Making Our Business More Credible in 2006

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Uncategorized

We did an end of year de-briefing session an concluded that that the following changes had a things that had a positive effect on our business in 2006.

“The right way to build a company is to experiment in lots of small ways, so that you have plenty of room to make mistakes and change strategies.”
Vinod Khosla quoted in “What Does Vinod Khosla Know About Web 2.0 That Others Don’t?

As an old friend used to say “easy to say, very hard to do.” What experiments are you running this year to improve the credibility of your business?

January’s Silicon Valley NewTech Meetup

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Startups

Last night, I attended the January Silicon Valley New Tech Meetup.  For those of you who do not know the format of these gatherings, it is very simple.  Each group of presenters is allowed five minutes to pitch their offering and then the crowd is allocated five minutes to ask questions.

The first presenters were the founders of inChorus.  inChorus has a very complicated technology that leverages the knowledge of its users.  Users post projects/problems on the site and people who feel they have knowledge of the subject matter respond with their insight.

The second presenters were the founders of Pinger.  It was obvious that their pitch was well rehearsed and timed perfectly.  The presentation was articulate, timed, and informative.  It was easy to see the problem and the value of their solution.  To me, the most compelling part of their business model is that they do not have to partner with any of the cell phone service providers.  In a very competitive cell phone market, startups usually design technology that can only be used with the service provider’s permission.  I really like the fact the Pinger understands this challenge and designed an application that works around this obstacle.

The third presenters were from ComicVine.com.  The presentation was very casual and conversational.  The presenter really opened the door for crowd interaction.  If you visit their website, you will be blown away by the graphics and the imagination of the sites users.

The last presenter was from PowerReviews.com.  I found the site to very similar to consumer digest reports.  It is a customer reviews and ratings service.  PowerReviews.com is trying to leverage the power of its users to rank and compare consumer products.

Paul Saffo “Best Strategy is Ready, Fire, Steer”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Paul Saffo had the lead quote in my October 18 post on Quotes on Foresight (Understanding the Future) “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.” He has so many more trenchant observations on foresight and understanding what has already happened that I am following up with a post devoted to his quotes and observations. Those of you taking part in the “ruthless reinvention” of Silicon Valley may find some food for thought.

“Best strategy used to be ready, aim, fire. Now the best strategy is ready, fire, steer. Put supplies where you might need them on the journey. Just get into the right neighborhood and you will find the address.”

recounted in How To Mobilize The New Players on the Field by Richard Edelman (note: emphasis added, does not appear in original text).

“Never mistake a clear view for a short distance”

Paul offers an elaboration of this one on his website: technologies take time–as much as twenty years–to move from invention to arrival in our lives. Because we assume the adoption will be more rapid, we inevitably over-estimate the short-term and under-estimate the long-term impact of new technologies.

War is no longer chess; it’s Go.”

He explains to Maryann Lawlor in “Collaborative Technologies Demand Deep Change

In chess, the center of the board is the important real estate to control; in the game of Go, the edges are critical to winning. While chess pieces are hierarchical, each stone in Go is equally powerful.

Cheap sensors are shaping this decade, and the poster child is going to be robots.

from “The Ten Coolest Technologies You’ve Never Heard of: The Robot Revolution” (July 7, 2006 in PC Magazine).

The secret to Silicon Valley’s success is that it’s constantly reinventing itself. The secret to it continuing to be a high-tech center is that it is a place that continues to ruthlessly reinvent itself, to ruthlessly drive old companies out of business, start new companies. That turnover is, I think, the secret to our success. We always think about being a success, but there are vastly more failures in the valley than there are successes. And the valley is not really built on the spires of earlier companies, but on their rubble.

From April 1997 interview for the Tech Museum The Revolutionaries: Paul Saffo

There are no regular people. There are people we tend to remember the names of, and we seem to have this fascination with deifying certain individuals. At some level, how do I say it? Look at any Silicon Valley company, and people instantly say, this company, oh! The head of that company; they are so smart. But the company isn’t one person; the company is a team of people and for everyone who conventional wisdom says a genius business leader or a successful entrepreneur or whatever, there are hundreds of other people who are just as extraordinary whose names we don’t know.

