Archive for November, 2011
November 30th, 2011
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“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
Donald A. Adams
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“Abbot Zerchi smiled thinly. ‘You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.’”
Walter M. Miller “A Canticle for Leibowitz“
hat tip to “My Small Boat” blog.
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“Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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“If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult.”
Heraclitus (Fragment 18)
I used this as the opening quote for “Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself to Be Surprised”
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“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.
Paulo Coelho “The Alchemist”
I used this as a coda to Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself To Be Surprised
h/t to Johnnie Moore’s “Decisions” where he offers this additional insight:
“People are easily preoccupied with the idea of making a decision as if it’s all about creating certainty. What it’s more about embarking on an adventure? And if it is, are we looking to pressgang the crew or are we taking willing volunteers?”
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“I need to get some sleep. People on the Internet will still be wrong tomorrow.”
A riff on xkcd’s “Duty Calls” that I used for Late Night Comments and E-Mail” but Treacher offers better advice.
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“The long tail is for organizations that own warehouses.”
Seth Godin in “The Starfish and the Long Tail Have Trouble Getting Along“
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“We are responsible for actions performed in response to circumstances for which we are not responsible” Allan Massie
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“When in doubt, choose to go deeper rather than faster. Accept the idea that reflection and understanding your own nature, including the dark side, is the key to effective action.”
Peter Block in “The Answer to How is Yes“
I used this quote to close “Record to Remember, Pause to Reflect”
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“Not only should you calculate the Lifetime Value of your customers, but also their perception of the Lifetime Value of your solution.”
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“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”
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“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
I used this as the opening quote for my Thanksgiving 2011” post.
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“Without a clear vision of the goal state, I expect movements to devolve into identifying enemies and engaging in wars.”
I took this to relate to the Lean Software, Lean Startup, Agile Software movements because those are the topics he commonly blogs about.
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“We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.”
Walt Kelly in “Pogo“
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“Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.”
Henri Frederic Amiel
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“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”
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November 29th, 2011
On Wed Nov. 30 from 6-8pm, we are brainstorming with some folks about forming a mastermind group for technology firms. We want to take stock and evaluate what will impact our bottom line. Join us for the upcoming Open House. Bring your 2012 plans and let’s brainstorm on what this mastermind meetup could be.
If you are looking for a group of peer entrepreneurs to compare notes with on your business on a regular basis this may be of interest to you. You can register at http://www.meetup.com/BayAreaMastermind/events/39869532/
We are meeting at
Pacific Business Centers
1250 Oakmead Parkway Suite 210, Sunnyvale, CA
November 25th, 2011
Innovative user interfaces have helped a number of products get adopted, here are three examples to stimulate your thinking.
1. Interview Metaphor: early tax preparation software automated a literal view of the paper forms. Intuit, I believe, was first to switch to an interview format that captured the information in a way that was easier to understand and manage/update. This was a clever reconceptualization of the problem that has been widely adopted. It was “better” in the sense that it was more easily understood by a consumer who only filled out one tax return a year.
2. Treemaps: developed by Ben Shneiderman compress a lot of information on quantifies that differ by orders of magnitude and are more useful at presenting it than bar charts or pie charts. One of the more successful examples is Smart Money Magazine’s “Map of the Market” which you now have to subscribe to see. Some references
3. Tornado charts: also called Tornado Diagrams, these are a compact visualization of the impact of different variables on the outcome of a sequence of decisions (or a decision tree). In decision analysis they obsoleted tables of numbers and probability distribution plots, offering a succinct encapsulation of the relative potency of a number of control or input variables. They have migrated over time from an esoteric technique in specialized software tools to one easily generated in Excel.
I don’t have specific suggestions for how to develop better ones beyond asking prospective customers how they represent the problem: what metaphors, paper aids, and mental models are useful in managing the problem they might hire your application to solve. One author worth reading this is Edward Tufte: he has written four beautiful and insightful books on presenting information:
He periodically offers a one day course that presents material from all four of these books.
November 24th, 2011
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ”
It’s very early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day and I wanted to reprise my short list of what I am thankful for; it’s been the same for the last few years:
It’s been a difficult year for health, but only because I have finally had to sit down to my “banquet of consequences.” As I tell people when they ask me how I am doing: “I remain above ground and moving around, and intend to continue to do so for another three or four decades.”
My younger brother turned fifty last month and posted this short note to friends and family:
“Thanks for all the birthday wishes. I’d like to respond to everybody but it’s now officially past my bedtime. I hope to be an ever gushing fount of wisdom now that I’ve dedicated myself to the pursuit of excellence for a half century. I’ll leave with this thought – the first chunk of adulthood was an adventure because I had no idea what was coming, but sadly I know what’s coming for the second chunk.”
It reminded me in a strange way of Achaan Chaa’s answer to Mark Epstein’s question “what do you mean by ‘eradicating craving’?”
“You see this goblet?
For me, this glass is already broken.
I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it.
But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’
But when I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
Mark Epstein’s Thoughts Without a Thinker (pages 80-81)
Which is the way that that this year has left me feeling. that the second half of my life has started and it’s time to appreciate all that I have and be more forthcoming in my gratitude to everyone who has touched my life so far.
Your mileage may vary but that’s my plan.
“Ancient Greeks defined happiness as the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.”
Edith Hamilton in “The Greek Way“
November 23rd, 2011
Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!
When: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8 am – 5 pm
Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop
Before Feb. 8: $595
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!
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.
- 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration
- 8:15 AM Workshop begins
- Noon Lunch
- 1 PM Workshop Continues
- 5 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.
