Posts Tagged ‘opportunity’

Look at the image of black squares in rows and columns, and count how many black spots you see. While there appear to be many, in fact there are none. When we focus on the figure, we easily ignore the ground. In this optical illusion, the intersections appear to be sprinkled with black dots, which pop in and out and shift about the image with a dizzying effect, purely as a figment of our imagination.

If you calmly focus on any one of the white dots, you can clearly see that it is white, and that the black and grey dots are an illusion. If you focus on the central white dot, and gradually let your field of peripheral vision expand, you may be able to see an expanded range of dots as they are white, without any flickering dots on the screen. This is a challenging shift in focus, because it requires you to see comprehensively the big picture, the details, and the relationships all at the same time.

Easy to get lost in business

The lack of comprehensive vision causes confusion. This happens to many people who enter the world of business. Whether you are an executive or someone on a career path, if you don’t know where you are and where you are going, you may easily find yourself lost in the cross winds.

The flickering mentality leads to a pursuit of short-term profits without regard for consequences. Large organizations and governments which engage in short-sighted or greedy behavior can wreak havoc on the economy and the environment. The pursuit of the flickering dot mirage creates stress, and over time the process tends to chew people up and spit them out.

Itoh Motoshige, Professor of Economics at the University of Tokyo, says that to understand economies today we need a flexible focus, the ability to shift appropriately from the bird’s eye Macro view, to the insect’s eye Micro view for detail, and to the fish’s eye for changes and interrelationships. This is precisely the power of the Mandala Chart, which enables you to shift perspective and focus with ease.

A world of opportunity

The Mandala Chart can help us regain our bearings by seeing our business comprehensively, and what role we want to play within it. It also helps us refocus on the interfaces and spaces between things and people. Because the majority of people are too busy pursuing the mirage to really recognize reality, this is where the opportunities are.

What is typically presented as a good opportunity in business, is often actually an opportunity to be part of somebody else’s business plan. Most of these so-called opportunities are so easy to duplicate, that they lead right to the red ocean of competition for slight edge advantages and dwindling profit margins. If customers are unable to distinguish between brands or quality, they will naturally gravitate to the lowest cost option.

True opportunities are never obvious, because they exist in the spaces between. They represent the world of possibilities and new combinations, and come to life when an entrepreneur or enterprise recognizes and fully engages their potential. This is why so much innovation happens at the leading edge of technology, through interdisciplinary collaboration at the edges, and through networking and mastermind groups.

An ancient principle

The Principle of Comprehensiveness is the second of eight principles in the Framework of Wisdom for the Mandala Chart. Two concepts which help define it have roots in Buddhism, particularly the branch of Esoteric Buddhism which introduced the Mandala to Japan.

(), meaning empty as the sky, which in fact is full of stars, galaxies, and infinite possibilities. In Japanese painting, architecture, traditional and martial arts, space is a powerful entity. It is also an essential idea in Buddhism, often mistranslated as emptiness, but more accurately representing the infinite potential of that which is without form. The realization of this potential depends on the second concept, which is how you engage with this potential.

(en), meaning edge or relationship, which can also mean the opportunity which is abundant in the intersections where people and ideas meet. It may also be thought of as the present moment and space, which is where the past transforms into the future. Think of how often things have developed according to the people you met and the decisions you made at the time. Yet this is an ongoing process, not a final verdict.

The Mandala itself has roots in India, Tibet, China, and Japan, where it was introduced in the 9th Century by a Buddhist Priest named 空海 (Kūkai). From the sixty-four frame (8×8) structure of the Diamond World Mandala, a National Treasure from 9th Century Japan, it is easy to see the roots of the Mandala Chart. The imagery used then represented the iconography of Esoteric Buddhism, as a graphical way of looking at the Buddhist universe with flexible focus.

Back to business

How then do you apply this to business? Once you understand the importance of flexible focus, once you learn how to look at things comprehensively, then you need to fix your eight compass points for business, and place them in the framework of the Mandala Chart.

How you determine those points depends a great deal on your type of business, your role in the business, and the field on which you play. To get you started, try downloading the PDF template COMPREHENSIVENESS MANDALA, which gives you eight coordinates likely to apply to any business. You can apply the Principle of Comprehensiveness to any area of your life (Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Study, Leisure). It is best if you generate your own questions, starting from the essential ingredients of Quality Questions: WHY? WHEN? HOW? WHAT? WHO? HOW TO? HOW? WHY ME?

