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Archive for June, 2012

Expand Your Mind: 12 Greatest Modern Entrepreneurs

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I linked to stories about great women entrepreneurs. Today we’ll look at the guys.

A contributor at Fortune created a list of what he considers the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time.

They are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Fred Smith, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Howard Schultz, Mark Zukerberg, John Mackey, Herb Kelleher, Narayana Murthy, Sam Walton, Muhammad Yunus

These founders created and then nurtured healthy, sustainable organizations that now have a combined market value of more than $1.7 trillion. They directly employ more than 3 million people…

Each of their companies sits at the nucleus of a thriving ecosystem that has cultivated and nurtured dozens if not hundreds of other enterprises.

There is a short profile of each at the link; considering it’s a kind of holiday weekend that’s enough reading.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

If the Shoe Fits: Gaming Issues with Words

Friday, June 29th, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

2391747442_eaedaa1ff4_mIs changing your settings without permission in order to display your email address a privacy issue?

Not according to Facebook.

“Um, isn’t changing the visibility of something actually changing the privacy setting?” I [reporter] asked.

“No,” Ms. Schopflin said, explaining that they are two different things.

You know the old saying that a rose by any other name?

Gaming words, no matter how you do it, is manipulation—if not an outright lie.

People aren’t stupid; you will get caught.

Whether you play word games internally with your employees or externally with your investors, vendors or customers eventually the result is the same.

They will leave.

Option Sanity™ inhibits gaming the system.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock allocation system.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.
Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Vision

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/875412

You founded your company on a vision; a vision of how your product/service would change the world.

Your vision attracted people; people who can turn your vision into reality.

If that doesn’t happen it’s on you.

If you share, explain and clarify your vision, listen to input from all sources as you refine it and keep it flexible you’ll be a long way to succeeding.

But if you proclaim your vision, hoard the details and adhere to it come what may you’ll shoot yourself (and your investors) in the foot.

SUBMIT YOUR STORY
Be the Thursday feature – Entrepreneurs: [your company name]
Share the story of your startup today.
Send it along with your contact information and I’ll be in touch.
Questions? Email or call me at 360.335.8054 Pacific time.

Image credit: darktaco

Password Help

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulorear/7190315846/I have to say this article about people’s frustration with passwords made me laugh—probably not the desired reaction.

I sent it to a friend and he said he related and asked why I didn’t.

When I told him I had a simple way to handle passwords he was incredulous and demanded I explain.

I did and his response was that I should share it here, because it would make people’s lives easier.

Who am I to argue? In the interests of making your life easier here are my so-called “secrets.”

The first thing to recognize is that all sites requiring passwords are not created equal, so I divide them into three categories.

  1. Serious security for sites where being hacked has serious implications, such as your bank.
  2. Moderate security for sites where hacking means being hijacked and can cause hurt your reputation and cause embarrassment, such as social networking sites.
  3. Light security for all those informational and even subscription sites, such as NY Times where being hacked has no repercussions.

I use the same password for all the sites in the third category.

The second category depends partly on the site’s requirements, but I have a simple formula.

Let’s say it requires upper and lower case, a number, a symbol and is 11-14 characters long. “Zeusis#1god” has 11 characters and is easy to remember. Plus, you can also write it down as a word sentence and who’s going to know it’s a password?

For category one I mix up more numbers and symbols, for example, “I’m@659Park#27” has 14 characters.

No, that is not my address, but you can use a real address if it helps, just choose one that has no apparent connection to your current life, but is easy to remember; for example, your Aunt Lizzie’s home when you were a child (assuming she doesn’t live there now).

In the article people complain about the security questions, such as your first kiss, etc.

I don’t remember any stuff like that, but who says you need to? You can put any response you want as long as the question will trigger your memory.

So the answer to ‘my first love’ becomes Oreos or NY Nut Fudge. It’s not like they check your answers.

They can ask anything they want and you can interpret it any way you want. Passwords do not require honesty.

What about writing them down?

I have my Ameritrade account number and password written down, but not all together. The Account number is in two pieces in two unconnected places. Same with the password.

And if you do keep a list and someone breaks into your home passwords will be the least of your worries.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped my friend.

