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April Experiment: Interlectual Property
What you have, what you need, and what's next.
Listen to this essay.
Our Mission at the Interprize Group – that North Star guiding every single thing we do – is to provide the resources, tools, courage, and community to pursue grand ambitions of deep personal meaning. To that end I’m offering 12 monthly experiments for 2023 that should help get you inspired, thinking creatively, and organized in these pursuits. This is the April edition: #4.
Our first 3 essays focused on the WHY (do something grand for your encore act) and WHAT (that might be). You may be still wrestling with these questions; they are big and it’s an iterative process. This experiment pushes on towards the HOW (you’ll do it). It will prompt a review of your Interlectual Property. My what, you ask? Onward.
Interlectual Property (with an “r”) is a contrived term we’ve co-opted from the world of deep science startups. Merriam-Webster defines Intellectual Property (with an “l”) as any “property (such as an idea, invention, or process) that derives from the work of the mind or intellect.” Disruptive Intellectual Property is key to a deep tech startup’s competitive advantage and typically protected through patents.
Your personal Interlectual Property, or IrP for short, also includes creative ideas that distinguish your grand ambition from the fray – my hip laundromat will offer a beer bar, used book library, and live music! – plus other resources that support your pursuits: money, education, contacts, specialized equipment, location, etc. Getting these down on paper helps display what you have, and even more critically what more you need to develop a compelling, successful effort. (Fair admission: we just like the work Interlectual.)
When surveying your many resources to exploit think about these 4 buckets as a starting point. The contents will differ depending on your own unique history.
Bucket 1 is a collection of your natural signature strengths, personality style, and unique abilities gifted from birth. Why identify your natural strengths? Playing to them will give you an inherent advantage from Day 1 and help advance your efforts more effectively, which feeds confidence, which encourages an even bigger effort; a virtuous cycle.
The great sages of optimism, such as Martin Seligman (“Flourish”) and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (“Flow”) agree that building on one’s natural strengths is key to personal growth and fostering authentic happiness. Knowing your strengths – natural and learned – also reveals the holes in your game, which can filled through purchase or additional training.
Many different evaluations have been developed to define and measure strengths and styles. Two that we like and use in our Life Leap Workshops include:
The VIA Survey of Character Strengths, available here at UPenn’s Authentic Happiness Center. This test provides a ranking of 24 signature strengths that define your authentic power base. Bravery, fairness, creativity, honesty, and 20 others are included.
The Enneagram Personality Test, available here at Truity. The Enneagram is a set of 9 personality types. Perfectionist, peacemaker, enthusiast, and 6 other classifications are included. You’ll find a bit of yourself in all 9, but one will capture your true signature style with startling accuracy. While Truity offers an online test for free I recommend having a professional take you through an evaluation for a much deeper and thorough reading. Contact me for a reference if needed.
Bucket 2 is a collection of those learned assets acquired through life. Some may prove essential to your encore ambitions, some not so much. It’s a valuable exercise to list them all. Your grand ambition in 6 months may be different than the one today, and some former skill sets may suddenly find new relevance.
Bucket 3 is a space for all other major tangible assets that have value, whether or not for the legacy project you’re considering. Money is always helpful, as is specialized equipment, especially for artistic endeavors.
Through a life of writing, performing, and recording music I have a collection of quality guitars, amplifiers, microphones, and recording equipment (my wife Alexandra had deep reserves of patience, definitely one of her signature strengths). This equipment is valuable for my encore ambition to get a rock musical produced and staged, and some pieces are indispensable as well for recording podcasts and short videos for my Interprize Group-related work.
Bucket 4 may require some creative thinking. Intangible assets in the business world include items like goodwill and unique knowledge/know-how that can’t be easily quantified. They are not physical and can be challenging to appraise. But there may indeed be real IrP value in the network of friends and professional contacts you’ve cultivated through the years, and the appreciation these people have of you. Hey, I’m working on a bold life ambition of very deep personal mean, … and I need a favor. Absolutely!
I live in a stunningly charming city – Aix-en-Provence – in one of the most appealing geographies in the world – the south of France. It’s a life choice, not strategic decision, but I would be wasting a fabulous asset if I didn’t leverage this location for Life Leap Workshops and other gatherings. It’s a big selling point that has an incremental cost of 0 to me (I’m living here anyhow). People just naturally want to visit. No arm twisting required. Put it down as an intangible!
Last month we talked about different experiments you can run to bubble up ideas on purposeful legacy ambitions. By now you should have at least a solid sense of Mission, a North Star piloting possibilities and plans. This experiment will reinforce those considerations by identifying the resources you can draw on now and those you’ll need to acquire in that pursuit (or pursuits if multiple).
Create your 4 bucket lists of skills and assets as outlined above. Take time to fill them thoroughly with the major assets you have acquired through life, including both those that should be helpful with current ambitions, and those that are not at the moment, but may prove valuable in the future.
Revisit your Mission Statement and motivations from Experiments 1 – 3 and identify those assets listed that are key in the pursuit of your Interprize; your bold life pursuit.
Create a new list – of assets needed but not yet acquired – and determine how you can attain them: buy them, learn them, ask others who have these skills or assets to join your effort, or other options.
Formalize you IrP strategy:
IrP you have
IrP you need
Your plan for filling in the holes
Don’t avoid leaning on your community of friends and family for support strengthening your abilities and assets. Study after study have shown the importance of personal relationships in building optimism and life enrichment, including this recent 85-year definitive study by Harvard (click here for the article in the Atlantic). If they love you they’ll want to help, … and they do.