The 3rd annual Mobility LIVE! Conference (the largest mobility technology conference in the southeast) took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta October 28-29th
Wrapped up Day 2 (the final day) of Mobility LIVE! at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The annual event brings together thought leaders in the mobile space in a series of speakers and panels.
I recapped Day 1 on Thursday. That was exhaustive. For Day 2, I’m going with 3-5 take-aways per talk and panel. Except, I’ll add a brief intro to each speaker/ panel to summarize.
Yesterday was all about the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables. Today was a continuation on IoT, but also more focus on mobility as a whole and startups.
Kicking us off was a chat between Glenn Lurie, AT&T Mobility President and CEO, and Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services at Apple. In many ways, these two helped usher in the mobile world as we know it today being key members along with Steve Jobs and Ralph de la Vega in bringing the iPhone to market in 2007. Glenn and Eddy recall those negotiations between AT&T and Apple and the relationship between the two ever since…
  • The initial discussions between AT&T and Apple were anything but amicable. Neither company understood the other’s business and vision. Apple wanted to completely upend the way carriers operated with phones (iPhone, specifically, of course), but never once showed AT&T the iPhone till AFTER the deal was done. They reached common ground by understanding each others’ needs and metrics for success over time. They built world-disrupting models on personaltrust. You can see the strong trust and relationship in their interaction together on stage with the quips and remarks – fun to watch.
  • The first “OMG THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD” moment came when Glenn and Ralph finally got to touch the iPhone (after negotiations, mere months before launch). The second occurred when Glenn and Ralph heard of the App Store when iPhone 3G was releasing. Eddy and Steve only thought there would be 100s of apps… they didn’t fathom the beast the App Store is today and how it’s created whole new businesses, industries, and more.
  • Other phone manufacturers at the time were hardware-focused. They saw software as a “necessary evil”. Steve and Eddy saw the opportunity in software to do so much more. As we know today, the iPhone is a great device, but the software and the App Store are the greater opportunities.
  • Apple actually started developing a tablet before the iPhone. However, after first pinching and zooming, they realized the bigger opportunity to implement touch on phones. They pivoted towards the iPhone immediately. In fact, AT&T’s phone specs didn’t have any place for touch… specs all illustrated buttons. Apple didn’t want any buttons (except maybe the one for Home).
  • Apple’s mission, as instilled by Steve, was to not make iterative improvements to solve problems. Instead, they wanted to hone in on large problems we allencounter, or build the platforms to allow others to solve more specific, complex problems. Eddy and Steve believed you can’t be iterative when it comes to innovation.
Michael Zito, General Manager of AT&T’s Smarter Cities, moderated a two-person panel of David Cummings, CEO of Atlanta Tech Village, and Charles Curran, Senior Director of Qualcomm Ventures. Michael was the keynote speaker of last year’s Mobility LIVE! Day 2, and speaking as a former entrepreneur who exited, Michael peppered Cummings and Curran on startups and venture investment, especially in Atlanta.
  • Atlanta is “best of breed” in many areas including internet security, marketing technology, logistics companies, finance technology, and payment processing. Having the 3rd highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies helps. Processing 70% of all payments in Georgia helps. Having Georgia Tech as a “secret weapon” helps.
  • There needs to be more involvement from the big companies around ATL (the Fortune 500s) to engage with startups and entrepreneurs to solve problems. There has been growing involvement, though, as seen in innovation centers from Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, AT&T, Georgia Pacific, and the like all at the Tech Squarecorridor.
  • Yik Yakis a great Atlanta consumer story which is very outside the norm – Atlanta is a big B2B startup hub. The founders of Yik Yak had the idea in college, launched in Oct. 2013, and had 60K college students by Feb. 2014. They’ve raised ~$70M with no revenue, and show no signs of slowing down as a major consumer success startup calling Atlanta home.
  • 0.3% of venture-backed startups make 95% of the profits… only 0.1% of startups raise venture capital. Yikes!
  • On advice to ATL entrepreneurs: Atlanta needs big hitters (those who have been very, very successful in the past) to support startups and entrepreneurs. Also, capital can be attained from anywhere with “mobile capital” àsmaller investments across geographies, greater meritocracy.
Consumer Products and Connect Retail panel moderated by Jeffrey Sawyer of Accenture. The panel included Tom Daly of The Coca-Cola Company, Tim Henderson of Microsoft, Nicu du Plessis of SportsMobile USA, and Lee Wagner of AT&T. The panel focused on how IoT is influencing their companies and their companies’ clients. 
  • There are many challenges to IoT and connecting everything. Starting “small” with one connected retail store is a challenge. However, the challenges get exponentially more difficult once you bring scale to the equation (think Moore’s Law). The largest hurdle is and will be security.
  • Retailers are trying many different technologies to add value to their businesses from social to mobile. Retailers like Macy’s, in particular, and Bloomingdales are leading the way with iBeacons, smart fitting rooms, interactive kiosks, and more.
  • As everything gets more and more connected, true value will be realized when there is greater interoperability (systems talking to one another). However, there will be a “creepy” factor where people will be fearful of “big brother”. The key to overcome this, however, will be the value-add. What was once feared in mobile banking before is now replaced with ubiquitous mobile banking adoption – value > creepy.
  • Example of ThyssenKrupp including sensors on their elevators. The company measured everything about their elevators from weight to cable tension to time from button-push and elevator movement. Given 40% of the world’s power consumption can be attributed to buildings and 10% of that energy consumed by elevators, ThyssenKrupp has the data to now lower meaningful energy consumption. ThyssenKrupp can now mitigate energy costs for its customers.

Mapping Mobile Commerce – From Online to Offline and Back panel moderated by Asif Khan, Founder and CEO of Location-Based Marketing Association. The panel included many media/ advertising executives including Duane Smith of 22squared, Kelly Hogue of Millennia Media, Ed King of MaxMedia, Robert Russell of UPS, and Steve Solari of Skyhook. With the large number of advertising agencies present, the panel was able to discuss technology in several environments. UPS added another element not necessarily from the traditional brick-and-mortar, but with location services for its trucks. Skyhook, then, provided insight as an infrastructure partner. And given Asif’s organization, there was a distinct locational interest to proceedings.

  • “What does location-based marketing mean to you?” was the first order of business. Across the panel, proximity/ location helps drive relevance of advertising content to viewers. Location can identify audiences and provide insights.
  • There are lots of technologies to identify location. Some are more accurate than others, but is the cost for more accuracy worth it? In stores, you can evaluate point-of-sale (POS) data, dwell time, compare campaigns of location-captured and non-location-captured, heat maps, etc.
  • As said earlier, location drives relevance. Retailers aim to drive traffic to their brick-and-mortar stores. Once there, the retailer must create an engaging customer experience to increase dwell time and drive conversion. But post-sale (or after the customer leaves), retailers need to re-engage customers to drive return visits or even visits to their online stores.
  • Evaluating technologies can be difficult. Many technologies sound good, but can be difficult to tie to specific use-cases. Also, scaling technologies like iBeacons can prove to be difficult. For tech considerations, retailers must ensure tactics and tech is directly tied to metrics. Also, retailers must consider privacy and security concerns.
  • An audience member looking to present business cases for retailers around retail technologies asked about metrics to evaluate the success of technology within the four-walls. A quick list: return visits, recency, frequency, distance traveled (from home to store), emotional, Net Promoter Score (NPS), foot traffic, online activities, and even social magnification (shares).

Jim Bailey, Global Managing Director of Accenture Digital Mobility, took on the daunting topic of Insights on the Future of Mobility all on his lonesome. Armed with slides of statistics after statistics, Jim painted a picture of a connected life… Or more specifically, what Accenture dubs “Living Services”.

  • Here are some numbers: 212B sensors by 2020. 50B connected devices by 2020. End of 2014, 80% of Fortune 1000 companies would have public APIs. 31EB (that’s exabytes = one billion billion bytes) per month in 2020. A BMW 5-Series uploads 1GB of data per 10 miles driven. 89% of businesses (across the globe) believe IoT will have a fundamental impact on their businesses, but only 7%have a comprehensive strategy for IoT.
  • 1990s was the internet and web era. The 2000s was the age of mobility. 2010’s ushers in living services. Living services is the combination of Digitization of Everything (products with built-in smart tech) + Liquid Consumer Expectations (cultural shifts raising our expectations for best-in-class experience across categories).
  • Living services requires three components: 1) Knowing your customer; 2) Flexing technology; 3) Design. Up till now, we have been in a “process-led” innovation world. Tomorrow, we’ll be in a design-led innovative world.
  • Can you guess what he views as the biggest risk to all of this? (It’s security.)

