Archive for 2008

The past 30 days

What’s Another Word For…

I keep getting offered SEO copywriting services by people who I swear have English as a second language.

Sorry to say it, but I wouldn’t trust these people to replace the dead lightbulb, lamp, bulb, light, globe Earth, planet, flower, flash, lights, floodlights, lanterns, stars, torches, tapers in my office, den, work, workshop, shop, store, grocery, groceries, laundry detergent, soap.

Best Opinion Wins

When my game studio was in full swing, we would have strategy meetings of what to do next.

Apple just released a new phone? Let’s figure out how that affects our product strategy.

EA is making a competing product? Let’s figure out how that affects our product strategy.

Players are quitting halfway through the tutorial? Let’s get some analytics tracking in there.

Customers aren’t returning after quitting on level three? Let’s figure out why.

People would show up and espouse lots of opinions without any real, hard data.

My response was always “We all have opinions about this, nobody has any data to support theirs, so my opinion wins and we do what I say.”

It’s good to have a discussion about a subject, but when there is no hard data, the opinion of the person signing the cheques wins.



You Want How MUCH?!?

$17 gourmet hot dogs are no longer a differentiator when everyone else has a $17 gourmet hot dog too.

Discount summary

If you deal with customers that have large accounts, always document the reasons why you gave a particular discount on that specific product or service.

It gives you information on whether the discount should be carried forward in the future, whether it was a “special” just for an old friend, whether the order was very large (large at the time for your young start-up), or any one of a myriad of other reasons.

It also gives you information on whether you can combine a discount by bundling with another service.

Plus, the sales people that deal with the account long after you are gone will thank you when suddenly that old customer is saying “Yeah, but Mike always gave me 30% off every order.”


Client Expectations

When it comes to mobile app development many potential clients imagine a beautiful, red Ferrari F350 super car that they will just drive off the lot in a few days.

But in reality, they only have the budget for a 1987, diarrhea yellow, Honda Civic with 200,000 miles on the clock that will require constant, on-going maintenance.

I Paid It Forward And Now I Am In Debt

I am a great believer in paying it forward.

Happy to make introductions, give feedback on a product, sign up for your trial software, have lunch and discuss strategy.

But there is a marked difference between “paying it forward” and handing over six months of my life, working 60 to 90 hours a week, for free, to someone who does not grasp the idea that this is not “paying it forward.”

Looks Like Rain

“The Cloud” = “Someone Else’s Computer” = “A Computer That You Don’t Own” = “You Have Little To No Control”

The sooner you realise that, the happier you will be.

“The Cloud” is a good thing if your online service or web application requires that kind of infrastructure.

But make no mistake.

“The Cloud” is just a fancy way of saying “A computer I don’t have any control over or input in to how it is configured.”

Half-Life Of Opportunity

Life is too short and our days too busy to spend 15 to 30 minutes (at least) “having a chat” only to realise afterwards that the entire conversation could have been stated in a two line email.

There are clearly two types of people in this world.

Those that are afraid to pick up the phone even if the reason is pressing.

And those that are too eager to pick up the phone even when they don’t have any specific goal in mind.

Sales and marketing consultants need to stop stressing that you need to “intrigue” your prospect.

Be open, be honest.

Tell your prospect the reason for the contact, give your prospect options as to their preferred communications method, and let them choose.

And never, ever leave your prospect with an obligation. They will slam that door in your face so fast and it will never re-open.

The Tell Is In The Ask

“Asking you” means I want your best work, I want you to make mistakes, I want you think about your steps, I want you to consider, reflect, ruminate, observe, ponder, engage, discuss.

“Telling you” means I want what I want. How I want. Precisely.

As a paid employee, most days I will ask you to do something for me.

Some days I will tell you to do something for me.

On those days I tell you to do something, do it, with purpose and without question and as error free as you can.

These are the moments that bottom-lines, careers and lives hang in the balance. Now is not the time for experimentation or your belief we should talk about it.

When you’re working for a boss (not a leader) who tells you to do something every day, get out, and get out fast.

Shotgun Glass Marriage

Within 30 seconds of randomly bumping in to a woman at a bar do you immediately proposition her for her hand in marriage?


Then why do you feel it necessary to do the same when seeking a co-founder just because someone accepted your connection request on a social network.

