Monday, December 17, 2007

Less Talk And A Little More Conversation

Yesterday I was watching CBS Sunday Morning. One of the segments was on conversation - something this world of technology has helped us lose. Sure there is a lot of "talk" - emails, SMS's, blogs, countless mobile calls, social networking tools.

Words flow between all of us, but are we really communicating -- are we having conversations -- something where we are engaged, listening, actively participating with someone else? Having a conversation -- authentic communication requires a lot of each party. Each person has to commit themselves to the other, at least for a few moments in time. A conversation requires us to engage, to listen, to be involved emotionally. We are forced to connect at a human level.

One of the greatest resources on the art of conversations is a book, Fierce Conversations, Achieving Success At Work And Life, Once Conversation At A Time, by Susan Scott. It is an important book, critical for anyone interested in genuine conversations rather than words flowing back and forth.

Having conversations is tough, but imagine what you can learn.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Being A Good Customer

As a sales professional -- sometimes frustrated with certain customers, sometimes I feel like saying: "I'm doing the best I can in selling to you---you need to start being a good customer!!"

Actually, that statement is not as arrogant as it sounds. Professional sales people seek to create meaningful value for their customers. They want to establish relationships--partnerships with customers. In today's tough procurement environment, sometimes customers do themselves a disservice by putting barriers in place so these true value based relationships can be established.

I just saw a John Quelch's blog on Harvard Business Review Online: How To Be A Customer, posted September 18. Here is an excerpt of some key point---but go read the article, it's worthwhile.

Here are five behaviors that, in the eyes of vendors, make for a good customer:

Be Demanding. Make sure the vendor knows you have other options, that you’re going to seek out more than one bid. Ask for references, a good supplier will be glad to provide them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and pin the vendor down, but don’t overdo it.

Be Respectful. If you want your vendor to do a good job, respect him (or her). Treat him as a professional. Don’t be haughty. Be on time. Ask his opinion. The golden rule applies to customer behavior as well as vendor behavior.

Be Reliable. Do what you say you’ll do. Don’t keep the salesperson waiting if she’s come to your office for an appointment. Pay on time. Don’t try to nickel and dime the seller. Don’t ask for free value added services that weren’t part of the original deal.

Be Surprising. Reward a job well done. Leave a tip. Pay a little over the contract price if the seller’s costs clearly exceed expectations or promise to refer the supplier to a friend. You may want to do business with the same supplier again (Why waste time on selecting another vendor from scratch?). You’re going to enjoy more timely and more customized service next time if you leave a good impression.

Be Engaging. Differentiate yourself as a customer by engaging the seller in some friendly conversation. You may get an extra shot of whipped cream in your cafĂ© mocha if you’re nice to the barista. Treat the seller as an equal, as a problem solver rather than a mere order taker. The seller may be able to confirm or broaden your perspective. In some cases, you may even have expertise that can help the seller do a better job for you.

"Listening Labs" - Unpacking Core Drivers and Barriers

I'm a terrific fan of Fred Reicheld's book, The Ultimate Question, and the Net Promoter approach. Paul Marsden of Satmetrix just put a terrific post in his blog on these topics on using Listening Labs to understand the customer experience and understand core drivers underlying why customers buy (or don't buy). It's a great post and I consider it must reading for anyone seeking to enhance the value of their offerings to their current and potential customers.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One Way Networking--Is This What Networking Is About?

I just read in interesting article in the Wall Street Journal: How To Network Without Sabotaging Your Own Job Hunt. It discusses a number of issues very appropriate to effective networking.

There are many people in my close networks who see value in staying connected. We talk or email each other, we exchange ideas, we continue to look for things of interest to each other. These are effective relationships that I value and invest in.

There are those other people "in my network." These are people who I may have tried to build a relationship with, who for various reasons have been unresponsive to the communication. However, out of the blue, I get communications from them, and always, it is a plea for help: "I've lost my job, can you help me?" "I need funding for a new company, will you invest in the company?" The list goes on.

