Start-ups can learn from Rak-Su…

Some of you, may have been viewing the X-Factor 2017 Final… I know I was… in fact, I do most years… it’s good entertainment for a cold Sunday evening.

And i’d like to take a moment to congratulate Rak-Su for winning the competition.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been watching it – from the moment they (Rak-Su) first walked into the audition room, to them performing when they’d won.

There’s been a few things I’ve picked up on… that I think, made them favourites quite early on… to win.

And these attributes, I thought, could be related to business… and especially start-ups. Because… start-ups are in a similar situation when they enter the market – or in X Factor words… ‘the audition room’.

There’s alot of competition. Everybody wants to win. Everyone is ‘new’.. and this is the start-up scene!

Everyone wants to be noticed. Everyone wants their product to stand out. Everyone wants investment.

So, there’s a lot of similarities between the X Factor Audition Room… and the Start-up scene. But what makes a small company, a start-up a success… well, let’s see what Rak-Su did, and if we can learn anything from them.

  1. Rak-Su sang their own song. 
    • Rarely done – especially in the previous years auditions, but in 2017 as a whole, many of the artists up’d their game, and sang their own songs.
    • Points for originality and points for standing out and not singing another Ed Sheeran cover.
    • What can we learn from this  – Well, it’s simple… stand out by making sure you are original. You’ll have a higher probability of being remembered and noticed, if you are doing something new…
  2. Rak-Su had their own style
    • When they performed, there was more rapping, subtle choreographed dance moves, each member had a unique offering, but the group performed very well together.
    • I’ve mentioned before, let’s move away from the Minimum Viable Product… you should be working on the Minimum Loveable Product.
    • What can we learn from this – Well it’s simple… don’t look around and copy.. .bring your own style and flavour to the game. Ensure you have the diversity and the subtle moves that will make you, a ‘MLP’.
  3. Rak-Su stood in a line.. and waited.
    • You got to be in it… to win it!
    • Just like all the other contestants, Rak-Su stood and queued in a line… got their numbers… and then auditioned. They followed the process… 6 chair challenge… live shows… etc… before being named as the winners.
    • What can we learn from this – Well it’s simple… have some patience. Go network, stand in a line and meet some interesting people. Investment, success and customers may not come over night… keep working towards the goal… and importantly… keep growing… keep learning. (By the way, Rak-Su were quickly able to have their songs on iTunes and it was charting quite high up – early on – due to the publicity via the show).

So there you go, a couple of things to think about from Rak-Su… & their journey to winning the competition.

Now… at the start, I did say… some folk may have not watched it… and I know, many folk from around the world – who read this blog – may have not had the opportunity to see Rak-Su.

For you guys.. here’s one of their performances. Enjoy.

And the Winner is…. no, not you Bal… sit down please.

You may remember, I shared with many of you how I was selected as a ‘Finalist’ for the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards 2017!

Like always, I was going for the win… and by reading the title of this blog, you’ve probably already guessed…. I didn’t win (crying emoji!)

That’s right. Saturday night, I got suited and booted and headed over to the Awards ceremony in Leicester, UK.

So, there I was… when the category was announced, to get up… collect the award and have a few photo’s taken.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

I was announced as a finalist… and then, well, I remained seated.

I would like to take this opportunity to say, Well done to the winner.. in fact, all the winners on the night.

It was a lovely evening…

…just slightly disappointed, that I wasn’t walking away with the award.

I shared the news with my son in the morning – that I didn’t win. This is what he said… (he didn’t use bullet points or numbering, I’m just doing this so it’s easier to read)

1. Dad, it’s the taking part that counts – That is absolutely right. I’m forgetting for the moment, that I was a finalist. How do those people feel,  who were not even selected as a finalist!

On top of that, being at the evening, I was able to meet Sir John Peace – listen to him and have the opportunity to talk to him afterwards, also – meet some great people from various other businesses and organisations.

2. You’re still young – That is absolutely true! – I’ve got time to do some more great work, share it with people… & continue to learn  and grow.

