International Contact, Inc., a leader in media translation and localization, announced the appointment of Ron Fredericks to the role of chief technology officer in a recent press release. It was picked up by San Francisco Business Journal and resulted in print coverage in their “People on the Move” section. While International Contact is a global company with large multi-national clients, they believe that the local touch is important to maintain their outstanding personalized services.
What follows is the entry for August 15, 1851 by Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal where he explores how to be ready, how to focus on the essential and how to fulfill your purpose. I have added some details on my own shortcomings: procrastination, disorganization, and a rock-paper-scissors approach to picking the next task to finish.
One good way to make predictions about the future of a new technology is to examine the paths that similar technologies have taken historically and use them to draw likely trajectories. As Mark Twain observed, “History may not repeat itself but it does rhyme.” New technologies solve existing problems in in new ways, obsoleting existing solutions for the same needs. Despite some of the sensationalism a closer examination of intellectual property challenges faced by earlier technologies shows that they rhyme with 3D printing IP issues. These challenges offer a roadmap for the likely evolution of 3D printing–and related technologies like 3D scanning and 3D modeling.
My interview with Gabriel Weinberg was originally published Sep-8-2010. He was doing research for what became his fantastic book Traction. We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and I can remember he kept returning in different ways to what was needed to close your first dozen enterprise customers.
There are broadly three categories of challenges a new product must address: it has to be feasible, it has to be desirable and it has to be profitable. Below is a simple checklist to help you evaluate product ideas.
It’s often hard to see your way forward. When there are many courses of action open to you whose possible outcomes are hard to predict you can remain paralyzed by analysis. I often find myself dithering past the point where picking any reasonable option and proceeding is far better than continuing to analyze my choices.
I frequently long for a clear eyed view of the way forward. Sometimes the path becomes clear when a situation echoes with prior experience or I see a pattern match to a prior success (or failure). Other times clarity flows from recognizing that there is only one option left: the “best bad plan.” The trick is to act immediately so as not to foreclose your only remaining potentially viable option.
In new situations, keep a journal of your experiences. This helps you organize your thoughts and remember observations clearly. When exploring, keep a log. This strategy is useful if you are starting a new job, a new project, forming a startup or launching a new product in an unfamiliar market.
When I first went to work for Monolithic Memories my boss, Ivan Pesic, told me, “It will be rough for the next two months and then it will get easier.” He was still telling the team that a year later when someone else offered that advice during a problem solving session and we all broke out laughing because we realized it was never going to get easier. We kept working on harder problems. Ivan went on to found Silvaco and despite a few legal setbacks built a company that has endured more than three decades.
Simon Sinek earned a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University; he attended City University in London with the intention of becoming a barrister, but left law school to go into advertising. He was interviewed in August of 2014 by John Wall on the RoninMarketeer site in connection with the launch of his second book “Leaders Eat Last.” Here are some excerpts that highlight his insights about why leaders and advertisers should put people first.
Four excerpts on how entrepreneurs exploit errors in conventional wisdom. The first two are from a Feb-8-2001 public forum that was part of BusinessWeek’s “Captains of Industry” series, where Oracle Corp. CEO Lawrence J. Ellison sat down with Editor-in-Chief Stephen B. Shepard. The last two are from Peter Thiel’s CS183 class lecture on secrets.
Patrick Brady writes at “Red Kite Prayer” on cycling and related topics. His blog took a very personal turn in February of 2013 with a post entitled “Any Normal Person.” In reading the series I was reminded of a remark Irwin Federman made to MMI employees when were using four day work weeks (actually five days work for four days pay): “We trust you to do the right thing. God has given you so much more responsibility as parents how can we not trust you.
David Cain wrote a thought provoking, practical, and inspiring blog post today on “67 short pieces of advice you didn’t ask for.” He acknowledges it’s a smorgasbord of unsolicited advice where you can take what you like and leave the rest for others:
“There’s no way for such an avalanche of unsolicited advice to come off as anything but preachy. But there’s also something appealing about the scattergun approach. Trying on a few dozen ideas in a few minutes will almost always leave you with something you can take to the bank, if you don’t get hung up on what doesn’t resonate. Here are sixty-seven short pieces of advice I either follow, or probably should. Take from it whatever rings true to you, and don’t take the whole thing too seriously. ”
David Cain’s intro to “67 short pieces of advice you didn’t ask for.“
Here are seven I took away, I have preserved his original numbering and added a few comments to particularize them for entrepreneurs:
Ask yourself this question, “What do employers owe the people they do not hire?” Brooke Allen’s answer from “How my life was changed when I began caring about the people I did not hire” offers three great suggestions for the startup hiring process.
The desire for economic freedom and autonomy drives many entrepreneurs. Bootstrappers would rather work for customers than investors, choosing the discipline of the competitive marketplace over the wisdom and caprice of the boardroom.
“Life is too short to work at a job you hate,
but everyone has to do something someone else is willing to pay them for.”
Q: I struggle with the value proposition for our product. Either I am too abstract “we offer a positive return on time invested” or too vague “help increase your ability to manage critical challenges.” Do you have any suggestions for how to frame or formulate a value proposition?
Here a few questions that a value proposition normally addresses
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.
This post is a retrospective look at my inaugural post in 2006 and lessons learned blogging 1400 posts over the 8 years since.
One of the hallmarks of the entrepreneurial journey is diving in over your head.
At some point you have to commit fully to a new venture and at a later point you realize that, despite all of your careful preparation, you are testing the depth of water with both feet–or perhaps even head first. This is what can keep many up at nights or otherwise make life miserable.