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If the Shoe Fits: Do You Assume?

Friday, November 13th, 2015

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mWhy is it that we assume the people in our own little bit of world see/do/think as we do.

Think about it.

Do you assume that when faced with choices they will choose as you would?

Do you assume the visions presented by your leaders are honest, true and in your best interest?

Do you assume your religious leaders practice what they preach?

Do you assume your spouse/partner/friend will like the movie/book/people that you like?

Do you assume your team will tackle work/projects in the same way you do?

Think about it.

For any of these assumptions to be true, the people involved would have to have exactly the same MAP and life experience that you have—which is impossible.

So the next time you find yourself assuming stop and remind yourself that they are not you.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Funding and Values

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlehet/1034583790/

Sanity is waxing, while funding craziness is waning

This means you will be working even harder than you have been to move your vision forward.

With money getting tighter does that mean you should grab whatever funding available?

Short answer, NO — getting in bed with an investor should signal a long-term relationship, not a hook-up.

Longer answer, NO because…

All angels and seed investors are not created equal and it’s not the difference in money.

It’s the difference in MAP.

Money is only part of what you want from an investor.

Active interest, mentoring and contacts are what your investors should bring.

These are especially important with early-stage investors.

Just as important is a synergy between your values and the values of your initial investors, since values are what underlie your startup’s culture.

For example, if your values include a focus fairness, diversity and social give-back a la Salesforce and your investor’s values are strictly focused on minimizing costs to increase profits the relationship will be rocky, to say the least.

How do you know?

Smart founders do lots of due diligence and talking with founders of previously funded startups, whether they succeeded or failed.

Yes, it’s hard to say ‘no’ when the money is on the table.

But easier if you remember that while refusing funding may slow you down, taking it from the wrong person can kill you.

Flickr image credit: Michael Lehet

Entrepreneurs: Two Kinds of Alphas

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/5327720263/

I wrote the original of this post five years ago and posted this follow-up three years ago.

Considering the media frenzy around the lifestyles of tech CEOs I thought it was time to post it again.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about leadership that included a quote from the main character, a forensic anthropologist, in the TV show Bones.

Anthropology tells us that the Alpha male is the one with the crown, the most shiny baubles, the fanciest plumage, but I learned that the real alpha male is often in the shadows because he is busy shining the light on others.

Founders are typically alphas, whether male or female.

With that in mind I have a simple question to ask you.

Which kind of alpha are you?

Read the original post and then decide.

If you don’t like your answer choose to change.

There’s always a choice.

Flickr image credit: Tambako The Jaguar

If the Shoe Fits: Shooting From the Hip

Friday, May 15th, 2015

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mOne of the hardest things that founders/startups face is the need to grow up and stop shooting from the hip.

I hear the reasons not to all the time

  • It will ruin our culture.
  • It stifles creativity.
  • It’s for larger companies.
  • It’s bureaucratic.
  • It’s too time consuming.

“It” refers to the underpinnings of all successful companies. “It” includes the following, or variations thereof, in order of importance:

  • Financial controls that include, but are not limited to
    • monthly statements of revenues by product;
    • discounts;
    • costs by department;
    • cost of customer acquisition;
    • stock issuance;
    • cash flow;
    • hiring by department
  • Hiring process
  • Annual operating plan covering the above financial measures
  • Organization charts and definitions of responsibilities
  • Long-term planning
  • Centralized information technology implementation and planning

Whether it’s just you, or one, ten, fifty, or more employees, whether full time, part time or virtual, you need viable processes to keep you focused—think of it as coloring inside the lines.

Everything on this list can, and should, be tailored to your business model, but financial controls of one sort or another and a good hiring process are necessary to any business.

Sure, they can’t all be implemented at once, but none of them will happen as long as your MAP rejects or begrudges them—after all, you’re the founder and people will follow your lead.

Finally, don’t confuse process with bureaucracy.

Process is like MAP, it gets you where you want to go, whereas bureaucracy stifles whatever it touches.

Process, like MAP, is ever-growing, while bureaucracy is carved in stone.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Basic Choice

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/126369362@N04/14693029044Fact: culture stems from manager MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™).

Fact: there are two basic, unconscious attitudes that underlie MAP.

