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Learn Early, Learn Often, Learn Cheap

I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work … Edison Picture1

Many in the startup community embrace the oft quoted “‘fail early and fail often” but I really struggle with embracing failure as a badge of honour. For me, it’s not about failure but about all about learning; rethinking, regrouping, re-factoring and having another go at it.

To find the right product, service, business model before you run out of time, resources or personal energy you need should be learn early, learn often, learn cheap. “Get out of the office” as soon as you can. “Build, measure and learn” over and over. And be cheap on personal energy as you only have some much spread around, time as it only goes in one direction and money as while you might get more, you might not either.

It’s not about failure. It’s about learning. Learn early, learn often, Learn cheap.

Tokyo

Travelling is a change that can be more than a rest; new places, new people and different perspective is a fresh breeze on one’s creative soul.

I’ve been traveling in Asia; Taichung and Taipei and now I’m in Tokyo with my sons. Japan has exhibited incredible poise and strength in the aftermath of earthquake, tsunami and a subsequent nuclear crisis. It jolted the average Japanese citizens’ faith in the business men and politicians that run their country but there seems to be real changes in motion to solve the problems of an ageing population, high public debt and deflation that were plaguing Japan long before the disaster. It is fascinating to observe and to reflect on the changes that are unfolding in Tokyo, the centre of this crucible of change. It is is an incredible, vibrant city of contrasts. Creative and repressed at the same time, it is a hyper-kinetic chaos that seems to merge with the traditional Japanese aesthetic and philosophical approaches drawn from a rich cultural heritage into a whole; a whole that is magnitudes greater than the sum of it’s collective parts.

Geoffrey West, a physicist at the Santa Fe Institute who has looked into the maths of cities and the creator of the meme that “cities are powerful networks” postulates that there is an urban constant that holds good the world over: “that every doubling in the size of a city brings a 15-20% increase in wages, patent output, the employment of “supercreative” people, the efficiency of transport systems and many other good things associated with cities. There is a similar increase in crime and pollution, but the benefits of higher wages and greater opportunities evidently outweigh those disadvantages.” Tokyo is the poster city (paradoxically with out the increase in crime and pollution). While it is impossible to predict the what and when of the next “new thing”, Tokyo is going there so watch this great city, it is the future in the making.

Get going !

Get going! Two simple words that my father would exalt to my brother and I in our youth. A two-word mantra that was universal in its application; from rousing us from teenage slumber to pushing through our internal inertia as adults and sparking us to action.

Steve Jobs’ famous quote “real artists ship” years later completed that internalized mantra and connected the call to action with meaning.  It was the epiphany that revealed that my instinctive yearning to make things that resonate with my fellow travellers could only be fulfilled by the actions of starting and completing.

So this is my start. And here is to many future completions. Cheers!