From a 2006 SF Chronicle Interview “Institute for the Future / On the Record

I don’t think information overload is a function of the volume of information. It’s a derivative of the volume of information plus the sense-making tools you have. Think about the rise of info-graphics in newspapers. Those were sense-making tools to help people (absorb information). You can bookmark your Web pages. Now we have things like (the Web site) Del.icio.us that allow you to create tags to share and organize Web pages. In my class, we are using a wiki (a Web page that is like an open bulletin board). The rise of Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia)—that is a sense-making tool. These are tools that help us make sense of information. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said, “There are two kinds of information in this world: that what you know and that what you know where to get.” The tools help the latter, and that is what keeps us from going nuts. The sense of overload comes from the gap between that sudden jump in volume (of information) and the tools we have to make sense of it.

People Manage People, Tools Manage Data

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

This was a principle for systems design suggested in a talk I heard 15-20 years ago. I can no longer remember the speaker’s name but I remember that he was in the disk drive business. Google has proven unavailing in sourcing it so it was probably an original insight with this engineer that hasn’t gained wider currency.

It should. People Manage People, Tools Manage Data

When I went back to Cisco for my second tour of duty in 1998 (I had been there from 1990 to 1994; the second time I was able to last until mid-2003 before I went back to being an entrepreneur) I was surprised at the number of workflow systems that were being designed and deployed to limit input and decrease options that could be requested. People were instructing IT to design interfaces that would do things they would never be so rude to do face to face, in e-mail, or over the phone. The designers were always surprised when they (or their management chain) continued to get e-mail and phone calls because people wouldn’t limit themselves to the options on the web form.

These were workflow systems and request tracking systems for what had been negotiations. So what’s my point? Anytime you set out to manage employees, partners, or customers with inflexible systems to channel their activities don’t be surprised when it doesn’t quite work out like you planned.

I am a huge fan of defect tracking systems, source code management systems, and any tool that allows you to get a better handle on the data thrown off by your actions. But be careful of trying to use software to “manage people.”

Winston Churchill observed that “We shape our buildings, and forever afterwards our buildings shape us.” So it is with our internal control and scorekeeping mechanisms. Be careful not to abdicate your responsibilities here.

Six From Encyclopedia Neurotica

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Jon Winokur has published a number of good books, including “The Portable Curmudgeon” and “Advice to Writers,” and was interviewed September 2006 by Guy Kawasaki, which prompted me to add his most recent, “Encyclopedia Neurotica” to my Amazon cart (where books can linger for months or years). I was frankly a little disappointed, but found a half dozen nuggets–one for each of my readers–that founding teams might find thought provoking.

affluenza
Virus of affluence that psychotherapist Jessie H. O’Neill defines as “the collective addictions, character flaws, psychological wounds, neuroses, and behavioral disorders caused or exacerbated by the presence of, or desire for, wealth.” Affluenza victims, regardless of their socioeconomic level, falsely believe that money can solve all their problems.

“Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s jobs with yesterday’s tools.”
Marshall McLuhan

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
E. B. White

“In the real dark night of the soul, it is always 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The Crack Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Mid-life crisis is what happens when you get to the top of the ladder and discover that it’s against the wrong wall.”
Joseph Campbell

“The struggle to reach the top is itself enough to fulfill the heart of man. One must believe that Sisyphus is happy.”
The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

Our 2007 New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business

Theresa: my 2007 New Year’s Resolution is to do more public speaking. Given how nervous I get speaking in public, I’m going to start with baby steps and talk at our upcoming workshop, Getting More Customers. Hopefully I will have enough nerve to do a joint talk later this year.

Francis: I also want to get better at public speaking but since Theresa took that one I will take a different one. I plan to read the books mentioned in Sean’s talk “Twelve Books for the Busy CEO” this year.

Sean: focus more on the positive accomplishments of clients and prospects. I think it’s an occupational hazard as a consultant to try and “add value” by pointing out where folks are making mistakes or have problems. It’s just as important to acknowledge what’s working that we can help them build on. I blogged about this in Hey Wait a Minute, That’s Me in the “Before” Picture but it’s worth more focus in 2007.

