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

Friday, September 17, 2021

Work, Inspiration, Delegation

 The true value of a leader is not measured by the work they do.

A leader's true value is measured by 

the work they inspire others to do.

Simon Sinek



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

CEO Job #1


The CEO/entrepreneur's #1 job is communication. 

And yet...

The problem with communication is 
the illusion it has been achieved. 
George Bernard Shaw



The CEO communicates the Dream, the Mission, Vision, Strategy, Goals, Plans, The Problem We Solve, How People Will Feel Better because of what we do, etc.

The CEO communicates to existing and prospective team members, customers, suppliers, investors. the press, etc.

The CEO has limited time and yet must communicate the message to potentially billions so that they take action.

There are many media of communication, including in person, phone call, online live video chat, 1-1, small group, large groups, email, text, mail, video YouTube, website, etc.

With all this communicating going on, the clever CEO will create a System for Effective Communication so that every iteration will drive continuous improvement in effectiveness considering speed, cost, and results.

The medium selected for the communication depends on factors such as audience (size, demographics, cost per result achieved, etc. 

Consider an example: A pre-revenue startup that needs to communicate to billions of potential users for the purpose of getting them to download an app would likely want to choose video, probably 1-2 minutes in length. The video would be hosted with YouTube, Vimeo, and website. The audience would click through to the video from search, email links, and ads on search and social media. Before a video can be made, the Message must be clear, and the video storyboarded. And there must be a system to measure the results of the video. This feedback goes into the changes for the next version of the video.

The same video should also motivate investors, paying customers, and prospective team members to join in the adventure.

Regardless of the medium, the message itself must be Brief, Clear, Powerful, and Get Results. The message must be continuously improved through Testing. A typical Message for a pre-revenue startup mentioned above would state the Problem and the Solution and have a Call to Action. Ideally, the Message would have some element of humor to be memorable and encourage sharing.

The above gives some idea of the potential complexities of communication, and CEOs who are unfamiliar with the challenges involved are advised to create and continuously improve their System for Effective Communication.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

First Major Startup

I was doing startups before the word startup was used...

Just found in the archives, from 50 years ago, the annual report where my startup was featured, along with this awful photo. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What's More Important?

 


Sunset is in an hour,

There's nothing I have to do until then.
One solid hour, I can do anything I want.

I could lie in the hammock
listen to the surf, 
and enjoy the rest of the day slip by,
maybe take a nap and dream of flying the biplane...
That sounds really good.

Or, I could do email, or watch a few YouTube videos, or see what's happening on Facebook, Twitter, Clubhouse, Snapchat, TikTok, Netflix, Amazon Prime video, or even LinkedIn. Lots of choices!

Or I could do something on my More Important List. 

Given the opportunity to really think about it, surely there are things more important than social media. And yet, here we are!

That's why I'm making a More Important List, to stick on the laptop/phone/tv. I'll add to it from time to time, and move some things to the top of the list and bingo: a Most Important List. 

Here are a few things I just put on my More Important List:

Family and friends: call, write, text, schedule a meetup.

Organize, Optimize, Simplify this work is never done and is highly rewarding.

Exercise: I can always use just a little more.

Write: Social media is for creators not consumers.

Read a book. I read a lot but I always have lots of books waiting for me. 

Hammock nap, dozing off to the sounds of the surf.

Learn something. Right now, I want to learn about web scraping. And there are a few good classes I can start anytime I want on MasterClass, which is a totally excellent gift my son Mike gave me for Father's day. I've already taken courses on Writing, Comedy, Poker, Chess, and my next one is going to be Negotiation.

Music. Just kick back and relax and have a good Think.

Meditate. Be still, and Breathe. Smile. Repeat.

​I feel better already now that I actually have a More Important List. That hammock is calling my name. Glad I put that on the list!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Wisdom

 

By three methods we may learn wisdom:

First, by reflection, which is noblest;

Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and

Third, by experience, which is the bitterest.

Confucius

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Should you pay a mentor?

 🔥 SHOULD YOU PAY A MENTOR?

It’s a question I hear almost daily.

And the answer I give is this... 👇 

Let’s look at it from a different perspective…
 
If a mentor CAN HELP YOU…

🔥 Remember your ‘why’
🔥 Create a plan to make it a reality
🔥 Keep you on track
🔥 Get more leads, more consistently
🔥 Convert more leads, more consistently
🔥 Keep your customers for longer
🔥 Increase the value of each customer
🔥 Introduce new products and services
🔥 Streamline your operations
🔥 Turn your business into a repeatable, scalable system
🔥 Get you working ‘on’ instead of ‘in’ your business
🔥 Be a better leader
🔥 Give you clarity over what you should be doing
🔥 Get the most out of your team
🔥 Know who to hire (and who to fire) and when
🔥 Have those difficult discussions
🔥 Get your cash-flow sorted
🔥 Find cash-flow to fund growth
🔥 Get pitch ready
🔥 Find and connect with the right investors
 
And if they can;

💪 Open your eyes to ideas you hadn’t thought of
💪 Be your sounding board and voice of reason
💪 Pat your back when you do good
💪 Be your spark when you get stuck
💪 Make BETTER decisions, FASTER

And through doing so,

💙  Massively reduce your stress levels
💙  Stop you feeling overwhelmed
💙  Stop you feeling lonely/alone
💙  Save HUGE amounts of time and money that would otherwise be lost through trial and error
💙  Put the fun back in your business

Well, then...

Why WOULDN’T you pay them?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Feedback vs. Advice

 


Asking for feedback creates a critic. 

Asking for advice creates a partner.



Monday, August 9, 2021

Musk on being CEO

A recent news story it claimed that Elon Musk was hoping that Apple would buy Tesla when it was in dire straits, but Musk's condition was that he would become CEO of acquirer Apple, whose.CEO Tim Cook told him what he could do with that idea. 

Here's a recent tweet on that topic:


We all know Elon Musk is smart. What's his take on being CEO? 

"I don't want to be CEO of anything."

I gotta love it. This is some advanced thinking. And it was something I realized about 30 years ago when I got burned out on being CEO of a bootstrapped, fast growing software company that I started with absolutely nothing... no co-founder, no savings, no credit cards, no car... Getting started was easy enough, but after the business settles down to an operational routine after a few years, and the stress of all-or-nothing roll of the dice existence, what I realized is that the true secret of entrepreneurship is to recruit CEOs. The elemental fulcrum of success in business is to Recruit CEOs.

That's not exactly what Musk says, but that is certainly what he implies. 

Being a CEO is the easiest job to get, and the toughest to keep.

To get the job, just start something. And we all know that startups have a 90% failure rate, so the odds of keeping your high-pressure low pay CEO job are about as good as an ice cube in August. 

The problem is caused by the fact that as the business grows, the snowplow effect begins to manifest. The business starts running the management. Inherent friction increases. Joy turns to Fear. Not a happy place. 

The antidote is to Recruit CEOs who are better at operational skills than they are at startup skills. You, the founder, can more easily and freely and joyfully contribute most effectively by elevating yourself to Chairman of the Board and Recruit a CEO.  Be like Musk.

Full disclosure: I hired two different CEOs to take my place at TeleMagic, and they were both short timers. So it's a tough job to fill. 

Finding an operational CEO is really difficult. They are much different than what is needed for a startup CEO. And few successful startup CEOs can evolve into successful operational CEOs.

It's a high stress, low pay, 24/7, high turnover, thankless and lonely job.

Of course there are the few outliers like Musk, Jobs, etc who make it look easy, but the vast majority of CEOs are treading water, fearing death. They need help. Most CEOs never get the help they need and suffer in solitude until everything falls apart. Many find help in the community of other CEOs in groups like Vistage, YPO, Ycombinator, etc. 

Others recruit an executive coach. Their best day will come when their coach suggests they Recruit a CEO.

-----------------

Update:

Inc. Magazine published recently picked up the story, focusing on the huge money Musk makes as CEO, but Musk himself is not really all about the money.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pitch Deck: What Investors Want

Are you getting your point across? Probably not.


That is one of the most popular lines in any movie ever made, because it represents one of the most challenging things for a human being: to communicate effectively, so that the other person gets what you mean, and wants to do what you are asking.

The problem with communication is 
the illusion it has been achieved.
GB Shaw

You know what you mean when you say certain words, but how do you know that the person you are talking to is understanding what you mean? Unfortunately, you can never know what another person is thinking, but you can improve the odds that they will get your point if you follow a few simple rules.

Let's assume that you are building a pitch deck which will be viewed by VCs so that you get the money you want. And that last part is wrong. The purpose of the pitch deck is to get the VC to say "Tell me more!"  That is it. Calls and meetings come later, and probably lots of meetings before the cash is released to you. So let's focus on the true purpose of the pitch deck: To get the VC to say "Tell me more!" Nothing more than that. 

Now that we know the purpose of the deck, all other decisions must be made in support of that central purpose. 

A pitch deck is a visual product that tells a story of a profitable investment opportunity.

So what should the visual product look like? Is there a universal  standard that describes what a pitch deck should look like? Of course there is, because VCs want their work to be easy.

Users spend most of their time on other sites. 
This means that users prefer your site to work 
the same way as all the other sites they already know.
Jakob's Law of Internet User Experience

This applies absolutely to pitch decks. 

VCs get tons of pitch decks.
They need to get through them in a hurry.
Anything out of the ordinary is going to slow them down.
VCs don't like to slow down, so they go on to the next deck.

So, over the years of dealing with pitch decks, a standard has been created and this standard will work in your favor.

@NaikPrasanna

The standard has been published by Ycombinator,
the accelerator that has worked with 2000+ startups
now worth over 100 billion dollars.
They should know, right?

Click Here for the Ycombinator seed pitch deck template.

It worked for AirBnB, and YouTube, and a bunch of others.
How can you argue with that?

Be creative with your product, your marketing, your recruiting...
but when it comes to raising money, go with what works.

Remember this Law:

Ninety percent of everything is garbage.
Sturgeon's Law

Investors expect to see garbage because that's what they usually get from startups. They see a lot of startups trying to be clever. Avoid cleverness when communicating with people who have the money you want. Show them you understand what they want to see.

For that, we need only to turn to one of the most famous quotes of all time: Occam's Razor.

Simpler explanations are, other things being equal,
generally better than more complex ones.

Among competing hypotheses,
the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

Pitch Deck Checklists: 
     Pitch Deck Building Blocks

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Influence

What's old is new again. The original and still the best book on the subject of how to get people to do things without thinking, and many times live to regret it. This is a classic, and can be read more than once with ease.

What you are looking at is the cover of the new, expanded edition, published just a couple of weeks ago. 

You can't play the game if you don't know the rules.
Here's the rules.

And, as a special bonus, click below for an interview with the author on the podcast Freakonomics.

How to Get Anyone to Do Anything