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Monday, July 31, 2006

You need the correct cup to sell your tea...

I was listening to a Pastor from India last week and he was presenting his work in India to the tribal folks...a good presentation and a good work...but what’s that to do with the tea and a cup and a start up .... well Brother Jacob...told a true story where he was handing out rice ,curry and tea...and he was wondering why the tea was not being drunk...and one off the elders came over and said your tea would taste better in my own cup...not one off your new strange cups.....so the next time he came along to pour tea..he told them to bring there own cups....

So what does this have to do with you and me....well when we go along to a new company and try to sell our technology...or service... we sometimes get the same response...we get a negative response ..and there are barriers to get over from the beginning...but if you have an internal sponsor helping you then it is far easier....there are many barriers already broken down...and your message goes across easier and faster....with less resistance....

Develop an internal sponsor.
Use any resource to make the contact.
In new countries look for an indigenous sponsor...well known and respected.
Develop within your company specific people to connect with there alternate reality in the target companies.
Make your offering as comfortable for the buyer as you can.



Friday, July 28, 2006

I was listening to a speaker on ethics and morals in buisness....I wonder if there is a point in an Entrepreneurs life when that runs out ....

I try to be ethical and moral in my dealings....I expect that others deaing with me will be also..but I never assume that they will be..my dealings with other cultures in business has shown that there is a sometimes a gulf in what you percieve as moral and ethical and the beliefs off you business partner....this is an area that can cause a lot off grief in any business and personal relationship...wether it is a customer..supplier...employee ..partner or lover...this is an area that you need to understand very quickly in a newly developing partnership...if the relationship is a major part off your business..then invest the time..to find out about your partner...use your network to explore the periferal off the relationship...and understand what you are getting into.....as an example....There was a major asian supplier to a SME....the senior manager in the SME was under extreme pressure to get parts from the supplier at a reduced leadtime....the supplier helped him out....two months later the supplier was in trouble and needed a favor from the SME....the SME was not in a position to help out..as the deal involved storing inventory for the Supplier and shipping on to another party to avoid tarrif rules..the supplier then stop shipments off parts to the SME which did not have the resource to bring on-line there 2nd source quick enough...the SME suffered ....

The point I am trying to make and maybe not doing to well...is that business is all about relationships and people ...you need to understand your partners motivation....and make sure it is alinged with your own.....Business and life is not all about making money....and the old saying there is never a free lunch....well just make sure you know what maybe be asked in return for you free lunch.....

Hope you have a great weekend...


Thursday, July 27, 2006

All hands meetings.....company briefings...golden opportunities …terminal briefings…

The one meeting where the leader has to shine above all other meetings is when he is talking to the troops…too many times have I seen leaders stand up before the very people who have his destiny in there hands and screw up….he doesn’t address the issues that need to be…he does not tackle the looming storm clouds….he does not express his desire or feelings…this is the one opportunity to present …reinforce ..educate.. evangelise ..the one reason that they all exist in the group…. Is to bring there solution to a problem..that a customer has …quicker…faster…better…than anyone else…

A few golden pointers to share at the meeting

Reinforce the P&L and cash flow, review progress on objectives.
Update from the Dept Heads.. Maximum of three slides on the good, the bad and next steps.
Address the issues that are floating around in the organization.
Address any cultural issues.
Communicate the top challenges for the company for the next time period.
Allow time for questions.
Speak about what is on your mind…but do it calmly.
Finish with one slide showing the objectives for the next period with the responsible names next to each Item.
Summarise….give praise where it is due always at the end of the meeting.
Duration not longer than 45mins.
After action updates, get your management team to see how the meeting was received, see if there are any areas to improve on.
Walk the floor and engage the troops see if your message was understood.
For some meetings it maybe a good Idea to have them later in the afternoon and then as a reward if it is due, throw a BBQ or buffet…I will leave the drink selection up to you..


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

There is a storm coming.....

