Thursday, 3 May 2012

What I learned from a knifemaker, a writer and a venture capitalist. 3 Lessons From The Do Lectures

I spent last Friday and Saturday in a big tent in the middle of the Welsh countryside. I was at fforest farm for the spring Do Lectures, an event  ‘that started out in a quiet corner of West Wales that inspires you to go and do amazing things’. There was some great content from thirty speakers, from a range of disciplines including not just entrepreneurs but also a fell walker and a baker. Here are three lessons that stood out in my - obligatory - moleskine notebook:
  1. “If the work is great then people will come” Joel Bukiewicz, Knifemaker Cut Brooklyn. We hear many stories of people who quit their jobs to become writers; less of writers who quit to do something else. Joel falls in the latter. Frustrated with writing, he took a break and landed on making knives as his new business. What struck me about Joel was the simplicity of his business model: he goes to work, makes knives, puts them in the shop to sell. What he doesn’t sell, he puts online to sell. His shop is open twice a week and he doesn’t take advance orders. I love that confidence and simplicity. There is a great little film about him here.
  2. Does this work have a 1% chance of leaving a footprint?” Robin Sloan, writer & media inventorWe hear that if you want to make a difference with your work you must ‘make a dent in the universe’. Robin argued that dents get smoothed out over time - “time is the ultimate body shop” he said - and instead you should think about what fingerprints you’re leaving for the future. That focuses the mind on producing work that might leave a legacy.
  3. “To have a life of doing, you need to not do” William Rosenzweig, Partner, Physic VenturesSince William is a partner at a venture capital firm I was expecting a talk about entrepreneurship. Instead he introduced us to the Taoist concept of Wu Wei - the notion of ‘doing not doing’. William talked about the importance of getting unplugged and being still. It’s a personal action for me because I need to get better at switching off. He also reminded us the importance of listening in a storytelling-driven culture where everybody wants to tell, not listen.

Follow @dolectures for videos of 2012’s talks

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