Sunset at DoubleM Systems (DBLM.com), Del Mar, California

Saturday, November 21, 2020

First Time Founder Lessons



Lesson #1: Listen to users to resuscitate revenue that's flat-lined.
"A lot of people that design products are in the mindset of, 'I will magically imagine some perfect product and I will pass it down as a gift to my users.' But that’s very rare. It’s usually the other way around — existing users talk about what they wish brands would do, but that feedback isn’t incorporated into the product design."

Lesson #2: You're going to screw up key hires — it's all about how you course correct. “One of my biggest mistakes as a first-time founder was executive hiring. It took us awhile to realize that the most important thing was that we needed to hire people who had already done exactly what we needed them to do — not a similar thing on a different scale."

Lesson #3: When it comes to advisors, bring more on and dedicate more time with them. “A lot of people don’t structure their advisors correctly. Most of the time you have coffee with them once, you tell them what you’re up to, they tell you what they did, and then you maybe talk to them once or twice again – that’s it. I would meet with my advisors for maybe 20 hours a week on average for a year — maybe even more in some cases. Our target was three advisors per major function."

Lesson #4: Proactively manage burnout for yourself and your team. "One of the biggest risks to company performance is founder burnout. It’s the CEO’s job to present and communicate in a certain way our commitment and focus and excitement. If that’s not lined up, there’s going to be a lot of ripples, and it can be dangerous."

Lesson #5: Spot long-term problems, make unpopular calls, and stick to your guns. "If we’re going to go under, it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t do what I thought we needed to. Or I didn’t do what I thought was right because it was too hard or other people might not have liked it."

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Audiobooks vs. Podcasts vs. Videos vs. Books



Audiobooks, Podcasts and Videos have the advantage that you can consume them hands-free, so you can be doing something else at the same time.

However, that advantage is also a major disadvantage. If you can be doing something else, then you most likely will  be doing something else, and with the reduced attention to the content, you will most likely miss important parts of the content.

Books require your full attention. You will find it difficult and dangerous to try to read a book while driving, walking, etc.  :)

Another disadvantage of podcasts and videos is that important content can not easily be bookmarked for later review. With books, this is easy.

Further disadvantages with audiobooks, podcasts and videos is that they are intended for serial consumption; that is you must start from the beginning and go to the end. It is easy go get bored with introductory material in these formats, and assume that you already know it all, and not persist with the content to find the true gems of knowledge. Books make it easy to skip around, to scan for chapter titles that are more interesting and to skip over stuff you already know.

If you really want to learn something, choose a book every time, take notes, and put what you learn to use in your daily life and/or your systems and processes in your business.

For maximum leverage, give a copy of important books to existing and prospective team members, and continue to reinforce the key points in 1-1 and team meetings. 

Review the concept of the essential nature of a Company Library.

Friday, October 30, 2020

National Checklist Day

 



If you pride yourself on your organizational skills, then put a check mark next to National Checklist Day on October 30, a cherished holiday which keeps our lives together. The more complex our lives get, the easier it is to make mistakes. Today, we celebrate the humble checklist as the innovative tool that has stood the test of time.

HISTORY OF NATIONAL CHECKLIST DAY

Without checklists, we can feel like we’re juggling a bunch of balls in the air and trying to keep them from dropping. Even the simple things can be forgotten or go unnoticed — let alone the difficult or complex things that fill our day. Although success in any endeavor is not guaranteed, armed with an organized checklist, you stand a better chance of achieving your goals. 

So, is National Checklist Day the result of a reformed hoarder or the work of an obsessive compulsive freak? Definitely not! But you might be surprised to learn that checklists came out of a need to keep pilots safe during WWII. 

The first checklist resulted from a crash that injured several people, killing at least two on a Boeing Model 299 B-17 plane in 1935. The 299 was heralded as the most state-of-the-art aircraft at the time. During the post-crash investigation, Boeing discovered that the pilot had forgotten to do a simple task — turn off the elevator lock. This simple omission caused the aircraft not to respond to pitch control, leaving the plane vulnerable. 

According to a report by two university professors in a 1990 study, cockpit checklists serve several key functions in aviation safety, “… to ensure that the crew will properly configure the airplane for any given segment of flight” and to create “…standardization in the cockpit.” Also, memory of the safety procedures can never take the place of the actual checklist in aviation. 

So, if a checklist can keep us flying safely in the air, what better way to keep our lives organized and running smoothly on the ground? American companies also use checklists as successful training tools. Now that you know the origins of the National Checklist Day, check that off your list and enjoy the rest of the day!

