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Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday morning....some reading for the weekend

Top 50 business blogs list

The link above is from the http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/ list of 50 best business blogs, thought I would let you all have a rest from my efforts today, we have been selected to pitch at the EEVF 07 in Zurich end of September, http://www.europeanenergyfair.com/ , so life is going to get a lot busier now. Well I hope you all have a great weekend, will be in Milan next week so I am not sure how much time I will have to blog, but if I can, I will, if not see you all Thursday.



Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to loose your customers......By V*d*ph*ne

Cheap camera phone

Well yesterday I had an object lesson on how to loose your customers, it took the form of a dialogue between two of the employees of vodaphone and myself.


Me, the customer, has a problem with his voice mail, have had problems with the aforementioned service for months, periodically I get a call from my friends by the way your VM is not working, I have had recruiters e-mail me, could not get in touch your phone kept ringing out, I even checked the function of my own VM by calling myself..left a message and never got the message. There for I diagnosed I had a problem, in fact two problems, if I was a guy who believed in conspiracy theories, then I would think that the problem had been morphed from the does not work totally problem to, ha ha you think it works, but it doesn't, but if you don't check to see if it is working, you can't complain. The big problem was I had my last company use Vodaphone, and we had the same problems, I pulled the contract, I could not have the sales team miss calls or VM, it would cost money and image, so we moved them to another suppliers, it was just like a breath of pure fresh air.


After 25mins on the phone, of my time, I did not get an answer, well I did and it was not the same answer I had a month ago, or even the month before that, in the end I was told to switch the VM off, and back on, and then set up the function to pick up my VM from a land line. I thought the point of having VM on my mobile was so that I could pick it up from my mobile. The tech support guy, did not give me a easy access number to call if it did not work to get back in touch, and he said there was nothing much else he could do, i.e take it or leave it.


Well enough said, once the contract runs out , I will be looking for a deal that will bring a breath of fresh air, so I can leave the stale smell of V*d*ph*n* behind. So the lesson from this was that if you want to keep your customers, be honest, try your best to give an answer, and if you for see a problem for the customer, then let them know, they will appreciate it, and maybe even recommend you to someone else. Customer service is the heart of the business, keep it healthy.



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pick your own Dream team..

I wrote a few days ago about building you managment team, and spoke about the "Dream Team" I asked the question on http://www.linkedin.com/ and here were some of the answers, but I start with the question:

Question Details:--------------------Pick your dream team

You are starting a new company, here is your chance to pick your dream management team, your position is founder. Please choose 5 key traits that you would look for in the team ?

and if you like...pick some names from history that you would like on your team?

I.e. Attila the Hun- Chief Operations Officer

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------


Dream Team:

1 - a visionary - possible candidates from history: Leonardo da Vinci or Martin Luther King, else Richard Branson

2 - a leader - from history: Julius Caesar or Che Guevara, else Steven Jobs

3 - an implementer - Janet Holmes

4 - an infrastructure builder/supporter - Albert Einstein or Galileo Galilei, else Randice-Lisa Altschul

5 - a team of people who are smarter than I, to pull it all together and making it a reality


Dream Business team ?

Need a great organiser - A real completer/finisher

A visionary - someone who can re invent or opportunity spot

A commercial/pragmatic finance expert

A strong technical or operating person

A charismatic sales dynamo.

Historic team:

Octavia Hill - Great Campaigner and brilliant at "getting stuff done"

Jules Verne or Ray Bradbury - both excellent at foward thinking/creative

Keynes - reliable finance guy - if the business fails he could make it all back on stock gambles ! Mr Spock or possibly Scotty ? (Scotty would cost more in Whisky but probably more fun to be around)

Del Boy - the ultimate sales guy !


First the attributes which I look for each team member as founder of organization will be like this:-

ANGER - Must know how to control his/her anger and must be down to earth.

MISTAKES - Knows to commit mistakes and learn from those mistakes. If a person doesn't do mistakes how will he learn & take positive step in near future if he/she encounter the same. AFFECTION - He needs to be affectionate and be a good Human Being. Not like a person who believes in dodging his team member's for his personal growth.

TRUST - Every person needs to be trusted. He/she must have a strong charcter & moral values so that he/she can be trusted and in whole the team can trust on every one to give a better output from every individual.

CARING - Caring is also to be like affectioante. He/she needs to have care for every team member's views & thoughts.

PARTICIPATION - Active participation of every team member. The team member's need to be multi skilled & multi dimensional. They need to know every in & out of other member's job responsibilites which will give them an insight of every member's job role. It will make them understandble how tough is other's job.

HELPING OTHERS GROW - If everyone is having this attitude it will result in growth of every individual, together and thus the organizational growth.

COOPERATION - No one is perfect in this world & for learning we need co-operation from every individual whom we met in this world. Co-operation among team member's will help them nurture & make the whole work process smoother.

Now the great people whom I want to add in my team will be:-

1) Dhirubhai Ambani - Founder of Reliance Group

2) Lee Ioccoca - Ex President of Ford & person responsible for bringing out Crysler Corporation from bankruptcy.

3)Bill Gates - Every one knows of Bill Gate why?

4) Google Co-founder - Larry Page & Sergey Brin, because they believe in helping community and to offer as much as possible free services to the whole community.


Here is my history's dream team:

CEO: Socrates (Philosopher, the mind behind modern times "induction method", ca. 400 BC) - Vision, team leader, communication skills, motivator

COO: Juan Sebastián Elcano (Navy Captain, first circumnavigation of the Earth in 1522 AC) - strategy and organization

CTO: Karl Gauss (Mathematician, wrote "Fundamental Theorem of Algebra" in 1799 AC) - technical skills and out-of-this-world innovation

CFO: Qin Shi Huangdi (First Chinese Emperor, unified China in 221 BC) - economical skills, globalist, parnerships

CIO: Trajan (Roman emperor, largest expansion of the empire in 27 BC) - achiever, pragmatic, charismatic

Now all I need is a time machine :)


Now this was part fun part serious, but when you start out to build your company, think about who you want to build it with.



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The first 100 days in a new leadership role

I hope you had a great weekend, mines was busy, I found a good aritcle on the first 100 days of your new leadership role by Michael Kanazawa, he writes a blog with Robert H. Miles, you can find there blog here http://bigideastobigresults.com/

First 100 Days: Checklist and tips for getting off to a fast start

By Michael Kanazawa
There is no better opportunity to lay the ground work for turning big ideas into big results than in the first 100 days as a new leader. By the end of 100 days everyone will be done sizing you up as a leader, the organization will either be on a new trajectory or settle back down into the current track, and you will have set the stage for your next 2-3 years as a leader. You have a huge opportunity when taking over as a new leader.
First is the chance to change the strategic direction of the organization. People are actually expecting it, so the shift will be much easier than at any other time. Political structures will be in flux, so long-standing tough decisions that have been avoided will be easier to drive through to closure. And, even as tough decisions are made, everyone will be looking at you as the new hope for growth and improvement. People want you to be successful because it means better things for them as well. So, they will be ready to follow your lead. With so much opportunity (and risk of missed opportunities) at hand, it is worth carefully planning your first 100 days to get everything out of it that you possibly can. Korn Ferry published research on the pitfalls and tips for success in leading through the first 100 days based on views about leaders in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Below are statics from two questions they asked.
What is the most common mistake that senior executives make during their first 100 days?

