Malcolm Little, Crisitunity, The Growth Whisperers & Alpha state
19th April 2020 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday’s logic” – Peter Drucker
Hope you’re Thriving!
In January 1946 Malcolm Little was arrested as he tried to pawn a watch he’d stolen, and back at his apartment, the police found furs, jewellery, an arsenal of guns and his burglary tools. He was subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison. As he served his sentence unlike most of his colleagues he wasn’t ‘doing time’, he was ‘using time’. From the time he woke up until the time he went to bed each day Little would spend the entire time in the library reading. He read every book in the library available to him, and literally copied the entire dictionary word for word. The situation was unfair and unjust, but he used every moment of the time availed by his situation to better himself.
That was how Malcolm Little was transformed into Malcolm X.
Today I heard a football player on the radio who said once he has completed his daily exercise routine by 8.30am each day he is perplexed wondering what to do with the remainder of his day.
It’s quite possible that during our lifetimes this will be the only time where we are able to really focus deeply without the freedoms and constraints that everyday life brings. But it’s your decision. You can spend your time playing games, scrolling social media or watching TV, or you can use this time to emerge from the pandemic a better version of yourself. To learn, to grow. You are the sum of your habits.
Or as Homer Simpson says the Chinese use the same word for crisis as they do opportunity – a crisitunity.
And some of the opportunities to come from this crisis are indeed interesting. For example, in the UK, Heinz the manufacturer of beans and soup has launched a delivery direct service, cutting out the pesky, expensive supermarkets who prioritise home brands over theirs and building a relationship directly with the consumer.
Or for example, UberEats, who said this week that sales are up 350%, in March over February which has made UberEats generate more revenue than Uber rides for the first time ever.
Or the wireless communications distribution firm Zoom Technologies (ticker:Zoom) who was mistaken by traders for the popular video conferencing app Zoom (ticker:ZM) and subsequently saw it’s share price peak at 1,800% for the year, compared to the video conferencing Zoom which peaked at ‘only’ 132%.
But probably the best example I’ve heard of a ‘crisitunity’ (acknowledged not a real word) is the amazing story told in The New Yorker this week of an Australian investor who is up an estimated 2,000% for the year and how he achieved that despite the constant mockery of his friends and associates as the situation unfolded, yet his focus on the facts and accurate data is what mattered.
A final crisitunity this week – here are two examples of school kids finding opportunity within the crisis. Apparently in Wuhan when the kids were told to do homeschooling they were given an app to use for schoolwork on their tablets. Then the kids figured out that in the app store if an app gets enough 1 star votes, it is automatically removed from the app store. So, without parents or teachers knowing, the kids all started voting the app 1-star and voila! No schoolwork to be done!
The second story is of a parent who found her 10-year-old playing with the dog and asked why she was not Zooming with her teacher. She took a screenshot of herself “paying attention” then cut her video and replaced it with the picture. “It’s a gallery view of 20 kids, mom. They can’t tell”.
Last but not least I have some exciting news! This week I’ve started a podcast called The Growth Whisperers with my good friend Kevin Lawrence. Kevin who is based in Vancouver wrote the first draft of the book Scaling Up and undertook a lot of the interviews and research behind it as well as authoring his own book Your Oxygen Mask First. In episode 1 we talk about Who are The Growth Whisperers, The Stockdale Paradox, Coronavirus back to work, Conserving cash, Government CoVid19 modelling and Productivity during the lockdown.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
On my website
What I am watching
Lessons learned – leading through the crisis
One of my favourite leadership thinkers is Dr Gerald Bell of the Bell Leadership Institute. In this short video, he talks about productivity during this crisis, for both you and your team, and why managing your inputs, and thereby your brain state is so important. Because what affects performance is your ability to think in the Alpha state (similar to Deep Work by Cal Newport). He advocates a time in the morning and a time in the evening to collect the news, and then a focus to be productive in between. In between, you must lock yourself away from stimuli. For both you and your team it’s the highly stimulated zone that is preventing productivity.
He also discusses the difference between the Alpha state and Beta state and why at the moment the job of a leader is to get people into the Alpha state, where they are focussed and can think deeply about what the opportunities are.
Made to Thrive in the Media
Nice to have something unrelated to the pandemic this week when my book Made to Thrive had a featured book review in this months edition of INTHEBLACK Magazine, Australia’s most-widely circulating monthly business magazine.
Also a podcast I recorded before the Pandemic was released this week, and it was a good conversation with David from TeamGuru a leadership specialist, so a peer of sorts, and we were able to dive into the more meaningful leadership aspects of the book. I did find David’s introduction interesting though — “Brad Giles thinks and talks about leadership like an engineer. He’s used his time as an entrepreneur and leadership coach to break the profession of leadership into its fundamental moving parts. Brad believes that that mechanics of leadership can be taught. It’s not a mystery!”
What I am enjoying
I wouldn’t normally post funny video clips in the newsletter, but given the situation here are two funny clips I’ve found in the past week that I hope you enjoy.
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