Computer Guy

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Business Execution for Results

Business Execution for RESULTS: A practical guide for leaders of small to mid-sized firms should be required reading for founders and CEOs of small businesses.

Some of what you will learn in this excellent book:

- Why it all starts with a big goal
- The importance of strategy
- How to analyze your industry the right way
- How to choose your game and play that game to win
- Why most companies get their SWOT analyses wrong
- How to make your performance visible
- How to really hold your people accountable

In particular, I was in total agreement with his focus on building the company around structured communications as follows:
- The Annual High-Level Strategic Review
- The Quarterly Strategic Review
- The Weekly Team Meeting
- The Weekly 1-1 Meeting
- The Daily Huddle

The only meeting he didn't mention and one that I have consistently recommended, is a monthly Board of Advisors meeting. But that may be a more advanced topic for this book.

This book was named Judges' Choice Winner in the Management category of the 2014 Small Business Book Awards. The awards celebrate the best business books that appeal to entrepreneurs, managers and their employees. The Winners were chosen by an expert panel of 24 judges from the small business community in the USA. The criteria for judging the Winners included: quality and quantity of the content conveyed; usefulness to small business owners and entrepreneurs; and freshness of the subject matter or how it was treated. The level of fan support for each Winner was also taken into account.

Read this book, take action, and get Results!
Business Execution for RESULTS: A practical guide for leaders of small to mid-sized firms

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.  

Mark Twain

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Taylorism - Birth of Scientific Management

Looking back to where all this "scientific management" stuff began...

As early as the 1890s, Frederic Winslow Taylor of Philadelphia became the Father of what has come to be known as Scientific Management, or "Taylorism"), the theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows with the goal of optimizing productivity and reducing waste. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management.

Taylor observed that most workers who are forced to perform repetitive tasks tend to work at the slowest rate that goes unpunished. This, and other observations, led him to develop policies such as rest breaks, piece work incentives, time and motion studies, etc.

Once scientific management started, it was a genie that could not be put back into the bottle, and today's Toyota Production System, and Kaizen's focus on continuous improvement are merely the evolution of Taylor's insights. Beyond manufacturing, his findings have even been applied to sales process engineering.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Help Wanted: Admin. Assistant

Help wanted: 

Administrative assistant 
experienced with Mac, word processing, and spreadsheets. 

Part-time, flexible hours.
Work from home with occasional visits to Del Mar office.

Tell a friend, or 
send your resumé and pay requirements to 

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don't Drink and Thrive

Research shows that just holding a drink in your hand (and NOT drinking) at a business networking event will reduce your apparent IQ by 10-20 points, and make you less likely to get that great job, or that new client.

So, tell me again why you drink at business functions?  It just doesn't make sense.

However, AFTER work, and with team members ONLY, having a pint or a glass of wine will actually help with team bonding.

Bottom line: never drink at a business function. Period. It's the smart move.

Check out the full story here:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Venn-erable advice

Be in the star zone!

Source: LinkedIn:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Startup Secret: a "Dream Woman"

Last Friday there was a Business Insider story about a startup in SF that advertised on craigslist for a "Gal Friday / Admin Assistant" who would be responsible for all the typical admin stuff, plus cooking, cleaning, and shopping. The story made a big thing about the cooking and cleaning part because the startup wanted a woman for the job, and they figured that was over-the-top sexist.

Maybe it is sexist, but that's missing the point.

The key to success is to delegate as much as humanly possible, so much so that all you have left are the things that you do extraordinarily well and that are essential to the success of your business.

I'm guessing that cooking and cleaning and shopping are not your core competency, right?

I discovered this secret in 1985, when I was doing the startup that became the first CRM software product for the PC (TeleMagic).  As the solo founder, I was doing it all: programming, sales, support, writing documentation... you name it. Sometimes I would be so in the Zone doing programming that I would completely miss one or two meals! And when I would come out of these marathon coding stints, with a raging hunger, there would be nothing in the refrigerator because I hate to shop, and hate to prepare meals, and it would be 3 in the morning and the only food available was Denny's... yuk.

That's no way to live, and certainly not a healthy lifestyle. So I decided to do something about it and put a free ad in the local Reader with the one word headline: SOUP!  You see, I figured that soup is the perfect food, for me, in that it can be heated up fast, and yet relatively simple to make, with a relatively long refrigeration life.

The first applicant was hired on the spot, and lasted for 6 months until she moved away with her boyfriend. She suggested a friend, Carol, for the job, and I took her suggestion.

It was the smartest move I ever made. Carol has been making soup, and more***, for me for 28+ years! Of course she also does the shopping for food, and the cleanup, but over the years she has taken on more and more. It's just amazing how many things are not my core competency!  :)  Gradually she took on laundry, closet organization, supplier interactions (no more dealing with the phone/cable/utility companies!), plant care, clothes shopping, and eventually I even showed her how to do the monthly financial reports, paying the bills... well, the list is now very long.

And the best part is that everything is documented in a System for Household Management**, so that when Carol is on vacation she can delegate the work without missing a beat.

Although she never worked for my company directly, Carol became such an integral part of my startup team that she was awarded bonuses equal to everyone else in the profit sharing pool.  I couldn't have succeeded so well without her.

In the spirit of Delegation, I strongly recommend that you find your "Dream Woman"* as early in your startup adventure as possible.

"Whatever you can do, or Dream you can, Begin it.  
Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it.  Begin it Now!"


* "Dream Woman" is not my phrase. Business Insider used it in their headline for the story.
** Want a copy of my System for Household Management?  Email me.
*** Carol's Cuisine: some of my favorite vegan recipes prepared by Carol. Includes the story of how it all got started.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stragedy: Tragic end of bad strategy

I'm usually a very optimistic kind of guy. I like thinking about positive outcomes, and how to create them for my clients.

But today, Friday the 13th, seemed like an appropriate day to be thinking about startup failures, and why they occur. The importance of strategy crossed my mind as being of great importance. Then the thought of flawed strategy, so common in startup land, got me to playing with a new word, a portmanteau of strategy and tragedy; kind of a tongue-twister: stragedy.

At first, I thought that it was the Bushism (strategery) but that didn't express the disaster of poorly thought-out strategy. I found the word at Urban Dictionary!

a plan that has the conviction of forethought, 
but which is so disastrous 
it begs for hindsight before it is even implemented.

How many startups have you seen that were merely features that could easily be programmed into existing businesses? These business models that recreate another product but with only one small feature to differentiate the product are a sure recipe for failure.

Or a startup team that has no experience whatsoever in the business they are trying to disrupt. 

Many startups are based on a product idea that has never been validated in the marketplace.

But let's not focus so much on the bad strategies; let's consider how to create good ones. Check out these resources:

The Perils of Bad Strategy - a quick read that includes definitions, examples of good and bad strategy and thoughts on "the kernel of good strategy"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

First Time CEO (Marissa)

"The interesting thing about being CEO 
is that you have very few decisions you need to make, 
and you need to make them absolutely perfectly."

Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo

When I first read that quote, I related to the stress in the statement.  You need to make big decisions, and they need be perfect (or bad things will happen). These are not situations to be taken lightly. It's a high-stakes poker game. In Marissa's statement is the recognition that she is playing all-in on every big hand. The fear of being wrong is a heavy burden, and can lead to over-thinking, delay, and the worst possible outcome: not making a decision at all.

This is Marissa's first CEO job, and so she has a lot to learn, but she's got to learn it on-the-job, quickly.

Of course, no human is perfect, and therefore we can not expect any CEO to make all the decisions "absolutely perfectly".  When she said this she was probably still smarting from her $58 Million dollar mistake of hiring the wrong sales manager.  She hired him quickly and then she waited for 15 months before firing him! As a rookie CEO, Marissa violated one of the most elemental principles of success in business: 

"Hire slow, fire fast."

In lists of the biggest regrets by CEOs, the one that always makes it near the top is the regret of having waited too long before firing someone. After all, who really likes to fire someone? Not fun. And the worst part is that you have to admit that you made a mistake in the first place by hiring that person. Double not-fun. Then there's all that work of finding a replacement, getting them up to speed, time lost, distractions, yadda, yadda, yadda. Maybe the person will finally "get it"...  Yeah, when pigs fly, maybe.

The practical advice for first time CEOs is to not worry about being perfect, and to move resolutely forward, making decisions that you know can be / will be flawed, and resolve that when it becomes obvious that a decision turns sour, to act quickly to address the issue.

See also:
GigaOm: The CEO's weekly checklist
Quora: Advice for a young, first-time startup CEO