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Showing posts from July, 2016

Advice to [My] Interns

I recently had a couple interns work for me at SalesWise. They were great resources to help in marketing, sales, prospecting, support, etc.
However, the interns were straight out of high school (or still in). They did not have much experience in any particular area. It was a challenge, at first, to get them ramped up on what to do. Luckily, I leaned on my experience as a co-op back at Georgia Tech to help me lead my interns.
My biggest advice to the interns, and indeed, the same understanding I wanted them to be grounded on: “Absorb as much as you can, even if the work seems ‘simple’.”
My biggest advice to them after their time? “Re-read and re-absorb everything you did.”
One of my regrets from my internship at UPS Supply Chain Solutions back in the day was not absorbing as much as I could about logistics, transportation, the contacts I interacted with, their interests, etc. As I look back, there were hundreds of connections I wish I kept in touch with. (LinkedIn makes it much easier to …

Everyone Needs a Don

The other night an old friend came by needing help to create a marketing campaign. Her store was launching, but she was having all sorts of trouble sending out a couple email campaigns.
She had already visited the company’s offices after getting zero help from Support. (Yes, you do that when you’re desperate and looking for answers.) She had sought the help from friends who used to work at the company or knew of those who did. No one was able to help.
Surprisingly, I was the last resort. (Because I’m really not that technical.) But perhaps for good reason — I knew Don Pottinger. 1030PM on a Sunday night, and I knew that I could still hit him up for help on resolving my friend’s problem.
After an hour, though, we were still stumped. But here’s the difference between all the other tiers of support my friend went through: Don kept on pushing. He kept researching and troubleshooting. Coincidentally, he actually had some experience with email marketing given his startup (he is the CTO),…

5 Highlights from Measuring B2B Tech Engagement Talk

I am a big fan of data, analytics, metrics and… you get it. So much so, I’ve recently published several posts: Metrics vs. InstrumentationMetrics for the Early Stage StartupsDon’t Know What Metrics to Track? Start Asking the Right Questions Fitting that one of my colleagues shared a talk by the Director of Marketing, Diana Smith, of technology startup Segment: “Measuring for B2B Engagement”.

In this talk, Diana shares what and how to measure engagement in technology products/ services, especially (my favorite). It’s a quick sub-14’ video, but if you’re looking for the highlights, I’ve got you covered. Develop a Tracking Plan. What events to track? Why? What properties should be captured? Location of the events to track (i.e. website page, app screen)?Key to the Tracking Plan is defining a naming convention. The naming convention should start with the Object (i.e. user, account, document) and the action (i.e. signUp, delete, edit). Consistent naming conventions enable teams to easily an…

Trouble Brewing with Friends Who Are Partners/ Colleagues

Sat down with a young film Director and Producer recently who is having trouble with his team. He’s produced several independent pieces and is about to work with a massive brand and big time director. He’s real excited about the opportunities coming up, but more recently, he’s frustrated with his colleagues who also happen to be good friends.
There have been pains and frustrations with key individuals which have threatened production; meanwhile, relationships between his brand and his clients have been strained due to the same colleagues. The crux of the problem is working with friends who are amateurs and are not as determined as he is.
While this Director is working hard and building a name in the industry, his colleagues are neither at his level, nor are they working as hard to be better. The production is HIS brand, and he is realizing it is his brand that is being harshly affected. His visions are being muddied by those representing him. In an industry based on brand and can be…

Entrepreneurs and Artists – What Keeps Both Going

I recently met an author of several books and also had a startup some years before. She lamented how her beauty product was probably too early – timing, indeed, is an important factor in startups. She also shared how many of her books failed to be commercial successes.
Knowing what my own book was about, she asked me, “When did you know it was time to stop?”
I get asked this a lot. Perhaps everyone believes an author on startup failure knows the moment. Perhaps I know the signals, the omens of impending startup doom. That, sadly, is not true at all. It’s not true because there’s no answer. It’s up to the entrepreneur(s).
Steve Blank used a comparison in “Venture Capital is ‘Liquidity Ponzi Scheme” that I often use: “entrepreneurs are like artists”. Both can accomplish great things and be wildly successful. Both can be wildly misunderstood, too. Both, likely, must overcome the roller coaster of ups and [many more] downs before finding success (if ever).
Entrepreneurs and artists are …

My Top Tip for Students Seeking Entrepreneurial Journeys (Grounded In Life Regrets)

Recent conversations have led me reflect and provide tips for the younger generation: Talks with rising high school seniors, college-bound, and post-grad students seeking input on local schools (namely, Georgia Tech and Emory) especially as an entrepreneurLife regrets These were mutually exclusive talks, but they ended in similar ways. For the first type of conversation, I always brought up the energy, the student population, and the academic resources of both Georgia Tech and Emory – the former, especially.

Much of Atlanta’s growth can be traced to the talent coming through the Institute on North Ave, and I excitedly share all the amazing resources at Georgia Tech and at the students’ disposal including the affiliated Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) incubator.
Access to some of the most brilliant minds is just a walk away from dorms while the knowledge capital amongst the student population is top-notch. I was intimidated when I started at Tech with students to my left…

Don’t Know What Metrics to Track? Start Asking the Right Questions

It’s often best to start with what goals you want to achieve when deciding what metrics to track and events to instrument. This, then, drives key questions. So welcome to today’s post – the prequel to Tuesday’s “Metrics vs. Instrumentation”.
Almost every facet of a business – technical, business, financial, operational, etc. – should have some strategy in place for improvement. As such, there is a need for an understanding of where the company sits today, in the past (if available), and the goals for the future. The natural thing to do, then, is to ask the right questions.
Here are some questions that can help determine the instrumentation and metrics needed: At what rate are we losing existing customers (churn)?à can highlight product-market fit issues, education issues, misaligned expectations, complex UI/ UX, etc.What is the lifetime value of a customer?à help determine the ROI of marketing strategies, especially against the cost of acquisitionWhat is our server uptime service leve…

Metrics vs. Instrumentation

I heard some confusion recently about: what exactly are metrics? What’s instrumentation? How do they differ?
Definitions from Metric: a standard for measuring or evaluating something, especially one that uses figures or statisticsInstrument (-ation): a means by which something is effected or done; a device for measuring the present value of a quantity under observation. With yesterday’s 4th of July and 47th Annual Peachtree Road Race, I’ll use running as an example to illustrate the differences.
Important metrics for runners: TimeDistanceAverage speedHeart rateVO2 max (lung capacity) Examples of how to instrument: GPS (for distance)Heart rate monitorStopwatch (time)Metabolic cart (VO2) As you can see, instrumentation (“instrument”) is the way to which results can be captured to provide insight — metrics. They are not the same, but rather, one feeds and enables (instrumentation) the other (metrics).
Instrument early on to answer questions and drive the startup forward — back…