Archive for January, 2010

Quotes for Entrepreneurs – January 2010

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
G. K. Chesterton

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“No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.”
Ian E. Wilson

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“Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean the market cares any longer.” Seth Godin “Learning from Groucho Marx

Full quote

“Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean the market cares any longer.  It’s extremely difficult to repair the market. Find a market that will respect and pay for the work you can do. Technology companies have been running this race for years. Now, all of us must.”

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“To sway an audience, you must watch them as you speak.”
C. Kent Wright

This is from the introduction to his book “Unaccustomed as I am…“  an anthology of quotes for “after dinner speakers.” He offers it as item 6 in a list of 7 “don’ts.”

6. Don’t in any circumstances read your speech, but speak from notes if you must. To sway an audience, you must watch them as you speak.”

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“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways, gradually and then suddenly.”
Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

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“It is not written anywhere that raising money is the first step in starting a company. Or any step at all.” Venture Hacks

This was a tweet from their twitter feed that is not attributed and doesn’t appear on their site. I assume that it is original with Nivi or Naval.

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“I’m not happy. I’m cheerful. There’s a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them.” Beverly Sills

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“A million man years has been spent on Artificial Intelligence.”
Monica Anderson
in “Could AI Be Easy?

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“On average you have to earn 2.5X to be as happy working for someone else as working for yourself.”
Scott Andrew Shane in “The Illusion of Entrepreneurship: the Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By

Full quote

“There’s another reason that people aren’t necessarily foolish when they start businesses, despite the poor financial performance of the average startup. Entrepreneurship provides a very important non-financial benefit: it makes people happier. [...] In fact, studies show that to be as satisfied when he is working for others as he is when he is working for himself, the average person needs to earn two-and-a-half times as much money!”

What makes entrepreneurs more satisfied:

  • Flexibility to work and care for small children at the same time
  • Working in a small organization where they can interact directly with everyone in the company
  • the autonomy, flexibility, and greater control over their lives

By implication, if entrepreneurs can offer flexibility, interaction with everyone on the team, autonomy they can compete more effectively for employees.

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“We don’t encourage people to quit their jobs, gainful employment is a legitimate funding vehicle in this financial market.”
Adeo Ressi of the Founder Institute in “Silicon Valley’s New Sport: Extreme Bootstrapping

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“The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: energy, matter, and enlightened self-Interest.”
J. Michael Straczynski

It’s a line Straczynski added for G’Kar speaking to Garibaldi in Babylon 5: “Survivors”

“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 people”
Momus (Nick Currie) in “Pop Stars Neine Danke

Referenced in “Sean Murphy — I don’t read read him regularly but hear that I should.”

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“I have been described as ‘impatient for action, but patient for results.’”
John Bogle in “On Leadership

There are a number of excellent speeches cataloged in the “Bogle Financial Markets Research Center

Sean Murphy – I Don’t Read Him Regularly, But I Hear That I Should

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, Customer Development, skmurphy

In a long and somewhat rambling blog post “Customer Development and the Lean Startup,” that contains a long laundry list of resources for entrepreneurs on Customer Development and Lean Startup resources, Yury Tsukerman lists “the key players” and drops this short comment

Sean Murphy – I don’t read him regularly, but I hear that I should.

Not since Techdirt used me in a promotional picture (see “Born with a Face Made for Podcasting“) have I felt such a sense of warm endorsement. So here is a tip for my 15 readers on how to deal with your 285 nano-centuries of fame: add a nice comment to the bottom of the blog. Which I did:

I think a post that describe how you have applied a subset of these principles and what you have learned would be very useful, it’s clear that you have your own insights on these topics.

There is a good conversation going on in the Lean Startup Circle, it would be great to see you take part.

I have a blog category devoted to Customer Development if you are interested.

If you are having trouble finding time to read my blog here are five posts that I believe represent the range of my writing. Clearly I need to take a page out of the Venture Hacks notebook and create an index for the 550 posts I have written over the last four years.