Failing to establish strategic priorities - 23.5%
Committing cultural gaffes and/or political suicide - 16.4%
Waiting too long to implement change - 15.8%
Not spending enough face time with subordinates - 14.2%
Getting sidetracked by “fire drills” — having a short-term focus - 10.9%
Hesitating to make tough personnel decisions - 9.8%

What one thing — above all else — must a senior executive do in their first 100 days in order to succeed?
Assemble and solidify a team - 25.1%
Articulate a statement of vision and goals - 24.6%
Identify and address what’s most important to the CEO, board of directors and other key executives - 15.8%
Understand and adapt to the new culture - 13.7%
Identify the leverage points and the metrics for success - 9.8%
Achieve several quick successes - 4.9%
Fix obvious, nagging problems quickly - 3.8%

These tips and pitfalls are very useful to understand, but only become practical when you can build them into a First 100 Days action plan for yourself. Time will fly by and without a hard schedule the calendar will run out before you’ve addressed everything. There will be plenty of fire drills and unfortunately purposeful distractions in your path to accomplishing the big shift you need to in this critical time. Below is a well tested, streamlined set of actions you can use to build your 100 day plan. It is based on applying the ACT Process, outlined in our soon to be released book Big Ideas to Big Results, to the case of new leaders taking charge. And if you notice, fixing small, incremental quick fixes are listed at less than 5% of mentions. They need to be handled, but aren’t nearly as important to your success as getting the bigger elements of the overall team, strategic direction and alignment of top executives and the board handled first.

First 100 Days Action Plan Checklist
1-30 Days
Individually meet each direct report team member and call them into a commitment to lay the foundation for the next 2-3 years with you.
Architect your 100 day plan steps and share it with everyone.
Establish a fact base by engaging the organization in a due diligence process on itself, looking at the business from an internal as well as external perspective. This includes listening to customers and “non-customers”.
Set up 2 working sessions with your team (at least 4-8 hours each) to confront reality and question the direction. This work will help you leverage the best thinking of the team and also get a good read on your people.
Identify “Quick Start” initiatives that can be treated immediately and will show a bias for speed and action as well as puts change in motion early.
Conclude with a working session with you team in the first 30 days with developing a refined direction of vision and goals that is now shared by your direct team as they helped create it.
31-65 Days
Develop a new set of priority strategic initiatives with your direct team, including refined goals for the organization (working session).
Identify any specific behavior changes needed to successfully drive the new direction and initiatives forward.
Engage the next level team in a dialogue about how to operationalize the strategic initiatives and live the required behaviors.
66-100 Days
Starting at the top of the organization, reset personal commitments, performance standards, and compensation plans to support the new direction and initiatives.
Engage your direct team in resetting their commitments in another working session.
Engage leaders at all levels in resetting priorities and commitments in a rapid cascade taking no more than 3-4 weeks to complete. Leverage the natural chain of command one level at a time to drive real change. One big speech from the top and staff-led programs won’t work.
Finally, by watching how your direct team has engaged in strategic thinking, how they’ve played with the rest of your team in developing the plans and how they engaged their organizations in driving the changes, you will have all that you need to make any required personnel shifts. Make all of the major changes in leadership before the 100 days run out.
Designing these elements into your 100 day plan will keep your focus on setting strategic priorities, assessing your team, engaging the full organization, and getting started quickly – all keys to success. In the whirlwind of activities in taking over a leadership position in a new organization, it is impossible to keep everything that is important top of mind. Following a proven process, like ACT, and applying it to this critical time can help bring some order and more impact to your next challenge.



Friday, August 24, 2007

New book: Amazing Pace: Turbo-Charged Business Development

Well worth a read you can get a copy through Earl's web site or on Amazon - click here

Amazing Pace: Turbo-Charged Business Development

by Dr. Earl R. Smith II (http://www.dr-smith.com/)

"The book is great! It gives perspectives that are not only enlightening but flow of the book stimulates the thought process associated with building a truly successful business. It is direct for those willing to open their minds and understand that they are not the single greatest business authority. This book provides a refreshing view of the dual process involved between the CEO and the expert on how to take a company to the next level – the level of success!” Vice President, Public Sector, RWD Technologies

Amazing Pace: Turbo-Charged Business Development describes how an advisory board populated with highly experienced, committed and well connected individuals is the fastest and most effective way to drive a company’s top line. The book describes the design, operation and management of such boards – boards that will radically increase the effectiveness of a company’s business development process. It describes how an advisory board populated with highly experienced, committed and well connected individuals is the fastest and most effective way to drive a company’s top line. The book describes the design, operation and management of such boards – boards that will radically increase the effectiveness of a company’s business development process.

Amazing Pace will show you how it is done and, more importantly, that it can be done for virtually any company with amazing results. Its core messages are that:
1. Getting business development right is the primary challenge for any senior team;
2. There is a solution to this persistent and painful challenge;
3. The solution is potent and highly cost effective and;
4. Given a professional approach, this solution is not rocket science – it can be deployed for virtually any company.
In this book you will read about the design, population and management of these boards and how they can radically increase the effectiveness of a company’s business development process.



"A few good men and women required"

I am coming to the end of my third week here at the new gig, been an interesting time, I have been getting some of the foundations laid for the next few months of work ahead, hopefully we will be pitching for cash at the end off September at the European Energy Venture Fair, we should know by the end of next week where we are with that.

I am at present looking for a few good men and women, who I will need over the next 6 months, I am intending to bring together a world class team, by that I mean the best that I can find, that meet my criteria:

  • Honest and Trust worthy: I can't trust a person then they are out, I do not want to have a team with hidden agendas, or kingdom building.

  • People leaders: I need a team of people leaders, what we are going to do here will be breath taking and an amazing journey, but also down right hard work like you have never known

  • Techies: To succeed at this gig, there needs to be a high level of innovation and creativity, basically I need a few good magicians, in all areas of the business, from process development, equipment engineering, to finance and supply chain.

  • Track record: They need to show a track record of hard work and dedication, they need to be known for it in there field.

  • Passionate: Passion brings energy and life, that is one of my must have ingredients for the team members.

  • Commitment: That they be committed to there work, there fellow workers and there personal life, Balance is a must.

  • Flexible: In this gig there will be many times we are not playing to our own song, and that means being used getting our hands dirty and doing what it takes.

