My Exclusive Gift To You

I have a gift for you.

It’s a gift that was given to me and it is changing my life and my relationships.

It has given me a language that I didn’t even know I didn’t have.

For me, this gift is everything a gift should be. Simple yet revolutionary, beautifully articulate yet infinitely understandable, defined but not a recipe, immediately practical yet intensely personal.

This gift is a message contained in a book. The book is “Non Violent Communication – a Language for Life” by Marshall Rosenberg.

I would like to make a few requests of you (these aren’t pre-requisites, you may still receive this gift without complying).

  • Can you commit to read this book in January?– its message was revolutionary for me and I regretted not reading it earlier so that I could have benefited sooner. I would like you to benefit from it as soon as possible. What better time than the start of a new year!
  • Would you consider paying this gift forward? – find a way of paying my gift forward. I trust you will find a way to gift someone something  you value – your time, your care, a book. Love does not like being cooped up – it wants to radiate through the universe. Help it.
  • Would you gift the book if you have no further use for it? – if for some reason the message did not resonate with you, that’s cool, but I would wish that this book would not gather dust on your bookshelf when it might be busy changing someone else’s life for the price of postage.
  • Please consider not selling this gift? If you really don’t want it and are unable/unwilling to pass it on, please send it back to me.

That’s it.  Beyond these fairly reasonable requests, you can do what you choose with either the book or its message.  I hope it is as revolutionary for you as it has been for me and presents as many new options as it removes.

Why Am I Doing This?

The short and simple reason is Love.  Corny I know – but that’s it. Deal with it.

The slightly longer reason is that I care that you (and everyone else ) are happy and fulfilled and  operates from empathy and compassion (and receives the same).

Lately I have not been operating from empathy and compassion – damn near forgot about them. Truth is I’ve been operating from anger and frustration for a while, this book helped me rediscover empathy and compassion as more fulfilling places to operate from and provided immediate improvements I could make to get there.  It takes deliberate practice and self awareness but my relationships are significantly improved, I have more joy in my life and I feel more responsible for my own feelings.

Something this powerful should be shared, I believe it should be required reading for everyone and this is the simplest way I know to start.  

If even one person who receives this gift experiences the changes I experienced, my investment would be more than repaid.

So, what are you waiting for?

How To Get This Gift.

I initially have 15 copies to gift. You can have either the paperback or the kindle edition.

My preference is to gift the paperback as they are easier to share than the kindle editions.  But I leave that to your discretion (if you had the kindle edition and couldn’t share it. perhaps you might consider buying a kindle edition as your paying it forward or share)

IMPORTANT!  To get this gift please tweet:

@mhsutton Mike, I’d like to #receiveTheGift.

I will pick 15 random responses at 00:01 on January 01 2013 (GMT) and contact each recipient individually to sort out delivery.

For paperbacks: I’ll place the relevant order on Amazon (with Amazon or a marketplace vendor) and give them your preferred delivery address and you’ll get the gift in the post.

For kindle editions: I will gift your kindle email address the book from my own kindle address.




5 Things I Do To Overcome Startup Agoraphobia

Ideas are everywhere around me and in me – all the time. I have several a day.  When they come upon me it is such an overwhelming feeling of joy. Pure joy.

But something stops me getting beyond the idea, something prevents me from putting the hardwork, taking the risk to uncover the diamond in the chunk of coal. I call this Startup Agoraphobia and I want to overcome it.

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is basically the fear of crowded/public places and the net effect of it is that it’s sufferers are scared of going outside of their homes.

It has troubled me for years and, to be honest, I have ignored it and rolled with the flow – delighting in my ideas and seeking nothing more.

All that ignoring has proved to be an investment in dissatisfaction – one that has paid huge dividends.  I am plagued by what my ideas could become, growing increasingly dissatisfied with my day job (as a very successful agile coach) and being a general grumpy ass at home.

My list of ideas sitting on Trello – taunting me, daring me to open the door and take them for a walk outside to play in the sunshine with other ideas – perhaps have sex and become bigger, better and sexier!

This condition was self diagnosed after I read the very special book The Startup Owner’s Manual by the absolutely delightful Steve Blank (and Bob Dorf).  My diagnosis emerged early,  one of the cornerstones of Steve’s approach to startups is ‘getting out of the building’.  This literally means taking your idea in some form and verifying it with potential customers and testing whether the value as I imagined them actually are helping someone address a problem they have.

