• Business
  • Business (and life) lessons from sheep pig Babe

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    “Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be
    ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.”

    Here is a tip the next time you find yourself reaching for yet an other business book to read.

    When it comes to developing skills in managing, leadership, coaching… and being an overall better
    human being… watch the movie Babe instead.

    Babe is a pig who finds success doing the work of a sheep dog.

    Not only that, sheep dog work is the domain of alpha sheep dogs, who herd the sheep by nipping at them
    and dominating them, whereas Babe is kind and gentle.

    Yet Babe ends up performing even better than the sheep dogs.

    How?

    He befriends the sheep dog Fly in her moment of need and gains a friend and ally who trusts him even when
    others doubt him.

    Babe doesn’t remain in a silo (or, in his case, a pig pen). Even though he was told to never leave the
    boundaries of the farm yard, one day he senses distress in the sheep pasture. His core value is be useful and
    protect his team, rather than keep his head down, so he races off to the pasture. He is not defined by a
    job description. In this act of disobedience he ends up staving off a huge loss for the farm.

    He has the courage to use his own strengths; rather than yell and bite he kindly asks the sheep to do what needs to be done. In business speak, he sees KPIs as a result, not as something to manage to.

    Furthermore, he never talks down to the sheep even though the sheep dogs told him sheep are
    stupid. He speaks eloquently to the sheep. For example: “Beautifully done. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you all. Now for one last favor. If the three ladies with collars would kindly walk out of the ring I would be very much obliged.”

    Babe doesn’t whine. Even during a period of great self-doubt, when he loses trust in the the top leadership of the farm. Because of the seeds sown through his previous hard work, and the development of his extended network (including the alpha sheep dogs), his colleagues comes through for him just when Babe thinks he needs to give up.

    Are the alpha dogs all bad?

    Not at all. The alpha dog Rex, who spends a portion of the movie marinating in resentment over Babe’s
    success, ends up removing a significant barrier for Babe, so Babe can learn the password of a
    different group of sheep and communicate with them.

    Rex exemplifies the very best of what managers do: remove barriers so that their employees can grow
    as people and move forward with their tasks.

    Babe advances to a higher level, Rex’s confidence in his own leadership is restored, the farm is a fully functioning unit again. Let’s not forget the farmer, the CEO of the farm; he is the visionary who, even though farm expenses exceed income, trusted his instinct regarding letting Babe work as a sheep pig.

    As the farmer says to Babe after his big accomplishment, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

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  • Business
  • Grit will help you start your own business

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    Remember those comic book ads from back in the day? I’m pretty sure the Grit ad in the Richie Rich comic books I loved to read was the first ad I ever saw that seized my imagination and made me want to start my own business.

    I never succumbed to the temptation to sell Grit, however. Although I did once indulge in a purchase of X-ray specs. The conversion rate of those comic book ads was probably high.

    Anyway that Grit memory was the first thing that popped into my mind when I listened to the NPR Ted Radio podcast about how grit is the key to success.

    What is grit? According to psychology professor Angela Lee Duckworth:

    Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

    Duckworth’s research shows that grit is a better indicator of success than IQ and family background.

    How to foster grit in our kids and ourselves? Knowing that the ability to learn is not fixed and can change with your effort.

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    Notes:
    NPR podcast about grit

  • Business
  • Have your copywriting cake and eat it too (or, risk a little and make a lot)

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    I’ve been reading Tony Robbins’ book MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.

    Tucked inside these 650 pages is a story about Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airways.

    He knew he could out-market anyone, even his major competitor British Airways.

    But rather than focus on hitting a homerun, he instead hedged his downside.

    He negotiated a brilliant deal: he purchased five airplanes with the arrangement that he could give back the planes if his business did not work out.

    As Tony says:

    Not unlike the business world, the investment world will tell you, directly or more subtly, that if you want to win big, you’ve got to take some serious risk. Or more frighteningly, if you ever want financial freedom, you have to risk your freedom to get there.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    If there is one common denominator of successful insiders, it’s that they don’t speculate with their hard-earned savings, they strategize. Remember Warren Buffett’s top two rules of investing? Rule 1: don’t lose money! Rule 2: see rule 1.

    …billionaire insiders look for opportunities that provide asymmetrick risk/reward. This is a fancy way of saying that the reward is drastically disproportionate to the risk.

    Risk a little, make a lot

    Having been in the entrepreneur world for almost ten years, I have observed that too many folks fail to hedge their downside and risk too much and make nothing.

    One of the ways this happens is paying a fortune for sales copy, or copywriting program, when one doesn’t have a viable offer or product.

    And about the cake…

    To have your copywriting cake and eat it too – and risk a little to make a lot from your copy – see my Copywriter’s Notebook: Email copywriting tips for getting more clicks.

  • Business
  • Good work requires taking the path of visibility

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    “The path to good work is the path of making our selves visible…

    How many times have we kept a hope or dream in abeyance because even thinking about the possibilities of failure were too much to contemplate? If we failed at that central, precious thing that we have always had in reserve for an alternative life, then who would we be? Would there be any one we like left at all? Far better then, not to risk at all, to choose something smaller, to undertake some logistical task we don’t mind getting wrong, something we could recover from, something where we are, in effect, still invisible, to ourselves and to the world. Better to choose a world where things don’t matter. Better not to appear fully on life’s radar screen.

    But in taking the path of visibility we arrange for a different kind of disappearance – into the work, the task, the audience, the one who will receive what we have conceived, the life that opens up …making ourselves visible allows us to be found and even invited in by the world we both fear and desire….”

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    Photo: Freddie Phillips
    Quote: David Whyte