We have a storm brewing....the lightening is dancing around me as I write this....and in the company there is a good thunderhead building ....we have a few dragons to kill..and we may not have the time and resource..also there is a warrior who does not have the appetite...if they engaged in trying to get the resources for the dragon slaying it may be terminal for them...so I have sympathy for him..but the thunder clouds have been gathering for a while...but there has been a lot off "HITS" and they are going to end up drowing themselves in the sand...was there a solution earlier to these dragons ?....well there is always a technical solution....but was there one that is commercial suitable....I always have thought in the past I would be able to do better..but I have not walked in his foot steps and been through his battles...so until I do..I can only watch and learn.... and to the best off my ability never be in those shoes....

as a side bar....how does your company deal with the storms...have you prepared them to weather them...I have a few tried and tested ways...
  • Honesty
  • Open and transparent communication (where legally possible)
  • Integrity
  • Vision and passion
  • Destroy the rose tinted shades
  • Always review where you and the company are going
  • Talk openly outside the boardroom to your investors

Thanks for your feedback on yesterdays blog...



Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What does cooking have to do with a great company ?

I was reading a book by Gillian Shepherd...on you are what you eat...it goes through a holistic approach to food and diet ....and life in general....but it was a chapter at the end off the book that caught my attention ...it was to do with how you prepare the food...if you prepare the food with passion and energy then you reap the benefit in taste etc.....and I must admit..you get a burger on the hop from a mickie D or BK as we do when we travel and run from one flight to the next...but if you get a burger from a good resurant..do you notice the difference...if you have a meal consiting of fresh ingredients ..rather than frozen...you tell the diffrence..if you are served your meal by passionated table staff ..you are more likely to return....what is this to do with a great company...

  • Have a passion for you product....your company...your people....yoru customers...
  • Keep it fresh...and new...
  • Instill the same passion and vision you have for your company and products....to your own people...it will catch.....the old saying "it only takes an ember to start a fire"...
  • The process off doing business with your company should be a good experience for your customer
  • If you build your product with passion and energy..it will show....you will not be bothered by it coming back to bother you or give you heartburn



Monday, July 24, 2006

I was thinking over the weekend as I climbed out off bed to go viewings houses again for a 4th weekend in a row..my back was sore..I have a slight ache in my side.. and I need to get fit...but like all things I have got used to them...I know I will have to go see the "witch doctor" but I keep putting it off ...so it came to my mind we have the same "fix it later" strategy sometimes at work...the company can be sick in certain areas....sales is not performing..or engineering or manufacturing is running like a broken down tractor..but we let it run...we start to accept it and next we are planning around it...There are sometimes things going on that take time to fix.. like...you have a key guy who is not performing great but he does have some ability in an area no one else has...what do you do if you fix the problem he may leave...well you should never get into that position in the first place I here you say..hey it happens...but the point is you need to plan your way out off it...and thats the same with the company..if there are issues that you know are wrong then you need to plan to fix them.......

Like my health...I have allowed myself to slip into a condtion which is not the best for me...put on weight..let the bp rise a little....so the quick fix..could help...the diet could help..but what really would help is to have a "lifestyle change" I workout in the garage gym everynight...I have started to make my food from the raw materials...GIGO cooking...I take time with the "trouble and strife"....I am putting into place a life culture which can only help me and my wife to get healthier..in mind and in body....I do believe we are a tri-part creation..but thats for another time..

That is what I suggest we should aim to do for the company...get the culture correct and you a healthy company...



what does cooking have to do with a company......

Friday, July 21, 2006

One of the things I started this blog for was to have a place to rant a little but also help a little if I can ...

Customers visits are one off the most important visits to a company there is...it should bring excitement ..someone is interested in your product..intersted enough to make the effort to coem and see you...to kick the tyres...the least you can do is be well prepared...make sure the site is tidy...I am not in to the last minute polish because that can be seen through..there needs to be a good level off cleanliness and order to the site at all times..it shows pride in the work place..hence a healthy culture...something I wish I could improve here ....the other thing I find usful is to rehearse what is going to be said to the customers...and think through the questions that you will be asked....have your presentations answer them first...make sure everyone has the same game plan...set the outcome from the meeting in everyones mind, so they can craft there questions...is there inteligence you need from the customer...if so get the most unlikeliest person to ask the questions...i.e if it is a commercial question get the tech geeks to ask it..and vice a versa..it will get a better responce....it helps to make sure that those who are asking the questions can understand the responce....

well another weekend and another session off house hunting...I said to the trouble and strife we need to have an easier weekend ..so she books 5 houses to see...thats a wife for you...

have a great weekend..and keep the questions coming...