Years of boring details

You won’t understand why the foundation concrete needs to cure and the only reason your technical co-founder can give you is “because…”

And that’s okay, because in that “because” are a world of details you cannot understand without years of practice.

Bad reasons to give it

The only time I consider giving a discount to a large enterprise for my SaaS product is when the order is large enough, i.e. per-seat licensing, that it justifies it.

But I’ll still run the numbers to make sure I am not “buying the contract.”

A small cursory discount to your customer making the request may appease them, but it’s really an insult in disguise.

Base to dispatch

Now we have the tech, I want to be able to dispatch someone to two or three grocery stores (of my choosing) to pick up my weekly shopping, my laundry, and my dry cleaning.

Can we make that happen please?


One door gets locked, another one unlocks

I like to think that on every entrepreneurial journey, that which did not kill my start-up made it stronger.

Tomorrow I close the door (literally and figuratively) on my video game studio of 7 years.

I will return to the office tomorrow morning to watch the last of the office items get loaded on the truck.

I will put the key in the lock.

And I will pull the door closed, and rattle the handle to ensure it is properly shut because it always sticks in just that way if you don’t, for one last time.

I am sad.

It is a journey I enjoyed. I worked with a lot of cool people. We launched some great products for our clients.

And I learned a lot.

Does any of this matter? Really?

Your technical co-founder wants to build something that matters.

And will eventually leave because they aren’t.

And that’s okay, because the world doesn’t need yet another nutritional information tracking app with crowdsourced images of what everyone had for lunch.

Male enhancements for not much money

The number of Twitter followers is like the length of your penis.

And as we all know, male entrepreneurs fall in to one of three categories.

You’re embarrassed by how few followers you have.

You’re proud of how many followers you have accumulated.

You feel awkward discussing the number of followers when someone has more than you.


And pretty much everyone, at some point, has thought about paying a few dollars for some kind of follower metric enhancement.


It’ll be done when it’s done.

There are two types of “It’s not ready.”

There is the “it’s not ready” of “I need to add one more feature. And another feature. And another…”

There is the “It’s not ready” because it is non-functional.

I happen to fall in to the latter category as a software developer and never in to the former category as an entrepreneur.

I am frequently hired by companies because of the former category.

And I always manage to run into an entrepreneur who failed, or who spent more money than they should have, or shipped months later than they planned, because of the desire…








Paying Attention

People send me pitch decks and executive summary documents and “must read” PDFs about their hot start-up or their fancy new product on a daily basis.

And then they get bent out of shape when I point out the seven spelling errors scattered throughout, or egregiously improper punctuation, or the abundance of grammatical errors.

I’m sorry I annoyed you by reading through the pitch deck/summary/report and paying attention to what you wrote.

Honouring your user’s value

Your users are willing (demanding) to engage with your brand and your app.

Build something that honours their value rather than squandering it.

Apps that relentlessly consume a user’s valuable attention will always be consigned to the scrap pile of “apps I used to use.”

Trackable taxis

I want a taxi service where my phone will show me on a map where the nearest taxis are, how long until one can get to me, and how much the fare will cost.

Oh, and I want to be able to just click an on-screen button and summon a taxi directly to my location.



You can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your perfect moment to leap

I meet so many entrepreneurs obsessed with the leap.

The one thing they are waiting for, at which point they will leap, and that leap will turn all that waiting (and usually doing nothing) in to a rampant overnight success that will cement them in the annals of entrepreneurial history.

It never, ever happens.

You wait and you wait and you wait.

And nobody picks you to be a success.

And so you wait and you wait and you wait some more.

But the perfect opportunity to leap never arrives.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs all around you are diligently working in obscurity, with limited resources and often no resources, until they no longer have to wait for someone to pick them to be a success, they picked themselves.

Special delivery

If there were one quintessential thing I could instill in to the mind of an entrepreneur it would be to deliberately deliver.




If you have to deliver something different, to be deliberate, not just deliver the same thing, and you have to do that every day, you get really good at delivering.

And delivering gets our product out there.

Delivering gets our ideas out there.

Delivering puts, what is in our head, in front of someone else.

They may hate it.

They may love it.

They may ignore it.

They may tell their friends about it.

But they won’t do any of those things, if you don’t deliver.

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