Ten Tips for Leveraging Blogs and Wikis in Your Consulting Practice

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, Events, skmurphy

Is my topic this Thursday, February 15, at 7:00 PM, at the IEEE-CNSV meeting at KeyPoint Credit Union, 2805 Bowers Ave., Santa Clara, CA. The event is free. I will cover a number of practical suggestions for using blogs to promote a consulting practice and wikis to foster project team collaboration against a deadline.

Blogs and wikis are two “new” social software technologies that have been deployed in production use now for more than a decade. It’s time to move from a focus on technology and features to methodologies and business results that can be achieved.

You will leave with a better understanding of why your blog is the dial tone for your website. I wrote in Welcome Entrepreneurs that “I think a blog also acts a dial tone for a website in that it signals a commitment for interaction and participation on the part of the authors. And that’s certainly the case here.”

You will leave with a better understanding of why most wikis are private, unlike the Wikipedia or many open source project wikis, and why they uniquely support an extremely fast methodology for project coordination and collaboration that enables project teams to reach a working consensus on deliverables against a deadline. If you, your prospects, or your clients are relying on an email inbox as the primary filing system for keeping a project organized (e.g., “who has the most current version of a this project document?”), this talk will provide insight on new ways to get your proposals accepted and your final work signed off for payment.

As I mentioned in my overview of Nancy Blachman’s Google Guide talk at CNSV: if you are a technical consultant in Silicon Valley, the IEEE Consulting Network for Silicon Valley frequently runs useful and informative events and is an organization you should consider joining.

Interesting Discussions From Fast Forward 2007

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Blogging, Events

I attended FASTforward ’07, this week. There were some very interesting talks:

  • John Battelle, author of Searchblog: Search is a conversion. Search becomes a way to have a dialog with your customers.  Interaction with your website should mirror a conversation. Batelle offered the New York Times site as an example of one that did not seem to value their customer’s contribution to the site.
  • Jeannette Borzo of the Economist Intelligence Unit reported on a study on Web 2.0 .  She delivered the most surprising news: CFO aren’t Web2.0 friendly. But CEO believe Web 2.0 will increase innovation as well as decrease innovation cost.  It will be interesting to see the CEO and CFO’s views evolve.
  • John Markus Lervik, Fast CEO, Search is connecting people with content.  Results from a search might answers, concepts, people, or facts.
  • Tim O’Reilly: Power of Web 2.0 is collective intelligence.  The Internet is a platform. How do we turn data into knowledge?
  • Zia Zaman, SVP at FAST: Search is about making connections and business decisions. It is about finding answers not results. An answer can be fellow expert or a better understanding of the problem you are trying to search for.

The conference expanded my thinking about about search technology and it’s impact on business. At the end of the day, there is still a huge difference between Internet search and enterprise search. On the Internet, authors spend a lot of time, money, and energy making their pages easily found. In the enterprise, authors spend little or no effort to make them found. Cleaning up data quality issues is still 2/3 the effort involved in making enterprise information searchable:

  • Many documents are missing title, authors and other meta tags.
  • Often dates are the same on an entire set of documents.
  • Because documents don’t cross-link as often, page rank and relevance algorithms give way to keyword counts that are not as useful. More effort is required to indicate valuable or useful reference material in the enterprise.

Recipes For Longevity in “Mutual Improvement Clubs”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Another excerpt from William Feather’s “The Business of Life
From page 262, an entry entitled “A Conservative Club.”

More than forty-five years ago a group of men…organized a club for men of common intellectual interest. It was agreed that the membership would be limited to thirty, and that twelve meetings would be held each year in the fall and winter months. In rotation, each member would read a paper. Sole expense would be the price of a modest dinner and a fine of twenty-five cents [1949 dollars] for an absence, the revenue of the latter to pay the expense of sending notices of meetings.

Dinner, the founders decreed, should be served promptly at six, and the paper should be read at seven, or as soon thereafter as the business of the club could be disposed of. Adjournments should be at eight-thirty, discussion of the paper ending at the tick of the clock.