But it’s been a few weeks and I am not closer to my master index so I would appreciate your help. Let me know which of my blog posts you found especially useful (or an old one now desperately in need of a re-write/update) and any areas or topics you would like to see me address.


Notes

  1. “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 people” Momus (Nick Currie) in “Pop Stars Neine Danke
  2. One handy conversion factor to remember is Tom Duff’s “Pi seconds is a nanocentury.
  3. “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutesAndy Warhol 
  4. Fewer footnotes probably not a bad idea either.

Lindsay Robertson Do’s and Don’ts for On-Line Publicity

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

Great post by Lindsay Robertson on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Publicity, For Some Reason” where she lists nine rules of thumb for getting publicity. Here were my top three from here list (numbers are from the original: read the whole thing):

1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE means FOR IMMEDIATE DELETE to any blogger with any influence. Period.

3. A blogger’s resistance to marketing/publicity is directly proportionate to his or her influence as a blogger.

4. A Monkey Can Send a Mass Email: Build Relationships and Understand What Your Real Job Is

Some related posts:

Great Demo Workshop on March 17 2010

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Demos, Events

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

When: Wednesday March 17, 2010

  • AM Session: 8:15 am – 1:00 pm
  • PM Session: 1 – 5pm Advanced Topics (see below)

Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it — we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo! AM Session Cost (includes breakfast, lunch, copy of Peter Cohan’s “Great Demo!” book):

Register Great Demo Early Registration: $336
After March 4: $360

See also Feb 5 Announcement, Group Discounts Available for All Day Sessions

Update March 16:  Rescheduled due to illness to April 9, 2010 8:15 – 5:00opm

This seminar outlines a framework for the creation and delivery of improved demos and presentations to enable increased success in the marketing, sale, and deployment of software and related products. Whether it’s face to face, in a webinar, as a screencast, or as a self-running demo the ability to present the key benefits of your software product is essential to generating prospect interest and ultimately revenue. Peter Cohan of The Second Derivative gives us the recipe for a Great Demo!

“I am confident that with the insights gained from your workshop we will land more customers in fewer iterations.”
Lav Pachuri, CEO, Xleron Inc.

“Peter Cohan’s Great Demo method really works. It helped us win DEMOgod, and it has allowed us to explain our offering much more clearly to prospects.”
Chaim Indig, CEO, Phreesia
(See “DEMOgod Winner Phreesia Praises Peter Cohan Training“)

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Peter Cohan, Principal at Second Derivative
Community Web Site: www.DemoGurus.com

Peter Cohan is the founder and a principal of The Second Derivative, a consultancy focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results. In July 2004, he enabled and began moderating DemoGurus®, a community web exchange dedicated to helping sales and marketing teams improve their software demonstrations. In 2003, he authored Great Demo!, a book that provides methods to create and execute compelling demonstrations. The 2nd edition of Great Demo! was published March 2005.

Before The Second Derivative, Peter founded the Discovery Tools® business unit at Symyx Technologies, Inc., where he grew the business from an empty spreadsheet into a $30 million operation. Prior to Symyx, Peter served in marketing, sales, and management positions at MDL Information Systems, a leading provider of scientific information management software. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. and the board of advisors for Excellin, Inc. He holds a degree in chemistry.

Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manage and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.

Agenda:

  • 8:15 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:30 AM Workshop begins
  • Noon Lunch & De-brief
  • 1 PM Wrap up

Seating is Limited These are intensive sessions and we ask that you arrive at least 15 minutes before 8:30AM start time to ensure you will have a seat and won’t disrupt the session once it is underway.

PM Session: Advanced Topics

In response to requests for assistance on demo delivery we have added an afternoon session to our Great Demos workshop. If this is your first exposure to the Great Demo come for the morning and get a great overview of the methodology and stay for the afternoon if you would like an opportunity for more interactive training on advanced topics such as multi-solution, multi-player demonstrations, and vision generation demonstrations. The advanced topic session as covers real life issues like handling bugs, crashes, and time challenges.

