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Archive for September, 2016

If the Shoe Fits: Poor Baby vs. AppLovin

Friday, September 30th, 2016

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mA founder I know is complaining that almost it’s impossible to achieve unicorn status with investment dollars so tight.


I guess nobody told the founders of AppLovin, who just sold a majority stake in the 115 person company for $1.4 billion.

The mobile ad network was founded in 2011 by Adam Foroughi, Andrew Karam and John Krystynak and has  never taken traditional venture capital funding.
“I couldn’t find anyone to give us an investment at what I thought was a reasonable starting point valuation (maybe $4 million or $5 million) and, by the end of our first year of operations, we were profitable and doing over $1 million a month in revenue,” he explains. “So I put together a round with angels not really because we needed the cash, but because I thought these were influential people who could help us grow.” Adam Foroughi to Forbes’ Dan Primack

Easy money made for high valuations sans revenue.

These days you need actual revenue as opposed to users, promises, and sunny predictions.

My reaction can easily be summed up in one word.


Image credit: Hiking Artist

Entrepreneurs: KG, Quarrio and the Salesforce Incubator

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

KG Charles-Harris is a serial entrepreneur whose current startup, Quarrio, is involved in big data using AI.

As longtime readers know, KG writes here whenever he has time, which he hasn’t had much of lately. His most recent post on leadership was a two-parter (you can read it here and here in case you missed it).

Today, I need to share some great news about KG and his startup Quarrio. (KG would be writing this, but he’s sick.)

Quarrio is a business intelligence product built on top of Salesforces’ platform.

What we do is Business Intelligence for Salesforce. How we do it is quite a bit different. With Quarrio we make it simple to analyze Salesforce by using conversations. We help you understand what’s happening to your opportunities, leads, accounts – just about anything in Salesforce — by simply having conversations.

Simply put, you ask questions in plain English and immediately answers in plain English, along with graphs, charts, etc., if apropos.

That ability will be a little slice of heaven for anyone who needs to get information from the dashboard.

Now for the great news.

Salesforce opened a new incubator today.

The new space, called the Salesforce Incubator, finally opened on Wednesday. Located in San Francisco’s SOMA district, where a lot of startups open shop these days, Salesforce Incubator will house 14 startups for the next 5 months for free.

And Quarrio is one of the chosen!


“Freemium” isn’t a winning strategy for enterprise software, as Dropbox can attest.

In general, incubators are useful, but, for an enterprise startup using Salesforce’s platform, the focus, connections and access of the Salesforce incubator are unparalleled.

Obviously, it will be an intense five months.

Image credit: Salesforce

Wisdom from a Millennial Friend

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016


I believe that wisdom isn’t necessarily a matter of age or experience, but rather the result of deep thinking, as opposed to distracted thinking.

Last spring my young friend, “Carrie,” started an online diary. The entries are very brief, but the thought behind them is anything but.

They contain far more thought and intelligent conclusions than many folks who have been around decades longer — of course, most people have never asked the questions, let alone thought deeply about them.

Carrie has a brutal schedule, so there are only four entries, which means it will only take a few minutes for you to read them.

Here are a couple of teasers.

Trust me,…Honestly,… But here’s the thing,…
Society has developed a language of layers. We talk in circles that have little points and more layers of why anything and everything happened.


Push or get pushed. Walk or get walked on. Laugh or be laughed at. The concept of survivor of the fittest grows unnaturally in our culture.

However, it will take much longer to follow the thoughts they trigger.

Image credit credit: Chris McBrien

Ducks in a Row: 4 Absolute Management Truths

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


  • I believe that people would rather have a lousy job working for a great person than a great job working for a bad manager.
  • And I believe very strongly that the single largest component of a business that adds to shareholder value is great management, and the single largest destroyer of shareholder value is bad management.
  • Now, being a good manager is really, really difficult. And the sooner people who are managers recognize that, the sooner they’ll start being a good manager.
  • It takes unbelievable courage to be a good manager. It is hard to have difficult conversations with people when they’re not doing well. Who likes to do that? That takes courage. You can’t slide out of the way and hope it’s going to take care of itself.Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos (a global vendor of workforce management enterprise software)

Not a lot for me to add, considering I’ve been saying the same thing for over a decade, but maybe hearing it from Ain will carry more weight.

High employee retention pays off; Kronos is a billion dollar company based on revenue, not investment rounds.