The Investors Perspective on Mobile was moderated by Dr. Phil Hendrix, Founder of immr. Hendrix spearheaded a diverse investor panel of Sig Mosley of Mosley Ventures, Blake Patton of Tech Square Ventures, and Alan Taetle of Noro-Mosley Ventures. The investors range in experience from 1 year and 5 deals to over 122 deals spanning 20+ years. Being an entrepreneur, I was excited about this one.

  • Given the disparity in experience, the investors have seen varied levels of investment evolution. Mosley, the most senior, recounted the much longer time to develop products and bring them to market compared to today. Costs are significantly cheaper… what would’ve cost $50M to build a successful company 10-20 years ago may only take $15M today.
  • In mobility (and indeed, in general), the investors see lots of opportunities. Blake is high on IoT. Alan is high on healthcare. Sig is high on virtual reality and security. To this point, the investors stuck to their “guidelines” 99% of the time… rarely did they break into unfamiliar territories. When/ if they did, investments usually didn’t end well.
  • As touched on before, the investors rarely played in new sandboxes where they never played before. The investors, with the exception of Alan, were reluctant to enter healthcare companies due to the complexities – capital intensive, regulations, insurance, etc.
  • There are goods and bads in ATL as an investor, of course. The investors explained ATL’s exponential growth in entrepreneurial activity to be a ripe condition for investments. Sig and Blake, especially, are early-stage investors, and have been very active. Long-term success of investment in ATL will depend on the ability of startups who attract early-stage funding to attract later-stage funding outside of ATL.
  • Motivations for investment in early-stage startups or startups, in general, was very straight-forward for this panel – the entrepreneur/ team. They test the passion of the entrepreneur as s/he will invariably “wander in the desert”. Will s/he find his/ her way and stay focused to see the company to success? The investors also test for coachability especially for early-stage entrepreneurs who need the guidance. Alan remarked: “Intelligence + Self-Awareness” over Experience.atlanta, startups, entrepreneurship, mobility, internet of things, investors, venture capital

The 3rd annual Mobility LIVE! Conference (the largest mobility technology conference in the southeast) took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta October 28-29th
Just wrapped up day 1 of this year’s Mobility LIVE! event held at the Georgia World Congress Center. This year marks the 3rd installment of the annual convergence of mobility leaders from all over. With over 1,200 registrations for this year’s event, it’s proven to be a big hit (3 times the number of the first event).
I attended the event last year, and like last year, I’ll hit the highlights of the sessions I attended. Last year’s event was heavy on mobile payments. This year, we’re concentrating on the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables– two areas I don’t know have much depth about, but do have a degree of depth.
But in addition to mobility, Mobility LIVE! showcases Atlanta’s unique and advantageous position at the heart of the mobile world. As one of the few, the proud, the native Atlantan, this event resonated proudly with me.
So let me start…

  • 3 trends in mobility: 1) Software and software development àBetter, faster, cheaper; 2) “Mobile is eating the world” – 10 years ago, we were using Amazon as the paradigm. Now, we’re using Uber and Airbnb; 3) Internet of Things – “Everything wants to be connected”. By 2020, 25-50B “things” to be connected
  • We’re in a “software defined” world. We don’t need to carry around a flashlight, calculator, or alarm clock. Instead, we just have a phone that does it all – the modern day Swiss-army knife
  • “Georgia Tech is a ‘crown jewel’ of Atlanta”. AT&T works closely with Georgia Tech on many initiatives including funding the first online Masters in Computer Science and other Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

  • 24,000 technology jobs in Atlanta last year
  • 250 mobile startups in Atlanta
  • 18 Fortune 500 companies within and around the metro area
  • Stressed the need to not only attract millennials, but need to retain them