I am confused by the expectation of people who spurn communications and contact until they need something. In addition to their request for help, they seldom ask about me. When they ask, it is always nominal, because their concern is about themselves. I find it difficult to invest in those people.

Finally, there are those who are going after quantity, seeing the number of connections or friends they have in LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace or others as a competition. "He who has the most listed wins."

On a daily basis, I get people asking me to join their network. Many come from people I have never met and do not know how they reached me. Some come from people who I have encountered. For each, I always respond: "I would be delighted to join your network and have you join my network. Can we arrange to speak soon so that we can get to know each other and how we might help each other out?" On over 90% of those, I get no response, yet I get reminders to join their network or other pleas to join.

Here, I have a criticism to the suppliers of these tools. I think their tools need to be more focused and purposeful in developing networks. People should think and value those they invite. Instead, they offer to send invitations to everyone in your Outlook Address Book. My Outlook Address Book captures many addresses of people I do not know, but are on the same distribution I am on. This automated processing of networks reinforces the mentality of quantity over quality.

The Wall Street Journal Article offers a few nice sound bites:

  • Networking is supposed to be mutually beneficial.

  • Giving back is important.

  • Bothering contacts excessively also can weaken networking efforts.

Read the article. Think about it. I encourage everyone to build networks that create value and quality for everyone involved.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's the Message, Not Messaging

We're all inundated with emails, messages, and other forms of communication. To be fair, we probably do that with our own communications to others.
In working with many organizations, I have found email and messaging taking over from face to face and voice communications. The quality of communication has declined and many organizations are facing "death by Blackberry."
I've been curious to read about the emerging backlash---"email free Friday's" (we know what happened with casual Fridays.).
I just ran across a great post by Leo Babauta in WebWorker Daily.
“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. … As if the main object were to talk fast, not sensibly.” - Henry David Thoreau

This comment from Thoreau’s Walden was made more than a century and a half ago, talking about telegraph communication … and yet 160 years later, with the rise of a million means of instant communication, it’s just as appropriate.

Just because we have instant communication doesn’t mean we should do it. Sometimes it makes more sense to talk less, to deliberate, and to communicate more important ideas.

Sure, being a part of a network of constant flowing information can be a thrill, and can be useful. But we are a part of dozens of such networks, and with information and communication flying all around our heads, like a thousand buzzing insects, it can be hard to catch your breath and realize that most of it means nothing.

Let’s remember the words of Macbeth, hundreds of years ago:

“it is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing”

Step back, and think about the importance of what we are doing. Is it so urgent to send off and respond to dozens of emails? Is it worth our time to participate in instant messaging, when we don’t have much to say? Will the world end if we don’t stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the blogging world, or on Digg, or on Twitter? And do we really want to know what people are doing, all the time?
What does it all mean? And is it worth saying, and listening to?

These are the kinds of questions we might ask ourselves, on a daily basis. I’m not saying that I’m perfect: I participate in these networks as much as anyone else. But I am saying that the focus these days seems to be too much on finding new ways to communicate … and not enough on finding important things to say … and making sure that what we’re saying is worth saying.

To that end, I’d like to make five suggestions:

1. Step back. It’s vital that we take a step back from what we’re doing, and what we’re communicating and participating in, every now and then. And more now than then. Without pulling our heads out of the information stream, we can’t get any kind of perspective. How far do we step back and for how long? That’s an individual question I can’t answer, but I think we should step back far enough that we can see the entirety of the network (whether that’s email, blogs, IM or whatever) … and can actually see how the networks relate to each other … and can actually see the relation between these networks of networks and the rest of the world. Only then can we see what’s important.

2. Cut back. It truly isn’t critical that we communicate so much, and participate so much. Find ways to cut back so that you’re not in such a rush anymore. Do email and the other communications in your life less, send less, and read less.

3. Communicate only the essential. What is it that we really want to communicate? What’s truly important? What should we be saying and doing, as opposed to what we have been saying and doing? When you step back and figure these things out, you can learn to communicate just the essential stuff.