Tips for Hiring (and Firing) a Sales Person

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

I had the good fortune to attend the SVASE CXO Forum Dec-6-06 where Peter Bakonyvari, Vice President of Sales at JPMorgan SymPro, explored some of the practical realities in building a sales team. In particular what is involved in hiring and firing a sales person.

First 90 days Is Critical

Bakonyvari’s made the point that the first 90 days were critical for determining whether a new sales hire was successful. It is important to set realistic  expectations, put them in writing, and focus on shared success metrics that are easy to measure and agreed to by the salesperson. He offered the following timeline as a basis for getting up to speed on a complex product:

  • 30 days: learn product and be able to communicate value
  • 60 days: start calling and get in front of prospects, start pipeline
  • 90 days: should have prospects who are developing

He shared that he was able to hire successfully about 50% of the time and that is was important to cut losses (“take no prisoners”) and not accept excuses after 90 days.

Three Simple Tests Before You Hire

James Connor, who runs the SVASE CXO forum, offered three simple tests that any sales candidate should be able to pass before being hired.

  • Show me a spreadsheet that demonstrates the ROI for a product.
  • Write me a short article on something you know about.
  • Call me and speak on the telephone.

If the candidate doesn’t have some facility with Excel, writing ability, and good telephone skills, then you should think very hard about extending an offer.

Comments From The Audience

  • Be careful of a VP of sales from a large company as your first hire: if you want someone who will “get out there.” You’ve hired a general when you need a soldier.
  • Understand when you need a business development person instead a sales person. A sales person needs a stable product with a proven sales process and works with a quota. Business development creates new opportunities and is measured on the markets that are identified that can be exploited.
  • Some sales hires will just work for base as long as you let them.
  • The marketeer makes the phone ring then sales guy answers it
  • It can be useful on a larger team to have someone who can cold call and generate leads
  • Expect to spend more than $100K in base for an enterprise sales person, don’t expect to find anyone worth hiring who will work on 100% commission.

Iterating Towards Bethlehem: Michael Sippey at SVPMA 8/2/2006

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Quotes, skmurphy, TwoWeekSaaS

Michael Sippey’s original title for his August 2, 2006 talk at SVPMA was “Iterating Towards Bethlehem” was changed to a less cryptic Making the Shift From Being a Packaged Software Person to Being a Hosted Services Person. The original title was a riff on Yeats’ Slouching Towards Bethlehem (not the Joan Didion book or the Angel episode).

SaaS Roundtable: Managing Rapid Release Cycles

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

Gone are the days of annual release cycle. For many companies, weekly releases are the new standard. Picking the best software release cycle impacts your customers, team, and management. At this roundtable discussion we will exchange tips and gotchas. Provide a look at the impact on business models, teams and product development.

Tuesday October 30 2007, 11:30 – 1:00 pm
Fenwick & West 801 California Street Mountain View, California 94041
Cost for lunch: $20 After Oct. 24 $30

Register071030

About the Roundtable Leaders

Anthony Scampavia
At SKMurphy, he provides consulting for Software Startups focusing on Early Customer, Early Revenue

  • Reviewing and defining product release and test strategies
  • Developing test and development sandbox environments focusing on automated regressions and system level testing

Prior to SKMurphy, Anthony was a Director at Cisco Systems. He managed the growth from 1 test engineer to a division of 280 employees in multiple sites, and 20,000 sq ft of test labs. Anthony holds a BA in Computer Science from University of California at San Diego.

Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore new options and bring their businesses to new levels. His firm, SKMurphy, Inc., focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development.

Prior to SKMurphy, Sean worked in a variety of areas including software engineering, engineering management, application engineering, business development, product marketing and customer support. His clients include Cisco Systems, 3Com, AMD, MMC Networks, Escalade and VLSI Technology. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University.

SKMurphy: Getting More Customers Workshop

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

Finding More Customers

Every business owner asks “How do I Find More Customers? How can I get the phone to ring?” Is your New Year’s Resolution to develop a plan to grow your business? Now is the time to get started.

