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Archive for October, 2014
Further Reflections on My Father
I figured he had lived through so many things that as long as he stayed indoors and avoided getting hit by lightning he would come to my funeral in a decade or two. At the time I told close friends that it hadn’t really sunk in yet. I would normally talk to him once a week for an hour or so. Now I mainly talk to him in the shower when he chews me out from time to time for a recent stupidity. He asks me what I am going to do to fix or improve a situation and my most common answer is “I don’t know.”
Robert Anderson observed, “Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivor’s mind toward some resolution which it may never find.” That’s certainly true in my experience. My father’s advice was especially on point in difficult situations, he could cut to the heart of issues and understood how to calculate downside risk and determine possible courses of action that would minimize the potential damage or worst case scenario. As I work with other attorneys I see this as a not uncommon strength of the profession. It’s certainly a perspective I fit naturally into.
The IEEE Consulting Network of Silicon Valley continues its tradition of inviting world class experts on leading edge technologies to speak at their monthly meetings. On Tue-Nov-4-2014, Giacomo Vacca of Kinetic River will provide an overview on how flow cytometers enable a wide range of “Human Cell Analysis.”
“Sean has been a pleasure to work with. His understanding of business issues faced by startups is very rich. Likewise, he has a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks to share with you in response to a business, customer, or marketing problem. His insights have been very valuable; his perspective has challenged my original thinking in ways that resulted in new solutions being identified. I highly recommend working with him.” Giacomo Vacca, Kinetic River
Q: In your blog post “Four Presentation Traps to Avoid” (which drew on Mike Monteiro’s “13 Ways Designers Screw Up a Client Presentation” which I found overall to be very valuable) you highlighted his item 4 “Not setting the stage properly” which ends with “Start the meeting by thanking them for their time.”
I feel this puts you below the prospect or customer as a supplicant. Your time is just as valuable. It’s a minor thing but I suggest “I’m glad we could all find the time to meet today.” or something that puts you at least level with who you are presenting to in terms of the value of your time.
Mike Monteiro offered “13 Ways Designers Screw Up a Client Presentation–And One Weird Trick” in a Sep-13-2014 blog post: many of these are also applicable to entrepreneurs making presentations to prospects. The whole article is worth reading, here are my top four presentation traps to avoid from his list (I have retained Monteiro’s numbering scheme).
Entrepreneurial passion has to be based on a desire to create value, to be of service to a set of target customers. There may be many things you are interested in learning and room enough in your life for several hobbies, but pursuing a passion without regard to your ability to provide value in a way that is competitively differentiated is to pursue a hobby.
I took part in a great roundtable conversation at tonight’s PATCA meeting on “Low Cost Marketing and Advertising for Consultants” Here were a couple of suggestions that I made in response to situations or challenges that other consultants put on the table.
David Morse left a detailed comment today on my Sep-26-2014 blog post “Lessons Learned Blogging 1400 Posts in 8 Years” that I thought I would promote to a guest post that offers some practical tips about how to add graphics and video to a blog. Here is his bio on B2BSalesVP:
David Morse helps startup founders and sales teams achieve revenue nirvana. He is President of consulting firm B2BSalesVP and CEO of SaaS company Kindoo which is like a private YouTube for sales teams and sales training and development.
Excerpts from Paul Grahams’ October 2014 essay “Before the Startup” with commentary interspersed. This essay is in some ways less self-confident than many of his earlier ones. He seems to recognize more explicitly the limits of his ability to offer advice that entrepreneurs in the Y Combinator portfolio–or entrepreneurs applying to Y Combinator–will actually follow. The primary point he hammers home is the need to focus on customers and to realize that a startup a significant multi-year commitment.