A friend called up with a new idea. It will probably only cost a bit of time and effort – and who knows where it will go? I’m honored to be included. New ideas are what we need, and they need a bit of energy and enthusiasm to get them started. Of course, I’d be happy to help. The possibility of getting paid to help is even more enticing. Mega-corps, world-changing charities, political shifts, and awesome art have all been spawned by such simple phone calls. My love of people and ideas, and my background in technology and business mean I get a lot of such simple calls. I have to say No a lot, but it feels so good to say Yes.
Lately, saying Yes has been emotionally supportive, but only occasionally financially so. The most initiative making the most progress has been the Virtual Museum for the History of Computing in Learning and Education (HCLE). I’m helping Liza Loop build her online museum, a museum that will eventually require a reasonably large staff, but that for now is mostly Liza, me, and a few volunteers. We few, we happy few. Almost all of the rest of the projects are inching along, slowly growing while waiting for the right funds or people to clear their immediate hurdle. A variety of blogs, retail businesses, services, inventions, philanthropies, and a lot of innovative ideas that don’t fit into clear categories are sources of optimism and conversation, but not much else – for now.
Why spend so much time on ideas that don’t pay? My passion is for people and ideas; and, I think the world needs new ideas or a refreshing of some resourceful old ideas. Working on ideas for no pay can be fun, but only when there’s enough money from something else to cover the bills.
A friend called up with an idea for a blog that will be a series of video interviews. Dawn Griffin has a book about personal transformation coming out this autumn, and wanted to start a public conversation about people who have stepped beyond their limiting beliefs. She was nice enough to invite me to be the first interviewee, an honor; which is possibly helped along by the fact that I am somewhat comfortable working through technical glitches and fluid artistic concepts.
Besides, it was fun talking to Dawn. She even suggested that I may get to be an interviewer (paid?) if the idea catches on. If you want to see how far video blogs can go, check out vlogbrothers, myharto, or vsauce on YouTube. Each had a simple idea that had a bumpy start that matured through persistence into something awesome.
I know dozens of entrepreneurs who understand enthusiasm and potential. The ones I deal with usually have already taken the steps to realize that they can’t do it all on their own. I’m happy to help. It is a joy to see fresh ideas unbesmirched by dismal assaults of pessimism. Many ideas have succeeded because their proponents didn’t know the conventional wisdom that predicted their failure. Making movies on computers? Pixar can never succeed. Selling coffee as if was some premium product? Starbucks is just silly. Making and selling grain-less granola or home-made biscotti? Primal Island and Biscotti Journey haven’t a chance in the world of super-mega-markets – except they might. Whether they hire me or not, I’m happy to hear about their plans.
Yet, here I sit, wondering if my Backup Plans will establish themselves into an enjoyable, sustainable, long term lifestyle. Why persist?
Businesses grow, if they are tended and have some good luck. Mine has grown and provided me some enthusiasm, though revenues have yet to reach that critical threshold that provides some ease as well as paying the bills.
Portfolios grow, if they are tended and have some good luck. Mine has been languishing, yet my semi-annual review provided me with a bit of confidence again. Reflecting on my pre-2008 performance provides me with a lot of confidence (see my book, Dream. Invest. Live. for data and details.).
Enthusiasm and confidence don’t pay bills, but persistence provides the energy and time to allow very good things to happen.
I invest in small companies and plan to sell their stocks when they are large companies. Every large company was small originally. Some have had extraordinary IPOs, but I avoid those. I invest in the small companies with big ideas that are hard to evaluate because their main assets are enthusiasm and confidence. If they can demonstrate persistence, so can I (though a few like GERN and MVIS are testing that.) That is the basis of my version of LTBH, Long Term Buy and Hold. Finding an investment early enough that others have overlooked it, which also means it is usually undervalued, i.e. cheap; and then holding until its value makes my life easier to live.
There is an oversupply of good ideas in the world. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the resources go to old ideas, entrenched companies and concepts, and institutions that have forgotten how to change. I may not have much money, but I invest it where I think it needs to go while honestly acknowledging that I hope to make a large profit. I have as much time in a day as anyone; so I am glad when I can spend it furthering one of my ideas or a friend’s idea. Inevitably, money and time are constrained to the point that I have to say No; but at least I know that up until that point I got to say Yes. If I generate the money that allows for ease, then I get to say Yes more often. Someone saying Yes is what turns idealistic dreams into fascinating realities. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?