Friday Roundup – 6.23.23 Edition

Each and every Friday — I outline a few of the articles and/or books that I have read over the last week or two that are worth taking a look at.

Competition Demystified By: Bruce Greenwald

Delving into the complex world of competitive strategy, Competition Demystified simplifies business competition into digestible principles. It propounds that sustainable competitive advantages mainly stem from economic aspects: supply and demand, and economies of scale.

Simplification of Strategy

Diving straight into the meat of the matter, strategy in business doesn’t need to be an enigma. It can be simplified to the basic principles of economics. Think of supply and demand, and economies of scale. Picture these not as broad, intimidating concepts but as practical tools you can use to analyze your company’s position in the market. The principles are straightforward: if you can provide a product or service better or cheaper than others, you have an advantage. If your business benefits from economies of scale, meaning the cost per unit decreases as the volume of output increases, you have another powerful advantage.

In your role, you can apply this simplification to make more informed decisions. For instance, if you find that you can produce goods more efficiently as you scale up, you might decide to invest in increasing your output. Conversely, if you see that your customers have many alternative suppliers, you might focus on differentiating your product or improving your service to increase demand. The key is to cut through the noise and focus on these basic economic principles. This way, you simplify your strategy, making it easier to formulate, communicate, and implement.

Barriers to Entry

Barriers to entry are like protective walls around your market position. They are hurdles that make it hard for new competitors to enter your market. Examples might include regulatory requirements, high startup costs, or access to limited resources. When these barriers are strong, you’ll find yourself in a more secure position, with fewer threats from potential competitors.

So how does this apply to your role? Imagine you’re in an industry with high startup costs. In this case, your barrier to entry is financial. New competitors would need to invest heavily just to get started, which might discourage many from trying. Recognizing this barrier, you can focus on strengthening your position within the market, without constantly looking over your shoulder for new competitors. On the other hand, if barriers to entry are low in your industry, your strategy might involve constantly innovating and improving to stay ahead of potential new entrants. By understanding and considering barriers to entry, you can tailor your strategy to your specific market conditions.

Local, not Global, Advantages

There’s a tendency to think big – global domination, worldwide markets. But often, real advantages are local. They’re rooted in specific geographies or markets where you can truly differentiate yourself. This might be because of cultural knowledge, proximity to customers, or specific regional resources.

So how do you use this in your role? Take a step back and assess where your true strengths lie. Are they more pronounced in certain regions or markets? If yes, it may be beneficial to focus your efforts there. Concentrate on serving these markets exceptionally well, rather than spreading resources thinly across a global stage.

For example, if your customer service excels because of local knowledge and cultural nuance, expanding to a new region might dilute that advantage. Instead, consider deepening your presence in your existing market. You’ll be leveraging your local advantage, strengthening your position, and potentially seeing greater returns on your investment. Remember, it’s about playing to your strengths, even if those strengths are localized.

Go here to get a copy of this great book:

The Moment of a Lifetime

There is a concept in Japanese tea ceremony from Zen, roughly translated as “one chance in a lifetime,” or “one lifetime, one meeting.” It’s such a beautiful idea: any meeting you have with someone is unique, fleeting, and will never happen again, even if you see this person every day.

What would life be like if we could learn this kind of deep appreciation for any moment?

I notice myself often in a hurry for something I want to happen right away. I want it to be fully finished, yesterday. I’m overlooking the incredible moment that’s happening right now.

I notice myself frustrated with other people, even if I don’t want to admit that frustration. I want the other person to be different than they are, want them to change. I’m missing out on the beauty of being with this person just as they are.

I notice myself wanting to rush around doing things, and wanting to fill every moment with distractions, productive actions, busyness. I’m missing an opportunity for stillness, for stopping and just being in the beauty of the present moment.

I often seem to think (without realizing it) that there is some special moment in life that is coming, that will be more special than life is right now. What I forget is that life doesn’t get more special than what’s happening right now.

