Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. Begin it Now! (Goethe)

February 3, 2016

Winners have coaches

Think you could use a coach? Well, if you think about the fact that there are no medal winners without coaches, and if you want to be a winner in the game of business, then you almost certainly want one. But not just any one, you probably want the best you can get.

Harvard Business review did a survey/study of executive coaches and found some pretty interesting responses.  Check out the article here.

The Harvard study focused mainly on big business and hiring coaches for their higher level executive development.  I work with CEOs of young, growing businesses. Big difference in fees, and big difference in speed of results.  I charge a lot less because I just don't need the money to eat and pay bills and pay for advertising (I don't advertise).  And I get faster results because I don't like to waste time and drag things out to pad the bill.  I like quick action.  

I really like the graphic, don't you?  I've had it on my desktop for a while, waiting for me to get around to writing a post where it would be appropriate.  So here it is.

Wishing you all the very best of success in this New Year.

January 7, 2016

Best advice for startups, from top VC

From First Round, two links that could totally change your business for the better.  Only one problem: you actually have to execute.  Don't just read this stuff, but figure out how you can implement these ideas into the fabric of your business.

The 30 best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2015

This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers

December 7, 2015

Make Management a competitive advantage

There is only one book you need to read about management.  Andy Grove, legendary founder of Intel, put it all down in his classic work High Output Management.

Here's a tribute to this great leader:

November 22, 2015

Screw Up? How to Apologize

When you screw up (it happens), admit it, apologize briefly, and then announce your Action Plan moving forward. It's that simple.

Most people make it much worse for themselves when they screw up.
They grovel (so embarrassing).
They offer credits and refunds (undisguised bribery).

Here's what Bloomberg.com has to say about it:

To investors, too much contrition is a sign of weakness.

Publicists are quick to tell clients what to do when the corporate nightmare of a misbehaving executive or a faulty product erupts: apologize, with feeling. The consultant who coached ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries on a mea culpa after a deadly listeria outbreak in April has chief executive officers read their talking points three times—once aloud, once to himself, and again aloud—to make sure they sound authentic. “The key is to feel the message points, not just recite them,” says Blue Bell adviser Gene Grabowski, a former PR News Crisis Manager of the Year.

Stock market investors have their own feeling about contrition, according to new research: lose it. Two business professors who analyzed more than 100 corporate apologies over three decades through 2012 found that those demonstrating the most emotion also experienced the steepest declines in share price over the following week. “The more empathy the company shows, the more they promise follow-through, the more they get slammed by the market,” says DePaul University ethicist Daryl Koehn of her research with Maria Goranova, who teaches management at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

The two put together a database spanning Johnson & Johnson’s 1982 recall of poisoned Tylenol tablets to BP CEO Tony Hayward’s infamous “I’d like my life back” crack weeks after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The professors ranked apologies on a sliding scale of completeness. They figured the perfect apology would acknowledge responsibility, identify the harm, show a wise character, be delivered in person and on time, display empathy for victims, and promise follow-through.

No apology in their database rated as perfect, and only three got the next-best score. One came from Intuit, whose CEO, Brad Smith, wrote customers in 2010 to “deeply apologize for the pain” it caused them after an outage affecting such popular software as Quicken and TurboTax. The company’s stock fell 4 percent over the next week.

When Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson apologized for discrepancies in his résumé in 2012, his statement took responsibility for the distraction he’d caused, not the errors, and promised to “keep moving forward.” The professors scored his apology a zero. The stock rose for several days afterward, though Thompson eventually resigned.

What the researchers had hoped to prove was that investors valued the most ethically sound apologies. Instead, the strongest finding was the negative reaction to empathy. By contrast, CEOs who identified the problem and took responsibility for it, without any empathy, got a small stock increase.

One reason empathy may disturb investors is that it’s often considered a feminine trait or a sign of weakness, the researchers speculated. All the apologizers they studied were men. A 2007 report on CEO appointments found that corporate stock prices fell more steeply when the new leader was a woman.

Another possible interpretation, according to Koehn: “If you’re showing all that pathos, empathy, and emotional connection with your audience, the stock market might say, ‘They’re actually going to do something.’ And that’s going to cost money.”

Whatever the market risks, in an era when anyone with a mobile phone can publicize wrongdoing around the world, there’s little alternative to apologizing, says Richard Levick, a Washington-based publicist who’s advised Wall Street banks and the Catholic Church. And, as he likes to tell clients, saying you’re sorry is cheap. Levick cites a 2009 University of Nottingham School of Economics study that found an apology to disgruntled customers was more effective than cash. Only 23 percent agreed to withdraw a complaint in exchange for nominal cash compensation, while 45 percent did so after an apology. “Before we’re shareholders, before we’re consumers, we are human beings,” he says.

The Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell isn’t publicly traded, so there’s no way to judge investor reaction to the recall apology earlier this year. More important, adviser Grabowski says, is that consumers stuck with the brand. When it reappeared in stores this summer, customers lined up to buy it. That response may help prove another point, Koehn says: “The market may be out of step with the ethical expectations of the population at large.”