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan is only available to people who have already attended the morning session or a previous Great Demo session.

When: Wednesday March 17, 2010   1:00 – 5:00 pm
Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
Cost $200  Register for the Advanced Topics

Advanced Topics Agenda:

  • 1 PM Advanced Topics
    • multiple solution demos
    • presenting to a mixed audience with different needs or information requirements
    • vision generation demonstrations
    • handling bugs, crashes, and time challenges.
  • 5 PM Wrap up

For more information: Theresa Shafer 408-252-9676 events@skmurphy.com

Foresight 2010 Conference Day Two

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Second day at the Foresight 2010 conference on “Synergy of Molecular Manufacturing and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)”

Tiny Tech Jobs was a conference sponsor, they not only list jobs on their site but also conferences and consultants.

About tinytechjobs: This site is dedicated to jobs using tiny technology, including careers in MEMS, nanotechnology, microtechnology, biotechnology, and information technology. Here you will find employment in such disciplines as chemistry, physics, materials science, MEMS and NEMS, microelectronics, microfluidics, microarrays, information technology, chip design, semiconductors, optics, photonics, optoelectronics, mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering, and other relevant fields.

Robin Hanson reprised his IEEE Spectrum article “Economics of the Singularity” but neither he nor David Friedman’s talk seemed to address what molecular manufacturing and embedded AI might yield. So I went and looked up Bruce Sterling’s “When Blobjects Rule the Earth,” his keynote at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles in August 2004 and have included a couple of trends he identified 6 years ago that have only gathered force:

  • Artifacts are made and used by hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.
  • Machines are made and used by customers, in an industrial society.
  • Products are made and used by consumers, in a military-industrial complex.
  • Gizmos are made and used by end-users, in whatever today is – a “New World Disorder,” a “Terrorism-Entertainment Complex,” our own brief interregnum.
  • A Gizmo is not manufacturable by any centrally planned society. A Gizmo is something like a Product, but instead of behaving predictably and sensibly for a mass market of obedient consumers, a Gizmo is an open-ended tech development project. In a Gizmo, development has been deputized to end-users.
  • End-Users, who are people like practically everybody in this audience, do a great deal of unpaid pro bono work in developing Gizmos. The true signs of a Gizmo are that it has a short lifespan and more functionality crammed into it than you will ever use or understand. A Gizmo is like a Product that has swallowed a big chunk of the previous society, and contains that within the help center and the instruction manual.
  • A Gizmo, unlike a Machine or a Product, is not efficient. A Gizmo has bizarre, baroque, and even crazy amounts of functionality. This Treo that I’m carrying here, this is a classic Gizmo: it’s a cellphone, a web browser, an SMS platform, an MMS platform, a really bad camera, and an abysmal typewriter, plus a notepad, a sketchpad, a calendar, a diary, a clock, a music player, and an education system with its own onboard tutorial that nobody ever reads. Plus I can plug extra, even more complicated stuff into it, if I take a notion. It’s not a Machine or a Product, because it’s not a stand-alone device. It is a platform, a playground for other developers. It’s a dessert topping, and it’s a floor wax.
  • Now, I could redesign this Gizmo to make it into a simple Product. But then this Gizmo would become a commodity. There would be little profit in that; in an end-user society like ours, Products come in bubblepak or shrinkwrap in big heaps, like pencils. There is no money in them.
  • So there are good reasons why a Gizmo is almost impossible to use. It’s because a Gizmo is delicately poised between commodity and chaos. It is trying to cram as much impossible complexity as it can, into an almost usable state. It is leaning forward into the future.
  • This is not a vision of utopia. This is a historical thesis. Like all previous history it is fraught with titanic struggle. We are facing a future world infested with digital programmability. A world where our structures and possessions include, as a matter of course, locaters, timers, identities, histories, origins, and destinations: sensing, logic, actuation, and displays. Loops within loops. Cycles within cycles.