Panel Discussion on Mobility
  • Moderated by Reed Peterson, Global Head of Strategic Engagement at GSMA
  • Panel included Joe Mosele (VP Business Developent – IoT Solutions at AT&T Mobility), Edenilson Fleischmann (President and CEO of Indra USA), and Edgard Sammour (Sr. Product Manager at GE Digital Energy)
  • We’re still in a people-to-people world (social)
  • Getting to IoT, we will one day not even *think* about internet. It’ll be so ubiquitous
  • IoT: sensors à things communicate with one another àthings understand each other on their own
  • What’s missing? Sensors and power consumption. Think, especially, about the *things* that are currently not powered that will need to like water meters
  • Another opportunity/ challenge is interoperability. That is, how everything ties back together. It’s “communication intelligence”. Think: electronic medical records (EMR), fitness wearables, alerting doctors or 911 in an emergency event
  • A lot is still left to be done in security with IoT àleverage how mobile banking was once viewed, but now, it’s widely accepted
  • Security is driven by cost, too. It’s much different to secure thousands of devices versus millions or billions
  • Industrial IoT has an easier time to adopt due to the business case àefficiencies and cost of maintenance opportunities
  • Most exciting part of IoT? It’s the *THINGS*

  • Acquired Weather Underground 3 years ago that brought on 30-40K personal weather stations
  • TWC can forecast on-demand up to 2.2 BILLION precise locations (up from 2 million just a few years ago)
  • TWC draws data from barometric readings from phones, state Department of Transportation sensors, 650+ aircrafts
  • Bio-meteorology is the study of how weather affects plants, animals, people
  • Data without insights is useless… Chris cites how his heart rate jumped to 195 beats per min on a run… but what does that mean?

The Future of Wearables Panel

Lunch Keynote – Focus with Entrepreneurs and Startups Panel
  • Moderated by Jennifer Sherer (VP Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Metro Atlanta Chamber)
  • Panel included Brooke Beach (CEO of Kevy), Jon Birdsong (CEO of Rivalry), and Jesse Maddox (CEO of TripLingo)
  • Atlanta has done a good job bridging the two ecosystems of big companies and startups
  • To find and keep great talent, give team members ownership and ensuring they know they’re part of something big
  • Atlanta can help startups and entrepreneurs get more introductions to the larger companies
  • Getting customers enabled by: great relationships and making software easy to use and consumable – Birdsong
  • Is there a lack of capital in Atlanta? $500M was raised in ATL last year
  • There’s an increasing number of angel and seed funds in ATL àthis used to be the most difficult part of raising; now, it’s VC money
  • Atlanta has a brand awareness problem. However, Atlanta is ripe with startups who develop traction and have a solid business before raising capital
  • Atlanta’s startup ecosystem is vibrant and communal which fosters serendipitous connections

Wearables in Fitness and Healthcare Panel
  • Moderated by Chip Standifer, CTO at Virtual Design Group
  • Panel included Todd Charest (Chief Innovation and Product Officer at Ingenious Med), Joel Evans (VP Mobile Enablement at Mobiquity), and Francis Hoe (Commercial Operations at Misfit Wearables)
  • Asked if we’ve reached a “base” feature set of wearables, Francis doesn’t believe so. Instead, we’re still trying to define/ identify what a wearable is. There may, instead, be sub-categories such as wrist, patches, clothing, etc.
  • Today, 33% of wearable owners abandon their wearable within six months! 1 out of every 10 wearable owner in the U.S. owns one, but doesn’t even use it
  • Price and incentive (losing weight, being more productive at work, etc.) will be heavy influencers of wearable buyers tomorrow
  • Battery life of wearables is a massive opportunity
  • Interoperability of wearables is another big opportunity – how sensors on shoes, clothing, etc. communicate to show the whole picture
  • Are there other form factors beyond Wearables 1.0?
  • Asked if doctors are starting to trust the data, it’s based on liability understanding. Wearable data is yet another dataset that can reinforce prescriptions. The data still needs to all be connected and then be predictive
  • Wearables illustrate a back-end problem – connecting datasets across platforms… currently, there is no standardization, but there will need to be to be more medically supported