If this strikes a cord, and you want to be part of the gig, let me know....we are building a PV solar cell manufacturing company.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Prioritization: Maximizing The Wow-To-Work Ratio

By Dharmesh Shah (EntrepreneurNewz)

At most startups, one of the hardest things to do is prioritize tasks. If your startup is anything like mine, you've got hundreds of things you could work on. There are always more ideas and tasks than there are people to do them. The trick is figuring out what to work on now and what to work on later. I've had to deal with this challenge for most of my professional career. Figuring out how to prioritize is a non-trivial challenge because there are many factors at play. I don't think it's possible to come up with the "optimal" prioritized list of things to do (and even if you had the optimal sequence, you wouldn't know it or be able to prove it). So, the way I like to think about this problem is to analyze the inputs into the function. Here's how I think about prioritization within a startup. Note that these points are related to prioritization of tasks related to the product (in my case, software for internet marketing). But, some of the principles would likely work for other types of businesses as well.

The Art Of Startup Prioritization When reading this list, assume that all other factors are equal (which I recognize that they never are). Also, it's important to recognize that a lot of my thinking about startup task prioritization is solving for the somewhat amorphous concept of "startup success". I'm not just looking to build the "best product" or create the highest margins. Also, I don't think the classic approach of "work on the things that are most important" is a good one. In tends to sub-optimize because of other factors. For example: There may be one critically important task that you would think is the "highest priority", but may need to be deferred based on the fact that it's so mind-numbingly boring that you're going to lose your lead developer if you make him work on that task immediately after he just spent a week working on another mind-numbing task. One of the goals of the prioritization process is to make optimal use of resources that you have - and ensure that you still have them. But, I digress. Here are the things I like to think about when deciding what to do.

1. Proximity To Customer: When choosing between two otherwise equally important tasks, pick the one that will deliver the most direct value to the customer (i.e. it is the closest to the customer's needs). So, although picking just the right shade of blue for your logo might be important - it doesn't really help the customer directly. (Note: I recognize this is an extreme example, but since this is the first point, I wanted to make sure I'm clear on the structure of this list).

2. Visible Value: Tasks that create value that can be seen win out over tasks that are under the covers. Customers often lack imagination and appreciation. In the early days, it's very important to create both the perception of progress and actual progress. On a related note, non-engineers share this some trait with the customers. So, your CEO is likely going to be more impressed with a feature she can see than one she can't.

3. Non-Controversiality: Pick tasks that are non-controversial and don't require debate, discussion and lots of analysis. Basically, pick the tasks that are "obvious" (i.e. of course we should do this thing and of course we would do it this way). For example, an easily replicable bug that deletes all the user's data at random times is non-controversial. Everyone agrees it is a bug and there's likely not a lot of debate about how to fix it.

4. Maximize Wow to Work Ratio: This is possibly the most important item (and my clear favorite). That's why I changed the title of the article. This tip suggests that when in doubt, pick the task that has the highest "wow to work" ratio (that is, the task that creates the most customer delight for the least amount of effort/investment). You'd be surprised to see how easily we engineers get this wrong. We have this mistaken notion that the "Wow!" factor and the level of work needed are somehow correlated. They're not. Customers are impressed by the most trivial things sometimes. Find these trivial things and do them.

5. Team Productivity and Preservation: Pick tasks that optimize the level of productivity of your current team and minimize the chances that one or more of them are going to go running into the hills. Business-types get this one wrong all the time. Yes, getting you the report that tells you with precision exactly how much money you're losing on your freemium product is important. And yes, you have to have it by the end of the week so you can update your VC investor spreadsheet. But, forcing this task is going to be sub-optimal if it causes your programmer to quit on you - because then you have two problems. In short, don't just force-feed the most "important" tasks. Be mindful of the state of the team

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How to Redefine Your Company’s Core Strategy

An interesting article by By Jessica Stillman a regular contributor at http://www.bnet.com/, it tackles the an old chestnut found in organizations with some road under their tyres,it always looks harder to change that it really is.

It’s important to stay true to your company’s strategic core. But sometimes, with technology and globalization changing the business environment at whiplash inducing speeds, fundamental redefinition is a necessity rather than a distraction. In a post on the Harvard Business Review’s Conversation Starter blog yesterday, Bain & Company’s Chris Zook reports that the company’s research reveals that “in the next decade as many as four of five companies may need to redefine their core strategy fundamentally, or find a new core in order to continue to grow or even survive”
Revamping your core strategy is one of the greatest challenges a manager can face, and with all the pressure and uncertainty it can be tempting to reach for something entirely new — leap into a new market, attempt major transforming acquisitions or push for massive corporate innovation.
But before you take any such bold and risky action, Zook recommends a calm inventory of your company’s existing strengths and capabilities. Most likely your company has hidden assets that can be tapped to get you through even the most fundamental business changes. According to Zook, these assets generally fall into three categories:
undervalued business platforms
untapped customer insights
underexploited capabilities

Zook offers two examples.
Not so long ago, De Beer’s was sitting atop a $5 billion stockpile of rough diamonds, yet profits were sinking. The real gems turned out to be consumer insights that set the company on a profitable new direction. Liquidating 80 percent of its inventory, the firm created a new business model, shifting it focus from supply control to a demand and customer-centered strategy.
These days the company’s market value is up to around $12 billion from a low of $1 billion in 1999. Another example: Apple. When the company’s computer sales flagged, it used its underexploited capability to produce “cool” user interfaces to develop the iPod (and now the iPhone). These new devises now account for 50% of the company’s revenues.
So if your current growth strategy is no longer working and you are facing the need for a strategic overhaul , before you go sailing off into uncharted waters, stop a moment to consider if your company has hidden, underutilized assets closer to home.
For further reading, check out Zook’s new book “Unstoppable“.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blessed are the people of your business

In all businesses the people are the most important asset !!!, how often have you heard that from the HR professional,the Management Guru or the CEO, but you don't see the proof. Well now you are running your own company, you have a 100 things processing in your mind as you walk from the coffee machine, and you walk pass the new engineer without a second glance because you are not there, you are in the boardroom, or customer review meeting, STOP, what impression have you left with that individual, good or bad, motivated or not. I suggest that you take sometime today, and think about your people,when did you last talk to the team informally, is the company set up in such away that it is easy to communicate easy, open plan offices, space to sit with your coffee and chat, are you available sometime of your day for people to walk up and ask questions ? Some of my best memories of work have been of informal chats with the folk I have worked with and for, just think, some of the people that work for you actually like you and your company, that is mind blowing, and they will work there butt off to make it a success, what are you doing for them, and it does not need to cost money, just time and effort. You will need extreme effort from your people, they will give it to you if they think you are worthy of it, blessed are a the people.



Monday, August 20, 2007

Commitment in business and life

I asked these questions on http://www.linledin.com/ and thought I would post some of the answers I received.This is a follow on from a three part post I did on Communication, Commitment, and Control. There was some interesting answers, names are with held,but can be seen on linkedIn

How do you judge your level of commitment to a project?

Can you increase other people’s level of commitment to a project? And if you can how do you go about it?

Let's try a seven-point matrix. Ideally we'd need KPI’S for each of these.

1. Financial reward Does this project make me enough money to satisfy my out-of work priorities? Family? Health? Housing? Tickets to the ball-game? etc

2. Time No matter how much I love what I do, do I still have time for the out-of-work activities that are important to me?

