Imagine

I remember hearing the lyrics to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds as one of the first songs that made me stop and really listen, and from that day, John Lennon was one someone I followed. Lennon was dynamic, controversial, radical, and confrontational plus a whole lot more. There is so much more that he shared with the world apart from his music.

Therein lies a depth of his wisdom. His social conscience, attitude and acerbic, verbal wit in his lyrics, and cutting, humane and distinct voice made him one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever seen. He epitomises disruptive creativity.

John was always one to say what was on his mind and never one to shy away from controversy. Living in the US, the Nixon administration had Lennon under its watchful eye throughout the first half of the 1970s. Speaking out against the Vietnam War and mingling with anarchists made Lennon a target of Nixon’s White House. Already paranoid, Nixon thought the influence Lennon had on America’s youth was enough to damage him politically, and he sought to deport John back to England.

After four years, the case was finally thrown out and Lennon got his Green Card on July 27, 1976. Standing on the courthouse steps moments after receiving his permanent residency, Lennon was asked if he harboured a grudge against the Nixon Administration for tapping his phone, putting him under surveillance and mounting a multi-year attempt to deport him. Without missing a beat, John smiled and said, Time wounds all heels, as ever spontaneous, witty and reflective.

Lennon grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool. His parents, Julia and Fred, separated before he was two. Lennon saw his father only twice in the next 20 years, and went to live with his mother’s sister. When Lennon was 17, his mother was killed by a bus. In the summer of 1956 he met Paul McCartney, and they began writing songs together. As The Beatles, they were one of the C20th cultural icons. But life moves on, and John’s relationship with Yoko Ono and his interest in global social and political issues saw him stand back from music.

However, in September 1980, Lennon and Ono signed a contract with the newly formed Geffen Records, and on November 15 they released Double Fantasy. A series of revealing interviews were published. (Just Like) Starting Over hit number one, and there was talk of a possible world tour. But on December 8, 1980, Lennon, returning with Ono to their Dakota apartment on New York’s Upper West Side, was shot seven times by Mark Chapman, a fan to whom Lennon had given an autograph a few hours earlier. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital.

Lennon’s brutally confessional solo work and his political activism were a huge influence on subsequent generations of singers, songwriters and social reformers. He made people think, he made me think. In the years since his murder, his image has become a staple of T-shirts and posters, used as a symbol of individuality. I don’t think John would have been content playing his guitar at weddings and parties in Liverpool. He was amongst the earliest adopters of a global perspective, embracing new ideas and culture. He had interesting things to say, and was more interested in pushing boundaries than just making music.

Lennon’s risk-taking and creativity are clearly evident, but there was always a balance between experimentation and implementation. He didn’t just throw caution to the wind. Lennon prototyped and tested many versions of his songs, he re-recorded constantly, always looking for some new and unique angle. Lennon thought big. Even in the early days when starting out he used to say To the toppermost of the poppermost! and he believed it. Lennon aimed high and got there, in no small part because he believed he would get there.

He was a restless, curious individual, never satisfied with the status quo. He continuously sought self-growth, learning new philosophies and anything else he could do to break new ground. This helped him grow as an artist and human being, and further distanced himself from others as being unique.

Here, in his own words, are some reflections on how his attitude and thinking offers inspiration for startup entrepreneurs.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans Blink and an opportunity will pass you by. Startup life is never a direct route, it weaves, twists and turns. But if you have a goal, a dream or a plan in place, it acts as a compass that keeps you on track, no matter what detours need to be taken along the way.

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted Lennon was a thinker, he had a thirst for knowledge, hungry for new experiences to stimulate his creativity. Socialising you own startup idea with other entrepreneurs will help shape, inform and improve your thinking, never miss the opportunity for gaining and sharing insight

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality Dreams are no fun if you keep them to yourself, dreams are meant to be shared. Startups with co-founders, like-minded entrepreneurs collaborating, have proven to be a better basis for launching successful businesses, rather than a solo founder venturing alone, so share your dream.

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination Reality plus a sprinkle of imagination, turns that which seems impossible into something that is possible. If you can imagine it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it and imagine by asking yourself the question, ‘What if?’ Then go do.