Foresight 2010 Conference Day One

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Great presentation by Larry Millstein on “Sequencing Singla DNA molecules.” Cost per Human Genome sequence has been dropping rapidly and is on track to hit $1,000 in two to four years and $100 could happen this decade. This is enabling companies like Knome to offer complete genome sequencing and analysis for individuals. Another firm offering low cost DNA based testing (but not full sequencing) is  23andMe.

Some of the firms driving the sequencing revolution are

Another outstanding presentation was by Hod Lipson on “Adaptive and Self-Reflective Systems.” This video from TED on “Self-Aware Robots” includes short video segments that were included in his presentation; the videos page of the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory contains more interesting videos. Some key points:

  • If you give the controller the ability to run experiments you don’t need to give it as much information and it can actually climb out of “local minima” through experimentation more easily than existing controllers searching much larger databases.
  • This also gives the robot the ability to respond either to damage or changes in the environment since it will continue to run experiments and refine it’s model of itself and the world.
  • “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” His Eureqa program helps you make sense of data sets detecting hidden relationships and equations in the data. It was featured in Wired last year: “Download Your Own Robot Scientist.”
  • He made these same remarks in his talk from his paper “Evolutionary Robotics and Open-Ended Design Automation“:
    IMAGINE A LEGO SET AT YOUR DISPOSAL: Bricks, rods, wheels, motors, sensors and logic are your “atomic” building blocks, and you must find a way to put them together to achieve a given high-level functionality: A machine that can move itself, say. You know the physics of the individual components’ behaviors; you know the repertoire of pieces available, and you know how they are allowed to connect. But how do you determine the combination that gives you the desired functionality? This is the problem of Synthesis. Although engineers practice it and teach it all the time, we do not have a formal model of how open-ended synthesis can be done automatically. Applications are numerous. This is the meta-problem of engineering: Design a machine that can design other machines.

Brad Templeton gave a good talk on self-driving cars. They are much closer than you might think due to efforts by the Japanese and the US Military in particular. The last few entries for the “RoboCars” category of his blog provide a lot of the very interesting material and videos he worked into his presentation.
Brad notes in his blog: “I will also be doing my general Robocar talk on Wednesday, February 24th at the “Homebrew Robotics Club” of Silicon Valley. This is a great group of people who hack robotics as a hobby, and it means at the CMU building at NASA Ames Research Center. This event is free and open to the public.”

At Foresight 2010 This Weekend

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

I will be at the Foresight 2010 conference on “Synergy of Molecular Manufacturing and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)” this weekend and hope to blog some of the better sessions and anything else I learn. There is a twitter hashtag “#Foresight2010” you can use to follow conference tweets and the talks will also be broadcast on http://www.techzulu.com/live.html

Four good sites to track new technologies:

Federated Entrepreneurship 2

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Community of Practice, Events, skmurphy, Startups

Recapping on my earlier “Federated Entrepreneurship” post from January 5.

A federation is a union of partially self-governing units with a constitution that does not allow unilateral changes by a central governing body. I think it’s also a good model for what’s required to create an economically dynamic region. One parallel would be to a barn raising or Finnish talkoot, where a community comes together to solve an urgent problem that is beyond the means of a member or family in the community. As one of my old clients once remarked “it takes a village to raise a startup” and I think it takes a federation of entrepreneurs to improve the economy in a region.

Justin Bacon described this as a goal for his Minnesota Lean Startup Group in a comment on the LinkedIn Group

What we all hope to learn, the encouragement and advice that we give and/or receive, the lessons learned that we share and the relationships that we build, are as much about building this kind of community here locally as it is about helping us foster our own bootstrapped tech-startups.


Two other well known entrepreneurs have shifted their focus to entrepreneurial education.

Sramana Mitra outlined an ambitious New Year’s Resolution for 2010

Through the Entrepreneur Journeys project, I have come to conclude that the most vulnerable phase in an entrepreneur’s life is the pre $1 million revenue stage. This is where numerous ventures fail. Once the $1 million revenue milestone is crossed, entrepreneurs find it easier to find additional customers, manage working capital, and access funding, whether it is credit or equity.

