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Thinking Out Loud: What Autonomous Vehicles Could Mean

There’s a lot of talk about autonomous vehicles these days – both the opportunities and the ramifications. It’s an exciting prospect of being able to travel “autonomously” beyond texting carefree or reading a book.
Consider the following: The alleviation of traffic. With autonomy comes prediction. With prediction comes the ability to mitigate traffic. Cars could potentially fly down roads well past current speed limits as they behave in hive-like manner. Imagine a beautifully orchestrated, synchronized traffic system where vehicles notify each other when they’re turning and exiting. Human reactionary delays and errors cause most of traffic, so the elimination of human thinking leads to huge opportunities.Going farther away from city centers. With autonomy comes the ability to be productive the moment workers leave their homes. They can work on computers much like commuters do today on planes, buses, and trains. As such, there can be a migration away from business epicenters as commute…
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Seeing Progress and Making Decisions Through Instrumentation

I was thrilled to see great progress with one of the startups I’m advising. In our meetings early on, there were questions from the entrepreneur and her team about what to do and where to go next. It was difficult as an outsider to give a good direction without specific industry experience. Instead, I recommended some best startup (business) practices including the importance of instrumenting their platform and using data to drive roadmap and business decisions.
In one specific example, the company wanted to immerse users in the experience of the platform. Their initial UI hid away menu options. However, they found users were not customizing their experiences very often. They finally knew, however, how long users stayed on the platform, what they did, etc. The team hypothesized that users would engage with the platform even more and for longer periods of time with more personalized experiences through customization.
So, the team started making cues to the menu options including exp…

Entrepreneur Interview (pt 1) – A Grammy Award-Winning Sound Engineer

For fun today, I decided to speak to a friend who is a Grammy-award winning sound engineer and producer. He’s freelancing working with some incredible talents including an artist who boasts more than 300 million records sold. Given he works in Atlanta, he’s now taking on sound engineering work for the many film and television series. Needless to say, he’s quite successful. I’ll keep his name hidden for now, but wanted to share with you a few of his insights as to why he enjoys freelancing vs. working with a record label and the like.
So why do you freelance? Love the freedom, hate the insecurity.
Any lessons or advice for others who are looking to freelance, too? “Weather the storm: think long-term.”
He continues, “Think in-terms of years, not months. You can’t look at the financial status on a year-to-year basis. There will be months that go real well, but there will be months with no money.”
“In some industries, you don’t know what your good months or bad months are. It can go year-…

Preventing Ball Hogging in Sales

SalesLoft and Gong.io recently shared a Discovery Call Benchmark Report that lined up well with my recent thinking on sales calls. A couple stats from the report that rang loudest: Optimal number of questions a salesperson should ask is between 11 and 14 – about key topics, too, vs. small-talk.Question flow should be throughout the discussion, not front-loaded.Top performing sales professionals have a talk-to-listen ratio of 46:54.Positive correlation of call success with speaker-switches-per-minute. These findings weaved well together with my two current readings You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar by David Sandler and the Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. (Book reviews to come.)

The overarching story in my head is the gap between the number of questions and type of engagement in sales calls (read: the lack thereof during calls). Reflecting on a few sales calls I’ve made recently, I realize how I was focused on a specific problem or outcome. This put me heavy i…

My Biggest Take-Away from My Favorite Book: The Goal

Recently, I was asked what my favorite book was, and my mind went straight to The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox. I read the book back at Georgia Tech as part of a supply chain class. The book is set at a manufacturing plant with the protagonist being a plant manager trying to save the plant. He runs into a professor who helps him think about the plant in new ways and drive greater productivity.
It’s one of my favorite books because it was perhaps the FIRST book that captured my attention with a subject and real-life situation that I found fascinating. Even today having ignited a zest for reading, it sits at the top of the heap as a favorite. And though it was written in a manufacturing setting, its lessons shape my journey today – personally and professionally in sales, marketing, general business.
One of the lessons that stuck out to me was the focus on “Herbie”. Herbie referred to a boy in a Boy Scout troop who was a slower hiker than his fellow Scout members. The plant m…

Sales: Objective Based Calls

In sales, process is king. Process enables repeatable actions and decisions to advance and obtain a sale. In this way, every step along the way should be an advancement towards a sale (or, close sale, good or bad). To do this, it’s often appreciated and strategically advantageous to be aware of not just the objective, but sharing the objective(s) with prospect as a means to guide them through a sales process. Otherwise, you may be thrust into no man’s land or harshly left to the buyer’s process (which could pit you against more competitors and into a price war). Though the overall objective is a sale, it’s not always attainable in a complex sale depending on the stage. Shooting for such an objective can be off-putting and lose the sale altogether.
With any call, it’s important to understand what is the objective of this call, this interaction. This will weigh heavily on where the prospect is in the sales process. From here, the objective may be to get confirmation of a buy-sell agree…

Risk-Reward vs. Success-Failure and Others Lessons from a Serial Entrepreneur

Serial entrepreneur Gregg Oldring recently wrote a post about his recent startup that failed – “Afraid of failing at a startup? Let me tell you what it feels like.” Naturally, I wanted to dive into the title given my past.
There were a couple lines I really enjoyed. Sharing those here, and highlighting my own experience. “When I frame the analysis as risk-reward instead of success-failure, we did well.” Maybe because I failed before with Body Boss, but this was incredibly resonating. Like Gregg highlighted, there was so much gained from the experience that isolating the outcome based on commercial success would be vain. In the end, we threw out risk to attempt something special. The reward beyond was worth it.“One of the things that I hate about being an entrepreneur is that sharing the uncertainties I have about my business usually carries with it negative consequences that outweigh the benefit of transparency. When someone asks, ‘How’s business?’ the answer can seldom be, ‘It doesn’…