That’s right – if there ever was a challenge for me… it’s to continue, to learn. Learn more by reading, collaborating, sharing and exploring.

For example, Colonel Sanders was in his late 60’s when he was bringing KFC to life….

3. There’ll be more Awards – I know.. there’ll be more. It’s just the waiting. It’s one of the 7 wastes (Muda – Toyota… Google it). But it’s true. This isn’t the one and only, and the last award evening i’ll be attending.

So with that.. I was optimistic. Already thinking, about my achievements so far… and how I can add to them.

So for the moment, i’ll have to leave my twitter bio to ‘Award Winner….’ not, ‘Multi-Award Winner’…. but don’t worry, I’ve got it saved in draft 🙂

A Flying Car? – Really! – Yes Sir…

Back to the Future… has to be one of my all time favourite films. Remember watching it only recently, and how at the end, when the Doc comes to pick up Marty, and he says… we got to go back to the future, and then the car flies into the air and the wheels turn in… I thought to myself, wonder if I’ll really see that happen in my lifetime.

Highly unlikely I thought. There’s still a lot of development work to do…. before we can see cars flying.

But then again, the speed of technology advancement is quite something, it could be sooner than later!

Anyhow… switching topics from one of my favourite films and flying cars… to electric trucks! – That’s right… if you were not aware, Tesla made an announcement recently.

Elon Musk, announced a new 500 mile range Electric Truck, Called the Semi Truck.

It’s an impressive machine!  – but what’s most impressive is… the comparison against diesel trucks… and I mean, not just in speed and economy, but in total cost of ownership. Elon said, it’d be 20% cheaper to run than a diesel truck – $1.26 per mile compared to the diesel at $1.51

Let’s be honest – anything that reduces cost is a good thing.

Tesla are pushing the boundaries – and we’ve known that for a while.

Now, I do have a video to share with you of the press conference which was pulled together by my friends at the Verge… (at the bottom of this blog post).

There was also an introduction of the roadster at the conference.

Here’s some more stats… compared with the latest Bugatti Supercar.

I know what you’re thinking… 0 – 60 in 1.9secs? ! That is crazy!!!!

Isn’t it just! – you could nearly take off in something like that.

… I think I need to sit down.

Rocket tech applied to cars…. flying short hops…. maybe I will see flying cars in my lifetime.

As promised, here’s the press conference,

Don’t like that… or that… or that…

There’s a few things I dislike… for example, cold tea. Annoy’s the hell out of me when my tea has gone cold, and I have to get a new, hot cup of tea. Doesn’t happen often, but there have been times I’ve become side-tracked and totally forget.

Then there’s middle lane drivers on the motorway. That’s right. Those, that just sit in the middle lane, when the bottom/left lane is empty. Not only is it annoying, but it’s dangerous too.

I could carry on… but I won’t use this platform to share with you, all of my dislikes (well, for today anyway).

Instead, I could meet someone, who has the same dislikes as me… and we would get on… like a house on fire. Imagine that… reversing it… rather than finding someone with the same likes… how’s about, someone who has the same dislikes?

That’s right – Think Differently!

There’s an app, available, to bring together people who ‘hate’ the same things!

Isn’t this brilliant… riding the ‘Tinder’ wave… in bringing people together – you can be matched with someone who dislikes the same things as you!

I have to admit… I absolutely love this idea!

Why not turn something that really works and turn it upside down, on it’s head… over and under…. to see if you still get the same desired outcome.

The principle is… you want to match people. So rather than, things they like… why not, things they don’t like?!

And let’s be honest…Tinder has been a huge success

… with their swipe mechanism… swiping those whom you like.

So this app… understands the things you hate. Understands what others hate. Shares haters to each other… and if you like the look of someone with the same dislikes… you swipe!

Imagine starting the conversation… I hate middle lane drivers… Me too!!!

There were a few reasons I wanted to share this with you…. It’s not so much about the app, but it’s the idea behind the app.

