The shortcut that's sure to work, every time:
Take the long way.
Do the hard work, consistently and with generosity and transparency.
And then you won't waste time doing it over.
Back in 2004, early in my blogging career, I heard about a service that had just launched called Feedburner. It provided a number of useful services for a blog's RSS feed. So I went and signed up and AVC became one of the first users of the service. I immediately liked the service and the idea. So I contacted the founder/CEO Dick Costolo, who has gone onto bigger and better things. I told Dick that I was interested in making an investment in Feedburner. My friend Brad Feld was also talking to Dick about the same thing so we decided to do the investment together.
As part of our investment process, we do a bunch of fact gathering/checking work that is called Due Diligence in the vernacular of the VC business. So my partner Brad Burnham and I put together a list of leading blogs and online publishers who had popular RSS feeds at the time. I think there were a dozen or so publications on that list. It included Weblogs (Engadget), Gawker (Gawker), NY Times, and a bunch more. We know most everyone who ran those operations so we called them.
What we heard was surprising. Not one of them was willing to hand over their RSS feed to a third party for analytics and monetization. We were very surprised to hear that and thought a bit about it. But, we decided, we could not invest in something that the big publishers would not support. So regrettably, I called Dick and told him we had to pass and why. Brad Feld went ahead with the investment and Feedburner closed their round without USV.
About six months later I ran into Dick at an industry conference. We decided to grab lunch together and during lunch he said to me "you know those dozen publishers you called?" I said "yes, what about them?" He said "every single one of them is on Feedburner now."
I was pissed. How could that be? So I said to Dick, "Would you consider letting us into that last round we walked away from." He said "No, but I will let you invest at a 50% increase in price". We did that and became an investor in Feedburner. And that worked out well when Feedburner was sold to Google a few years later.
So what did I learn from this lesson? First, trust your gut. I was using Feedburner and knew it was a very useful service. I felt that others would see that too. They did, but it took some time. Second, I learned that a service can get traction with the little guys and in time, the big guys will come along. I have seen that happen quite a bit since then. And finally, I learned that you can do too much due diligence. It's important to talk to the market and hear what it is saying. But you have to balance that with other things; the quality of the team, the product, the user experience, etc. You cannot rely alone on due diligence, particularly early on in the development of a company and a market.
A speech he made at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
In a great little book by Price Pritchett, “You²”, he shares that experts agree that we typically use only ten percent of our full potential. Whether we agree with the experts or not, it’s hard to argue that we’re really living up to our full potential. And, we should ask ourselves, is my organization or company living up to its full potential? Think about what your company or organization would be like if it was performing at 10 times or 5 times or even 2 times where it is today. Whether it is doubt, fear or as Brene’ Brown would argue, an inability to be vulnerable, we fail to trust ourselves enough to take that giant leap.
We limit ourselves by taking tiny steps when we should be taking a big leap. Don’t focus on the midpoint, focus on the end point. So, take that leap of faith in yourself. You’ll taste either victory or defeat. Don’t be timid and don’t be left in the cold.
Setting type used to have just one function: is it readable? Then, to save money, a new question: Can we get a lot of words on a page?
The third question, though, is the most dominant for most people making a presentation, designing a website, scoping out a logo or otherwise using type to deliver a message: How does it look?
The answer is not absolute. In some situations, some cultures, some usages, one type looks fine and another looks garish or silly or just wrong. And the reason is that whether we realize it or not, type reminds us of something we've seen before.
Here's an obvious example:
Here's another example... which one looks like a college you'd aspire to attend:
If you use a typeface that reminds me of the script on the menu of a French restaurant, then no, I'm not going to instinctively believe that you're a good doctor. If you use a thin, elegant wedding invitation font in your Powerpoint presentation, you haven't been clever, you've merely confused me.