You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are Stop listening to what others say you are. You are what you are. Ignore the naysayers, your startup is your road of self-discovery. Listen to your inner voice and stand up tall knowing who you are. I just believe in me Lennon once said, and he meant it. Have ambition that reaches way beyond your current horizon.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known; nothing you can see that isn’t shown; nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be… Nothing happens by accident, and what appears to be the greatest mistake will in retrospect be the pivot to your startup. Find something you love and do it better than anyone else. Lennon was inspired by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He took the music from these pioneers and put his own touch and Liverpudlian spin on it. The outcome? It was an entirely new take on a genre, which no one was expecting.

There’s nothing that you can do that can’t be done John seemed to live in chaos, he was constantly searching for scraps of paper that he’d hurriedly scribbled ideas on, and often he couldn’t articulate his ideas well. But John was an agitator, he was impatient, always ready to move on to the next thing.  Keep working, it makes you happy. Whether you’re a musician or a software developer or own a local bakery or retail store, you have to keep working no matter what.

If there’s such a thing as genius — I am one Create the unexpected, and be confident in yourself to make it happen. I always enjoy The Beatles White Album. The diversity in this album is incredible. From the beautiful melodies of Julia and Blackbird to the pounding beats of Helter Skelter and Revolution, it is truly unexpected. The Beatles were the first artists to record in stereo. They were the first band to experiment in the studio. They were the first band to list lyrics on their album.

Your audience or customers are craving the unexpected – give it to them. They want to be wowed. Why not come up with some novel, out of the box ideas like Lennon did, and give an insight into the depth of your uniqueness?

What we’ve got to do is keep hope alive, because without it we’ll sink. I don’t believe in yesterday, by the way Risk failure by aiming for the sky. Lennon fits this description well, he didn’t conform to an orthodox style. In fact, like many great musicians, he held his instrument the wrong way. He experimented with made-up chords, new concepts – and had some celebrated failures in the process.

I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. Focus on your strengths, and be different. Lennon found his calling and focused on his passion. Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it. Perhaps this is what Albert Einstein meant when he said Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

John is the man who encouraged us all to Imagine, and that’s key for any startup entrepreneur – to imagine your future product, your future business, your future self. Everything you can imagine is real, said Picasso, painting is just another way of keeping a diary – the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Imagine is your vision, the preview of your startup life’s coming attractions. Your imagination is everything.

Finally, reflect on this, one of my favourite Lennon quotes, which captures the attitude, mindset and self-belief needed by any entrepreneur, to fit alongside their imagination:

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.

John Lennon (9 October 1940 to 8 December 1980)

John Lennon’s agile & disruptive thinking for startups

I studied The Beatles as part of my A-level music curriculum at school. I remember hearing the lyrics to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and thinking wow! and Mr Baker eulogising about John Lennon, and from that day, Lennon was one someone I followed.

I was never into The Beatles music apart from those songs written and sung by Lennon. He was dynamic, controversial, radical, and confrontational plus a whole lot more. There is so much more that he shared with the world apart from his music. Therein lies a depth of his wisdom

John would have been 75 years old this coming Friday, 9 October. For me, he was the most iconic Beatle. His social conscience, attitude and acerbic, verbal wit in his lyrics, and cutting, humane and distinct voice made him one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever seen. He epitomises disruptive creativity.

Lennon’s brutally confessional solo work and his political activism were a huge influence on subsequent generations of singers, songwriters and social reformers. He made people think, he made me think. In the years since his murder on December 8, 1980, his image has become a staple of T-shirts and posters, used as a symbol of individuality. He had interesting things to say, and was more interested in pushing boundaries than just making music.

I don’t think John would have been content playing his guitar at weddings and parties in Liverpool. With The Beatles, he branched out to London and Hamburg, then worldwide while still in his early 20s. Later he travelled to India and integrated the country’s musical influences into many songs. He was amongst the earliest adopters of a global perspective, embracing new ideas and culture.

Lennon’s risk-taking and creativity are clearly evident, but there was always a balance between experimentation and implementation. He didn’t just throw caution to the wind. Lennon prototyped and tested many versions of his songs, he re-recorded constantly, always looking for some new and unique angle. For each familiar hit, there were about twenty alternate takes in different styles and genres. He practiced each version over and over until something clicked. If after a while, he couldn’t come up with something that met his standards, he dumped it.

