April 26, 2016

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion.
You must set yourself on fire.

Elizabeth Holmes

April 18, 2016

After the Coach is gone, the lessons remain

Bill Campbell, the coach and/or board member at Intuit, Apple, Google,  Amazon, passed away today, but his lessons are still available to us:


Fireside chat with Ben Horowitz, YouTube video

Podcast interview with Randy Komisar, SoundCloud

Brad Smith, Intuit CEO, YouTube video

He set the bar for coaches at a high mark.

April 12, 2016

How Frequent should coaching sessions be?

The elemental question is whether you even engage the services of a coach, and the answer is that there are no medal winners without coaches.

To answer the subject question, I'm a pragmatist, so the answer is whatever works for you...

One client calls every couple of years, and if that's OK with him, then it's OK with me, but I think he could achieve his goals a lot faster with more frequent sessions. Another client calls on a very irregular basis, sometimes a couple of times a month, then not at all for 6-9 months. That's the worst, if you ask me. I think consistency is of the utmost importance. Building a rhythm is essential.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have had clients who could not be helped even if the meetings were weekly, or even daily, because they could not take the actions that were needed.  For one reason or another, they just had other priorities than to do what needed to be done (and what they agreed to do) in order to achieve their stated goals.

"Actions express priorities" 


The frequency that seems to work best is either bi-weekly or monthly.  Monthly works OK for people in slow moving businesses.  Bi-weekly (every other week) works best for people in faster moving situations such as startups. Bi-weekly give the client enough time to work on their priorities, make changes, and get feedback, but it's not so long as to get too far off track.

In between bi-weekly meetings there are usually a few emails, documents, or phone calls to ask questions, clarify points, and touch base on urgent developments. 

The best results I have found are with one 1-1 coaching session per month, coupled with one board of advisors meeting per month, for a total of two meetings, but in different formats. 

The real question is: how fast do you want to achieve your goals?  How motivated are you?

March 4, 2016


As any follower of this blog has probably noticed, we avoid all advertising, or even pimping products or services in content. We like to stay completely independent, unbeholden to all.

However, every blue moon or so, something comes along that is so superior in its niche that one is simply gob-smacked with just how well it is done. One is swept up by the rising tide, and can no longer stand idly by and leave any few remaining to wallow in ignorance.

Introducing, in case you've been living under a rock, CBinsights, an all-knowing repository of all things VC, tech, startups, M&A, yadda-yadda-yadda, and even a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. Their data is the best, most complete, and so well and creatively presented that there is simply no competition. What's not to like, right?

Good friend Russ Hall turned me on to the CBinsights daily newsletter at least a year ago, and my life and brain have been so much the better for it. Now that you know this, you are hereby advised that I am unreservedly suggesting that you will benefit as well.  I get nothing out of this, no monetary reward, no air miles, not even a thank you will come my way from CB, most likely, but you are welcome to send me a nice note once you agree.

As a taste, here's a recent presentation (pdf) to Silicon Valley Bank in New York, a wide ranging overview of the facts and madness that is our milieu.

Now you know...

March 2, 2016


Some systems are better than others. At Double M, we're all about the better systems.  When it comes to Success in Business, you don't want to be making it up as you go. With our 50+ years of experience, it's likely that we can help you get there faster, and with a lot less stress.

"The System is the Solution."
"Any System is better than No System, if you iterate quickly using the Feedback Loop."

February 27, 2016

Ask yourself...

Take a moment to find some quiet place, breathe, relax, and ask yourself a few questions. The answers might surprise you. And actually Doing something about it can only be a Good Thing.

1.  Are you happy?
2.  Do you like your daily routine?
3.  How much time do you spend doing something you enjoy?
4.  Who are the good people in your life -- and do you spend enough time with them?
5.  What do you need to change?
6.  Do you need to make any big decisions?
7.  What are you doing for others?
8.  What comes next?

February 18, 2016

Write Emails That Get Results

Analysis of Effective emails, by Boomerang:

Sentiment graph
One of the most significant factors in determining response rates is how positive (words like great) or negative (words like bad) the words in the message are. Emails that were slightly to moderately positive OR slightly to moderately negative elicited between 5-15% more responses than emails that were completely neutral.

We would advise against both excessive flattery and writing hostile, day-ruining screeds. Poisonously negative emails were less likely than even neutral emails to get a response, and extremely positive emails did little better.
Message length data
The sweet spot for email length is between 50-125 words, yielding response rates above 50%. While average emails from Jeb and Hillary clock in at 10 and 9 words respectively, unless you're running for President, sending emails that short mean you'll sacrifice about 30% of your responses. Response rates slowly declined from 125 word messages to 500 word messages, then fell faster after that. So if you need to send War and Peace, you might want to send it as an attachment!  
Subject length data
Email marketing veterans know that testing subject lines is a critical step in designing an email campaign that will have a high open rate. Likewise, the length of your subject line impacts response rates, and the optimal length is shorter than we expected. Subject lines with only 3-4 words (excluding email conventions like Re: and Fwd:) received the most responses. Including some sort of subject line is critical: only 14% of messages without any subject line at all received a response.
Reading Grade Level Data
Our most surprising finding was that the reading grade level of your emails has a dramatic impact on response rates. Emails written at a 3rd grade reading level were optimal, providing a 36% lift over emails written at a college reading level and a 17% higher response rate than emails written at a high school reading level.

The main components of reading grade level scores are the number of syllables in your words and the number of words in your sentences. So try using shorter sentences and simpler words than you normally would. You can check your content's reading grade level in the Word Count tool in most word processors, or search for “Flesch Kincaid grade level" to find a multitude of online tools.
Question Data
Subjectivity Data
The number of questions you ask in an email has a sweet spot, just like the number of words you write. We found that emails that asked 1-3 questions are 50% more likely to get a response than emails asking no questions. But a bombardment of questions won't help you either - an email with 3 questions is 20% more likely to get a response than an email with 8 or more!
If your natural writing style has a “just the facts, ma'am" bias, you should consider including more opinions and more subjectivity into your messages! The more opinionated the content of the email, the higher the response rate climbed. One caveat - we have no idea if those subjective emails generated positive responses or declarations of war, so caveat writer!

February 16, 2016

Getting Things Done

Your ability to generate power is 

directly proportional to your ability to relax.

also from David Allen:

Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. 
It comes from not finishing what they've started