Work At Its Best

I recently came across a poem by Kahlil Gibran, about what Work at its best actually is.  Here is an excerpt:

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

This reinforces my belief that work at its best is about connection, engagement and commitment.

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This Is What Starting A Business Looks Like

Starting a startup is hard work.  It’s a very different kind of “hard” work than what most jobs require.  It’s not as difficult physically, as doing something like construction and it’s not as intellectually demanding as something like medical school.  However it is emotionally and psychologically draining as there is so much uncertainty involved.

Not only this, but there is added pressure on the founders of an early stage startup because it’s testing whether their “vision” is real or actually a hallucination.  This can make them feel very bare and vulnerable.

I think the best way to describe what it feels like to be a solo founder is via this video:

Visionary?  Or Just having a hallucination?

First you have to be willing to put yourself on the spot, be willing to be ridiculed and possibly laughed at.

Very few people are willing to be that first person dancing to their own tune though.  Most people never even get to this stage and they fail because they didn’t even get started.

Then when you’ve finally proved that you’re not insane and that there’s a party going on which is going to make an impact and a positive change, people will join you – these are your early adopters and your co-founders.

Then before you know it you’ve got a whole business dancing to the tune of common interests and values, working towards a common goal.

The Case For Private Businesses In The NHS

As a GP and entrepreneur, with my own software being used in the NHS, I have found that my opinion has continually changed with regards to businesses in the NHS.

I used to think as a junior doctor that a lot of the private companies dealing with the NHS were evil for two main reasons: overcharging the NHS for their services and the unethical use of patient data.

I think these two points are still valid for certain companies.  If you read some of the reviews of some of the NHS software suppliers then it’s patently obvious that certain organisations like TPP who provide the electronic health records for around 30% of NHS GP practices have stonewalled themselves from criticism.  Their software is also very dated and horrible to use as a result.

But, there are some great things about private enterprise.  One of the greatest differences between government ran organisations and private enterprises is accountability.

We live in an age where when there is outrage at a private company, real change can happen.  Just look at how the CEO of a multibillion dollar company was recently ousted for unethical behaviour.

I think that the world is changing.  People and consumers have a voice now, because of the Internet and how connected we are.  We can raise our concerns when we’re not happy and take our business elsewhere, or in my case start a business which is more ethically sound (I hope! :p ).

I feel that this is quite different from government organisations.  As private businesses become more transparent and ethical due to consumer pressures, large government organisations are appearing more and more opaque as time passes by.  Due to the lack of market place pressures they are also very inefficient and lack the focus that private enterprises need just to survive – but this is the subject of another blog post! 🙂

Selling “Time”

I really think that this blog post is a must read for any business owner out there.  I was introduced to this concept a while back and it has been continually brewing in my mind.  It’s totally changed my outlook on my own businesses and how other businesses operate.

The big idea:  It seems that businesses nowadays are selling “time” rather than anything else.  No matter what industry, it seems that what companies are actually doing is selling “time”. 

This sounded really weird to me at first, but now it’s actually painfully obvious.

We may think that Uber sells taxi rides.  But what it really sells is time.  Before I’ve gotten off of a train ride, I’ve already called an Uber.  It’s selling me time.  Time that I would have wasted waiting around for a taxi if it wasn’t for Uber.

What does Amazon sell?  Retail goods?  Actually it sells time. It takes me a second to order a product and get it delivered the next day.

Does JustEat or GrubHub sell food?  Or does it sell time and convenience.

What about Instacart?

It’s a really interesting way of looking at things and has implications for my own health tech startup.  Yes, I am automating a load of medical work, but actually when I think about it, I’m selling doctors and patients their time back to them.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about recently is why this is such a big deal.

I think it’s a big deal because technology has allowed us to tap into a whole market place that didn’t even exist just a decade ago: the market place of time.  And back of the envelope maths says that this new market place is worth trillions of pounds.

Middle C

I have always thought of the guitar as one of the most emotive instruments.  I suppose that’s why I gravitated to it at such a young age.

What really stuck me the other day was how many ways there are to play a single note.  A pianist would kill to have so many options and ways of hitting a single note.

It’s so strange that when we play this instrument we leave our DNA in each note.  My family and others who listen to my music would immediately be able to tell that it was my music they were listening to after just a couple of notes.

Yngwie, Guthrie, Tosin – I can tell I’m listening to them after just a few notes.

I have a theory:  The better the guitarist, the less notes they have to play before you know whose playing.