4. Learn to let go of the noise. There is a lot of noise in our world. More than we’re willing to admit to ourselves. Let it drop away. Sometimes it’s difficult, because we’re so used to doing it, and when we hear noise enough it no longer sounds like noise. But noise it is, if we learn to focus on the essential. Life will go on without it!

5. Find new ways to communicate the essential, not the noise. As we find new ways to communicate (and new ways seem to pop up every day), let’s not focus on ways to communicate faster, or more, or more frenetically … let’s not find ways to connect with more people, or increase our network … instead, let’s find ways to communicate only what’s essential, to cut down on the noise, to figure out what we should be communicating and not what we can communicate, to reach only those we need to reach and no more. Let that be the focus of our new technology, and let it serve us, and not the other way around.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Grameen Bank and Dr. Mohammed Yunus

I have to give credit to Guy Kawasaki and his blog for giving this reference. He pointed out an interview with Dr. Mohammed Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Yunus is one of the early initiators of the Microcredit and Microloan concepts.

The interview is interesting and should be read: Interview on CNN Asia.

Even more interesting is a visit to the Grameen Bank's website.

I was particularly struck by the 16 decisions, which appear to be guiding principles to people accepting microloans. I have copied and presented them below.

  1. We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank --- Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of our lives.
  2. Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
  3. We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
  4. We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
  5. During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
  6. We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our health.
  7. We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
  8. We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
  9. We shall build and use pit-latrines.
  10. We shall drink water from tubewells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
  11. We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
  12. We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone, neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
  13. We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
  14. We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
  15. If we come to know of any breach of discipline in any centre, we shall all go there and help restore discipline.
  16. We shall take part in all social activities collectively.

Nothing new, but well stated. Guidelines to help improve the lives and communities of everyone invovled. Guidelines that should be adoptes more broadly.

Really something to watch, learn from, and find ways to apply.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Kindness Of Friends---And Strangers

Two weeks ago today, I was getting ready to go to the East Coast for business. Just as I was about to leave to catch a red-eye, my wife called me, "There's really a weird cloud outside." It was smoke, from a large fire. I went to the back yard and looked North---about 4 miles away, all I could see was the entire ridge-line on fire. Flames looked to be leaping 20-30 feet in the air.

We were in no danger, I made the trip, though I checked on conditions every couple of hours for the whole week. It that time, another interesting thing started happening-----emails and text messages were sent from friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. "Are you OK? Can we help?" We started receiving these messages and sending them. Many friends were evacuated. Fortunately, none that we know suffered any damage, though many have had close calls.

Another interesting thing happened to me. I started getting the same messages from friends and clients around the world, "Dave, the fires seem bad, are you OK, can we help?"

The fires are gone, but the spirit of helping continues. Yesterday, my wife was at the grocery store. Outside, volunteers were giving people bags and lists----"Please buy a bag of groceries for a family that was burned out." There was an endless row of carts filled with bags of groceries people were buying for perfect strangers.

It is always amazing and heartening to see how people and communities come together on major disasters. The numerous acts of kindness and charity are fantastic.

Wouldn't it be great if we didn't limit that behavior to disasters, but did it as a normal part of life, helping people in little ways, when we can?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Karmic Capitalist: Should I Wait Until I'm Rich To Give Back---From Tim Ferriss' Blog

I like the way Tim Ferriss thinks! Sometimes you have to take what he says with a few grains of salt, but in general I like what he thinks----and what he seems to do.

He is really on target with this blog post, I encourage everyone to read it. Beyond that, I encourage everyone to support what he seeks to do with his LitLiberation Project. If that project doesn't meet you objectives find one--invest your time and money to make a difference.

Kudo's to Tim for his efforts (though my praise and a couple of $'s will get you a cup of coffee at Starbuck's). Please read his blog and find a project to get behind.

Here is the Link;

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

If All Else Is Equal, Price Wins!

Duuuugh! What a great observation on the obvious---"If all else is equal, price wins!" You must be asking, "Dave, is that what your clients pay you for?"