The Pitch Deck From Hell

 

source: https://dilbert.com/strip/2020-10-29
 


For some totally excellent advice on doing your pitch deck the right way, see this post from First Round Capital


Friday, September 25, 2020

Buffett's 4 Choices Separating Doers from Dreamers

 


Common sense, yes. But for many of us, it's not common practice. That is, until we become believers that the principles actually work. All you need to do is act on them with positive intent.

1. Pick your friends wisely.

Buffett has taught so many lessons appealing to our common sense. One of them was recently highlighted in Bill Gates's memorable 90th-birthday message to his close friend: "Of all the things I've learned from Warren," said Gates, "the most important thing might be what friendship is all about. As Warren himself put it a few years ago when we spoke with some college students, 'You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it's important to associate with people that are better than yourself. The friends you have will form you as you go through life. Make some good friends, keep them for the rest of your life, but have them be people that you admire as well as like.'"

2. Go to bed a little smarter each day.

The fact that Buffett has achieved so much means his advice is highly sought after. He thinks anyone can do the same if they follow one simple rule: the Buffett Formula.

According to Buffett, the key to your success is to go to bed a little smarter each day. Buffett pointed out the strong similarity with investing when he said, "That's how knowledge builds up. Like compound interest."

One of the ways he famously builds his knowledge is to read. A lot. While Buffett has been known to spend 80 percent of his daily routine reading, whether or not you have time for such an ambitious goal is largely irrelevant. The point of the Buffett Formula is to make whatever progress you can and improve your life on a daily basis.

3. Improve your communication skills.

"The most important investment you can make is in yourself," said Buffett. That includes personal and professional development to propel you forward in life and business. 

Buffett invested in improving his capacity to communicate better at an early age, which he said would increase your worth: "One easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now at least is to hone your communication skills--both written and verbal." 

4. Say no.

Buffett learned a long time ago that the greatest commodity of all is time. He simply mastered the art and practice of setting boundaries for himself. That's why this Buffett quote remains a powerful life lesson:

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.



source: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/warren-buffett-says-4-choices-in-life-separate-doers-from-dreamers.html 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

EZchecklist™ Update - First Day of Autumn, 2020

 

✅ EZchecklist™ ✅


Dear Friends of EZchecklist...

Here's the mercifully brief update, with Big News:


I'm here to help, just let me know.


Michael 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Politics for the CEO


I'm an undecided voter, so please send me as many unfounded political memes, videos, rumors, conspiracy theories, outright lies, and your personal opinions as possible to help me decide... said no one, ever.

I'm not really an undecided voter, of course, and you probably aren't either, and there is virtually nothing you can post that will change anyone's mind. The percentage of undecided voters is around 10% so that means that half will go with each of the candidates, and therefore only 5% will go *your* way, so your junk political posts will have virtually zero effect on the elections. So why do we do it?
My guess is that it's a combination of frustration, monkey see / monkey do, and also because we are addicted to the endorphin hit we get when we get likes and even the hates.
None of it will have any effect on the real world, and it just creates more division.
I learned long ago that if you want to be successful in life and in business, it's a very good policy to keep your mouth shut, especially on the topics of sex, religion, and politics because you will likely alienate at least half of your audience and have no good effect at all.
Sharing juicy tidbits of news on social media is a signal that you have read the news, and you think your "friends" have not, and that they will really appreciate you telling them what is important for them to know. Do we really have friends that are so out of the loop on current events?
Let me share some news that's positive: I took a nice long walk by the ocean this morning, fresh air and sunshine, peace and quiet, while thinking good thoughts, then came home to meditate, stretch, and have a healthy breakfast. I hope that doesn't alienate anyone, and if it does, well I apologize and please delete me as a friend or unfollow...

Namasté

❤️

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

What would Bill Campbell Do?

 09-08-20

What would Bill Campbell do?

Google’s former CEO and his co-authors reflect on the wisdom of the legendary management coach, and what advice he would give in the midst of the pandemic.

What would Bill Campbell do?
[Photo: C Flanigan/Getty Images]

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against racial injustice, we are often asked, “What would Bill do?” The Bill in question is Bill Campbell, our late friend and coach, and the subject of Trillion Dollar Coach, the book we published about him last year.  

Bill Campbell was a head football coach at Columbia University, who, upon entering the business world at age 39, rose to executive positions at Apple and the CEO role at Claris, Go, and Intuit. Subsequently, Bill became the executive coach to a number of Silicon Valley executives. He was a revered behind-the-scenes voice in our business; the mentor to dozens—if not hundreds—of leaders, ourselves included. Bill passed away in 2016, and we feel his loss this year more acutely than ever.  

Bill would have turned 80 on August 31. “What would Bill do?” In light of his birthday, we’ve been thinking about him often, and asking ourselves the same question. Here’s what we think he would say.  