Inaction is The Sum of My Fears

As I digested this simple and exceptionally reasonable piece of advice, it dawned on me that I was afraid of ‘getting out of the building’ – shit scared in fact.

My name is Mike and I suffer from Startup Agoraphobia. I’m afraid of getting out of the building. I need help.

I am trying to unbundle this fear and it is multi-faceted (the best fears are!), this is what I discovered about my condition:

  • I’m afraid of my safety being violated (the relative safety of having no criticism of my perfect idea).
  • I’m afraid of hearing the truth of reality. For example that not enough people have this problem for there to be a sustainable market.
  • I am afraid of risking my time on an idea and for it to be a failure.
  • I’m afraid that I do not know enough, have enough skill or ‘wisdom’ to build a successful startup and getting out of the building will prove as much (to myself).
  • I’m not afraid that the idea,once it was outside , would be considered a ‘stupid’ one.
  • I’m not afraid that the idea would be stolen or duplicated.

Fear can paralyse and I often feel near-paralysed by these fears.

I thrash, spending more time on things than is needed, doing lower priority tasks and avoiding the tasks that require me to step outside.   This is dangerous!  It invites assumptions and speculations to dress up in the stockings and frilly underwear of fact.  In time I will come to falsely trust in them and BOOM!! I will end up broke!!

Jump In, The Water Is Lovely And the Sharks Have Been Fed.

I no longer want to be afraid of getting out the building. I want to test my ideas outside the building, I want them to dance in the Sun and have sex with other ideas and emerge richer and better tested.

I have two advisors to my startup and they are totally brilliant   They are people I respect deeply and trust implicitly.  They fill the role of psychologists (even if they don’t know it!), helping me challenge my fears and encouraging me to keep taking the small steps.  With their help, I  am getting out of the building, slowly and getting better everyday.

How I am addressing this condition is fairly dynamic, but here are the key things I do/have done:

1. Reframe My Fears: Reconsidering what I am actually afraid of in terms of my needs that are not being met is a hugely powerful thing. I am learning this from the work of Marshall Rosenberg in his seminal work on Non Violent Communication.  For example my fear for my safety can be reframed as having a need to get positive and constructive criticism so that I can improve.  By sharing this need with those I meet outside the building, I stand more chance of actually getting the need met.

2. Maintain Focus:  I have a plan – it’s flexible and changes often, but when I start feeling paralysed, I look at it and it reminds me what I agreed to do. I review it daily (first thing) and adjust as necessary.

3. Commit to something with someone:  Peer support is important, I commit to share progress with my advisors regularly (roughly every 5-7 weeks).

4. Keep Things Visual:  This is very important for me – I have my funnels drawn and coloured and my tasks on Trello, permanently showing on one of my screens. I also have my various business model canvases visible permanently (they are hosted on the delightful bmfiddle app).

5. Define Clear Goals and Milestones to Them:  I need baby steps or I will run right back indoors and never come out (really!).  So each of my experiments has tasks that I need to complete and ultimately execute.

All these amount to small steps that are breaking the chokehold of inaction that I often face.  They are small steps, but they lead out of the darkness of Startup Agoraphobia. They help me open the door and get through the fear of stepping into the sunlight.

What About You?

I would love to hear from you if you are struggling with getting out of the building?

What techniques do you apply to keep focused and open? Maybe we can share our techniques and help each other?

Who do you have to support you through this challenge?