Actually, they do. I am constantly surprised at how complicated people can make around the concept of creating value---for your customers, partners, stakeholders, others. Millions of dollars are spent on consultants every year, hundreds of pages in books, magazines, and journals. Everyone is looking for the silver bullet in maintaining their pricing or margins for customers, how to minimize discounting, and other similar issues.

It is so simple----if the customer cannot perceive any difference between the alternatives offered to them, then they are forced to make the lowest price decision---to think anything else is idiocy.

So what does this mean? It means that the organization (sales, marketing, others) must create meaningful differentiation. They must find a way---important to buyers---to set themselves apart from the alternatives. If this cannot be done, the only way to win is with the lowest price.

There are all sorts of ways to do this. Discussing them is not the purpose of this blog. It is important to realize that value is in the eye of the beholder---it is the customer that determines what value is. The elements of value can include all sort of "hard" and "soft" things.

In the end, this is not rocket science. Executives should not be surprised. Executives should not be asking how do we maintain our prices---this gets you down the wrong path. The critical question is "How do we create compelling and differentiated value for each customer?"

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Both Sides Of The Story

We've all heard it, there are always two sides to every issue or story. It's a natural tendency to look at things from our own perspective and self interest. Sometimes it causes us to make mistakes. We really need to look at things from each person's point of view. It makes us more effective.
I could go on and write a lot of stuff about this, but I just saw Mike Hyatt's blog on the issue. He has addressed it very well, so let me direct you to his blog.

Focus Until It Hurts! Then Focus More!

Most of the organizations I encounter have one common challenge----focusing. In the past week, I have been involved in projects with 4 companies---2 Fortune 50 companies, a large company, and a very early stage start up. All had exactly the same problem:

They had not identified and committed to executing the 1-2 things critical to accomplishing their goals. As a result, each was failing to achieve their goals. Consistently, failure to focus is the biggest issue I see confronting organizations and people.

This got me to thinking, why is it so tough? Some thoughts:

Focus is boring: It is so much more exciting to look at new ideas, to try new things. If I focus, I am forced to complete one thing before moving to the next.

Focus is not cool: After all, we seem to measure our worth by how much we can multitask----multitasking is the enemy of focus---but it's what we are all about---how many meetings can we manage simultaneously, how many emails, phone calls, and the story goes on.

Focus requires thought: If I am going to focus on something, I have to think---really think----what is it that I need to focus on, what do I give up, is it the right thing to do, should I be doing other things? Once I've decided, then I have to continue to think. It's much easier to wander and react to crises.

Focus requires discipline: Discipline---it's such a boring word---isn't it much more fun to react? Why do I want to be so predictable?

Focus demands accountability: If I commit to one thing and just do that----people will have an expectation---I will actually be responsible for doing something---for accomplishing something. If I choose not to focus, then it is more difficult to pin me down---I can move from crisis to crisis, issue to issue, but I never really have to produce a result.

Focus demands courage: What if I choose the wrong thing, what if I am wrong? Everyone around me is not doing this---you can't pin them down---this makes me responsible for what I do---for the result I produce. Sometimes, we are all alone in doing this.

Lots has been said about focus, but we do everything we can to avoid it. Imagine the difference in each of our lives if we could just start to focus. Imagine what each of us and our organizations could accomplish.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No "A's For Effort"

Kids are headed back to school----it's caused me to reflect on comments we hear from teachers, parents, and friend---"A for Effort." That term has slipped into our vocabularies and we apply it to all sorts of business and personal situations. I suppose it's an attempt to justify failure to achieve results.

It seems much of what is done, even rewarded today focuses on effort, not results or accountability. People are very busy, work incredibly long hours, load their agendas up with meetings, lots of activity, and overlay that with constant interruptions of Blackberry's, mobile phones and emails. Somehow "busyness" has become the end--its become what is recognized, rewarded, promoted.

