You’re the VP of information security at a Fortune 500 company, and setting up a new data farm. There’s a new startup touting impressive server performance and security layers at half the cost of IBM. However, IBM is one of the premier hardware manufacturers with thousands of customers. They’re reliable and have been around for decades. Who do you choose?
|Do your customers know their hair’s on fire? (Original image source: Steelhouse.com)|
When considering an idea for a startup, I’ve referenced a question people often use: “are you selling a painkiller or a vitamin?” The notion is people “need” a painkiller before they need a vitamin (“nice to have”).
- Are there enough people with their hair on fire? Read: What is the size of the market? Is it large enough for big returns?
- Do prospects know their hair is on fire? Read: Does the market need to be educated about their problem? How important is the problem? I think of this, too, as “is this a latent need or an active need? If latent, how can you convert to active?”
- Does the market have the desire to put out the fire? Read: Is there enough benefit for customers to make a change and adopt your product/ service? Are you mitigating risk for customers?
What other key questions should there be when considering “hair on fire”? How could you evaluate if a need is latent vs. active? How could you convert to active, if latent?
Brené Brown’s recent talk at Hubspot’s Inbound Conference was captured in Inc.com’s article “How to Avoid a Perfect Shame Spiral at Work”, and it was incredibly relevant to me just yesterday.
Brené Brown, behind the famous TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability”, spoke about the common miscommunication that happens in the workplace where parties neglect to speak their honest thoughts, and often spiral into shaming themselves.
- Jacobs repeatedly tells the audience, “Your most precious asset is your time”. He then asks, “What’re you doing with your time? What’re you doing with your life?” Life Is Good is built on valuing everyone’s time and making that time valuable. They “focus on opportunities rather than the obstacles” believing whatever you focus on (good or bad) grows.
- The concept of Life Is Good came from the Jacobs’ childhood when the family was enduring much hardship. To focus on the good, the Jacobs’ mother started a dinner ritual where each family member tells what went well that day.
- Life Is Good is built on super powers we all have including compassion, gratitude, fun, authenticity, and others. These super powers are what give life fulfillment.
- The brothers started selling t-shirts out of a van they bought and traveled and lived in. After one road trip, the brothers threw a keg party where family and friends gave thoughts on artwork. There, the brothers had a picture of the Life Is Good character, Jake. A woman described the picture saying, “This guy has life figured out.” The brothers decided to shorten those words into “Life Is Good” onto a t-shirt with Jake. With that shirt, the brothers sold 48 shirts in 45 minutes. That was the “aha” moment.
- To expand the company, the brothers decided to wholesale to retailers. The first customer sold out of the t-shirts quickly, and asked if Jake “ate ice cream” (there was ice cream shop next door to the customer). The Jacobs brothers said, “Sure, Jake can eat ice cream”, created a new shirt, and found the interest exceedingly positive. From there, shirts were created where customers asked for Jake to do various activities.
- In six years, Life Is Good grew to $3M. Bert laments they could have been a $20M company, but they made every mistake possible. However, they were learning.
- The brothers wanted to take the company to the next level and set an advertising budget, but had a change of strategy (and heart) after reading letters sent to them including one inspiring letter from a 10-year-old boy. The Jacobs brothers decided to shift the money away from radio advertising towards “pumpkin festivals” to raise awareness for activities for kids with life-threatening conditions. The response was so overwhelming the company started more pumpkin festivals. The pumpkin festivals raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for kids while aligning the company towards a humanitarian mission. Customers were more than happy to spend hard-earned cash towards Life Is Good shirts knowing there was a great cause behind the company – the “halo effect”. The company grew from $3M to $50M from 2000-2005.
- Capitalism will solve social issues. Corporate America gets flack due to “greed” and the like. However, it’s okay for people to want big houses and nice things. That does not have to be mutually exclusive to non-profits. Instead, capitalism can help solve social issues.
- Life is Good is a human message, not just an American message. The company fully believes in enabling people to live happy and fulfilling lives.
- “Protect your time with your life because it is your life.” In response to the inevitable demise of everyone, “will you have to run around to make up for things that you wish you did? Give out more love because you didn’t give more when healthy?”
What are your take-aways from Bert’s talk?
|Feature article from Delta’s Sky magazine about Coach K and Coach Urban Meyer on creating champions — September 2015 issue.|
On my recent Delta flight, I read an interesting leadership article in Delta’s Sky magazine – the feature piece being an interview of two of the NCAA’s most successful coaches – Coach MikeKrzyzewski (Coach “K”) of Duke’s men’s basketball team and Coach Urban Meyer of Ohio State football with five and three national championships, respectively.
- Both coaches took leave of absences in their careers due to medical concerns. Their successes cultivated deeper motivations to win exacting significant physical, mental, social, and emotional tolls. After stepping away, however, each returned to coaching posts to continue winning ways, but implemented mechanisms and understanding to keep themselves in check. Take-away: To operate in peak form like their respective teams, leaders, too, need to ensure self-maintenance.
- The interviewer asked the coaches about social media’s effects on the players. Neither coach stop players from interacting on social media. They see social media as part of a change that did, does, and will continue to be a big part of players’ lives. Instead, the coaches focus on teaching their players how best to leverage social media and be wary of its potential to amplify. At Body Boss, we ran into many coaches who wanted nothing to do with social media. These same coaches were against technology in the weight room. However, the more progressive coaches saw social media and technology as tools to achieve goals not able to be realized before. Take-away: The only constant is change, and successful leaders find opportunities to leverage new tools and ways of thinking to achieve goals.
- There is a necessity to coach players beyond the field. It’s easy to focus on employees or colleagues as purely that – employees. However, like Coach K and Coach Meyer demonstrate, there is much more to be gained when coaching players beyond the field. In business, the importance is in developing capable, courageous, and influential people, not just workers. Take-away: There are greater ripple effects when influencing people beyond the job.
- Urban Meyer recalled the first time he saw Tim Tebow play; except, he wasn’t playing football. Instead, Tebow was playing right field in a baseball game. By the third inning, Meyer made up his mind to sign Tebow because he immediately saw his competitiveness and tenacity. Take-away: Finding High Potentials and “athletes” can be tough, but once found, you can slot them anywhere and know they’ll get the job done.
- Both coaches also reflected on the importance of players’ support systems. Given the many avenues for distractions for players, it’s important for the player to listen to their true support groups, not the noise. Take-away: There is a lot of noise today, but it’s up to the individual (player, entrepreneur, other) to choose who to listen to as it’s their lives, businesses at stake.
- Both coaches have won multiple championships in different schools. The key to sustained success is cultivating adaptive cultures. Coach K noted cultures change, but the foundation of the culture, the values, are what don’t change. Take-away: Values should sustain over time. They are the building blocks of cultures that do and should change.