IT’S STILL THE PEOPLE

Bill coached us that the top priority of any leader is the well-being and success of their people. Today, that is more critical than ever. People’s lives are in upheaval; they need to know that their manager and company leadership has their back. Executives will work on strategies, plans, and processes, but none of those matter if your people aren’t well.  

LEAD WITH EMPATHY

Bill coached us to start team meetings with trip reports, as a way to get people talking about their lives and perspectives outside of their roles at work. Today, however, we think he would tell us to start with empathy.  

Begin every day, every speech, every team meeting with a reflection on our shared humanity. While each of us are affected in different ways, some of us are fortunate in our circumstances, while millions of others have been hit hard by the pandemic, the economy, and racial injustices. Share your empathy, not just once, but often, for those who are suffering.

We always want to jump in and get to work. Before you do, consider: did something happen in the world overnight or over the weekend that may be affecting people on your team? Or you? Are they dealing with circumstances beyond work that are taking a toll? If so, then start by acknowledging that. They aren’t looking for you to solve their problems, but they need you to see and validate them.  

BE PRESENT

Bill was a champion listener. You always had his attention. Your colleagues deserve the same from you.

Bill was at his best face-to-face, but we don’t have that option today. Whenever you can, use videoconferencing. Keep the camera on, and look into it to create eye contact. Put the phone away, close other screens, unmute the microphone, and do what you can to communicate physically (nod, laugh, clap, raise your hand). Bill was the king of hugs; we’re sure he would have figured out a way to hug virtually.  

WE KNOW . . . MORE MEETINGS? REALLY? YES!”

This may all seem like basic digital hygiene, but it’s so easy to forget and slip into bad habits. Videoconferencing is the best option we have to stay close to people, so we need to do our best to use it well.

Create reasons to meet with people, and for them to meet with each other. The danger of working from home isn’t loss of productivity, it’s the loss of energy that comes from people running into each other in the office. Working from home eliminates those positive serendipitous interactions that happen naturally in an office environment. Do your best to make up for that by creating reasons to meet. This will energize both of you. We know . . . more meetings? Really? Yes! 

TO CARE ABOUT PEOPLE, CARE ABOUT PEOPLE

We knew an executive at Google that Bill refused to coach, because said leader didn’t really care about his people. That’s not an option today. For people to succeed while working in a crisis, they need to know that their leaders and colleagues actually care about them. Companies can express caring by having employee-friendly policies; people need to go beyond that.  

Fortunately, in some ways it is easier today to care about others, because when we are on a videoconference with someone, we are usually looking right into their homes. There are family pictures on the wall behind them, random bits of sports gear stacked in the corner, a cat, dog, toddler, or teen strolling by in the background. What would Bill do? He wouldn’t ignore the passerby or prized pictures—he would ask about them. He would invite the kid into the videoconference and chat with them. How do they like attending school from home? Are they being nice to their parents? In fact, we could envision the home tour taking over the meeting with Bill, so curious was he about the whole person.   

By the way, remember that people are scrutinizing your background, too. We are on lots of videoconferences where people use fake or blurred backgrounds, but Bill would tell us that’s a bad idea. Let people see your home! But keep it real. Keep family photos and keepsakes visible, put books on the shelves that you have actually read, let the third-grader paintings stay taped to the wall, and if that toddler or teen wanders by, go with it. This isn’t about coming off as intellectual or perfect; it’s about coming off as you.  

TEAM FIRST

When confronted with a problem, Bill wouldn’t dig into the problem, he would dig into the team. Who is working the problem? How are they working together? You can’t get anything done without a team, Bill often said. So how’s your team doing? Perhaps you have attended to them as individuals, but what are you doing to ensure the team is healthy?

NOT EVERYONE IS EQUAL IN THE BURDENS THEY MAY BE EXPERIENCING OUTSIDE OF WORK.”

There’s a phrase going around Silicon Valley: while all of us are in the same storm, we are each in different boats. Individual employees should be given the flexibility to take the time and actions necessary to ensure their health and well-being and that of their family. Since not everyone is equal in the burdens they may be experiencing outside of work, some team members may not be able to do as much, and others may have to pick it up. This is what great teams do, and you should expect it of yours too.  

Expect it, but also acknowledge it. Be empathetic and supportive of the people who need to take care of things outside of work, but also of those who step in and do more.   

LEADERS LEAD 

We tell a story in Trillion Dollar Coach of one CEO who ran into some significant issues with his company and was considering stepping down. Bill stepped in and chewed him out, telling him, in effect, that when times are challenging, that’s when leaders have to lead.

These times are challenging! If we were to complain to Bill about that, he would empathize, check on our well-being and that of our families, then kick us in the ass and tell us to get to work.