The survival of the club is testimony to the wisdom of the founders. The financial resources of the club are never more than twenty-five dollars, but the obligations are nothing, so that members are never pestered with financial worries.

Meetings are held in a private room of a downtown club. The membership comprises college professors in different departments of learning, lawyers, editors, and businessmen.

The attendance is rarely less than 75 percent of the membership. Withdrawals from membership seldom occur except from death or departure from the city.

Of particular interest is the amount of solid ground that can be covered in two and half hours when a meeting begins promptly and the discussion is held to the subjects of the paper.

Of even more interest is the simplicity of the organization. Most interesting groups are wrecked by ambitious go-getters who seek big memberships and expensive quarters and employ professional secretaries. Others are wrecked by the failure to set limits to the time, so that there are long monologues that become tiresome.

This sounds a little like Ben Franklin’s Junto (excerpt from his autobiography)

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, [1727] I had formed most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discussed by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.

Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory; and to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.

I have been in some meetings like this in the last few years. Some of our smaller SDForum Marketing meetings, notably “Internal Marketing–Fostering Technology Adoption” and “Building Strategy and Driving Consensus through Shared Mapping“, had a very free form discussion. But not often enough.

I welcome any suggestions for any serious “mutual improvement  groups” that follow a formula similar to the one outlined above.

Bootstrappers Breakfast – Bootstrapping Startups Invited

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Startups

Join other bootstrappers–startup CEO’s, CTO’s, and founders–for breakfast and discussion. We meet at different restaurants in Silicon Valley from 7:30-9AM, your only cost is your meal and a tip. Come compare notes on operational, development, and business issues with peers. If you are serious about your business and are open to discussing substantive issues and helping your peers, please join us.

Greg Knauss on Bloggers: Experiential vs. Referential

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, Thought Leadership

Greg Knauss was a guest blogger on kottke last year and ended his two week stint with this observation on referential and experiential blogging:

There are two kinds of bloggers, referential and experiential.
[…]

The referential blogger uses the link as his fundamental unit of currency, building posts around ideas and experiences spawned elsewhere: Look at this. Referential bloggers are reporters, delivering pointers to and snippets of information, insight or entertainment happening out there, on the Internet. They can, and do, add their own information, insight and entertainment to the links they unearth — extrapolations, juxtapositions, even lengthy and personal anecdotes — but the outward direction of their focus remains their distinguishing feature.

The experiential blogger is inwardly directed, drawing entries from personal experience and opinion: How about this. They are storytellers (and/or bores), drawing whatever they have to offer from their own perspective. They can, and do, add links to supporting or explanatory information, even unique and undercited external sources. But their motivation, their impetus, comes from a desire to supply  narrative, not reference it.

SKMurphy Blog is A Blend of  Referential and Experiential

I think we tend to blend these two styles on this blog. We do a fair amount of “reporting” on events that we attend, particularly when we think we heard something useful worth sharing and the event was lightly covered, if at all, by other bloggers or press. To the extent that we are trying to offer advice, we try and back up our prescriptions with reference to both supporting and contrasting perspectives in the blogosphere or in other reference material.

Experiential Blogging Key to Startups Telling Their Story

As you think about your own blog for your startup I think it becomes more compelling to the extent that you talk about

  • real experiences with customers,
  • interactions with prospects,
  • internal issues including team discussions and different perspectives,
  • the decisions you’ve reached and why you’ve reached them,
  • the decisions you’ve revisited and why you’ve revisited them.

Pixar’s Ed Catmull Highlights Value of Post Mortems

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events, Rules of Thumb

The Annual Stanford Entrepreneurship Conference featured Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, as its keynote speaker. Ed gave a great presentation on lessons learned from structurally organizing a company for effective communication across its departments.

