My journey against…
I have always believed that whatever we know and however we go along in this world we can do it better. I remember as a child counting the time of different activities and constantly trying to figure out how I can do things in a more productive way. I have never found motivation or meaning in just doing things. I would rather not do it than do less than I know how. If I ever felt that I did something I was not giving 100% of myself I would lose interest in it in only few weeks at max. I guess because I never thought myself as a talented person, struggling with learning all of my childhood because I just did not get that stuff into my head. I now know it was because I had difficulty in understanding the role of it in my life. I need to have a strong reason and a deep understanding of the fundamentals to learn and to help me “speak the language of the field”. I can’t just know facts, I need to know why and how. I need the understanding how it breathes. It has been the tool to find new ways for me.
What I always thought to myself was that if I do something I love I am going to give my all and that hard work would beat talent any day. What I did not understand then is that I also needed to get smart in the work I do. I recently have found explanations for my difficulty in learning at school. The first is bad rote memory (I just was not built for the methods of teaching used in schools) and the second is called oculomotor dysfunction (that I had a moderate amount of). I remember “beating” the information to my head while trying to study for a school test, then trying to put it on paper as fast as possible and forgetting everything I had learned the second I handed the test paper over. It was like a factory reset to my personal computer. It was especially difficult because of the oculomotor dysfunction I could not stay on the line of text, letters got skipped so I had to read things over and over. Reading anything more than 10 pages at once got me so tired as I had to power through. I just felt like sleeping. Only thing that helped me was visual memory, I saw the pages and the location of the information on the page and visualized the text on it. Without that I don’t think I would have finished school. I guess I was lucky to have those limitations because that forced me to take on only what I had deep reasons for, what I was passionate about, and made me go on a journey of learning from doing. It has helped me to put together concepts in my head fast and try out different paths. By now 33 years in my life I can say that oculomotor dysfunction shows up only when quite tired and rote memory is replaced with meaningful and associative learning that works a lot better for me. For facts I thank technology with fast search. If you know what to look for you don’t have to remember almost anything. You just need to understand it. I do use spelling software (thanks for the evolution of computers again) as the years of absorbing wrong visual word structures, as while reading letters get skipped, it has never made it easy to spell correctly. It is something that gets better but anytime I feel tired it’s like I’m back to the beginning.
As years went and I wanted to create more but was not willing to give up on my criteria to never consciously do below my best, I found myself more and more short of time. I needed to push my creativity further, not just in the perception of time, by pushing productivity, but in value. Not just thinking about the task at hand but how it is involved with other elements and what changes would benefit the most in long-term value.
Creativity has been a huge part of my life for as long as I remember and always in a scratching the edge of the box type of way with never accepting the status quo and searching for ways that could be. I remember how I doubted teachers in school about the knowledge they pushed to us like the truth and the only truth just because it was written in books. I always figured that if something is done by many then it does not mean it is right, it just meant that it is our understanding right now and the only way to improve what others have already repeated and found the best way of doing would be to look at it from new perspectives, not repeat it again. Let’s not reinvent the wheel just never spoke to me. I constantly asked myself “Why not do it in this other way?” And then I just tried. Absorbing the environment made by others before me and combining it with the trial and error of real life prototyping new solutions gave me the extra I needed to grow. But that did not last for long. What I wanted was longer lasting growth that would change the way things are seen and I thought that to get it meant to work harder, find more people with the right fit or ask for more money from clients to create better things. Working harder was getting on my health as I had worked 6-7 days a week 12-20 hours per day for 16 years and had taken one week of for vacation during those years. The second turned out to be harder than I thought. When I started hiring people I got lost. Even though I had experienced finding bad fits for my projects in the past, and should have learned from it, they had been so far all non-profit projects and people were mostly involved with no obligations, with no contracts. I had a view of relationships built in my head that if I offer a chance to do work that provides possibilities to grow (as it was always one of my criteria to keep doing better work), offer the best tools, and pay over the industries average salary then I get good people and people who are passionate. It turned out to be a fool’s vision. I was a fool because I thought in a biased way that everyone who says YES really means it and they care for the same things that I did because I talked about my goals and values and they said that they believe in it. It turned out that it was way more difficult, and I did not have enough skill to choose the right fit people to support my purpose. Turns out that most people just do whatever because they need money and most don’t care about the purpose of the work they do. That’s just statistics for you. And When it comes to getting more money from clients it turned out to go only so far. Even though clients wanted to order from us more and more, we did not find the people that could keep up with the incredible productivity our core team of 3 people had set as a norm. We needed clients to pay more for the work we did to afford less productive people. Even though we were touching the industries mid-level prices in our country and there was quite a lot of room for growth our clients viewed us as we had been in the past, not willing to pay us more. I now know why, when it comes to psychology, it makes total sense. Everyone was looking for commodity creators in the time where more, faster, and cheaper is growing in importance as the 3 criteria to choose a creative partner in the field of visual communications. I blame myself. I should have been smarter, known more. I now know that it is never about the price. It’s about the perception of the giver. In short it’s about the brand. No rational reason (and I mean rational not the rationality humans come up with trying to justify their behavior) explains why 3, 4 or even 10 times more is paid for something that has functional difference way less than half of that in actual value. Take for example mobile phones. Apple is a genius company playing on all the right levels of psychology and thinking long-term.