3. Enjoyment Do I actually like what I do? Does it give me a thrill to do it? Am I confident that I can do it well?

4. People Do I like the company of the people I work with? Do they stimulate me, inspire me, motivate me? Can I rely on them to support me and contribute to both my success and the team's?

5. Self-development Do I still learn something new each day? Am I acquiring skills that will help me long into my future career?

6. Recognition and respect Do people know and appreciate what I do? Both inside and outside the project? Will people remember my contribution? Am I making a mark?

7. Freedom If something's not working, do I have the power to change it, or get it changed? Do people listen when I suggest improvements? If I need decisions to be made, will they be made quickly.

I'm sure others could add to the matrix, change things around, suggest how we make everything more objective and measurable. But if your responses to each of the seven points were strongly positive, then it would be difficult to shake you from your commitment. As for others? Well, the starting point would be to create the circumstances that would allow them to respond positively.


Commitment is a two edged sword. Are you asking about the teams commitment to winning or the managements commitment to the team. I have found that commitment is a factor dependent on the actions, not the words, of the management. The commitment of the team is dependent on the management. If the management are perceived by the team to have different objectives to the team and the words of the maagement are just words and not actions then the team becomes disillusioned. I have worked on projects where the management drove the team to work large numbers of hours against horrendous schedules and the teams and the management delivered. I have also worked on projects with similar schedules and pressures and the management spent time on the golf course while the team worked and the schedules where not met. Teams are committed to winning if the coach, the manager and the supporters share the same objectives, if the players find that the objectives of the coach and/or the manger is different to the team then the commitment to win moves to disillusion and failure. I am committed to win if the management are committed to win, irrespective of money, pats on the back or thanks. However if the management do not share the same level of commitment then like the majority I become uncommitted to the project. After 30 years in IT projects I like to see management walk the talk rather than all show and no go. Unfortunately I have found most management are committed to their bonus and have no commitment to the project or the staff. Use and abuse is a common result for many projects, the staff have high levels of commitment and energy at the start and they move to lack of commitment and disillusionment as the true objectives of the management are exposed. You can not increase peoples commitment to a project unless the management are committed to the same objective


Very interesting question and answers. In the early 80’s, I was a project management consultant and used to talk a lot about “commitment.” We used a cycle to show how to build—or eliminate—commitment. The cycle starts with TRUST. If trust exists, OPEN COMMUNICATION is possible. When you have the freedom to communicate openly, you have the ABILITY TO INFLUENCE. In a climate of trust, open communication, and the ability to influence, project team members are willing to offer COMMITMENT. On the other hand, if there is MISTRUST, instantly there is GUARDED COMMUNICATION, and team members feel they have LITTLE ABILITY TO INFLUENCE. The result: NOMINAL or NO COMMITMENT. The project manager can do a lot to promote a “positive climate (the first cycle) by taking actions to establish trust, setting guidelines for communicating, listening to people and acting on their ideas. Conversely, there are some project managers that do a fine job of creating the second cycle, and then wonder why there is no commitment. In recent years I’ve been interested in the research of Gallup related to “ownership,” as noted by a previous poster). Their Q12 items, which in theory are the keys to engagement, offer a clear guideline for building engagement (commitment).

The 12 items: 1. I know what is expected

2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work

3. I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

4. In the past 7 days I’ve received recognition for doing good work

5. My supervisor or someone at work cares about me as a person

6. Someone at work encourages my development

7. My opinions seem to count

8. The mission of my company makes me feel my job is important 9. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work

10. I have a best friend at work

11. In the past 6 months someone has talked with me about my progress

12. I have opportunities to learn and grow If a project team member can strongly agree with all these statements, chances are he or she is strongly committed to the project (engaged). If there is a lot of disagreement, there is likely little commitment (the individual is disengaged, or in extreme cases “actively disengaged”-- i.e. dangerous).

The 12 items can provide a helpful framework for the project manager (set clear expectations; provide required materials, info, etc; put people into roles where they can use their strengths; provide recognition; etc.). The Gallup stuff is worth checking out.

Slainte Gordon

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lessons From the Ivory Tower

Everyone plays a role in teamwork

In the world of academia and academic publishing, giving and sharing credit are hallmarks of the trade — and the driving force behind innovation. It is this very tangible recognition of their work that is the coal for the creative engines (or perhaps I should say ethanol for the hybrid cars) that are the professors and the researchers in the field.

Too often in the business world, a team’s work goes unnoticed while CEOs and other managers receive credit for the diligent research, creative thinking and long hours of their underlings. Consequently, much of the expertise and worth of team members is unrecognized, untapped and not adequately shared with the rest of the group. While managers would argue that their staff is paid well for humbly completing their task, true innovation is almost always spurred on by the promise of achievement, career development and, yes, recognition.

Managers can get more out of their team by giving individual members the chance to be in the limelight, even if only for a brief moment. Here are a few basic ways to shine a light on the brain power of your team members:

Training Seminars – Ask team members who are experts in certain areas to share their knowledge with the group in a training environment, almost like teaching a short college class. Not only will it breed respect among the members of the team, it will help skills and expertise spread through the group.
Research Papers – A less unnerving and less confrontational way for team members to share knowledge and show the rest of the group that they work hard and keep up with the industry goings-on. This is also a great and pressure-free way to bone up on some of the intricacies of your trade.
A Team Blog – Somewhere that team members can contribute their thoughts and ideas in a conversational setting. It allows for people to span task boundaries, offering what they know about areas that might not sit within their job description.
Presentations – Choosing people to share their relevant expertise with employees outside your group will not only showcase your talent for hiring bright people for your team, it will also help people understand just what it is your team does for the company. Also, it gives the presenters a chance to stand out on a bigger stage.
One more tip: The more reticent and perhaps less experienced members of the team may be hesitant to put themselves on the line, so it’s good to allow for supporting roles as well, so they can become more comfortable in the spotlight. While academic journals recognize the primary author or authors of a study, they also cite secondary authors, allowing the researchers who do much of the grunt work and contribute ideas and opinions to the paper to get credit as well

From www.bnet.online.com

Slainte Gordon

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to kill your company Image in one go

I have spoken about this before, in older posts, the mechanism of dealing with your customer, this is the one area that you can fail badly in an organization, you should have flawless systems available to handle any communication from the customer,there should be published targets for each of the claims, i.e customer returns, will be acknowledged by a phone call with in the hour (time zone dependant) a formal report will be issued with a specified time, preferably in the same calender month, and the customers should know what the procedures will be as well. I have a lesson in dealing with a customer from one of my Blog friends Pam from Cubicle nation, the link to her blog in on my page here, have a read about her dealings with typepade, and remember Pam is with child.....