My tweets on 2012-12-24

  • @forakin oh ok. Fair legislation is complex in Nigeria even if you had competent legislators. Imagine if you don't. in reply to forakin 14:27:26
  • @forakin just trying to understand the context of the 'legislative fascism' remark. in reply to forakin 14:28:15
  • @forakin yes please. Is it online? Please send link if it is. in reply to forakin 14:31:06
  • @forakin i find that most govt. are not very good at saying 'this is none of our business' for stuff that really isnt. in reply to forakin 14:33:11
  • @mattgumbley you're welcome and Merry Christmas. in reply to mattgumbley 14:35:19
  • @forakin there is legislation required IMO. It should be the same as opposite sex relationships based on the same reasoning. in reply to forakin 14:37:35
  • @forakin i take that back. I dont know what the reasoning is. I assume it is based on love and mutual commitment not narrow moralistic view in reply to forakin 14:39:47
  • @forakin thanks. Will read later and comment. in reply to forakin 14:41:44
  • Havng moralistic laws does not make a society moral. If we take morality out of the hands of govt, who is best to promote society's morals? 14:47:20
  • RT @wfaler: @mhsutton morality comes from upbringing, family and local community. Anyone who thinks it can be forced on people from abov … 14:54:37
  • @SaintSal @1ila i feel sure it will be thoroughly lovely. my wife's family are with us in Ireland before we sabatical in spain for 2013. in reply to SaintSal 15:55:16
  • @SaintSal i would like to collaborate more with you next year. Must create the opportunities. 🙂 Buon Natale! in reply to SaintSal 15:56:47
  • @richardbranson @HollyBranson @sambranson kids grow up in love because you surround them with it. Merry Christmas Bransons 🙂 in reply to richardbranson 16:00:40
  • @SaintSal about 4 hours from Barca. 20 mins from Granada in the lecrin valley. we'll practically be neighbours 🙂 in reply to SaintSal 16:02:23
  • I love the #Samaritans, its been ages since I last called them, but they were lovely. Might ring and see how they've been 🙂 16:04:04
  • #13Hacks coming soon. 17:30:03
  • I have a gift for you this Christmas and for life. Try @Trello – its changed how I organise, it's given me superpowers.http:/… 17:35:06
  • Welcome to #shannonAirport and happy #christmas. This band is jamming! 19:50:31
  • i ditched #instagram, #streamzoo is cool (atleast until Facebook buy them). I really want something that I can post to my #wordpress blog. 21:27:03
  • RT @roxanamjones: The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebell … 23:14:17

Twittervations On 2012-12-23

  • @MollyJayne40 @TikkuMikku @RAtkinson1955 thanks. (i shall now brace myself for the torrent of RTs). in reply to MollyJayne40 12:38:08
  • It was so windy last night we had to cling film over the toilet. #noKidding. 12:40:56
  • Another thought I wrote down: Mounted Galway Hooker – its not what you think. 16:14:44
  • @johnsnolan disaster and classic comedy averted. Just. in reply to johnsnolan 16:14:57
  • As you decide whether its a digital radio or cheese-inspired socks for your loved ones at #christmas. Remember #syria, #haiti #palestine. 20:02:13
  • @MollyJayne40 @ratkinson1955 wow. What is it that makes someone throw caustic insults at a total stranger?
    Please stop. in reply to MollyJayne40 21:56:08
  • RT @dcancel: “Successful people pursue hard things. Unsuccessful avoid them” – Greg Glassman 22:42:26
  • Very strange. Just noticed 2 screws missing from case of #MBP. #WTF. Where can I get replacements? 22:43:43

Political Ideologies – A Primer.

You have two cows. Give one to your neighbour.
You have two cows.
Give both to the government. The government gives you milk.
You have two cows. You sell one cow and buy a bull.
You have two cows. Give milk to the government.
The government sells it.
You have two cows. The government shoots you and takes the cows.
New Dealism:
You have two cows. The government shoots one cow,
milks the other, and pours the milk down the sink.
You have two cows. Keep them. Steal another. Shoot the government.
You have two cows. Freeze the milk. Embalm the cows.

Happiness Is Not To Be Found In A Product

Christmas – is it about the Gift, the Giving or the Receiving?

As the Christmas season approaches, I have recently been thinking about how many people out there associate happiness with a product and how many children learn, not the power of giving nor the grace of receiving, but instead the lesson of entitlement. My enduring believe is that true happiness is not to be found in a product.

Perhaps it lingers in the thoughtfulness and consideration of the giver (at best) but not in the product itself.  Maybe there are other words that people confuse with happiness and which, perhaps , might better describe their feeling.  Perhaps contentment, satisfaction or even delight are better words for the feeling one gets from the emotional consumption of a physical product.

There are some who consider the commercialisation of Christmas to be a good thing – that it creates employment and generates money for large groups of people.  There are others who despair at it and, at least with regards Christmas, calling for people to think more of Christ and his message to the world (rather than have a mug, DVD or the latest XBox game ).

As I explore my thoughts on this, I actually don’t care that people buy or give gifts – if they genuinely care about their recipients of their gifts and feel that it is a suitable expression of their love then great.  What I am in total disagreement with is the sense of entitlement that I observe people to have about whether they will get a present or what present they will get.  I am also in disagreement with what seems like a social compulsion to give gifts – even to those you actually care very little about.

What do you think?  Is your happiness dependent on receiving fancy products at Christmas (birthdays or whenever)?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

On that note, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and sincerely hope that wherever you are this Christmas, that you are not lonely, nor sad but full of Joy and Hope.