Burning Platform

by Lon on August 11, 2011

in future,questions

Speaking of burning, earlier this year there was a leaked internal memo by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop that has never left me.

He begins it with a story,

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

Tech geeks will know that Nokia’s once dominance in the mobile space has been decimated by Apple in the high end and Android in the low end of the market. This letter was Nokia’s CEO acknowledging the hard truth of having fire coming from all sides and standing on a ‘burning platform’.

I greatly admire those who slug it out especially when the going gets tough. However it takes huge guts to acknowledge that everything you’ve worked so hard for has no future. ie. You placed your bets wrong; you’ve wasted a chunk of your life; you’ve possibly even lived a lie. It could be a career, a project, a relationship, a religion.

What does it take to gain a type of clarity that counters everything you’ve envisioned in the past? What does it take to realize you’ve built an empire of dirt?

Jumping off the platform may seem like failure – but the greater failure would be ending your life feeling like you were stuck on a train you could have got off of at any time.

Have you ever been on a burning platform? How do you know when you should simply push through what Seth Godin calls the dip? How do you know when it’s time to jump out into the deep unknown?

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Burn the boats

by Lon on July 27, 2011

in creativity,Culture,Faith,future

Burn the boats

At a meetup of entrepreneurs in the city yesterday I was introduced to the phrase ‘burn the boats’. It’s a similar concept to my favorite scene in Gattaca

Legend has it that when Cortes landed in Mexico in the 1500s, he ordered his men to burn the ships that had brought them there to remove the possibility of doing anything other than going forward into the unknown. The phrase is also attributed to the commanders of the ancient Greek warriors who would shout “burn the boats” to eliminate any notion of retreat as they landed on enemy shores.

We live in a culture infatuated with choices, including our love of the option to hit reset, undo, and go home.

We want exit strategies and Plan B’s; but for some things in life, the only way out is by pressing further in. When we don’t burn the boats and we leave room for a way back, we also leave room for hesitation, fear, anxiety, self-sabotage, and resistance to creep in.

And sometimes what got us here, can’t take us there.

When we burn the boats and declare a point-of-no-return we can finally stop looking back and assess the way forward with clarity.

What’s holding you back? Are you in or out? Burn the boats, a brand new world awaits you.


Disturb us, O Lord

by Lon on July 25, 2011

in Faith,Quotes

Disturb us, O Lord,

when we are too well pleased with ourselves
when our dreams have come true
because we have dreamed too little;
when we have arrived in safety
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord,
when with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst for the Water of Life
when having fallen in love with time,
we cease to dream of eternity;
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
have allowed our vision for the New Heaven to grow dim,

Stir us, O Lord,
to dare more boldly,
to venture on wider seas,
where storms shall show Thy mastery,
when losing sight of land we shall find the stars.
In the name of Him
who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow him.


Updated version of Sir Francis Drake’s prayer 1577

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The edge of glory

by Lon on July 2, 2011

in Character,Culture,future,Hope

Lady Gaga Edge of Glory

Confession: There’s a Lady Gaga song I haven’t been able to get out of my head lately.

I read about the song first before hearing it. Mother Monster apparently shared that it was inspired by the death of grandfather and was about looking back at one’s life in the final moments – on the edge of glory.

I love the concept. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find anything really meaningful in the rest of the lyrics. However the catchy ’80s Springsteen feel of the song made up for it. On top of that it gave me something to mumble to my wife while I was feverishly sick all week… i’m on the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, i’m on the edge of glory…

What fascinates me most is the idea of how while glory may await many of us, the extent of it’s beauty could be shaped by how we lived in this life.

Our time here is short. 100 years maybe? Life is such an astounding gift.

At the edge of glory I get the feeling we’ll be at an utter loss at why we wasted precious moments – criticizing, wallowing in disappointment, frustrated, living in fear, trying to be right, numbing ourselves, and letting opportunities pass. And we’ll wish with all our might that we embraced every bit of beauty and joy that came our way so much more.

The awesome thing is that it’s never rarely too late to start writing a better story for our lives.

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The Internet is My Religion

by Lon on June 12, 2011

in Culture,Faith,video

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at livestream.com

Interesting video out of the Personal Democracy Forum 2011 by Jim Gilliam

Your thoughts?

h/t: Johnny Laird

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Learning to see better

by Lon on June 10, 2011

in creativity,Culture,video

Original Youtube link

What a great story coming out of ‘Korean’s got talent’.

I can’t help but wonder how much potential gets lost and passed over every single day. How many children are abandoned without realizing the extraordinary contributions they could make to our world? How many people do we walk by without recognizing the gift they could be to our very own lives?

If it’s true that everyone has something unique and beautiful to offer – how do we train our eyes to see that reality in each person we encounter?

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Startup Weekend Toronto

by Lon on June 8, 2011

in tech,Toronto

I attended Startup Weekend Toronto this past weekend.

Startup Weekend is a convergence developers, designers, and marketers converge in cities around the world to take a startup from idea to launch within 54 hours. Ie. A weekend of insanity.

Here’s what happened (I’ll comment on what I learned in a follow up post)

Hundreds of people gathered (sweat) in a tight muggy room

Networking ensued. Some people already had teams and projects ready to go, others had no clue what they had signed up for.

After some speeches on getting stuff done, 80 or so people were given 60 seconds to pitch a fresh startup idea

I pitched an idea I came up with the night before that could compliment our unstash collaborative consumption startup.

Pitches were voted upon and to my shock my idea was selected (I was planning on sitting in on another team to learn how they worked – I pitched mostly to just get myself out there)

Rapid teaming followed while I missed the boat still confused. There were teams of over 20, we had 4.

Massive brainstorming was underway with every team – competition filled the air

I got home at 3am exhausted to get back up at 7am to get at it.

Saturday was a heads down work day for most. An endless supply of food was catered in all weekend.

Our group was in-and-out all day with mishaps and other obligations (including myself, again I really wasn’t planning on leading a team and had the afternoon/evening booked).

Our team continued connecting online late into the evening, but suffered an intense blowout as we butted heads on how we’d implement our idea.

By Sunday morning we had to part ways with a team member (amicably), another was sick, and it was a mad scramble to make the most of what we had.

We made a number of key decisions, integrated customer validation data, built a vision of the product, formed some partnerships, designed a business model, and prepared to deliver the final pitch.

I love this statement in a techvibes article that covered the event: “On the third day you either created your product, fought with a line of code that simply refused to work or cried in the corner as you watched your start up dreams get crushed.

19 exhausted, nerve-wracked teams presented their offspring for the weekend in front of their peers and a panel of judges/venture capital groups. Every team, seriously, did an amazing job.

After-party was at the Drake, the food was amazing.

Awards were announced, and shocked once again, our tiny team of two had won the 2nd runner up award!

That’s our story, and that was the birth of reputate.me

More on this later.

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Press Pause Play

by Lon on June 3, 2011

in creativity,Culture

Has there ever been a better time time to make something awesome?

Visit presspauseplay.com for more info, screening dates, and sneak peaks.

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