In the beginning, Ed believed they had created a very strong culture at Pixar. They had paired up programmers and animators as peers. Other companies had one group clearly dominant: either a technical culture or an animation culture. He believed that the artists, the technical people, and the production managers were all interacting well. He felt that it was a fun, energetic, and social work environment. Pixar’s open door policy of “necessary honesty” meant anyone could talk to anyone at anytime.

In actuality, this was far from the truth. After Toy Story’s great success, Ed called for a company post mortem. He discovered that there were major disconnects among different staff members. The artists and the technical people felt like the production managers got in the way and slowed down production. The production managers felt like they were treated as second class citizens.

Ed asked himself how he had missed these problems and came to the conclusion that Pixar’s success had masked them. Ed found out that the production managers put up with the situation because overall they loved working on a ground breaking project with a great leader. Ultimately if the project was not so productive and rewarding, he would have lost some valuable employees along the way. Ed key insight was that

Often, companies tend to focus on “what’s working” vs. trying to figure out “why is this not working?”

This is why the post mortem is so important. Pixar has incorporated the post mortem process at the end of every project. The challenge is getting each person to be completely honest and share intimate details about their experience. The post mortem is a grueling process that everyone hates. For the most part everyone is tired, burned out, and has no patience to reflect on everything that has gone wrong. The things that went well are usually obvious so they spend a majority of the time trying to figure out what needs improvement

Going Solo or Partnering Panel: Stanford E-Conference

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

Today I attended the 2007  Entrepreneurship Conference at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. One session that I truly enjoyed and found very informative was the “Going Solo or Partnering” Panel. Below are three questions and answers I believe capture the importance of developing a solid team.

Moderator Andy Rachleff – Founder, Benchmark Capital

Panelists

How do you find good co-founders?

Consensus Answer: finding a good partner/partners is usually someone you have had a shared success with. It is someone you trust and whom you are willing to share every intimate detail about the business with. This person should be as passionate about the venture as you are and willing to risk it all and go to the end with you. There are only a few individuals that have all the necessary skills to run a business by themselves. An ideal partner would be a person who complements your strengths. It is okay to have some overlap but you really want someone who can bring differentiating attributes to the table.

How did you structure equity with your co-founders?

  • Larsen- 50/50
  • Rosenblum- split it equally with 5 people
  • Sindhu- We split it 3 different ways, everyone agreed before we started
  • Wang- 50/50

Consensus answer: it is important to figure out your founder’s equity early, otherwise it will cause major problems later on. All co-founders need to be clear on what they want out of the venture and how much time they are willing to put into it. You can prevent misunderstandings by setting up a metrics to measure each founder’s performance. Building a sustainable business is building something bigger than any one individual. You need to structure the company in a way that allows it to exist if a founder leaves. Also if the company takes off and exit opportunities arise, everyone needs to agree when to cash out.

Some important concerns that we believe should be addressed in your performance metrics include:

  1. Key product development milestones for key modules, first product, and whole product.
  2. Specifications and plans are needed for engineering and marketing. If you don’t have these it’s harder to know what to change to get different, and hopefully better results.
  3. Timetables that comprehend both internal dependencies and different levels of prospect and customer acceptance of your offering (e.g. it’s foolish to optimize a design when you can’t find anyone interested in the basic functionality).

Do you recommend starting a company by yourself?

Consensus Answer: No way! It is an extremely emotional and stressful process. You need someone to lean on and hold you up while things are down. You also need to be able to hold your partner up when they are having feeling low energy  as well. Another benefit of having a co-founder is the ability to share ideas and listen to alternative perspectives. Furthermore, starting a company is such a time commitment it is almost impossible to do everything by yourself. With co-founders you can share tasks and relieve some of the workload.

More from William Feather’s “The Business of Life”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

More quotes from William Feather’s “The Business of Life

Uneasy lies the head that ignores a telephone call late at night.

It is a fine compliment to be able to say of a man that he quickens the pulse of any group that he joins. Some men are like that. They are alive. Through charm, intellectual capacity, physical fitness, manners, or some other quality, they command respect and attention. They compel the rest of us to appear at our best.