Without the experience I have had I would not have taken the path I am on now. The path of Increasing Time’s Value for small businesses in the mission to increase happiness at the work environment. Starting from the small I feel it can have the most impact as the small grows and with growth takes with it the culture of Increasing Times Value. I know it sounds abstract for some and maybe even cheesy but everything I have experienced shows me it is the right but not the simple path. And anything that is difficult has built in it a chance to make it better. Growth comes from struggling.
When it comes to Increasing Time’s Value there is no single solution, no magic pill, that is still as far as we know it a science-fiction. And when saying Value I don’t mean money. Not at all. I mean the results you want to get, that are based on your criteria, in a single unit of time. I have always had goals and always set criteria to make decisions in order to achieve those goals. Setting criteria before gave me always the needed push during difficult times and choices. It made it a lot easier to choose between the options in front of me. It helped to keep taking steps in the same direction compounding them and ultimately achieve the goals thanks to it. What I understand now is that I should have shared more clearly my criteria to others to filter the right fit and to help them make decisions in the interest of the organizations goals. I later have put things together and realised that most people don’t have criterias set before and they change them relative to the situation. Most of the time the criteria is to make more money. And that’s bad because monetary values result in short-term benefits and difficulty in understanding ones importance in the situations.
I never had money on my mind as the reason to do what I have done. I started to think more and more about money as an outcome and at around 2015 I realized that it’s a fuel not a goal. Well to be honest I almost never had money as a goal. The year I started to think about money I stopped caring about the craft and it got me into a place where I started hating my work, the situation I was in. I started looking for extrinsic monetary stimulation to keep going. That did not last for long. Again psychology explains a lot about the why of it. Soon I knew I did not want to do it anymore. After 17 years I did not want to go to work. Sure there had been times I wanted to give up, was angry at the situation or just was way too tired to the point of memory loss, but I never had a feeling that I don’t want to go to work today. Just as a side note there is something interesting how a brain shuts to a different state when the exhaustion is too much to handle but you keep going, resulting in losing weeks of memories of situations and valuable experiences.
That’s what money does. Thinking about money as a goal just limited creativity, pushed me in a box and caused me to make stupid decisions (even though they were rationally calculated). In 2018 everything is in one way or another correlated with money. So don’t worry, money will come if you have passion about what you do, you have self-awareness, and you work hard not because you have to but because you want to. It is a feeling that nothing can replace when you know your meaning to work instead of waiting for the 8 hours to end so the “happy time” can begin. Life is too short to spend it on work you hate. Time as the single element that everyone has relatively the same amount of and none of us needs to spend more or less energy to get it. It just comes and go’es. Because it is so easy to get we don’t notice it. It is also why we don’t think in terms of Time’s Value. I will never get back the thousands of hours that I lost to hate and anger towards the work I did for money instead of growing value. Looking at the clock it’s 18th September 2018 00:00 at midnight. I can say I feel multiple times better writing this than I ever have felt doing something just because of money. I kept on writing till almost 2 in the morning. Just another day doing what I care about. There have been thousands of similar workdays during the years when I have felt tired, exhausted actually and as a result stressed and even angry but inside I felt good knowing that I gave my all. Learning to understand the negativity resulting from exhaustion, dividing it from the situation and people and directing it to productivity has been one of the best findings during past few year for me. It is called emotional inteligence. And it has nothing to do with pushing your feelings down and trying to appear calm while burning inside.
