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Roger James Hamilton
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Roger James Hamilton

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Happy 2014 ~ It's going to be the year of the horse! The horse is a symbol of the age-old paradox: Work vs Luck... Will your success be the result of working hard (the work horse) or luck (the lucky horseshoe)? Make the most of 2014 by making it both... "The harder you work, the luckier you get."
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I'll be tuning in as well! Looking forward to it.
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Two years ago Evan Spiegel came up with the app Snapchat as a college project. This week he turned down a $3 billion cash offer from Facebook to buy the company (!)

What makes a 23 year old reject a $3 billion offer on a business which until today has had no revenues? How did one idea grow so quick so fast? What can you learn from a freak growth story like Snapchat’s?

In September 2011 Evan and his partner, Bobby Murphy, came up with the idea of Snapchat as their class project at Stamford, and set up the company from Evan’s father’s sitting room (Evan still lives with his Dad).

Last year, Evan dropped out of college to work on Snapchat. Today, more than 350 million images are shared on Snapchat every day (already four times more than Instagram).

Here’s 3 lesser known things about the Snapchat story:


While everyone was trying to copy success stories like Facebook and Instagram, that keep all your posts and photos forever, Snapchat came from the opposite direction. As Evan says “A buddy of mine was bummed about a photo he sent. When Bobby and I built the prototype (where photos and videos are deleted soon after being received), we realised how much fun we were having sending the photos back and forth.”


At college, Evan and Bobby tried over 50 different ideas before getting to Snapchat. When they got to that, no one liked it. Evan took the idea to his design class for review and says “All the VCs and people who came through were like ‘This is the dumbest thing ever... So, obviously, I went back to Bobby and I was like, ‘Oh, they really liked it!’”

"People call it an overnight success," Evan says, "But it was anything but.” If they had listened to the ‘experts’, Snapchat would never have gotten off the ground.


With no support, they both thought the idea would fail: “We didn’t think we were ever going to raise venture capital.” All they knew was they liked it and wanted to keep working on it. But while the grown adults thought it a silly idea, the app began going viral in high schools in California. 

That’s how they attracted funding. As Evan recalls, “This guy named Jeremy Liew, who works at Lightspeed Ventures, one of his partners, Barry Eggers had a daughter who was using Snapchat. She said her 3 favorite apps that everyone was using at her high school were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. So Jeremy sent me a Facebook message." 

"I ended up meeting with him and showed him some of the early data we had. That was the month we were not going to be able to pay our server bills any more. Bobby had a job that was paying for the server bills at the time. And it just got too expensive, so the timing was awesome. My dad didn't want to pay for disappearing photos any more.”

What can we learn from Evan's story? If you’re working on something you love, and the people using your product love it too, don’t listen to the ‘experts’ telling you what can’t be done.

The greatest barrier to progress is the ‘illusion of knowledge’. Those who ‘know best’ rarely know 'what’s next'.

As for Evan turning down $3 billion from Mark Zuckerberg, what comes next? How long will Evan keep living with his Dad? Evan’s reply: “Until he kicks me out.”
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Roger James Hamilton

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"Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it" ~ Winston Churchill
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Love it!
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How much of your success is in your DNA? How much of it comes from skills that you can learn? Are we born into entrepreneurial success or can you shape your destiny simply by choosing to be successful? 

Here’s the expert’s verdict!! The Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, Amy Cosper, wrote this week on the subject ‘Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made’. She says “We can all agree there are several types of entrepreneurs: startup, serial, those who flip other people's companies and those who start nothing but buy companies and make them better.” 

Julian Lange, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College, adds “Some people don't want any risk, and some are always looking for risk... I have seen many different people become entrepreneurs with very different skill sets and at different points in their careers. I think it would be hard to make a bet that someone is not going to be an entrepreneur based on their skills and proclivities or at a particular point in their life. The exceptions prove the rule again and again.”

Got the idea? The expert opinion is that all types of people at all ages seem to get successful in all types different ways. The rule is there are no rules! Failures become successes. Your past performance is no indication of your future success.

You might find this encouraging. But it also doesn’t give much direction. My conclusion is that our natural path to success is part nature, part nurture. You were born a genius. We each have a unique genius, and when you focus on your genius you find your natural path in life. 

This month I am launching a free test on this question called “The Genius Test”. It’s a Facebook App and is based on the fact that we are all geniuses - which is part nature, part nurture.

In creating the test, I spend a lot of time studying this debate of “nature vs nurture”. Are Geniuses and exceptional people born that way, or do we all have an equal chance at being exceptional?