New Age of Video/ Media Consumed via Mobiles Devices Panel

Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Internet of Things Panel
  • Moderated by Rupen Patel, CTO at Mercurium
  • Panel included Jim Stratigos (Founder, CEO at Cognosos), Dennis Mehta (Managing Partner at Unity Group), and Dr. Deepak Divan (Georgia Tech and Varentec)
  • IDC cited market spend in IoT to hit $1.7T (yes, T = trillion) by 2020
  • IoT must span Software + Hardware + Analytics + Networking
  • Companies that best exemplify IoT today include those in automotive, business sector, industrial, and Nest (the only consumer story mentioned)
  • The best areas of IoT entrepreneurs can attack today include: high-value components like machinery (track these systems), sensors, and batteries
  • Wireless/ connectivity standardization was cited as a standard that can help IoT expand in the way TCP/ IP and HTTP elevated the internet
  • Emerging markets also represent significant opportunities for IoT
  • Toughest questions this panel of entrepreneurs faced from Board of Directors and Investors include: What are you going to be profitable (can be tough depending on ROI schedules between the market (utilities companies may have 10-year cycles) and investors (half-year cycles))? Why are you doing hardware?! (Competition fear à cost from certain markets)
  • Advice from the entrepreneurs: “just do it”; “jump now or sit on the sidelines and let others make the money”; and “convey your idea and value on one slide”
  • The analytics layer of IoT represents another golden opportunity

EBITDA. I’ve heard this term plenty of times over the years, and yet, I don’t know why it’s so important. Yes, I know EBITDA stands for “Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization”. However, of its importance, I know little of.

As I’ve done in the past, today, I’ll take a look at EBITDA as part of my series on Finance of Startups (yes, two posts in a row!).
The importance/ relative reasons for EBITDA:
  • Quick and dirty estimate for cash flows
  • Interest and taxes are omitted in EBITDA as they can be heavily impacted by losses from previous years, debt financing (argued should not be used to measure the inherent value of a company), etc.
  • Depreciation and amortization are non-cash items that can be heavily influenced by company decision-makers
  • Can be used to measure against other companies’ EBITDA as a proxy for cash flows and across industry averages

However, there are many critics to EBITDA:

  • Does not include working capital considerations (cash outlays for inventory, for example)
  • Interest and taxes are cash outflows, and with their removal, may over-value a company. And because they’re not included, EBITDA is not a true measure of a company’s cash flows
  • The omission of depreciation and amortization, though non-cash, fails to recognize useful lives of long-term assets and their eventual need to be replaced (think machinery which will eventually fail)
  • Not Generally Accepted Accounting Principles mandated (non-GAAP). As such, companies provide EBITDA as wanted, and because Earnings, Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization can be calculated differently from company to company, EBITDA can be massaged to tell a rosier picture and not be an apples-to-apples comparison

Investors like to use EBITDA as part of their valuation calculations of startups (okay, companies in general); though, like any metric, EBITDA may provide insight in a singular way. To overcome its shortcomings, EBITDA should be used in conjunction with other relevant metrics and ratios.

Resources:

Last week, Match Group, Inc. filed its S-1in its initial public offering under the stock symbol “MTCH”. You probably know MTCH as one of the largest online dating sites in the world as Match.com. They also own and operate OkCupid, and Tinder and over 37 other brands. Outside of dating, they also own The Princeton Review – an education site devoted to test preparation, academic tutoring, and the like.

