戴森:当你感到疲惫 你更要加速

■YYC超越集团主席叶志超

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5000次失败 + 家财散尽

戴森:当你感到疲惫 你更要加速

如果说“失败乃是成功之母”,那么对戴森集团创始人詹姆斯戴森(James Dyson)来说,“不满”乃为“发明之母”。

他从小就喜欢发明及改良产品,把不好用东西改到最好为止。某次他在家里吸尘时,因为不满吸尘机的吸力太弱,之后花了5年时间、失败了5126次,终于在第5127个原型,才把创世纪的戴森吸尘机研发出来。

如果你以为他的人生从此飞黄腾达,那就大错特错了,在产品研发成功后的10年,都没人跟他买,他想把发明卖给大厂还被笑说是傻子!

一边是继续坚持梦想,另一边是面对现实生活,他被迫抵押房子举债,还需靠妻子养家及抚养3个小孩。

但是坚忍不拔的戴森却说:“当你感到疲惫想要放弃时,也正是别人准备放弃的时候,此时你更应该在加速,那么成功就在不远处。”

正如现今网络潮语说的“不要假装很努力,因为结果不会陪你演戏”,而面对生活一点都不假装,并且还算得上很枯燥的戴森,最终于2020年成为英国首富,个人净资产162亿英镑。

被自己创办的公司赶出來

戴森的创业故事要从他家的后院小屋说起……

当时戴森仍处在低潮中,因为他刚从自己一手创立的独轮手推车公司Ballbarrow被赶了出来。

在这之前,戴森曾把传统手推车改良成“球推车”,以塑胶制成球状,取代原本的轮子,并吸引了很多投资者,独轮手推车也取得50%市占率。可惜戴森后来发现,独轮手推车的设计版权已被团队偷偷转售,他也因此被董事局开除。

直至某天,他用胡佛牌(Hoover)吸尘机时,发现吸力因集尘袋被堵塞而减弱,此后于1979至1984年期间,他以后院小屋做为工作室,不断发挥小宇宙,终于成功研发全球首个无需集尘袋、使用分离式旋风真空技术的吸尘机。

但是戴森的惊世发明并没有得到认同,当他想推荐给英国及其他欧洲市场的现有吸尘机大牌时,不是电话没被接听,就是笑他是傻子。其实背后隐藏着一个重大原因,那就是集尘袋的销售额高达5亿美元,试问哪有大厂愿意放弃这么丰厚的大饼?

在他们眼中,戴森更像来打破市场常规的“干扰者”!

当时的戴森财务遇到很大问题,但还是不愿放弃创业,因为他认为他的发明被拒绝并不是产品不好,加上之前自己一些发明的成功经验告诉他,这个点子一定行得通, 有朝一日会成功。

一等就是十年

经营这间公司没赚钱,但却让他学了许多东西,结果这个“ 有朝一日会成功”的确在10年后发生。

1986年,戴森在日本找到授权商,以G-force品牌开始销售他发明的无尘袋吸尘机。日本公司的出现把他从破产边缘救了出来。但是,这只是一个起步,他的野心,不止于此。

在欧美都无法获得大厂合作生产后,戴森于是决定自己设厂生产无尘袋吸尘机,打着的广告口号就是“跟尘袋说拜拜”,并获得热烈市场反应,而雪球效应也因而开始了。

短短两年,戴森吸尘机成功逆袭,从无人问津变成英国最畅销的吸尘机,营业额达到1亿美元。

同时,戴森也计划在美国推广戴森吸尘机,可是却遇到很多阻挠。首先,由于被定型为工程师、设计师,许多投资人都认为他不是做生意的高手。

银行家太太成融资贵人

再来就是投资人不相信他的创世纪设计产品可以成为畅销品,因为如果产品那么有潜能,不可能其他大厂不卖,这让戴森面对极大的融资压力。

当时,戴森吸尘机的设计在美国也遭人抄袭,他还要面对官司的烦恼。

但是,吸尘机终归是家庭用品,戴森的“融资贵人”是一位银行家的太太。当时负责戴森融资申请的一位莱斯银行(Lloyd’s Bank)总经理,问他太太:“如果有一部吸尘机是不必清理集尘袋的,你觉得如何?”,他太太马上答到:“太好了!这就是我想要的。”

因为这样,这位银行总经理看到产品的潜能,因此批准了戴森的贷款。

无尘袋吸尘机取得成功以后,戴森的公司及研发团队也朝向更多家电的设计改良下手,因为公司的初衷就是帮人们解决生活中的问题。同样引起市场震撼的产品还包括不用热风的烘手机AirBlade、无扇叶电扇,及无扇吹风筒

出身工程师的戴森,非常看重研发的重要性,坚守“科技是生命线,创意是王道”的理念,只把最好的产品推荐给客户,所以无扇吹风筒耗时4年才面市、扫地机器人花了17年尝试、无扇叶电扇花了3年时间才正式上架。

失败本是成功路上一分子

戴森发明的创新吸尘机,从没人要到后来变成全球畅销品No.1,经历许多失败都不放弃,正如他崇拜的發明家爱迪生名言:“我没有失败,只是找到一万种行不通的方法”!

