Archive for February, 2010

Public Perception

February 23rd, 2010

Scribd Business Model

Today I had an interesting experience in user perception. While following a link to a presentation I was interested, in I arrived at the Scribd site and was greeted with the view shown above. Although the screen capture might not do the blinking neon banner at the bottom justice, I hope that those reading this will share similar sentiments to those I experienced. The content is surrounded by gimmicky advertising that screams desperation to me. If you’ve built a business dependent on advertising muscle enhancers and the chance to win WalMart gift cards then I begin to seriously doubt your future prospects. Maybe I’m being to quick to judge Scribd. After all, I’ve always considered them a reputable company. Its amazing what today’s visit did to my perception. My biggest take away from this experience is the importance of being aware how you’re projecting yourself to your customers. Take a second to view your public presence through your customer’s eyes and make sure there aren’t any metaphorical flashing neon banner ads.

Cannonball!!!

February 18th, 2010
 
 
 
 

Changing how I think about things

Well… I did it. I jumped. Yesterday was my last day as a part-time entrepreneur. I have begun the corporate detoxification diet.

It felt a little surreal as I turned in my previous employer’s equipment and said goodbye to co-workers. For the last week I have been having “This the last time I will…” moments and just taking it all in. I’ve learned a lot (in a character building way) and met many wonderful, smart people (thanks everyone!) but it is time to live the dream and get to work. I’ll be taking an intentional pause from the blog to pack up our house and relocate to a more cost-effective situation. =) In the meantime, I would like you consider something…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life’s mission, what I am meant to do. Just to clarify, I don’t believe in pre-destination (that we are supposed to do something and have no choice in the matter). However, I do believe each of us has a unique set of talents and personality that, if we choose to use, will make a difference in the world and bring you greater happiness/fulfillment.

I would encourage you to look around and see if you are happy or energized (not successful) by what you do or the people you’re with. If you’re not, then I would urge you to find out what your life’s mission is. I’m still discovering mine fully but every time in my life that I’ve taken a step in that direction life gets more exciting. What is your next step?

 

Thoughts on Teams

February 14th, 2010

A few recent articles and events have culminated this last week in forcing me to consider my thoughts on teams. I remember a post from Phil Windley where he put forth his opinion of “no cold hires”. I strongly agree with the concept of avoiding hiring unknown quantities. When I was brought on to the startup where I began, it was on the recommendation of a friend of the founders. They at least had it on good word that I was reliable and  reasonably skilled. As the small company grew, we tried to limit our hiring to people we were personally acquainted with and knew would perform well. On the few occasions where we didn’t follow this pattern we had more failures than successes. But all of the hires we made who were known good people worked out great. As the company has grown and control has changed hands we have reached the point where this is no longer feasible.

Bruce Eckel, who has several great blogs on finding good programmers/employees, blogged this week about rapid hiring and firing as a way to decrease the risk from hiring outside of your network. He referenced kayak.com which supposedly hired and fired hundreds to get their core group of 30 or so. