Computer Guy

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

CEO School: First Principles

Elon Musk

Miyamoto Musashi
Elon Musk credits his success to "First Principles Thinking".

Here's the main idea:

“It is important to view knowledge as a sort of semantic tree. Make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”   - Elon Musk

He credits this thinking methodology to his success in his technology businesses, based on his study of Physics. Elon isn't revealing anything new here, just saying that the fundamentals of Physics have been known for a long time and he's just focusing on executing based on these principles.

What about Life? Are there First Principles that govern Life? And if we could know such principles, and apply them consistently, would they serve us well in our drive for Success in Life? And if we were successful in Life would these same principles also apply to Business?

My answer is Yes, and I think Elon would agree that the Scientific Method, Cause and Effect, applies to all of human endeavor, not just Physics. 

OK, so what are the First Principles of Life?

Allow me to introduce my favorite philosopher, Miyamoto Musashi, a most revered man in Japanese culture who wrote an extraordinary book almost 400 years ago. The Book of Five Rings is his analysis of sword fighting based on his life as an undefeated samurai warrior.  The book says nothing about business, and yet it is a fundamental training manual for people in modern business in Japan. They take business seriously!

In his advanced age, just before he died, as he was preparing to leave this life, he wrote a very short piece called Dokkodo (The Way of Walking Alone). After having mastered the life of a Warrior, and as his parting gift to all, he left us 21 lines of his best thinking of success in Life.

Here they are:

  1. Miyamoto MusashiAccept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

How To Build And Sell A Successful Software Company

This is the two part story of TeleMagic, the first CRM software product, first released in early 1985. These videos were recorded in a 2002 presentation to the IEEE, Orange County chapter about the 7-year adventure building TeleMagic, the first CRM software product, and the ultimate successful sale to Sage Group Plc.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

TeleMagic DOS in continuous use for 38 years, and counting

Gary Small, the founder/CEO of XTC Tours in Mammoth, California has been using the same DOS version of TeleMagic since 1985.  Amazing! 

Recently (January 25, 2023), I called him to get it on the record about how he runs his ski tour business and his real estate business with a copy of the original DOS version. Here's the scoop:

MM: Your name and company name and the kind of business you run.

GS:  Gary Small. I use it for my ski business, XTC Tours, my rental properties, and basically every day for all parts of my life to help stay organized.   

MM: When did you start using TeleMagic?

GS: Almost 40 years ago - the summer of 1985.

MM: How did you learn about TeleMagic?

GS: My good friend Sean Curtis from Coffee Ambassador* told me about it.

MM: How do you use TeleMagic in your business?

GS: To keep notes on everything. Sales leads, suppliers, banking, tenants, family, EVERYTHING!

MM: What you like/don't like about TeleMagic?

GS: I love how easy it is to find a record, record a note, and then forget about it. But easily find the information days, months, years after.  Don't like? Don't like what?

MM: Any problems with it?

GS: The DOS version is not easy to set up on windows machines

MM: What version of TeleMagic?

GS: DOS version - I love it. I'm a key guy, not a mouse guy.

MM: What do you do for support for TeleMagic?

GS: Call Michael! Support is very rarely needed.

MM: Where can you be reached?


XTC Tours 
World Class Winter Experiences 
for Skiers and Boarders! 

XTC Tours 
P.O. Box 100, PMB 341 
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546-0100  



*Coffee Ambassador was the very first user of TeleMagic, starting in early 1985. They used the DOS version for many years, then moved to the Windows version, but about 10 years ago started using a different product for reasons that are still a mystery. I'm sure they regret that decision!

I sent a link to this post to Rich Bohn "The oldest living independent #CRM analyst" to get his reaction.  He posted this on twitter on 2/15/23:

The True History of CRM software

Quoting from this source:

The first CRM software, TeleMagic, was released on DOS in 1985 by creator Michael McCafferty. McCafferty called the software an “electronic Rolodex” with greatly increased functionality. Telemagic did more than just store customer and prospect contact information; it could also be integrated with word processors and accounting systems to help sales prioritize leads to follow up with.

Next up was the launch of Act! by Conductor Software in 1987, a CRM application originally designed for the manufacturing industry. Act!, which is still in use today after being bought and sold many times over the past 35 years, was originally described as a “digital rolodex for storing customer contact information.”  

Unfortunately, the source goes on to state that I was partners in the founding of another CRM product in 1989, but of course that is wrong because I was still totally involved with TeleMagic until the sale in 1992.


Update 2/29/23:

Here's are a few of the earliest #CRM products:

ProductRelease DateNotes:

Thursday, February 2, 2023


In the SMB world, there seems to be a big struggle to go from $1M in EBITDA to $2M+. You can get to $1M with just good people. But to get to $2M+ you need good systems.

Chris Munn @chrisxmunn

Coach, Mentor, Advisor: What's the difference?

 I was having a session with ChatGPT-3 to find some of its better skills, and thought I'd give it a question of more use to potential clients.

I asked "What is the difference between a Coach, a Mentor, and Advisor?" The reason I asked is that various clients have referred to me as one or more of those labels based on the results of the relationship. I have always referred to myself as Advisor. Here's the AI's reply:

A Coach provides guidance, instruction and advice to help achieve specific goals or objectives. They focus on improving skills, behaviours, and performance in particular areas. A coach will help an individual take action to improve performance and reach target goals.

A Mentor is less directive in their role. They provide support and advice to their mentee, helping to create an environment for success. Mentors focus on the development of the individual holistically, providing guidance on personal development and skill acquisition, but also discussing career paths, professional networks, and life outside of work. Mentors act as sounding boards, offering honest feedback, constructive criticism, and advice to help the individual reach their desired outcome.

An Advisor is a professional who can provide advice and guidance to individuals or companies on a variety of topics, such as financial planning, investments, business decisions, legal issues, and more. An advisor’s role is to provide objective advice that takes into account the individual’s unique situation. Unlike an AI, an advisor will get to know the individual on a personal level and be able to humanize their advice because of this. Advisors may take into account a person's values, beliefs and goals, their financial situation at present and what their long term goals are. They may also have industry specific expertise and insights that can help people make informed decisions. Furthermore, advisors will provide ongoing monitoring of the customer’s portfolio or plans, as well as providing necessary updates and adjustments based on customer feedback. Ultimately, an advisor should be someone who has the client’s best interests in mind and is willing to build a lasting relationship with the customer.

There you have it. I'm not much more clear about the definitions now than I was when I started out, and I dislike labels in the first place. I've always liked the quote "To define is to limit*" and I prefer to not limit my contributions to my clients, and to keep clients' expectations unlimited.

*From Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', the quote explores how when something is given a definition, it is confined to the parameters of the definition itself and limited as a result. See more.