SKMurphy offers a three hour Getting More Customers workshop where you develop a one-page ACTION plan and we provide follow-up to hold you accountable. We are not promising a fast and easy way to obtain customers. Our methodology of setting goals, developing plans, and exploring options will help you build a framework to maximize your resources as a start up. If you are a software startup or consultant, these workshop allow you to focus on building your business.

June 2006 SDForum Interview

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Customer Development, Quotes, skmurphy

I was interviewed in June 2006 by Barbara Cass, Volunteer Director for the SDForum, the final text appeared in the July/August 2006 newsletter (see page 15 of the PDF version). I have updated it here to add links for many of the referenced works and the quotes. KV Rao and I did a one year term as co-chairs of the Marketing Special Interest Group (SIG), our term ended in December 2006. Filomena U and Ed Buckingham took over, and are now the ones answering the sdforum_marketingsig-owner@yahoogroups.com alias.

Volunteer Spotlight
Interview with Sean Murphy, Co-Chair of the Marketing SIG

Q: Sean, you are a long-time member of SDForum. What helped you to decide to volunteer as chair of the Marketing SIG?

I had attended a number of the programs over the years and found them useful not only for the information that the speaker offered but also for what I would learn from other attendees. SIG meetings are a good way to keep a finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley. William Gibson observed that “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” The SDForum SIGs are one place that’s certainly true. And I wanted to show my support for what the SDForum offers.

Q: What has been your experience in organizing these meetings thus far?

I am fortunate to have KV Rao as a co-chair. He is bright, articulate, and deeply thoughtful. He was early at WebEx in marketing and business development and has an appreciation for both startup and established company marketing issues. He has pulled together our two best programs so far: the “DotCom to DotBust to Web 2.0” talk by Dave Thompson that was our January kickoff and our May panel on “Making The Leap From An Application To A Platform Business.”

I have enjoyed pulling together an eclectic mix of topics: “Guerrilla Marketing for Startups“, “Internal Marketing–Fostering Technology Adoption“, “Building Strategy and Driving Consensus through Shared Mapping“, and “You Named it What?” We have attracted a diverse and thoughtful audience. Bill Grosso, who runs the Emerging Technologies SIG has been an invaluable advisor to me to get this year’s programs off to a running start.

Q: What have you learned from the first six months of putting on programs?

I think we have run informative programs on a broad range of topics, often because the audience has contributed as much as the speaker or speakers have. It’s very important to get a good title and to explain early in the description the speaker’s key experiences that will equip them address the topic as an expert. We are the Marketing SIG for the Software Development Forum so we tend to get a very technical audience: the key to successful programs is adequately preparing the speakers.

Q: What is the focus of your own business and have you seen value to your business since meeting with this group each month?

Our firm, SKMurphy, Inc. offers business development consulting to early stage software startups with a focus on early customers and early revenue. I think the value for me is the insights I get from the people I have met, either because I invited them to speak, or they were attracted to the topic for that night’s program. The SIG has given me a good reason to reach out to some individuals and have conversations that I otherwise might have missed out on. I would encourage folks to get involved, but I believe that it’s more about creating a community that we would all like to live in, and listening to and learning from strangers.

Q: Have you seen changes in the ways companies market or should be marketing their products in today’s world?

My firm’s focus is on strategy and business development for software startups. We work with early stage startups who sell to businesses. I personally have an interest in new technologies for collaboration–things like wikis, blogs, IM that are “new” in the sense that they are only a little over a decade old–and knowledge management methodologies like the “community of practice” model. So I look at the marketing issues from perspective that’s distinct from the consumer-oriented “get big fast” model that seems to be coming back into vogue: 2006 feels a lot like 1996 to me, with all of the various “pitch events” that are going on every month now. And I tend to work with teams that are bootstrapping both because it’s a mindset I find easier to relate to–I prefer pitching to prospects rather than VC’s–and because they tend to be more innovative than the VC-backed folks, who are normally channeled into a handful of predictable trajectories.

