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Showing posts from 2013

What's it take to be successful? Okay, my shot at what I think.

I love reading what people think makes an entrepreneur successful.  Mostly because it reminds me everyday that there is no secret formula.  Every article is written to the writer's perspective, and it really is so different from person to person.  Take the latest article I read: The Single Most Important Habit of Successful Entrepreneurs.  The author, Mr. Dan Kennedy of Entrepreneur, argues that punctuality is [his] criteria.

Kennedy writes about the relationship between respecting another person's time with the respect of the other's opinions.  It's a relay and reciprocation of respect of the other's time with the respect of his/ her own time.

If anything, I would say that being detail-oriented would be my gauge of success.  Aside from potentially the mental aspect of being "gritty", I have to say that being detail-oriented is my biggest criteria.  I admit -- being detailed is kind of a big bucket.  It includes things like being detailed enough to che…

A little bit of Psychology in Business? No. A LOT.

On any given day, there’s about a 60% chance you’ll find me at Starbucks working.  It’s a great, free working space complete with vibrant energy, wake-up aromas, and, especially this time of year, snowman sugar cookies.  Ah, and there’s usually a fascinating collection of people hanging out/ working.  This past Friday night, I was writing some Holiday/ Thank You cards to our customer-partners and other prospects when I was complimented on our cards by a fellow Starbucker (yes, handwriting them – crazy in this day of keyboard and touchscreen typing, I know). 
My new friend is an MBA student at Georgia State, and was a previous Psychology major in undergrad.  She was worried a bit about having a non-business background and post-graduate opportunities.  This was a great conversation for me because I’ve long appreciated how psychology intertwines with business.  It’s not readily apparent, but it really is.  Talk to any good salesperson, and he’ll know exactly how to talk to you and pote…

Companies are Icebergs: Why Copycats Don't Equal Instant Success

My buddy just sent me this article from The Next Web about the potential costs to build some of today's big players in "startups" including Twitter, Instragram, Facebook, Uber, etc (see "How much does it cost to build the world's hottest startups?").  They're not really startups anymore, though, I'd argue.  But of course, they used to be.  Here are some of the highlights:

Twitter:  May not take long to build the core -- 10 hours and a good $160 Ruby on Rails course.  But to really get to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) you have to pour in about $50K-$250K for processes, infrastructure, and the like.Facebook: One expert quoted $500K (min) and 9 months of development and design team.  The real costs, however, is the support.  The expert estimates a monthly burn-rate of $30MM just for its infrastructure so we can Like, Share, and watch videos of kittens!Uber: Uber "scrapped by" with $50MM to build what the service is now, and then Google and Be…

Your Personal Brand: You're a Walking, Talking Billboard

How often are you walking around when you notice someone wearing a Jawbone Up or Nike Fuel band?  They're really starting to blow up and be everywhere, aren't they?  The movement for wearable technology is just a growing wave, poised to be a tidal wave that consumes the world along with Google Glass, smart watches, and of course, those wearable devices for fitness.

I have a Jawbone Up -- received as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law for graduation earlier this year.  It's always intrigued me being a guy who loves to quantify myself because I'm always looking to be smarter, faster, stronger, whatever.  I've always been a terrible sleeper, and the Up band's ability to track my sleep patterns was a pretty cool function (how accurately is another question).  I did have a couple issues with my band, but I found myself wanting to get it remedied with Jawbone quickly not necessarily because I wanted to track my sleep or count my steps.  I missed having it on my …

An Exercise in Humility: Talk with Your Mouth Closed

Last Friday, I had the chance to sit down with several successful entrepreneurs over lunch.  (Successful in this case being "happy" about their previous startups' outcomes either sold or otherwise while under their leadership.)  Over the lunch, I remember introducing some of the entrepreneurs to each other, but after that, I feel as if I might have spoke too much.  You ever get that feeling that you were a bit of a chatter box?

