Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Hits on Success Fundamentals

Meiko Patton reminds us that the fundamentals of business lie in what we do and how we do it:
  • Write down a bad habit, and work at flipping it, first by writing down its opposite.  The key is focusing on just one for now, and putting your attention and effort into it.
  • Do it now is good, and if that it is huge, then take a small step now, then another small step next.
  • Maintain your health.  From exercise, to rest and nutrition, plus any relationship or sustenance, upholding this non-business stuff holds up your business stuff more than you know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quick Hits on Advancing your Business

These are quick hits from Entrepreneur on advancing your business:
  • Manage your distribution channels carefully, so as to avoid slipping into a commoditized environment where price is the first casualty.
  • Tell a compelling story about your business, but don't forget specific facts and hard numbers to back up why everyone else, like journalists, should be gaga over your stuff, too. 
  • Finally, think big, think dominant, and look at Jack Welch and Mark Cuban as your frame of reference.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Hits on Launching your Business

Certainly we can learn from, and be inspired by, CEOs of successful multinationals.  But keep in mind, as Trevor Owens encourages us, their companies are fundamentally different from our startups.
  • So don't mortgage the house, as if you even had a house, on developing your products.  Do what it takes to create a working prototype, but keep a lid on effort and expenses à la principle of Minimum Viable Product.
  • Don't get weighed down with expectations, commitments and, last but not least, debt.  You have to be so agile as to pivot direction, strategy or offering, when you have to.
  • Find early adopters as best as you can, which means putting yourself in their shoes so as to grab their attention and secure their buy in.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Persistence

A point US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand makes about failure resonates well with Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm:  If you've failed at something, it doesn't mean that you're a failure or that you'll fail against at that thing.  The outcome can be very different the next time.  I do find that some people generalize from one incident, or even a handful of these, and ascribe an entire set of enduring characteristics to those involved in that incident.  It's like: make a mistake, and you (and everyone like you) will always make mistakes.  Instead, things can be different down the road.

Another point about failure:  Both failure and success are have comparable potential to teach us important lessons.  So, contrary to some people, I avoid glorifying failure as the better teacher.  Any experience or outcome can be an opportunity for learning, if we reflect on it vis-a-vis what we're trying to accomplish.

Don't give up.  Gillibrand is walking proof, I imagine, who's persisted in her life and achieved a rank in government.  But I think the advice is far trickier than a simple call to keep going.  There are times when it makes sense to keep going, and other times when it is better to stop, shift course, or abandon the effort altogether (i.e., give up).  The challenge is that we don't always know which situation it is that we're in.  But if you believe something deeply, and you know it to be right, and you feel it in your bones, then it makes sense to keep going.  In any event, it's a matter of personal judgment and personal choice.  At the very least, reflect on how things are going vis-a-vis your purpose, and decide thoughtfully about how to go forward.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Sleep = More Income? It Depends!

The relationship between sleep and income is undoubtedly more complex than what these WSJ Tanya Rivero and Karen Damato can cover in three minutes.  But I'm sure we've heard the cautionary notes:  That if we're often relying in espresso, pills, cigarettes or the like to stay awake and keep going, then we're probably sleep-deprived.  If we're chronically in this state, then we impact our performance and we impact our income.

I eschew any practice that take research findings and apply them wholesale to our lives.  Instead, as Rivero points out, we need to find out what is indeed optimal sleep for each of us.  To the extent that we need to sleep more to get to an optimal amount, then work at it, perhaps in gradual, step-by-step fashion.  Just tacking on one more hour of sleep in our schedule may not work so easily for some of us.  But chunking that additional hour into, say, 15-minute segments, by sleeping a little earlier, then this may work.  It may also mean, of course, cutting down gradually on that espresso, pills or cigarettes.

So if we are indeed chronically sleep-deprived, and we make concerted efforts to remedy that, then we're bound to see improvements in a host of things, from how we feel and think, to how we perform on the job and what income we earn.

Full reference on the study Rivero and Damato discuss (PDF):  Time Use and Productivity: The Wage Returns to Sleep

Monday, October 13, 2014

How do you survive on a deserted island?

We simply cannot put a lot of stock into what goes on in a reality show, because a good amount of it is scripted and fabricated.  But the idea of putting two rivals together, in order to survive on a deserted island, is intriguing indeed.  What if you as the head of one business unit were to hook up with the head of a department function, and make for a truly reality scenario like "Rival Survival?"  More challenging and intriguing, yet, what about partnering up with a willing and able competitor and having at it on a deserted island?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Women Entrepreneurs: Have vs Not Have Children

NOI Solutions founder Saima Chowdhury got pregnant the same month she started her company. Here are productivity tips she learned along the way.
Whether or not she has a partner who's available and willing, women often face the daunting balance of work and family.   For Chowdhury it was about creating a To Do list of priorities and segmented her day into manageable chunks.  When she was with her son, it was quality time with her son.

The Orchid Boutique owner and co-founder speaks out about her decision to lean in at work.
Lean In is a reference to the book by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.  From what I understand, Sandberg advances the notion that women can take higher leadership roles and balance whatever they need to balance.  In any event, Myra Jimenez adopts what must've been a broader principle of the book, that is, to make choices forthrightly and own up to them, without, as Jimenez points out, caving in to what society or culture may demand.  Her choice was not to have children.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Melissa Kieling on Founding PackIt Freezable

Melissa Kieling explains how she made her idea for PackIt Freezable lunch bags into a reality.
Her children bemoaned that they couldn't eat a fresh lunch at school, so Kieling worked methodically to help them and scores of other children.  It is truly easy to research any idea via Google, but running a patent search isn't something many of us entrepreneurs would've thought about right away.  So that's cool.  It made sure that there was no one else out there with her idea. 
  1. File a provisional patent was a key first step.
  2. Attend trade shows led Kieling to prospective buyers.
  3. Invest in marketing didn't just focus on mothers and children at home, but also educated those prospective buyers on the unique aspects of her products.
How to Get on the Shelf at Target found Kieling being herself and talking honestly:  That she was a Mom, who had a great product, that Target customers would love to have.  Target didn't buy into it at first, though.  Keiling and her team ran a multimillion dollar campaign to advertise her products, and Target got onboard.

We don't hear the story of how she funded such a campaign, but that of course is a crucial piece of the puzzle.  In one way or another, we entrepreneurs have to solve that piece.