Thursday, July 20, 2006

....The one thing that still amazes me that there is so much "head in the sand" CEO'S and COO's...give your company a chance if you read this and open your eyes and do what's needed to be done...one thing I learned many years ago running a DRAM fab was don't put off any hard decisions because they will come back and bite your bum big time that was point one.....you look weak and indecisive infront off your team that was point two.....and finally you are payed to make them that was point three...

also if you get up day on day and you hate your job..do yourself and your family a favor go get a new one...we all get bad days or bad weeks..but if it is a long period of dread off the alarm clock then it is time to polish up the CV...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

....the one thing that a new company does not have are plenty off resources..it must learn from an early stage to be frugal at the correct time..and to be lavish when it counts most....do you wine and dine your customers...only if you are close to a deal ...but do not go overboard...you want to set the scene as a good host but not one who is careless with there cash..The other area that is the manpower available...this is not a 9 to 5 role ....and that needs to be evident in the culture of the managment team and your senior engineering team...it is not about face time or desk time...it is about doing what it takes , whenever and wherever to get the task completed...be careful not to burn the team out but teach and coach them that when it counts you want to see them there ....I have had my 3 am mornings in the guts off evaporators holding the torch( we could not aford the lighting in the warehouse) while we play with the HV connections...or standing in PPE playing with a the gas system.... these are the events that help build the sub culture...hence lead to building a great team...one that is a pleasure to be around and work with...well the CEO is over from the US today ...so it will be a interesting few days...


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

....I have just started reading a book the CEO and the Monk....it deals with a 100 year old gas company that had to face deregulation in the US around the days off "Mighty Enron" and a unique approach to the way it made the change from the old mom and pop gas company to one off the "darlings" off the utilites...there approach was interesting to me in a few ways....the change agent was an ex priest if you can be one...(I used to be a lay preacher ) ...he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer during his early years and he survived....and he came to the role of change agent with a new view...it was a good day if you are alive at the end off it...he had no agenda....people were not frightend to engage with him....he was not out to cause trouble...he became the eyes and ears off the CEO ...he was able to suggest change in unique ways that were not challenged or dissmissed out off hand....the ethos of the organization was people first..people last...a person comes to work for you they bring all there care and worry with them...we either ignore that and take the hit or spend time getting to know our folks and there families....as a start up we need both on our side to succeed...the little lady or hubby can make your best engineer perform brilliantly ...or ..... look after the employees....just like you want to be, and undertand not everyone is as driven as you are .....they have there own goals, desires for there life....the key to sucess is trying to help them align both.....


Monday, July 17, 2006

What is it that makes a start up so addictive...it's not the money...do the maths hours worked vs the rewards...who opens up and who closes up the site..if you are reading this it's probably you...you maybe lucky and get a quick winner....but you usually dont..the Dot coms and telecoms days are gone...I personally enjoy the challenge off getting a product out there and seeing it make a diference....like the wind up radio..or wind up torch....the portable water purification plants running off solar power and can supply a small village all its required clean water...also I enjoy the culture that devlops..I have been in some"sick" start ups but also been in some good ones..and the difference is in the way the leadership starts out....is there a common vison communicated that all can buy in to and do....do they run the company not the VC...do they actively nurture the culture and take corrective action when required to protect it....do they set goals and objectives and hold the folks accountable ....do they mentor ...coach ..train...prepare...starting a new company is not just about the technology / market....it's also about the means off how you deliver that vision...the people who are working for you...who are dependant on you for there means to live..pay bills...build there lifes....take time and think about how you want to be treated / rewarded in life and make sure your team is at least as well treated and managed.....there are many ways to do this but ...to build teams to support this way forward....but each situation is differnet....there is no set recipe...so take time in assemblying your team and let them get on with it....and have fun while doing it and make sure the team has fun as well...