Your company brand is only as strong as your technical support
Although there are certainly more stressful days to endure, like climbing Everest, brokering a major peace treaty in the Middle East or launching a new business, yesterday was frustrating, draining and generally unpleasant.
My blog went down out of the blue, after functioning perfectly well for nearly two years. I was clued in by some generous and aware readers who sent me emails alerting me about the situation And so began my journey with the Typepad technical support system. Notice that I am saying "system," not "people," since, as I will explain in a bit, the people are perfectly capable and helpful.
For context, I am probably the kind of customer that tech support people groan at when they receive my help tickets. As much as I try to explain my problem objectively and descriptively, the best I can do sometimes is "my blog isn't working - please fix it!" So a typical technical support interaction with me requires some diagnosis and problem-solving. I know a few things just to make me dangerous, but generally live in the realm of "clueless end user."
So here was the sequence of events from yesterday:

9:35am: Realized there was a big problem with my blog which needed to be fixed, but I didn't know what it was. So I sent a help ticket to Typepad technical support
10:08am: Added some more relevant information to the help ticket, as I discovered more problems, based on reader emails
12:05pm: Was beginning to get ants in my pants and begged for a response from technical support, also on the help ticket
12:15pm: Looked up the Six Apart company phone number on their web, with hopes of talking to human who could help me. Received automated voice mail system which directed me to "technical support," which informed me that all help is handled via the web-based system. Like I didn't know that!
3:09pm: Added critical information to the help ticket, based on some analysis from one of my clients. I had passed begging for help, and let them know I was very frustrated with lack of support
3:15pm: Sent a new, differently-titled help notice to see if someone, anyone, could get back to me.
3:39pm: Finally received a response from Typepad, which let me know the source of the problem was with my domain mapping with Network Solutions, which holds my escapefromcubiclenation domain. They also added:
"We answer tickets as quickly as possible in the order the arrive. Although we appreciate you adding relevant information to the existing ticket, each time you reply moves the ticket back to the end of the queue. We will get to your tickets as soon as we can, and we appreciate your patience."
3:40pm: Now I realize that I was actually contributing to my lack of response time by adding new messages to the help ticket! The problem is, that fact is not highlighted anywhere on the help ticket system. Or if it is, it didn't jump out at me. I wonder how many others have had a similar experience?
3:41pm: Responded to Typepad response, with a further set of questions.
7:14pm: Received response from Typepad with the final set of instructions I needed to resolve the issue.
7:15pm: Called Network Solutions technical support. Got a human being on the phone and within 5 minutes had the problem diagnosed and fixed.
12:15am: It took a few hours to get the necessary changes spinning through the Ethernet, (plus I fell asleep because I was exhausted) so I finally made the final tweaks to my blog and was back online.

So what was my biggest takeaway from this experience?
My formerly strong and enthusiastic support of the Typepad platform, built over two years of good and stable service, was radically diminished because their support system failed when I needed it most.
How can we apply this learning to all of our businesses? Take into consideration the following things:
What are the different levels of support needed by your customers? Does your support system include a way of distinguishing between general questions, which can take a few hours or days to reply to, and critical-path issues which need to be resolved immediately? This can apply to any kind of business. If you sell tee-shirts online, a customer may not mind if a personal purchase arrives one day late. But he will care if the custom tee-shirt for his 16-year old doesn't arrive in time for his birthday. If you are an accountant, your clients may be able to wait two days to learn the difference between a debit and a credit. But if they are meeting with an IRS agent for an audit in an hour, they will need to hear from you right away.
How clear are you with instructions and guidelines for your technical support? Do you clearly outline critical things (like moving the help ticket to the back of the queue if more information is added by the user) in your web and written communications?
If you can not afford to offer extensive technical support for your product or service, do you have a trusted network of people who can for a fee? I didn't learn until this morning that there is a Six Apart Professional Network. I would have gladly paid someone to help me figure this problem out yesterday at 9:30am.
Do you have a way for your customers to get in touch with a live human being by phone in case of emergency? I realize that it can be very expensive and unwieldy to deal with technical support on the phone. But there are times when your frustrated customer can be helped in five minutes or less if they talk to someone on the phone. I can't believe that it was much more expensive to pay the Network Solutions tech support guy than the Typepad tech support folks who typed their responses. But the difference to me was huge -- I got resolution in 5 minutes from one, and in nearly 16 hours with the other.
Do you think holistically about what your customers need and balance your business model accordingly? In the case of Typepad, they are building more and more features to make your blog a website-and-blog-in-one. This is great, as it allows entrepreneurs to consolidate their online presence and save money with web design and hosting. But it also means higher stakes for customers, who may suffer great financial consequences if their business blog goes down.
Do you support your excellent technical support people with a system that works? I really can't say anything bad about the people that work in Typepad technical support. They are always very courteous, knowledgeable and professional when they respond to questions. The problem is that the system they work in is radically insufficient for the needs of their customers. So they probably take unfair heat from grumpy pregnant (and non-pregnant) customers like me all the time. Good people will tire of this and leave to go elsewhere where their skills are allowed to be applied very effectively.
I realize that I may be a tad dramatic in going into so much detail about my blog being down for one day. No one was hurt, the stock markets survived and no rain forests were cleared as a result.
But the impact to the trust I have in a company I have been doing business with for a long time was pretty major. And this makes me stand up and take note. A strong brand and trusting customers are very precious and fleeting things indeed. It doesn't take much to erode years of goodwill. So I will be taking note of how this applies to my business, and I encourage you to do the same.

By Pam Cubicle Nation Blog



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Staying true to your Vision

So you are 10 years in to your company's life...how will you feel when you look back....will you stay true to your strategic mission? ..or will you have changed in to something you don't like?....I was talking to John who makes handbuilt guitars...and I said why don't you get some power presses in to help you speed things up for yourself..he pointed to the name over the door.."Handbuilt by John"..enough said...have a read through this article on Cambell's soup company that I picked up from BNET:

Imagine this: your company’s markets itself as a purveyor of healthy, simple meals. Your soups are low-sodium, you educate consumers about whole grains on your website, and you partner with the American Heart Association to help wipe out heart disease. You’ve also been selling luxury chocolates for 40 years, bringing in a hefty profit by keeping the brands separate to the consumer eye. If it’s worked for 40 years, why change it?

You may have guessed we’re talking about Campbell’s Soup Co. selling it’s high-end Godiva line to remain true to the company’s strategic core of representing health and simplicity – a refreshing change from the many profit-driven mergers that only serve to dilute brands’ strategies. Of course, there’s another obvious reason to unload Godiva; marketing new chocolate products hurt Campbell’s bottom line this year. But as an added bonus, the sale will also give Campbell’s product portfolio additional focus and clarity.
This might be a perfect opportunity to reread your company’s mission statement, share it with your coworkers and employees, and ask yourself, “Are our current operations and marketing efforts aligned with our overall strategy and core values?”

