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Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Me

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I had the good fortune of interviewing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (separately) early on in my career when I was a journalist.

On May 31, 2005, Jobs and Gates agreed to a rare appearance together onstage together at the All Things Digital (D5) conference put on by the Wall Street Journal — it felt like a rock concert!

I was lucky enough to attend and I couldn’t resist asking them their advice for entrepreneurs (as part of the question and answer section).

Here’s the video (and below that is the transcript) of Gates and Jobs answering the question (yes, that’s me being a bit nervous!).

[Beginning of Transcript of Q&A With Jobs, Gates]

Rob Kelly:  I’m here with my business partner, we have a 100-person Internet media company, and I’m wondering what would be the single most valuable piece of advice you would give us to even attempt to create some of the value that you guys have done in both your very impressive companies?

Bill Gates: I think actually, maybe in both cases, correct me if I’m wrong, the excitement wasn’t really seen by the economic value.

Even when we were down at Microsoft in ’97, a computer at every desk and in every home, we didn’t realize that okay, we’re going to have to be a big company (laughter).

Every time, I thought, oh God, can we double in size…geez can you manage that many people…will that feel fun still, you know, and so every doubling, it was like, okay this is the last one.

So the economic thing wasn’t at the forefront, but the idea of being at the forefront and seeing new things, things we wanted to do, and being able to bring in different people who are fun to work with eventually with a pretty broad set of skills…and figuring out how to get those people with broad skills to work together has been one of the greatest challenges.

You know I’ve made more of my mistakes in that area than probably anywhere, but you know eventually getting there and some of those things work really well together.

I think it’s a lot about the people, the passion and it’s amazing that the business worked out the way that it did.

Steve Jobs:  Yeah, people say you have a lot of passion for what you are doing, and it’s totally true and the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t any rational person would give up.

It’s really hard and you have to do it over a sustained period of time.  So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, if you don’t absolutely love it, you’re going to give up.

And that’s what happens to most people, actually.

If you look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society, often times it’s, the ones that are successful love what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough.

And the ones that didn’t love it, quit.  Because they’re sane, right? Who would put up with this stuff if you don’t love it?

So it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of worrying constantly and,  if you don’t love it, you’re going to fail.

So, you gotta love it, you gotta have passion.

And I think that’s the high order bid.

The second thing is, you’ve gotta be, you’ve gotta be a really good talent scout because no matter how smart you are, you need a team of great people.

And you’ve got to figure out how to size people up fairly  quickly, how to make decisions without knowing people too well and hire them, see how you do, and refine your intuition,and be able to help build an organization that can eventually just build itself.

Because you need great people around you.

[end of transcript]

The video continues with a couple of other questions (I didn’t transcribe those) and I encourage you to watch the other videos of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Together.

By the way, Steve and Bill share the same personality type — If you want to see more about that, go here: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’ Personality Type

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Saturday, April 25th, 2009

A Mis-Hire Costs You 13X That Person’s Salary: Why You Must Topgrade

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It can cost you 13-times a person’s annual salary if you hire the wrong person, according to Brad Smart.

Brad is the main man behind a couple of books, Topgrading and Topgrading for Sales, which I highly recommend to anyone involved in hiring.

A dozen of my colleagues and I were lucky enough to spend two days with Brad in Chicago in October 2005 when we took his Topgrading training program (which I also recommend).

The 13X cost of a mishire was a stunner!

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Friday, April 24th, 2009

Why You Should Be LinkedIn: Is $948 Per Connection (Per Year!) Appealing?

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Are you linked in?

If you’re in business, you likely should be!

LinkedIn is a business networking tool that allows you to keep track of your previous and current contacts as well as get linked to new ones.

Why should you care? Because each of your contacts is worth an average of $948 in annual revenue, according to this recent BusinessWeek article.

I’ve been using LinkedIn since it was founded by Reid Hoffman in December of 2002.

You can see my profile here: LinkedIn (note: You’ll only be able to see my public profile there unless you are already a LinkedIn member).

LinkedIn is similar to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, only it’s focused purely on business.

There are numerous other professional networking sites out there — with names such as Plaxo, Xing, ZoomInfo, Ecademy, Spoke, OpenBC — but I believe LinkedIn has them all beat.

Here are some of the reasons I recommend this online networking tool:

  • Old Friends & Colleagues Can Find You — LinkedIn has a neat feature that allows you to enter in past emails that you have used (e.g. from old jobs or personal email addresses you don’t use much if at all) so that your contacts don’t have to know your current email address to reach you.
  • You Can Network Into New Partners & Customers — You can go onto LinkedIn and find individuals with their titles at most major businesses and many smaller ones. LinkedIn will indicate how many connections away from you they are (e.g. 2 connections away means that the two of you have someone in common (which LinkedIn will then tell you so that your friend can introduce you to the third-party!).
  • Company Profiles — You can search a company by name and find profiles of many of their current and former employees; as well as see who their newest hires are and the most-viewed profiles. The Companies section even shows you their average age, gender breakdown and top schools that their people attended!
  • You Can Size Up People You Are About to Meet — If you’ve been introduced to a person and are soon going to meet with them for the first time, I recommend linking in to them ahead of time; that way you will be able to see who their connections are (perhaps you even have shared connections) and do some extra homework for the meeting.
  • You Can Have a Permanent Resume/Biography — LinkedIn allows you to put the background of your entire career in one place for you or others (recruiters love LinkedIn) to use.
  • You Can Post/Find Jobs Closer To You — LinkedIn’s Jobs section is a very logical way to match a business with a worker since it shows how many connections away from each other the hiring manager and prospective employee are.

I have a short-cut for you to beef up your number of LinkedIn connections..the following tool helped accelerate the growth of my linked in network.

Use their Import Webmail Contacts feature (It’s an option in the Add Connections section and might also be offered when you first sign up). LinkedIn then will go check out all of the email addresses from your email account and offer you the option to invite any or all of them to link in.

I personally chose to invite only the people who were already LinkedIn members (LinkedIn indicates that) and you can send one email to all of them with a personalized message (which I recommend).

Here’s a great 8-Step Action Plan on Setting Up & Maintaining LinkedIn written by a networking pro for a Webinar he presented to Chubb.

And if you want to expand your network even further, check out The Connector Exercise.

Good luck with your networkin’.

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