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TED: Perception of Reality and My Innovation Stories Video

A very smart TED discussion on how our perception is based on our historical perceptions and not reality.

This is a very interesting explanation of how we base our perceptions in a historical sense, sometimes devoid of reality. It is interesting to correlate this content with the story of the newlyweds and their first turkey where they ended up calling the grandmums.

If we learn and develop belief systems about our world that are based upon our historical and empirical reasoning, we are limited by our past experiences and what we may not truly understand. Since this is our pattern of learning, it means our “reality experience” may be based on our prior emotions and thinking that we have sought to reason with and attach meaning to our experiences.

Early on one of my first innovation challenges was based upon issues of Dogma. It is curious that so many people can believe so many various things and intensely believe that each one of them is completely and exclusively true as opposed to any other. Religious dogma much of the time, is based on individuals that do not exist in our physical world PERSONALLY wandering around as you and I do. Now this is very easy to do because in our past we have historically believed these things.

One part of dogma I found, to what many might seem outlandish, is people believing in Martians or aliens as a religion. I was amazed that people could believe in them, but once again, it is based on individuals that we normally and collectively do not see in our world. It was also notable that I was not aware of any perceived monsters under the bed, until I was educated that they might exist by media or suggestions from other people in my world. I even had no fear of swimming in the pool, until I saw the movie Jaws, after which I developed a childhood fear of sharks in the pool, even though logically a shark naturally swimming into a pool is just plain silly.

So in the end I found it very curious as to why people believe what they do and of course why are there are so many different “realities.” The other item that comes out of this is WHY do people, once they lock in to a belief, find it so hard to consider that their perceptions may not truly be reality and are unable to change beliefs. The video shows us, how we can strongly believe we are perceiving something that may NOT be our correct reality, but when more education is given the true reality becomes known. The main point I’m getting to in all of this is: WHAT IS REALITY?

In business, just like dogma, there are many different versions of the “truth.” Which ones operate in reality may determine the success of your business. To innovate I’ve used the same line of thinking to question “reality.” I would ask myself and my partners to question “realities” that were impacting our business, sometimes in a negative way. Many times these were things that had the potential to put us out of business unless we challenged our “reality” and belief systems to improve or change our operations. It important to note that one of the things I’ve found to be consistent, is that many new entrepreneurs fail because they are locked in to their perceptions of how the business “should” operate and they dont challenge or change their perceptions until its too late.

I’ll give you an example. Early on with one of my companies, we were laying out the billable procedures. I knew that we had limited funding and also the issues of having invoicing at a 30, 60, 90 day cycle in cash flow. To overcome our limited funding issues I decided to bill clients in almost 15 day cycles, on the 16th and the last day of the month, issuing invoices at those times. It created a way for us to get income from the business much quicker. My partner having no prior business experience and I argued about it immensely. His argument was “that wasn’t the way all the competitors did it” and that we would fail because we didnt conform. Fortunately, I knew other business that had done this. He never believed it would work until he saw the power of it. Within a few months of our business growth exploding he could see that we desperately needed that income to grow and that it would have otherwise bankrupted us.

The 2nd part of this story is how we delivered the billing to our clients. My partner had the intentions to reduce pricing 30% to show a huge savings on a per unit basis to entice people to switch companies. In hindsight, it wouldve killed us in an already thin profit margin business. Then there was the “issue” of telling clients when they signed up with us they would be invoiced twice a month instead of the normal monthly. Our business was a delivery service that contracted business’ would use daily and be customers for years.

Once again, in spite of my partners ideas about “reality,” I innovated. I went out to potential customers and took a look at their usage with our competitor. Then, we ONLY offered them a .25 cent savings per unit over the competitors they were using. But, what we sold them on was that the savings over the course of a years usage would be hundreds or thousands of dollars. Seeing the massive savings, they didnt even care that we billed them twice a month. Using this and other methods we captured a ton of business from our competitors and many of them went bankrupt within the next 1-2 years. As the field narrowed we later increased our pricing and margins. Showing people the annual savings made all difference.

Whats interesting, if you understand the “time value of money” and its importance to capitalize a business, you might question that since we were only saving them .25 cents per unit, but taking money out of their coffers twice as fast, what REALLY was the savings and how much were we REALLY discounting our services to bring in faster revenues. In the end we were able to stay well capitalized and give our clients the reward of great service and new innovations for nearly 2 decades.

In the end my point again is – What is Reality? Its so important for us to constantly question it and grow in life and business. Innovation happens when we question our realities and try to think outside the box.

If you have a business, consider my consulting services at Strategix One (click for Link) for new ways to innovate your business.

Thanks for coming by.

Chris Voss

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