This here, this moment happening right now … this is the moment of a lifetime.

How heartachingly gorgeous it is.

3 Contributors to Long Term Success

This comes from Jim Collins one of my favorite business authors. From his decades in research they’ve found there are 3 primary contributors to longevity in business. 

Answer these 3 questions:

  1. What are you deeply passionate about?
  2. What can you be best in the world at?
  3. What drives your economic engine?

After my “successful” run in business I’m interested in longevity, peace, enjoyment and service. Of course I want to make money as well. Can that come as a by product of the above? I believe so. 

Two lessons to take from me today that will help you scale happiness.

Lesson #1 – Don’t Chase Opportunity Just Because It’s There

Instead: Unearth your mission, curiosities and passions because I believe that’s part of your calling on this earth. What are you natural at that almost feels easy? Where is your desire leading you? Lean into that. Chase your purpose. 

Establish your financial baseline as fast as possible and then lean into the thing that brings you alive. Pull that thread and be consistent with that thing for years to come. 

Wealth isn’t one dimensional. We often think it is. 

Wealth IS joy.

Wealth IS peace.

Wealth IS fulfilment.

Wealth IS contentment.

Wealth IS service.

Wealth IS gratitude.

Wealth IS self-love.

Wealth IS time with your family.

See what I’m saying? 

I spent SO much time focusing on thinking wealth was money. It’s not. It’s just an aspect. When you find what gives you life and joy with your work… my friend, that’s the path. Money will come. 

Passion + Skill (#1 and #2 above) is “calling” and in today’s world probably a lot of people need that from you. Which brings us to #3, money. When money is a byproduct of what you love.. OMG. 

Before it was the first thing which is part of why I burnt out. Now I’m learning to unearth and rest in my purpose.

Lesson #2 – Stop Thinking Your Behind

You’re not behind. Being “behind” is a construct we make up because we compare ourselves to others. When millionaires and billionaires feel “behind” you know there’s a problem.  

Instead, ask this question: if money or material things weren’t in my consideration what would I do? How would I feel? When you mentally remove the things that cause anxiety (hurry to some destination) there might be peace to be had. 

I understand the practical necessities. But allowing our “goals” to rule over us isn’t a great process. 

Us entrepreneurs usually run SO FAST because we THINK WE’RE BEHIND. We think these things will bring us to a place that will make use feel worthy and worth love. They never will.

Go here to finish reading:

Learn This Simple, Boring Sentence and You’ll be Set for Life

Thirty years ago, in my bachelor days in Washington, D.C., I became interested in wine. My buddy Bob insisted my motive was purely to impress the women. He was wrong. Mostly.

My first move was reading wine books. What did I expect to find? I figured in a 200-page book, about 150 of them would be about how to taste wine and the rest would be about the varietals (cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, syrah, et al) and where they’re grown (France, Napa, et al).

That wasn’t the case. In every single book I perused, they spent no more than 5–10 pages on tasting and the rest on the varietals and wine regions of the world.

Wine is about tasting, right?

I was flummoxed. Shouldn’t the how-to of tasting be everything? No. Turns out that wine education is mostly about learning the characteristics of the various varietals and where they’re produced.

What the hell does any of this have to do with my usual area of trekking the spiritual path? 

Well, the same thing happened when I first dove into that arena.

As I waded deeper and deeper and read and listened to the greatest of the spiritual greats, a surprising topic kept coming up front and center. It was the equivalent of learning about the varietals and the regions.

Who are we?

What was that topic? Who we identify as. Specifically, do we identify as the personal/egoic self or as our conscious awareness. That’s it. Huh?
I’ll explain by using an example many of you know, Eckhart Tolle’s ground-breaking book The Power of Now. The main point of that book is that we are not our thoughts. We are the consciousness that is aware of those thoughts. Our thoughts are mostly just products of our egos and our egos are not who we are.

Go here to finish reading:

Hope you enjoy these articles and books. Have a great rest of your Friday and amazing weekend