Approaching his birthday, I thought that I would share how John Lennon’s words and attitude have inspired me, the man that encouraged us all to ‘Imagine’, and how his words and thinking are relevant for startup entrepreneurs.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans it is said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Blink and a year will pass you by. Startup life is never a direct route. It weaves. It twists. It turns. But if you have a goal, a dream or a plan in place, it acts as a compass that keeps you on track, no matter what detours need to be taken along the way.

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted Lennon was a thinker, he had a thirst for knowledge, hungry for new experiences to stimulate his creativity. Socialising you own startup idea with other entrepreneurs will help shape, inform and improve your thinking, never miss the opportunity for gaining and sharing insight

It doesn’t matter how long my hair is or what colour my skin is or whether I’m a woman or a man Startup success is not restricted to culture, gender or heritage. Successful entrepreneurs rise up from every conceivable starting point, so we never use your own state of being as an excuse for never achieving great things. One person with a dream, and a willingness to do whatever it takes can make it happen.

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality Dreams are no fun if you keep them to yourself, dreams are meant to be shared. Startups with co-founders, with like-minded entrepreneurs collaborating, have proven to be a better basis for launching successful businesses, rather than a solo founder venturing alone, so share your dream.

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination Reality, plus a sprinkle of imagination, turns that which seems impossible into something that is possible. If you can imagine it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it and imagine by asking yourself the question, ‘What if?’ Then go do.

I get by with a little help from my friends Not one of us can do it alone. Without the support of a team, a startup founder won’t get off the ground. A vibrant, relentless and talented team is vital in a startup, it lift us up when we are down, believes in each other when no one else does. The best startup teams are there in fair weather, and there when storms rage. Startup team members know when to speak and when to keep silent.

You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are! Stop listening to what others say you are. You are what you are. Ignore the naysayers, your startup is your road of self-discovery. Listen to your inner voice and stand up tall knowing who you are. I just believe in me Lennon once said, and he meant it. Have ambition that reaches way beyond your current horizon.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known; nothing you can see that isn’t shown; nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to beNothing happens by accident, and what appears to be the greatest mistake will in retrospect be the pivot to your startup. Find something you love and do it better than anyone else. Lennon was inspired by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He took the music from these pioneers and put his own touch and Liverpudlian spin on it. The outcome? It was an entirely new take on a genre, which no one was expecting.

There’s nothing that you can do that can’t be done Keep working, it makes you happy. Whether you’re a musician or a software developer or own a local bakery or retail store, you have to keep working no matter what.

If there’s such a thing as genius — I am one Create the unexpected. I always enjoy The Beatles White Album. The diversity in this album is incredible. From the beautiful melodies of Julia and Blackbird to the pounding beats of Helter Skelter and Revolution, it is truly unexpected. The Beatles were the first artists to record in stereo. They were the first band to experiment in the studio. They were the first band to list lyrics on their album.

Your audience or customers are craving the unexpected – give it to them. They want to be wowed. Why not come up with some novel, out of the box ideas like Lennon did, and give them a little clue about the depth of your uniqueness.

What we’ve got to do is keep hope alive, because without it we’ll sink. I don’t believe in yesterday, by the way Risk magnificent failures by aiming for the sky. Lennon fits this description well, he didn’t conform to standard education, which greatly contributed to his unorthodox style. In fact, like many great musicians, he held his instrument the wrong way. He experimented with made-up chords, new concepts – and had some celebrated failures in the process.

Lennon thought big. Even in the early days when starting out he used to say To the toppermost of the poppermost! and he believed it. Lennon aimed high and got there, in no small part because he believed he would get there. He stated in an interview that they treated each deliverable (i.e. song) as the hit, which is why their B-sides are better songs than most people’s A-sides.

In today’s startup environment, we have to be different to be seen. Lennon was a restless, curious individual, never satisfied with the status quo. He continuously sought self-growth, learning new philosophies and anything else he could do to break new ground. This helped him grow as an artist and human being, and further distanced himself from others as being unique. Do the same for you, and your startup business.

John Lennon’s legacy and impact is eternal. Great ones like John Lennon never really die. So much of them lasts forever.

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.