All this "busyness" diverts us from focusing on effectiveness, accountability, personal responsibility, and achieving the outcomes or results we want. "Busyness" seems to be something that we can hide behind so that we don't have to do the tough work of figuring out what's wrong and why we aren't producing results. It's easier to schedule more meetings, work longer hours, send more emails. Perhaps what is really needed is time to reflect on the question Michael Hyatt poses: "What is it about my leadership that is producing these results?" We all have to accept personal responsibility for making a difference and achieving results. Many of us blame others or external factors. We fall back on focusing on the effort and the valiant try. We fool ourselves.

Ultimately, it's about personal responsibility or accountability. Each of us is responsible for and are in control of everything we do. If what we are doing is not, producing the desired result, it's up to us to figure out what we have to do to fix it. We can't blame it on others. It's about knowing that each of us has an impact and is responsible for what happens in our lives and business. It's owning this that enables each of us to achieve our goals and have an impact.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Social Networking, Form Triumphs Over Substance

I've been curious about the phenomenon of adding friends, passing on introductions, etc. The two networks I actively participate in are LinkedIn and Facebook.

Recently, though LinkedIn, I have received invitations from several old, long lost colleagues. I have anxiously responded, accepting their invitations. With every response, I send an email, expressing my delight at re-connecting and suggesting a personal dialog--email, voice to voice or otherwise. In most cases, I am disappointed. These contacts don't respond, I'm added to their list, but never hear from them. What's the purpose? I guess they are shooting for quantity over quality.

My physical world networks are very precious to me. I have started to pare my virtual world networks to mirror-in principle-my physical world networks. I want meaningful relationships with people who I trust, whose views I value and who, I hope, value mine. I don't want to be a part of a list to see who has the most.

I'm confused also by those people who "accept any invitation" in their virtual networks. I know they don't in their physical networks, why the change. Maybe it is only for self promotion, rather than valuing the relationship.

When form triumphs over substance, the network loses value. I think the value of networking is to establish relationships, to invest in those relationships. Without this, what's the point?

Any thoughts, reactions?

Multi-tasking Is Dead

Just a quick post, I was reading Michael Hyatt's Blog: From Where I Sit, and saw this great quote from Tmothy Ferriss. It expresses what I have been clumsy at expressing in past blogs. It does it in one sentence.

“Multi-tasking is dead. It never worked and it never will. Intelligent people love to sing its praises because it gives them permission to avoid the much more challenging alternative: focusing on one thing.”

I'm reading his Tim's book right now, The 4 Hour Work Week. I've just started it, appears to be well written, but I am a little skeptical. Will write later, but had to post this quote because it is so on target.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When I Want Your Opinion, I'll Tell You What Your Opinion Is, And You Will Like It!!!

I usually try not to rant against specific companies in this blog, but I just bought a new car--a Lexus. I had used Lexus in the past as the benchmark for outstanding sales experiences, but it's changed. It now is aligned with every other car shopping experience I have had. It is among the worst and most distasteful buying experiences I have seen. (When will the auto manufacturers get it?!).

My rant is not about this terrible experience, but about the end. I was given a survey by the sales person. It was already completed, indicating that I was completely satisfied with the shopping experience. The salesperson explained to me, "If I don't get a top ranking, I will be fired, so I appreciate it if you would say that you are completely satisfied with everything, so I get to keep my job."

Lexus is just one more company that demonstrates they really don't care about their customers. They have such disdain for honest feedback from their customers that they have the audacity to tell us what our opinions are.

I recently read a book that discusses this much better than I can, it's the Ultimate Question, by Fred Reichheld. I encourage anyone really interested in learning from customers to read this and apply his process.
In the mean time, I hope companies learn to respect their customers and listen to them better.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Real Business People Multitask

Ever wonder why we don't get things accomplished in meetings these days? There are lots of reasons, but my pet topic right now is multitasking. The scenario is always the same.....

A critical meeting is finally scheduled, it took weeks to do, but everyone is scheduled to attend The Meeting.......
.......people drift into the conference room......12 minutes late.....