Here's the amateur's rule of thumb: don't call attention to your typeface choices unless you want the typeface to speak for you. Instead, start with the look and feel of the industry leaders and go from there. The shortcut that I learned from design pioneer (and the world's first desktop publisher) John McWade: Use Franklin Gothic Condensed for your headlines and Garamond for your body copy. Change it if you want, but only when you want to remind me of something.
[And this is where the hard part shows up: by 'industry leader' I don't mean the company that makes the most profit. I mean the voice that has the most authority, that raises the bar, that is well dressed. And that means learning how to see. Do you see how the New York subway system uses typography that feels more confident and clear than a typical amusement park's signage? Until you see the difference, keep your hands away from the keyboard...]
Typography in your work isn't for you. It doesn't matter if you like it. It doesn't matter if the committee likes it. After legibility, all that matters is what the recipient is reminded of. (And yes, it's fine if the typography reminds your viewer of nothing at all, at least if your goal is to create the awe of the totally new).
If you use the standard Microsoft font in your Powerpoint presentation, it might be common, but it won't be powerful. If you use Comic Sans, it won't be common, but it won't be powerful either.
It's a bit like wearing a dark blue suit to a meeting with a banker. You can wear something else, sure, but make sure you want it to be noticed, because it will be.
And here's a bonus advanced idea from XKCD.
Professionals and those with a budget to hire one, feel free to ignore some of this. If you ask for attention to be paid to your typography, though, you need to own the outcome of that attention.
Is it even possible to hire the right people into the right seats in your company? What if you can hire another person just like yourself, or even better, imagine cloning yourself 20 times. I didn’t believe it was possible. Just last year around the same time our company employed only 12 employees and we were struggling to find talent. Today, we employ 33 employees and even though we can always improve, we are better organized as a team than ever before. What happened, and how can you learn from our experience? I am well aware that my competitors will read this, and they will find it shocking that I am disclosing a company secret that is giving us an advantage over them. I have no problem taking that risk for the sake of helping my clients, and my loyal readers succeed in their business.
It was 2006 when recession hit my first ecommerce company, we had 47 domestic employees on the payroll. I remember that day clearly, October 10th, 2006, we went from $350,000 per month to $50,000 per month. The revenue drop felt as if I was hit by a truck at 200MPH. Weeks passed, and the revenue never returned, it felt like I didn’t die after the crash and I was left helpless on the side of the road in a cold dark winter with no one around. I was convinced it was a Google update or something! (Years later I found out that it was the recession hitting us early) Unfortunately, I did not have anyone like Shopping Cart Elite to ask for advice or a mentor to consult. I just couldn’t believe how a drop like that can happen out of the blue. As time went on, hard decisions had to be made.
We laid off 70% of the staff, cut advertising and started thinking outside of the box on what we can do to afford new staff. It might sound gruesome, but I didn’t regret firing half of the people. In fact, I was happy to let them go. Half the people were complete idiots, the only reason they remained employed because we did not know how to hire the right people. The other half started out to be pretty good, but after working with idiots for so long, some of them quit, while others became lazy idiots themselves. I am sure you heard of a quote “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience”, well when you put idiots next to smart people, the idiot effect becomes contagious and in time you are left with a bunch of idiots working for you.
Oversea outsourcing was around but not as popular. If you think power outages, slow internet and poor accents are bad today, you should have been around in 2006. But none the less, I could not deny the fact that:
a) There were millions of people looking for jobs oversea
b) There are more master degree graduates with higher education in India than the whole population of the United States
c) The currency exchange made it possible to hire someone extremely good at a third of U.S. minimum wage
d) There was no taxes, audits, insurance to worry about (don’t even get me started!)
e) I was sure there was at least one person who would be a good fit
I tried hard to make it work, I hired and fired dozens of people overseas over the years. I even paid for their computers, internet and generators to try to make it work, just to see it fail. There was one thing that I didn’t do! I didn’t give up because I knew that globalization will eventually disrupt the world, and I wanted to be ahead of the game. Failure is a detour not a dead end street said Zig Ziglar, and I couldn’t agree with him more. It is funny to me how failure is not failure if you gain an asset from it.
