7 Rules for How to Sell to “Darth Vader”
We all know there are a lot of bad sales people, just like there are a bunch of lousy artists. I therefore have a great appreciation for excellent sales professionals. Plus, being an operations executive is truly a sales job, and I have to get a buy-in on any larger initiative. I also have been in sales myself, built many systems to make "sales hunting" easier, and recruited my share of sales people. So where does Darth Vader come in? Blame it on one of the Boston's best sales masters - Matthew Bellows, founder of Yesware, which is a really useful e-mail tool for sales. I recently went to see one of Matthew’s stellar presentations. Unfortunately, the video isn’t available online yet,[more]
Myths Why Startups Don’t Need COOs and Operations Executives
As my regular readers know, I am a startup operations veteran with "battle scars" from 9 startups (co-founder in 2 and early employee in most). I have acquired a PhD in operations from the school of hard knocks after years of being around some very smart people and working on difficult problems. Today, I am going to address some common misconceptions about startup operations executives. Let’s get to it! First and foremost, let’s get the lingo and caveats out of the way, since many myths start and won’t die because of a substantial lack of clarity. What’s the difference between a COO, VP, Director of Operations, or GM? – Depending on where your company is based, how it[more]
Better Solution to Outdated One Time Employee Referral Bonuses
One time employee referral bonuses need to go the way of the dodo. They are an antiquated reward system that motivates the wrong things. Yes, some of the most well known companies use them, but these companies end up hurting both themselves and also the business community. Even the biggest morons can waste investor/company money, so enough with these one time referral bonuses! Before I suggest a solution, let me tell you why one time referral bonuses are a waste of money: One time large rewards do not work! The effect of the bonus wears off by the next paycheck. I’ve seen this happen many times - it is often like flushing thousands down the toilet. The person referring the can[more]
What Do Operations People Do?
Your operations people are the reason customers are happy, vendors continue providing you with services, and employees have enough resources. Operations team is the "A-team" of vision logistics and their #1 mission is to take care of the organization (feed it, protect it, and maintain it). Not all small companies and startups have operations teams, since a company has to mature to have one. In addition, operations is functionally incorporated into other divisions in many companies and only officially becomes separate once the company becomes a sustainable business. “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” - Muhammad Ali That quot[more]
12 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Mistakes Managing Employees
Ever since I discovered a phenomenal app called Evernote (it works on all my devices!!!), I have been diligently documenting the lessons I learn each day. I also write drafts of blog articles whenever inspiration hits. If you don't have Evernote, get it; it will change the way you work. That said, in the last couple of weeks, several conversations with my consulting clients and venture-running friends motivated me to dig into my notes and produce this post. Since people management seems to be the dominant discussion I am having these days (sales operations and marketing automation are a close second), here are 12 lessons I’ve picked up along the way about leading and managing employees [more]
Stop Wasting Resources on Improving Weaknesses!
So here is my question for the many organizations that have an unhealthy fascination with improving the weaknesses of their talent: How was Michael Jordan in baseball?.. Exactly! I started my career as a talent agent. Yes, a talent agent in the entertainment industry. I even went to the top school in the field, Columbia College Chicago, to study under some of the luminaries. Even though I transitioned to the technology industry half way through my career, I picked up a lot of wisdom from several of my mentors/teachers including Irwin H. Steinberg (founder of Mercury Records and CEO of then 2nd largest record label in the world - Polygram) and Joey Edmonds (talent agent who discovered gre[more]
Why Companies Built for Just the Good Times Don’t Last
Folks, hate to be Mr. Pragmatic Realist, but in the emerging company world full of often deliriously optimistic people, I can't help but feel this way after a decade and a half in the "trenches". When I look at the companies myself and my fellow execs have worked in, there is one very clear trend with those still around - businesses built with resiliency, resource scarcity, team loyalty, and sub-optimal conditions in mind are still thriving, others - bankrupt. I am not preaching doom and gloom (that is for politicians), but what I am saying is that while you project measured optimism pointing to the inevitable highs, you should also be pragmatic and realist to the core, because some hard[more]
Poor Managers Kill Companies – 5 Ways to Improve Your Management Style and Skills
I’ve spent the last several months preparing for the birth of my first child and thinking very hard about the value of my every waking minute. If I am going to spend time away from my child, my work better be making one hell of an impact. So, I have been digging deep and thinking about what I have learned throughout my career and what I want to focus on and further improve. Managing and developing people is that highest ROI skill which you can always work to enhance. Why should you care? Well, unless you are running company of one (you), management skills and style are paramount with the consequences of hitting the viability of the company where it hurts the most - profitability. Endles[more]
If you aren’t scared, you’re either going too slow or you’re a reckless moron!
I have reached my point of saturation seeing all these quotes lately in the startup community about being faster and faster without fear and finally have to say something. Fear is good! Fear is an indicator you know the consequence of your actions, which is a sign of mental maturity. It is when we fail to heed the signs and work WITH our/business/life/etc limits that we cause massive disasters. Walter Röhrl is an auto racing legend I highly admire, because he has mastered some of the most dangerous types of auto racing and is still alive. In response to a couple of tragedies in the racing world, I recall him saying: "If you aren't scared, you're either going too slow or you're a reckles[more]
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