Sometimes I think, ‘What am I going to write about this week?’
Even when you’re writing a blog about setting goals, going outside your comfort zone and how other people can help you the ideas don’t always come easily. But then a bloke jumps to earth from 24 miles up… and for one week at least, there’s nothing to worry about!
No doubt the internet will shortly be awash with articles containing spurious links to Felix Baumgartner. But what lessons can we take from what I consider (excluding the birth of my children) to be just about the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen?
Here are six random thoughts in – as they say – no particular order. I’m sure you’ve plenty more that you could add.
1. The right sponsorship works. I don’t know how much Red Bull spent on sponsoring the jump. But as Forbes reported immediately afterwards, they have gained tens of millions of dollars of publicity from it: I’ve seen one estimate put the value to Red Bull at $100m. Red Bull was only founded 25 years ago – could it become the most recognised brand on the planet? Among its target market it already is. Don’t be afraid to try sponsorship as a method of promoting your business – but make sure you’re sponsoring the right thing. Like Red Bull did, ask yourself two questions: what is the central message of my business? And what market am I aiming at? Then find a sponsorship opportunity that matches those answers – not the first kids’ football team to ask you.
2. Linked to that is the power of the internet, and if you don’t now believe in the benefits the internet can bring your business you’re fooling yourself. Eight million people watched the jump live; goodness knows how many have watched the video since. (I’ve watched it three more times – I suspect that is typical.) Crucially, the internet gives longevity to your efforts. YouTube will keep the jump – and the attendant publicity – alive for years.
3. Sadly, there will always be negative people. I watched the jump with Twitter open and I was astonished at the number of negative comments, sick jokes and people who simply wanted Felix to fail. Just for once, can we not stand back and admire someone who is pushing the boundaries of human achievement? Apparently not. Negative people will always be with us – people who would far rather you failed than that they succeeded. And if you’re running your own business, there’s always someone who’ll tell that you’re mad, that you’ll go bust or that someone else is already doing it.
4. 43 isn’t too old. Felix Baumgartner was born on April 20th 1969. 43 is not too old to do – or start – something which defines your life.
5. Problems are there to be overcome. To achieve his goal Felix had to wear a spacesuit and be enclosed in a tiny capsule. Unfortunately he was/is claustrophobic. He felt it in the spacesuit and he felt it in the capsule. A sports psychologist was brought in, Felix learned coping techniques and the rest is history.
6. You have to take risks if you want to achieve. One small point brought this home to me – never mind jumping from 24 miles up, the heater on Felix’s visor failed. He must have known this would cause the visor to fog up and presumably he could have aborted the jump. But equally he must have faced this scenario in the hundreds of rehearsals and walk-throughs he’d have performed and the computers would have simulated. So yes, you have to take risks – but risks that you’ve anticipated and prepared for.
I’m inspired – and I shall stay inspired. If you haven’t seen the jump yet, here it is. But what does Felix Baumgartner do next? I think that’s a fascinating question that has implications for all entrepreneurs – and it’s one I’ll look at next week. For now, let me know the most inspiring thing you’ve seen or heard this year – or any year come to that. And if it’s better than Felix, send me the link…