In my roundtables, the vast majority of entrepreneurs I work with are in this rather vulnerable pre $1 million revenue stage.

Thus, I have come to the conclusion that if I could help a million entrepreneurs globally reach $1 million in revenue (and beyond), that would be the foundation of a robust, distributed, and sustainable economic value creation that would add up to a trillion dollars in global GDP. It would also result in creating at least 10 million jobs around the world.

Through my efforts — blog, books, columns, roundtables — I am trying to develop a scalable entrepreneurship education system that entrepreneurs from every corner of the world can access. I am sure, in 2010, this work will gain further momentum.

But I do need your help in getting the word out that this resource base is available for entrepreneurs who wish to access it. Each of you — if you believe in this vision — can directly or indirectly influence, perhaps, another hundred entrepreneurs, and help them clear the all-important $1 million revenue hurdle. By using bootstrapping, crisp positioning, and laser-sharp focus, entrepreneurs can, each in their individual domains, build small businesses with solid foundations.

Eric Ries also outlined a desire to move Towards a New Entrepreneurship in his first post of 2010:

When I started writing about the lean startup, my aspiration was to do more than just share a handful of tips and tricks that work for consumer internet startups. I believe the only way to improve our chances as entrepreneurs is to develop a working theory of entrepreneurship.

Like other industries – from publishing to automobiles – entrepreneurship is in the process of being disrupted by globalization. On the whole, this is a good thing for America and for our civilization. The cost of creating new companies is falling rapidly, and access to markets, distribution, and information is within the reach of anyone with an internet connection. The result is a profound democratization of the digital means of production.

In a subsequent post today Eric did a roundup of Lean Startup Resources; there is also this list of Meetups.

Related posts:

  • “Continuing Education in Entrepreneurship” from October 2006 suggests networking offers “knowledge that isn’t written down” (and not to be found in Mr. Google’s basement):
    “I had this epiphany that I had spent the last dozen years or so, since I started attending Software Entrepreneur Forum (now SDForum) and Churchill Club meetings, in this ad hoc program in continuing entrepreneurial education. Books are valuable, and not enough entrepreneurs do enough reading, but there is also a category of knowledge that hasn’t been written down yet. And you can gain wisdom from listening to someone who has played the game–even if it’s just their mistakes–that you would otherwise have to gain from your mistakes experience.”
  • Breakfast with Tom Anyos of Technology Ventures Corporation” Between 2002 and 2008 TVC offered a set of six monthly classes twice a year in Silicon Valley:
    • Entering the Entrepreneurial World
    • Market Research & the Marketing Plan
    • Financial Management
    • Preparing & Presenting the Business Plan
    • Operations Startup, Monitoring & Human Resources
    • The Term Sheet & Lessons Learned

Three Useful Search Tools: Keskese, Surf Canyon, and WhosTalkin

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Tools for Startups

I have been using three tools on a regular basis that I think complement Google:

  • WhosTalkin searches a variety of conversations including twitter and blog feeds. It’s handy, quick and claims “Our search and sorting algorithms combine data taken from over 60 of the Internet’s most popular social media gateways.”
  • SearchCanyon is useful if you really want to drill down on a topic, you can click on intermediate results that were useful to refine your search. I find this approach to be more useful than Clusty.
  • Keskese searches Google, Bing, and Yahoo in parallel, it’s lightning fast, and overlays a set of suggestion keywords to help you to continue to refine your search. I think it’s more useful for “mapping out” a search, where SearchCanyon allows you to drill in much more deeply once you know what you are looking for.

Federated Entrepreneurship

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Community of Practice, skmurphy, Startups

“Federated Entrepreneurship” was a phrase that William Krause used to explain 3Com’s model for management and innovation when he was CEO. Federation comes from a Latin word foedus for covenant or treaty and describes a union of partially self-governing units with a constitution that does not allow unilateral changes by a central governing body. It was a good model for the entrepreneurial business units at 3Com to pursue opportunities both independently and in concerted action.

