By k | April 20, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

One major beverage company
I worked with
interviewed potential employees
on the weekends.
Their explanation for that timing
was that they were looking for superstars.
Superstars already had jobs.
They normally worked late during the week.
But even superstars could find time
to interview on the weekend.

I loved it.
I didn’t have to sneak out
or make an excuse to leave the office
early (for me).

Seth Priebatsch,
founder of SCVNGR,
also interviews on Saturdays.
“I’ll interview people on Saturdays,
late at night,
early in the morning.
Those are perfectly reasonable times
to expect someone who is a rock star
to be on top of his or her game
and excited.”

If you want a superstar
or rock star,
interview at times convenient for them.

By k | April 19, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Some folks ask me
when I’m going to ‘take it easy.’
These aren’t entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs know that business building
is a lot more interesting
than sitting on the couch
watching tv.
They know the answer is ‘never.’

One reason for that answer
is because there is
no finish life in business.
Even if you reach the top,
you need to keep going
to maintain that position.

Alden Mills,
founder of Perfect Fitness,
learned this lesson early
from his stint in the SEALs.

“”They’d say,
‘OK, it’s a four-mile timed run,”
he says.
“I’d run so hard,
I’d throw up at the finish line.
Then they’d say,
‘Now it’s a 10-mile timed run.
Keep running.’
You don’t know when that race is over,
so you can never give up.”
Ditto: business.”

There IS no finish line
in business.

By k | April 18, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Yesterday, we talked about
getting things in writing.

What I should have also mentioned
was be as specific as possible
when getting things in writing.

I’ve had to learn that
time and time again
when it comes to cover art.

I’ll state that my heroine
looks like Pamela Anderson.

I’m thinking Pamela Anderson
in her glory days,
looking the best she’s ever looked.

The cover artist will pull up
a photo of Pamela Anderson
after a terrible haircut
and an all night boozefest.

Now I get specific
and send a link to a photo.

Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software
has reach a similar conclusion.

By k | April 17, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

If I had to chose one method
of communication,
it would be email.

I need documentation.

After every important meeting,
I’ll send out an email confirmation
of what was said and decided.

Mark Cuban has the same thoughts
on email vs phone.

“Anything you can say on the phone,
you can put in an e-mail.
Any deal of consequence
you close on the phone
is going to have to be documented.
Someone is wasting a boatload of time
trying to transcribe
what two people thought
they said and heard.”

Get it in email.

By k | April 16, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

I’ve been reading about
more and more executives
swearing to the 50% scheduled rule.
They’ll schedule half of their working day,
leaving the other half free.

Some use that free 50%
to do a walkaround
and touch base with employees.

Others use it for problem solving.

Scott Lang
of Silver Spring Networks
swears it boosts his productivity.

“For me,
a big part of productivity is being agile.
I like to leave a lot of blocks
in my day open.
On an average day,
I’m only 50 percent scheduled,
though occasionally
it gets as high as 80 percent.
That’s imperative,
because often something comes up
out of nowhere.”

Try scheduling only half
of your working day.
It may make your entire day
more productive.

By k | April 15, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

Caterina Fake,
co-founder of Flickr,
likes project teams small
and meetings to be short.
(My kind of executive)

“Follow Jeff Bezos’s two-pizza rule:
Project teams should be small enough
to feed with two pizzas.
At Hunch,
we don’t have meetings
unless absolutely necessary.
When I used to have meetings, though,
this is how I would do it:
There would be an agenda
distributed before the meeting.
Everybody would stand.
At the beginning of the meeting,
everyone would drink 16 ounces of water.
We would discuss everything on the agenda,
make all the decisions that needed to be made,
and the meeting would be over
when the first person
had to go to the bathroom.”

Small project teams
and short meetings
are effective.

By k | April 14, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

There is a great interview
with Paul English,
co-founder of Kayak.com,
and the innovative way
he handles customer service.

Here is a snippet
(the entire article is well worth reading)

“The engineers and I handle customer support.
When I tell people that,
they look at me like I’m smoking crack.
They say,
“Why would you pay an engineer $150,000
to answer phones
when you could pay someone in Arizona
$8 an hour?”
If you make the engineers answer
e-mails and phone calls
from the customers,
the second or third time
they get the same question,
they’ll actually stop what they’re doing
and fix the code.
Then we don’t have those questions anymore.”

If your problem solvers
are in charge of customer service,
your customer service problems
will get solved.

By k | April 13, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Think social media is a bit
over-hyped?

Pro skateboarder
and entrepreneur
Rob Dyrdek
does too.

“I feel like the effectiveness
behind reaching
800,000 MySpace friends,
400,000 Twitter people,
is an incredibly small percentage of people
where there’s a direct effect,
a direct touch.”

His recommendation?

Create a “really funny incredible viral video”.

“You’ve created something strong enough
that makes somebody else
send it to somebody else.
I think virally, it’s massive.
But sending out like,
“Hey, new T-shirts in stores!”
on Twitter,
I would say that half a percent
are affected by it
and ever make a move on it.”

Create content,
not noise.

By k | April 12, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

My current company gives out
personality tests
as part of their employee screening.
I failed mine.
It was determined
that I had the absolute wrong personality
to do my job.

I don’t like personality tests.
I don’t think your natural personality
has anything to do
with how well
you do your job.

My natural personality is quiet and shy.
My current job requires me
to be a cheerleader
so I’m outgoing and loud.

What I DO like is
creativity and problem solving tests.
Amy’s Ice Creams
has a brilliant creativity test.
She gives prospective employees
paper bags
and asks them to do something creative
with them.

If you want a skill,
test for that skill,
not personality.

By k | April 11, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

One really nice thing
about being a contract employee
is not having to go
to useless meetings
or ’staying in the loop’
about things that don’t touch me.

I’m a much more productive person
for this
which gets me thinking…
why do full time employees
attend these meetings?
Is a bigger attendance at meetings
better for performance?

Ahhh… no.
Not usually.

So not usually that there’s a law
around this principle.
Brooks’ Law states
“Adding people to a late project
tends to make it run later still.”

The new people have to catch up.
The rest of the team
has to include them
in communication.
They have to ask for their feedback.
In other words,
they’re a time suck.

If you want a project
to launch on time,
keep the decision makers to a minimum.
Invite only these decision makers
to meetings.
Have them inform their staff.