I knew I did not want to go back doing what I did. I knew how to do what I did already, I had built 18 years of constant growth and achieved the goals I had set out for. I knew there must be a better way, a way to use my experience. I knew there had to be something that I felt passionate about once again. Having been an entrepreneur since year 2000 and having experienced quite a lot when it comes to building 3 constant growing organizations from nothing to a profitable business – after ending servicing visual communications when my team decided to part ways an search for new paths - I knew I needed to learn and find new perspectives in order to keep growing as a person. Just sitting around, even though having the finance to do so for at least 3 years, I have felt that it’s just a waste. Every time I start procrastinating I visualize myself on the 2nd floor of my mothers terraced house, doing nothing and thinking “this can’t be it, if it is I would rather die.” I was 16 then. Functional thinking says that death was an option but as long as I could find ways to do things in a better way I have felt it’s enough reason to keep going, to see what is there more to discover, no matter what difficulty on the way. The abolity to improve things has been a big reason for me. Also this has a lot of psychology and sience behind it explaining why.
Since end of 2017 I started dedicating my time on the research and practice of what I call Creative Business Design where I put together knowledge, experience and teamwork from different fields in order to find the best, personalized solution for each small business so they can grow and do what they love to do. So that they will not have to resort to monetary thinking when making decisions and lose their beliefs. Though I know I'm in the start of a long journey, like the ones before full of struggle, I love once again what I am doing. I have now spent almost 5000 hours of researching (reading over 15 000 pages and looked at hundreds of presentations from great minds) to widen my limited understanding of human psychology from the perspective of business and teamwork. I have built what I believe is a process that helps small businesses grow constantly with no loans and low levels of risk in a much happier state of mind. What I had experienced during the years as an entrepreneur (who always had his hands dirty) started to fit together. As I took time off and researched to find out Why and Why not and How could I do it better I think it has started to line up because of almost never stepping away from my criteria. I just have grown keeping the same core beliefs from my childhood, to keep looking for new and better ways by not taking the status quo as the ultimate truth and feeling disgust towards intentional negativity towards others in the means of self-growth. I have found ways that instead of give and take would be give and give. The right fit partnership with team members, partners, and clients, not just a transaction driven by the extrinsic pressures and monetary power.
In my experience and research I have found that there are 2 main things, and everything involved with them, that gives the best long-term gain in Increasing Time’s Value during your lifetime and beyond. They are good communication and right people. Simple right? It has turned out to be anything but simple. I think that’s what get’s me excited and spend my energy on it. It touches my core beliefs in every level as it has no 100% fixed rules as science is just starting to touch the surface of what psychologists have predicted or assumed based on human testing for years.
Just to make it clear. By good communication, I mean the sort of communication that you gain knowledge from and you end up in correlation with each other. By right people I mean the people you have a fit with. The people who believe what you believe. In no way does it mean that one must agree with others ideas and thoughts. Contrary to the belief, or blinding wish for a dreamland, conflict is what humans need as only way to grow is to get different perspectives of what each of us sees as the truth of reality. The question is how to do it so that people don't literally or figuratively kill each other. You can’t get to conflict before establishing trust.
Whether you want to admit it or not, studies have found that in some cases we are 99% selfish. And it makes sense because in order to save our group, our family in order to have our genes live in our children (who we have spent so much energy on) we have had to think about ourselves and our loved ones first. Keeping that in mind the only logical thing has been not to ignore this fact and it seemed smart to search for selfish reasons that would motivate communication in ways that are most valuable for both parties and to build methods that increase the possibility of choosing people with the right fit in our lives. I’m not going to write a fancy motivational speech or paint a picture of a dreamland. That just ain't me. I’m a realist (even though most of my life I have been called a pessimist) with a belief that things can be better, always, and I have the passion to work for it. Why I don’t agree that I am a pessimist is because no pessimist keeps going, trying to challenge the status quo. A pessimist just sits there and believes nothing can and therefore will be changed.
Now back to the selfish element. When it comes to communication there is no way to make anyone just care about what others have to say, so the solution most effective would be to find people you want to learn from. Those you actually get excited about when they share what is in their minds. The selfish aspect for you. If you got this far with reading, then there is little to no chance you did it for any other reason than because You just wanted to. You felt something that kept you going. Now you might think “well ok, but what do they, as the one who shares their knowledge, get out of it?” Simple. We are social animals and one of the most important elements that make us happy is the feeling when we are needed, that others value what we have to say. Altruism, in fact, is what creates the longest lasting feeling of happiness known to human psychology. That is the selfish aspect for them. It is the selfish reason for me to share my experience. They can share and feel needed and you can learn. No, it is not that simple and it is not the only thing that is needed. It’s just one of the strongest, most impactful, and longest lasting aspects.