I think it’s also a good model for what’s required to create an economically dynamic region. One parallel would be to a barn raising or Finnish talkoot, where a community comes together to solve an urgent problem that is beyond the means of a member or family in the community. As one of my old clients once remarked “it takes a village to raise a startup” and I think it takes a federation of entrepreneurs to improve the economy in a region.

Justin Bacon described this as a goal for his Minnesota Lean Startup Group in a comment on the LinkedIn Group

What we all hope to learn, the encouragement and advice that we give and/or receive, the lessons learned that we share and the relationships that we build, are as much about building this kind of community here locally as it is about helping us foster our own bootstrapped tech-startups.

I like the concept of simultaneously bootstrapping a startup and building a community. Many regions around the world aspire to improve the level of innovation and dynamism in their local economy. But the Silicon Valley model of technology entrepreneurship combined with risk capital is more than 100 years old: it can be traced to the founding of Federal Telegraph in 1909 (it’s noted by California Historical marker 836). Today’s efforts build on prior practices and institutions. See “Steve Blank on the ‘Secret History of Silicon Valley’“ for more details and the Silicon Valley Historical Society.

I think this means that each region needs to leverage its unique strengths new industries and local entrepreneurial activities. Put another way, Silicon Valley has already been invented, now we need to invent the regional models that will replace it.

It’s interesting that a number of the engineers behind the semiconductor revolution were from Midwestern Congregationalist Church backgrounds that emphasize a lack of hierarchy and a commitment to education and hard work. Some excerpts from Tom Wolfe’s “Robert Noyce and His Congregation” (a re-write of his earlier “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce.”):

ROBERT NOYCE, INVENTOR OF THE silicon microchip and co-founder of Intel, grew up in Grinnell, Iowa, one of countless small towns in the Midwest that had been founded in the 19th century as religious communities by so-called Dissenting Protestants: Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and many others. What Dissenting Protestants dissented from was the Church of England and its elaborate ties to British upper-class life. […]

The Congregational Church had no hierarchy. Each congregation was autonomous. A minister was a teacher rather than a holy shepherd with a flock. Each member of the Congregation was supposed to be his own priest, in direct communication with God. […]

This attitude had a fascinating corollary in education. Back East, as in Europe, engineering was an unfashionable field for any truly gifted student to go into. It was looked upon as nothing more than manual labor elevated to a science.[…]

An extremely bright student, the one possessing the quality known as genius, was infinitely more likely to go into engineering in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, or Wisconsin than anywhere Back East. As a result, the way to today’s Information Superhighway, more recently known as the Digital Revolution, was paved entirely by geniuses from the Midwest and farther west. […]

A decade later at Intel, Noyce decided to eliminate the notion of levels of management altogether. He and Moore ran the show; that much was clear. But below them there were only the strategic business segments, as they called them. They were comparable to the major departments in an orthodox corporation, but they had far more autonomy. Each was run like a separate corporation. Middle managers at Intel had more responsibility than most vice presidents Back East.

Joel Kotkin’s “Little Startup on the Prairie” has a section on “The Rise of the Brain Belt” (which builds on his earlier “The U. S. Brain Belt“) that outlines some other sources of opportunity:

“The Rise of the Brain Belt”

Perhaps even more important to the revival of the Heartland may be the growth of high-technology services and communications, energy production, manufacturing and warehouses as the critical levers for new employment and wealth creation. Only 10 percent of rural Americans live on farms and only 14 percent of the rural workforce is employed in farming. The area’s future clearly lies in the continued expansion of other industries.

The key to this growth is not merely cheap energy or labor; it’s the quality of the workforce. Although these areas are often seen as lacking in educated workers, many rural regions of the country—from New England to the Great Plains and even parts of the Sierras—actually have a surplus of skilled labor. The basis of this surplus lies in the high level of education among young people in many Heartland states. In virtually every measurement, students in key rural states—particularly the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas—tend to perform better than those in more urbanized ones, as measured by graduation rates, college attendance and enrollment in high-level science and education programs.

