Archive for May, 2014

Quotes for Entrepreneurs–May 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until these quotes for entrepreneurs 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.

+ + +

“Ah, May. It should be three months long.”
Elisabeth Ogilvie in “The Silent Ones

h/t Fred O’Bryant’s Quotations Collection, Volume 2

+ + +

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”
Winston Churchill

h/t Fred O’Bryant’s Quotation Collection, Volume 6

+ + +

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
Coco Chanel

+ + +

“Nothing is so dear as what you’re about to leave.”
Jessamyn West

+ + +

“Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.”
Victor Hugo

In “Postscriptum de Ma Vie” Victor Hugo’s Intellectual Autobiography

+ + +

“Life is a biography, not a series of disconnected moments, more or less pleasurable but increasingly tedious and unsatisfying unless one imposes a purposive pattern upon them.”
Theodore DalrympleLife at the Bottom” (Amazon)

h/t Ben Nesvig “A million little decisions

+ + +

“Design is the application of intent–the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident.”
Robert L. Peters

h/t Quotes on Design

+ + +

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”
Henry David Thoreau

I think this applies to companies as well.

+ + +

“A community lives in the minds of its members–in shared assumptions, beliefs, customs, ideas that give meaning, ideas that motivate.”
John Gardner in “On Leadership”

+ + +

“I realized I was very far from home, though I had been born not ten miles away.”
Gregory Sullivan in “Nails

+ + +

“One can pay back a loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.”
Malayan proverb

+ + +

“Details as they transmute, like a tiny flicker in the sonogram that indicates a heart beat.”

Part my “Details as they ..” riffs on “Details as they unfold.” I came up with it after watching the ultrasound for my first son. I thought it was a good quote for Mother’s Day.

+ + +

“Paths do not change when night falls; only the wanderer does.”
Hans Kudszus

+ + +

 “Worried about somebody stealing your amazing idea? Get traction. That shit can’t be stolen.”
Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson) April 25 tweet

+ + +

“You are being encouraged to look left and right at potential competition, I would try and walk around the table and look at the situation from your prospect’s perspective.”
Sean Murphy in answer to “Q: How Much Attention Should I Pay To Potential Competition?

+ + +

I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.
George Eliot in Felix Holt, the Radical (1866) Full text at Gutenberg online

This is the old sense of the word cleave, meaning to stick to. More context

“But I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best. As to just the amount of result he may see from his particular work—that’s a tremendous uncertainty: the universe has not been arranged for the gratification of his feelings. As long as a man sees and believes in some great good, he’ll prefer working toward that in the way he’s best fit for, come what may. I put effects at their minimum, but I’d rather have the maximum of effect, if it’s of the sort I care for, than the maximum of effect I don’t care for—a lot of fine things that are not to my taste—and if they were, the conditions of holding them while the world is what it is, are such as would jar on me like grating metal.”
George Eliot in Felix Holt, the Radical

+ + +

A discovery conversation is with another human: explore their situation and enable a business relationship, don’t “gather data.”
Sean Murphy in “Don’t Ask Your Next Question Before You Learn From the Last Answer

This is my “twitter version” of this passage from  “Don’t Ask Your Next Question Before You Learn From the Last Answer

“I work in B2B markets where my key objective in a discovery conversation is to understand the other person’s situation in a manner that also lays the foundation for a potential business relationship. If you “gather data” using an interview style that leaves the other party without any desire to do business with you then you will not succeed in a B2B market.”
Sean Murphy

+ + +

“Business is more exciting than any game”
Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook

I credited Kitty O’Neill Collins in July 2008; she may not actually exist.

+ + +

“Teaching peers is one of the best ways to develop mastery.”
Jeff Atwood in “The Vast and Endless Sea

+ + +

“Technical skill is mastery of complexity,
while creativity is mastery of simplicity.”
Christopher Zeeman in “Catastrophe Theory: selected papers, 1972-1977 “

h/t Quotes on Design

+ + +

Lion in Winter: A great man whose prominence and powers have ebbed with age and setbacks and will not be regained.

Who is on your list? Which CEO’s, thought leaders, companies qualify?

+ + +

“Art is I; science is we.”
Claude Bernard

+ + +

“It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.”
Charles Peguy

+ + +

“We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.”
Russell Ackoff

h/t Hermanni Hyytiälä (@hemppah)

+ + +

“An impossibility does not disturb us until its accomplishment shows what fools we were.”
Henry S. Haskins in “Meditations in Wall Street (1940)”

+ + +

“A good design is driven by needs and defined by constraints.”
Astik Pant

h/t Quotes on Design

+ + +

“The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

h/t Glen B. Alleman

+ + +

“Thoughts left unsaid are never wasted.”
Henry S. Haskins in “Meditations in Wall Street (1940)”

+ + +

“The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and the media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”
Daniel Boorstin in “Who Are Our Heroes?

