I like my job so much that I won’t take the risk of leaving it for something else such as starting my own venture. It could be very well that the amount of income that I receive is sufficient for the kind of lifestyle I’m pursuing.

New income streams

Several idea’s that I’m pursuing now include a website to help Instagrammers earn money with Instagram.

An other idea that I’m pursuing currently includes a webshop where I’m selling VR systems.

Be sure to check them out. I’ll be updating this site more regularly to notify you about the progress.

 

Innovation Management will be dropped as a subject

Lately I have been quite inactive with my blog. This has to do with my vacation to Los Angeles and something else. I want to elaborate more on the “something else”.

The main reason is that I was not sure who my target group is. This became clear when I viewed the subjects I wanted to talk about. The three subjects at this moment are:

  1. How to manage innovation with a scientific point of view
  2. The latest advances in the field of technology
  3. Tips and tricks on being more productive

Lets suppose there are people who are into these 3 subjects. I asked myself the following questions to be sure that this group is a good target group:

  • How big would this group be?
  • Would they like the order of my posts (first subject 1, second subject 2, third subject 3, etc)?
  • Could I go deep into some topics without confusing other people?
  • What about people who like subject 1 more than subject 2?
  • Do I have a competitive advantage?
  • Who are my competitors? And what are they doing?

The conclusion is that the target group is too small, the subjects are too big and competitors are  doing it different (most of the times they have chosen one subject)! And so, I wanted to change the purpose of the site.

Before I did anything I asked myself some questions:

  • What do I want to write about?
  • Who do I want to reach?
  • Is it a profitable niche?
  • Does it fit with my career goals?
  • How should I do it?

This ensued a lot of thinking and followed in the following conclusion

I want to write about the Master of Innovation Management which I will be following. I want to reach people who are into Innovation Management. The readers will have an appetite for knowing the latest developments in that field. I will offer tools, case studies, reports, thoughts, my opinion on that subject. Furthermore, I believe it is a profitable niche and it fits my career goals.

My plan is to exclude this subject from the list (and thus from the website) and continue with the other 2 on this website. I will start a new website that’s about my journey in the Master of  Innovation Management. I will post a link to it in the near future ;)

How to choose what to do in a given moment

How to choose what to do in a given moment

What will you be doing next? What would you do if you had the choice between emailing a friend or calling your sister? My bet is that your answer depends on your intuition if you don’t have a proper preplanning, but is it bad to go with your intuition?

Well, you can feel much more confident about your choices when you have a proper planning. It will give you more trust in your actions. You will not hesitate what to do, because you have made a conscious decision to schedule the one before the other. It will also increase your speed and effectiveness.

How to choose what to do in a given moment

The reality is that you have more to do than you can possibly do. You just need to feel good about your choices. So how do you do that? Once you know that you are able to do something, you have to choose something to do and a lot of things of not to do. How do you choose one activity of your list and feel good about it?

David Allen has developed a model that will be helpful in your decision-making about what to do. However, this model does not give you a clear answer about what to do. It will rather help you in framing your options more intelligently.

How to choose what to do in a given moment

Use the Four-Criteria Model to choose  what to do in a given moment

There are four criteria you can apply, in this order:

  1. Context
  2. Time available
  3. Energy available
  4. Priority

Context

This is the first step to choose  what to do in a given moment. Start by eliminating activities that you can’t do in the moment due to restrictions. Some activities require you to be somewhere or to have something. You can’t do an activity when you are not at work or and when you don’t have your laptop with you. This will automatically limit your choices about what you can do in the moment.

Time available

This is the second step to choose  what to do in a given moment. Start by estimating how much time you have and which of your activities fit in that time slot. You cannot call someone for half an hour when you have an appointment with someone else in 10 minutes. This will automatically limit your choices about what you can do in the moment.

Energy available

This is the third step to choose  what to do in a given moment.How much energy do you have? You cannot start to plan your vacation when you feel weak and drained. Some activities require a reservoir of fresh, creative mental energy and others need more physical horsepower. Eliminate the activities that are out your league at that moment.

Priority

This is the fourth step to choose  what to do in a given moment. The remaining activities are now in line with the given context, time and energy. This is the moment  to use your intuition and choose the one that has the highest priority to you.

Of course, you have to know which activity has the highest priority before you can choose that one. Don’t you have your priorities set and are you having trouble to choose what to do next? Then don’t forget to subscribe because I will talk more about this subject in future posts.

Conclusion

Use this model to choose what to do in a given moment. However, this model is also useful when you plan your day or week. This is because adequate planning requires you to keep the context, available time, available energy and priorities in mind. I do however start with prioritization of the activities before I start this process.

Question: What tactics do you use to stay focused?

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photo credit: Lori Greig via photopin cc