Trump & Brexit

The purpose of this blog is not to espouse any kind of ideology.  I just like to talk about ideas and document my random thoughts and insights.  So, although this post talks about some recent political events – it is not passing judgement on what people believe in or vote for.

(I kind of hate writing blog posts that need a disclaimer at the beginning, but I do want to keep this blog authentic and sometimes I may upset people when I do!  Sorry in advance!)

So, my random insight for the day is:

The reason people give for voting the way they do is a reflection of how much power they believe that the organisation / political party that they are voting for has.  

Looking at things through this prism shows that people are actually very logical and that there are very clear reasons people vote the way they do.

Recently in the political world there have been two major events that people are always talking about.  The first is Donald Trump being elected President of the greatest country in the world (yes, I honestly believe the USA is the best country in the world even though I’ve spent the majority of my life in England) and the way that the British public voted to leave the EU (aka Brexit).

It seems to me that these two events seem to be dealing with similar issues.

A vote for Donald Trump or Brexit represented more jobs for the public, better pay and conditions, less immigration and therefore more resources becoming available to the public.

Trump & Brexit

The question in my mind is whether President Trump or the Conservative Party in the UK actually have the power to act on these promises (let alone deliver).

To put this into perspective if you work in an organisation and the members of the board hold a vote where their employees could vote for more money, better conditions and less immigrants being employed, could the board deliver on this even if they really wanted to.  Probably not because the organisation is not a self contained entity.  It’s a small entity in a complex world with rules, laws and regulations.

This isn’t a blog post about globalisation per se – although this is one of the reasons the promises made by President Trump and The Conservatives may never be delivered, but it’s about the observation that the public generally believe that political parties have a lot more power then they actually do.

There is a tendency by the general public to blame the government whenever something goes wrong.  There is a lot that the government can do and a lot of blame can and should be placed on different governments.  But, the Government is the only institution that the general population can change with a simple vote.  This is the exact reason why so much anger and fear is directed towards governments – because they are visible to people who vote.  What isn’t visible to people are a lot of the strings attached to Governments – international pressure, powerful individuals, large corporations, international security etc that people can’t change with a vote.

When looking at things this way it’s interesting listening to why people voted  for and against Brexit.

People who voted for Brexit wanted more jobs (more jobs for working class people), more money, more public services (less immigrants = more resources) and more opportunities (more free places in schools and more jobs available in the market place).

People who voted against Brexit wanted more jobs (more trade = more money), more money, more public services (more wealth = more taxes = more public services) and more opportunities (millennials say their career options have been stifled due to the imminent restrictions on free movement through the EU for British people).

If the people who voted leave and remain for Brexit, voted for pretty much the same things, could it be that they voted for something which no government has control over?  I think so.  The world is changing at an incredibly fast pace in the same way it did during the Industrial Revolution due to the Industrial Revolution of today (aka a Technological Revolution in combination with globalisation, the growth of small businesses and the destruction of unions).

A vote for a change in government isn’t going to change – in contrary to what a lot of people believe – the tectonic shift that the world is going through today.

How Do I Find Out?

Before I started my startup I was under the illusion that there are companies out there that are truly innovative in every way.  Before I actually read about how Google works, I thought it was an organisation filled with geniuses having loads of fun.

The reality is very different.  There is very little innovation in most things.  When setting up your startup is it wise to be innovative with how you pay tax, structure your organisation, deal with information governance issues?  Probably not.

Sure, have an innovative product, but how you set up your business needs to be done in a very structured, non-innovative way.

There is  a lot of mundane boring stuff that goes into setting up a business.  I haven’t ever had to create a policy about data protection adherence etc before, but I’m having to at the moment (as well as about a hundred other things I have not ever done before).

My mantra of late has become: “How do I find out?”.  Usually there is someone somewhere who has done it all before and will show you the way.

The mistake would be to take on each and every task as a personal challenge.  The challenge is refining the product and making something the market loves and to create sales.  The challenge isn’t to be innovative in aspects of business/structuring/legalities which have stood the test of time and is used by every other business in the world.

“Rich” People Are Actually Poor (And Thoughts About Startups)

There was an interesting article in the news today about how people who earn £70,000 and over are considered rich.