That evening before bed, I felt a bit guilty about it, and as I often do, reflected on my day's events -- what happened, what did I like, what didn't I like, and what could I have done better.  I realize now that I've come to this point where a cocktail of confidence, passion, and experiential exuberance mixed too strong can be interpreted as arrogance and rigidity.  The experiential exuberance, in this case represents, is the energy I have from lessons learned through building a startup and other "wise" events through life.  …

Throwing Money at Marketing... Perhaps You're Trying to Solve the Problem the Wrong Way

(Source: http://superblog.crazyengineers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/wrong-problem.jpg)

Quartz isn’t a publication that I’m well-versed in, however, I stumbled upon an article on qz.com by Drew Williams arguing some of the validity of marketing expenditures for startups – “$1 is too much for most startups to spend on marketing”. Williams is an entrepreneur and a co-author of Feed the Startup Beast: A 7 Step Guide to Big, Hairy, Outrageous Sales Growth. 
Now, the title slapped me in the face as one of those, “what??  $1?!  Too much?!”  And the exclamatory questions continued.  But after reading the article, I fully get it, and now, his advice and this article is one of my favorites.  The gist of the argument is that startups tend to spend a lot of money on marketing looking for growth when the real deal in achieving growth and sustainability is simply taking a closer inspection of the products and services provided by the companies. 
Williams cites, “over half of all startups are gon…

Effective Innovation -- in Supply Chain, in Startups, in Social

Thought this was a good article from my LinkedIn feed: 10 Tips to be an Effective Innovator by Gijs van Wulfen.  Innovation is one of those buzzwords that people think is for entrepreneur or companies with disruptive technology.  However, it's really applicable everywhere.

From a supply chain transformation perspective, outsourcing logistics (for example) can be innovative.  The tasks to accomplish this feat are tough, and you will find yourself on one side of the table challenged by internal team members.  You may be in the position where you need to be the one to connect all the dots (key stakeholders) and really drive change.

In startups, innovation is the name of the game really.  Point 4 about Discovering Needs is so critical.  Being innovative means nothing if you don't know the pain points of your target market.  Further, you can quickly realize potentially an innovative way to approach a problem by brainstorming with prospective customers.  It's likely that founders…

Duh, Use Your Tangible Value Prop

One of the biggest, greatest lessons I’ve learned while doing a startup is one that isn’t shocking.  In fact, before I say it I’m going to go ahead and say it’s going to sound stupid.  You’re sometimes told this in consulting projects, read it in some books, but it’s just the very experience of doing a startup and smack-your-face-duh moment when you really appreciate this. So here goes… when you’re offering any product or service, you have to make a TANGIBLE value proposition.  People and companies largely respond to one thing: net profit.  This means there are two big levers – raise my revenue or lower my costs. 
Yeah… sounds simple and stupid, right?  But if you were me, you may think that there may be a grand idea you have that can save time or can “boost performance” or something like that.  Rarely do people really understand in these terms.  You’ll find those who can understand that building a stronger athlete with ancillary benefits like accountability and the like, but most peo…

If you can't do it right the first time, hope you still have time to do it a second time

John Wooden, legendary UCLA coach who won 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year period including seven in a row once, said one of the most resounding things I've ever heard:
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"I think I've heard a variation of this from somewhere that goes on, "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, you must have time to do it a second time."

I looked up local entrepreneur-turned Atlanta hero, celebrity, and savior (for startups and entrepreneurs, at least) David Cummings on his blog for any tidbits of sage advice.  I searched for "features" and found a few, and really appreciated one particular post -- "Consider Future Manual Labor When Adding New Features".

In essence, Cummings talked about realizing the ramifications of building new features, especially when considering the manual labor downstream.  Pushing for features to go out the door quickly for testing…

Our New Tech Doesn't Empower English-as-Secondary Language Businesses

Today, I went to Lee's Bakery for bánh mì sandwiches for lunch.  It was crazy good.  You should go get yourself the bbq pork bánh mì   They also have chicken and other meats if that's your deal.  