It was October 2012, I just finished reading the book called Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I was inspired because I could relate that Shopping Cart Elite was building a great product. But I was also upset because I knew that Steve Jobs was not telling the whole story, and I knew that a great product was not the only thing that made his company the most valuable in the world. I went on a mission to find the answer, and boy did I find it.
I DIDN’T JUST FIND A BOOK. I FOUND THE BOOK! I found the BIBLE that APPLE followed to the tittle. Let me repeat that one more time, so you can register this in your head.
“I FOUND THE BOOK THAT MADE APPLE THE RICHEST COMPANY IN THE WORLD”.
“I FOUND THE BOOK THAT OUTLINES EVERY SINGLE LITTLE STEP THAT YOU WOULD NEED TO TAKE TO REPLICATE APPLE’S RESULTS”.
This means that if you read the book, understand the book, and embrace the book, then there is no other information in the world that you will require in order to become a great company.
To prove to you that Steve Jobs followed the book, I even found a video of Steve Jobs describing some of the processes he used which is directly from THE BOOK.
Now I am not going to disclose the name of the book here because if you truly want it, you will make an effort to get it. (HINT: Inquire about Shopping Cart Elite and ask the sales representative the name of the book because everyone in our company is required to read it).
Implementing “THE BOOK” literally turned our company around 180 degrees. The author of the “THE BOOK” also suggested other books to read, and I’ve read them all! One of the books was so captivating that after embracing it, I found the gold mine that I was looking for since 2006. It was not a gold mine per say, but it was a ROADMAP to and around the gold mine. This book gave me the ability to HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE INTO THE RIGHT SEATS. The book introduced me to a psycho-analysis test. I applied this test to myself, and I was SHOCKED! The psychoanalysis test was invented in mid 1900s, and I was amazed that it described me better than I can describe myself 70 years later.
I felt as the man who invented this test was watching me my whole life, except he was already dead before I was even born. This test can be applied for any purpose, personal or business, and it will predict not only who you are, but what you are good at. After applying this test to every team member, I finally understood why certain people including myself did a terrific job at certain tasks, and sucked at others. Once we implemented this book, our company started working like a well-oiled machine. It was quite incredible that just a week prior we looked like a bunch of chickens running without our heads, and a week later we are all working together as a team and hiring a new staff member every week. It was a true overnight transformation.
OUTSOURCING DONE RIGHT
What would you do if you went on an interview tomorrow, and the interviewer asks you, “How much money do you want to make by working at this job?” And you reply to him well “I will be happy with $85,000 per year”, and then he tells you, “How about I will start you off at $300,000 per year, and if you do well I will pay you $1,500,000 in 12 months.” Sounds crazy?
Well if you offer a Philippine worker $15 per hour they will be considered the 10% of the richest in their country. In fact, the highest salary in Philippine is $30 per hour, the minimum wage is $0.75 (75 cents), and the government salary is $2.00 per hour. Do you even understand what will happen ten years from now when internet and hardware will become a commodity worldwide? You will experience a global disruption in the workforce at 200MPH yourself. It’s already happening right now, and you can’t stop it.
Do you even realize that you can change someone’s life by paying them a salary that would be equivalent to a million dollars in US? I still can’t grasp it. Now I am not saying you should start anyone off at $15/hr, but you can hire and train the right people that will become your loyal employees with a goal to earn that salary one day. Fifteen dollars per hour compensation would not be an issue for your company if it was successful. Thus, it is a reality to hire a super star team for your business that you would never afford domestically.
I used the knowledge from “THE BOOKS” to try hiring overseas again, and this time it was a SUCCESS! At first I was surprised at the results because for every 50 candidates we would interview, we only hired one. The psychoanalysis test consists of 16 behavior types that break up into four categories. The four categories are leaders, workers, managers, and visionaries. If you are a talented individual, you will find yourself having the ability to switch between a leader and a worker, or a manager and a worker.