  1. Think Differently – yes, famously used by the founder of Apple during his time, but indeed – look at something in a different light… turn it upside down… inverse, reverse, opposite… you get the idea… and see if the desired result is the same.
  2. Understand what’s working – If there is something that’s shown to be a huge success… don’t fear of using it’s basic principles. For example, Tinder… the swiping & matching mechanism.

Understand + Think Different = Success

Mental Health Awareness…

This week, I’m fortunate enough to have another guest, share their thoughts on my blog.

Today – I have the Model and Actor, Arun…

…who reached out to me via Twitter, where we had conversations about Technology and Mental Health… and when I say technology… two things, one the speed of advancement in tech and secondly social media.

We know, from the blog post on Friday, there’s a huge impact on mental health from social media…. but what do you do, when someone’s state of mind is not where it should be…

Arun, shared his thoughts…

It is not easy to recognise someone’s problems, as it is can easily be confused with someone’s personality and mannerisms.

One way to take note is look at the person, notice everything they are doing, almost either completely out of character or they are behaving as if they are confused within their own words and actions. You may find someone is more panicky, angry, or generally over emotional within every reaction. 

Most people who are going through mental health problems tend to feel very lonely within themselves, and their surroundings. It is a slow process, but every small thing matters. Don’t make the person feel as if they are a charity case, and you are simply doing them a favour. Make them feel important, and that you are being genuine, because their inner feelings are something very sacred to them, and they are breaking all barriers to reveal their true self at that moment. 

Each person is different bare in mind, some want some to listen as they rant and cry, some may just want to try different activities to help stimulate their minds and body, some may just not want to talk and want to find different methods of help. Support the person in a way which is suitable to them, do not force anybody to do anything they don’t fully feel entirely comfortable with. 

Speak of your own experiences with them, maybe go to a quiet place or somewhere they feel they can be themselves, away from any potential emotional triggers that could spur their thinking process. Allow them to be them, and listen, don’t badger them with advice over and over. Allow them to breath, and eventually open up. 

In order to get others to speak up, tell your story. It might be hard for you, but it can lead to a domino effect. As more and more people open to speak up, more will find courage and strength to be free. Don’t let anger dominate, don’t let these negative emotions take over, be reassuring and positive. 

It is not easy, but each stepping stone will lead to end of the road you dream of reaching. 

Firstly, really appreciate Arun sharing his thoughts, and secondly, if you’d like to talk more about mental health, feel free to reach out to Arun via Twitter on @ArunKapur47

Embracing Technology with… Netball!

Recently, I had a great catch up with an old friend, Nav… whom I mainly see from her social media posts, travelling around the world and doing a lot of sporting activities.

I asked her to share an insight into her work… and she kindly offered to write a blog post about embracing technology by playing…. Netball.

As a practitioner in the world of sport for social change, finding creative ways to weave in educational messages through sport is critical to engaging young people.

 

Essentially, I’ve created a programme that encourages young people to embrace technology (particularly, the use of social media) by not using technology…. but sport instead!

 

So, I designed Netball 4 Change, a programme that uses the game of Netball to teach marginalised girls and young women how to stay safe on social media and take control of their social graph.

 

We read about it all the time; the increase in mental health issues particularly depression and anxiety among girls and so much of it linked to body image issues and low self-esteem which is too often connected to what they read/see on social media. I read this article a little while ago in the Guardian that talks about the pressure girls can often feel to keep up with others on social media:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/23/girls-and-social-media-you-are-expected-to-live-up-to-an-impossible-standard

 

Netball 4 Change targets these girls and teaches them simple messages such as, shutting down apps after being online for 3 hours and go have a physical conversation with someone and how the clickbait culture affects our belief system if we only agree with what is sensationalised.

 

Netball 4 Change delivers and teaches techniques to help young women evaluate their social media behaviour through a series of netball drills that help start the conversation. Girls stay active and before they know it, they’ve been away from their phones for two hours and their worlds have not fallen apart! Refreshing right! So they’re talking about their social network but away from it. It’s gets them thinking. So when they return to their tech devices they are more informed, a little refreshed having played sport and generally have a new and positive experience to share…probably online…but still…inspiring others to think about their social graph.

