Jim Mckelvey is an interesting individual with eruptive ideas. As a freshman in school, he wrote and published a replacement for the computer programming textbook used in one of his classes…wow right? The success of his book led McKelvey to sign a contract with a publisher for a second book at the age of 19 which became a bestseller. He eventually graduated from WUSTL with dual degrees in Economics and Computer Science.
Jim currently owns and has co-founded five organizations and sits as Advisor, Director, General Partner and Managing Director of six others, so this is not a story of a nerd in school who is now broke because the vogue thing seems to be that you don’t have to study hard at school to “make it”. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.
I heard Jim speak recently at the MTN sponsored techplus 2015 and to every conventional question he was asked to discuss on Seizing Opportunities to make a headway in career, business and life generally, his response was “I DON’T.” So this fellow who has come up with mind blowing ideas, making tons of cash recurrently says he’s terrible at finding opportunities and lost a whole lot of cash when he ventured into roofing because he saw an opportunity when everyone in a community lost their roofs after a tornado. What has actually led to all the great ideas and consistent cash inflow is his quest and ability to find problems that he’s passionate about solving and actually figuring out solutions to them. In seeking problems, there are a few tips he gave; these problems may be personal to you or people around you – this would give passion and drive; they should be solvable (where there exists a solution or something close) – this would aid your innovation; the problem should be one with a solution that is simple, understandable and easily adaptable – this would reduce marketing costs.
I won’t dwell too much on any one point today, so that our minds can ruminate and expand each point to come up with different unique approaches, which brings me to my next point; Jim doesn’t learn from experts. What? Okay, this one is kind of tricky, right? Hahaha…keep reading. So, he made a few points; firstly, an excellent idea in one location at a particular time may not yield favourable results in another location or at a different time, so don’t take up some very popular guy’s principles and think that applying them hook, line and sinker where you are would have the same wow effect it had where it was initially applied. The reason is synonymous with the second point; experts are often not sure if its luck or something they actually did correctly that yielded the results everyone is so fascinated about (another realization for you I guess). Let me jerk you up a bit more; Jim also suggested that often times, experts are tagged as such based on some selection bias. On how this differs from having mentors, the answer is learn from people ahead of you, but in last mile application to your situation, you have to make the decision. In other words, gather all the knowledge you need, but in the end, you have to figure it out yourself.
Another salient point Jim made with regards to prioritizing opportunities was the fact that he doesn’t even seek opportunities in the first place as they are difficult to recognize. In his words, “you can only look back and say, that was a good opportunity, it’s difficult to tell beforehand”. In trying to be more effective, most of us create to-do lists and then struggle to prioritize and do the stuff on that list. What might be more helpful however would be to create a don’t-do list. Hmm…so how does this help? Well, it involves creating a list of things you’re not good at and things you shouldn’t be doing. This would help you delegate to better hands and free up time for you to selectively choose important stuff from your to do list and accomplish them. Don’t think too hard about the things that fall into the don’t-do list category; they are not exactly far-fetched…how many hours do you spend watching television or movies every day? How does what you watch contribute to your bottom line? Aha! You get the picture. So, begin your journey of freeing up time for important stuff today.
One more and I’m done for today, oh! I wasn’t going to share all the tips with you…lol! I’m actually sharing the most striking though’, so don’t give me the “ahn ahn!” look. Let’s ride on. So there was this point about how to use consumer insights; this is definitely important for a lot of organizations, they may even hire you if you show a good track record of doing this. Jim, as usual has a different approach to this; I DON’T. His advice; figure out something that works and move really fast. “An entrepreneur is like a guided missile” he said; timed, programmed and directed to its target- you have to know what you’re doing and do it fast. I guess this goes for intrapreneurs too – it’s not always about what the market says they want but what you see that they need. A solution that saves cost, makes life easier or more comfortable would definitely be patronized.
So, our food for thought today; find problems, figure it out yourself, create a don’t-do list, know what you’re doing and do it fast! Keep succeeding!
By OBBIE Luya
PS – The man in the photo isn’t Jim o! Lol!
Photo credit – google images.
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