被誉为“现代爱迪生”的戴森认为,成功需要大量的培训與磨练,及很坚韧的毅力,就算感到疲惫也不可以放弃,反而应该要学会去拥抱失败,因为失败本就是成功路上的一分子。

戴森于2016年获英女王授勋为爵士(Sir),也于《星期日泰晤士报》(The Sunday Times)2020年富豪榜排行中排在榜首,以162亿英镑个人净资产成为英国首。

戴森公司于2019年净营业额为73亿美元、净收入为15亿美元,在全球的员工人数超过1万人。值得一提的是,这家公司没有上市,也没计划这么做,更不打算引进外部投资,因为创新是戴森的信仰,他不想被股东牵制,要全盘掌握公司,他坚守公司的成长是由科技与工程师推动,而不是董事局。

在担任公司10年总执行长职位后,戴森也退下转任首席工程师,全程专注于自己热爱的工程研发。

今年已经74岁的戴森,虽是亿万富豪,但坦言在家喜欢自己用吸尘机做家务,而非假手于佣人,因为只有是用户时,才更能感受用户的体验。

戴森教会我们的事:

  1.  鼓励尽情发挥创意:戴森花了2亿美元在公司设立秘密实验室,让工程师尽情发挥想像空间,同时也尽量去尝试及失败。
  2. 产品定位高价高品质:戴森首次创业手的推车公司占50 %市占率,但公司却未能赚大钱,让他明白商业需要衡量市场大小,如果对产品有信心要敢于定高价。不论是吸尘器、吹风机或烘手机,戴森出产的都是领域中的高档货,消费者愿意买单是因为产品耐久度和效能比同业更好。
  3. 拥有公司最多或全部股份:也是因为被手推车公司董事炒鱿鱼自己一手创造的公司及点子都化为乌有,所以戴森需要全盘操控公司拥有最多股份,这才能保证自己的创意不会最后沦为为他人做嫁衣
  4. 卖得好靠研发部门,非广告宣传:戴森花在研发的开销是多于广告宣传的数倍之多,因为他坚信销售额应该是靠研发部门提升,而不是靠广告。

What citadel of American democracy?

  Members of the New York National Guard  on the East Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. on Monday following the attack on the Capitol last week as lawmakers worked to certify Joe Biden as the next president. EPA PIC
Members of the New York National Guard on the East Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. on Monday following the attack on the Capitol last week as lawmakers worked to certify Joe Biden as the next president. EPA PIC

This article first appeared on New Straits Times

THERE has been so much hogwash commented and written on the attack a week ago on the Capitol in Washington incited by President Trump that I begin to wonder where everyone has been.

Did not the Republican-majority Senate, which is housed in the Capitol building — “the citadel of democracy” — vote to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial last February of two clear charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress?

Is not that same Senate in that Capitol building against a move to consider impeachment even now after the invading rioters had sent them scampering to hiding places behind locked doors and under any table they could find?

Under Nancy Pelosi, the only man in Congress, the House of Representatives is proposing that Trump be impeached after moves to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him because he was unfit to hold office, met Republican resistance.

If nothing is done against Trump, American democracy will be discredited even further, an indelible mark more real than the symbolic meaning of the storming of the Capitol everyone has been talking about.

The argument that any action will divide the country even further is feeble nonsense. The country is divided. Inaction will only encourage the insurrectionists into swirling more confederate flags the next time around. The other side, they will see, has no courage.

With impeachment now the only line of action, arguments are being made it would not be until President-elect Joe Biden has been sworn in before the Senate could consider the article of impeachment from the House.

So what? Constitutional lawyers are firm that an ex-president can still be impeached. There must be a marker. Something must be done against Trump. With impeachment, he will not be allowed to stand again for public office.

The reluctance to take any action against Trump as he violates American democracy with impunity continues. This condemns American lawmakers to being nothing but puny characters with no principles or scruples, who should shut up about democracy in their country.

Now they are safe, the Republican senators are thinking of their political survival again — as they did when they voted against impeachment last February, save for Mitt Romney.

Trump has been a tyrant and dictator who destroyed democracy in his time as president with the acquiescence of the Republican Party.