The company is looking to raise $100M through its IPO. Here are some of my notes:
  • Three classes of common stock: common stock, Class B common stock, and Class C common stock – generally “similar”, but common stock will have one vote per share. Class B will have 10 votes per share. Class C has virtually no votes per share.
  • Match Group, Inc. is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC)
  • The company’s mission: “Establishing a romantic connection is a fundamental human need. Whether it’s a good date, a meaningful relationship or an enduring marriage, romantic connectivity lifts the human spirit. Our mission is to increase romantic connectivity worldwide.”
  • 59 million monthly active users (MAU) with 4.7 million paid subscribers (8.0% of MAU) across its brands today up from 8 million MAU in 2011 representing a 63% compound annual growth rate (48% excluding acquisitions)
  • OkCupid was acquired in 2011
  • First half of 2015 saw 68% of new users sign up via mobile vs. 27% in 2013
  • Benefits for users include: Expanded Options; Efficiency; More Comfort and Control; and Convenience
  • A few competitive advantages listed: brand (4 out of the 5 top online dating brands are represented by MTCH); scale (significant scale = more opportunities for users to meet); multiple brands (address the many different markets MTCH is selling to)
  • Acquiring PlentyOfFish Media, Inc. ~$575.0M… scheduled to close Q4 2015
  • Because the company has less than $1.0B in revenue in its last fiscal year, the company qualifies as an “emerging growth company” as defined by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS)
  • Revenues (2012-2014): $713.4M, $803.1M, $888.3M.
  • Key metrics
o   “Total Dating Revenue” which includes both direct user-paid monies and indirect (amounts wholly from advertising)
o   “Paid Member Counts” (PMC). From 2012-2014, Total PMC grew 25% to 3.5M
o   Average Revenue per Paying User (ARPPU)
  • Company notes decline of email usage as a risk to the business. Many of MTCH’s communities (users of the various brands) rely on email to communicate new users, new interactions, and the like. However, consumer habits have changed so that email usage has declined. The absence of a communication method as effective as email is a significant risk
  • Given the Ashley Madison hack earlier this year, no surprise MTCH lists its potential inability to protect from cyber threats as a major risk factor
  • International revenue accounts for 31% of total revenue through 1H 2015
  • 36% of all members in 2011 were under the age of 35. By end of the 1H 2015, that number is 62% reflecting mobile adoption, lower average revenue per user (ARPU), etc.
  • Due to the shift of monetization towards lower cost brands, “youthfulness”, and the like, user acquisition channels has also shifted to lower cost channels. Thus, cost of acquisition has accordingly dropped
  • Demand is highest in the first quarter of the year with Q4 being the lowest demand
  • Over 40 brands represented in MTCH with 25 acquisitions since Jan 2009
  • The CEO, Sam Yagan, founded OkCupid in 2003. He also founded SparkNotes in 1999 and eDonkey in 2002

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, renowned businessman and inspirational speaker.

Recent events had me thinking about Jim Rohn’s remark. One event was my brother’s promotion to a Director-ish position overseeing the organization’s information systems group. Meanwhile, I’m fielding many questions about what my Next Great Move and what my fellow Body Boss co-founders are up to. They, too, are heading up software engineering of their respective companies. Add to these events, my interest in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was rekindled by online forums – I wrote this last week.
I started considering the success of those around me, and how they motivate me to do and begreater. Also, what about their personalities are affecting me? Considering Jim’s law of averages comment, I asked those closest to me to complete MBTI assessments.
I’m an ESTJ (Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) personality type – I wonder if I’d be the average of those around me?
I assigned binary values to each letter for each position (E = 0 and I = 1; S = 0 and N = 1; etc.). Then, I took the average of the values rounding to the nearest integer.
Of the five people closest to me:

  • Two are INTP
  • One ENTP
  • One ESFP
  • One ESFJ
According to Jim’s law of averages, I would be an ENTP. Kinda, not really close to what I tested as.
If I expanded to 10 of my closer (not necessarily “closEST”):
  • Three ESFP
  • Two INTP
  • Two ESFJ
  • One INTJ
  • One ENTP
  • One ENFP

Using these 10, my average would be ENFP – more different than the earlier.

My conclusion: The law of averages doesn’t quite hold for me right now. However, my circles are fluid – meaning people enter and exit inner and outer circles constantly.
Also, based on who I am and how I work, I know I like to complement others. That is, I surround myself with people who are different than me to challenge my perceptions, show me different ways to work, improve communication, etc.
Interesting and fun exercise all the same.
If you’ve taken the MBTI, in the assessment and write-up, what surprises made sense as you thought about them? How do you think you and your circles complement or reflect each other’s collective MBTI types?
I love psychology. I love getting to know people – what interests them, what are their tendencies, and the like. One of the best ways to learn more about people (and yourself) is to go to a therapist. Or, like the rest of the world today, you can go online and take a test. Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

MBTI is a self-reported survey revealing the psychological tendencies of people – how they view and react to the world.

