Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Archive for June 2011

How to find inspiration ?

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Thinking out of the box.

Some of great ideas are coming on an unexpected way, and we want to get absolutely an idea for a new project, for a new book or article we want to write, the inspiration is not there. As we are used to say, an idea is not coming alone. Sometimes, ideas are coming because we noticed something around us, or we heard about something. And from this event, we start to think about it and suddenly an idea is coming.

It is now around two years that I am publishing articles on this blog, and the ongoing concern and challenge is to know if I will be able to publish an article with an acceptable quality level within the deadline I fixed. The ideas finally are coming, but as mentioned earlier not alone. There are coming easier, if we have an intensive activity. I would like to share some useful tips and conditions in my mind helping us to find inspiration.

  • Break the routine. Each of us, we have repetitive activities and duties. We are doing this tasks as we had been programed to do it. This repetition of the same activities become a routine, routine that is the opposite of thinking out of the box. By changing some habits, you will probably discover new things or you will do them on another way.
  • Develop your inspiring network. We can be inspired by inspiring people. Inspiring people are people who build their own life, their own experience, and who thought about what the way of life they chose, brought to them. By sharing their experience and ideas with you, you can feed your own ideas or project. We are closed to the mind mapping process, where words or ideas can make you think about closed ideas or things, and help you to build or move forward your own project, your own life.
  • Move time to time to another environment. As freelance, I am used to work to the customer office, or at home. Recently, I spent few day in a co-working space. By working there, you break the routine, you move to another working environment where the configuration of the room or the design will inspire you, will bring some positive energy to you. It is also an opportunity to meet other people having different jobs, with who you can talk about your projects, share ideas, and maybe build a new project with them.
  • Be curious, eager to learn and start new activities: the most experience you will have and the most curious you will be, the most opportunities of new ideas you will gain. The curiosity will bring you to discover new things, to learn, and to expand your knowledge. Each things you can learn can be the raw material of a future project, or idea, or a new activity.
  • Take the time for leisures and sports. By doing a sport, or watching a movie, reading a book,  you move your spirit to another horizon. By being too much focused on something, you are loosing visibility and do not see the things on a global way. When for instance, you try to solve a problem and you are stuck, then, move your brain to something else, or do a break. Take the opportunity to do sports, to decrease your stress, or just make a walk in a park or in the woods. By taking distance from the problem, you will see it on another way and find the solution you was looking for.

Inspiration and ideas are something we can work on it. Inspiration is something implying a movement, we are inspired by something. It means that we have to maximize the source of inspiration, and you only can organize this process. It is a long and ongoing process, but sometimes, it can bring interesting results.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 28, 2011 at 20:16

Success: reality or appearance?

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Success, reality or appearance?

In a previous post, I was talking about the meaning of success and trying to define what is success. In this post, I would like to talk about another aspect related to success , and I will handle it in the business area. Success in business is something each entrepreneur want to meet, because by definition it is rewarding, it means also that we are earning enough money to life from our activity. But does a positive image reflect always a success? In other word, does the image reflect the reality?

Let us be more concrete. In business magazine, you can read articles about some entrepreneurs, presenting their project. For a lot of people, the fact to have an article about you in a magazine is an evidence of success, and starting from this article, this positive image, they are concluding very quickly that the entrepreneur or the company mentioned here is a successful one. If you have a look to the article, you will notice that in fact, you do not know a lot of things about the success ..or the non-success of this company. The fact to have an article talking about you in a business magazine is always an good point in terms of marketing, to gain in visibility. An article is only a summary of the company or entrepreneur story, and a lot of informations are not told. I would like to take the example I red few times ago in a magazine related to employment and jobs. That magazine was publishing during several times, testimonials about people who decided one day to move to another job, another career. In this case I will refer to, it was a guy working in a bank since more than 15 years, who decided to move to a creative job. As he was very handy, he decided to launch a business of creation of furniture, objects with recycled materials. He explained that he was much more happy by this new activity than by his previous job as an accountant. You will note that by mentioning this, he is showing a positive image of himself and of his project. But in the article, it was not mentioned if he was earning enough money to live. But what he mentioned in this article is that he invested in real estate, bought 2 or 3 apartments he renovated himself, this apartments ensuring rent revenues and a financial security. This last element is important to be mentioned, because it will make you conclude on another way: we do not know if he is earning enough money from his new project, but he has other source of revenues allowing him to pursue his new activity, his objective.

I will tell you another example. I am used to attend entrepreneurship sessions, organized in Brussels on a monthly basis by the BetaGroup. In these sessions, web entrepreneurs are presenting their projects. The presentation is followed by a short question & answer session, and after presentation, people can talk about the projects or to make network. I was talking with entrepreneurs, and some of them were explaining to me the difficulties they had to reach the break even with their project, and for that reason, that they still had another job as web consultant or developer for big companies. We can see here different success levels: the product they wanted to develop is a success on a technical point of view, some of these projects are presented during the session, and also in business magazines, which is a marketing success. But as we know, the last and important success is the economical success.

There are two important things needed to be reminded when you want to develop a business. First, remind that to be an entrepreneur is a difficult task. There is no easy business. Entrepreneurship is always risky, but you can and you have to create alternative plan to ensure the needed revenue to live. It will need hard work, to combine the two activities if you ensure your revenues by an activity. It is up to you to elaborate your own alternative plan. The second point is to remember that your success has to be your own, matching with your values, the way you are seeing things. What I mean is that your alternative plans will be the one you can deal with and not the plan you copied from somebody else. But don’t hesitate to talk and share ideas with other entrepreneurs, with inspiring people who will advice and help you to build your own solutions, your own success.