Ok, that’s fine and all but this is still about business. Is it not? Where is the money in it all? Yes it is about business. That’s the most surprising finding for me that the main reason business owners don’t think like this is that when dealing with everyday issues burning constant fires don’t really make one think about the importance of basic biology and psychology even though they can have the biggest impact on the financials of any business. Money is the fule to create just because everything is correlated with money. Well let's flip the concept now. In order for your clients to open their minds for what you have to offer, for them to get interested, you need to get information out of them so you know what gets them interested. I hope you are not one of those who think everyone is just like you. People tend to think themselves as individuals, special with important life experiences that makes them different. And that is 100% right. But when we think about others all of a sudden everyone else is not an individual with different life experiences. Makes no sense now does it. So you need to find out not the stuff you might as well get by reading their social network and brands webpage. I mean the really important information, the stuff that is built on emotions you must make them feel safe and get to the deeper levels, the real reasons. The fastest way to make them feel safe is if you listen to them, ask questions, so they feel that they are heard, they can get the thing off their chest. Even better if you ask questions in order to find out their journey to their perspective of things. Ask them “How did you come to that conclusion?” This is how you develop empathy. And you get to go a lot deeper, provide a much richer and precise experience to the client’s. Opening your understanding about them is the only way to as they say “see things through their eyes. We can’t just start to think like another person. It’s impossible in this stage in time. Empathy comes from understanding how they not think but see the world so you start viewing them more as a human and less as an obligation or a tool. You might even be surprised about how many similarities you have and that many of your beliefs line up. You feel joy as you learn plus you helped someone a lot more by listening and asking questions. Double the joy. Better work = more money for you and more value gain for the client. The bigger the impact the bigger the value, the more important you become for the client. Give and Give all the way. It has nothing to do with money to begin with, it has nothing to do with trying to get more than is given. It is not measured by comparing anything or anyone. It’s a partnership between people in order to grow value in the best way the participants know how. Or you find out there is no fit and thanks to the finding will prevent the months of misunderstanding, stress, and eventually financial problems. They are not bad or wrong or stupid. They are just not the right fit for you. Bad fit is when 1+1 does not = 2. A good fit is where 1+1 = whatever 2 minds can come up with by not limiting possibilities before even getting started. It has to do everything with choosing the ones you are really interested in, who you feel you want to help and do the best you can and feel the joy of happiness in the process of earning a living. Positivity, deeper understanding, growth and building connections.
I could give you over 100 tactics of how to and how to not. But not a single one of them makes any sense or has any good longtime value if they are not built on our selfish needs with the perspective of give and give. Don’t get me wrong, there are tactics I will sare but they are not about using people and they all support the understanding of give and give. They are all about Increasing Time’s Value for both parties. Authenticity can only last when it is real and what more would anyone want than to earn a good living while doing what they love and having no pressure to act in any limiting way. Increasing Time’s Value is about thinking on the edge of the box, combining multiple areas like biology, science, culture and others in order to find solutions. Instead of moving money from one place to another and building an illusion of growth, when it really is just dividing the same cake into different sizes, the processes I have developed actually increases value by preventing, not just fixing. It is for those who want to live in a better future, not only a better today.
Similar Beliefs = Emotions = Action = Trust = More Action = Self Justification With Seemingly Rational Thoughts Why What You Do Is The Right Thing.
Because in order to take action humans need emotions and trust needs beliefs that are confirmed by reality or perception of reality to get past fear of the new and unknown.
You don't believe me? Have you ever gone along with a partner you have no emotions towards. Did you feel trust when they shared their thoughts and you did not agree with them on what is right, cool or valuable? What about if you agreed with them but then you saw them act in a totally opposite way? Any trust then? I bet you felt fear and anxiety towards those who were lacking the beliefs you have and especially when you saw them acting against what they had said. You probably wanted to get away from them.
Now anyone can fake to have similar beliefs but history shows that that works on not a single level in the long run because the fakers end up changing their views every time some seemingly important shift happens in the market. Making marketing noise and expensive. Resulting in the customers not getting what the heck are you about. If I don’t understand I can’t even start to believe anything.
During the months ahead I will be sharing my findings that I hope will help you Increase Time’s Value in your business. What I can not give you from distance are the decisions about what exactly to use, in what order and in what situation. It is specifically based on each organizational goal, criteria and the type of industry. Remember, there is no one magic pill! There is however often a combination of the right “pills” after the “doctor” has done their diagnosis. They are the right set of processes for you to follow in order to achieve your goals.