I think that this is quite an accurate opinion and quite close to reality.  Statistically it is definitely nearer the top of the population in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  What is interesting to me though is how many of these rich people are actually poor.

As people’s monthly salaries go up they tend to start spending more and more on luxuries.  They get a larger place to live in with a larger mortgage, they get a fancier car, they see their friends wearing nicer clothes so they get nicer clothes.  Before they know it their monthly outgoings are so much that they have very little left over at the end of the month.  So although their wage is going up, they’re still as poor as they were when they were earning much less.

In other words people don’t tend to live within their means.

I remember when I was young I thought my family was poor (even though my dad was/is a successful doctor).  The reason I thought we were poor was because my parents lived within their means.  They didn’t buy fancy cars or clothes and now they’re enjoying their lives after some very good investments and ventures.

This is really relevant to anyone thinking of doing any kind of venture or startup.

The reason a lot of people don’t ever start that startup, do that venture or make that investment is not because they’re not smart enough, it’s because they have too many liabilities.  

I think this is quite contrary to what most people think – that you have to be special in some way to start a startup and be some kind of super genius.  You don’t.  All you need to do is find a problem, solve it somehow and create a business around it.  But you’ll never even get to try if you have so many liabilities.

Being cognizant of your liabilities – be honest, do you really know how much money goes out of your account every month – and reducing them wherever possible is one of the keys to not only making money, but keeping money.  Money management is where people like 50 cent go wrong and lose all their money.  It really doesn’t matter how much money you make if you’re spending more than you’re earning.

Even if you don’t ever do a startup, getting rid of liabilities will make your life much more enjoyable and stress free.

If Marcus Aurelius Were A Doctor

When a man kisses his child, said Epictetus, he should whisper to himself, “To-morrow perchance thou wilt die.”- But those are words of bad omen.- “No word is a word of bad omen,” said Epictetus, “which expresses any work of nature; or if it is so, it is also a word of bad omen to speak of the ears of corn being reaped.”

The above is a meditation by Marcus Aurelius.  It’s not the most well known, but when I first read Meditations, this one really stayed with me.

Accepting that life is finite, although jarring is empowering because it allows you to focus your finite time on aspects which you do have under your control.

I’ve found that a lot of doctors cannot accept the fundamental truth that they cannot predict or control what will happen to their patient.  When a patient walks out of your room he or she may die.  It happens all the time and most often it’s the patients that you least suspect that get unwell.

What I find interesting is that a lot of doctors try to counter the inevitability of their patients dying by becoming emotionally involved.  I have seen some of my colleagues cry and go into depression because they get so involved.

Patients themselves may want their doctor to be more emotionally invested in them.  They may prefer and consider doctors who are more emotional to be the better doctor.  But just because they may prefer something doesn’t make it correct.

I find that a lot of people in the general population would prefer to not take responsibility for their health and outcomes in life.  If their doctor becomes invested in them, they feel that they are able to give the responsibility of their health over to their doctor.  This is patient disempowerment rather than empowerment in my opinion.

In 90% of cases a patient should not expect to give over complete responsibility of their health over to their doctor.  A lot of patients have actually tried and failed to sue their doctor because of this false expectation.  When a mother sees a GP about their baby and is told that the baby has a viral infection, but if things deteriorate to seek medical attention – we are telling that mother that nothing is certain in life and actually, there is a chance that this could turn out to be meningitis.  A doctor can only go by the clinical picture in front of them and come to a logical clinical decision.  It is up to the mother to act responsibly and do something if the child becomes more unwell.

Another sign of how dependant patients become / how unrealistic their expectations are is when patients complain about seeing several different doctors before getting to the correct diagnosis.  Patients don’t realise that if this is the case, it’s extremely likely that the way the patient presented was atypical as is evident by several different doctors coming to an incorrect conclusion.

Doctors should not become emotionally involved and accept full responsibility for their patients health.  Sure, we can empathise with our patients.  But what we mean by empathy is that we get where the patient is coming from, we try to understand the patients life circumstances and try to formulate a management plan which the patient can tolerate and live with.  Empathy does not mean becoming emotionally invested.  This is actually a very quick way to allow unknown biases to sway your medical judgement and provide poor care.

“All men are made one for another: either then teach them better or bear with them.”