BetaGroup website: http://www.betagroup.be

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 14, 2011 at 21:55

The “Working” board

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Board of directors of a non-profit organization

Few days ago, I was publishing a question on a LinkedIn forum about experience as volunteer. One of the people who answered to that question talked about his experience, by mentioning the fact that he was member of the “working” board of directors. He was meaning of course that he was not there because it is smart to have such title, but he was contributing effectively to the management and operations of the non-profit organization.

I really like this concept and the meaning of “working” board, because as member of the board of two different non-profit organizations, I noticed two kind of directors. There are directors who were probably invited to join the board by other directors who are friends, and they are very proud to acquire a title, but they have not specific competences of real management background. There are other directors who have a specific competence contributing effectively to the organization processes.

I already mentioned in a previous post the situation of a non-profit organization who received some years ago an important donation. The association was by the time wrongly advised by the bank and they lost a lot of money in their investment. But what I noticed also in their accounts during one year, was the fact there had important operational losses and that nobody reacted during the year about that. When they received the donation, they decided to hire people, but the budget was not in balance at all. What happened a day, is that there were obliged to fire people, and each member of the board rejected the responsibility of such disaster to the other member of the board. Such situations allow to conclude that these people were totally incompetent, and did not want to face their responsibilities and take difficult decisions when needed, to avoid to get in trouble with the other directors. Such disaster is the result of non-decision, as I was writing in a previous post.

Let us talk about the other type of directors. These people are joining the board of a non-profit organization because they have specific competences, and they can help to implement solutions and improve processes in the organization. Competences are really important and are an added value when the organizations have a important and critical size. As you know, the more a project is important, the more the risk to fail is high, and the more experienced people are needed. In an organization where you have around ten people on payroll and fifty volunteers, like the one I am director of, you are definitively in a small enterprise. Like in commercial companies, structure and management are essential and are the key factors of success. The goal of a non-profit organization is probably different than the one of a commercial organization, but management and strategy are essential in both case to reach the assigned goal and to sustain the activities.

This second category of directors is the most useful, specially when non-profit organization are subsidized with public money. They have to guarantee the good usage of the allocated funds in order to make a successful project and to reach the assigned goal, and will be able to do it. This is the mission of a “working” board.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 8, 2011 at 22:25

What is success ?

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Success and perseverance.

Everybody wants to reach success. The question is to know what is precisely success. Have we each of us the same definition, the same view of success? This question needs to be answered in order to know what success is, but also where success is. We reach success when we are realizing a dream. We have dreams we want to realize in our personal life. There are different kind of dreams, and the ways to reach them will probably be different. We can dream to have a family, to have children succeeding in their studies, to travel around the world. We would like also to succeed in our professional life, to have an enjoyable work and to earn enough money to cover our daily needs. This is an overview of what could be success, but does it mean that these things we are dreaming are successful on themselves ?

The success is a question of values. What are the value we are sharing? In our society, most of the time, success is associated to wealth. Bill Gates, for instance, is seen as a successful man by founding one of the most large software companies, Microsoft. But does it mean that the creation of a company is a dream shared by everybody? This is a question of value, of interest. To meet the success, is to meet the goal you are dreaming. Your goal will be function of the value you are believe in and the activities leaded by your values. There is no success, there is only your success, and your success will not be necessarily the success of somebody else. I already talked in another post, about this Belgian theater founder and actor, Michel Kacenelenbogen, who was first owner and founder of a company. His initial goal was to create a theater, and he founded first a company in order to earn money, to be able to create this theater, to realize his dream. He realized his dream, by founding “Le Public”, a theater with an innovative concept, financed by his own revenue and a part of public subsidies, and where you can find a restaurant after or before the spectacle. This was his dream, and this is his success, but his dream is not probably yours and your success neither. The question of values and goals is important, because what you are considering, or what is the society considering as a success, could be only an illusion. I want to mention here an article I read recently in a magazine, about a business man who was dreaming to drive a Porsche. He made a bet that he will have a Porsche when he will be 30 years old. On way, he bought the Porsche, but he realized after that, that he put a lot of pressure on his shoulder and on the shoulders of his collaborator to maximize profits and to reach his personal goal, and that finally, the car he bought was an illusion of success. The success was more in the business he developed and in all the things he learned by building it every day.

By definition, success is something positive, and because success looks like positive, people are dreaming of success, but are often considering the positive side of success. Regarding the two case I explained before, we have not to underestimate the challenges and issues people had to face to reach their goal. To build a company, or to found a theater remains a challenge and a risk. As Peter Drucker quote says: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Some entrepreneurs failed in their projects, learned about that failure and restarted new projects in another way and reached the success. The failure you can meet could be part of a success, if you learn from your failure.

And let us talk about your talent. You can reach a goal or a success by expressing and developing talent. Your talent is one of the key components of success. There are some people saying that everybody can do everything if we want. Personally, I do not totally agree with this statement. We can only succeed by doing things we are motivated by. We have also to reach a level of talent which depends of our capabilities and abilities to acquire the knowledge. There is a huge difference between to be able to play piano, and to play as Mozart was playing. Let us remember also another Peter Drucker quote saying that “It is better to work on your strong points to pass from competence to excellence, than to work on your weaknesses to pass from incompetence to mediocrity.”

But finally, what is success ? Success is the realization of projects you are dreaming. It is only you who can decide and determine what will be a successful life. Maybe you will not see it immediately, maybe you will note that things you were believed as success are just illusions. But each goal we are fixing is function of our passed experiences and of an anticipation of the future, based on new values we discovered and acquired. It is only you who can see yourself as a successful person and not the others.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 2, 2011 at 21:11