 

In my day community meant my neighbours, the local temple, the local shop, the local youth club or the local park. Today, for young people community is their social network. Whose online? What have they posted? How many likes did I get? My idea of community to them is an after thought. There are benefits in both definitions, so rather than be tempted to say ‘kids these days, always on their phones…’ let’s move past that (aren’t we all), let’s embrace both! Let’s help young people be more aware without focussing on what they shouldn’t do online but what they should do online! Encourage them to be physically active in their community and to share real and positive stories with their community online as well!

 

If you want to know more, get in touch:

 

navjeetsira@thechangefoundation.org.uk

Twitter – @NavSira

 

There you have it folks… I have to admit, it’s very interesting and a great way to engage the younger folk.

I’d like to thank Nav for taking time out and writing the above, and also – I’ve shared her details if you’d like to get in touch directly.

Heated Seats… what a luxury!

This morning, I had the opportunity to review some of the latest news stories from over the past few days on BBC Radio Nottingham.

One of the news stories were about ‘autonomous vehicles’, and how they’ll be introduced in a few years benefiting disabled and the elderly.

Firstly, this time-line is tooooo soon. Yes – we have much of the technology available in the Tesla cars, and some other manufacturers are testing, but I feel, it won’t be that easy with the small, winding, countryside roads we have here in the UK. On long motorways, yes – great idea.

Then there was a story about the iPhone X… and how I referred to my recent blog post, if you should buy one of not… (I’m still leaning to the BMW 328 with beige interior). And reading a recent article, there was a great argument over why you should stick with your iPhone 6S… i’ll have to find it and share it with you. Yes the latest phones are quicker, and have better cameras, and a lot more tech packed into them, but are you really going to use Augmented Reality on a daily basis? – no, didn’t think so.

But then… if you’re taking alot of photo’s for your Instagram account, then good idea to upgrade, but saying that, photo’s on the iPhone 6S aren’t too bad… (@mrbalbansal on Instagram).

There were a few other stories, but we touched on the one (not so tech related), about some of the recent inappropriate behavior that’s been taking place in Westminster… people touching people which is unacceptable. I’m in total agreement, that there’s boundaries and lines you do not cross. I also believe you should state it very clearly if you a) do not agree with certain behaviors and actions and b) if someone has acted in-appropriately, you let them know immediately and if it carries on, inform someone who can ensure the corrective action is taken.

But with all these stories coming out, we spoke about… when do you know it’s okay to hug… or do you just give a handshake? –

Do men think twice now, before hugging or putting their arm around someone? – what if a lady acts inappropriately to a young male… and why haven’t we heard of those stories?

Well… I could’ve shared more detail and the other stories, but I think it’s only fair that you go visit BBC Radio Nottingham, and find Mark’s morning show for the 6th October and have a listen… hope you enjoy it!

Oh… but what about the heated seats Bal? – ah yes.. the heated seats…. well, you’ll just have to listen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05k34w7

iPhone X… Should I buy one, Bal?

That, is a great question.

Should I buy an iPhone X?

Before I answer that… you may recall my blog post about the comparison of the new iPhone X and how it was the same price as a BMW 3-series with beige interior. Obviously, I wasn’t comparing apples to apples…

So, back to the question – should you buy one?

Well, it depends on a number of factors. Main one being, do you really need it?

There’s plenty of reviewers out there – who review. And they’re the ones that would compare it against existing iPhone models, old iPhone models, and non-iPhone models. I also encourage folk to look at these reviews before making an informed decision.

The problem here is – whilst i’m sat in a very cloudy and fairly cold, London… I’ve not been able to get my hands on the latest iPhone X. Therefore, unable to conduct a review and share it with you on this blog. But that’s ok… that’s absolutely fine, because my friends at The Verge… were able to review and make a little video for you…

 

So, back to the question… should you buy one?