[…] The Internet is rapidly diminishing the traditional near monopoly of information that throughout history has belonged to the metropolis; today a farmer, a securities dealer, a machine shop proprietor or a software writer in a small town enjoys the same access to the latest market and technical information as someone located in midtown Manhattan or Silicon Valley. “

SKMurphy Featured In Case Study For Central Desktop

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business, Rules of Thumb, Tools for Startups

SKMurphy was interviewed and selected as one of a dozen case studies on Document Management Solutions for Consulting Groups by Central Desktop. Read about our innovative approach at “Document Management Solution helps SKMurphy Consulting Group Increase Productivity.

We make some strong claims in the case study:

  • Increased productivity – approximately 5 to 10 times more productive
  • Significantly sped up decision making time on projects
  • Eliminated version control issues for faster review cycles

The baseline is E-Mailing documents and phone tag. We rely on the edit lock that Central Desktop show to prevent you from editing the same file at the same time as someone else (this happens more than you might think as you get close to a deadline) and find that setting update notification for two hours encourages other members of the team to contribute.

We use Central Desktop to work with all of our clients and have found that it allows us to respond with drafts much more quickly and to achieve a working consensus in a few hours to a day or two. We use it to rapidly prototype the content for key E-Mails, presentation outlines, datasheets, backgrounders, and other content or documents that are used in the sales or customer engagement process by our clients. Each of our clients has their own password protected workspace, as well as any attendee at a workshop who wants one. We also use them for projects with our partners.

We think this approach offers them the following benefits:

  • The workspaces are searchable and both the wiki pages and attached files are under version control so they good visibility and control over our joint work product, whether it is in planning stages, in process, or had been delivered.
  • Meetings and conference calls are more productive. We use the same wiki page can be used the agenda, notes in process during the meeting, and for minutes and action items afterward. There is one place to look for anything about a meeting and it can have hyperlinks to other content that was discussed. This is an order of magnitude more productive than reconciling a stream of E-Mails for agenda and minutes.
  • The workspace is the first place to look and it’s more easily organized than anyone’s inbox. It’s not uncommon for us to run a Skype text chat session for conference calls and append that to the meeting page as well. This is a lightweight approach to making meetings more productive and because things get documented immediately you have more of a complete archive as you add folks to the team or want to look back in two or three months to see what was decided.
  • We normally include the cost of Central Desktop in our engagement fees but have turned over the workspace to clients at the end of an assignment. One client we worked with in 2006 through 2008 had more than 550 pages and attached files in the workspace.

We have been working in wikis since we started in 2003. We chose Central Desktop in 2006 and phased other wiki platforms out except where a customer is already using one. We have more than a hundred distinct workspaces (some are archived) that have been used with clients, workshop attendees, partner projects, and internal projects.

We are happy to have a phone conversation if you are interested in trying to incorporate them into your business: Sean has given a number of talks on them as well if you would like a briefing or presentation for your group or event. We do not resell Central Desktop and we were not compensated by them for the case study: we agreed to talk about it because we have been satisfied customers for more than three years.

Related blog posts on wikis:

One Door Closes, Another Opens

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

I had the privilege to hear Andrew Grove address the Churchill Club on November 6, 2001 at a dinner meeting in San Jose. His autobiography “Swimming Across” had recently been published and he recounted some key events in his life in the course of his talk.

After he escaped from Hungary following the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 he made his way to New York in 1957 and associated with a group of fellow Hungarians.

He remarked that the emigres divided into two camps. Those that lamented what had been left behind in Hungary and the way of life that had been lost and those that looked to future opportunities now that they were in America. He resolved to join he second group.

This was only a few weeks after 9/11 and I found this observation personally very moving. I later came across a quote by Helen Keller from “We Bereaved” which was a succinct encapsulation:

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

It’s New Year’s Day, the start of a new year and a new decade. Join me in making the effort to see new opportunities.

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