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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Parallels of Sales and Constructive Criticism

Tuesday’s post about constructive criticism (Constructive Criticism Gone Awry (As a Receiver)), especially my “unappreciative” reception, made me think about business and sales. In many ways, giving and receiving constructive criticism is similar to selling. The lack of understanding (and lack of trying to understand) lost me as a receiver. The man offering the criticism came in with a solution based off a few brief observations. He did not realize that the gym is a very important place for me – my “safe haven”. As such, speaking at the gym, to me, is unwanted.The validity of the man’s constructive criticism was derailed early from a misunderstood position. Again, without understanding what was happening, the man stated I was being rude by not facing another man – the chiropractor. He did not observe how I was pointing and craning my neck in various positions while talking to a known chiropractor. How quickly, then, I dismissed his observation.The lack of empathy creates friction and …

Constructive Criticism Gone Awry (As a Receiver)

Prefacing today’s post saying I appreciate and even look forward to constructive criticism. Deep-rooted in me is a competitive strive to be the best version of myself, so constructive criticism is welcome.
Recently, an acquaintance offered me constructive criticism that I did not, however, appreciate. Summarizing the incident: Man walks up to me in the gym while I’m working out with my buddy, and asks, “Daryl, can I offer you some constructive criticism?”  Me: “Sure.”  Man: “Well, I’ve been noticing lately when you’re talking to people, you’re not turned facing them. You’re facing another way, which can be rude. It doesn’t show that you’re paying attention to them.”  Me: “Oh, okay.”  Man: “Daryl, I like talking to you. I know we’re in here working out, but lately, I’ve just noticed you doing this, and I know you don’t mean it. However, it comes across as you not caring.”  Me: “Hmm, sorry to hear that. Were you just noticing me talking to [Man Y] of there?” Man: “Yes.”  Me: “Oh, well,…

Making Time Sacred

The last couple weeks, I’ve found myself less busy at work. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to do at work. There’s always a sale to be made, of course. However, I admit that my afternoons have been less busy given my mornings have been highly focused. Perhaps this is why a LinkedIn article by author Benjamin Hardy resonated so well with me – “This Morning Route will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week”.
Hardy argues that peak performance occurs when people work 3-5 hours per day – far from the dogmatic 8 hours. He continues by sharing how the first 3 hours of the day are the most productive for folks according to  psychologist Ron Friedman in the Harvard Business Review.
Not saying that I’ve somehow stumbled on this currently, or that I’ve found myself hitting Hardy’s magic 3-5 hours per day. After all, I also work out most days within my first 3 hours of waking up.
Instead, I’ve realized there are certainly days where I am hugely productive and creative for 8-10 hours. But aft…

Book Review: Inner Game of Tennis

I just finished the book the Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. It’s a classic – expressing the key to developing mental fortitude using tennis as the vehicle.
I was intrigued about the book after Tom Brady cited it as a key reading for him in developing mental strength. This was cited in an interview after Brady orchestrated the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, coming back from 28-3 to defeat my Atlanta Falcons 34-28.
Being a competitive athlete (less so on a team these days and more in “self” settings) and an entrepreneur, developing mental strength is an ongoing practice. The pressure athletes like Tom Brady and great entrepreneurs face on the brink of failure (listen to any number of episodes of NPR’s “How I Built This”) is astonishing. Being able to keep going and overcome obstacles and have ­grit is hugely interesting to me.
Without further ado, here are my main take-aways from Gallwey’s Inner Game of Tennis: Self 1 vs. Self 2. Gallwey points out the inner battle b…

Understanding Lasting Effects to Measure Success

A good way to discern if a product or service is a need to have is to see what happens if it breaks or is no longer available. Would customers come kicking and screaming? Or, would the day pass by with little to no utterance? (No, not advocating you deliberately break your product.)
Of course, there’s another effect that can be much harder to realize – how effective was the product or service the first time that additional sales were not necessary. Or, there’s a much longer time between sales that effect can be harder to discern outside of problems.
You can count companies with fantastic quality such as Toyota, a great mattress company, Terminex (or other pest extermination companies), etc. In these cases, referrals and customer satisfaction records may hint at the lasting effects of products and services. Feedback is paramount to the growth of these companies.
Lasting effects is a big deal. They require quality. They require an emotional tie-in to be remembered. They require empat…