Everyone spends the first 5 minutes jockeying for power outlets, network connections, etc.

You finally start, it's now 17 minutes into the hour....

Fortunately, you're organized, you have an agenda, you're focused, you persevere. Things get going, in the background you hear the sound of fingers on keyboards.....

...No it's not people taking notes, it's people responding to emails.....

With one ear, people are listening to the meeting, but part of their mind is distracted by the latest critical email......

"Can you repeat what you said, I missed it." Fantastic, you caught some one's attention, they have stopped doing emails for a moment. You begin to answer, then the inevitable sound......

....The deadly Nokia ringtone....

or, Hello Moto.......

Politely, someone gets up, desperately putting their mobile phone to their ear and walking out of the room......

You're 30 minutes into the meeting......

....You try to regain control of the meeting... present the agenda again, start over....

A couple of people are sitting quietly at the end of the table, eyes demurely downcast, hands seem to be neatly folded in their laps below the table......., they have the "blackberry pose"....blackberry held below the table, both thumbs fully engaged in dealing with email.

Time to get assertive---or maybe a desperate plea, "Would everyone please turn off emails, cell phones and blackberry's so we can get on with the meeting?"

You're now 40 minutes into the meeting....present the agenda again, things start going well, people are paying attention, you are finally accomplishing something....

....10 minutes later you start seeing it, fidgeting and restlessness, suddenly one person's eyes are again demurely downcast......

55 minutes into the meeting, activity you haven't caught their attention, they are starting to close their computers, pack up their things, after all there is the next meeting to go to.......

....well maybe we can continue by scheduling another meeting........

We all know the story. Today, we protest our busy lives and the number of worthless meetings we participate in, yet we have met the enemy and it is our own obsessive behavior. Too often, it seems we measure our worth by how busy we are......or at least how busy we can appear to be. It used to be back to back meetings and a full daily calendar was a test of one's business worth. Now, multitasking has added another layer on top of it. We can sit in a meeting, do email, blackberry's, and listen on mobile phone calls all at the same time.

In the end, we accomplish nothing. One blog I read says that multitasking adversely impacts productivity by 30%---I think that is understated. Another described the computer phenomenon of thrashing--I think that's a good description.

Everyone today is genuinely busy, each of us has a lot going on. But then I look more deeply at things, aren't many of us just thrashing. We're doing a lot, but not accomplishing a thing. This blog is about making a difference---it's about producing results.

Multitasking hurts us, we actually accomplish much less. As an advisor to many organizations, I preach the importance of focus. The principle is as important for our own personal behavior. We are more effective and more efficient when we focus.
Technology is wonderful, it has provided us tools and capabilities to do a lot, but let's use it appropriately. When we are in meetings, let's dedicate our attention to the will both shorten the meeting and reduce the numbers. When we are on a phone call, don't do email. When we are doing email, do email.
My mother was visiting and I asked her to read a draft of this blog. She's old school, she finished, looking at me confused saying: "Isn't it just good manners to demonstrate your respect by paying attention to the people you are meeting with?"
Hmmmmm........... Mom's really smart.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Passion, Hard Work, and Building Businesses

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. There have been many discussions in various media about passion, work, money and building businesses.

What's your view about what it takes to start, build, and grow a business?

Some things I am reacting to:

At the recent Dow Jones D conference, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were asked if making money was what drove them in building their businesses (In both cases, a LOT of Money!). Steve had a very interesting response. He stated that starting a business required a certain amount of insanity. He suggested that sane people would be driven to more reasonable means of making money. The commitment, sacrifices, and desire to overcome any obstacle in building a business had to be fueled by PASSION. He suggested that without this, success, consequenlty money, would be difficult to achieve.

Bill Gate's response was also good. He said, the thought of the money wan't in the forefront of his mind. Seeing new thingss, doing what he wanted to do, working with people who are fun, and being at the forefront is what drove him.