Flickr image credit: Paul O’Rear

Ducks in a Row: Words vs. Actions

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/australianshepherds/5913720524/Today’s message is simple and should come as no surprise: people are more attuned to what you do than what you say.

Following is an excerpt from a reader who is a middle manager in the health care industry.

“Things have been going pretty well in my world. But boy the bigger my organization gets the less personal it gets. Twice in the last few months I’ve e-mailed the concerns of my employees to higher ups and gotten back the message almost verbatim – “if they aren’t happy, perhaps this isn’t the best fit for them” – with no actually reference made to the concern I brought up.

Another Radiology Manager in the system is leaving because she kept hearing that at her manager meetings too and got sick of it.

Yet some of our evaluation points are about our “work family” and treating each other with respect, etc. and taking initiative. To me it appears we put the right thing down on paper and have an unspoken different approach all together on how to treat employees.”

The problem isn’t one of bigger = impersonal, nor is it exclusive to healthcare or large organizations.

The problem is either

  • bad management, using “we are so busy” as a cover for “don’t bother us;” or
  • hypocrisy, as in “do as I say, not as I do.”

Which is it?

Bad attitude or hypocrisy?

Does it matter?

Whatever the reason ignoring the problem yields the same result: increased turnover with associated costs, impaired efficiency as new people hit the learning curve and a likely drop in customer satisfaction.

Flickr image credit: carterse

What is Diversity?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137737248/Last Thursday we looked at the need for women employees (with clout) considering the new reality where women have become the majority of early adopters.

Let me make something crystal clear; diversity involves far more than people looking different—true diversity will occasionally make you uncomfortable.

Not the discomfort that stems from bigotry, but the kind that that rattles our assumptions and makes us think.

Rather than reinventing the wheel I am reposting (with light editing) something from several years ago that hits the true diversity nail on the head.

Is Your Team Diverse Or Just Look It?

In an earlier post about diversity I ended with this—

Another way to look at it is that if spending $100 results in a bottom line increase of $1000, did you really spend the $100, or did you gain $900? That $900 that wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t invested the initial $100.

Any increased spending on diversity development is an investment and will be more than offset by the increases in innovation, productivity and revenues.

The real question is how do you define diversity?

Old diversity focuses on diversity of race, gender, orientation, creed and national origin.

New diversity includes all of the above plus diversity of thought.

Think about it, with a little effort a manager can create a diverse group who all think the same way—George W. Bush’s initial Cabinet looked diverse, but their MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) was homogeneous.

It’s far more difficult to put together a group of totally diverse thinkers. Managers tend to hire in their comfort zone and more and more that refers to how people think, rather than how they look.

So what can you do to ensure that you’re building a truly diversified team?

Here are five key points to keep in mind before and after hiring.

  1. Avoid assumptions. People aren’t better because they graduated from your (or your people’s) alma mater, come from your hometown/state or worked for a hot company.
  2. Know your visual prejudices. Everybody has them (one of mine is dirty-looking, stringy hair), because you can’t hear past them if you’re not aware of them.
  3. Listen. Not to what the words mean to you, but what the words mean to the person speaking.
  4. Be open to the radical. Don’t shut down because an idea is off the wall at even the third look and never dismiss the whole if some part can be used.
  5. Be open to alternative paths. If your people achieve what they should it doesn’t matter that they did it in a way that never would have crossed your mind.

Most importantly, if you’re totally comfortable, with nary a twinge to ripple your mental lake, your group is probably lacking in diversity.

Flickr image credit: lumaxart

Quotable Quotes: Women Entrepreneurs

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Throughout the ages there have been women who acted out against whatever the day’s norm was, ignored the nay-sayers and made their mark.

View more presentations from Ravi Verma


Expand Your Mind: Social Innovation

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

There are multiple articles in two of today’s links, so you may want to bookmark them.

The first is from the IBM Institute for Business Value (to which you can subscribe for free) and offers links to several studies on social CRM. You can also participate in a short survey about how social is being used in your company.

I’ve sent you to The Mix in previous posts; they just posted the winners in each category and they are worth checking out.

We launched the inaugural Harvard Business Review/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation nearly a year ago. Today, we are so proud to announce the grand prize winners as well as the “Management Innovator of the Year” Award.

