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The Paradox of Generosity

How giving stuff away for free can lead to success.

Dylan Kohlstadt

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We’ve all heard people say things like ‘I can’t tell you my business idea, in case you steal it’, or ‘I can’t give you access to that information, it’s proprietary’, or ‘You have to pay to use this service.’

It makes logical sense to hold onto something you could charge for, and not give it away for free. Then why is it that individuals and businesses with the opposite mindset survive and thrive in places like Silicon Valley?

What’s mine is mine

I think it’s a remnant of our toddler years that makes us want to hold onto things instead of giving them away freely. We want to make as much as we can as quickly as we can and somehow we think that by sharing or giving away without charge, we will miss out on potential revenue and growth.

From the time I’ve spent in Silicon Valley I’ve learned the exact opposite to be true. People in the ‘Valley’ subscribe to a very different ethic. They believe that they are all a part of a connected whole, and that by sharing with each other, and helping each other, it will come back to you in some shape or form.

I think we should sit up and pay attention when people nearly everyone in the most successful technological hub in the world says the same thing over and over again.

6 Steps to becoming more generous

Here are my top take-aways from my time in the Valley:

1. Pay it forward. Nearly every meeting in Silicon Valley ends with someone asking, ‘So how can I help you?’ People in the Valley don’t have a ‘me only win’ view on life, and so nearly all of them are more than happy to help you meet someone who can help you in some way. They know it will come back to them.

Share your time and your contacts and you’ll find the same will come back to you.

2. Openness and honesty. Nobody is going to steal your idea. Even saying that shows how little you know about how difficult it is to make a business succeed.

Be open with other entrepreneurs, share your ideas and you might just meet someone with whom you can partner that will enable you to make a success of your business.

3. Be humble, be nice. Make sure that you leave a good feeling behind in every room you leave, and after every meeting. Someone once said, people forget the content of the meeting but they remember the feeling they had during it.

Relax, be humble and drop the ego. One thing you’ll notice here is everyone’s lack of ego; from the biggest tech companies to the start-ups, nobody has anything to prove. Being relaxed rubs off on others, there’s no need to be uptight: it’s not the key to success.

4. Share your knowledge. What do you know that you can share with your customers to enable them to succeed in their venture?

Did you stumble across an article recently that pertained to a customer? Scan it and send it to them or email them the link.

Do you have some proprietary knowledge that you can share a little of with your customers that will help them succeed? Offer a free training course or write a monthly blog. Mentor a handful of young entrepreneurs, just as you’ve been mentored along the way.

5. Give financially. There’s a spiritual principle of giving away a tenth of your income to those less fortunate than you that many top individuals and organisations believe in.

I think it helps you stay focused on things that really matter; which is helping others and not just helping yourself. It also helps to keep you grounded and grateful for your blessings and success, no matter how small they may be at this time.

6. Allow your staff to make mistakes. Be gracious with your staff and allow them to learn their lessons and grow by making mistakes. Some people believe people should never make mistakes, but that’s how we learn. Even saying things like ‘don’t make the same mistake twice’ breeds a culture of fear, and there’s no greater antidote to innovation than fear.

If you want your company to grow and succeed, allow your staff to explore and take risks without fear of losing their necks, Ned Starke style.

By letting go you allow your staff, customers and business to breathe, by giving away you allow unexpected gifts and blessings to come your way. It may all sound very airy-fairy, but give it a try; I guarantee you, you will be amazed at the results.

Dylan Kohlstädt is the founder and account director of Shift ONE: outsource marketing for entrepreneurs. She has ten years marketing management experience in insurance, financial and property industries plus six years hands-on experience in online marketing involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital. Visit www.shiftonedigital.com for more information.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Entrepreneur

    Jul 30, 2013 at 08:13

    How
    do you give back and what do you give?

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Company Posts

4 Ways to Stop Worrying in 2019

If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how.

Fedhealth

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What if I can’t complete that piece of work in time? What if my home gets burgled while I’m on holiday? We all worry – some people more than others. A few of these worries are genuine concerns, but most are completely out of our control and are most likely never to materialise.

But still, they occupy our minds. And with the digital world now occupying even more of our time, we’ve been given even more material to worry about. Famines in far-away countries, children orphaned by a flood, if we simply turn on our TVs or look to social media, we can become completely overwhelmed by what we see. And it’s making us all desperately unhappy.

So, what do we do? If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how:

Monitor and limit social media

social-media-management

We all know our phones are an addiction. And scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, you can compare your life to everyone else’s and add another huge worry to your ever-growing list: I’m not good enough/my life sucks. Which is why there’s a growing trend among Generation X-ers (and even some Millennials), to quit social media altogether.

