Archive for 1995
The past 30 days
You see this in companies all the time, there are people who actively create more work for other people because they aren’t doing their job to capacity.
It looks like their doing their job, but they’re leaving loose ends everywhere.
They let other people clean up their leftovers.
They do a poor job that someone else has to come along and correct.
Their ideas and plans actually create roadblocks and hindrances to getting work done.
Their habits, such as leaving tools out of place, or interrupting to ask a brief question, slows everyone else down.
Get rid of them and the actual overall performance of the organization increases because their gone rather than decreases.
Credentials do not convey credibility.
I see CEO, bosses and potential leaders make this mistake time and again.
Be very wary of the man in the shiny suit, whether he is selling snake oil or not.
Intention is overvalued
What you do will always win against what you intend to do.
What is “done-done?”
Whenever someone (software developer, designer, entrepreneur) tells me “I’ve done about 90% of the work” I instantly translate that in to “I’m about halfway done.”
Good general rule of thumb to figure out just how much work is still left before we can ship.
“No” does not mean “no”
Investors love to not give a “no” answer because if they say “no” they have committed themselves to a course of action they may later regret.
Better no response that can leave the door open than to give a “no” response that closes the door.
No longer remarkable
When your organization is spending more money on advertising than it is spending on marketing, that is the point when your products are no longer worth talking about simply because they are unique or remarkable or interesting.
Den Of In-Equity
My investment of time in any endeavour, your start-up for instance, is still an investment.
Even if money does not change hands.
Please excuse my string of expletives when I tell you what you can do with the 3% equity you want me to take for working for 4 years “for free” on your idea.
If you are allowing your metrics and analytics to drive your product design and your feature development, you’re doing it the wrong way around.
Adequate design, that fits the business’ needs, comes directly from measured actions and events.
Good design, that fits the customer’s needs, come from communication with, and direct observation of, your users.
The great design that makes your users say “Wow!”?
Great design comes from your designers.
And I’ll be damned if you can ever prove to me that you can measure that.
Your customers or audience have two types of pain.
There is the pain that needs a solution that you can prescribe a remedy too with your product or service.
This is the good kind of pain that you can help with.
Then there is the second kind of pain…
Fortunately it is a pain only a small percentage of your audience will have.
This is the pain they feel the absolute need to share with you so that you are in pain too.
The pain they have is not a pain that your product or service can address, it is just pain that small percentage of the population will insist on sharing.
Misery loves company, as they say.
Understanding a solution
The trick to solving a problem?
Talk to a user.
The trick to understanding the problem?
Talk to many users.
The first option is a quick fix that satisfies just one user.
And it may not even be the correct solution.
Though at the time it feels like the right solution for right now.
The second option is to understand the problem and then create a solution that solves it properly, once and for all.
Unfortunately that takes determintation. It takes courage. It takes time. It takes effort.
But more importantly, it means that you have to care more about your users and taking away their pain points rather than caring about the solution.
Paid to do what I love
The most surprising thing to me after all this time is that I have been able to make a pretty decent living for the past two decades doing precisely what I love.
And what I love to do is solve interesting little puzzles on a daily basis.
I am fascinated by technical puzzles.
But I am even more fascinated by the fact people will gladly pay me to solve puzzles for them.
Launching your start-up.
Making a difference.
Have you ever noticed how the best entrepreneurs play the game of entrepreneurship like they are playing random drawing for prizes at a social night?
The one thing that sets the good entrepreneurs apart from the failed to entrepreneur?
“Must be present to win.”
It is a lost art
Personalized thank you letters (actual physical letters) to clients and customers generate so much repeat business for me and I am stunned (and thankful) that more entepreneurs don’t use them.
Missing. Presumed fed.
Investors will invariably become non-responsive, go “missing-in-action” or worse, be frustratingly non-committal.
If you aren’t prepared for those non-responses, and become frustrated at those non-responses, you might want to sit down and think long and hard about whether raising an investment round is really right for you.
An infinite resource of business
If you aren’t asking your existing clients and customers for referrals — “Know anyone else who might be interested in my services?” — you are definitely leaving valuable veins of untapped future business under utilized.
Good design is never cheap.
And cheap design is never good.
And there are many people you will run in to, as a vendor, freelancer, designer or developer who believe this to not actually be true.
