What shapes your view of the world?

Business owners tend to have strong opinions. They're strongly influenced by multiple factors, including environment, upbringing, and personal experiences. But what if you had grown up somewhere else--maybe even on the other side of the world?

Serial entrepreneur and popular speaker Derek Sivers knows a bit about this. Having lived in numerous countries across the globe (including England, New Zealand, Singapore, Iceland, and India), Sivers says he no longer feels that he's "from" anywhere. "They're all equally home," he says.

This adds weight to Siver's popular TED Talk Weird, or Just Different? It's been viewed a couple million times, and is one of my favorite talks. By means of a great hook and some stellar visuals, Sivers demonstrates the value in learning to think differently:

The lessons for entrepreneurs? Here are two.

1. Surround yourself with diversity.

As a business owner or leader, the last thing you want is to be surrounded by yes men. You need people who think differently, who will challenge your assumptions.

The best way to set this up is to keep diversity in mind during the hiring process. On your team, you want men and women, college-graduate and self-educated, younger and older, and from a variety of cultures. Their different backgrounds mean different perspectives and opinions that will help you see things you otherwise couldn't.

Of course, managing a diverse team won't always be easy. But who wants easy?

Not you. You want growth.

2. Flip it upside down.

Just as the map Sivers shows near the end of his talk initially surprises you, looking at a situation you're well familiar with from another perspective helps you think differently. The longer you spend analyzing things from one point of view, the more skewed that view becomes.

Before making major decisions, consider things from every angle. In addition to hearing your people out, make sure to carry out discussions in various physical locations. Doing so can inspire new thoughts and discourage ruts and excessive repetition.

I love the way Sivers concludes:

There's a saying that whatever true thing you can say about India, the opposite is also true. So, let's never forget ... whatever brilliant ideas you have or hear, that the opposite may also be true.

Weird? Or just different?

When it comes to entrepreneurship, both are good for business.

Published on: Jun 29, 2015
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