There are few things in life that can described as transformative; a single event that clearly changes you and the course of everything likely to follow, both personally and professionally.
I just experienced such an event and what you are reading is a manifestation of its impact on me, as well as my last project requirement. And, while it does not exactly meet the precise guidelines of what it is I should be doing, it will more than meet its intent.
This started years ago with Seth Godin, a best-selling author, seminar facilitator, teacher and blogger. I started reading Seth’s work more than a decade ago. When I was at the shop and tried to be in the office an hour before we “officially” opened so I could “get things done,” the first thing I would do after I poured myself a cup of coffee was settle down, fire up the computer, head to my Inbox, and search for Seth’s blog.
The wisdom is irrefutable; to the point where I would often print a copy of whatever he had to say for that day and then distribute it to my manager and employees, and forward it to a laundry list of close friends and colleagues. That’s how I got my son Ryan hooked on Seth.
Godin has created a living, learning experience far different from anything else that’s out there. He calls it the altMBA Program and that’s precisely what it is: a four-week, intense and immersive alternative to a conventional masters in business administration. But this isn’t about the program’s potential to change the way learning occurs or the impact it can, and should, have. It’s about the last project requirement, which is to “run a live event to teach others what you’ve learned in altMBA.” It should include 10 or 12 individuals to show them how what you’ve learned “represents a different posture, a different way of thinking.”
I thought about doing that. But, then it occurred to me that you are my closest colleagues, the people I feel most comfortable with, and that sharing this with just a few of you would not be as important or effective as sharing it with all of you.
So, what I’m going to do is pull out a few of the critically important pieces of this program.
But, first: This is not a commercial for Seth Godin or the altMBA. You don’t have to participate in the program to be exposed to these principles. They are now an integral part of my DNA and as such, it’s likely you will find yourselves exposed to them as we share the future of our industry together.
I would like to introduce you to just a few of the altMBA’s core principles: persona, worldview, assets, boundaries, narratives, the business model canvas, decision mapping, the fact we’re all irrational, the theory of constraints, and sunk costs.
The idea of a persona is not new, nor is it particularly difficult to understand. It is simply the aspect of someone’s character that is either projected or perceived by others. You have a distinct and precisely defined persona, carefully crafted for your world at the shop (I did). And, you have another distinct and different persona reserved for your family and friends. But, how often do you consider the persona of your customers or clients and how your persona could and probably should complement theirs?
You have a worldview, as well. It is the way you see the world. It is, more than likely, a product of years of experience as a technician, a businessman, a husband, a father and a friend. Your clients bring their own unique concept of the world as they perceive it with them and whether you know or understand it, your success depends upon how your worldview and the worldview of your clients coincide.
You have a narrative; the story you tell yourself, the story you would like those around you to know and understand, just as each of your clients has a narrative they bring with them each time they visit the shop.
Both you and your clients have boundaries––both real and imagined––that constrain you.
You have assets, probably more than you can see, that are waiting to be utilized.
And, every one of us has fallen prey to the lure of chasing sunk costs, a cost that has already been experienced and can never be recovered, and the potentially catastrophic decisions that follow.
Every one of these concepts can and often does play a significant, although often hidden, role in our professional lives. Understanding them and making them work for you, instead of allowing them to work against you, is critical to success and it’s likely we’ll explore all of them over time as we move forward.