To make fairly sure that an unpleasant job won’t be done, plan to do it yourself.

Some people have the art of compelling others to be pleasant.

Feather observes in “The Jolt” something that many entrepreneurs discover in their first startup, that most of their credibility flowed from their employer.

In my early twenties this idea was impressed upon me. I had been doing newspaper work, and as a reporter for a leading daily I was usually received promptly and affably by mayors, bankers, manufacturers, actors, United States Senators, and even presidents of the United States.

I quit my newspaper work and called on a few friends of my newspaper days. I was not insulted when I presented myself, but I was not offered cigars with quite the same alacrity as in my newspaper days.

[…] most of us in our working hours are like actors. The power and dignity and age and good repute of the corporations for which we work clothes us, and adds to our effectiveness and acceptance by those whom we serve and who serve us.

The only way to be rid of worry about the things we have not done is to do them.

What is Your Website Grade?

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Startup CEO: Question of the Day, Startups, Tools for Startups

I found an interesting little tool Website Grader which evaluates your website. It produces a score and a list of things you can do to improve it. Some of the things I don’t agree with, but most are pretty good. Last night I played with it and the best sites I looked at were 80-70/100 and the poor ones were below 20/100.

At first I thought the comments on meta-data were bogus, but it is explained better in the blog article Understanding The Magic Of Meta-Data. It points out that although search engines don’t use them exclusively, most SEO experts do recommend that websites use meta-tags. The Meta Description Tag may influence the description of your page. The Meta Keywords Tag is useful for synonyms and less common words. These tags can work in conjunction with your website text.

Also see an earlier post Philipp Lenssen’s Tips For Crafting a Linkable Blog Post.

Beyond Google: A9, Citeseer, and Krugle

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb

I had lamented that I always Google too late, but lately I’ve been getting better. Here are some tools to use beyond Google and LinkedIn for searching for different kinds of specialized information.

A9 let’s you search the contents of any books that Amazon carries, all of Amazon, and another 500+ specialized information sources.

Citeseer, which seems to me to be more useful than Google Scholar, searches scientific and academic papers.

Krugle searches code examples and some related technical references.

Stepping on the Web 2.0 Scale at IBDNetwork Jan-23-07

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

Last night I attended the IBDNetwork Strategies Series: Stepping on the Web 2.0 Scale. The event was hosted at Shasta Ventures and featuring guest speakers:

I noted a couple of good quotes, the first were two answers to “How would you define Web 2.0?”

Sam Schillace stated that Web 2.0 revolves around collaboration. It is a better model for interacting with customers and quicker release times due to user demand.

Jason Pressman believes an ideal Web 2.0 application should be built with AJAX or a LAMP Stack. The application should allow interaction with data that comes mostly from the users vs. company generated. He believes a good example of a Web 2.0 company is Logoworks.

The second were some detailed answers to “What does it take to be a successful ad website?”

Jason Pressman believes that it needs to be a consumer conversation driven website for three reasons:

  1. Nobody is buying technology anymore, there is always more than one person developing the same technology
  2. Investors are buying teams that can execute and provide returns
  3. Investors want companies with defensibility, competitive advantage, IP, a good team

Pressman indicated that there were significant Web 2.0 opportunities for E-commerce: continues to grow, more people shop online; security has improved but needs to continue to develop; the key challenges are scaling and inventory.

There is also event recap on the Under the Radar Blog.

SVASE: Do I Have What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

Over lunch today I attended the SVASE Startup-U Event: Do I Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur? Which was held at Plug & Play Tech Center. The guest speakers were John Kim founder of Five9 and LeadMarket, and Steve Stephansen, Board Director of the Sand Hill Angels. It was an open discussion with a lot of questions from the crowd and good interaction. The five questions and answers I found most interesting were:

1. What characteristics are common amongst successful entrepreneurs?
Usually entrepreneurs are people who can’t work for someone else, they like new things, and feel that they can’t innovate in other companies, thus start their own. Other characteristics of a entrepreneurs is someone who is focused, is an expert in a particular area and has passion for their offering.

