Doing Work vs. Doing Business

It's a very important distinction that many people need to make, especially those transitioning from being employed to owning their own business.

As an employee, you do work, and you are rewarded for that work. Mostly, this happens in the form of an hourly, or monthly payment. Typically, you are selling your time to your employer, and during that time you are doing work. There is compensation for that work, and the concept of rewarding you for a good job done in the long run is one of the most important things. Motivation, the feeling of equality, and being treated fairly are central aspects of the game.

Doing business is a completely different ball game altogether. There are no "rewards" in the employment sense of the word. When you buy a piece of land at $100 and then sell it to someone at $150 the buyer is not rewarding you for holding on to that land, or for having invested, or for anything. The buyer is merely paying what the market price is at the time, and what they can afford and negotiate with you. You just happened to have bought that land at the "right" time and benefited from the difference the market has created. You might have had to sell it at a loss, and that is still none of the buyer's business, it's not even a factor in the negotiation.

This difference might explain the completely different approaches employees and business people have. The "work" that an employee does will not get them more money. In some cases, like sales, it does. But usually nothing happens when an employee saves her company $568,000 by implementing things in a new way. She might get a bonus or a minor raise, or some sort of psychological reward, but not money in the way the business partner enjoyed. It's about doing a good job, it's about advancing your career, and it's about becoming a star in a certain area of expertise that gets the rush for employees.

Business people get most of their adrenaline from making money, being a force in the market, and moving and shaking things. Nobody is there to pat you on the back if you make a good deal buying a cheap land and selling it at a profit. You don't need it! The money gained is your reward, and vice versa if you lose. The actual outcome is your motivator.

Being in business is a much lonelier place. The number of shareholders of most organization is usually a tiny fraction of the number of workers in it.

An interesting case is when you are a business person and doing work for a living, it's an intriguing juggle that you have to make, and you get in a better position if you can productize your service. This way you can have the final say on how you want to do your work, as long as you sell certain results for your clients. For example, software companies sell software in a box. They don't sell you the number of hours it took them to create that software. Although it is accounted for in the pricing, but you just buy a product at a price you can afford, and you are not concerned about rewarding them for doing a good job at creating that product for you. You are simply doing business with them. This way, they control how they want to do their work behind the scenes, and you don't get to interfere with that.

The Silent Storm a.k.a "Digital Life"

Anyone working in the new era of factories (people who have their heads inside a computer all day long), lives full days of silent storms. From the outside, you just see a person sitting in a chair, typically slouching, eyes fixed on the screen, and hours passing by, where we go through emails, funny videos, interesting stuff, stressful ideas, deadlines, etc.
On the inside, the person is living in a storm; every video, email, or spreadsheet, is fueled with emotion, stress, conflicting thoughts, and inherent ambiguity, not to mention the unpredictable stuff that keeps coming with no limit. 
It's a storm of ideas that is impacting us on a real level, but it looks silent on the outside.
The funny thing about this storm, is that we somehow control it, and that's precisely why we are controlled by it! 
Because we can open 100 windows at the same time, we do. Because we can have seventeen different applications running at the same time, we do. Juggling, is the new name of the game. Speaking of games, I think gamers are the ones most suited to be the future business leaders. What they can accomplish in a game is precisely what "professional" people do in their computer; they multi task, make split-second decisions, and are comfortable with an ever moving and firing environment.
Dealing with this situation is about being able to channel every idea that comes in a fluid way. An inherent problem with the office atmosphere (which is different from gaming) is the fact that you can easily shut down any of the applications you are running and take a break whenever you want. Of course, the stuff keeps coming, and your clients and bosses are waiting.
The next time you are caught playing a game at work, tell them you are training for the new economy! 

Test Newsletter Issue 1

This is a test newsletter issue, i hope you like it like i did.

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What to Do With the Increasingly Complicated World?

Be like the Internet!
The Internet is definitely one of the main forces, adding to the complexity and uncertainty in our lives. Although it is giving us unprecedented opportunity and threats, what it equally provides to everyone is an increase in the size and number of interactions that we make (with humans and machines).
I can't understand why many people say that with the advent of the new technologies, the world is becoming smaller. I think the world has become huge, and unintelligibly larger, because of technology. We send and receive hundreds of messages every day, to tens of people, and in several different formats. Each person is the center of their own world, or universe if you will. My world at least is definitely not smaller.
So how do we deal with all this, and what does it require from us as people to do? What kind of attitude do we need to have to thrive, or at least survive, in such circumstances?
The name of this presentation is a part of the answer: Be Like the Internet. The first thing that came to mind when I read this, was that we should be widespread, flexible, scalable, shapeless, and vague.
This presentation is much better in explaining this, especially with creative and descriptive photos that clearly tell you how to "be" like the Internet.

Slashing the Crap From Your Life by Adding More Slashes

This is a seriously inspiring video by two authors who have met because their books wereOne Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success extremely similar. This is also a part of the Authors@Google series.
Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success and Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich talk about how to live and balance your life and career(s) and share really cool stories about people who are doing this. They also Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich share how they themselves are doing this in their lives.
They validly questioned (threw away, and replaced) some of my basic assumptions about what can and what cannot be done. What should and what should not be approached as possible.
This is very important for me, because I'm always interested in two million things at one time, and this especially resonates with my idea of "The Long Tail Person".
A very important distinction was drawn by Tim, which I knew before but this time it sunk in more; the distinction between being busy and being productive. If you confine your thinking to your working hours, you will inevitably find ways of filling that time, and be "busy". If, on the other hand you really focus on what it is you are trying to achieve and do that, you might really be creating more time and space for the things that you want to do.
One of Tim's main ideas was to think about what you really want to do, and design everything around that.
"Well, what if you don't know what you want?" asked one of the people. Marci was actually "waiting" for that question, and they both shared some tips:

1. Go back to your childhood, which is the time you did things without being paid for doing them. "Interview your parents". This is a really nice and easy way of doing this. You immediately discover the things you would love to do when there is nothing you have to do.

2. Experimenting: taking classes that just seem to be interesting to you. This is actually how Marci changed her career from law to writing. She took a course on writing and found out that this something she would really love to do. Tim also points out some insights from his own experimentation. One of the most important is that the experiment is not the same as doing the work. Surfing two hours on Sunday is a lot different from surfing forty hours every week. Keep this in mind during the experiments. Is this something I would like to do throughout the week?

3. Pursuing happiness: Tim gives a very nice way of getting rid of the pursuit of happiness, because it's just a mental abstraction that might simply not mean anything. Instead, you should pursue excitement. Things that keep you awake at night, and make you really wonder how this might be possible. Another awakening realization for me (by Tim) was that you don't really need that much money to do the things that you want to do. He shared a cool anecdote about one of his friends, who wanted to work in a field he hated, just because if he worked hard enough for some years, he'd be making 3 - 5 million dollars a year. Tim's question,"what are you going to do with all that money?". His friend didn't have an immediate answer, he made up a goal about "having a long trip to Thailand". I could have been that friend. Actually I felt it was me talking. Time for action!