Month: August 2013

“Jim Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, estimated that he spent 40% of his time communicating the J&J Credo” – Jim Collins from Beyond Entrepreneurship

At some point you are going to have to hire someone, or even better, sell something.  Things change when that happens.  Up to that point, your dream, strategy, and purpose are safe inside your head and everyone there understands and embraces it.  What’s more, no one challenges it and it all makes sense.  As a Boy Scout, we opened every meeting by reciting the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.  It is to remind us of the values, ideals and the purpose of being a Boy Scout.  After a few decades, I still remember them clearly.

You can’t just write down your mission statement and be done with it.  The leader of the organization must constantly find ways of reinforcing the message with employees, customers, stakeholders and the general public.  It’s like the downbeat of the bass drum in dance music.  It’s the center; the reference point and it is constant.

J&J is a very successful company.  You should check out their credo:

40% of the CEO’s time…. must be important


“He who sleeps on the floor will not fall off the bed.” – Robert Gronock

This one caught my eye because you can pretty much make up your own meaning.  Then again it’s so obvious and simple; like “You have to be present in order to be there.”

For the entrepreneur, it speaks to me of risk and the virtues of simplicity.  Sure it’s less risky to sleep on the floor,  but who wants to do that?  Every meaningful endeavor carries some risk.

But then, having a bed requires space, money and maintenance.  Sheets must be washed requiring a washing machine.  Beds should be properly made up in the morning (according to my wife).  Mattresses must be turned every few weeks and how do you get rid of old mattresses?  No one really knows.

The more stuff you accumulate, the more resources and attention it takes to maintain it all, and the less focus is available for the startup venture.  There’s only one thing better than having your own boat; that’s having a good friend who has their own boat!  Boats are fun and relaxing but there is a trade off.

A lot of my favorite entrepreneur case studies are about those who were not at all focused on accumulating personal stuff while they were building their companies.  Most of that came later.

“I may not have led people who would take a bullet for me but I’d like to think they would at least push me out of the way.” – Gil Cruze

Gil Cruze is one of those guys who tends to speak in “tweetable” quotes.  This one was about picking your team.  He spoke of the profound friendships he has formed over the years with people who came on board to share in the dream of his startup.  He said that he is not always right about things and looks for smart people who will disagree with him.

Integrity, trust and respect go along with technical and marketing talent when forming your team.

“Start a ‘Stop Doing’ list” – Jim Collins from Good To Great

We often use “To Do” lists to keep up with all the stuff we have to get done.  It’s never ending.  To make it worse, entrepreneurs are typically wired to get things done.

Jim Collins suggests that having a “stop doing” list is perhaps more important than than our “to do” list.  Learning to say “no” is vital for making time to get the important things done.

Sometimes this happens automatically because we tend to gravitate toward the things in our minds that are the most important.  But this can based on emotional responses.  Even worse, we let the agenda of others manage our activities.

A deliberate process of identifying the things that are strategically important and the things that are not can go a long way to helping you get things done.

“An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.” – Henry Ford

I like to be around big idea people but I find that few of them actually have the ability to pull it off.  They see the world as how it could be when everything lines up perfectly.  But they have a way of tying up time, attention and resources.

Entrepreneurs are the ones who take the big ideas and navigate the maze of reality.

Have your big ideas.

Hang around others with big ideas.

Filter out the noise and then go get it done!

“If you’re not getting feedback from customers, it’s because they don’t like you and you’re going to die” – Jason Freedman

…perhaps it’s because you are not asking.

Customer feedback is vital to founding a startup…

Customer feedback is vital to develop the first product…

Customer is vital to growing the company…

Customer feedback is….     VITAL!

You must adopt a discipline of regular customer interaction in order to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers.  The Customer Discovery Process is a company lifelong process.  It starts early and never ends.  Customers and their technologies change and so must you.  Just ask the music recording industry…

“Not everyone who [craps] on you is your enemy…” – Henry Fonda from “My Name Is Nobody”

“My Name Is Nobody” is a long time favorite movie of mine and thanks to my Netflix account, I was able to see it again recently.  There is a scene where Terrence Hill’s character “Nobody” is telling a story from his grandfather:

Henry Fonda (Jack Beauregard) finally understands the moral of the story in a letter to Nobody at the end:

“Not everybody who [craps] on you is your enemy.  Not everyone who helps you is your friend.  And when you’re neck-deep in it, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.”

Seek out people you trust who will be brutally honest with you about your business, your leadership, and your strategy.

There are great service providers who deserve to get paid.  They should be able to quantify their benefits in a measurable way.  Insist on milestones and deliverables.

Finally, you rarely do yourself a favor by reacting negatively.  Take out your frustrations on a bike or a racquetball court.