Only at the last call, when he sought to overturn by riotous force the result of a democratic election, did the Republicans realise democracy was at stake, when their lives was in grave danger from a mob set upon them by their very own president.

One wonders how many of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump in the 2016 November election have now changed their minds, and are repentant after the insurrection against democracy. Certainly half a dozen Republican senators and many more members of the House of Representatives are not — also housed in that citadel of democracy, which they every day violate.

President Trump ruled with an iron fist riding roughshod over institutions that were supposed to check and balance in this American system of democracy. If that idyllic representation was never total reality, President Trump trampled on it some more in full glare of America and the world these past four years.

Now we are being asked to appreciate this building, this symbol, this citadel, when 47 per cent of the American electorate did not give a toss about his shocking transgressions and Republicans for reasons of politics alone supported him to the hilt — until now. Even now they are against him with prevarication.

Including Vice-President “after all that I had done for him” Mike Pence. Whatever little switch in allegiance there has been comes mostly not from principled belief in the tenets of democracy, but from a calculation Trump may have gone past his “sell-by” date when he overstepped the mark by setting his Rottweilers on the Capitol. Hence, some Republicans are saying Trump should just resign, wanting to see him in the “rear mirror” as the United States moves on ahead.

Yet there are many others, on both sides of the political divide, who know that the chasm in America which Trump exploited remains, and that that tribal constituency might yet be waiting for Trump, or someone of his ilk, to lead them to the “Promised Land” rather different from what former president Barack Obama depicts in his recent book, or indeed from what New York liberals write and say is America.

It is rather touching to read columnists in the Washington Post, for instance, imagining the siege of the Capitol to be the magic moment when America discovers, or rediscovers, itself, rather conversely like, I suppose, the storming of the Bastille in 1789 that brought down King Louis XVI and heralded the French Revolution.

How important American democracy is, and democratic practices are. What America stands for. The promise of this land of opportunity and hope. America will come out stronger.

Just like the symbolic appeal to the Capitol as the citadel of a democracy that has been disfigured, this wistful wish is more melancholic than it is hard-nosed reality. The US is sharply and deeply divided. The Constitution is not widely read or understood. The coastal areas may be well-tutored, but not the Deep South and Mid-West.

There is liberal worry whether Twitter was right to ban Trump from using it. On the contrary, he should have been banned much earlier from spreading his vermin and call to arms.

You do not give a platform to someone who uses it to cause mayhem and disorder and Covid-19 deaths. What gives him more space to do more harm than he has already? Hitler would have loved such licence to kill.

Reports that Trump has declared an emergency in the District of Columbia, where Washington is situated, in the run-in to Biden’s inauguration as president on Jan 20, as well as intelligence from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that plans are afoot to storm all 50 state capitals before the inauguration, show that there is still no end to the mischief the outgoing president can cause.

Is America going to be held to ransom by threat of internal violence, or will the laws in its democracy take their course?

On whose side are the forces of law and order? There are rednecks aplenty, who worry only about gun laws and rights, or when non-whites work harder and do better than them. Best to keep them out so that there is no competitive pressure. They are on a short fuse. Is the US about to descend into total chaos?

The causes to be deeply dissatisfied have come to a boil, fanned by the most evil president America has had in its history. Time is running out.

The disparity of wealth and income in America has reached unconscionable levels. The top one per cent of families in the US hold 40 per cent of all wealth, with the bottom 90 per cent holding less than one quarter. About 25 per cent of families have less than US$10,000 in wealth.

The US has the highest level of income inequality among developed countries. The top one per cent earning an average of US$1.8 million earn 30 times more than the middle quintile at US$59,100. The average after tax income for the lowest quintile in 2019 was US$12,336 and has been deteriorating. The Gini coefficient (which measures income disparity with one being the worst) was almost 0.5, having got worse in the last 30 years.

The plutocracy that is America has fomented a violent disorder against the ruling class snug in “their” democracy in the “swamp”, which Trump calls Washington. The division has never been so deep. Trump was able to feed it and feed on it. This huge American problem is not over with or without Trump.

Biden has his work cut out for him. Talking about healing, democracy etc. is well and good, but unless he addresses the real issues before America, he would only be scratching the surface.

He must give special attention to the underserved and to those who are alienated from the system. The Capitol is no symbol of democracy to them. Indeed the contempt with which the insurrectionists occupied Congress is palpable in the actions of the rioters.

There is a tendency for many in Asia to gloat over yet another demonstration of American decline. We should, however, be careful what we wish for.

We should be wishing that the US will get its act together. We need a strong America. We do not want a unipolar world. But America is slipping down a greasy pole right now. To arrest its decline, concrete actions must be taken to address real issues.

The writer, a former NST group editor, returns to write on local and international political issues.