Archive for September, 2014

When to Pay Attention to Competitors

Startups get conflicting advice about how to deal with competitors. Well known advisors recommend “use your competitor’s products every day” and others mandate “define your point of view, chart your course, and ignore the competition.” The best approach is a balanced implementation of both schools of thought. The key is to know when to shift from the first strategy to the second.

As a startup founder I know all too well the “push / pull” competition tracking can have on staying to true to a vision, versus realizing that another team might have figured something out before your team did. And all the distraction that ensues reacting to every competitor’s market moves. I realized I was falling into the trap of paying too much attention to what the competition is doing and losing focus on our core ethos.

hypecycle-competitorsAn “easy” rule of thumb is to correlate competition tracking efforts to the stage of the business. The Gartner Hype Cycle is a visual way to correlate when to track competition as your project matures from the “Innovation Trigger” to the “Plateau of Productivity.”

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Meditation Experiment 30/30 – 30 mins for 30 days

meditation-zenLast week I completed a goal to meditate 30 minutes for 30 days. My interest in meditation began after reading Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. The book opened my eyes to meditation and mindful thinking and presented simple meditation practices that seemed approachable and easy to adopt.

My “30/30” introduction was a trial to figure out if I could sustain a daily cadence. The process of adopting a mediation regimen is similar to easing into daily exercise or diet changes. Start gradual, make a personal pact to follow through for 30 days, and gradually embed into a daily (positive) habit.

With my 30/30 mediation success I have now increased to one hour a day. Going for 60 minutes for 60 days. So far so good. Finding an hour in a busy schedule has challenges, and I’m also not letting exercise slip. For this next phase I am scheduling the meditation hour and blocking the time on the calendar.

I do not have a specific time of day for meditation, but I seem to gravitate toward mid-morning or late afternoon time slots. Increasing to an hour will cause this to fluctuate. I tried mediating right after waking up, but had trouble “getting into the zone.” Same thing at the end of the day; I didn’t feel as good meditating right before bedtime. Meditating earlier in the day has a “pay it forward” quality the same way exercising early in the day burns calories more efficiently for the rest of the day. The meditation mental “bump” is noticeable and desirable.

30/30 Meditation Results – 30 Minutes for 30 Days

I jotted down a few notes from the previous 30 days.

  • Meditating makes me cognizant of my thoughts and how they affect mood and body. In the past I would gnash on a subject without realizing I was spiraling into a negative mood or inducing a stomach ache. Meditation is rewiring my brain to be more calm.
  • Meditating clears my mind of background chatter, allowing great ideas to come forth.
  • Meditating gives me an internal “pause” ability to respond instead of reacting in stressful situations. Responding is thoughtful and measured, reacting is knee jerk and not productive.