The bottom line: While sincere apologies can bring down stock prices, customers prefer a prompt “I’m sorry” to cash compensation


November 4, 2015

Analytics: Metrics Matter

(from Andreesen Horowitz, a16z.com)

We (Andreesen Horowitz) have the privilege of meeting with thousands of entrepreneurs every year, and in the course of those discussions are sometimes presented with all kinds of measures that seemingly illustrate the promise and health of a company but aren't the best gauge of what’s actually happening in the business. So we've compiled not just one, but two, lists of metrics to help. But these metrics aren’t only about raising money from VCs -- as one of our commenters shared: Drive with them, don’t just report them!
Check out these 16 startup metrics
Then check out these 16 more

October 16, 2015

Becoming a better leader

Good reading for the weekend.  Consider these thoughts well, and resolve to be a better leader come Monday morning:
Becoming a great leader isn’t something that happens overnight, but it can be achieved through discipline, hard work and a commitment to improvement through experience. Great leaders aren’t born, as some people suggest; instead, they are shaped over time. And, while what makes a “great” leader in one application doesn’t always apply to others, there are some general rules that all great leaders follow.
If becoming a great leader in your own business or organization is your goal, these 50 rules are a good place to start:
1. Listen to your team. Rule one. Always listen to what your team has to say, even if you don’t like it.
2. Communicate as efficiently as possible. Make your expectations and feelings clear, in the appropriate medium as often as possible.
3. Talk less. Sometimes saying nothing is better than saying just anything.
4. Be an example. Be the type of person you want your team members to be.
5. Be passionate. If you aren’t passionate about your business, you’re in the wrong business.
6. Be consistent. Be consistent in your behaviors so your team knows what to expect from you.
7. Make firm decisions. Don’t leave things undecided for long, and don’t waver about a decision once you’ve made it.
8. Identify mentors and role models. Find people you can look up to and learn from, and follow them closely.
9. Interfere only when necessary. If you trust your team to do good work, don’t interfere unless absolutely necessary.
10. Know your limits. Don’t extend yourself beyond your means.
11. Know your strengths. If you’re good at resolving disputes, step in and resolve them as often as possible.
12. Know your weaknesses. If there’s something you’re not good at, admit it, and work on it.
13. Don’t make excuses. If you make a mistake, take ownership of it and don’t pass the blame to someone or something else.
14. Accept the unforeseen. You can’t control or predict everything.
15. Choose your partners carefully. Work only with people you can count on and trust.
16. Do good. Commit yourself to being a good person and giving back to the community when possible.
17. Meet new people all the time. Take every opportunity to expand your network and expose yourself to new experiences and perspectives.
18. Stay in touch with your emotions. Don’t be a robot -- let yourself feel.
19. Temper your reactions. Hold back your reactions until you have a moment to clarify your internal thoughts and feelings.
20. Have fun. Take the time to have fun with your team.
21. Research everything. Before making a decision, know the pros and cons -- do your homework.
22. Think everything through. Never exclusively trust your instincts or first reactions.
23. Choose your team carefully. Hire only those you can trust to get the job done (and to get along with others, as well).
24. Prioritize your team. Your team is everything. Give them whatever they need to succeed.
25. Be humble. Don’t get big-headed about your wealth, influence or position as a leader.
26. Forgive mistakes. Everyone makes them.
27. Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up too much over anything. Move on.
28. Be rational. Make decisions logically.
29. Be reasonable. Listen to dissenting opinions, and be fair.
30. Make time for what’s important. There’s no such thing as “not having time” for what’s really important in your life. Make the time.
31. Constantly learn. Read as much as you can, and take classes whenever you have the opportunity.
32. Improve everything. Work on improving your approaches, your skills and your processes constantly.
33. Never give up. Don’t throw in the towel when a little extra persistence could put you over the edge.
34. Transform your methods when necessary. If something isn’t working, change your approach.
35. Cut your losses when necessary. If you’re fighting a losing battle, retreat and start again somewhere else (or in a new way).
36. Learn from your mistakes. Try not to make the same mistakes twice.
37. Ground everything with data. Back up all your decisions, opinions and thoughts with hard, objective facts and evidence.
38. Don’t ignore signs of stress. Stress is real and can interfere with your ability to lead. If it starts setting in at abnormal levels, take action to reduce or relieve it.
39. Give feedback. Let your team know what they’re doing well and what needs further improvement.
40. Trust, but verify. Trust your team to get things done, but always follow up to make sure the work is completed.
41. Be approachable. Let people know they can trust you, and open your door to anybody who needs it.
42. Treat everyone equally. Don’t play favorites; it breeds resentment and makes you appear immature as a leader.
43. Don’t pursue close personal relationships with the team. Be on friendly terms, but don’t try to be best friends with everybody. You’re a leader, first and foremost.
44. Get the team together. Use team-building exercises or other excuses to get your team members talking with one other and having fun together.
45. Return favors. If someone helps you, make it your responsibility to pay back the favor -- even if it’s years later.
46. Don’t burn bridges. Never cut a contact completely out of your life.
47. Stay in touch. If team members leave or change roles, stay in contact with them.
48. Don’t sacrifice your personal life. Your personal life is necessary to retain your own mental health. Never sacrifice it for the sake of leadership or professional responsibilities.
49. Enjoy leadership. Try not to stress too much about being a leader. Instead, enjoy all the benefits it offers.
50. Take advice with a grain of salt. Even with these 50 rules! Because nobody knows everything, and no one piece of advice applies to all situations.
Follow these rules, trust your instincts and continually strive for self-improvement. Eventually, through your experiences and your efforts, you’ll become the type of leader most people only aspire to be. 