MBTI was first developed by Katharine Briggs and later refined by (and with) her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The original Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944 with several editions published since then, including the 3rd in 1998. 
The MBTI aligns people into 16 personalities along four dichotomies:
  • Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I) – where one draws energy (external sources or internal)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) – information-gathering functions
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – decision-making functions
  • Judging (J) vs. Perception (P) – preference for using either the thinking or feeling functions vs. sensing or intuitive functions

Using something like MBTI can help in business in all sorts of ways. You can use MBTI internally with team members as a colleague and leader — communication, work styles, etc. MBTI personality types can help salespeople communicate with prospects. MBTI can also help marketers better understand value points and spark emotional intrigue in customers.

You can find more about MBTI at 16personalities.com, and even take a personality test to discover yours – it’s an abbreviated version, but can be generally in the right direction.
How else can MBTI be used in the workplace? What are advantages to using a personality tests in the workplace? Disadvantages?
I was requested the other day to talk about how I balance work with life given the many things I’m working on today. Coincidentally, I read “Success at Work, Failure at Home” by Scott Weiss, entrepreneur turned VC.
Scott recalls the years his startup was doing great were years life at home was anything but. Now as a VC, Scott coaches startup CEOs on dealing with the pressures of work at home.
I’ve had several downs with the ups over the years, and now, taking on a few projects as I consider my next startup. I get questions, like from my friend, of how I balance work and life. That’s easy to answer, though, because my work is part of my life.
I don’t work allthe time, but a perfect day for me includes some work. I love what I do, and I love challenges. Over the years, especially since Body Boss, I’ve weaved in slow-down and even shut-down times.
Compared to years past when I was constantly working, I’ve learned a few things.
  • Not everyone needs everything immediately. I was too wrapped up in saying yes to others. Now, I realize how others value themselves and me. Those who matter respect my priorities.
  • Taking a day off each week makes me more productive. Like my body from work outs, my mind needs rest days to recover. These days off allow me to step out of the day-to-day and practice creativity.
  • There are two types of “me-time” – alone and with friends. Because I interact with many different people throughout the week, my alone times are havens (like morning workouts). Otherwise, I see friends on specific days of the week. Scheduling days prevents me from forgoing social activities.
  • Schedules allow for more spontaneity and freedom. Described in the Make Time post, explicitly scheduling things that matter (i.e. meetings with VCs, workouts, seeing friends, etc.) ensure high-priority things are accounted for. All other time becomes flexible to call audibles.
Whether it’s watching Netflix, running the neighborhoods, or writing journal entries, taking time off work makes me more productive. I let my mind recover and find creativity again… creativity that comes from anywhere.
How do you “balance” work and life, if there’s a distinction for you? What are some ways to mentally, emotionally recover from work?
I reconnected with a wantrepreneur I met months ago to see how things were going. Since our first meeting, she’s made connections all around, built a pitch deck, and got estimates for developing her idea. From the outside, she’s doing great. She talks excitedly about a new platform launching soon that would be huge for her product. Sadly, she’s going to miss the boat because her product is still just an idea.
She also pared down her list of features to get more minimum viable product-lean. This has dropped her development costs dramatically to economical levels. However, she’s still seeking meetings with investors to get funding to start development.
Unfortunately, funding hasn’t come through while great opportunities like the new platform launch have come and pass. In two months come holiday season when the new platform will be on many people’s wishlists – another golden opportunity will pass.
We talked about what her idea was worth and what she believes the value will be if she’s a success. Is she confident in her idea and her ability to execute that perhaps she could fund more of the development herself rather than rely on outsiders? If she had all the information she had today but two months ago, would she had invested in development to make it to this new platform’s launch? Hesitating as she laments the very idea, she whispers, “Yes, I would.”
A few thoughts:
  • She, like many others, is learning how difficult it is to raise money without traction. She’s also lost an initial investor. Like I said in sales, never celebrate till two weeks after a check clears. Build momentum (read: traction) to spark investment interest.
  • Entrepreneurship is about doing and being opportunistic. Could she have known the platform was launching soon? Possibly, based on company history. Meanwhile, holidays are pretty set. One of the most important factors in startup success is about timing and being able to seize opportunities. I believe full-heartedly in what Seneca said — “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
  • Things happen outside of your control, but control as much as you can when you can. Unfortunate events like losing investors can be unpredicted, and development continues to be delayed. She could address this directly by learning to code herself, growing her network of developers and partnering with a technical cofounder, or fund the development herself (or other).
I like to consider how invested and confident wantrepreneurs are in their ideas (from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur). If they truly believe in their ideas and themselves, are they realizing what the bottlenecks are? What are they doing to knock those barriers down? For her, taking more control by funding development herself, if not finding a technical co-founder or learning development herself, could help her seize golden opportunities or move on.
For the wantrepreneur, she’s going to take immediate action. I’m excited to see her idea come to fruition soon.
What are your thoughts on requiring outside investment to fund an idea? How could a lack of funding interest affect a wantrepreneur’s passion and drive to execute?
My last post about usability testing talked about set up and guidelines for testing. Following up, here are some outcomes and lessons from a couple testing sessions so far:
  • You can get great feedback. It’d be great to build a product leveraging the experience of the founders in a startup and customers use the product seamlessly. However, founders’ view of the world can be skewed. Usability testing solicits feedback directly from the target audience.
  • Find users who will provide candid feedback. Operative words are “provide” and “candid”. Usability testing can be awkward for testers not used to giving honest feedback. It’s important for the company and customers that users provide critical feedback knowing no answer is wrong – benefits go around for everyone.
  • Bugs can screw it all up. The goal of usability testing is to assess how users interact with the product. Sometimes, you’ll want users to perform specific tasks. However, product bugs can quickly halt testing; thus, preventing constructive feedback. Now, feedback may focus on bugs rather than usability.
  • Early testing can tell you everything. Stop. Iterate. Continue later. That is, early users may find resounding issues during tests. You’ll know it when it happens. In this case, discontinue testing till these headaches are resolved else you get the same feedback from all users. Go again.
  • Watch for unspoken signs. In presentations and demos, I scan faces in the room for emotions and reactions. In usability testing, I do the same. Do they seem delighted or uninterested? Is the user focused? Confused? What’s left unsaid can be most telling.