For more information: Theresa 408-252-9676 email@example.com
November 22nd, 2011
Q: I am having trouble getting people to fill out my customer discovery surveys, how many do I need to be statistically significant.
I think the following approaches burn time and social capital without generating much in the way of insight:
- Using surveys for “customer discovery.”
- Landing pages for signups where little if any information is provided about the team or product but many answers are required of a prospective user to signup.
- Launchrock style landing pages that require your prospects to invest their credibility by tweeting, blogging, or otherwise announcing their interest in your offering to their friends before you give them access to your beta. This is destroying the value of any endorsement you might ever generate.
One conversation is worth between 100 and 10,000 survey responses, provided that you are listening and prepared to be surprised.
A dozen to two dozen conversations with relevant and knowledgeable individuals will put you will be well ahead of any survey based approach.
November 21st, 2011
Do your shopping on-line and avoid the crowds, then drop by the Bootstrappers Breakfast® in Mountain View this Friday at 9am at Red Rock Coffee. We will be upstairs in our usual location in the corner to the left of the staircase.
November 14th, 2011
We have two bootstrappers as panelists for Wednesday’s Business Book Club webinar on Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper’s Manifesto.
- Neal Tovsen, founder of TelemetryWeb.com
Neal’s fifteen years of professional experience have focused on the architecture, design, and end-to-end development of highly available, distributed, scalable, software-as-a-service platforms. His understanding of how to integrate sensor networks, remote monitoring, and mobile devices and his appreciation for the importance of security and data privacy have informed his design and development of TelemetryWeb. TelemetryWeb’s AgSphere allows famers to harvest and manage a rich set fo data from remote sensors and remote monitoring solutions in a cloud-based device integration platform.
Neal is a member of the Minneapolis Bootstrapper Breakfast group.
- Sarah Gray, co-founder of MercuryApp.com
Sarah Gray is a technical co-founder and entrepreneur with a background in theater directing. She’s been developing software professionally for 10 years and worked for a number of early-stage startups before dropping out to build her own products. She is currently working on MercuryApp.com, a life-tracking journal; and has co-founded Technical Advocates, a consulting practice that gives advice to non-technical startup founders. She is bootstrapping a life where she can dream up and prototype projects then set them loose in the world. She lives in Chicago with her partner in crime, Corey Haines, and her cat, Zak.
Sarah is a member of the Chicago Bootstrapper Breakfast
This on-line roundtable discussion encourages active audience participation and is moderated by Sean Murphy of SKMurphy, Inc., with Francis Adanza of Zephyr, Inc. coordinating audience participation.
Date: Wednesday November 16
Time: 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 1:00 p.m. Mountain / 2:00 p.m. Central / 3:00 p.m. Eastern
Bootstrappers can register at no charge at http://skmgodin111116.eventbrite.com/?discount=SundayOffer
The E-book version of “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” by Seth Godin is available at no charge from
The Bootstrapper’s Manifesto is on pages 3-4, and the rest of the E-book is worth reading as well.
November 11th, 2011
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”
“Do you know what a soldier is, young man?
He’s the chap who makes it possible for civilized folk to despise war.”
“Today is Veterans Day, the day we honor those who have served in the military and lived. Memorial Day is the day we honor those who died while serving in the military. While that seems like a big difference, the reality is that chance plays a huge role in which soldiers live and which soldiers die. So to all you veterans out there, thanks for the willingness to put your life on the line for all the things I hold dear.”
Kevin Murphy “Veterans Day“
November 10th, 2011
In Seth Godin’s “Bootstrapper Bible” he has this short manifesto that really is worth reading periodically. We will be discussing this at next week’s Book Club for Business Impact with several bootstrappers:
I am a bootstrapper. I have initiative and insight and guts, but not much money. I will succeed because my efforts and my focus will defeat bigger and better-funded competitors. I am fearless. I keep my focus on growing the business–not on politics, career advancement, or other wasteful distractions.
I will leverage my skills to become the key to every department of my company, yet realize that hiring experts can be the secret to my success. I will be a fervent and intelligent user of technology, to conserve my two most precious assets: time and money.
My secret weapon is knowing how to cut through bureaucracy. My size makes me faster and more nimble than any company could ever be.
I am a laser beam. Opportunities will try to cloud my focus, but I will not waver from my stated goal and plan–until I change it. And I know that plans were made to be changed.
I’m in it for the long haul. Building a business that will last separates me from the opportunist, and is an investment in my brand and my future. Surviving is succeeding, and each day that goes by makes it easier still for me to reach my goals.
I pledge to know more about my field than anyone else. I will read and learn and teach. My greatest asset is the value I can add to my clients through my efforts.
I realize that treating people well on the way up will make it nicer for me on the way back down. I will be scrupulously honest and overt in my dealings, and won’t use my position as a fearless bootstrapper to gain unfair advantage. My reputation will follow me wherever I go, and I will invest in it daily and protect it fiercely.
I am the underdog. I realize that others are rooting for me to succeed, and I will gratefully accept their help when offered. I also understand the power of favors, and will offer them and grant them whenever I can.
I have less to lose than most–a fact I can turn into a significant competitive advantage.
I am a salesperson. Sooner or later, my income will depend on sales, and those sales can be made only by me, not by an emissary, not by a rep. I will sell by helping others get what they want, by identifying needs and filling them.
I am a guerrilla. I will be persistent, consistent, and willing to invest in the marketing of myself and my business.
I will measure what I do, and won’t lie about it to myself or my spouse. I will set strict financial goals and honestly evaluate my performance. I’ll set limits on time and money and won’t exceed either.
Most of all, I’ll remember that the journey is the reward. I will learn and grow and enjoy every single day.