John Lennon (9 October 1940 to 8 December 1980)

 

Pearls of wisdom from John Lennon

Hindu mythology tells us that pearls are made from dewdrops that the pearl mollusc absorbs when it rises to the surface of the sea at night to breathe. Diving for pearls – a hazardous endeavour that involves ropes, stone weights and a good deal of trust between a diver and his mate in the boat above – was seen as a test from God, the pearl a reward for the true believer.

The most beautiful natural pearls used to come from the Persian Gulf, they were the mainstay of Qatar’s economy until oil and gas were discovered in the early 1970s. Their large, white and perfectly formed lustrous orbs were eagerly sought by pearl merchants.

But rather than eulogise about pearls, it’s pearls of wisdom that I’m writing about this week, and specifically, those from John Lennon. John would have been 73 years old last Wednesday. For me, he was the most iconic Beatle. His social conscience, and acerbic, verbal wit in his lyrics, and cutting, humane and distinct voice made him one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever seen. He epitomises disruptive creativity.

Lennon’s brutally confessional solo work and his political activism were a huge influence on subsequent generations of singers, songwriters and social reformers. When Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, he seemed on the verge of a new, more optimistic phase. In the years since, his image has become a staple of T-shirts and posters, used by rock fans and activists alike as a symbol of peace.

Like the other three Beatles, Lennon grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool. His parents, Julia and Fred, separated before he was two. Lennon saw his father only twice in the next 20 years, and went to live with his mother’s sister. When Lennon was 17, his mother was killed by a bus.

In the summer of 1956 he met Paul McCartney, and they began writing songs together and forming groups, the last of which was the Beatles. As half of the iconic song writing team Lennon & McCartney, Lennon himself penned some of the Beatles’ most well-known songs including Nowhere Man, Norwegian Wood, Ticket To Ride, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Strawberry Fields Forever, Revolution, Don’t Bring Me Down and Come Together.

On October 9, 1975, Lennon’s 35th birthday, Yoko Ono gave birth to Sean Ono Lennon. Lennon devoted his full attention to his new son. For the next five years, he lived at home in nearly total seclusion, taking care of Sean while Yoko ran their financial affairs. Not until the publication of a full-page newspaper advert in May 1979 explaining his and Ono’s activities did Lennon even hint at a possible return to recording.

In September 1980, Lennon and Ono signed a contract with the newly formed Geffen Records, and on November 15 they released Double Fantasy. A series of revealing interviews were published. (Just Like) Starting Over hit number one, and there was talk of a possible world tour.

But on December 8, 1980, Lennon, returning with Ono to their Dakota apartment on New York’s Upper West Side, was shot seven times by Mark Chapman, a 25-year-old drifter and fan to whom Lennon had given an autograph a few hours earlier. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital.

On Lennon’s birthday, Yoko Ono goes to the island of Videy in Reykjavik, Iceland for the annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower in honour of her late husband. You can check out the tower, which is a beam of light shooting straight up into the sky, tonight through to December 8, the day Lennon was killed in New York, at http://www.ImaginePeaceTower.com. It’s a stunning web site in terms of image, technology and emotion. You’ll need to have your audio switched on.

I can relate to John Lennon. He was the intellectual, the artist, the funny one, he had interesting things to say, and the one who was more interested in pushing boundaries than just making hit music. Whether or not that’s the reality, I’ll never know, but this is my hunch. The only Beatles tunes I like are those written and sung by Lennon.

Anyway, since this blog is about business-related topics, I thought that I would share how John Lennon’s pearls of wisdom inspire me in business.

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. Living is easy with closed eyes. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Find something you love and do it better than anyone else. Lennon was inspired by American rock legends like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He took the music from these pioneers and put his own touch and Liverpudlian spin on it. The outcome? It was an entirely new take on a genre, which no one was expecting.

It’s hard to create a completely unique business concept in your market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be unique. Consider what you do, what you’re good at, what you like and then create a new idea from it that’s utterly different and reflective of you.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are! I just believe in me.

Have ambition that reaches way beyond your current horizon.I don’t think John would have been content playing his guitar at weddings and parties in Liverpool. With The Beatles, he branched out early to London and Hamburg, then worldwide while still in his early 20s. Later he travelled to India and integrated the country’s musical influences into many songs. He was amongst the earliest adopters of a global perspective, embracing new ideas and culture.