Usability testing has been a great process for us so far. We identified key gaps, and emerged focusing efforts on select features while reducing clutter. Before, we hypothesized what users wanted. Testing has provided real data and insight.

What outcomes or lessons have you learned from usability testing as a test-giver? Any input as a test-taker? How has usability testing helped your company’s product development and roadmap?
I’m helping run usability tests with a startup; though, I have not formally “run” one in the past. It’s been a great learning experience.
The company’s launching a new site in education, and with the product having been in development for a few months, it’s ready for users to test. For us, we’re soliciting feedback on user experience, shaping our product roadmap, and testing marketing messaging.
I’ve uploaded a Usability Testing Guidelines template I created leveraging others I’ve found with adjustments here: Usability Testing Guidelines. I’ve removed some specific portions, but left in others for illustrative purposes. You’ll want to adjust as you see fit.
(Note: I use “site” here, but substitute the product/ service you’re testing.)
Here are the key components of the Guidelines:
  • Testing – Observer Guidelines. General instructions for the observer when moderating tests.
  • Agenda and Set-Up. Establish the logistics for testing. Ensure the location is ready, devices are set up, and have back-up plans in case things don’t go as planned.
  • Testing Script. Set the guidelines between tester and test-taker including language to encourage honest, impulsive feedback.
  • Usability Tasks. Ensure specific elements of the site are tested. Tasks help navigate testing along timeline.
  • Closing Questions. When in front of target users, it’s advantageous to ask specific and open questions as time allows. These questions help determine the product roadmap, key in on marketing messaging, identify trouble areas not identified before, etc.

Additionally, I like a hybrid approach to testing – unstructured at the beginning, then structured with tasks. With an unstructured format, users go about a site detailing thoughts and driving their interaction as s/he desires. In a structured format, the tester helps navigate the user via tasks and questions.

What lessons do you have from usability tests as a tester or test-taker? How have usability tests been poorly run? Effectively run?