As the school year is coming to an end and we’re moving into the exams and internship period for my undergrad students, I see a lot of them wondering about their future. Master degree? Job hunting? Entrepreneurial road?
This crossroad is a tough one. To them, the future is to be decided right now. And what I want to say to them is: “It’s not.”
I’m about twenty years older than most of them and I have lived quite a bit. Today, as I will no longer be there to hold their hand, I want to leave them with a few words that I was happy to hear at one point in my life. Mark Twain said some great things in his life but this quote seemed most appropriate.
To all my students:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.
Ski season is coming to an end, but if you know me a little, you won’t be surprised that I didn’t resist the idea of posting yet another mountain picture.
The mountains have a wonderful power of liberating the mind. When urban living becomes chaos, you will find on a ski slope or a hiking trail the space to breathe deep, shut down the traffic noise and listen to the wind blowing, stop inhaling fumes and start smelling the pine trees.
And if the nearest mountain is out of reach for now, I’m offering you this little window on the French Alps, taken during the BoostInLyon Season 6 Integration WeekEnd. Do you know any better way to kick-off an entrepreneurial journey and build a strong team spirit? I don’t.
Today is not Friday, so I’ll break one of Twitter’s sacred rule and I’ll do a special #FollowTuesday. Twitter has become one of my main source of information, benchmarking, content finding, content promoting, networking… and all that good stuff. In my eyes Twitter is the marketer’s best friend. Always here, always ready. But Twitter wouldn’t be half as useful without the people that are making it, so today I wanted to pay my respects to…
Five Twitter profiles I have on my “special list” (the one I’m actually reading every day)
Their bio says: Social media news and tips from the world’s most widely used social relationship platform.
Why I read it: Because I’m a proud #HootAmb and I genuinely believe Hootsuite is one of the best invention since sliced bread. Plus, they tweet really relevant content on social media strategy. Great resource for building my classes.
His bio says: Mantra: I empower people. Chief evangelist of Canva. Author of twelve books. Former chief evangelist of Apple.
Why I read him: Because he makes me feel empowered? Haha… Well, I need a little more than that. But overall Mr. Kawasaki and I have a common vision on business and marketing subjects. Plus, I stole his title of Chief Evangelist, so the least I can do is follow him on Twitter. Right?
Their bio says: The world’s best solution for high-end brand publishing. For freelance news and advice from our magazine, follow @TheFreelancer.
Why I read it: Because they share great content about content. Again, an excellent resource for enriching my classes with case-studies.
As a disclaimer, I would like to add that those are the most prolific and english-tweeting profiles I’m following. There are dozens of excellent ones that are tweeting a tiny bit less, or that are mostly tweeting in French that I also have on my special list. They might be the object of a different post sometime soon.
One of the things I’m most proud of is that, on January 2nd, 2015, I made it to the end. The end of the world that is.
Over there, outside of Ushuaia, after yet another hike was the end of route 3. The end of the world. I know it’s marketing, that’s my job, I can recognize the touristic B.S. but still it felt like something to see the sign and then…, well then… water. However, what I’ll remember most from my trip was not hitting “the end”. It was how we got there. Who I met on the way. The things I saw. The foods I tasted. The songs I heard.
I often tell my students that what matters is not the end result, what matters is the journey to get there. Too often I see them jump to potential solutions without understanding and enjoying every step of the way. In marketing, tactics are nothing without a good strategy. A strategy is nothing without a good understanding of the environment and the target audience. None of those steps should be circumvent. What fun would it be to only hear the end of the story, without the pleasure of hearing the story itself.
Same goes for entrepreneurship, same goes for personal relationship (what fun is a wedding without the courting and the getting to know each other), same goes for pretty much everything in life. So, basically, what am I saying? I’m just saying that however cool the end promises to be, wether it’s hitting the end of the world or making your first million, the much much cooler parts are all the adventures that are going to take you there.
Lately, I have been quite self-conscious about how I’m spending my time. I have been on the edge of a burn-out before the Holidays and, my biggest resolution was: “never again, let’s learn a better time management system”. So I read books, and articles, I kept a time-journal, I planned my days to the minute… and I ended-up spending so much time planning that I forgot that life was happening.
So instead of over-planning our daily agenda, how about we remember that life is also about what we hadn’t planned. Unfortunately, I missed the TEDx about Serendipity that happened in Lyon a few weeks ago ; but there is always this fantastic TEDxConcordia by Lenny Rachitsky to remind us what we could gain in letting go of what we think we need to control and let life happen.
So, today I’m happy to quote John Lennon, because we all need a little Beatles wisdom in our lives, once in a while.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
When was the last time you welcomed a little serendipity in your life?
Inspiration is the entrepreneur’s best friend. Inspiration is what keeps us going. What nourishes the creative mind that often is responsible for who we are. We (entrepreneurs) are doers. But we (entrepreneurs) also are dreamers. And it’s this perfect combination of both that produces greatness.
Great entrepreneurs are the ones that keep all their five senses open, in search of the next great idea, in observance of what is dysfunctional in our world (and there’s a lot to choose from).
This week, I am teaching the creative side an entrepreneurship class that is going to go on for a few month, at EM Lyon. Students have been slowly brought to it through conferences and have been asked to start opening their search for their big idea, weeks ago. Amazing to see, only through a few creative exercises, the ones that did, and the ones that went on without bothering. I could almost pinpoint today the ones that have what it take to become a great entrepreneur, and the ones that will just be followers.
And the difference, at this point, lies in one thing and one thing only: some of them opened their mind. Some of them took a chance at believing that entrepreneurship and innovation take inspiration.
How and where to find inspiration?
Inspiration is within each one of us, what you need to do is allow it to come out. There are several methods to help that happen:
Focus on what you are feeling, not what you aren’t.
Read blogs written by people who have overcome adversity.
Try something you’ve always assumed you can’t do but secretly wanted to try.
Spend time with children and see the world through their eyes.
Sing in the shower. Put your heart into and release your feelings through music.
Those are all good. But the one that works best for me is to let myself be guided by nature. Art is an attempt to mimic nature’s beauty, but we can only get as close as we can and never achieve perfection. As such, look into nature’s wealth and be inspired by how magnificently the mountains are carved, how poetic a hundred year old tree stands, in every stream flowing with life, and many things both cold and warm. There is a magic in nature that is hard to define, right?
And this magic is here for each and every one of us. All we need to do is pause and smell the flowers. So, close that computer, put your hat and scarf on (it’s cold outside) and go take a walk in nature (yes, a park will do). Breathe deeply and open up your senses, you might be surprised by all the insights your mind is about to share with you.