Are you focused only on your local community as your market? Why not reach out to other regions? Perhaps, you’ll be just as popular, or more so when you increase your exposure. The influences of others who are not in your immediate circle may change your perspective and challenge your thought processes enough to enable you to grow as a business owner.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known. Nothing you can see that isn’t shown. Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

Constantly evolve and grow, create your own space.It’s striking to hear the evolution of Lennon the musician from She Loves You to The Long and Winding Road – even more so to realise that all of these songs were created in a mere six years time span. Lennon never stuck to one recipe for making music, he grew and continued to be relevant for over 20 years.

When you dismiss or say that you’re not interested in learning the latest technology that everyone is raving about, ask yourself if you’re evolving to keep up with the times. If you’re not, just remember how Lennon adapted to change and achieved success by creating his own space.

Happiness is just how you feel when you don’t feel miserable. There’s nothing that you can do that can’t be done.

Keep working, it makes you happy. The Beatles were incredible workaholics while together, they knew they were on a roll and kept churning out incredible hits until they broke up in 1970. Even after they split, they all continued to make great individual music. Work ethic is the fundamental component of success. Whether you’re a musician or a software developer or own a retail store, you have to keep working no matter what.

Lennon’s risk-taking and creativity are clearly evident, but there was always a balance between random experimentation and safe implementation. He didn’t just throw caution to the wind. Lennon prototyped and tested many versions of his songs, he re-recorded constantly, always looking for some new and unique angle. For each familiar hit, there were about twenty alternate takes in different styles and genres. He practiced each version over and over until something clicked. If after a while, he couldn’t come up with something that met his standards, he dumped it.

If there’s such a thing as genius — I am one. And if there isn’t, I don’t care

Create the unexpected. I particularly enjoy listening to the Beatles White Album. The diversity in this album is absolutely incredible. From the beautiful melodies of Julia and Blackbird to the pounding beats of Helter Skelter and Revolution, it is truly unexpected. The Beatles were the first artists to record in stereo. They were the first band to experiment in the studio. They were the first band to list lyrics on their album.

Your audience or customers are craving the unexpected – give it to them. They want to be wowed. Why not come up with some novel, out of the box ideas like Lennon did, and give them a little clue about the depth of your uniqueness.

I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak.

Focus on your strengths, and be different. Lennon found his calling and focused on his passion. This began as performing, then evolved to focus on writing his own songs, and ultimately recording in the studio. Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it. Perhaps this is what Albert Einstein meant when he said Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

In today’s competitive environment, we have to be different to be seen. Lennon was a restless, curious individual, never satisfied with the status quo. He continuously sought self-growth, learning new philosophies, new chords and instruments, and anything else he could do to break new ground. This helped him grow as an artist and human being, and further distanced himself from others as being unique. Do the same for you, and your business.

What we’ve got to do is keep hope alive, because without it we’ll sink. I don’t believe in yesterday, by the way.

Risk magnificent failures by aiming for the sky. Lennon fits this description well. He didn’t conform to standard education, which greatly contributed to his unorthodox style. In fact, like many great musicians, he held his instrument the wrong way. He experimented with made-up chords, new concepts – and had some celebrated failures in the process.

But Lennon thought big. Even in the early days when starting out he used to say To the toppermost of the poppermost! and he believed it. This is not unlike Andrew Carnegie’s secret of having a lofty goal and continually reinforcing the belief that you will reach that goal. Lennon aimed high and got there, in no small part because he believed he would get there. He stated in an interview that they treated each deliverable (i.e. song) as the hit, which is why their B-sides are better songs than most people’s A-sides.

Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.

Be Authentic. It’s fine to emulate someone you admire. Lennon didn’t begin in a vacuum. Lennon studied his idols, such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Fats Domino, but took them as inspiration – Lennon was never going to be in covers band.

If you want to succeed at something, a good place to begin is studying those who have succeeded before, but it’s equally important to recognise your strengths, limitations, and what makes you unique. It’s important to be true to who you are, not who you’d rather be – customers can sense whether or not you’re authentic.

John Lennon’s legacy and impact is eternal. Great ones like John Lennon never really die. So much of them lasts forever.

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.

John Lennon (9 October, 1940 to 8 December, 1980)