2. What types of commitments, sacrifices and joys can I expect as I get my new business started?
Being an entrepreneur is very time consuming. The biggest sacrifice you can expect to make is giving up your time. Since time is so prevalent in becoming successful, it is extremely tough for married entrepreneurs and even tougher with kids.

Steve Stephansen spoke on his personal experience of being a CEO. Looking back when trying get started and trying to raise capital there was no way I could be in a relationship. I was so stressed out! All I could think about was the responsibility I took when I accepted investor capital. My reputation and future in the valley was based on what I could achieve the money.

3. Is failure good?
Many people learn from failure but it does not necessarily mean it is good. These days, the people raising money have had successful exits. It is getting harder and harder for first time entrepreneurs to raise capital because there are so many people with similar technologies. It is okay to fail, but you need some success factor in the journey to substantiate your loss. Otherwise it could be more difficult to raise money the next time around.

4. What resources are available to help me avoid mistakes and make wise decisions?
John Kim spoke about his experiences. In my limited experience, it has been all about customer acquisition. If you think you have a compelling value proposition, you should be able to sell it before it is built. Early on we were sales focused. There was no time for “strategy planning.” We did not even think about raising capital, we were solely focused on finding customers. With nothing more than a laptop and a cell phone my partner and I went 32k into credit card debt but in 9 months we successfully grew to 900K in revenue.

5. If I recognize that I may not have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, what options do I have to realize my idea?
You can validate proof of concept with customers. Customers prove that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Once you know you have something, everything becomes easier. It is not about the “great idea,” it is about the execution on the marketing.

William Feather’s “The Business of Life”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes

Some quotes from William Feather’s 1949 book, “The Business of Life.” It’s a collection of short notes, letters, newspaper columns magazine articles. Very insightful, and something like reading a blog from the 1930’s and 40’s.

The way to get things done is to have a good assistant.

In closing a deal, what you don’t say may be more helpful than what you do say.

…every job has two salaries. One is the pay you get. The other is the mental satisfaction you derive from working for the company.

Business is scheming ways by which you can help your customers make an extra dollar in the hope that they will let you keep ten cents for yourself.

Business is showing a prospect how a job should be done and then having him give it to a competitor.

If you do not have the capacity for happiness with a little money, great wealth will not bring it to you.

Many people are thwarted by excessive ambition. They want a hundred thousand dollars but are unwilling to save a hundred dollars. They want a big house, but do not accumulate enough money to make the down payment on on a small house. They want to write a book, but will not learn to write a letter. Most men become successful and famous, not through ambition, but through ability and character.

Evaluating Business Advice

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business

Everyone has advice for you about how to run your company! Even if it’s in the form of question like “When are you going to Get a Job?”

Friends and relatives who have only been employees may have your best interest at heart but not have the background or temperament to help you get your startup off the ground.

Starting a business is like becoming a new parent. When you are a new parent, everyone has advice. Sometimes you have to ignore friends, family and acquaintances’ best intentions. You’re the parent you know what’s best. Business advice is often the same way.

Hugh MacLeod’s Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Startups

Hugh MacLeod posted “Random Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur” earlier this week. I’ve picked the best five and added some of my own comments

4. Once you become an entrepreneur, you find the company of non-entrepreneurs a lot harder to be around. You’ve seen things they haven’t; the wavelengths alter, it’s that simple.

There are different perspectives in the world. There are craftsmen and brokers, salesmen and engineers, inventors and caretakers, just to name a few. It took me a long time to realize that I had an entrepreneurial frame of reference and that many folks around me didn’t. I think Hugh’s correct in that entrepreneurs can see possibilities that many other folks don’t, but the same is true of artist, engineers, and architects as well. I think entrepreneurs focus their imagination on business possibilities, where an artist may work in metal or an engineer in silicon.

6. Word of mouth is the best advertising medium of all. The best word of mouth comes from disrupting markets.

Creating value, exceptional or at least novel value, is another good way.