Strategy Image by beccafowler

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Should we abandon 'Growth' for sustainability

"Fast food or Cordon bleu"

I was reading in Guy Kawasakis blog about the tour de france and the success of the discovery channel team, but the thing that really struck me was the story about Trek the guys who supplied the bikes that Team discovery used, now I will not repeat the story here, this is the link if you want to read it ( http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/08/my-visit-to-tre.html), and it connected with what was spinning around my head as I came in to work. Fast Food or Cordon Bleu, what do you want to be involved in, a fast food company is a quick and dirty,build,make and sell the company as quick as you can, Cordon Bleu, build a strong company, get to sustainability and enjoy, something like the guys at "Orange County Choppers" or Trek, my question today is what do you want to build ? the answer lies within the founder? is it quick gain or a long term passion, neither is the correct answer as I said it lies within the founder and his personal motivation, and I am not here to preach one way or another, the Governments should be looking for sustainability but do not lead by example, but that's for an another time. I would just suggest that today those who are looking at starting the adventure, take time out and make sure of what you want to do ?



Monday, August 13, 2007

Some monday morning food for thought

Some traps to be aware of ...I have run in to them all in my time especially the N.I.H this is a mainstay in a lot of tek start ups....enjoy...feel free to add some off your own....

The Seven Sins of Solutions
by Guy Kawasaki

Matt May is the author of The Elegant Solution and the ChangeThis manifesto called Elegant Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking the Toyota Way. He added a new manifesto called Mind of the Innovator: Taming the Traps of Traditional Thinking. Here’s an excerpt for you:

Shortcutting. Leaping to solutions in an instinctive way or intuitive way—i.e. the “blink” method of problem-solving—seldom leads to an elegant solution because deeper, hidden causes don’t get addressed. Watch CSI and House: first they collect the evidence, then diagnose, and then solve. It’s never the guy or the disease you initially suspect.
Blindspots. Blindspots are the umbrella term for assumptions, biases, and mindsets that we cannot see through or around. Our brain does a lot of “filling in” for us because it’s a pattern maker and recognizer. Ths cn b hrd fr ppl t cmprhnd, hwvr, mst cn ndrstntd ths sntnc wth lttl prblm. But clear thinking involves more than simply filling in spaces in words.
Not Invented Here (N.I.H.). NIH means that you refuse to consider solutions that are from external sources. It means “If we didn’t come up with it, it won’t work. It is of no use.” Next time you’re waiting for an elevator, watch someone walk up and hit the button even though it’s already lit. We often don’t trust others’ solutions!
Satisficing. Ever wonder why some solutions lack inspiration, imagination, and originality? It’s because by nature we satisfice—satisfy plus suffice. We glom on to what’s easy and stop looking for the optimal solution. What’s the least number of “sticks” you need to move to make this Roman numeral equation correct? XI + I = X If you answered anything but zero, you satisficed. Look at it upside down.
Downgrading. Downgrading is the close cousin of satisficing but with a twist: a formal revision of the goal or situation. Reason? No one likes to fail. Result? We fall short of the killer app, so we pick the one that allows us to declare victory. Next time you’re playing hockey or football, try winning the game by hitting the outside of the post or taking the ball down to the one-yard line.
Complicating. Why do we overthink, complicate, and add cost? And why do we ALL do it so intuitively, naturally, and (here’s the killer) consistently? Answer: we’re hardwired that way. Our brains are designed to drive hoarding, storing, accumulating, and collecting-type behavior. We are by nature “do more/add on” types. Don’t believe it? Watch the customers at Costco or Sam’s Club buy thirty-six rolls of toilet paper.
Stifling. We do naturally do the “Yeah, but..” dance in which we stifle, dismiss, and second-guess ideas. It’s ideacide, pure and simple. And it’s not just others’ ideas we stifle; we often do it to our own and kick ourselves later when someone else “steals” our great idea. Remember how Decca Records rejected the Beatles? “Guitar bands are on the way out.”
The last one is the deadliest of the sinful seven. Because it is the most destructive. It’s the hallmark of the bozos!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Should I stay or should I go......should I sell or should I hold

How much is 100 Percent of a Company with No Value Worth? from Go big network

Aspiring entrepreneurs are often faced with a tough question would you rather own 100% of your own company or own a percentage of someone else's?

While there are a lot of variables to consider, entrepreneurs often overlook the variables that really matter. They tend to think in terms of, how can I get the biggest check on payday? When the real question is, what’s the chance that I'll ever see a payday at all?
In order to understand what a stake in a company is really worth, you need to know how to evaluate the potential success of the company itself.
The Lame Google Argument
First, let's put a fatal bullet in the Lame Google Argument. The Lame Google Argument suggests that it would be better to own 1% of Google than 100% of your new company. People use this argument to suggest that a small percentage of something big can be worth far more when the bigger piece is worth over $150 billion.
This argument is lame because only Google is Google. The likelihood of your stake being part of the fastest growing company in history is about as likely as hitting the Powerball Lottery. The argument focuses on the cash value of a small stake, not the probability that there will be any cash value at all.
I'll take less cash with a higher probability of actually getting paid any day of the week.
The Probability of Value
Now let's get back to the value of your 100% stake. The fastest way to own the biggest piece of the pie is to start your own company, so let's assume you did that. With one simple incorporation you get to horde all of the equity yourself.
Yet the real question remains what is that even worth?
What we're talking about is the probability of your 100% stake having value. How much you own is irrelevant. It's the value of your stake that makes all the difference.
Valuing your stake in a company based on your percentage ownership alone is a mistake. The true value is the probability that your stake will be worth anything at all. Startups tend to succeed or fail, and there is rarely any room in between.
The Consolation Prize of Failure
The sad truth is that most companies fail, and statistically speaking, you're likely to be one of those failures, although I hope you're not!
There is rarely ever a consolation prize for failure. In fact, it's more likely that you'll wind up with a massive amount of debt than with a pile of cash in your back seat.
Therefore you need to not only balance the lack of return, but the cost of failure both in terms of time and capital. Getting even a dollar out of the sale of a company is worth more than losing your house over the failure of the company you own 100% of.
Success is not a Sliding Scale
People quickly ignore the fact that success tends to be pretty binary it either happens or it doesn't. They begin to think that every company will likely be successful, and therefore they simply want the biggest chunk of a company to realize the greatest amount of value.
But success is not a sliding scale. You can't assume that every company you get involved with or start will be just as successful, and all you need to do is get the greatest percentage.
All startups are not created equal, which is to say that since most of them fail, a bigger stake in any one of them doesn't really buy you anything.
The Diminishing Return Factor
The one caveat here is what I would call the Diminishing Return Factor. At some point your stock is worth so little money that it doesn't really even make up for the true value of your time, much less your stock.
For example, if you were to take $10,000 worth of stock options and cash them out at $15,000 in three years, even though you were successful, you really didn't make up for the opportunity value of 3 years of your life. In that case, the probability of success doesn't really matter, since the value of success is pretty much a bust.
Bet on Success, not Payouts
Every new opportunity to join a startup and pile on options is an opportunity to strike it rich, but you need to evaluate your options fairly using more than just how big of a slice am I taking?
Instead of worrying about how big of a stake you have in a company, worry about whether that stake will be worth anything at all. Bet on the probability of success, not the payout of your percentage.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The three C's in the start up equation part III

The three C's in the start up equation part III

Control in an early stage company can be a make or break function, you need to have control of Finance, Operations and Sales and Marketing, these are on a primary level, but you also need to be in control of the culture of the company as well, the culture you build can be as important as the all singing ,all dancing tea maker that you going to start hawking. There has been a negative view given to the use of the word control, and in the culture of the 90's and 00's we see a rejection of all that looks like control....but even on a normal day we expect there to be control..personal, other individuals , think of the roundabout, if there was no personal control there would be chaos....and that is the essence of what I am trying to say today is that you need to develop in your team personal control that is in line with your organizations requirements....so to the scholars that read my blog here are some quotes on control...