  • “TaIk to me, I don’t know everything;” or
  • “Shut up and do what I say; my vision, my way.”

Know which you are — brutally honest inside your head.

If you are the first then it should be a critical factor when hiring (easy to confirm when checking references).

If the second applies be prepared for higher attrition.

It’s your choice.

Image credit: Grace Keogh

Change Who?

Monday, April 27th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/8889686201

Having trouble getting people to do things differently or do something new?

According to Henry Thoreau, “Things don’t change, people do.”

Over the years, I’ve watched managers and companies try to change the outcome without changing the input.

They’ve talked/explained/begged/pleaded/threatened, but nothing changes.

They are suffering from Einstein’s version of insanity.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If change is the goal, it’s best to start with yourself.

To change what they do, change how you think.”

You need to change because the way you think, what you think, how you think, and what you believe — in other words your MAP — dictates the authenticity of what you do and the responses you get.

No matter what great ideas you read, hear or talk, no matter what great leader you try and channel, you will always walk your own MAP.

Image credit: Newtown graffiti

Internal Leadership

Monday, April 20th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101181388@N07/14876534990

Do you equate leadership to influence?

Does being labeled an “influencer” by LinkedIn or other social media make you a leader?

Not really.

True leadership is internal.

It’s a function of your MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™).  

It starts by knowing both yourself and your MAP.

Knowing yourself refers to knowing what you’ve done.

Knowing your MAP means knowing why you did it.

Knowing both allows you to accurately evaluate where you are and where you’re going.

That knowledge is the rudder with which you can chart and achieve any course you choose.

Image credit: Jevgenijs Slihto

Surviving And Thriving Through Life

Monday, January 26th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/9683988643

Good stuff comes and bad stuff happens; people come and go—and die; great bosses join—and leave; companies start, grow, get acquired, shrink, layoff and file bankruptcy.

It’s called life; and no matter what you do, it rolls on inexorably

You can influence it, but you can’t control it.

The only thing you can control in life is yourself and your MAP.

We all have a tendency to forget this.

For better or for worse, you are the only thing you will always have; the only thing you can truly count on, so why not appreciate yourself? Value the best and improve the rest.

There is only one you and you get to live only one life, so focus your time and energy on changing/adjusting/enhancing what you do control and let the rest go.

Image credit: Celestine Chua

Entrepreneurs: the Magic of Urgency

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bullgator0892/11371185513

Steve Jobs is an icon and a beacon to entrepreneurs around the globe, although not as a management role model.

Many have weighed in on what made Jobs so great, but in a recent talk Malcolm Gladwell focused on a trait that anyone, in any field and any position can cultivate and become great at.
It’s not a trait that’s inborn nor does it require any special abilities.

It’s what Jobs had in abundance; it’s what drove him.

It’s what you can have, too.

What is this magical trait?

“Urgency,” Gladwell declared, characterizes Jobs and other immortal entrepreneurs. (…)  “The difference isn’t resources,” Gladwell said. “It’s attitude.”

Cultivate urgency.

Own it.

Flickr image credit: Pati Morris

If the Shoe Fits: Founder Talk vs. Founder Walk

Friday, September 12th, 2014

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mFounders constantly talk about their need for ‘self-starters’ and ‘independent workers’.

They look for people who will ‘take the ball and run with it’.

They want high initiative and creative problem-solving.

What they really crave is a self-managing workforce or as close as they can get.

The disconnect results from the differences between what they say and their MAP.

If MAP fears any of the following then there is no way the walk can live up to the talk.

And while the answers to these questions require being brutally honest with yourself, they do not require being made public.

  • Does letting go/delegating equal loss of control?
  • Is your self esteem tied to methodology or accomplishments (AKA, your way or the highway)?
  • Do you believe it’s more important that work is done well, than where or how it happens?
  • Does your self-esteem equate control to power?
  • Do you believe that people are intelligent, motivated and really care about their company’s success, OR that they are that you need to watch them every minute if anything is going to get done?
  • How much of a micromanager are you?

Once you identify attitudes that need to change it’s up to you to modify your MAP as needed.

MAP can be changed, but those changes must originate internally—they can’t be forced by circumstances or other people, although either can be motivators.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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