Tag Archives: smartnews

5 Things Sailing Taught Me

Most entrepreneurs don’t just want to be entrepreneurs—they have to be entrepreneurs.  

As a driven entrepreneur in the insurance industry, you will encounter both challenges and rewards far beyond that of the average employee. Navigating these ups and downs can be as challenging as steering a ship through a storm on the high seas, but I’ve done both—and lived to tell the tale.

The lessons I learned sailing the seas have served me just as well on land. Here are five tips about entrepreneurship that sailing has taught me:

  1. Know the terminology

In sailing, understanding boating terms like aft, starboard and leeward is vital to working with your crew and operating your vessel. The same is true in business. If you can`t speak the language of your clients and your competition, your next deal may get lost in translation.  

Attending conferences and taking courses are both great ways to learn new terms and highlight that there`s a reason why you’re the expert.

  1. Use trends like the wind

When sailing, jibing and tacking help you manipulate the winds to steer your vessel in the right direction. In business, trends are your winds, and you need to understand which direction they`re heading. Take a few minutes every day and bring yourself up to speed on the latest global and local trends.

Aggregators like Feedly or SmartNews, along with social media feeds, keep you on the cutting edge and aware of which way the wind is blowing.

  1. Learn when to tighten or ease the sheet

The sheet is a line or rope used to adjust a sail against a force of wind.  

In business, you need to think about when to tighten or loosen your budget and your business’s growth in line with your sales cycle and market forces.

Markets ebb and flow, and your business will, too. Tracking these fluctuations over time will help determine the ideal time to launch marketing campaigns and hire employees, or to tighten the purse strings.

  1. Adjust quickly and wisely to a changing climate

The weather can change in an instant when you’re sailing, and you need to know how to use the sails to compensate, navigate under tough conditions and capitalize on whatever’s thrown at you. It`s not much different when you`re a leader in business.

Like the weather, business is always moving and changing. Whether you`re steering your ship at sea or driving your business on land, it takes experience and at times raw courage to weather a storm. See each storm as a chance to gain experience for the next one and know that sometimes you simply need to batten down the hatches – and wait it out.

  1. Be a decisive captain

It can take an entire crew to run a sailboat, but they won’t work effectively without a captain calling the shots. The crew rely on your vision, tenacity and experience to guide their actions. Without this direction, no one will know which way to travel.

As the captain of a ship or a business, you spend your days adjusting your sails, guiding the crew and at times navigating dangerous waters. If you’re on the verge of starting a business or taking it in a new direction, remember one thing above the rest – always keep your hand on the helm and keep in mind:

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader trims the sails and sets a new course.

Smart Homes Are Still Way Too Stupid

It’s nice to know sharp people — in this case, Rich Jaroslovsky, a former colleague at the Wall Street Journal who is now a vice president at SmartNews. He just wrote a takedown of the smart home that saved me the trouble.

I had visited the topic in a general way a year ago in an article taking issue  with something Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, had said about how the Internet will disappear. My basic complaint about how even really smart people think about automation is that automation is often more trouble than it’s worth and that people blithely assume I’d like to automate decisions that, in fact, I don’t want automated — no, I don’t want my refrigerator ordering milk for me, my lights to always flip on a certain way when I walk through the door or my TV to always turn to ESPN when I wake up.

Recent stories about the glories of the smart home made me think I needed to return to the subject, more specifically this time — I’m cranky on the subject of the smart home because I’ve been hearing variations on this theme for 25 years without seeing a result; no, Nest doesn’t count. I was prompted into action when I received the following in an email this morning:

“Many large U.S. insurers are bracing for the impact of autonomous driving on their business, but they have yet to grasp that the same trend is at play in the homeowners and renters insurance markets. Insurers that don’t develop a value proposition around the connected home will be forced to give steeper discounts to reflect the lower risks without generating any strategic benefits. Savvy insurers that adapt to the new dynamic have a historic opportunity to become far more relevant than they are today.

“Based on over 100… discussions conducted between November 2015 and February 2016 with smart-home technology vendors; P&C, health, and life insurers; venture capital firms; and technology vendors, this report examines the connected-home use case for the insurance industry, profiles two turnkey smart-home… and mentions 147 other firms.” [I deleted three corporate names in there, including the author of the report, because I don’t see any need to make this personal, even though you’re expected to pay real money for that report.]

Just when I was gearing up to write something on the smart home, though, I saw that Rich had posted his column, which begins:

“With every new smart device I add to my home, it gets a little dumber.

“The thermostats don’t talk to the lights. The security cameras don’t talk to the alarm system, which doesn’t talk to the garage door. The networked speakers talk to each other—but not to the TV sitting a few feet away. Just about every device has its own app for my smartphone, but since none of them work with each other, I’ve got 15 apps controlling 15 functions.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece, especially if you harbor hopes that the smart home is a looming opportunity. As Rich notes, you can’t have a connected home if the devices don’t talk to each other. And while I may have a “standard” for communication, if Rich has a separate standard and so do 87 others of you, then we don’t, in fact, have a standard way of communicating.

We’ll get to the smart home.

But not soon.