“Kronites who feel valued stay longer and develop a deeper understanding of and stronger relationships with our customers. It is their experience and knowledge that allows Kronos to deliver incredibly innovative products and a superior customer experience.”

Image credit: Wilson Bilkovich

Golden Oldies: Staff R (not) Me

Monday, September 26th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Last Tuesday, We considered the bottom line value of gratitude, which reminded me of a post from 2009 when I wrote a leadership blog for B5 Media. Good morning. Thanks. I appreciate X. So few words, so little effort and such enormous returns.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

different_1Back when I wrote for B5 media, Phil Gerbyshak over at Slacker Manager quoted an interesting statistic. He said that “7% of employees leave their managers because they didn’t say good morning.”

In the conversation that follows, Roger says, “I have always been of the ilk that I don’t always say “Good morning” to people in the office. I have felt that once a week is good enough… However, this is probably just a reflection of what feedback I personally need. As a manager I have to think that others are different and have different needs.” (Current links unavailable.)

Phil Gerbyshak over at Slacker Manager quoted an interesting statistic. He said that “7% of employees leave their managers because they didn’t say good morning.”

In the conversation that follows, Roger says, “I have always been of the ilk that I don’t always say “Good morning” to people in the office. I have felt that once a week is good enough… However, this is probably just a reflection of what feedback I personally need. As a manager I have to think that others are different and have different needs.”

I worked for a guy like this. Oh, he said good morning and was a really nice guy, but he didn’t understand that our needs differed from his.

Most of us are like that to some extent. We see the world through our own MAP and unconsciously make the assumption that others see it the same way.

This is especially true with regards to people we’re close to, such as family, or with whom we’re friendly, such as team members, peers, colleagues, even bosses.

Think about it. How many times have you recommended a book or movie only to have the person ask you why in the world you suggested it; or introduced two people you really liked only to find that they can’t stand each other.

My old boss didn’t care about pats on the back, positive feedback or congratulations when he accomplished a critical piece of the sales process. It’s not that he wouldn’t do it, but he just didn’t think of it on his own.

I still remember one time that I closed a really big deal. He was out of the office, so I put the paperwork dead center on his desk where he couldn’t miss seeing it. He came back mid-morning, but it wasn’t until I went to his office, asked and he congratulated me—but when you have to ask, it has no value.

And even when he did say the right thing it was obvious that he didn’t know why he was saying it. It wasn’t that he didn’t mean it, he did, but he never really understood why it needed to be said.

So more important than saying the right thing; saying it at the right time; or honestly meaning it; is taking the time to learn and understand why you’re saying it.

Image credit: flickr

If the Shoe Fits: Tesla Lawsuit

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mYesterday’s post focused on Tesla’s hacking and the lack of focus on security by tech, which is serious.

Today’s post is also about Tesla and I think it’s hilarious.

First, two facts.

  • People who grow up in the US know that marketing language should not be taken literally.
  • KG tells me that there are more Teslas in Norway per capita than anywhere else.

But Norway isn’t the US.

Tesla is being sued because a number of Norwegians don’t think the product lives up to the hype.

Some 126 owners of the Tesla Model S sedan’s P85D performance version are seeking unspecified reimbursements after the model only reached 469 horsepower instead of a pledged 700 hp, said Kaspar N. Thommessen, an attorney at Wikborg Rein law firm representing the plaintiffs.

Elon Musk is having a very bad week.

Poor Elon.

Hat tip to AnandSanwal/CB Insights for pointing me to this story.

Image credit: Hiking Artist

Entrepreneurs: Tesla Hack

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/30998987@N03/16642738584I’ve been writing (ranting?) about the security dangers of IoT and the connected world in general.

Security seems to be an afterthought— mostly after a public debacle, as Chrysler showed when Jeep was hacked.

GM took nearly five years to fully protect its vehicles from the hacking technique, which the researchers privately disclosed to the auto giant and to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the spring of 2010.

Pity the half million at-risk OnStar owners.

A few days ago Tesla was hacked by Chinese white hat Keen Team.

“With several months of in-depth research on Tesla Cars, we have discovered multiple security vulnerabilities and successfully implemented remote control on Tesla Model S in both Parking and Driving Mode.”

They hacked the firmware and could activate the brakes, unlock the doors and hide the rear view mirrors.