According to Henry Fayol,
Control of an undertaking consists of seeing that everything is being carried out in accordance with plan which has been adopted, the orders which have been given, and the principles which have been laid down. Its object is to point out mistakes in order that they may be rectified and prevented from recurring.
According to EFL Breach,
Control is checking current performance against pre-determined standards contained in the plans, with a view to ensure adequate progress and satisfactory performance.
According to Harold Koontz,
Controlling is the measurement and correction of performance in order to make sure that enterprise objectives and the plans devised to attain them are accomplished.

Traditional control mechanisms can be broken down in to four parts:

Control is a continuous process

Control is a management process

Control is embedded in each level of organisational hierarchy

Control is forward looking

To bring control to your company, develop the folks that work for you and use them as your control system.



Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The three C's in the start up equation part II

The three C's in the start up equation part II


"Communication is a process that allows beings - in particular humans - to exchange information by several methods. Communication requires that some kinds of symbols from a kind of language are exchanged. There are auditory means, such as speaking or singing, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch or eye contact."

Communication is not just standing up at an all hands meeting and talking the talk...you are only using maybe two of the basic methods of communication visual and auditory, in this day and age of multi media progress, we need to learn to use the all the tools in the box if we want to communicate effectively, you want your communication to be a like a "stone dropping in a pond"...and rippling out all around and having an impact on not just those who are present but also those who are not.

Since the beginning of time, the need to communicate emerges from a set of universal questions: Who am I? Who needs to know? Why do they need to know? How will they find out? How do I want them to respond? Individuals, communities, and organizations express their individuality through their identity. On the continuum from the cave paintings at Lascaux to digital messages transmitted via satellite, humanity continues to create an infinite sensory palette of visual and verbal expression. There needs to be structure to the message that you want to communicate to the company, the old saying "never say anything in haste or anger" applies to the communication to large groups, there is the odd occasion where you may slip and communicate a wrong message to a small group, but damage limitation would be easier, always "think before you speak" to large gatherings of the company. More on this subject and the importance of getting it correct can be found in two books, "Playing God" by Charles Mee , and "Five Epochs of Civilization" by William McGaughey.

As your company grows you need always been in control of the communication channels, be aware of the rumor mill, the Chinese whisper, negative sub culture chatter, it is important to always have positive communication, as we will see tomorrow you need to have strong communication channels that you control, to enable good control of the company.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Three C's in the start up equation

Commitment, Communication and Control

So this my 2nd week at Starburst Solar, and things are moving along in the correct direction, over the weekend I was thinking over the previous weeks activities and was thinking over the the 3 C's of the start up equation, so here they are..hot from the desk of GW and I don't have a stack of cash to give you to invest, but I may help you to make some more money with what you have.......I will address the three C's over the next couple of days...


When you first start out you are 110% commited to the adventure, up early and late to bed if at all !!!, and when you start to hire others you expect the same, well you think it is the norm, and if someone is not as "commited" as you then they have a problem, don't they see how this is such a great adventure, vindicating your ideas, making your company a success, and making you a bundle of cash possibly, this is yoru life how can they not see that they need to work longer ,harder, faster and better....well it may come as a supprise to you but they don't have the same agenda yet as you do, Commitment is relative, "Commitment means to duty or pledge to some thing or someone" ref. Wiki.

There are different levels to an individuals commitment and it is relative to how much a person is engaged with the task, it also can be the "Whats in it for me" factor , as a founder it is up to you to engage there passion and make sure they will be rewarded as well, this may not be a major factor in early days but as a company develops and relalizes value it will be. According to Meyer and Allen's (1991) three-component model of commitment, prior research indicated that there are three "mind sets" which can characterize an employee's commitment to the organization:

Affective Commitment: AC is defined as the employee's emotional attachment to the organization. As a result, he or she strongly identifies with the goals of the organization and desires to remain a part of the organization. This employee commits to the organization because he/she "wants to".

Continuance Commitment: The individual commits to the organization because he/she perceives high costs of losing organizational membership ,including economic losses (such as pension accruals) and social costs (friendship ties with co-workers) that would have to be given up. The employee remains a member of the organization because he/she "has to".

Normative Commitment: The individual commits to and remains with an organization because of feelings of obligation. For instance, the organization may have invested resources in training an employee who then feels an obligation to put forth effort on the job and stay with the organization to 'repay the debt.' It may also reflect an internalized norm, developed before the person joins the organization through family or other socialization processes, that one should be loyal to one's organization. The employee stays with the organization because he/she "ought to".

Note that according to Meyer and Allen, these components of commitment are not mutually exclusive: an employee can simultaneously be committed to the organization in an affective, normative, *and* continuance sense, at varying levels of intensity. This idea led Meyer and Herscovitch (2001) to argue that at any point in time, an employee has a "commitment profile" that reflects high or low levels of all three of these mind-sets, and that different profiles have different effects on workplace behavior such as job performance, absenteeism, and the chance that they will quit.

Meyer and Allen developed the Affective Commitment Scale (ACS), the Normative Commitment Scale (NCS) and the Continuance Commitment Scale (CCS) to measure these components of commitment. Many researchers have used them to determine what impact an employee's level of commitment has on outcomes such as quitting behavior, job performance, and absenteeism. However, some researchers have questioned how well these scales actually assess an employee's commitment. There is a another major factor in determining commitment od an employee and that is to do with culture, do employees in other countries/cultures experience commitment the same way as employees in the US or UK for instance, I have found the in the US and the UK depending on the area you are based the commitment is different, if you are based in a heavy industrial area then there is normally a greater level of commitment, where as if you are in a more rural area or an HQL area then you will get a lesser commitment to work and more to increasing there QL.

So be aware of these factors as you start and grow yoru business, it is up to you in part to make sure people keep commited to the company vision and misson.



Monday, August 06, 2007

Leading and Motivatiing your team

Team-building is a good way to motivate individuals. If you can get everyone in your business to feel part of a team, you'll get more out of them.
Teams build motivation in people because of a number of factors:
There's a social aspect - it's more enjoyable working with others than in isolation.
Teams stimulate innovation - interaction between team members throws up new ideas for solving problems. People will feel loyalty to the team, and not want to let others down.
The competitive element in individual team members drives performance.
A sense of belonging makes people feel they're valued and builds motivation.
You need to be able to facilitate team working. This can involve:
Setting out a vision - restating the business's purpose and aims, then asking what changes staff feel should be made to meet their own needs and customer needs. Uniting people - for instance, you might assign a challenging task to a team of employees and ask for a solution. Ask everyone to contribute and publicly recognise their efforts afterwards.
Empowering people - allocating resources to the team to get the job done. Intervene when needed to teach skills and help the team solve problems. Provide specialist help, training and literature where needed. Encouraging debate - get the team to discuss how best to achieve the task. Ensure everyone feels able to voice an opinion, no matter what their role in the business.
Reflecting afterwards - gather the team's opinions on how well all the above worked, and use this to plan

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Light Bulb=The new business model ?