So, what I tend to see are startup teams who have a firm grasp on technology and product development issues but are less clear on one or more of the key concepts for successful new product introduction. Bill Davidow’s “whole product” paradigm from his “Marketing High Technology” book is fundamental to understanding the different between selling an invention and marketing an innovation. Geoffrey Moore’sCrossing the Chasm” framework, best expressed in his “Inside the Tornado” book is the solid explanation of the evolution of technology markets. Clayton Christensen’s “sustaining vs. disruptive innovation” model in his “Innovator’s Dilemma” book is the best “anatomy lesson for a karate student,” explaining to startups how and where to attack an established firm. Steve Blank’s “Four Steps to the Epiphany” is filled with detailed checklists for how a startup team must distinguish between product development and customer development as they explore a new market.

Postscript: I think answering this question started me down the path to the December 2006 Marketing SIG Program: Twelve Business Books in One Hour for the Busy CEO. I wish I could claim “anatomy lecture for the karate student” as mine but it’s based on a line from Chapter 18 of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris: “The others listened like karate students at an anatomy lecture.”

Q: What are some of your aspirations for the Marketing SIG in the near future?

We want to continue to fulfill our promise to provide practical tips and techniques for anticipating, identifying, and satisfying customers needs for emerging technologies profitably. We have several exciting programs in the hopper for the second half of 2006 but are always looking for good speakers on interesting topics. Contact us at sdforum_marketingsig-owner@yahoogroups.com with suggestions or to volunteer.

You Need to Be a Little Crazy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Quotes, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Startups

Theresa heard a radio interview with Barry Moltz in 2003 and suggested that I get his book. In December 2003 I purchased a copy of You Need to Be a Little Crazy and when it arrived from Amazon I put it on my to-be-read pile where it languished until early this morning when I read it in one setting, making notes in the margin and jotting down page numbers for quotes I was going to harvest for later re-use on a 3×5 card as I read.

Two Images of Startups

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy, Startups

I had lunch today at El Cerrito with an old friend from college who has done a number of successful startups. We talked of old classmates, children, the energy we had in our twenties, his new son, and my new granddaughter. And we talked about what it was like to do a startup. He left me with two words pictures that I have transcribed below, because I think they capture two different aspects of startups.

The first is the startup experience as a hurdles race:

Doing a startup is like running a high hurdles race early in the morning before the fog has burned off and before the setup crew has all of the hurdles positioned correctly.

The starting gun goes off and you can see perhaps a dozen feet in front of you. You can hear the grunts of the other racers and the scuff of shoes on the track. You take off running and the first hurdle appears out of the fog. You clear it easily and then realize that you are slowing down slightly, expecting the next one, but the setup crew has not put it out.

Then suddenly it’s in front of you and you barely clear up. You can hear some of the other runners stumbling but ahead you hear others racing ahead of you.

You have to set a pace to catch them but you cannot just put your head down and run because you have to keep a lookout for another hurdle to appear at the limit of your fogbound vision.

The second was based on several experiences he had working with VC’s. An avid cyclist, he thought of the entrepreneurial journey with a VC as having two distinct phases: in the pack and near the finish line.

Working with VC’s is like a bicycle race. At first you are all in the pack and everyone works together, alternating position to draft and move faster together than the solo leaders.

But as the finish line appears the pack breaks up as each cyclist tries to cross it first. Even if the VC’s have been good partners for most of the journey, they can’t resist the temptation to break away and gain the advantage at the finish line.


Update Jan-21-2010

  1. “Your twenties are always an apprenticeship, but you don’t always know what for.” Jan Houtema
  2. A great quote that  I used again in April 2008 but couldn’t source it. Paul Graham has it in his quote list. But while Houtema is a legitimate surname, I can’t find the one named Jan. I suspect, like Tara Ploughman, this is another pseudonym Graham has adopted.
  3. Steve Blank offers a framework for evaluating startup leadership requirements in “I‘ve seen the Promised Land and I might not get here with you” that addresses all of situations my friend describe: hurdles, the pack, and the end of the bicycle race.

Nusym De-cloaks 4

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, EDA, skmurphy, Startups

Venk Shukla, CEO of Nusym, commented on Nusym De-cloaks 3 on Dec 4

We had met a long time ago but lost touch afterward. The points you make about website credibility are valid. We will measure the information we put out against this criteria once we decide to emerge from the shadows. Thanks for paying attention, anyway.

