From zero to one

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I hope all is well in your world - and yes, I too can’t believe it’s already February.

It has caught me by surprise to be honest with you; but I’m OK with that.

Time isn’t something we should be complaining about now, should we?

After all, we only have a finite amount of it and it’s completely up to us how we choose to use it.

I’ve had a busy month as you know, and the last week of January has seen us move into product development mode at work. We’re juggling client work with a range of new programs we are developing as well as helping our colleague Taryn settle into a new office in Brisbane.

The Strategy Masterclass enrolments will be closing on Friday March 1 - it will remain closed for a little while as I focus on a range of new learning and development products over the year with the help of one of the students of the course, whom I eventually hired and now leads our learning and development efforts in the business.

More on that another time.

Needless to say, the art, and speed of making something from nothing has been on my mind. In the business of creativity, our minds are constantly buzzing with new ideas and aspirations for the ultimate use of our creative abilities; and most of the time these ideas and aspirations remain unfulfilled.

A few years ago I realised how important it was to teach everything I’ve learned. To share what I’ve experienced throughout my career openly and transparently.

The good and the bad with equal measure and gusto. I realised this from somebody I once mentored, who in turn began to mentor me. The drive and enthusiasm we have as creative people has the power to take an idea from a vapour, floating around a boardroom to revenue-earning reality at speed and scale.

Yet, most of us fail to harness this power and we use something as futile as lack of time, as the primary reason we can’t bring our ideas to life. This was true in my business as well. We would have walls covered with ideas and everyone was great at filling them with more and more ideas.

It was enthralling, to think that we could dream something up and ‘be creative’. It was a stroke to the ego to think that we came up with something that nobody else we knew was doing. When it came to executing though, all manner of reasons stopped us from seeing that post-it note come to life. We ran out of time.

  • There was too much client work on.

  • The business wouldn’t pay for extra freelancers.

  • The business wouldn’t pay for that new app that was going to solve all our problems.

  • There simply wasn’t enough time in the day/week/month/quarter/year to do the job.

And one of the most humbling yet debilitating reasons we couldn’t execute was that we would take our original idea and, over time, expand it into something so big and grand that it would take a crew of 100 to simply get it moving let alone completed. We’d turn an amazing indie film script into a Hollywood blockbuster nobody would buy.

So I started measuring the time it took to go from zero to one.

The time it took to go from idea to launch.

The time it took to go from post-it note to proof that the idea could possibly fly.

I wrote that time on the wall and made it visible to everyone.

We started off with "12 months" and in some circumstances we even created a graveyard for those ideas that died, or never took their first step. We devised a way to ideate new ideas and define them, clearly. We devised a way to seek proof of the idea and validate it — all with one number in mind.

How long it took to go from zero to one. The first release. The first, public version.

12 months eventually turned into 1 month and in some circumstances, 1 week. It has become an important number in our business.

Excuses disappeared and something else happened that took most of us by surprise.

We found ourselves in control of time.

See you next week.