The Right Size

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Why is it that no one ever says that Cambridge University should “scale” to serve more people or “disrupt” the education system*?  Does anyone really think that Cambridge University should start a “franchise” and open up shop all across England or America?

Why is it then that when people look at their own businesses “growth” and “disruption” seem to be the main goal?

I have noticed that most things have a natural size.  Whether it be the ideal size of a pizza, a smart phone or a business.  It’s not always about getting bigger, about growth, about franchising.  Most of the time it’s about doing what’s right for you and your business.

Ironically, staying the right size is also the best way to maximise and maintain long-term profits.

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*Scaling Cambridge University

Why doesn’t Cambridge University scale and open up in different parts of the country?  Modern technology would allow all lectures to be uploaded to YouTube and the curriculum could also be uploaded for everyone to read in a pdf format.

When I was in medical school I had a sneaking suspicion that my University actually wasn’t doing much….  I spent most of my time at University reading textbooks.  Textbooks which anyone could buy off of Amazon.

I then sat an exam which culminated in all the professors wearing funny hats and handing me a piece of paper (some call it a diploma), which allowed me to practice medicine.

Here’s the thing.  Universities often claim that they do a lot for their students.  They claim that only they can impart the knowledge and wisdom needed to get good jobs.  They claim that by going to their University, you will be better off and smarter for it.

I smell BS.

  1. If Universities really do impart special knowledge which magically makes you smarter then surely Cambridge University should scale.  Why would you deprive the wider population the opportunity to get smarter?
  2. Universities say they don’t accept just anyone – you must have the right grades to get in.  But by saying this they are essentially admitting that they can’t make people smarter.

When I was in University, I was surrounded by smart people.  But, that wasn’t because of the University at all.

Let’s face it, the whole University system is an excuse to wear funny hats from time to time.

You Are Not A Red Zebra

red zebra

Isn’t it strange how zebra’s stand out so much?

Shouldn’t they have evolved to be a sort of brown colour?  Like the lion, so that they would blend in with their environment and not get eaten?

Interestingly enough when scientists were studying zebra’s, they found it awfully hard to keep track of which zebra was which, so they came up with a solution:

“Why don’t we paint a red spot on the zebra we want to track?!”

Every time the scientists did this, the zebra in question got eaten.

Why?

Because the Zebra with the red-painted spot stood out from the rest of the herd.  It turns out that the herd provide the camouflage for the individual.

But here’s the thing:

You are not a zebra, you don’t move in herds and you don’t need to worry about getting eaten

Can you think of a single person you admire that didn’t stand for something that set them apart from the crowd?

Whether it be Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi or a soldier who fought for their country.  All these people stood for something and most likely would put their life on the line for what they believe in.

At some point it seems, we have to put our foot down, draw the line in the sand and say:

“This is what I believe is right.  This is what I believe in.  This is who I am and what I stand for.”

I don’t fear laying on my death-bed and feeling sad that I didn’t accomplish X,Y or Z.  I am afraid that I will be on my death-bed and look back at my life and realise that I didn’t stand up for what I truly believe in.  That is a life not lived.

Avoid The Tourist Trap

A great meal in Paris…

One of the best things about spending a week in Paris is getting to experience some really great food.

A simple way of knowing if a place is worth visiting is by simply walking inside and listening carefully to the customers. Are they speaking French? If they are, then you’ll likely have a good meal.

The reason places which cater only to tourists suck is because they usually just want to make a quick buck. They’re not interested in starting a new relationship with a long term customer. They want to maximise profits and spend as little as possible while doing so.

However, this kind of plan won’t work with locals. With locals you have to play an “infinite game”. Developing and nurturing longstanding relationships where you actually care about the people you have the privilege of serving.

The question is, are you treating your customers like tourists? Do you want to take them for a ride?

Or are you playing the infinite game? Are you in this for the long haul because you actually care and want to build longstanding relationships?