Richard Branson is a Dynamo Genius, and spends all his time on his creations. Oprah Winfrey is a Blaze Genius, and spends all his time on her connections. Warren Buffett is a Tempo Genius, and spends all his time timing the market, and Mark Zuckerberg is a Steel Genius, and spends all his time improving his platform.

Each of the people that Amy and Julian are referring to became successful when they began to focus on their genius. Focusing on your genius is like tuning in the radio dial to your music. Your life becomes a joy, and you find new ways to rapidly increase your success and fulfilllment in life.

Just follow this focus and you get to spend more “Genius Time” on what you love! How awesome! But what about all the “Hard Work” time you’ve been taught you need to be doing, struggling with the things that don’t come so naturally? As Julian says, “No one person has all the skills necessary to handle everything him or herself. You get a team to cover your bases. Even if one person has everything going for them, there are only 24 hours a day in a seven-day week. You need other people to work with you and make up for additional skills you don't have.”

Your genius comes naturally, but knowing how to use it and how to work with others to bring out their genius needs to be learned. That’s the difference between nature and nurture. 

Sadly, many people have not only failed to learn how to use their genius, but they have stopped believing they had any genius to begin with. They have unlearned their genius.

The Genius Test is a simple way that you can learn about your own genius as well as how to improve everything from your business to your love life to your social media style (It’s all in the app). It’s also a simple way to find out what genius your friends and family are, so you bring out the genius in them.

Want to try the test? Visit to try it out for free. If you like it, feel free to share it. We launch officially on 11.11.13 so this is a pre-launch invitation from me. Hope you like it! 

Follow your genius,

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." ~ Albert Einstein
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Roger James Hamilton

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How do you make a billion dollar nest? It took Tony Fadell just 3 years to do it, and in the wake of his success will come another 1,000 millionaires. Will you be one of them?

This week, Tony’s 3 year old company, Nest Labs, raised $150m at a value of $2 billion. He is riding a new wave - “The Internet of Things” - where smart, connected devices (from fitness trackers to robot cars) will create a new economy bigger than the “Internet of Information” has created so far. 

Cisco forecasts there will be 50 billion internet-connected things by 2020, compared to a predicted 8 billion humans on the planet (of which 3 billion are connected today). The businesses that will dominate this space haven’t even started yet. One may be yours. If you have any such plans, what can we learn from Tony’s success?

Tony has created a $2 billion business with just one product: A smart thermostat. Here are 3 of his biggest steps in getting there:


Tony launched two companies in college. Both failed. Then he worked out the magic formula - go work for someone you can learn from. He went to work for General Magic, a team of Apple alumni that led to a job at Apple. 

As he says: "To say 'I'm entrepreneurial, I'll never work for anyone' is a little naïve. Don't see going to work for somebody that you really respect and admire as a job. It's getting your Master's and Ph.D. in doing what you really want to do in your life," 

From 2006 to 2008, Tony worked on the iPod team and became known as “The Podfather”. Finally, at age 39, he felt ready to launch his own company and quit to start it. He just didn’t know what it was yet...


After leaving Apple, while renovating a house, Tony came across a real-life problem: “I discovered there was your thermostat that controls 50-60% of your energy costs every year - and no one knows how to use them and they're ugly and frustrating.”

“I was like: this is a problem that's looking to be solved! And when I looked at all the competition, there was no real competition to do the class of product that we set out to build. It just fell in my lap and I was like: I have to do this.”

The problem was, everyone hated the idea. As Tony says, “My wife's first reaction was: Are you nuts? How can the iPod guy be doing something so cool and go into thermostats? They're never going to be cool.”

Everyone agreed with his wife. What was he thinking? But Tony’s focus was on the future and a world where conserving energy (and reducing energy bills) in smart ways was a billion dollar market.


In three short years, Tony has gotten over 1% of American Households (over 1 million of the 100 million homes) to buy the Nest Thermostat. As it learns your energy use patterns, it can save 50% or more of your energy use. The biggest shift, though, was the shift he made from thermostats being a building product to a consumer product.

“With the thermostat, we revolutionized the product... but we also revolutionized the sale of it. Most thermostats were only purchased by contractors and installed by contractors: what we did was a radically different approach.”

“We took a risk saying: maybe the consumer will actually install it. It turns out -- because we focused so much attention on getting the installation experience right and making it so easy to install -- that over 95% of them are actually installed by users themselves. Which you wouldn't believe: I thought it was going to be more like 50-60% but that's not the case. We have 80-year-olds posting videos on the web of them putting it in.”

Tony cut out the middle man - the slow moving building industry - and went straight for the consumer. This is the same strategy we are seeing for every company disrupting an industry - from media, to communications, travel, trading, retail, education and now home appliances. 