14. Smart, young, artistic people are always asking me which is a better career path, “Creativity” or “Money”. I always answer that it doesn’t matter. What matters is “Effective” and/or “Ineffective.”

I think what the more pernicious aspect to this is putting your creative life on hold to make money. As Robert Service observed “There are no pockets in a shroud.”

18. People remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price. Unless you try to rip them off.

In general, it’s best to assume that everything you do will be made public. If you are contemplating something that wouldn’t withstand that kind of scrutiny, try and find a more creative solution.

23. Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, “boring”, family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.

I think this is probably the most important one. Steely Dan’s “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” opened with “If I had my way, I would move to another lifetime.” But this is a teenager’s fantasy of getting away from home. Marriage and child rearing are not easy, much harder in many ways than doing a startup. But creating a decent workplace that provides a good living for your employees and value for your customers is easier when you are situated in a long term relationship and a family.

Update July 21, 2009: I just realized that I have done two distinct blog posts using this same blog post by Hugh MacLeod as a point of departure. See also “Hugh MacLeod’s Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur 2” They make for interesting reading back to back.

Thinking About Your Business Goals for 2007, Part 2

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, Startups

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on thinking about your business goals for 2007, it’s also worthwhile to look at your own motivations and needs.

In an extending interview in Fast Company “Are You Deciding On Purpose,” Richard Leider advises that you ask yourself two key questions:

  1. What do you want?
  2. How will you know when you get it?

He continues:

“People really do have their own solutions. The problem is, either they don’t know how to discover them, or they avoid discovering them. But if you want to come up with good decisions for your work and your life, simply ask those two questions-because it all comes down to very simple things.”
Richard Leider  in “Are You Deciding On Purpose

He further suggests that there are four key factors to consider when thinking about your business goals

“First, discover how to live from the inside out. You absolutely have to start with yourself, not with the external demands of the situation. Second, discover your gifts. What is it that makes you unique? What song do you want to sing? Third, discover what moves you. Where do you find joy? A decision that connects with your own emotions is much more likely to succeed. And fourth, discover solitude. Go to a special place where you can find quiet. If it’s the mountains, take the time to get there. If you can’t go there, create a space in which you can find a similar peace of mind. In solitude, you’re much more likely to deal with the first three elements of this process.”
Richard Leider  in “Are You Deciding On Purpose

The best reason to take part in a startup or to start your own software or consulting business is that it furthers your own personal development. It should allow you to work on the problems that you feel are important or to create something that leverages your creativity, experience, expertise, and passion.

We don’t tend to explore these as much in our engagements: team dynamics and shared goals are more where we tend to focus. It’s not a bad idea at least once a year to make sure you are working on what you want to achieve and you have given some thought as to how you are keeping score.

Thinking About Your Business Goals for 2007

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Startups

Thinking About Your Business Goals

We went through a brief planning exercise with our clients, and some prospective clients, that several found useful. Since it’s not not too late to do some planning for 2007, here are a few questions that should answer on a single piece of paper (perhaps even a 3×5 card you can carry with you)

  1. What went well last year? (If you haven’t celebrated do so now)
  2. How will you build on your 2006 success?
  3. What key value or attribute of your business do you want to enhance?
  4. What are one or more activities or initiatives you plan to stop doing in 2007?
  5. What is your target for growth next year? Are you ready for growth?
  6. What are the major risks you face in 2007; how will you mitigate them?

Mike Van Horn On Techniques For Faster Growth

I blogged about this last year in Mike Van Horn on “Are You Ready for Growth?” but it bears repeating here.