We found a pattern that whenever we would hire a “Manager” he would not last more than a month. Now as soon as we see a sigh that an interviewee has a manager behavior they automatically fail the interview. It was also fascinating to find out that 70% of the world population has a manager behavior, which is why we find mediocre productivity at companies worldwide who employee managers to do a leader or even a worker job.
CONCLUSION: ARE YOU A MANAGER?
You can be the smartest person in the world, with the ability to build the world’s tallest Sky Scraper. However, regardless of your abilities, you will never be able to build it alone in your lifetime. Your productivity is as big as your Team, and if you are alone then you are doomed to fail.
Shopping Cart Elite can fully automate your business, but it won't do any good if you don't have the right people in the right seats. I hear stories from my clients all the time about how they are overwhelmed with all the work. When I would ask them, “Why don't you hire someone to help you?” They would reply “Most of the time the people we hire, are fired within weeks.” They train them, teach them, mentor them and in conclusion they fire them because they just don't get it. What they don’t understand is if they hire the right people, they won’t need to manage them or show them anything more than once.
“Getting the Right People in the Right Seats”
Hiring the right person does not mean hiring the most experienced or the most qualified. Spending hours with your team will not get you results because people who are not in the right seats will not:
If you decide to hire a John Doe for a marketing position, it is crucial that you consider how well John is going to blend in with your core values, and company vision. It is also vital that you consider whether or not John may be better off in a different position in the company. He may be applying for a marketing position while his specialty is managing company accounts. So it is your job as an executive to make sure that John ends up in the right seat.
When a person is in the right seat, he or she will be able to employ their skills, maintain their enthusiasm, and fulfill their roles in a more pro-active manner.
a) “THE BOOKS” mentioned in this post will change your company, and it will change your life. It did it for us, and it did it for everyone that we recommended it to.
b) It doesn’t matter if you hire someone in US or Oversea, there are idiots everywhere, and there are smart people everywhere, you just need to know the process of hiring the right people for the right seats.
c) You can hire the right person for the right seat for a few dollars per hour.
d) A psychoanalysis test will help you with hiring the right person for the right seat.
e) Shopping Cart Elite can help you automate your business and marketing.
f) Shopping Cart Elite can give you the books to read in the right order so you can embrace them and implement them in your business.
Start a trial and speak to one of our team members about growing your business with Shopping Cart Elite.
Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from a unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspense
1) Place your character(s) in precarious positions that force them to make hard choices as a matter of survival. The danger can take the form of physical harm such as a chase, accident or disease, an ultimatum to choose between two desires, or even a crisis of faith that challenges previously held beliefs. Consider rock-and-a-hard-place scenarios that put ordinary characters into extraordinary positions that test their mettle. Television series frequently use cliffhangers for their season finales to keep audiences guessing for the next several months which characters in the cast will survive a tragedy, disrupt a wedding, announce a pregnancy or see something that they weren't supposed to. These same set-ups work for chapters in novels as well by escalating the stakes at every turn.
2) Create a context for your characters to have a conversation that will trigger an unexpected revelation. Example:
Your heroine is eagerly telling her fiance about the latest plans she has made for their upcoming wedding. He suddenly takes both of her hands in his and utters the four most dreaded words in relationship history: "We need to talk." Is he about to tell her that he's already married? That he just lost his job? That he has enlisted in the military? That he's dying? That he has been living a secret life? That he accidentally ran over her cat? Inquiring minds will want to know.
The only way the reader can find out what he tells her is to quickly move on to the next chapter. To put the reader in an even more heightened sense of suspense, consider starting that next chapter with a completely unrelated scene or jump ahead a few months and show the heroine with a different beau, living in a different city or attending a funeral.