Friday, July 14, 2006

....So yesterday was a day for strong leadership...and a time to put up some more canvas...in times off trouble in the company it is good to increase the tension a little and push a bit harder..it gets the mind focused on other issues and takes it off the major ones..doesn't always help every body but it does most folks..it was a trick I learned from Maslow when I was studying for my management course ....I also think if you are going to study managment ..get your hands dirty first and actually work at the coal face..it will help you sift the chaff from the wheat ..also look for courses that use a lot off visiting lecturers who come form the real world...they bring a unique perspective to the marriage of theory and wisdom.....well hope you all have a good weekend



Thursday, July 13, 2006

....working for an emerging company is like ridding an emotional roller coaster ...it is a statement I made after a year into my first start up....and it is still true...everyday has it's ups and downs...some major ones...like today..we have a major issue ..and we do not have much off an idea how to fix it yet...but this is when we need brillance not engineering ...and thats whats makes good companies great companies....the ability to come at problems from all areas and focus on getting a fix and moving on...taking it in your stride....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The good lady wants to sell the house and move on to somewhere new...I can see her motivation...her mum died only a few months ago and the house and locality remember her off her mum a lot....I am just not sure on the timing of the move...and it shows....I have no passion for the move..and it shows on the marketing efforts I am putting into the sale...I have prepared the house and the gardens...but it lacks the final polish that I would put on a normal business venture that I was passionate about …and that is so true in business the best sales guys are those that are passionate with a vision for there product…and that is what makes a good company great is the passion for what it is doing…it invades every facet off the organisation and gives the life….The great chefs say that there food is created with passion and it is that passion that is infused in the meal you eat and it brings the food alive…A company that has a passion for it’s product from creation to end user …will succeed..it shows…A company gets its passion and vision from the leadership…..



Tuesday, July 11, 2006

There are a few key attributes that people need to have when working for a start up enterprise...If I did a paretto of causes leading to failure off a start up No 1 for me would be honesty...Honesty in your product ...Honesty in your staff...Honesty in yourself...

Many companies are blind to the competion and the progress that they are making and are not honest in the position of there own product wrt the market...is it going to make it and excel or is it a same as product....they pull the "head in the sand" trick...It is criminal for a leader to do this...he off all people must make sure that he has an honest company....if that means taking the bad news to the VC'S then so be it....he has a better chance of getting employed again if he is honest and does not lead te VC's a merry dance down a one way street...at least give them the option to get off...they may supprise you and let you change the street as well...off course you may have on the board an "ex Israeli tank commander" and that may be more difficult...but honesty always wins through in the end...


Monday, July 10, 2006

First post...this is just somewhere to write about life , observations of life at work and in the real world....having spent over 20 years working in High technology companies and over 10 of them with venture capital backed companies, here in Europe and the US.

This weekend was for house hunting, the wife wants to move from the concrete jungle of Livingstone to nearer the sea...so it's over to the kingdom of Fife along the forth shoreline. There are some nice areas there near the sea...but with the proximity to Edinburgh it has driven up the cost off living dramatically. The villages along the coast are unique each has it's own sub-culture...with diverse inhabitants from all walks of life...some escaping there past ..some folks are trying to find a future...and there are the local folks... fifers...dour and with a dry sence of humour they take a sometime to get used to there manerisims, but on the whole they are fine...We drove up through Kinross and passed the mass of campers and revellers staggering around the village as they moved to towards the T-in-Park venue...on we went to Anstruther..and had an excellent breakfast and cup of java...took some pictures ( http://community.webshots.com/user/gordon1234100 ) you can see them in the last album of the link.....we drove back down through Kirkcaldy , Kinghorn and then BurtIsland across the road bride and home....we did not find a new home but we did get to see soem off the countryside....

Well Todays another day....started a new operator in the test area....and need to talk to the Optical engine guys on the new design...so it is a busy day here at www.forthdd.com


Keltie...ack Gordon