Used in “Memorial Day 2014” (and earlier in “Quotes For Entrepreneurs–December 2012“)

+ + +

“So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one’s best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvelous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.”
George Eliot in Adam Bede

I used this in “Memorial Day 2014.” I think it’s also food for thought in constructing–or de-constructing–a lot of entrepreneurial stories of success, failure, and lessons learned. Abridged on twitter to:

“Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. Even with no motive to be false, it is very hard to say the exact truth.”
George Eliot

+ + +

“Control” doesn’t mean “command”; it means “feedback”
Jason Yip (@jchyip)

+ + +

“I’m here to teach you, not entertain you”
“What’s wrong with doing both?”
“What’s wrong is you judge the teaching by how entertaining it is”
Bret Victor (@worrydream)

+ + +

The best design question to ask isn’t: “what’s the best way to solve this?”, but rather “what are 10 different ways to solve this?”
Amir Khella (@amirkhella)

+ + +

“An organization’s results are determined through webs of human commitments, born in webs of human conversations.”
Fernando Flores

+ + +

“Without the desire and ability to create new understandings, a relationship can’t grow — it can only be maintained.”
Michael Schrage

h/t David Alan Quote Archive

+ + +

“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire  tapestry.”
Richard Feynman

+ + +

“I love all insider memoirs. It doesn’t matter whether it’s truck-drivers or doctors. I think everybody likes to go backstage, find out what people think and what they talk about and what specialised job they have.”
David Mamet

+ + +

“Sometimes you have to keep ideas for decades before they have any use.”
Marc English

h/t Quotes on Design

+ + +

Memorial Day 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

On Memorial Day we commemorate those who have died in the service of our country. It’s a day of remembrance more than one of celebration. I offer some quotes on death, heroism, and the stories we tell for you to meditate on.

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone. But it doesn’t  mean you’ve got to be alone before you go through the door. And believe me, you aren’t alone on the other side.”
Jim Butcher, in “Dead Beat

“The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and the media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”
Daniel Boorstin in “Who Are Our Heroes?

“So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one’s best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvelous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.”
George Eliot in Adam Bede

Related Posts

Postscript

I was reading “The Paths of Long Ago” a 1925 book of poems by Wilbur D. Nesbit and came across this one that is apropos Memorial Day.

A Drum Song of To-Day

I hear it roll in the valley, I hear it surge down from the hill;
With rhythmical rally the drum-song is thralling me still.
It comes with a throbbing and thrumming, a mellow insistent refrain
As low as the languorous humming of bees in the clover-edged lane:

“Remember! Remember! Remember! They sleep on the hillsides afar;
Their camp fires have left not an ember and yet you know well where they are.
I called them one morn with my beating, they leaped at my vibrant behest–
With dull, muffled measures repeating, I bade them lie down in their rest.

“You heap up mounds where they slumber with roses and lilies and rue;
Their battles and marches you number, and tributes of love you renew.
Aye, this for the ones that are sleeping is all that a nation may give–
And what of the faith you are keeping with such of the soldiers as live?

The dead–you have hallowed their ashes; each tomb you have named as a shrine,
Above which the old banner flashes its hues through the shade and the shine.
God bless them, and keep them, and rest them, and hold them in memory yet!
The living one–Ah, do you test them by seeming at times to forget?

I hear it roll out through the morning, I hear it surge on through the day,
Sonorous as though it were a warning to us in our work and our play:
“Aye, tears for the ones that are sleeping are all that a nation may give–
And what of the faith you are keeping with such of the soldiers as live?”

Wilber D. Nesbit

What is Lean? Lean Innovation 101 on May 27, 2014

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Customer Development, Events

Linked-CXO-Forum-LinkedInSean Murphy is honored to speak at Linked CXO Forum on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at Haworth Showroom in San Francisco, California. Linked CXO provides networking for senior executives – “Bosses Need Professional Development, Too.”

“Lean” provides a scientific approach for creating a product and developing new businesses. Teams can build products or services to meet the needs of early customers by adopting a combination of customer development, business-hypothesis-driven experimentation and iterative product releases.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

11:30am-1:30pm, San Francisco, California

RSVP is required.  SIGNUPbutton

Key Takeaways:

  •     Why more and more companies are using Lean
  •     What is Lean; What it is Not
  •     Rules of thumb for successful lean innovation

Key concepts:

  •     Get out of your BatCave
  •     Use an initial product (MVP) as a probe to explore the market
  •     Build-measure-learn
  •     When and how to pivot

Speaker: Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc., offers customer development services for technology entrepreneurs. SKMurphy’s focus is on early customers and early revenue for startups. Sean is an early and active member of the Lean Startup group and has been a workshop presenter and mentor at Lean Startup Conferences. SKMurphy’s clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems (Management Science) from Stanford University.