  1. WHY?
    • Why are you in business?
    • What Legacy do you want to leave?
    • What would you do if you had the resources?
  2. WHAT?
    • What products and services do you offer?
    • What is your plan for ongoing content creation?
    • What are the platforms by which you will deliver your value?
  3. WHY ME?
    • Why are you the right person (people) to carry out this mission?
    • What in your background supports or led up to this position?
    • Why should people choose you above all of the providers available?
  4. WHO?
    • Who are the key players in your organization?
    • Who are the key stakeholders in your business?
    • Who are your ideal customers?
  5. WHERE?
    • Where will you locate your business physically and geographically?
    • Where can people around the world access your business online?
    • What venues and stages do you have to showcase and conduct your business?
  6. WHEN?
    • When do you plan to begin?
    • Can you put your projects on a calendar or timeline?
    • What are your milestones for progress?
  7. HOW MUCH?
    • How much will it cost to operate your business?
    • How much can be expected in revenues?
    • What are the key numbers and indices that you need to pay attention to?
  8. HOW?
    • How do you plan to achieve your goals?
    • What systems do you have in place for delivery?
    • How will you ensure that your business is sustainable?
  9. HOW TO?
    • How to scale up your business?
    • How will your business continue to innovate?
    • How will you automate your business processes for efficiency?
  10. HOW?
    • How will your business secure cash flow?
    • What operating systems and technologies give you economies of scale?
    • What is your system for accountability and follow up?

The logic of the location of these questions on the Mandala makes sense when you refer to the Wealth Dynamics Square covered in the previous article, Time for a Change #16: A Rewarding Business, with FLOW in the center, DYNAMO on the upper side (How to? What? Why me?), BLAZE on the right side (Why me? Who? Where?), TEMPO on the lower side (Where? When? How much?), and STEEL on the left side of the square (How much? How? How to?). The important thing here is to consider them all with the flexible perspective made possible by the Mandala Chart.

Spend some time trying to see your business comprehensively, looking for new opportunities in the spaces between, for new ways to connect and integrate each of these elements.

The next time you find yourself getting tired, confused, or stressed by your job or business, look at your Mandala Chart. See if you can take your mind off of the flickering dots illusion, and refocus on the substantial opportunities that exist in the spaces between. Be sure to write your insights down. What you discover will calm your mind and benefit your business.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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How to avail of opportunities that you cannot see?

by Himanshu Jhamb on May 17, 2010

We all have opportunities knock on our doors every now and then. Some might feel they have fewer than others and that might be true to some extent; but I’ll go out on an arm and a leg and claim that we all have our fair share of opportunities in our lives. The differentiating factor is how many do we make the most of. The genesis of this post was from a discussion I was having the other day with my fellow co-founder (Active Garage), Deepika Bajaj. We were talking about a dear friend of mine who is interested in investing in one of my ventures. My perspective in the conversation was that one of the key factors of my friend’s willingness to invest was the fact that it was ME who was involved and not entirely the venture. Put another way, what I was saying was simply that “People Invest in People”!

Although Deepika agreed with me on that, she offered another perspective that resounded with me at a level that compelled me to write this post! This is what she said to me:

“Yes. I agree. Your friend is investing in you but this opportunity would not have come about had you not taken the step to get out of your comfort zone and started your venture. Your friend has been your friend for a long time, and probably has had the resources to invest for a while now. However, what was missing was that you did not have an Offer in which he could consider investing in, until now. And once the offer showed up in your life, so did your opportunity!”

The not-so-obviousness of the above dialogue got me! We go about in life without realizing the number of opportunities we have in our lives, around us, all the time. We go about saying to friends, family and countless people that this is not for us and that we are happy wherever we are. What we do not pay attention to, or notice, is that even within this close network, we have opportunities that have the ability to lift the entire community (family, friends, all of it) with us! Yes, opportunities do have a strange way of showing up in our lives. They show up (or manifest themselves) through our offers. It follows that though we (and this is the obvious part, now) do not have control over the opportunities that will come our way, we do have absolute control over the number of offers we have – which (if I look at the flip side of the coin) are really opportunities for others!

The Question to ask

Suddenly, the question to ask transforms from an elusive “How to avail opportunities that you cannot see?” to a more fathomable “How do you become an opportunity for others?

Here are the top 3 answers:

  • Feel good factor: Are you in relationships that only make you feel good OR is there a real value in the way you mutually help each other?
  • Be a student: Learn something new, today. Everyday. If you do not have enough offers then the place to look is lack of education.
  • Build capacity: By building powerful relationships you essentially build capacity to do more.

