Posts tagged advice
Posts tagged advice
READ FULL POST
Many people have gone through this process of self-discovery at various ages. Sometimes it hits us when we’re 20, 36, or 86. But each person I’m sure stumbles through it differently. Here’s what I discovered and what’s helped me:
- Write a personal mission statement and keep it open in your browser and read it slowly every morning. Revise it as often as you see fit and try to minimize the number of items to establish an essence of who you are.
- Get rid of things that aren’t essential to your life. Simplify.
- Eliminate as many stressful things as possible. Do meaningful things that make you happy and relaxed, like massages and hikes in the woods. Give yourself a break.
- Eliminate people and things that make growth difficult.
- Spend much less time looking at screens and more time reading books.
- Spend a ton of time alone reading books that provide a little insight into life. I’ve found waking up a little early and reading something nice is a great way to start your day. Anyway, time at night would be good too. The point is, just read enlightening books and eliminate distractions when reading.
- Write. I created my own private tumblr that I’m treating like a diary adding my own writing but also anything that I find insightful, like passages from the books I’m reading. I want all of this stuff to be in the same place. And I also want to be able to read through it and see progress and reminders.
- Write down the qualities you find attractive in a person. Read them a few times a week.
- Go out with friends that talk about real issues and ones that you trust for good, objective advice.
- Have a glass or two of wine but not much more.
- Be consistently kind to everyone.
Here are the books I’ve read this year that have helped sculpt my philosophy on life:
- The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm (the best, by far)
- King, Warrior, Magician, Lover
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Road Less Traveled
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
I’ve found that I love the classic self-help books. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to do so. They just may change your life. But most importantly, 2012 taught me the importance of a team and artfully creating your world around you to optimize that team, whether that team is at work or at home. And difficult times are by far the most enlightening. I never run away from a challenge. Never have. Never will. And starting 2013, I’m a much happier, wiser man who has so much optimism inside it hurts. Life is grand, isn’t it?
Advice by Rob Giampietro to designers getting ready to start their own studio but can be applied to others as well:
found via Swiss-Miss
Restaurateur Danny Meyer
Mark Suster, one of my new favorite bloggers had the below 8 points in his post Startups are all Naked in the Mirror. If you have time I suggest you read the whole article and if you are not already follow his blog, Both Sides of the Table, do that too.
1. Be careful about believe everybody else’s good press and drawing any judgment on your own internal performance. Judge yourself against your own expectations for yourself and your customer feedback.
2. Let your compass be based on your customers. Get feedback, find out whether they are happy and serve them well. Over communicate with them. Don’t obsess with product releases of competitors or biz dev deals. In the scheme of things they come and go. Google announced Google Wave and people are worried about the impact on your business? Don’t. Product announcements come and go. You need to understand the impact of your competitor developments and learn from them. Just don’t obsess with it. And don’t let it be your compass.
3. Remember to communicate with your team frequently and openly. Point out the naked mirror syndrome. It is the elephant in the room anyways. Believe me they’ll all have Google Alerts out on the competition and will read their announcements with interest. If you don’t address it they’re minds are shaped by competitor PR.
4. Be careful about not over expressing your deepest concerns to your team. You need to be open but not instill panic. It’s OK to talk about fund raising challenges or customer losses. You should. But most people aren’t wired to deal with the nerve racking daily grind of life as a CEO. If you shared every deep seated fear (that I know you have) and over hyped every victory (that never pays off as much as you had hoped) you’ll have people on your roller coaster ride. Remember that most people aren’t wired this way.
5. Don’t underestimate the impact of good PR on your competitors. You need to be sure that you’re constantly communicating with the market. Having a conversation. Getting your company news out. Believe me your competitors are watching. Reading. Good PR can help slow down your competitors initiatives as they naively try to follow you. No news from you strengthens their internal morale.
6. Reach out to the competitors. Get to know them. Be open and many will be open back. Realize as a start-up you have much more in common with them in driving the industry adoption. I think it’s best to have friendly competition the way you’d hope to in sports. Compete to win – don’t get me wrong. But in a gentlemanly way. If you feel the need to have an “arch enemy” to motivate the team (as some CEO’s feel the need) then make it just one firm and befriend everyone else. Reach out to the founders, not the staff. Keep your conversations confidential. I wouldn’t even disclose to the team that you’re having them. They then start to think sinister thoughts.
7. Your strategic initiatives are unlikely to deliver knock-out blows – Just as most people overplay their competitors strengths, they also tend to overplay their own. No matter was killer next feature set we were releasing that we thought would completely change the game in our market it was uncanny how every major competitor I had was (in retrospect) working on the exact same set of features at the same time. They had all the same customer feedback and had they all had smart people around the table. I believe winning is about constantly executing, year-in, year-out. Not about some knock-out feature set, biz dev deals , pricing drops or market positioning.
8. Don’t overset expectations for your employees on the way in. I learned this the hard way. Imagine calculating what 0.25% of your company is going to be worth when you go public 18 months after inception. I know it sounds silly to those that weren’t around in the late 90’s. But when that doesn’t pan out then people look to the door. After a while I starting telling people on the way in, “join because you’re passionate about what we do. Join because you’ll make a good not great salary. Join because as we succeed so will you. Join because every year we’ve improved your CV to have an even better job in the future. And, oh, by the way. We do hand out stock options. If they’re worth something some day that would be gravy. But if you’re joining for just that reason it would be better to work somewhere else.”
7 sins of success by Jeffrey Kalmikoff
Spreading yourself too thin
Sacrificing your core business by spending too much time on non-core ideas
Not reaching 100% completion, 100% of the time
Getting lured away from what you need to do by what you want to do
Forgetting that everything can always be made better
Getting discouraged if things don’t turn out they way you plan
What’s right for others may not be right for you
We are operating in exceptional circumstances in terms of the severity of the economic crisis with a potential for it to get much worse before it gets better. I think of it a bit like being in the deathzone in mountain climbing (something I only know from books). You really don’t want to be making an effort that’s not focused on your goal because every bit of wasted energy endangers your survival. This is true even if you are feeling suprisingly well at the moment.
What does acting like a mountain climber in the death zone mean for a startup?
First, make sure you really have a clear strategy (clear value proposition, differentiation, etc). Without that you won’t be able to evaluate which activities are in fact essential and which aren’t.
Second, do things sequentially instead of in parallel whenever possible. Time is slowing down for others as well so there is less of a rush to get things done.
Third, look at the existing activities and cut things that are not working. That could mean removing features, ending partnerships that are not productive, stopping marginal marketing activities, etc.
Fourth, expend fewer resources even on those things you do need to do. Thankfully the latter is possible because you can (re)negotiate grate rates on almost everything.
Last night I heard from an entrepreneur who managed to hire commissioned sales people at 50% less guarantee than she had originally thought and that guarantee is for a shorter period and a draw against commission (instead of a base).