3) Insert a twist that your audience didn't see coming. This works quite well with thriller and horror genres if you can lull viewers into a false sense of security that they know what's going on. By supplying them with enough red herrings that point to the villain being someone else, they will then be caught completely off-guard with a cliffhanger that points to the contrary. Example:
A town is celebrating that the killer who was terrorizing them is finally dead as a result of drowning in the river. Readers know from the previous chapters that he always wore a distinctive ring and that he had a creepy catch-phrase he liked to say to his prospective victims. While the villagers are busy carousing with gusto, a family in another town across the river is awakened by a knock on the door. Being kind and charitable people, they welcome the cold and soaked visitor into their humble abode and offer him food and lodging. We see the ring. We hear the creepy catch-phrase. If it's the last chapter of the book, we also see a sequel in the works.
Four doctors go out duck hunting, a family doctor, a gynecologist, a surgeon and a pathologist. A bird flies overhead. The family doctor starts to shoot it, but stops because he isn’t absolutely sure it’s a duck. The gynecologist starts to shoot it, but he stops, too, because even though he’s pretty sure it’s a duck, he can’t tell if it’s male or female. The surgeon blows the bird out of the sky, turns to the pathologist and says, “Go see if that’s a duck.”
Perhaps that explains the natural tension between sales people and finance people.
The typical industrial-era organization is like a battleship. Hundreds or thousands of people onboard, and most of them are essential--but most of them aren't actually directly responsible for the work that we hired the battleship to do. Without the fuel people, the navigation team, the folks in the med corps and on and on, it doesn't work.
The battleship can go far, with impact, and change the course of history. While it has exactly one captain, it's the synchronized work of more than a million people (when you think about all the machinists and support folks back home) and it works. It does what we ask it to do.
One more thing about the people on the battleship: just about everyone has a punchlist, an itemized inventory of what they need to get done. And many of them are rewarded for doing that set of tasks more efficiently, more elegantly and with better quality than expected. Great people means the system works even better, but it's designed to survive with people who are merely good at what they do.
The typical professional services company, on the other hand, is a lot like a blueberry pancake. While there's an essential support team, the firm is all about blueberries working in parallel. Each blueberry can work independently, and sometimes they even work on projects that might have conflicting outcomes or views of the world. I don't care how many people report to you. I care about how connected and how brave you are.
As the firm gets bigger, it doesn't get thicker. You don't make a better pancake by making a thicker one. You make a better pancake by hiring ever better blueberries.
And, as you've guessed, most of the blueberries don't know exactly what they'll be doing in six weeks, and most don't work from a manual about the industry's best practices on how to do what they do. It's hard to measure blueberries, but a talented and motivated one can also change the world.
Apple is now a battleship. Most of the tens of thousands of people who work there have a line job, selling, building, fixing or interacting. Only a few are dreaming up something that you can't even imagine.
Your favorite record label, though, ought to be a blueberry pancake. Each musical group is mostly alone, figuring out something that just might work. The goal isn't to lock and repeat and scale. It's to go wide and stay interesting. Great record labels have both better blueberries and the support staff to launch them into the world.
I remember the day we transformed Yoyodyne from a pancake to a battleship. We hired 17 salespeople in 24 hours (increasing the size of the company by 25%) and for the first time, I didn't know every employee well. People had their orders, and we were ready to scale.
If you want to make your battleship work better, be really clear about defining the mission, the tactics, the chain of command and most of all, precisely what you measure from each person on the team.
Your pancake, on the other hand, gives up swing weight and firepower and instead gets flexibility and the possiblity of non-fatal failure (and game-changing magic).
Both work. The problem kicks in when a successful pancake thinks its future is in the battleship business. Or when battleships are asked to dance.
If your writing feels like nothing but easily defensible aphorisms, as if you're saying things that are obvious, it's entirely possible that no one is going to eagerly keep reading. Your real estate brochure or the ad copy you've written--if it's merely posturing or bragging, better to not say it at all. We already know you think you did something great.
Consider the alternative. Say the opposite. That your condo isn't right for everyone. That your software might be overpriced. That this new model car is in fact quite difficult to use.
And then tell us why. We'd love to know how you're going to wriggle out of that. And along the way, if your story is a good one, we might even give it a try.