“It was like breaking an addiction for the first few days, where I felt I was missing out, but after a few weeks I realised that the world carries on, and I was still in touch with those people I actually wanted to connect with. I felt lighter and happier,” says Caryn White*, a mother-of-two and small business owner. If you can’t quit social media for work reasons, then take it off your phone, and only access it on your desktop at specific times of the day.

Limit news

We’re not advocating sticking your head in the sand: just limit which channels you absorb news from, and how often you do it. The last thing you need is to open up your phone on waking up and read about the latest catastrophe, which you are powerless to do anything about.

Pick a few trusted news sources and check them at specific times. Avoid the news on the radio in your car; rather listen to fascinating audio books or podcasts that lift your mood instead of making you worry.

Assumption or fact?

This simple concept is incredibly helpful when faced with a worrying situation. Your child has a strange rash, you’ve Googled it and you’re pretty sure it’s chickenpox. Now the whole family is going to get it, you’ll miss work, your boss will be angry, and you may lose your job. Is the fact that your child has chicken pox an assumption or a fact?

Is losing your job a fact or an assumption? They’re both assumptions. So, take your child to the doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then take the next steps from there (a good medical aid can also help ease the stress of the financial cost of doctors’ visits). This approach is a simple way to deal with worries that start to spiral out of control in your mind.

Write them down

Worrying can seem insurmountable if it’s all in your head. Instead, try this strategy from Qualified FAMSA Counsellor Lynette Blomfield:

  1. Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, until you calm down.
  2. Once you’re calm, write down the five most stressful things on your list. It could be increasing expenses, like a huge jump in medical aid costs per month.
  3. Brainstorm what you could do to change or eliminate the worry/problem (maybe you can move to a medical aid company that charges less each month?). If necessary, ask a good friend or colleague for advice.
  4. Focus on making progress, not ticking all your worries off and striving for ‘perfection’.
  5. Stay on course and come back to your list regularly.

Dealing with worrying is about being proactive. You’re the only one that can begin the process of reducing anxiety, so now’s the time to take some steps. If you don’t know how to begin doing this on your own, it may be best to see a qualified counsellor or therapist to get you started.

*name has been changed

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Self Development

These 6 Types of Music Are Known To Dramatically Improve Productivity

Just another example of how much you gain by listening.

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Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.

Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. Still other types sync with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”

So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what you should be listening to, read on. These are the six types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.

1. Classical Music

beethoven

Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. Various studies have confirmed that listening to classical music enhances one’s ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.

The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to be a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping reduce stress. This genre of music has been found to help students perform 12 percent better on their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.

Here are other few classical selections you can use to boost productivity while working:

2. Nature Music

nature-waterfall-sounds

Listening to the sounds of nature, like waves crashing or a babbling brook, has been shown to enhance cognitive function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that natural sounds boost moods and focus. The study found employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when nature sounds were playing in the background while they worked.

This may be because nature sounds helped mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing. Researchers found that workers not only performed better on tasks, but calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on cognitive abilities.

Here are some selections to try:

3. Cinematic Music

the-bourne-identity

An intense film score can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re just chipping away at your to-do list. A grandiose, epic soundtrack playing in the background may make even the most mundane tasks feel like you’re changing the world, thus heightening your concentration and productivity.

Cinematic music scores can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.

Some great movie scores to try include:

4. Video Game Music

halo-soundtrack

It might seem strange, but listening to music composed for video games can be a great tool to help you focus. Every element of a video game is designed to create an enhanced gaming experience for all your senses, and the music has been composed specifically to help you focus on your task without being distracted by a cacophony of sounds.

This music generally has no lyrics or human voices and is fairly fast-paced to keep you moving forward. Many of these video games involve solving puzzles and dealing with intense situations, so you’re subjecting yourself to simulated stressful challenges. Video games have invested a lot of resources in figuring out the perfect balance to the music they use.

Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.

Here are some excellent video game music selections to check out:

5. Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute

bruno-mars

Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.

Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioural therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.

When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”

If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

10 Secrets To Finding A Job You Love

Entrepreneur and social media sensation Gary Vaynerchuk and nine others tell us how they found their calling and how you can find yours.

Entrepreneur

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Research suggests that more than half of us are unhappy at work. From lawyers to brokers and CEOs, these Advisors in The Oracles are proof it’s possible to be successful and have a job you love. Here, they share how they found work that fulfills them — and how you can too.

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