Better Heard than Read

It is nothing revolutionary to say there are some books that must be read because of the incredible use of vocabulary, the brilliant sentence structure that would be lost in oration or the density of the prose that would confuse listeners who chose to listen to their professors dictate chapter and verse (Example: Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason and a college philosophy professors who will not be named here).

However, some books and narrators offer an extra experience for those listening to their works.  Three that come to mind are:

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain narrated by Christopher Evan Welch
    • A tale of a dog’s life and all that surrounds that life through the dog’s eyes. Be prepared to be entertained and completely heart-broken during every listening hour.
  • Born a Crime written and narrated by Trevor Noah
    • A very serious take on the writer’s upbringing accompanied by the difficulties during the days of apartheid in South Africa.  Noah cuts the serious topics with his signature satirist tone.
  • Scrappy Little Nobody written and narrated by Anna Kendrick
    • Now added to my list of people with whom I need to have a few glasses of scotch!

Respecting your time

My father was never late, never, ever late.  Often arriving at parties 30 minutes early to the dismay of many hosts.  His lessons in unending punctuality have taught me to respect the time of other people.

During my childhood, my father religiously tracked time on his Seiko that, at the time defined fine watchmaking.  My father often told me that you didn’t even need a battery to power the timepiece. All this mechanical marvel needed was a quick shake in the morning and a day’s worth of wearing to make it run accurately.  I was amazed not only that it worked without batteries but that this small device adorned daily on my father’s wrist was responsible for his reputation for reliability. Accompanying the spartan look was the sound I remember most.

When he quickly jostled his wrist, the hollow bracelet made a jingle-jangle that would forever be associated with my father.

I hadn’t seen that watch in 20 years until I found it this past Tuesday.  After a few hours of cleaning, it is now back in a safe place and making that familiar jingle-jangle that will forever remind me to respect the time of others.


You can’t change the wind, but you can beat it!

From the archive:

Anything worth doing comes riddled with challenges. Whether leading a team in business or running a marathon, you will encounter obstacles, some bigger than others. How you evaluate these challenges and react to the obstacles will determine your short term project success and long term career happiness.

When running a marathon and the wind gets really bad, it’s hard not to expend unnecessary energy, take bigger strides or fold forward at the waist to challenge the wind. An uncontrollable force slowing progress is incredibly frustrating and can put you in a negative headspace perpetuating bad decisions. It is important not to overcorrect to the wind, instead keeping your form no matter how annoying the element becomes. With this said, wind and other weather conditions offer varying degrees of danger. 10–25 MPH wind may slow you down but rarely causes bodily harm. 50 MPH+ wind, hurricanes or tornadoes have the capacity to destroy everything in their path. When determining how you approach the conditions, consider the strength of the opposing force and power to influence your path independent of your actions…

Read full article on Linked In Here.

The Elusive Unicorn: The VP of Marketing at a Startup

From the archive:

Where do executive talent recruiters hang out in their time off? I envision a club where they get together and commiserate about searches commissioned by uninformed executives. Stories of searches that lead to a trip down a deserted road lined only with the remains of great candidates who were “missing just one thing”. And in this club, the topic that produces the greatest anger, unity and humor is recruitment of a startup’s VP of Marketing.

The stories likely start with the candidate specification meeting where the job description of the perfect candidate is narrowly defined as:

  • A strong product marketer
  • Mathematical approach to marketing and obsession with metrics
  • Ability to manage the entire funnel
  • Has been an individual contributor in email marketing. And SEO. And graphic design.
  • Category or market relevant experience. Should have worked at a financial institution, retailer or packaged goods company.

…you get the picture. You’re looking for Steve Jobs to join your lightly funded startup. To paraphrase the movie Chasing Amy:

If you put this candidate, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and my grandmother at the starting line of a foot race… who wins?

Read full article on Linked In Here.

Customer Success Lessons from Holmes on Homes

From the archive:

This weekend I sat inside my well-constructed sunroom protected by the winter elements by a fire burning in the hearth below a securely mounted television. Speaking with friends and family in the Northeast who have been bombarded by countless feet of snow, quality of construction against the elements is not lost on me. Fittingly, HGTV’s Holmes Making it Right (previously called Holmes on Homes) television show was playing in the background and summoned simple customer success principles that every SaaS company needs to cherish.

HGTV’s description of the Holmes Making It Right TV show reads as follows:
Mike Holmes can fix just about everything. His motto reads: “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.” And that definitely applies to his home renovation work, which is featured in this series as he and his crew rescue homeowners victimized by shoddy contractors.

Any entrepreneur understands the need to move quickly, generate volume of business and have teams who are self-reliant to get their jobs done…

Read full article on Linked In Here.

A Higher Purpose for Business Organizations

From the archive:

Common corporate nomenclature often assigns the Business team with the shortened “B-Team” or “B-Side”. The label might serve as a convenient abbreviation simplifying meeting/calendar subject lines, but more interestingly, “B-Team” can be indicative of the way a product-oriented founder views the business. For many leaders, business actually is an afterthought to the A-Team – Product/Engineering. Moreover, the Sales organization is seen as a coin operated function with the single purpose of driving revenue regardless of product-market fit or market demand.

A properly hired and trained sales organization should do much more than sell features dreamt up by the Product org. The Sales team is on the front line of untapped markets while Operations (Client Services) is normally the first to learn the needs of existing business. Taken together, insights from both teams can be invaluable in shaping product development and prioritizing feature launches based on market requirements.

There are countless tactics that can empower the B-Side to help your Product team build the best products for the market, but we will focus on a handful here.

Read full article on Linked In Here.

Appoint an Antagonist

From the archive:

Recently I enjoyed a working dinner with a brilliant entrepreneur. He has a young but growing business, is enjoying successes in the press and has no problem attracting great talent. He is not encountering most of the startup issues normally experienced during this phase. Instead he is facing a challenge normally reserved for more mature companies.

He asked me “how can I tell if my team is giving me the best feedback possible or simply acquiescing because they fear my reaction?

If this difficulty exists today, it will undoubtedly compound each day ahead. Worse yet, there is little this founder can do to mitigate this specific risk without direct attention. As the company continues to chalk up wins, he will earn more and more credibility in the eyes of the market, his board and the company’s employees. If it hasn’t already happened, there will be a day when he will be unintentionally surrounded by bobble-heads acquiescing to all recommendations coming from the C-Suite. The senior advisers will be afraid to publicly debate in the event that their POV is seen as dissension.

Read full article on Linked In Here.

Bulletproof Coffee Test

From the archive:

A few years ago I conducted a n=1 experiment with Bulletproof coffee.

Excerpt from that article:

Bulletproof coffee is a mix of toxin-free coffee, grass-fed, unsalted, organic butter and MCT Oil. Together they sound terrible and seem to be an excuse for a few extra pounds in the summer. The intended outcome of this cocktail is two-fold: 1. Stimulate brain activity & Increase concentration through the morning. 2. Train your body to burn more fat in the earliest part of the day. I did not do this for aesthetics but rather the additional concentration.

I don’t pretend to understand either the neuroscience nor physiology behind this concept, thus am entering the test on faith.

Read full article on Linked In Here.