I wonder what Marcus Aurelius would think about becoming emotionally attached and accepting full responsibility for their patients health.  I think the above quote sums up the correct attitude you should have as a doctor.  If the patient listens you can teach them about a healthy lifestyle, how to manage their medical problems as best as they can and so on.  (And always document what you have said!)

If patients do not like what I can do for them with the tools that I have available at my disposable then it is none of my concern.

Mind Your Language!

Which column do you fall under?

Victim Proactive
  • There’s nothing I can do
  • That’s just the way I am
  • She makes me so mad
  • They won’t allow me to do that
  • I have to do that
  • I can’t
  • I must
  • If only
  • Let’s look at the alternatives
  • I can choose a different approach
  • I control my own feelings
  • I can create an effective presentation
  • I choose an appropriate response
  • I choose
  • I prefer
  • I will

Which column would you rather fall under?

Why Learning To Code Is Stupid

***Note that this blog post is aimed at entrepreneurs!  Not for people who just love code and want to make cool stuff!***

“Should I learn to code?!”  

That’s the question entrepreneurs often ask themselves when they are thinking of creating an app.  My opinion is this:  If you are thinking of starting a business and you do not already know how to code, then do not waste time learning how to code.

This is the journey you will take as a non-coder if you decided to learn to code:

  • Become a top level programmer (10,000 hours).  Nothing less will do nowadays as you can’t get away with broken insecure code like you could in the 90’s or early 2000’s.  If you’ve got less experience than this then you should only be aiming to make a MVP to validate your hypothesis.
  • Create your app (another few thousand hours).
  • Whoops, no one is even using your app!  Spend more time trying to get some users.
  • Some people use your app – now you realise that there are a ton of bugs to fix (another few thousand hours of work).
  • You haven’t validated your assumptions with your MVP, you haven’t hit product market fit, you haven’t spent time to create the right connections.
  • Your business dies and you end up getting a job as a developer.  Congratulations!  You now have a job!

This is the journey an entrepreneur takes:

  • Outsource development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – should cost no more than £10,000 and can be as cheap as £5,000.  (Some of the millionaire entrepreneurs I know outsource two or three projects at a time).
  • Build connections and get agreements / contracts in place so that your MVP can be validated.
  • MVP proves your hypothesis and now you have data to back up your assumptions.  If this is the case then go on to the next step.  If not, then try again.
  • You go and sell more of your app and people pay up front so you can hire a team and develop the full product with their money.
  • Congratulations!  You’ve created a business that is printing money for you!

Now to the finer points.

If you are building a technology company (for example the next Apple or Google) then you sure as hell better be a top level programming genius.  If you’re not then why would you even think about entering into this space?

Another point is that anyone who is dealing with any kind of code should know the basics.  I am not saying do not learn any code.  All I am saying is that you should not learn to code with the mindset that you will be able to build your full product and make a business around it.  However, you should know enough to communicate with developers and know how things work.

To give an analogy, lets’ say you started and then went on to running a hospital.  Say a doctor came to you and said: “This patient has a MI and he needs to get up to CCU right now for a PCI.”, then you better know what this means.  If you don’t then you’re incompetent and it’s likely your hospital would fail.

In the same vein, if you don’t know the basics of how code works, what languages your app has been developed in and why and you can’t even go into your app and change a few simple things around then you should be scared.  It doesn’t take long to learn these things!

One last thing!  Remember that all you need to start a business are these three people:

  1. Someone to sell it = CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
  2. Someone to make it = CTO (Chief Technical Officer)
  3. Someone to collect it = CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

If you’re not the CTO it really doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.

Like I’ve said in my previous blog posts, most of the millionaire entrepreneurs I know who have apps don’t know how to code.

The Establishment Is Not The Market

Too many people confuse “The Establishment” with “The Market”.  They are not the same thing and are not related to one another.

If you think some old white dudes are your main barrier to becoming a success then be prepared to get your ass handed to you when your product or service hits the market.  There is nothing as ruthless, as dismissive, as true as the market.

It doesn’t care if you’re black, female, transgender or even from another planet.  It only cares about whether you’ve made something remarkable.

But, if you can make something the market loves, then sit back and watch the establishment crumble.