  • The better teams you can build… the faster you can grow.
    People who grow companies rapidly know how to put a good team in place, then move on to the next thing. They become a leader of independent teams.
  • The better you use your time–the faster you can grow.
    Invest your time strategically; be less concerned with saving time or managing time.
  • The more you think things through ahead of time–the faster you can grow.
    That means planning, including strategic plans, action plans, and project plans, with built-in review and accountability.
  • The savvier your advisors–the faster you can grow.
    You let go of the “lone ranger” approach to running the business. As your business grows, get advisors who are one step ahead of you.
  • The more you insist on top performance… the faster you can grow.
    Do not let mediocre performers dictate your rate of growth, whether they are employees, customers, vendors, or professionals.
  • The more knowledge you can get out of your head and the more systematized you get–the faster you can grow.
    Create manuals, checklists, and training seminars that teach employees all the magical things that you think only you can do. Then you and your people can focus attention on the big, creative challenges.

 

3 Ways to Build Credibility with Prospects

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

Here are three ways for building credibility.

  1. Referrals
    A referral is an introduction to a prospect with an endorsement. A referral allows you to borrow credibility from a trusted third party. They spring from shared success with your customers or former co-workers, someone who knows your potential and can vouch for you or your team’s ability to deliver. Meaningful referrals do not originate from a casual contact, someone you have met and spoken with only a few times: without a history of shared success they cannot substantiate your ability to deliver value.
  2. Speaking Engagements
    As soon as you are in the front of the room doing the talking, most people in the audience will give you the benefit of the doubt as a credible expert. Obviously once you open your mouth you can rapidly undo that perception. A successful speaking engagement combines a clear presentation of your thoughts not only in a strong narrative on a topic that’s of use to potential customers, but also in your answers to real questions from the audience.
  3. Writing Articles
    It may be easier to communicate your knowledge of your prospect’s issues in writing. Especially if you are someone like me who doesn’t enjoy public speaking you should work at the craft of clear business and technical writing. Most articles these days are presented on a website (e.g. blog entries like this one) or in an email newsletter. In either case you should consider writing in HTML and adding links to provide substantiation of your key citations.

Ser Hou Kuang & Sean Murphy Granted US Patent 7162706 B2

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in skmurphy

Ser Hou Kuang & Sean Murphy Granted US Patent #7162706 B2 for “Method for Analyzing and Validating Clock Integration Properties in Circuit Systems” on January 9, 2007.

Abstract: A method for analyzing and validating clock integration properties in a circuit design is disclosed. A database of timing points that are clocked cell elements of the circuit design is generated. Next, a timing point frame showing the interaction of the clocked cell elements and the non-clocked cell elements is generated. The timing point frame graphically shows the timing network properties for the cell elements of the circuit design. A clock analysis view can be generated from the timing point frame for selected timing points. In this respect, the timing point frame shows timing points that meet a prescribed criteria (e.g., same clock domain). Therefore, the clock analysis view provides a graphical representation of timing and clock interactions for the circuit design.

Here are excerpts from the PicoCraft datasheet for it’s initial offering

Clock Domain Profiler and Analysis tool that leverages your existing Static Timing setup and Library, to rapidly identify likely Synchronization Errors in the final tape-out netlist for high clock-count multi-million gate SOC designs.

  • Uncover Asynchronous CDC Errors PrimeTime Ignores
  • High Capacity: Fast Turnaround of Full Chip Analyses
  • Exhaustive Root-Cause Analysis for all Modes

This is a challenge related to but distinct from detailed timing analysis, complicated by several design trends that we believe will continue to accelerate over the next two to three process nodes:

  1. Increasingly complex power management schemes are proliferating the number of distinct operating modes that need to be analyzed.
  2. Higher levels of integration are increasing the number of distinct interfaces, each with their own on chip clocking and synchronization requirement.
  3. Clock trees are consuming a higher fraction of chip logic and require separate analysis that is aware of physical implementation and on chip variation effects.

Traditional static timing tool development teams at remain focused on calculating detailed timing that is highly correlated with Spice. New entrants are relying either on formal methods that work from pre-layout RTL but lack the capacity for full chip analysis or structural pattern recognition techniques that require naming conventions or a distinct set of cell models to work. GPP is unique in leveraging existing static timing models to build high level clock interaction representations from the physical implementation of a full chip.

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