HAVE A PLAN

Let’s be realistic. The pandemic which is keeping many of us from going into the office, traveling, or even going to our favorite restaurants is not going away anytime soon. Have a plan for at least the next year that assumes the current environment is more or less unchanged. Whether that means working from home or creating safe work environments, assume this isn’t temporary. This is our new normal, so plan that way.

On the other hand, don’t make permanent decisions based on the current environment.  We are all in a period of uncertainty and must do our best to accommodate one another.  We should assume those accommodations will last at least a year. But Bill would likely counsel us that decisions around commuting and our work environments and locations are best not made in times of crisis. We may well discover that some teams and functions can succeed remotely, but others cannot. Let’s do that evaluation ex post and not ex ante.

BE HONEST

Bill never hesitated to tell it to us straight. He would identify the biggest problem in the room and bring it out, front and center. Do your teams the same honor. Tell them the facts, as you know them. Trust that they can handle it.  

BE THEIR EVANGELIST FOR COURAGE 

Bill was a constant cheerleader for his teams. He would stand and clap in meetings to celebrate peoples’ accomplishments. In the face of challenges, people need this sort of support. So don’t forget to channel Bill and be a cheerleader. Let them know they can do it. When someone does something remarkable, don’t just nod and mutter “good job.” Get excited! Clap, woohoo, and whistle! A crisis is an enervating slog. Bring the energy.  

DECISIONS STILL AREN’T ABOUT CONSENSUS

Bill often growled about how much he disliked consensus. He thought it’s a terrible way to make decisions. Rather, managers should create room for all perspectives to be heard, and if the best decision doesn’t emerge from that conversation, they should break the tie and expect everyone to rally behind the decision.  

WHATEVER YOU DO, HOWEVER YOU DECIDE TO LEAD, DO IT WITH LOVE.”

These principles are as true today as ever, but we see instances emerging that may need a more deft touch. Many questions are coming up now—What happens after the pandemic? How do we address systemic racism?—that are about longer term issues. They cannot be resolved in a single answer or single step. Yet our tendency as leaders in a crisis may be to respond with a quick answer. There is a sense of urgency about these issues, and we don’t want to seem indecisive.  

But as Bill would tell us, you can’t be sure you make the right decision, but you can be sure you run the right decision-making process. When these questions come up, respond with a truthful process answer, then spend time with the teams to run a good process to get to the answer. It may go against instincts, but it is often better to give a softer process answer, which gives you time and will lead to a better outcome.  

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Your mindset as a leader has a tremendous impact on your teams, as does the example you set by your behavior. You are just vulnerable to the effects of stress as anyone else on your team, so check in regularly on your own well-being, mental and physical. Take real vacation and close the laptop at night. This gives everyone else on your team permission to do the same.  

OUR ASSIGNMENT

At the end of our coaching sessions with Bill, he would give us an assignment for the next session, something to think about and work on. With this article, we give you our interpretation of how Bill would coach us today. But everyone’s situation is different, so your assignment from us is to think about Bill’s principles and decide how to best apply them for your situation. How are you going to take care of your people and teams, and lead them? What are you going to do differently? Now that you know what Bill would do, what will you do?

Bill was an optimist. He was full of love for life, for his family, for his friends and community. We hope that Bill’s principles will inspire and help you. Perhaps you will make a change in how you lead in a time of such turmoil. So here’s one more assignment. Whatever you do, however you decide to lead, do it with love. That’s what Bill would do.


Eric Schmidt served as Google CEO and chairman from 2001 until 2011, Google executive chairman from 2011 to 2015, and Alphabet executive chairman from 2015 to 2018. He is the co-founder of Schmidt Futures.

Jonathan Rosenberg was a Senior Vice President at Google and is an adviser to the Alphabet management team. He ran the Google product team from 2002 to 2011.

Alan Eagle has been a director at Google since 2007. Formerly Eric and Jonathan’s speechwriter, he currently runs a set of Google’s sales programs.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90548045/what-would-bill-campbell-do



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Startups for Love and Money

Startups for Love and Money: Six extraordinary startup adventures, past and present by [Michael McCafferty]

Pre-publication Kindle ebook

Only 99 cents during introductory period

All proceeds to this worthy cause


 First Review, unsolicited:

Reviewed in the United States on August 24, 2020

In Start Ups for Love and Money, McCafferty takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the software start-up world, 
revealing his rich wisdoms along the way. It's a fun and fascinating ride. 
Amazing to think one guy has had all of these experiences and is willing to share them with us--successes and failures. 
You can read this book in one sitting and walk away feeling as though you just broke bread with a t
rue entrepreneurial guru. I loved it and learned a lot from it.

Steve Bierman MD