I used to think it was the advice I offered that provided the highest value to clients and friends. I talk to a number of people in different or challenging situations. Recently I have come to appreciate that it’s when I focus and listen to someone explain their situation, asking them questions from a caring perspective to help clarify their understanding, that I often provide the most value.
I recently did an in depth interview with Jen Berkley Jackson of The Insight Advantage on primary research tools. Jen works with companies to help them make sure that they understand their customers better than any competitor or potential competitor. Her firm performs primary research for clients, using a variety of tools to gather information from customers, prospective customers, and the general market. Because of her considerable experience with a range of primary research tools I took this as an opportunity to explore the spectrum approaches that are available.
In Chapter 9 of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig goes into an extended explanation of the Scientific Method using the metaphor of motorcycle repair. He stresses the value of an experiment log, explaining how to organize it so that you don’t become lost in exploring for solutions to a problem. I have excerpted it below and intermixed some commentary about applying it to early market exploring and debugging new product introduction problems.
Mark Twain writes about learning his daughter has died unexpectedly from meningitis in chapter 6 of his autobiography. He offers an analogy to a house burning down causing an overwhelming sense of loss that takes years to process.
Fabrizio Caramagna curated “The New Italian Aphorists” in 2013, selected content from material submitted to three (2008,2010, and 2012) “Aphorism International Prize – Torino in Sintesi” Festivals. He also included a selection of his own aphorisms; I have included five below that I thought entrepreneurs would find useful.
Joseph Mancuso‘s “How to Start, Finance, and Manage Your Own Small Business” contains an “Entrepreneur’s Quiz” a self-assessment for entrepreneurs. His explanation for the reasons behind some of the questions includes the following nuggets:
This post has been percolating for two years, it’s a request to folks working on networking, social networks, and other technologies to consider the implications of their actions. My thesis is that the combination of advertising driven firms that sell their audience as the product and efforts to prevent another 9-11 have combined to create a more pervasive surveillance state than we could have imagined a decade go, but without any increase in security. Like Number 6 after his escape from the Village in “The Prisoner” we have all relocated to the panopticon. Be mindful of what you are working on so that you don’t contribute unintentionally.
After every Great Demo! workshop we follow up with every participant to learn
- What results have you observed from applying the Great Demo! method so far?
- Do you have any success stories to report or share?
- Are there any questions you’d like to have addressed regarding the methods or concepts? Have you encountered situations where you’d like additional help or recommendations?
Abigail Miller, a Pre-Sales IT Consultant with Agfa Healthcare, a workshop in May of 2015 and wrote this email in reply:
It’s easy to mis-assess who your real competition is. We worry the most about competition that cares deeply.
“You’re competing against people in a state of flow, people who are truly committed, people who care deeply about the outcome.”
Seth Godin in “Texting While Working“
James Geary has curated one of the best collections of aphorisms that I have–and I have read dozens: “Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists.” Geary has “Five Laws Of The Aphorism,” they are:
1. It Must Be Brief;
2. It Must Be Personal;
3. It Must Be Definitive;
4. It Must Be Philosophical;
5. It Must Have a Twist.
In addition to collecting the aphorisms of other writers he also has a collection of his own. I have selected ten and added some brief commentary about their applicability to entrepreneurship.
You can follow @skmurphy to get these quotes for entrepreneurs hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.
Summer is almost over. If you have been putting off reading “The Lean Startup” I have a time saving suggestion. If you have an hour and want to capture the gist I can recommend a good e-book summary for Lean Startup. If you have another hour I suggest a good summary for Four Steps.
It’s masturbation to calculate the exit value of idea that has not been reduced to practice and achieved some level of traction. The real question is how much time and effort to invest to achieve a level of traction that would allow place a value on the business that leverages the ideas. Often it’s not a single investment but a sequence of affordable loss bets–perhaps escalating in size.
SKMurphy August 2015 Newsletter
This blog post summarizes our August newsletter, “Strategies for a Winning Sales Presentation.” You can subscribe to the monthly SKMurphy newsletter using the form at the right
Strategies for a Winning Sales Presentation
We’ve all seen it–people listening to a sales presentation, eyes glazed over and their minds wandering anywhere but on what the speaker is saying. As an entrepreneur, whether you’re selling yourself or your products and services, it’s critical to avoid the missteps that put prospects to sleep and kill the deal.
In “Abramisms: Lines of the Ancient Aphorist Volume 1” Beston Jack Abrams offers several aphorisms about recognizing the truth in a situation and acting on it. Here are 8 I have selected with some additional commentary for entrepreneurs.
Beston Jack Abrams has self-published 7 volumes of “Abramisms: Lines of the Ancient Aphorist” between 2011 and 2014. These slim volumes each contain 128 aphorisms, one on the opening page and three per page for another 39 pages: are a revelation and an inspiration. Volume 7 ends with this paragraph, leading me to conclude there is more to come:
“I am 87 and in a few more years, I will probably exhaust all thoughts that are intelligible and acts that are of value hence, at that point death becomes less a tragedy than an act of good housekeeping.”
Beston Jack Abrams in “Abramisms: Lines of the Ancient Aphorist Volume 7 (2014)”
It’s OK to solve your own problem first, to be the first customer. This at a minimum gets the idea out of your head and reduced to practice where it can be tested. The trick is to use this basic product to spark further discussions about the problem you solved, no your solution.
The sad reality is that a business cannot be fun, educational, and profitable all at once. Pick boring or grinding over losing money. Christopher Morley observed, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning,” but you don’t have to get all three from your business. Without earning you don’t have a business.
Mary Roach’s Stiff offers a tour of the afterlife: she answers the question what happens to our bodies after we die. She explores funeral homes, autopsies, medical training, medical research, crash testing, body armor testing, cremation, brain death, natural decomposition, and organ transplants among other topics.
Is is meticulously researched. Roach visits all manner of medical, research, and funeral facilities in addition to quoting from medical texts ranging back more than two millennia.
Roach advocates for both organ donation and donating your body for medical research arguing that morticians and the natural process of decay will treat your cadaver no less roughly and provide no benefit to anyone else.
She brings a sense of humor and a willingness to ask the most candid questions to everyone she encounters, and does not shy away from observing every aspect of a medical procedure, test, or burial preparation process that her hosts would allow her to. Here is an example from a visit to workshop where plastic surgeons practice their techniques on disembodied cadaver heads.
There are four areas where tradeoffs are commonly made in 3D printing:
- conventional and additive manufacturing processes
- additive manufacturing processes
- 3D printer selection
- different parameter settings in a 3D printer’s build process
The most common design goals considered for 3D printing tradeoffs are strength, speed of printing, minimum feature resolution, and cost. The same 3D model can be manufactured using different processes and parameter settings to optimize one or more these aspects of the finished design. Making the right 3D printing tradeoffs for optimum results requires an understanding of design principles and the possibilities inherent in the process.