October 15, 2015

I delegate, therefore I am...

I love a lot of things about being CEO,
but I think I love Delegating the most.

August 23, 2015

Six steps for setting business goals

  1. Define Quantifiable Goals
    The first step in setting business goals is determining exactly what you want to accomplish. Make sure your goal is worth your effort. Think about how you would design goals if you were certain that they would be successful. Conversely, what would your strategy be if this was your last opportunity? It’s important to set clear goals; you should know exactly where you want to go and you should not waiver from your target regardless of failures along the way. Be as specific as possible, so you are able to determine when you’ve reached your goal.
  2. Make your Goals Specific
    Once again, make sure your business goals aren’t too vague. It’s critical to use a goal setting formula that gives your goal a built-in action plan. Define your end goal and create a road map for exactly how you’re going to reach your goal. Be specific with what you want to accomplish at each check point. You'll achieve a great deal more than you would without these guidelines.
  3. Commit to your Goals
    Make a commitment and stick with it. Once you’ve set your plan in motion, stay motivated to see your goals through to the end. Don’t procrastinate or second-guess your decisions, as this will only delay the process. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and reward yourself for staying focused.
  4. Make your Goals Public
    An extremely effective technique for achieving business goals is making them public. Invite a team or even a single person into your plan; you’ll face accountability which can be very motivating. Once you share your goals with someone, you can determine what sort of involvement they will have with your plan. Will you ask them to check in with you every so often or not? What their role entails is up to you.
  5. Set a Deadline
    If you don’t set a deadline, your goal will fail. Goals without deadlines indicate that you are not fully committed. Determining a deadline puts your goal into context. Pick a reasonable date that isn’t too aggressive, but also not too far away.
  6. Reward Yourself
    In the goal-setting process, there’s one very important thing to remember: you. Once you’ve accomplished a goal or reached a milestone within your goal, make sure to mark the occasion. You’ve invested an incredible amount of time, energy and determination to reach your goal, so make sure you take a moment to celebrate your success.

July 15, 2015


Click here for the video: http://www.academybridge.org/videogallery/lean-startup-pivot/

A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision. 

Eric Ries

10 Pivot Options

Zoom-In: A single feature in a product (service) becomes the whole product, thus highlighting the value of “focus” and “minimum viable product” (MVP), which can be delivered quickly and efficiently.

Zoom-Out: What was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product.

Customer Segment: The product is positioned for a more appreciative segment, and optimized for that segment.

Customer Need: When the problem solved is not very important, repositioning (or a new product) is required to find a problem worth solving.

Platform: Iterating from an application to a platform (or vice versa) because most customers buy solutions, not platforms.

Architecture: Focusing on one of two business architectures: high margin-low volume (complex systems), or low margin-high volume (volume operations). You can’t do both at the same time.

Value Capture: The “free” model doesn’t capture much value, therefore many startups require a monetization model (revenue model) to capture value. This choise can have far-reaching consequences for the business, product, or marketing strategy.

Engine of Growth: Startups must select one of three growth engines: viral, sticky, or paid growth. Selecting the right model can dramatically affect the speed and profitability of growth.

Channel: Channel pivots require unique pricing, features, and competitive positioning adjustments.This impacts how a startup effectively delivers it product to customers (sales channel or distribution channel).

Technology: The technology pivot can provide superior price and/or performance and improve the startup competitive posture (same solution provided but with a completely different technology.

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” - Eric Ries

Watch Eric Ries (The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses) describe the different pivot options:

Lean Startup 10 Pivot Choices

July 13, 2015

Why do sales slump at 18 months?

Good friend and awesome sales trainer Mike Bosworth explores the art of the traditional salesperson, and extracts techniques from top closers to find the connection between storytelling and earning trust.

July 11, 2015

Success is...

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal...

Earl Nightingale

Listen to this excellent recording made in 1956 by one of the greats:

June 25, 2015

Ben Franklin; Four Rules for Living

Franklin’s Four Rules for Living

1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe.

2. To endeavor to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action – the most amicable excellence in a rational being.

3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.

4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of every body.

May 23, 2015

✅10 Ways to Boost Productivity ✅

There are tons of ways to boost your productivity, and here are ten of them.  But one of my favorites is missing from the list: UNSUBSCRIBE from a lot of those emails you get but never read! Open up your bandwidth for real work. Also UNFOLLOW and UNFRIEND until the chatter gets close to zero. Twitter? Forget it. Email only on focused time slots during the day.  Never answer the phone unless it's a pre-arranged meeting. Let it go to voicemail. You'll be surprised how many phone calls you don't need to take...  Excuse the rant, here are the ten: