Computer Guy

Computer Guy
Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Friday, May 30, 2014

What Great Salespeople Do

There is only one essential book on sales excellence: 

I highly recommend it.

Get it on Amazon:  Click Here Now

Read it over the weekend,
and transform your business on Monday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Take Notes!

It is absolutely amazing to me that people who should know the simplest, most elementary things, just DON'T. It is as if a part of their brain is missing.

If you ask them about this thing they don't do, they will agree with you that they should, but for some reason, they just don't DO what they know very well what they should do.

For example: taking notes.

A couple of weeks ago I was one of 4 entrepreneurs invited to work with some students in a simulated "Shark Tank" event. My job was to listen to presentations of about 10 individuals/teams and give them feedback. 

Not one single student took notes! And these are students! I'm assuming that they take notes in their classes, right?  It should be a habit, right?

A few months ago I was one of a group of entrepreneurs who helped a team of two experienced business executives prepare their business plans for presentation to a group of investors.

When the big day came, neither of these executives took notes of the feedback!

What's up with that?
Do these people have eidetic memories, or hyperthymesia?
It is highly improbable, of course.

Imagine: you have worked many long hours on your ideas, and you finally get the very rare opportunity to share it with people who have great experience with this sort of thing, and they give you some very valuable feedback, and you don't even take notes?

Seriously, do you think you can remember everything you were told?

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”


The wikipedia article calls taking notes a form of self-discipline. I agree, and amplify that by saying that it is one of the better habits a business person can form.

But beyond that, it is a form of respect for the person to whom you are listening. 

When they see that you are diligently taking notes, they will be impressed with your seriousness of purpose, and want to help you even more. Taking notes is an indicator of your coachability. If you are coachable, you will get more of it. If not, you will be dropped for someone who is. Life is too short to waste with dullards.

Learning from your own experience may be Smart, but it is expensive and time consuming.
Learning from others' experience is Wise.

Take Notes!

Technology makes it easy. I recommend to my coaching clients to record our meetings on their smartphones, so they can pay full attention during our meetings, and then play the audio sometime later, when they can take notes from the recording. I recommend this, and it is just completely amazing to me how few actually do this. Is it laziness, or are these people just not highly motivated? 

Show me a man who takes notes and I will do extra work to help them.  

Show me a man who takes notes, and actually does something with them, and I will move heaven and earth to help them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Being Resilient

Staying Resilient Through the Ups and Downs

Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.

You have big ideas. You know you're going to make it, it may just take some time, possibly a lot of time. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, great days and horrible ones. You love your job one day and wish you worked for "the man" the next. But you're resilient. You will hold onto the hope you started with and power through each challenge - because it's your job.

Here are five ways to stay resilient and motivated.

1. Find a mentor. Being able to talk through your worries with someone who can offer up real advice and will keep your head in the game. Find someone you can trust, who understands the ins and outs of your industry and you can learn from.

2. Get out of the office. Exercise can make you happy, even if it's as simple as a long walk. If you don't think you have time, make it. Get up earlier, quit working so late or take a 30-minute mid-day break. It will kick up your endorphins and make you more creative.

3. Surround yourself with positive people. Being around happy people will motivate you. Whether it's the people you hire or the regulars at the coffee shop, find space to be inspired by others.

4. Give back. When you give to others, you get so much more in return. Join a group that gives back to the community. People who give tend to be more positive.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mass email pre-flight checklist

Of course you have your own checklist that you use to create the best possible outcomes from your email marketing campaigns.

But is it this well done?

The first thing I liked about it is the way it is broken up into sections, making it a lot easier to use because each of the sections is bite-sized. The sections make it more organized than just a long, long list that is pure chaos.  You probably did the same thing with your checklist, right?  Of course you did!

One thing I would add to the checklist is a post-email checklist to determine if you achieved your goals, and what you can do better next time.

I love that they call it a pre-flight checklist. Did you know that checklists were developed to help pilots deal with the ever-growing complexity of aircraft. It was a matter of life and death. (Read the true story) Your email marketing campaign is also a matter of life and death, of your business.

Use checklists! And continue to improve them.

Recommended book: The Checklist Manifesto

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Clearly Defined Goals

In the absence of clearly defined goals,
we become strangely loyal to 
performing daily trivia
until ultimately we become enslaved by it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Epic Fails in the Startup World

The New Yorker magazine has a nifty little piece with the headline: Epic Fails in the Startup World, which completely fails to deliver on the promise of the headline.  It never names a single Epic Fail in the Startup World.  Instead it focuses on some drivers of the fact that startups fail at a huge margin over successes.

Over-confidence is a big reason for startup failure.  To my way of thinking, another way to phrase that is just plain old stupid. It's the kind of stupidity that is sometimes characterized by the guy who says: "Hold my beer and watch this!". The most epic fails that follow sometimes get publicized by earning a place in the Darwin Awards.

But I'll bet that the rate of failure of startups is vastly understated. I'll bet that the conventional estimates of 80% of startups fail is low, and that the number is much more likely at 95% or more. This is likely true because many/most startups never get reported as starting up. The question becomes: "When does a startup become a startup?" A lot like "When Does Life Begin?"

If a startup exists at conception of the idea, then probably 99% of startups fail. Most never get past the idea stage. You probably have a few of those yourself. I know I've gone through a few of those. But of course they were never reported to anyone keeping statistics on startup failures. And, by the way, who the heck is keeping track of these things anyway?

It's not just the failures that are worrisome, it's the walking dead. Those are the startups that just keep hanging in there, in that ugly space between the champagne and burnt toast. These are a testament to the motto: "You can't fail if you don't quit!" Someone should put them out of their misery, and let them go on to fail at something else, just for the variety of it all.

Speaking of going on to something else, one point that the New Yorker article debunks is the conventional wisdom that an entrepreneur who fails once has a better chance of success the second time around. Absolutely wrong. Stupid is stupid. Ain't no cure for stupid. Or, as Forest Gump says: "Stupid is as stupid does". Yet even with all his stupid, he went on to startup a successful shrimp fishing business. Of course, that was just in the movies, not real life.

Take heart, startup people, success is right around the corner!

Or is it?

Here's a startup that analyzes startup failures:  (check the videos)
The biggest analysis of startup success and failures is The Startup Genome: Compass

These resources are important because it's better to get smart from other people's stupid than from your own. People who learn from other people's experiences get smart fast. People who don't learn from other people's experiences will fail at a much greater rate. That's one of the best reasons for having a Board of Advisors.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Startup Fun Formula

New client: Idea stage startup.  Clear goal.  Needs plan of Action.
Estimates of the costs to achieve the goal are provided.
Here's my reply:

This is an excellent start at gathering real numbers to use in your planning.

Of course:

"The larger the island of knowledge, 
the longer the shoreline of wonder"  


The clarity of your numbers will shape your Plan of Action.

A number that is very important, and still unknown, is
the amount of Cash you are starting with, right now,
and how much more are you willing and able to put into the adventure
over the next, say, 24 months.

Add to that:
The amount of Cash you figure you can raise from "friends and family"
either in the form of loans or equity investments,
or from selling your assets (home, car, gold bars, etc).

Plus credit cards and personal bank loan capability to finance the adventure.​

I'm assuming that the sum of those numbers is close to zero.
And that's ok, all is not lost,
it just means we need to Act accordingly.

Lots of Cash is available, from many other sources
such as Grants, and Sales of Products and/or Services to Customers.
Sales is my favorite because you don't sell equity or have to pay it back.

Another number that is missing is Time (T),
the hours per day that you, and others, will dedicate to this adventure.
Beware if your answer to this question is anything other than:
"Every waking hour, day and night, weekends,
from now until the end of Time... I am obsessed."

With constraints (Cash and Time) known,
your options become much clearer.

The next step is to lay these cash Inflows (I) out in a spreadsheet,
so you can see, by month, when and how much cash is available.

The obvious next step is to enter your cash Outflows (O), by month,
(just estimates of course).

The simple equation reveals the Truth:

Fun ($) = (C + I - O) * T

Avoid activities that produce negative Fun.
Optimize activities that produce positive Fun.

It's a game.
Sort of like a plate-spinning act.

The different plates represent different types of Activities
that are required in the startup:
Product Development, Admin, Support, Sales, Finance, HR, Board of Advisors, etc.

The founder/CEO is the only plate spinner, at first.
To scale up the adventure he must Delegate
as much as humanly possible to others who will be reliable spinners.

To attract human resources to optimize Time,
the entrepreneur uses the power of Story
to communicate the Vision, the Message, the Call to Action.
The Plan of Action.

The Story needs to be Written Down.

This is your Next Step.

Write the Story.