… and last but not the least, while you go about doing all this, don’t forget to have loads of FUN along the way!

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Timing the Flood

by Guy Ralfe on March 31, 2010

I came across this quote from William Shakespeare

“Timing is everything. There is a tide in the affairs of men which when taken at the flood leads on to fortune.”

It resonated quickly with me as I have just been through two such events recently. In the quote there are two components to the statement above that are very relevant in business:

  • Timing – being at the right place at the right time
  • Opportunity/Risk – what’s on offer at the right time

A while ago a group of us wanted to start a project. We came together and bought into a project as minority shareholders. At the time our assessments was that the investment was aligned with the return. A number of months on and with the project experiencing some hiccups and delays most of the group became distracted on other now more pertinent projects. In my case I have decided to quit my job and go and start a new business half way across the country. Now it would just happen that at the same time as I undergo my change,  the original project suddenly gets a spurt of life and with a flurry of activity another opportunity arises to invest. Only this time the project is at a stage where a product is almost in sight. In addition the particular circumstances determine that the same investment can net you more equity than at the start.

We considered it great timing back at the start of the project when I was liquid and invested, but now the opportunity is half as risky, and costing half as much for a like stake. This is the flood referred to in the quote. This is being at the right place for the jackpot and you are able to play.

Just as it is easy to have 20/20 hind sight, it feels obvious, this is when I would rather have invested, but now I can’t due to my career change decision…that’s business. Decisions are made in the moment, the sequence of events there after play out differently based on the actions taken.

The trick to hitting the flood is anticipating the future and being conscious about the decisions you make…and that they likely won’t affect just one aspect of your life.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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How To Qualify Opportunities When Meeting With Your Customers

by Robert Driscoll on December 17, 2009

56503918You’ve developed your customer profiles and you’ve set up a meeting with your customer with an objective and an agenda.  So, how do you identify and qualify opportunities during the meeting?

The purpose of you meeting with your customer(s) is to indentify concerns they have, create an offer that takes care of these concerns and they accept, which in turn takes care of your concerns of meeting your sales goals for your company.  To help uncover current and future opportunities, start off with open-ended questions.  Use some of these questions to help you determine your customers willingness to work with you:

  • Tell me about your vision for the organization.
  • What are your plans to support that vision?
  • What plans have you defined for each of these goals?
  • What would you like to improve in the organization?
  • What opportunities do you see in your marketplace?
  • What process do you go through when you make decisions like this?
  • Who besides yourself will be involved in the decision-making process?

As you ask these questions, be certain to understand how every issue impacts the organization.  As you ask each question and a concern is brought up, be sure to ask one of the following open-ended questions:

  • What impact will this issue have on your organization?
  • How do you measure/define the impact?

As you start having these conversations, you can start seeing gaps that exist between where your customer(s) organization is today and where they want to be.  Listening to your customer(s) and paying attention to their background of listening will allow you to create offers that are specific to your customer(s) needs that help fill these gaps.  These conversations in turn allow you to open your space of possibilities with your customer(s) for creating new offers.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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Notice the Exit as an Entrepreneur

by Guy Ralfe on December 2, 2009

exitHave you noticed how you live life and then suddenly one day you notice “something”, seemingly for the first time? Then after noticing that “something”, it seems to be hounding you – they just suddenly appear everywhere?

One of the best examples is the emergency exit sign at the movies. Amazing how an illuminated red/green sign in a dark room just goes unnoticed. Think back to the last film you watched and see if you recall  where the emergency exit was? Yes it was there, law requires it be there and clearly visible too!! You probably even left through the emergency door afterwards.

So what does this have to do with business? It occurred to me that many entrepreneurs start something that they identify as missing, flawed or incomplete. The fact that they are able to vision this means that they have a concern for this need and that is why they can notice it. This is good from the point of visioning, but it will also prove very difficult to get investors, partners and consumers interested until they too can see the need.

For big organizations they put their new products in front of us through marketing and advertising and telling us the story of the possibilities the new product will create for us. This gets it quickly adopted and widely noticed. For the entrepreneur it is a far longer and slower process. In the same way a salesman looks at his prospects and tries to convert as many to sales, the entrepreneur must maximize every interaction to ensure that the listener leaves with a clear vision of this product’s need, and the space of possibilities it will create once  in the world.

Once your listener can notice, they too will suddenly feel like they are being hounded by the opportunities for your product – and they too will then unconsciously become your speaker. This is important from a promotional point of view but more important in drawing in interested parties to build your products network.