I had a question asked of me today, the person wanted to start a business of there own and wanted me to suggest something to do, (If I had a great idea then I would be writing this from my cottage in the Kingdom of Gordon :) ) What I did was to take them through the history of the light bulb...

It meets a need, you can't do without it!!!

It is a Quality product, how many times have you plugged one in and it doesn't work...?

You have a wide market to explore and find a niche

You can make it from easy available materials

You have a variety of distribution channels...

So to cut a long train journey short, I gave them the basis of what they should be looking for, Oh....and you need to be passionate about it.....

have a good weekend and if you are looking for more to read, have a look at the history of the Incandescent Bulb.

1809 - Humphry Davy, an English chemist, invented the first electric light. Davy connected two wires to a battery and attached a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires. The charged carbon glowed making the first arc lamp.
1820 - Warren De la Rue enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and passed an electric current through it. His lamp design was worked but the cost of the precious metal platinum made this an impossible invention for wide-spread use.
1835 - James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated constant electric lighting system using a prototype lightbulb.
1850 - Edward Shepard invented an electrical incandescent arc lamp using a charcoal filament. Joseph Wilson Swan started working with carbonized paper filaments the same year.
1854 - Henricg Globel, a German watchmaker, invented the first true lightbulb. He used a carbonized bamboo filament placed inside a glass bulb.
1875 - Herman Sprengel invented the mercury vacuum pump making it possible to develop a practical electric light bulb. Making a really good vacuum inside the bulb possible.
1875 - Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented a lightbulb.
1878 - Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914), an English physicist, was the first person to invent a practical and longer-lasting electic lightbulb (13.5 hours). Swan used a carbon fiber filament derived from cotton.
1879 - Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for forty hours. Edison placed his filament in an oxygen less bulb. (Edison evolved his designs for the lightbulb based on the 1875 patent he purchased from inventors, Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans.)
1880 - Edison continued to improved his lightbulb until it could last for over 1200 hours using a bamboo-derived filament.
1903 - Willis Whitnew invented a filament that would not make the inside of a lightbulb turn dark. It was a metal-coated carbon filament (a predecessor to the tungsten filament).
1906 - The General Electric Company were the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments for use in incandescent lightbulbs. The filaments were costly.
1910 - William David Coolidge (1873-1975) invented an improved method of making tungsten filaments. The tungsten filament outlasted all other types of filaments and Coolidge made the costs practical.
1925 - The first frosted lightbulbs were produced.
1991 - Philips invented a lightbulb that lasts 60,000 hours. The bulb uses magnetic induction

Slainte Gordon...

PS day three and it is going well...a great adventure to be had.....anyone wanting to join me ????

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A start up story to set you up for the day

It is always good to read about others adventures when they start up a new business, so today I posted an article from Carole Nicolaides of Intentional Success , she is the President of Intentional Success Coaching, I have my own views on coaching, which we can chat about at a later date....but this a good read and may help you to get your head above the water, especially when you are having a how do I keep my head above the water days.

Start My Own Business? What Was I Thinking!by Carole Nicolaides of Intentional Success

This is a story that many of entrepreneurs can relate to. It also provides a checklist (or a reality check) for future entrepreneurs. Here's the tale of how I began... I knew that one day I wanted to start and run my own business. I knew it from the bottom of my heart and I also knew that by starting my own business I was going to be able to work on my passion. I had already earned an MBA and was tired of working for "Corporate America". A lot of mentors and friends warned me not to quit my corporate job before getting a few part-time contracts. Well, after following their advice, I realized that I would never dive into the entrepreneurial world simply because there was not enough time while juggling these two jobs. Working as a corporate consultant you simply do not have time for starting a new business - Reality check number one. I am not saying that people cannot start their own business while working at their permanent jobs; however, it is more difficult to do this if you have a demanding job with long hours. I would also not recommend it for you because you may not be giving your best to your employer simply due to other priorities. Give your best at your "day job". After you start your business they will become important contributors to your promotional strategy, therefore it is very important to leave with the best impressions. Well, as I realized that there was simply not time to prepare for the launch of the business, I had to make a decision to either work in a corporation or quit my job. My desire for starting my business was so strong that after calculating my finances and seeing that I had enough reserves to live on I went ahead. Oh boy, if I only knew then. Confident that I already knew enough about business, from a solid education accompanied with my corporate world experience, I was absolutely sure that I did not have to learn many things. Ha! I was wrong! Below are few reality checks about starting your business along with some advantages many women have in this area.

Ask for HELP even with a tight budgetIt does not matter if you graduated from the best business schools and served the most successful companies. Running your own business asks for a different skill-set; one that you are most likely not accustomed to. You will need to wear different hats Marketing, Public Relations, Accounting, Budgeting and others that you probably were not used to. You will have to do a lot of administrative things on your own and these tasks can be very time-consuming. Hire an assistant. Consider virtual assistants who are less expensive than actual employees. The hours they save you will make so much difference.

Kill the loneliness-Connect As an entrepreneur, you will very often feel lonely and at times unmotivated or discouraged. After all, you work so hard in growing your business that sometimes you do not even track your working hours. What you thought of as working freedom very soon will just seem an illusion. Doubts come to your mind and you are not so sure if you've chosen the right direction. Surround yourself with friends and other entrepreneurs. Do not allow yourself to have negative thoughts - and believe me if you are alone for a longer time you will start getting negative feelings. You need to connect and socialize with other fellows.

Feel comfortable being small Very often I see entrepreneurs, especially the ones that worked for too many years in large companies, wanting to impress by being bigger than what they are. Well, that is absurd and can only harm you. Being small has a lot of advantages and trying to be someone that you are not will cost you your position and image. Project who you are and design your business according to your needs.

Stop searching for your perfect clients Yes, too often entrepreneurs are wasting time in nailing down their perfect clients. Instead of following this strategy it is better to have the perfect clients come to you. Do you wonder how you can do this? Just concentrate all your efforts on what you do best. Become an expert in your field. Get visible to a target audience that needs your services or products.

Balance your life This may seem very difficult for someone that is starting his or her business, yet the benefits will amaze you. Set it as a priority in your life and block time out for you. Not only you are going to recuperate but you will gain so much energy momentum to move ahead. Meet people as you are having fun and notice opportunities that surround you.
As you see these little things can really help you in launching your business. Start using these strategies at the moment you commit in starting your business. Do not wait to long to ask for help, connect with people, identify your target audience and attract the people that need you and most importantly balance a life of laughter, fun and self-care.