If you feel you can’t wait and want to know more ahead of time, just contact me and let's find out if we have a fit and if I can Increase Times’s Value for you.
For all others, here are some methods and tactics to start with, that will Increase Time’s Value in a positive way for your everyday human to human communication:
- Don’t multitask. Be present.
Multitasking pumps dopamine into your brain in order to get you going and you will be fatigued later. Your productivity will go down 20% and IQ drops 10%.
- Don’t pontificate. Don't lecture.
(express one's opinions in a selfish way like they are undeniably true).
Don’t go into a conversation trying to educate them. When we are told the opposite of what we believe, we will find more reasons why we are right and build up an even stronger wall, resulting in the „Backfire effect“. Live your emotions out of it! Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. Everybody is an Expert in something. By telling everybody what you know, you will learn nothing new, you will not grow. We trust who believe what we believe = empathy
- Use open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, why or how).
People like to talk about their experiences, life situations, job, and everyday tasks. Ask a question in a way that gives them a chance to think („What’s that like for you?“). Don’t steer answers with your questions! We tend to predict what others answer before we ask a question. Start with a simple question to start the conversation.
- Don’t interrupt
Stories and ideas will come to you when you listen, so if they are not productive (help the person or an option to get more insight) then let them go and if they are, then write them down so you can continue to listen and come back to them later if they are relevant.
- If you don’t know then say that you don’t know.
The smarter the person in a narrow field the more they tend to guess because society expects them to know. The one that is listening sees them as an Expert (and there for a smarter person) and they believe what they hear (and that is how new „facts“ are created).
- Don’t equate your experience with other people.
If you have had the same experience then keep it to yourself, it's about them, not you. Don’t say things like „I know what it’s like“ „It’s going to be ok“, „Everything happens for a reason“. You are a different person so you don’t know what it was like for them. But if they ask then answer by saying that based on my worldview and experience it was like this for me.
- Try not to repeat yourself.
You are training people to not listen to you because they know you will remind them again. Ask them what did they hear in order for them to repeat it back to you to make sure they understood and they will also have a better chance to remember because they took more time on registering the information.
- Stay out of weeds
Don’t talk about details that don’t matter. People care about the story, not the details.
It takes a lot of energy to really listen. Practice it. We talk about 110-160 words per minute but we listen to 450-600 words per minute and can process thoughts at anything between 1000-3000 per minute. So there's a lot going on between every Word we listen.
- Be brief.
Our attention is about 8 seconds because all the options we can choose from as soon as we don't like what we see, hear or feel. So you have 8 seconds to get the person engaged and you need to talk about what they care in order for them to say engaged.
- Don’t negotiate on position!
Don’t argue with people and don’t take positions. Negotiate on merits and principles not wants and likes or dislikes. EMBRACE AND PIVOT = Double down on their thinking before you let them find a different solution based on your questions.
FEW EXTRA TIPS THAT MIGHT HELP TO UNDERSTAND HUMAN BEHAVIOR BETTER. THINGS YOU CAN REMIND YOURSELF TO DEVELOPE EMPATHY:
- When it comes to conversations then the things we don’t like about others in a conversational manner, are often things we also do our self.
- Human thinking depends on metaphor. We understand new or complex things in relation to things we already know. Get to know the other side so you can include things related to their worldview. Another way and you might as well be talking in Chinese to them.
- We make up answers on the fly
“the rider” (our „conscious „rational“ self) is skilled at making up reasons and we lock on the first reason that makes sense. When you refute an argument people generally don’t change their mind because the argument you defeated was not the cause of the position; it was made up after the automatic judgment was already made. To get to the cause you need to go deeper, find out how they came to that conclusion.
- Using an e-mail to say you are sorry has almost no positive results because they don’t see or hear us struggle. Everyone knows that apologizing is difficult and acknowledging this is needed for empathy. Because people have no sight or sound they tend to read the e-mail based on the „Halo and Hornes effect“ which means they assume it was either in a good or bad tone and intent.
- Our phones distract us. Average people look at their phone about 85-150 times per day. Even when we don’t look at our phone we are distracted by it when we acknowledge it is there. So, put your phone away from your sight when you have a conversation with others but leave the important notifications ON (work calls and e-mail from your boss, personal call from your spouse etc.) because studies show that we are as distracted with the notifications off as we are while watching the phone.