Learn the Art of Innovation with Steve Glaveski, CEO of Collective Campus
I had the opportunity to talk with writer, podcaster, and Collective Campus CEO, Steve Glaveski. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Glaveski is the author of Time Rich: Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life and Employee to Entrepreneur: How To Earn Your Freedom and Do Work That Matters. In this episode, we unpacked lessons on transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, innovating as a startup, and loads more.
Speed Is Fundamental To Success
We touched on the importance of speed, especially in an entrepreneurial context where there is a very high level of ambiguity and uncertainty. Taking the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop principle from its military context, Steve stressed the importance of having a shorter loop to gain competitive advantage.
Shortening the loop requires addressing policies, processes, and ingrained habits that slow down decision-making and action-taking. To do this requires either the re-design of existing processes or the advent of parallel processes for the purposes of testing new ideas and experimentation.
Being Entrepreneurial in a Large Company
We explored ways to get buy-in for innovation and passion projects at large companies — something that usually stands in the way of otherwise entrepreneurial employees. You might counter the resistance by building a prototype first to demonstrate real value to decision-makers. A real thing is a far better way to influence and persuade than abstract words or Powerpoint presentations.
To echo this point, Steve recalled a project he ran with FMCG giant, Asahi. He guided the team through the development of an augmented reality (AR) prototype in just two hours, which was tested with actual customers in bars and pubs on the same day. Pro-shot footage of the customer testing, and the app itself, was later presented to senior executives, and on the back of this tangible demonstration and evidence of customer engagement, the team secure $500,000 to further explore innovation at the company.
Aside from innovating inside the company, it turns out that having on a side hustle makes people more engaged at their day jobs. Having other creative outlets changes our ‘be-all and end-all’ relationship with our day-job, and therefore it’s no longer all consuming. Aside from that, the more time we spend in the creative flow state, the better we tend to feel as a result, and this flows over into our personal relationships and how we show up day to day.
Learning and Cognition
Steve underscored the importance of sleep, nutrition and exercise to optimizing one’s mental agility.
He sharpens his sword by not only being a voracious reader of books, but by highlighting key passages and using these as fodder for blog posts and podcast episodes, emphasizing that one of the best way to solidify one’s knowledge is to teach others.
We unpacked Steve’s meditation practice, during which he cycles through the following five pillars that he says keep him grounded to a particular mode of operating:
Responsiveness is underpinned by striving to be intentionally responsive as opposed to involuntarily reactive in everything he does.
Becoming Comfortable With Discomfort
Steve likes to cultivate adversity by pushing him outside of his comfort zone. Whether that be jumping out of planes, learning how to surf, or hitting the local open-mic standup comedy circuit to attempt to get some laughs. Doing so prepares him to be more responsive in the face of the inevitable adversity that is a feature of life, and not a bug.
Competing with the Big Guys
Startup founders might think that large companies have all the resources and can crush them at will, but startup companies have graduated from ankle-biters to killer bees. Steve reminds us that large corporations have a core business that they must tend to, shareholders to satisfy, and policies and procedures that ultimately serve to deliver on an existing business model, but make it almost impossible to explore new ones.
Startups have none of these disadvantages, and their lean operations allow them to build, measure and learn faster. More often than not, they also benefit from alignment with the company’s mission, and a genuine enthusiasm that can often be absent in the clock-watching corporate world.
Persistence is the Key
All businesses meet all sorts of setbacks and challenges. Having the patience and persistence to push through is what separates the winners from the losers — it’s not talent, education or genius, but persistence that will get us through.
Ultimately, this requires us to cultivate a positive relationship with hearing “no”, and using it as our teacher. Every time we hear no, Steve stresses, that’s an opportunity to learn something that we can apply to our offer, and get closer to a yes.
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