I think Nusym has emerged from the shadows because Richard Goering, the dean of EDA journalism, has just posted an entry about Nusym called “Tracking an elusive verification startup” on his new blog, that includes an interview with Shukla.

Veteran EDA user and consultant Sean Murphy brought Nusym to light earlier this year in his blog, which covers a variety of topics including EDA. Murphy has some interesting comments about the claims made in Nusym’s web site.

See also Nusym De-cloaks from Oct 21 and Nusym De-cloaks 2 from Oct 22 for a critique of the site and some suggestions for other startups. But the next sentence shows the difference between a journalist blogging and a consultant blogging: Goering picked up the phone got an interview.

Intrigued, I put in a call to Venk Shukla, Nusym CEO. I asked him about the claim that Nusym’s technology will be as revolutionary as logic synthesis. “With logic synthesis, instead of focusing on individual gates, people started focusing on the outcome, and the tool did the rest,” Shukla said. “With verification also, our goal is to make this more of an outcome-oriented tool than the input-oriented effort that people have today.”

Shukla said that Nusym is focusing on “simulation or the tools that work off simulation,” and is just now going into beta sites with its technology. The real value, he said, is not so much simulation speed as completion and coverage. “What’s important is how much more quickly you can complete simulation,” he said.

Certainly the folks who started O-in and Silicon Sorcery would agree, as well as the folks at Verisity and Systems Science. It’s actually hard to argue with. Richard Goering continues

What else do we know? Google Nusym, and you’ll find documents that name Woodside Fund, Draper Richards, and Silicom Ventures as venture capital investors. Shukla said that Lucio Lanza and John Sanguinetti are investors in Nusym, and he said that about $6 million has been raised so far. Nusym currently employs around 20 people, he said.

Goering has some interesting speculation on what Nusym may really be doing, and he then offers another quote from Mr. Shukla.

“What attracted me is that this is the first genuinely good idea we’ve heard in verification for a long, long time,” said Shukla. “There’s been no innovation in that space for the last 10 to 12 years, and the problem is getting worse.”

I think that there has been a fair amount of innovation in the verification space in the last decade. It’s an odd position for Venk to stake out, that there hasn’t. It also neatly sidesteps the specifics of the insertion point in the flow or the actual nature of the benefits they hope to deliver. Cutting time to achieve high verification coverage is a generic promise at this point. For example, Cadence, a potential exit for Nusym, makes the following promise for their Incisive platform:

The Cadence Incisive® platform delivers the fastest and most efficient way to verify large, complex chips. It ensures that your product will meet specifications, ship without defects and arrive on time by removing productivity, predictability and quality risks in the development process.

Ann Germany and Shankar Hemmady, writing at EDACafe on “Verification Languages: 3 points to ponder beyond which one?” list this as their second point:

2. Is there a way out of this mess?

Deploying thousands of simulations, directing resources across geographically dispersed teams and achieving total coverage across the block, chip, system and project levels are today’s verification reality. Exasperating isn’t it? With modern SoC’s consisting of one or more processors, embedded software, instruction and data caches, large register sets, multiple buses, dedicated hardware accelerator, and a dozen or more interfaces to industry standards, simply keeping track of where we stand and what comes next becomes a problem on its own. How can we capture the verification process and what can be done to automate this process? What if the specification changes in the middle of the project? What if a critical bug is identified a week before tapeout? How can we manage the verification process to gain control over this flood of information?

Nusym should consider situating their brand promise in the realities of design and verification as outlined above. This is also an approach other software startups should consider as well: don’t try and position yourself as bringing fire to the savages, acknowledge the challenges and real pain your prospects are experiencing and offer a specific measurable benefit that differentiates you from other potential solutions.

Ten Quotes from “Guidelines to Creativity” by K. Bradford Brown

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

I got Guidelines to Creativity by K. Bradford Brown as a gift and was impressed by these ten quotes. Some are clever re-statements of more famous observations but all have a certain poetry.