Today, Nest has over 300 staff. Over half are from Apple. Tony has just raised $150 million and Nest is just beginning. In the next 5 years, everything around you is going to be getting smart and connected faster than we humans have. From your appliances to your clothes to your bike to your car.

“The Internet of Things” is not just a new wave that will change the way we live. It’s also a wave that can change the world. Like when a small thermostat can cut home energy use in half. 

When asked whether the ipod or his nest thermostat is the more important product, Tony replies, "It’s nice to have music everywhere and movies everywhere, but it’s not exactly helping to save the world."

What’s the big small thing you can do? Create it, connect it, change the world - and make your own million dollar nest.
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Roger James Hamilton

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The weird, slightly odd moment when I met Nelson Mandela...

This week Nelson Mandela died at 95 years old. It was twelve years ago when I met Mr Mandela by accident. It was weird, chance meeting up in the sky that had something to do with butterflies, and angels. Here’s what happened...

I was in the line in to the Aer Lingus flight from London to Dublin. Why was it taking so long to get on board? When I entered the plane cabin it became obvious why. Nelson Mandela was sitting in seat 1C. He was on his way to the Special Olympics Everyone was stopping as they passed him to nod and stare. 

I sat in seat 4A. “How great is this?” I thought, “How many people get to be on the same plane as Nelson Mandela?” Everyone boarded, the plane left the terminal and as it rolled towards the runway another thought crossed my mind. “How many people have the opportunity to have a conversation with Nelson Mandela, with no where for him to go for an hour?”

I decided I was going to go and have a chat with him. We took off, and immediately I had butterflies in my stomach. What if I went to speak to him and he just laughed at me? What if his bodyguard threw me to the ground in front of everyone? What if I made a fool of myself in front of all the passengers?

The lunch service came and I waited for the trays to be cleared away. Mr Mandela was reading the newspaper. As they cleared the trays I took that moment to get up and walk up to his row - before he had time to put his table away so he couldn’t escape even if he wanted to...

All eyes in the cabin behind me were on me. As I got closer, his bodyguard began to rise. Mr Mandela saw me and motioned to his body guard to sit down. I squatted down next to him in the aisle so I was the same height as him, and I introduced myself. “Hello, Mr Mandela. I’m Roger Hamilton and I’ve flown in from Singapore” I said.

“Singapore! Send my regards to Lee Kuan Yew” he said with a smile, as if the Founding Father of Singapore was my best friend. I told him the reason I had come to say hello is because he was an inspiration to me, and that I had committed my life to support entrepreneurs - that I had been to South Africa recently and spent time with the social entrepreneurs there.

We got into a conversation on how the spirit of entrepreneurship can give people hope to people and lift them out of poverty. He spoke about what he saw happening in South Africa. I spoke about what I was seeing around Asia. I began to stop worrying he was just being polite and became aware of how present he was being, so I became more present too. I think we spoke for maybe twenty or thirty minutes. I lost track of time. 

At the end of our conversation I asked him if I could contact him when I was next in South Africa. He laughed and nudged his fellow passenger in Seat 1A, Zelda La Grange, his personal assistant, and said “Speak to the boss.” Then he added, “But you’re young and handsome, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Just buy her a drink.” 

Zelda smiled and passed over her business card, and I walked back to my seat. Everyone was watching my return like I had somehow been sprinkled with some magic fairy dust and had been given new superpowers by the man in 1C. 

I had always been fearful of just approaching people who I looked up to. The butterflies in my stomach would always stop me from even going up and saying “hello”. That meeting with Nelson Mandela, and how he responded, put the fear I had of meeting world leading change makers - or anyone new, for that matter - behind me. He had the effect on others as well - connecting you to your greater self.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still get butterflies when meeting new people. It just means when I feel the butterflies in my stomach now, I think of them not as butterflies but as fairies appearing, waiting to sprinkle fairy dust. Or maybe angels. 

Rest in peace, Mr Mandela.
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You are so lucky to have met such an inspiring person. :)
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What's your Genius?
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Hey +Roger James Hamilton,
I'd LOVE to take your test, but I don't have a #facebook  account...
Help me out.
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Roger James Hamilton

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In nature, nothing is rushed, but all is accomplished.
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Roger James Hamilton

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“Everything is nothing with a twist.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
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Social Entrepreneur
  • Entrepreneurs Institute
    Founder, 2011 - present
  • Talent Dynamics
  • Wealth Dynamics
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Bali, Indonesia
A little of everywhere
Social Entrepreneur, Futurist, Founder of Entrepreneurs Institute, Creator of Talent Dynamics & Wealth Dynamics. Living in Bali.
  • Life
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