Corinne Roosevelt Robinson: Focus for Effect But Look Beyond Your Own Special Interests

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Rules of Thumb

Focus For Effect

“Nothing is as difficult as to achieve results in this world if one is filled full of great tolerance and the milk of human kindness. The person who achieves must generally be a one-idea individual, concentrated entirely on that one idea, and ruthless in his aspect toward other men and other ideas.”
Corinne Roosevelt Robinson in chapter 1 of “My Brother Theodore Roosevelt.”

This passage is actually about her father, Theodore Roosevelt Sr.  She continues:

“My father, in his brief life of forty-six years, achieved almost everything he undertook, and he undertook many things, but, although able to give the concentration which is necessary to achievement, he had the power of interesting himself in many things outside of his own special interests, and by the most delicate and comprehending sympathy made himself a factor in the lives of any number of other human beings.”
Corinne Roosevelt Robinson in chapter 1 of “My Brother Theodore Roosevelt.”

Good advice for entrepreneurs: you have to focus for effect, making hard choices to drive a project or product forward. But if you are only interested in yourself and your own needs you won’t have much of a life.

Related Blog Posts

Steve Hodas’ Lean Startup 2013 Talk Offers Recipe for Re-Invigorating Intrapreneurs

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Lean Startup, skmurphy

Steve Hodas packs a lot of insight packed into this 15 minute talk from the Lean Startup 2013 conference. A recent conversation reminded me how much I enjoyed this talk and the savvy approach Hodas outlines for enterprise or large organizations who want to encourage innovation by partnering with startups and re-invigorating intrapreneurs and internal change agents:

  • define an API to share data;
  • elicit support from change agents on the front lines;
  • allow for a lot of experimentation;
  • only pick winners based on results achieved after months of perseverance.

This forces you to create platforms for experimentation, it sends a strong message you are committed to improvement based on results, and forces the entrenched bureaucracy to defend on many fronts instead of attacking the incoming executives new “anointed” solution.

Presenter: Steven Hodas @stevenhodas / NYC Department of Education iZone
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBxJNFAILw8

Articles/Blogs/Commentary on the talk or related content:

Circle the Chairs

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Community of Practice, skmurphy

teamwork imageBrian Fuller had an interesting blog post on why you should circle the chairs in a meeting to increase audience participation at “Industry events need to get more social.

Panels and speeches at events are the live equivalent of newspaper publishing: We talk, you listen. Newspapers and magazines have been pounded for the better part of a decade that the we-say, you read model isn’t what people want in the age of ubiquitous and constant information. Why should it be the same for live events?

Array the chairs in the room in a great circle around the presenter(s). Everyone has to look at everyone else; no one hides; everyone’s forced to be attentive and stay off their laptops and cell phones. The circular set-up makes conversation easier. Up the ante by removing microphones from the speakers and panelists. Make sure the moderators really know how to facilitate a conversation, even if it means calling on people in the audience. Phil Donahue meets sub-threshold leakage.

These are great suggestions but they have a few things working against them. And I say this as someone who really likes the round table  format and has used it many times:

  • We did the EDA Bloggers Birds of a Feather this way at DAC 2008 and ICCAD 2008.
  • We structured the “Managing Project Health” Birds of a Feather at DAC 2009 as lightning talks followed by discussion in the audience.
  • We run the Bootstrappers Breakfasts®  this way as well.
  • All of our workshops

I only mention this to show I like the format and understand its strengths.

The Drawbacks To A Roundtable

  1. Only works with small groups: the nature of the interactions start to breakdown at 16-20 people and really starts to have problems above 40 or 50 people. There are other formats that build on it that have the group break into smaller discussions and then reform and report but the practical limit on the meeting size is somewhere around 40 or 50 for a single large roundtable. Above 16-20 it becomes more difficult to manage.
  2. Speakers sell audiences on attending. While the ‘unconference’ format is also gaining in popularity, I haven’t seen any in the electronics or EDA space. The EDA Process workshop comes closest to free discussion, but again it’s a smaller audience and people are in one room for the day and get to know one another better.
  3. Requires strong moderation. When a panel breaks down into a series of monologues you may still learn something. But when a roundtable doesn’t come off it can be very painful. It’s a challenge to bring folks together for 60-90 minutes and foster a good discussion. We do it at the breakfasts but we limit the table size to 20 (and most breakfasts have 8-16 attendees). Sharing a meal or a cup of coffee also seems to help break the ice. We have the networking take place afterward, once folks have had a chance to get to know one another.