Horse meet cart. Cart. Horse.
Most software projects run akin to determining what date you want to get married, booking the church and the honeymoon and only then do you sit down to draw up a list of girls you might potentially take to the dance next week.
The cure-all for what ails you
96 I’ve never worried about whether a potential client or investor will like me or not.
I go in to the pitch meeting with the attitude that I can fix whatever problem they have.
“Now tell Doctor Lloyd where it hurts.”
The primary thing to remember is never assume anything about what the problem is.
Listen to their complaints.
Listen to their needs.
Listen to what ails them and their project.
And then your job becomes fixing the problem.
Dust yourself off…
There is a secret (but not a shortcut) to entrepreneurial success.
The secret is doing it again immediately after you failed.
Curiouser and curiouser
If you are trying to decide between two software developers where all pros and cons balance out, hire the one that is curious.
All company policies grow in the telling
Have you noticed how most company policies are just dreadful?
Those policies came in to being because someone, and it is usually just one person, did something that someone else didn’t like.
And so meetings were held.
Opinions were put forth. And a new company policy, writ in HR language so as not to offend, was created that now applies to all employees from that day forward.
The problem is, most of those policies are reactionary responses with ridiculous provisions designed to handle a situation precisely once.
A situation that is never likely to ever occur again.
And should you ever enquire, even as the CEO, to getting rid of even of those preposterous policies you will meet with stonewalled indifference and justification full of circular logic and the unassailable “we must be prepared for it happening again” silliness.
Code Is Musical
To a software developer, writing good code with a clean architecture and elegant style is akin to composing beautiful music.
I have always held that the most valuable asset in any organization is the people.
Too many entrepreneurs have it backwards.
Too many investors think that the patents and the source code and the infrastructure are what make the company, the company.
The organizations that are changing the world are the ones that value their irreplaceable people.
The trap that I see many entrepreneurs fall in to is believing that the value to the company is in the what was created, rather than in who created it.
That’s only true if what your company produces is mediocre.
And the world doesn’t need another mediocre product.
Urgency Begets Urgency
If you optimize your business (and your life) to deal with the urgent, the only things, customers, or problems you will ever deal with are those that are urgent.
Which is acceptable if you are a firefighter, a police officer, an ER doctor or a paramedic.
But if you are a writer, an engineer, a software developer, a marketer, an event organiser, a banker, a baker, or those people who make obsolete lighting sources, then you most likely aren’t building a sustainable business.
Was Confucius as confused as I am some days?
In addition to a VP of Product Development I think every company should have a Chief Confusion Officer.
The Chief Confusion Officer’s job is too try out every product, service and process that comes in contact with an end-user.
And when he gets confused about how to do something, everybody addresses his source of confusion until it is no longer confusing.
This Is Where We Create Art
Art is where there is a high probability of failure.
Art is where there is a high probability that someone will be offended.
Art is where there is a high probability that someone will declare it isn’t for them.
Art is where there is a high probability that someone will chastise you for wasting your time.
Art is where there is a high probability someone will tell you it won’t work.
Art is where there is a high probability that someone will ask “Why?”
Creating a start-up is a lot like creating art.
A lot of people won’t get it.
And when they do, they will tell you they believed in your vision all along (but they didn’t believe enough to help out.)
They will also wonder why you got paid so much for that piece of crap that a monkey could have created.
Too Little, Too Late
You have to be incredibly brave to show something before it is ready.
If you’re not totally embarrassed by the first version that you are showing to people, you’ve waited too long to show it.
Whatever you are building right now, go show it to some friends, some strangers, some potential customers.
Listen to what they think about it, even if they hate it.
But a lousy exchange rate
Money is the currency of employment.
Experience is the currency of entrepreneurship.
While Do Loop
Do it again.
Do it again.
Do it over.
Do it over again.
Nope, I lied, do it again.
And that is how you get what you want out of those three desires.
Going the distance
Today I took one more step than the other guy.
Tomorrow I took one more step than the other guy.
No matter how far the other guy goes…
No matter how strong the other guy is…
No matter how much endurance the other guy has…
I took one more step than the other guy.
That’s the difference between consistently achieving an entrepreneurial goal and just being somebody’s employee.