Thursday, February 04, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
OK so I am a big Neil Peart fan and a bit of a drum geek but having heard Neil speak and his story it is an excellent example of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hr rule in his Outlier book. (I have linked to my favorite solo of his on Youtube for my pleasure as much as yours)
In my opinion Neil is probably the greatest drummer in the world, if you disagree thats OK as long as you can acknowledge that he is one of the best at his craft. Neil started as a kid (pre-ten years old) laying magazines out on his bed, listening to music and beating the covers the magazines. At 10 he got a drum pad (not a set) and practiced on the pad. As an early teen every spare moment was spent on a second hand drum set. Playing along with songs he liked, making up new stuff, trying stuff he hadn't seen done before and being creative...innovating (even though he didn't see it that way at 14). Neil played in bands and played solo's eventually forming the band Rush continually driving himself to do more, get better, push the envelope.
The interesting thing that most people who are true outliers will understand is that he did this not just because he was driven to be the best (although that was 'a' factor). He did it because he LOVED IT! Whether it is Gladwell or Vaynerchuk or any of the other experts it is obvious to all that everyone should be looking to match what they LOVE doing with what they get paid to do.
The formula looks like this:
The more you love something the more you are prepared to do it, the better you get at it, the more people will find you and ask you/pay you to do it for them, the more fulfilled and happy you will feel and the better person you will be for all your loved ones.
Find your passion, follow it, work hard at it.
Are you? If not, make a change. Don't say you can't afford to...be practical about planning the swith but...can you afford not to?
Friday, January 22, 2010
I know I am late to the game but I FINALLY ordered my copy of "The Four Steps to the Epiphany" by Steve Blank....can't wait to read it as it has been one of the single most frequently recommended read from folks. Not exactly an early adopter on this one but I'm hoping better late than never!
I'll post my thoughts as and after I get through it but for those who have I'd like to hear how it changed your perspective? What you did differently after reading? Do you recommend it to friends? Why or Why not?
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The hardest part about making good software that ships on time is knowing what and when to sacrifice. As programmers and designers, we often fall in love with our requirements and are unable to kill our darlings. We mistake what we said we’ll do with what must be done. It’s rarely so; you can always do less.
What stops most people from doing less is the fear of failure. The misconception that if you don’t get it all done, the rest is worth nothing at all. That without this feature or that tweak, nobody will want to use it at all. Bollocks. Most software has a tiny essence that justifies its existence, everything after that is wants and desires mistaken for needs and necessities.
The easiest way to force the insight of what can be lived without is by playing a game of constraints: You have to ship on Friday, you can’t add more people, you can’t work nights. Fixed resources, fixed time. All that’s left to give is scope. It’s amazing how creative the cuts and sharp the sacrifices become when you’re backed into a corner. It’s when you have to choose that you make the best choices.
For every 1 day estimates of a task, there’s a simpler version of that you can do in 3 hours, and an even simpler still you can do in 30 minutes. Back yourself into a corner and these versions will vividly appear before your eye. You can always do less.
Jason Fried and 37Signals are a company to be admired for lots of reasons. This is one of their recent short posts which is a great reminder that what customers want and what they need are not always the same thing and that adding features to a product does not necessarily make it better and in fact can make it worse!
Don't build a custom application for a broad target market.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I think it is fair to say that perhaps the best business lessons of our time were not taught by Rocky Balboa however I came across this courtesy of @msuster and his blog Both Sides of The Table (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/).
For all entrepreneurs, startups and business folks this is an important lesson to remember. Mistakes are going to be made and that is good. Failures will be had and those are learning experiences. It is what you do after you have been hit that is important. There is no such thing as an overnight success, ask anyone who you think is one to tell you their story and I think they will tell you....
"It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how many hits you can take"
Saturday, January 09, 2010
One of the biggest voices in Social Media Chris Brogan has a new post up today which includes the above diagram that Chris put together which is one of the most illustrative and on point I have seen. The diagram, and Chris’s post, clearly articulate his theory of Home Base and Outposts. Check out and comment at Chris’s post and pick up his book Trust Agents which is a must read if you are interested in this space.
Sit down and try to diagram you or your Company strategy and tactical plan for SM and share it!
My thoughts on Sales Staffing has less to do with anything in the book and more to do with my experience. Interested in your comments, thoughts, experiences as it relates to Sales staff.
Like many functional areas in your business as your market matures and as you are crossing the chasm the skillsets of your employees will need to change. Sales is a bigger challenge than most due to the Rock star culture and image that good sales folks earn and carry with them.
In the early days as you are trying to sell your product, service, solution one of the biggest jobs your sales rep has is to convince your customers that they need something that they don’t even realize that they need. This is NOT easy and takes a patient yet persistent sales rep that is prepared to invest the time and build a really trusted relationship over a frustratingly prolonged period of time. After they have done this they still need to be a more traditional sales rep and manage a process and close. This is more of a patient farmer personality than a pure Type A aggressive sale type personality.
Now the problem.
The person who is successful at doing this and who closes absolutely critical sales for your business in its early critical days is more than likely NOT the right person to be selling as and after you cross into a more mature selling environment.
As the market for your solution matures people start to understand that they do in fact need what you are selling. They are probably building RFP’s to address those needs and you probably have more competitors than you have ever had since inception. The main task for the Sales Rep now is not to convince prospects that they need what you sell but rather it is to be a trusted advisor of the prospects and to aggressively, competitively outsell the competition.
It is hard to change the horses that brought you! As Jim Collins has taught us though it is critical that we have the right people on the bus and as difficult a change as this can be it is imperative that you make it. Given the breadth of experience, history and knowledge that the original sales rep has it is often advisable to try to find a position within the company for them BUT I am NOT a fan of making up positions for people. If the original Sales Rep wants to sell it may be best for you and for them if they can go find another company that is in a market still in its infancy and repeat their success their.
As you recruit for your new sales rep profile there are some considerations and this is where I am really interested in other experiences because there are a couple trains of thoughts but the main crux of the argument is…what is more important domain knowledge or pure sales skills. If you sell a solution around physical asset performance do you NEED to have someone with specific knowledge and contacts and background in that space OR are you better off going and finding the best pure sales person around regardless of what they sold???
There are definite arguments for both but I tend to prioritize the must haves in this order:
- Industry/vertical experience – given you need to be on the front end of RFP’s and you need to have trusted relationships to successfully close deals I think having existing relationships in your target vertical or geography are critical because you may not have time to build them in a mature market.
- Pure sales skills – demonstrable experience that you have sold over quota consistently in your past and you can walk through and articulate, debate with me and convince me that you are a rock star.
- Functional/domain expertise – I rated this last because there are numerous other areas in the company where this type of support can come from if the candidate has #1 and #2 above
Love to hear your thoughts and experiences and what has worked for you??
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Jordan on Success
"'I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's precisely why I succeed''."