Make sure you produce the vision every time in your listener, because that is where you will get the most powerful interaction, these listeners will see the exit signs like the fire alarm was ringing. If the listener leaves with a blurred vision, they will not notice that exit sign but take the exit!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Social Media: A dangerous Opportunity!

by Himanshu Jhamb on September 1, 2009

social media dangerousNowadays, the web is full of success stories on Social Media. Indeed, the arrival (and the acceptance) of Social Media has opened the gates to many opportunities: enabling individuals and communities to brand themselves being perhaps one of the biggest. However, as is the case with every opportunity, it has the potential downside, too. The downside, if not paid attention to, can turn this opportunity on its head into a “dangerous” one.

Here are two fundamental questions that you must strive to answer, before you can turn any new tool into an opportunity for yourself.

1. What is my purpose of using it?
2. How do I use it effectively to get the outcome that I am after?

Take, for example, using a knife for the first time. You need to have a concern of cutting/chopping something before even thinking about using it. Without that, you are simply wasting your time (might I add, dangerously) if you’re running around with it. Then, you need to learn how to use it effectively – if you don’t, it is equally dangerous as you might end up slicing and dicing your fingers (didn’t mean to go to this extreme… but, you get the point!) instead of what you intended to use it for.

Social Media can be like a knife. You need to know what is your purpose behind using it first because, if you do not have a clear purpose, then you’ll end up squandering away the other opportunities in your life that you could have availed in the time you’re spending dabbling with Social Media.

You also need to learn to use it effectively… without that, you are playing with a dangerous tool.

I recently read a great CNN post on How Social Media can hurt your career… and though I loved the examples the author shared in there (some of them were downright scary), I felt the title of the post would’ve better served the content had it been “How you can hurt your career through Social Media” instead of “How Social Media can hurt your career“. You see, there is a subtle difference if I say it like that because the conversation you have with yourself on Social Media after reading the former title is on the lines of “Oh! I better learn how to use this properly” instead of “Oh! Social Media is too dangerous… I better stop using it”, which is what comes forth after reading the latter. Yes, there is a very subtle difference between the two but clearly, the former opens the possibilities of “getting better” at it and the latter closes the possibilities by instilling an unfounded fear in the reader.

Getting good at leveraging the opportunity that Social Media is, is a skill that beckons to be learnt and exploited to the maximum potential. For this is how your level of engagement will start reaping you the maximum returns… and you can be assured that you are playing on the “Safe” side of this dangerous opportunity!

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Ditch Your Debt. Decide your Destiny!

by guest on June 26, 2009

the constraint of debt Living in debt is convenient as it gives you possibilities and gratification right here and now, but it amazes me that so few people understand what the opposite – debt free living – gives you in terms of opportunities.

Let’s consider how debt makes its way in our personal lives first:

Everyone is so used to borrowing money – first for college, then for a car, then for a condo or a house, and finally that credit card debt to fund the lifestyle (they think) they deserve.  You NEED an iPhone, you NEED a 50” TV, you NEED to eat out 3 times a week and you NEED to go skiing every winter.

Have you ever considered what this choice of debt does to your life and your freedom to choose?

What if you wake up one day and realize that your current job is getting to you?  That you actually don’t enjoy what you’re doing.  That your boss doesn’t support you and your career is going nowhere.  That you loooooong for the weekend and have moved way beyond TGIF and have started calling Thursdays “Little Friday”.

Well, it’s quite clear that you should quit.  That you should be doing something better with your life.  That you should find another job that motivates you and satisfies your ambitions.  The only thing is – you stay put…

You stay in your job because you have to pay the bills.  You cannot afford to take the more interesting job that pays significantly less. It’s then that you realize, that you are caught in a debt trap that now keeps you in a place you don’t want to be because you have lost your degree of freedom. You lost your freedom to choose.

Do you think business is any different?

Do you think it’s easier to make “the right choice” in business if you are always forced to take the route that brings in the most revenue and profit?  And what if you just “know” what the next new thing in your field is going to be but you cannot pursue it because you are busy making the next payment to the bank and you do not have the option to fund this new idea?

Living and operating debt free gives you a huge amount of freedom that should not be neglected.  Only then can you truly decide what you want to do.  Decide where you want to work.   Decide if you want to work on your own.  Decide whom you want to work with…

Ditch your Debt.  Decide your Destiny!

Steen - 167x124This article was contributed by Steen Andersen, President of Maconomy Inc. Maconomy creates Organic Business Solutions for Professional Services Organizations in a way which ensures human as well as financial gain.

You can follow Steen on twitter at @MoellerAndersen

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