How to get through the messy middle

Every year this time thousands of runners pass through the town of Kloof where I live on the route of the Comrades Marathon. This year the run started in Pietermaritzburg and ended at the coast in Durban.   17,031 runners had qualified and registered for what is known as one of the world’s greatest ultra marathons.  Each runner who passed Kloof had run over 54km already with another 27km to go.  They were digging deep to find the strength to continue.  Each step forward was deliberate and painful.


Marathon running epitomises the qualities of determination and perseverance that is necessary to reach a personal goal.

But not everyone who starts a marathon finishes,  many give up in what is called the “messy middle“.

The messy middle is what takes place between the start and the accomplishment of a goal. It is called the messy middle because this is when things get difficult, and can get very messy.


Getting results through online marketing

Just how much effort is warranted in promoting your online product or service using social media?  Is there a reason for being consistent and patient or should you be looking for the quick return?  How long is reasonable to develop a new brand online?  One year, two or more?  How many followers should you have?  Does “number of followers” really matter to your business?


How do you build trust online, what actually happens as people move from a follower to actually buy your product or service without even having met you?

Lots of questions!   You might feel you are getting nowhere fast because your followers are not increasing rapidly.  But is this premise true?  Can the usual statistics measure growing trust or are they simply misleading?

What if I told you that you were making steady progress in developing your personal brand and that the number of followers on social media has very little to do with your prospects of selling your product or service?

Conventional wisdom is that a big social media following will increase your chances of winning new online customers.

But today I want to challenge conventional wisdom, so here goes!


Building an online platform

It could have more impact than your CV

When I worked in an IT company one of our biggest challenges was finding the right blend of technical skill in our developer team. We relied on CV’s submitted with a job application.  But not only technical skill, it was actually just as important to find a person with the right “soft skills”. Someone who would fit into the team’s culture and contribute positively to the team dynamic. Someone who was authentic and motivated.  Our success as a business required that we had to hire only the best and set the bar high.


The problem was that the people we interviewed were on the whole not suitable, partly because the screening process was frankly not at all effective; but because the CV’s presented were also useless.

We did of course eventually find the right fit, but only after an extended search that in most cases lasted several months and cost the business a small fortune in lost opportunity.

So what would I recommend job seekers and employers do in the information economy when matching candidates with their ideal job?


The ugly truth about online business models

There is nothing passive about "passive income"

Are you encouraged by opportunities you see to make passive income online in the information economy? Lured by the promise of working as little as 4 hours per week with no one else to account to seems very appealing. The opportunities to build an online business appear better today than ever before. You can work from home or while travelling, on your own terms. And, there is the promise that the income generated is truly passive – your products sell themselves while you sleep.

Mac and sunglasses

So how real is the opportunity to generate passive income online?


Are you confident in your skill set for the future of work?

The crux of the knowledge economy

What exactly is the new economy, is it here yet and how confident are you in your skills to thrive in the new world of work?


There is no arguing that in conjunction with the recession a tremendous change has taken place over the past 5 years at work. Speak to engineers, developers, product managers, financial advisors, consultants etc. and you will realise that there is common theme in what they tell you – that there is a deep seated discontent with their job. Many confide that if there was no recession they would already be out in the market seeking something new.

The promise of the new information economy enabled by the web lures these creative professionals with the promise of a completely new employment model where you work for yourself, operate globally, enjoy a flexible lifestyle and become fulfilled by simply doing what you enjoy on your own terms.


Abundance thinking can change your effectiveness in business

I want to tell you a short story about the difference between scarcity and abundance thinking.


A friend of mine was wondering how he could prevent pirate copies of his e-Book from getting out on the web. He researched numerous technologies to achieve this ranging from digital watermarks, password protection, DRM and more.

In frustration he became miserable, suspiciously regarding everyone as a potential thief. He made sure his book was well protected, it never became very popular, it remained forever locked away behind a firewall.

Last week my friend had a heart attack and died.  Only a handful of people had read his book.


Do you want to work for the worst manager ever?

This week I enthusiastically started working on my web site. Eventually I scrapped it. Through this ultimately frustrating process I learned that new business strategy is a process that cannot be fast tracked. Not because you need to be super careful, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Not because the risks are particularly high – after all you have not done much yet and there are still no real stakeholders. But because long before you put up a web site you first need to deal with a fundamental question – are you looking to work for yourself or to work on your new business? (more…)


Why everyone should experience a sabbatical

Yesterday I spent some time in the Vernon Crookes nature reserve. This little corner of the KZN South Coast is just over an hour from home and lies between the town of Ixopo and the Indian Ocean. The beauty of the rolling green hills is truly magnificent, far “beyond the singing of it” as Alan Paton so aptly described. It was hot and many of the elusive animals were hidden in the dense shady bush. There were however families of Zebra with their new foals out in the open. The whole experience was very enjoyable and one of witnessing life’s renewal,  which reminded me about one important purpose of sabbatical. (more…)