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Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Specialty’s Warm Cookie Radar: Now That’s A “Sticky’ Use Of Techonology!

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Specialty’s Cafe (a small chain of eateries) will alert you when their cookies come fresh out the oven at your favorite Specialty’s location.

Talking about “customer stickyness” — that’s customer “gewyness!”

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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The 7 Ugly Reasons Your Ideas Don’t Turn Into Reality


“Ideas are like a$$holes…,” my friend Ralph once said: “…everyone has one!” Ralph’s gonna hate me for mentioning that one!

You hear it almost every day: “I have an idea for a new product…or a new Web site.”  Perhaps you even say it yourself.

I keep my business ideas in a Google Docs spreadsheet for easy organization.

But most often the idea dies right there…or, worse, you hear someone whine or brag about the idea later when someone else has turned it into a product.

“Hey, I thought up a car sharing service just like Zipcar five years ago!”

If you want to avoid being one of those idea-snobs, here are 7 mistakes to avoid when you have an idea that you want to turn into a reality

1) You Keep Your Idea A Secret

Many people keep their ideas a secret — they don’t share it with anyone. This is probably the worst mistake you can make.

This may you are worried someone will steal the idea or  because you fear failure or lack confidence.

I suggest that you keep your ideas in a journal…I use Google Docs (pictured above) to keep my ideas (and ideas of friends) and I rate them based on:

  • How much capital I have to put at risk to test the idea
  • How much financial upside the idea has
  • How confident I am in the business model of the idea
  • How close the business idea is to my core competencies
  • How consistent the idea is with my values
  • How fun the idea is

And I can pull up the pipeline of ideas any time on my iPhone.

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Monday, April 25th, 2011

The 10 [Maniacal] Steps I Take For Setting Goals


It took me 40 years to figure out that the key to life is feeling like I had a fulfilling day — I accomplish that through setting goals…and I’m maniacal about them.

I believe that without goals your progress comes to a screeching halt. As Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator once said:

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.”

One thing I learned in my goal setting was that these 9 topics matter most...I now keep them nearby

Here’s how I set my goals:

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Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Job-Finding Advice: Focus On Meetings (Not Jobs)


Do you need help finding a job?

I was catching up with my pal and former boss Mitch York — awesome business guy — the other day and he pointed me to some neat job search tips from The 5 O’Clock Club (an outplacement and career coaching service).

If you need to find a job, keep these in mind:

Tip 1: Focus On Getting A Meeting (Not A Job)

5 O’Clock encourages its job seekers to first select industries they’re interested in working in and specific companies they’d like to work for (regardless of what jobs are available).

“Everyone (on a job hunt) makes the mistake of placing too much emphasis on published openings,” the 5 O’Clock Club says.

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Monday, April 18th, 2011

Wanted: “Swiss-Army Knife”-Like Founding Engineer Who Wants To Help Cut Out The Middleman ($80,000 to $200,000)


This job was filled on July 1, 2011 — thank you!

Location: San Francisco, California; Pay Range: $80,000 to $200,000; Deadline For Applying: June 30, 2011

Your hiring manager is Rob Kelly (writer of this blog) pictured in 2010 on an ABC TV show

I asked all-star recruiter Jason Webster to do a Question & Answer session with me on the details of the Web Applications Engineer position I’m filling; so you can get a better feel for what I’m looking for.

The Q&A

Why is this position open?

This position opened up because we are forming a new business and now have the seed capital in place to hire the first developer.

Why the wide range ($80K to $200K) for salary?

Our first technical hire can be someone with just a few years experience on up to someone with 20 years experience.

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

“Minimum Viable Product:” What It Is & How To Build One


If you’re gonna build a hot dog stand, what are the few key things you need to focus on?

I grew up in New York City where the hot dog guys had to have a minimum of a good wiener, fresh bun and mustard

The weiner will probably be first…then the bun…then some mustard and then a stand or cart, right?

If those four items weren’t satisfactory, your hot dog stand would be in big trouble.

Surprisingly, most businesses don’t take that same sensible approach.

Note: thanks to the 37Signals guys who wrote the entrepreneurial-focused Rework book for that hot dog stand analogy!

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Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Are These 7 Items Pointing To A Coming Economic Armageddon?


I’m an optimist by nature but — hopefully you see that through the rest of my articles here — but I’m also practical.

And there’s a weird amount of $hit going on in the U.S. and abroad these days that’s got me preparing for a possible economic meltdown.

And I’m not talking about the staggering U.S. federal deficit — that’s got serious longer-term consequences. I’m talking about a handful of other scary items that worry me more in the short-term.

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Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

HR Star Explains How To Cruise The Career S-Curve


The January-February 2011 Harvard Business Review featured an article titled Reinvent Your Business Before It’s Too Late: Watch Out for Those S-Curves.

A Standard S-Curve

Seeing this headline caused my mind to immediately jump to my study of S-curves in graduate school (think of an S-curve (see chart above) as the graphical life of an organization where performance ascends (“replicating and improving”), often rapidly, but later declines (“dying”) due to stagnation, new market entrants, tired management etc.).

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