Tesla is the darling of the Silicon Valley tech set and Elon Musk is one of the Valley gods, but it still got hacked. And the excuse of being new to connected tech just doesn’t fly.

And if connected car security is full of holes, imagine the hacking opportunities with self-driving cars.

The possibilities are endless. I can easily see hackers, or bored kids, taking over a couple of cars to play chicken on the freeway at rush hour.

Nice girls don’t say, ‘I told you so’, but I’m not nice, so — I told you so.

Image credit: mariordo59

Ignoring Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016


It is said, “as you sow so shall you reap.”

If you had any doubts the results of our educational system over the last five decades should end them.

It’s too bad politicians, especially those in the GOP, ignored (and continue to ignore)  the words of one of the truly great Republicans.

Abraham Lincoln.

Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults.

“Children” is plural and, since there is no modifier, inclusive.

Something the US educational system isn’t.

Or perhaps that’s what our politicians want.

An ignorant and unthinking population.

Poor Abe.

He must be spinning in his grave like a top.

Image credit: JBrazito

Ducks in a Row: Time to Be Grateful

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


How grateful are you? Not just for the big things, like not being hit by the guy who ran the light, but for the everyday stuff?

Who do you take time to be grateful to? Your spouse/partner, kids, colleagues, boss?

How do you show your gratitude? A quick verbal thanks, email, text, hand-written note?

As CEO of Campbell Soup, Doug Conant sent more than 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to staffers and clients driving the creation of a “culture of gratitude across the company.

…when Conant took the reins at Campbell Soup, the stock price was falling and it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world, according to Fast Company. By 2009, the company was ahead of the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500….

Journalist Janice Kaplan spent a year documenting the effects of gratitude and shares the info in “The Gratitude Diaries” and uses Conant’s behavior as an example of a leader who harnessed the power of recognition to boost his team’s performance.

Such a little thing for such a giant effect. People do notice.

When Kaplan visited the Business Insider office in August, she said that a survey she conducted with the John Templeton Foundation found that about 90% of people said a grateful boss was more likely to be successful.

Bosses frequently poo-poo the idea of saying ‘thanks’; their reason being that people should be grateful to have a job. This is especially true in a down economy — which is shortsighted and stupid.

But, as the man said, the times they are a’changing.

In the last few years, more and more leaders have started to adopt this practice, including Mark Zuckerberg, who in 2014 challenged himself to write one thank-you note every day, according to The Washington Post.

Gratitude — taking that bit of time to say ‘thanks’ — costs nothing and offers some of the highest ROI of any action you may take.

Image credit: purdman1

Golden Oldies: Your Energy Banks

Monday, September 19th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. I wrote the following way back on 2006 and believe it applies even more now.

 People spend great effort learning new skills and pushing themselves to grow. They are busier, with more claims on their time; social media and FOMO eat hours and all of them require energy — especially change. Even the people who successfully juggle all this feel no joy; the zest is gone and happiness is a dim memory. Listen to their voice and you can hear that their energy is almost non-existent. Now, as then, I hope this post is of use.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

Do you have an energy budget? You should. Everything you do takes some kind of energy and your energy at any given time is finite.

As with any resource, it’s important to know where you’re spending it, how much you have left, and when you need to make a deposit.

It’s also important to recognize that you can spend energy moving forward or spinning your wheels—the first is an investment with discernible ROI, while the second is a waste.

There are three kinds of energy

  • physical,
  • mental, and
  • psychic (different from mental)

and you draw some of each for any given task. This is especially true when working to change something in your MAP because you need to

  • be awake and alert,
  • think, and
  • actuate, i.e., make the changes real.

Three kinds of energy, but only one bank for each type—not one set for professional use and one for personal.

Since an effort to change is ongoing, you’ll be drawing on your three energy banks at various times and in various amounts. These requirements need to be added to the energy needs for the rest of what you’re doing, both personally and professionally, and prioritized. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.

As with any bank account you need to make more deposits than withdrawals or you’ll end up like Enron. It’s your responsibility to keep them filled, just as it is to keep money in your bank account if you plan to write checks and gas in your car if you’re driving somewhere—it doesn’t happen by accident.

Moreover, what replenishes your spouse/SO/kids/pets/whatever’s energy won’t necessarily replenish yours (and vice versa).

That means that you need to learn what actions/inactions replenishes each kind of energy for you and then do them.

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