  1. Creativity will take me as far as my imagined limits.
  2. The building blocks of our creativity are quarried from the space between what is, and what might be.
  3. Some discoveries change the world. All discoveries change their discoverer.
  4. An attempt may be a failure. A person never is.
  5. To create, we must learn to stand on other people’s shoulders humbly.
  6. Whenever a group shares a common vision, a spark of creativity is ignited.
  7. When surfacing from the depths of creative effort, take the time to decompress.
  8. Age does not limit creativity. But having experience helps. As does not having it. Anyway, it’s not our choice.
  9. They said, “try, try again.” I said, “let’s stop and try something different.”
  10. It starts in the imagination. It ends in sweat.

12 Books For the Busy CEO – Feedback

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

Last night’s talk was well received. We had a good crowd, with folks filling the seats and and a few having to stand up along the back wall. Here’s the feedback from the talk:

  • I was surprised that it was more than 12 capsule reviews back to back, that Sean was able to extract some key concepts that many of the books shared about “the way the world works” for understanding how to market discontinuous innovations.
  • Expand on a smaller number of books
  • More clearly explain that presentation is broken into three categories.
  • Great presentation! I can’t wait to get the slides.
  • Great Speaker! + Excellent Information
  • Well Done
  • Would be nice to add to slide deck the comments at the end where he discussed which books to focus on for specific industries.
  • Always repeat questions.
  • I suggest to use some business example to apply to the book / business theories.
  • I’d like to have further SDForum Marketing SIGs continue to work with the material. Excellent content…I would have enjoyed going through it more slowly.
  • I would be interested in hearing Sean Murphy again.
  • Excellent content and organization. With Case Study would be awesome.
  • Sean was a fabulous presenter!
  • Good 50K ft. overview
  • Tough decisions on depth vs. breadth. Good choices.
  • This talk can be delivered to a variety of groups. Hope you can market it.
  • Integral of Bell Curve = S Curve
  • Excellent list + summary of books
  • Demonstrated tremendous knowledge of marketing literature
  • Great, concise summary to introduce folks to important marketing books.
  • Speaker rocked. Great presentation
  • Kind of got lost on explaining the S curve.
  • Good job of asking applicable questions
  • Nice transition of why you did not use sales books.
  • Money is a small part of price:
    • reference
    • high quality people assigned to project
    • opportunity cost of their time

We have learned that the Yahoo Group for the SDForum Marketing SIG will be discontinued in favor of a new system. We have put a copy of the presentation here as a PDF so that folks can access it reliably.

12 Books For the Busy CEO Tonight (Mon Dec-11-2006) @ SDForum

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

12 Books For the Busy CEO: spend an hour and leave with a summary of key marketing insights and some rules of thumb for successful innovation in Silicon Valley. You might even identify one or two books that you haven’t read that will be worth your time over the Christmas holidays. I will cover twelve books that form the basis for conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley for marketing discontinuous or disruptive products.

Just For Today by Ben Stein

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Just For Today

I Will Feel Grateful For My Customers. I Worked Hard To Get Them.
Without Them I Would Not Have A Business.

I Will Be as Friendly as Can Be to Everyone That I Work With; I Will
Treat Them as If They Are Responsible For Keeping Me in Business.

If I Have To Correct Someone, I Will Do It With the Same Good Humor
and Self-restraint as If I Were The One Being Corrected.

I Will Not Assume That Everything I Do Has To Be Perfect. I Am Going
To Do Well Enough To Get Through The Day Competently.

I Am Not Going To Try And Break Any Speed Records In What I Do. I Will
Get Done What’s In Front Of Me Without Trying To Put Myself Into A
Position Of Painful Compulsion.

When I Leave Work, I Will Not Think About How Much I Got Done Or Did
Not Get Done. Instead, I Will Look Forward To The Evening, And Be
Thankful That I Did Whatever I Did.

Benjamin J. Stein
Managers Journal Column
Wall Street Journal 11-26-90

3 Tips for Blogging

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Blogging

  1. Map out a calendar of subjects to cover. Just planning one or two a week for the next 2 months will help you avoid writer’s block. This still leaves room for “inspired” work but can give you some structure.
  2. Pick a focus or related set of subjects for your writing.
  3. Inject your perspective and where appropriate include direct reporting of events, talks, conferences, or meetings that you have attended.

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