Entrepreneurs, Think About Objections

Why isn’t an idea already in the market and being successful? Maybe the key question is, “why isn’t this idea working?”
A good way to tackle a new business idea is to think about the objections. That is, think about why problems exist today – what are their hurdles? Why hasn’t this idea been developed already? How is this problem being addressed today, and how did the market get here? How can these challenges be overcome?
Addressing these challenges (read: objections) is similar to approaches in brainstorming methods such as the Disney way and Six Thinking Hats.
When you ask these types of questions, you might find out macro trends are removing hurdles – maybe, then, it’s great timing for success. For Instagram, for example, anyone with a smartphone almost instantly became talented photographers. For Instagram, the technological evolution of cameras in smartphones lowered the barrier for general consumers to have “good” cameras. Instagram capitalized on this opportunity further by p…

Progression of Idea Validation

Having 100 million users and a billion in revenue is a pretty good validation of an idea. However, Rome was not built in a day. Validating an idea and the subsequent products/ startups is best done in stages.
The progression: Idea – Validating an idea requires initial feedback and feel amongst a select group of potential buyers. This can be done via surveys either in small verbal groups or large online surveys. This can also be through the first 10-20 customers where many may be friendlies.Product/ Service – This is the long sought-after “product-market” fit stage where validation comes from the first cohorts of buyers – scaling from 20 to 100 inorganic customers. Depending on the product/ service, engagement metrics may also provide validation.Company – Let’s call this stage the growth stage for a company. At this stage, validation comes from lower customer churn. In many cases, competition will be fiercer here, so churn could be a problem.Category/ Market – There are clear market le…

Think Delight First, Not Revenue

I overheard a discussion between two execs recently about the idea of working closer together. One exec was pitching another way to earn incremental revenue from existing customers. Except, the conversation stopped there – regarding more revenue anyways. Instead, the execs shifted focus to discussing how working closer together could add “delight” to customers.
It’s hugely telling when an entrepreneur pauses a discussion to shift the focus away from “more money” to “more delight”. Here, the entrepreneur understands the importance of thinking about the customer-first. Here, the entrepreneur understands the importance of creating emotional value.
Thinking revenue-first means thinking about the company first. However, the company does not exist without its customers. Thinking customer-first puts the company on a path to bringing customers in and retaining them [especially against competition].
When thinking about the services and products you can’t live without today, think about the …

Trends from Entrepreneurs’ Starts on NPR

National Public Radio (NPR) has a great podcast called “How I Built This” anchored by Guy Raz. From the show: How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. There are some really fascinating stories including Spanx’s Sarah Blakely, WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey, and Airbnb’s Joe Gebbia.
Here are some trends I heard from these stories: They’re opportunistic. Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard started life out by becoming a metal worker to make climbing equipment when he couldn’t find what he wanted.They start things with people they haven’t known for a while… or they go it alone. WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey shared how he met his cofounder through his roommate after he wanted to work in NYC. He moved there. He met Adam Neumann who was highly complementary…

When We Ignore Our Previous Experience for Our Great Startup Idea

I met up with a friend recently who is noodling over an idea. What was interesting was how she was so deep into her idea, and didn’t use her life’s skills and work to help validate the idea.
Like me, she started her professional career in consulting. Like me, we both ignored our acquired consulting skills when building a startup (my example was Body Boss, as described in Postmortem of a Failed Startup).
It’s a funny and sad mistake I’ve seen a lot – starting with yours truly. There’s excitement in the initial idea that people put on the blinders. They (we) ignore experience in the previous “corporate” world. I attribute much of this to emotions running high. Emotions have ways of clouding our judgements and processes.
This happens especially in endeavors we get excited about but do not have explicit professional experience in. For myself and my Body Boss cofounders, that area was fitness. We loved fitness, but we came from outside the industry.
For example, what makes consulting s…