Last week I wrote about how Facebook was turning “Likes” into endorsements for which it’s paid. That’s changing as part of the settlement of a class action lawsuit.

Facebook has agreed to make it clear to users that when they click to like a product on Facebook, their names and photos can be used to plug the product. They will also be given a chance to decline the opportunity to be unpaid endorsers.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

If the Shoe Fits: Security, LinkedIn and You

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mWhen you sign up for an online service are you entitled to assume a reasonable level of data security?

If so, what is reasonable?

Most of us expect a much higher level of security from our bank than we do from our social network.

However, most of us do expect basic security efforts from our social networks—especially the ones that have been around for a while, are long past the startup stage and have plenty of money—like LinkedIn.

What has surprised customers and security experts alike is that a company that collects and profits from vast amounts of data had taken a bare-bones approach to protecting it. The breach highlights a disturbing truth about LinkedIn’s computer security: there isn’t much.

It was a (relative) snap to steal the 6 million plus passwords, since LinkedIn didn’t bother with any kind of password encryption.

You might say that the kind of data supplied to LinkedIn isn’t sensitive in the same way as financial data, but I would disagree.

There is enough biographical data to spoof identity or provide a trail of breadcrumbs to seriously sensitive information, such as social security numbers, health data and bank accounts, if someone knows what they’re doing.

But that’s not all.

LinkedIn mobile app subscribers may be surprised to learn that the calendar entries on their iPhones or iPads— which may include details about meeting locations, participants, dial-in information, passwords and sensitive meeting notes — are transmitted back to LinkedIn’s servers without their knowledge.

Just think what could happen if those meeting notes included a startup’s secret sauce or the details of a term sheet.

Most people have a good sense of what is unreasonable security-wise, but it usually surfaces only after a breech.

What do you think?

What’s reasonable?

What do your users want?

What do you owe them?

Option Sanity™

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock allocation system.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.
Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Gals and/or Guys?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67835627@N05/7301107446/in/photostream/For years I’ve wondered why the target of advertisers and companies was 18-35 year old males; a target that, based on my experience and observations, was incredibly fickle and rarely had the money to spend that other demographic groups had.

But what did I know?

Apparently more than I thought.

If you are a startup, especially a tech startup, you need to do two things.

First take a hard look at stats that could make or break your success.

It turns out women are our new lead adopters. When you look at internet usage, it turns out women in Western countries use the internet 17 percent more every month than their male counterparts. Women are more likely to be using the mobile phones they own, they spend more time talking on them, they spend more time using location-based services. But they also spend more time sending text messages. Women are the fastest growing and largest users on Skype, and that’s mostly younger women. Women are the fastest category and biggest users on every social networking site with the exception of LinkedIn. Women are the vast majority owners of all internet enabled devices–readers, healthcare devices, GPS–that whole bundle of technology is mostly owned by women. –Genevieve Bell, Intel researcher

Along with the stats, you would do well to keep in mind that women are social creatures who love to share—especially tips and opinions.

Then take a hard look at your staff.

How many women have been hired? In what roles? How many are in a position to provide input to your products or services? How often is that input applied, i.e., how much weight does “her” opinion actually carry?

Does it matter? Are her ideas really so different?

It definitely does matter if you plan to sell to her.

And the one thing you should have learned in the course of your life, whether you are 20 or 60, is that boys and girls are different.

They do not

  • think alike or even about the same things in the same way;
  • use language the same way (“men negotiate status; women talk for connectivity” –Deborah Tannen)
  • run on the same time table;
  • consider the same things important or
  • prioritize similarly.

The list goes on and on.

Given that, how do you propose to develop products and services they will pay for if your whole team thinks like a guy because they are guys?

““““““““““““““““““““““

Sunday was Father’s Day and I shared Martin Sheen’s thoughts on fatherhood, but the thoughts from some of Silicon Valley’s “hottest dads” are definitely worth the read.

I WANT  YOUR STORY
Be the Thursday feature – Entrepreneurs: [your company name]
Share the story of your startup today.
Send it along with your contact information and I’ll be in touch.
Questions? Email or call me at 360.335.8054 Pacific time.

Flickr image credit: moodboardphotography

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