Where The Roundtable Format Works Better

I think the roundtable format works better when the attendees are still wrestling with emerging problems where collaboration trumps competitive pressures (e.g. where the “stag hunt” model still holds). This was certainly the case for the blogger BoF’s and the Project Health BoF as well as the Bootstrappers Breakfasts. Everyone is more focused on learning than “getting the word out” about their product or service.

And I think that points up another problem with the format for conferences. Sponsors pay and take part to get the word out about their product. They don’t want to be in a setting where competitors and others can attend in what is effectively a peer position. If you are on a panel, up on a raised platform or stage, there is an unconscious presumption that you must be smarter than the audience. If everyone is sitting around in a circle, then everyone’s opinions matter more or less equally.

This was the inspiration behind the Conversation Central model that had 8-16 around a table having a conversation. The premise was that we would talk about issues facing the EDA industry that had not yet settled into competing solutions from vendors.

Jeff Jarvis Perspective

Here are some comments that Jeff Jarvis gave at TEDxNYed that mirror Brian Fuller’s:

This is bullshit.

Why should you be sitting there listening to me? To paraphrase Dan Gillmor, you know more than I do. Will Richardson should be up here instead of me. And to paraphrase Jay Rosen, you should be the people formerly known as the audience.

But right now, you’re the audience and I’m lecturing.

That’s bullshit.

What does this remind of us of? The classroom, of course, and the entire structure of an educational system built for the industrial age, turning out students all the same, convincing them that there is one right answer–and that answer springs from the lectern. If they veer from it they’re wrong; they fail.

Terry Frazier Perspective

Terry Frazier left a long and well thought out comment I wanted to include in the main body of this post:

Industry events are evolving and will adapt over time because they must compete with alternatives. You’ve nicely summarized the limitations of “drum circle confab”-style meetings – which can work wonders in the right setting but are no panacea. No one goes to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert to hear the audience sing.

People who live in social media tend to get tunnel vision and forget there are (still, and probably always) large segments of the population for whom social this and social that isn’t all that appealing. And no amount of tweeting is going to change that.

I was really interested in Jarvis’ comments. I’m glad I read the whole link because, out of context, I took a different (and inaccurate) meaning. The world of “Education” is far different from education. It is broken in different ways and needs, in many cases, very different solutions.

Jarvis has good ideas. Sadly I don’t see much evidence that people running Education have any clue how to apply good ideas without making them into bad ideas.

SKMurphy E-Mail NewsletterRelated Blog Posts

Q: How Much Attention Should I Pay To Potential Competition?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Q: When I introduce the idea for my business a lot of my friends are quick to ask: “are you sure there is no one else doing this?” In today’s fast and disruptive business world, I think it is very hard to come up with a business idea that is 100% unique, and utilizes a completely new set of technology features. I constantly find myself arguing that it doesn’t matter if someone else also has the same startup or business idea, it’s how you go about executing your business idea that matters.

What are your thoughts on competitors and how put off should I be when I find out another company has a similar product and mission to my startup?

Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Value of Storytelling

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

What follows is an exchange on twitter between Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Dec 12-2013 about their experiences as speakers at the Lean Startup Conference 2013 that I thought was worth preserving.

Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Value of Storytelling

Kent Beck (@KentBeck) Dec 12: The beauty of teaching through storytelling is that the listeners’ lessons aren’t limited by the storyteller’s imagination.

Donald Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) Dec 12: And, as in the old story of a donkey carrying a load of books, the payload can sometimes be more sophisticated than the narrator.

Kent Beck (@KentBeck) Dec 12: Good thing I don’t mind being a donkey :)

Donald Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) Dec 12: I rather enjoy it. Such moments permit one to unintentionally deliver an unexpected, and unreasonable, amount of value.

I did a roundup of speakers, videos, and blog posts from the Lean Startup 2013 if you are interested in learning more about their presentations or others.

Don Reinertsen Presentations

Don Reinertsen also has a number of good presentations up at InfoQ a “Beyond Deming” video at Lean Product Development Flow.  Here is his talk from Lean Startup 2013:

Kent Beck’s talk from Lean Startup 2013:

Related Blog Posts

Quick Links

Bootstrappers Breakfast Link Startup Stages Clients In the News Upcoming Events Office Hours Button Newsletter SignUp