I was standing in line waiting to pay, and I was just watching the cashier ring people up, and watching the servers take orders scribbling on their little pads, frantically going back and forth between the tables and the kitchen.  I was thinking about how technology has invaded so many parts of our lives where in so many other shops, you see business starting to adopt tablet-oriented point-of-sale (POS) systems.  In all the English as a Secondary Language businesses (I'm dubbing them "E2L"), why is the rate of adoption so much lower compared to their English-dominant counterparts?

Some general thoughts:

POS systems such as those mobilized by Square or Stripe and apps like Shopkeep help small businesses by eliminating much of the hassles of the earlier cash registers includ…

What consulting has taught me about weight lifting, and vice versa

Since I left business school at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School for my MBA, I’ve taken on the scary move of working full-time on the startup I co-founded with friends, Body Boss Fitness.  In a couple months of full-time startup-ship without the funds to really pay me (or anyone) a salary yet, I got all scared, and dipped my feet back into consulting part-time.  It’s been a few months doing this to put some money in my pocket, and I’ve taken on now two different consulting projects.  All the while, I also push Body Boss including traveling for sales and marketing and writing up blog posts like I just did here at Starbucks in Brookhaven on a Sunday.
I do enjoy supply chain consulting for sure… but I’m going to dip back out of consulting and give Body Boss my undivided attention for a long while.  If I say it out loud and put it on a blog post, I’ll have to stick to my word, right?  Well, all this experience has also brought out this strange affinity for writing my thoughts, a…

Bringing Intelligence to Fitness: How Body Boss helped increase my strength by 4.86% over two months

Okay, so I’m going to be one of the first to admit that I didn’t always believe in tracking workouts.  Thought it was just a pain in the rear, and a waste of time in the gym.  I tracked with a notebook back in the day in undergrad at GT, and found it not-so-useful.  I would also have to translate what I wrote in the notebook into Excel – big pain.  Too much work to track trends. 

After Tech, I was a management consultant specializing in supply chain management. I actually developed reports, dashboards, and metrics for several Fortune 500 companies, and it was then that I learned how successful companies always had their fingers on the pulse of the business.  They knew the state of the business from Execs on down to Analysts through structured, actionable reporting.  The companies that were less-than well-managed had poor reporting capabilities.  It dawned on me that with successful companies WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS IMPROVED.  Enter a new world for myself and the Body Boss team… portin…

Body Boss: Who we are and how we started -- from Daryl's point-of-view

It occurs to me that Body Boss has a great story.  A great story of why we're here today with Body Boss trying to disrupt the “industry” of Team Strength and Conditioning.  
Darren Pottinger really started us on this path back in 2010/ 2011 of bringing more intelligence to working out – bringing regression and statistical modeling/ forecasting to training with a simple Excel model... yet can be built better and stronger.  Being the zealous and extraordinarily gifted problem-solver and programmer, Don Pottinger joined in on the fun looking to build the spreadsheet into something greater – an app for the masses.  
For several months, the brothers Pottinger iterated, and it was in the fall of 2011 when Andrew Reifman joined the team to bring his black magic of Design Creativity to the fold.  Andrew and Don were long-lost friends from Dunwoody High School.  After learning Andrew had built award-winning sites while working at various design agencies, Don asked Andrew to join.  Definitely…

Consultants saving the world? Yes, that's why I'm wearing a cape.

Wanted to share this article I read on LinkedIn: Management Consultants Can Save the World.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn because of the very title and my own ability to consult, but because I want to wear a cape as I help companies.  No, I'm kidding.  Instead, I think the article highlights some insight into consulting or rather, effective management.

The article touches on a consulting firm's (Accenture in this case) ability to bring tangible benefits to Indian textile firms.  Many firms throughout the world lack formal and effective management, and stick to the plans that have gotten the firms to where they are such as the Indian textile firms in the article.  I can't help, but imagine if simple business processes were shared more to willing ears in some of these "old school" firms throughout the world, how companies and the world would change.  I say "willing ears" because change, as we've all heard it, comes from the top.  If you don&#…