Really goes back to the point of, do you really need it? – with all it’s functionality and capabilities… do you need all of them? – if the answer is Yes – then go ahead, and buy one. If the answer is, not really.. then look at the iPhone 8… which i’m sure will serve all your current needs.

And I say that, because technology is advancing and so are needs of the customer. Take Augmented Reality for example, it’s come leaps and bounds in recent years… so much so, it’s in the hands of everyday folk, like you and me…. knowing what to do with it, is another thing.

E-Learning or Experience?

I’m going to admit. I love a bargain or two. If there’s something I can do or purchase, at a discounted price, then why not?

Hence why I signed up to some of these discounted sites, such as Groupon, Wowcher, etc… You know the ones… you get a regular email, letting you know you could save 50% on a day out driving Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s.. or you could save 80% on getting your hair styled by a professional, well known stylist in the heart of London.

The latter i’ll probably give a miss, the Lamborghini however… now that is tempting. But then, this caught my eye…

Really? – you could become a Six Sigma Black Belt for £39?! – even better, it’s all on-line training.

Now – just to start off, I think on-line, e-learning is great – depending on what you’re learning.

It’s low cost, very effective and easily scaled up. I even learnt some of my coding via an Udemy course… which was all on-line.

My issue with this is  – the type of course it is. Indeed, Lean and Six Sigma can be taught in a classroom (hey… I was taught in a classroom)… and with the powers of technology, it seems that we are moving away from the classroom to on-line. Which is fine for some courses but not for this.

I’ll explain why…

Firstly, we play a lot of games in the classroom. There are a number of simulations. There is a Black Belt stood in front of you to whom you can ask numerous questions. The Black Belt has experience of doing, what you’re learning, in the real world… and could share some examples, what went wrong, hints and tips, and some reasons why you should do something in a particular way and not another.

Secondly, to be a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt… you need experience. To do a course, sit the exam and call yourself a Black Belt, in my opinion… doesn’t work – that’s just one part. You need to face real-life challenges, show that you can use the tools in real-life situations… that bring real change and real results.

Finally, the tools are one part of being a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. There’s the whole part of Change Management, Project Management, and various other areas that are not part of the tool set. But part of being a Black Belt.

Here’s the highlights in the original email…

And then the details…

In fact… 6 is not the number!  The number is what your process needs it to be. There’s a reason why it’s called Six Sigma… but many processes don’t reach that, can’t reach it… or in fact…. go beyond that number!

Yes, yes… I know, it’s marketing talk… it’s to entice people and it’s a play on words. I get it… I do.

But it comes down to experience. If you really want to learn about Six Sigma and Lean, i’d suggest you find someone in that field and learn from them.

If that’s not a viable option, then indeed, you can attend some training and on-line courses but start from the basics… learn the very basics of lean… why did lean start?… how did lean start?… who started the thinking behind Six Sigma?… What industry were they in?….

Similar to Karate…. you start off on White Belt, progress onto Yellow belt… a few belts later you’ll be on Green Belt… then a few more years (in fact, quite a few years)… when your Sensei thinks you are ready, you progress to Black Belt.

I see Lean Six Sigma the same way. It’s not about how quickly you can get to Black Belt. It’s about the experience, the knowledge and most importantly, the understanding of what to use… and when, that will help you, when you’re a Black Belt.

Inkquisitive Inspires – Interview Part 2

Following on from Inkquisitive Inspires Part 1 – this is Part 2! – That’s right, I asked the artist who’s turned his hobby into a career, and now travelling worldwide, attending sell-out tours…. a total of six questions.

In Part 1, Ink… kindly answered 3 of them… and here’s another 3, turning the conversation more towards his hobby, entrepreneurship and most importantly… innovation in art – do we need to innovate?

Some really important things to take away… mainly, you should have your own style, your own brand, your own way of doing things. Stand out from the crowd, don’t blend in…

Then there’s the entrepreneurial spirit that exists… and how many birthdays have you missed, trying to follow your dreams?

Hope you enjoy it…