(By the way, their interview in the June 2007 Dow Jones D conference was very interesting, worth watching. Download from Itunes or go to

Separately, yesterday on Guy Kawasaki's blog, Glenn Kelman offered an interesting view called "The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship." He starts by stating he has been "thinking about how hard, not how easy, it is to build a new company." He goes on to talk about the realities and insanities required to build a start up. His views echo and amplify those that Steve and Bill cited.

Finally, I think about a conversation I recently had with a colleague that was escaping the "Fortune 10," to start a consulting company. He sought my experience in building a successful consulting company. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish with his business, and he replied, "make lots and lots of money." I thought about it and responded that he probably would fail to achieve his goal and never be happy. I reflected on our success and priorities. I said there were 4 key objectives that we had in our business:

  1. Make a difference in the business and personal lives of our clients. We want to have an impact on improving their businesses. We want to impact their careers and lives to help them better achieve their personal goals.

  2. Learn something new. We hope our clients learn from us, but also we learn from our clients. This keep us fresh, it gives us new ideas. It enables us to bring greater value to each of our clients in growing their businesses.

  3. Have fun! We work hard and we play hard. We want to work with people we enjoy and who enjoy us.

  4. and the distant 4th is making money.

In reflecting on our success, I said that if we did the first three things really well, the fourth always followed. As I have watched other organizations, driven purely by money and personal reward, I find they many some success, but it is usually short lived. Making decisions based purely on what you get financially, leads to all sorts of errors that threaten the longevity of the business.

I'm don't mean to sound naive or not motivated by money, but I tend to view it more as a scorecard than an end.

Perhaps this is a chicken and egg question--I'm not sure.

What are your views. what does it take to build and sustain a growing business?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Social Networking, Quantity or Quality

I've been tracking, participating and experimenting in a number of social networking and other community building tools.

What are your views about building your "social" or "business" networks, Quantity versus Quality?

As an early invitee to LinkedIn (, I think I fell into the same trap that I saw many people doing: Going for quantity in networks versus quality. In other blogs and posts, there is lots of discussion about this, with arguments for both. I actually tend to fall on the side of a quality network rather than quantity. In LinkedIn, I have been offended by people I do not know, trying to link themselves or their friends though me. If I don't know them, why do I feel confident in introducing them to my friends and leveraging my network?

My current network, at LinkedIn, about 30 percent of the people, I actually don't know. Many of them have been unresponsive to my queries---I write saying "we're linked to each other, why don't we try to get to know each other?" Why are we networked, what's the point other than bragging rights?

My real world or physical world network is very important to me, it's one I treasure and protect. Why should I, or anyone for that matter, do otherwise for our virtual or digital networks?

I'm starting to pare the list of contacts to represent a smaller but more functional network and a better replication of what I use my physical world networks for.

I have recently started using Facebook (, partly at Jeff Pulver's recommendation. It is an interesting application, I like the real world and dynamic feel to it. At the same time, having learned from my experience at LinkedIn, I am being much more careful and slow in expanding my friends and network on Facebook.

I'm also excited about the application and community building aspect of Facebook. I'm looking to learn a lot from it.

Join me if you want. If you are part of LinkedIn, my email is Send me an invitation. At Facebook, search for me and send me an invitation. I do want to "meet you" and learn about you and how we can help each other, so when you send an invitation, know that is expected.

Learning To Blog

I have a fear of writing to no one but myself. At the same time, I am eager to explore the world of blogging. It's a bit a of a funny feeling, being definitely a late adopter.

I actually started this a two years ago, as a complement to my company's website. For a few months, I actually posted articles and thoughts. However, it was really a struggle, it didn't feel right. To some degree it felt too preachy and arrogant. I also wondered, how did the blog fit with the business oriented website at So I dropped it.

Lately, I have been struggling with how to restart. Probably thinking about it too much and not actually trying and learning by my mistakes. So, borrowing from Nike's old tag line, I decided it was time to "Just Do It."

I apologize for my mistakes, I welcome your comments, advice and help. It is important to start building a community that we can learn from each other and contribute. Thanks for joining in, the adventure begins........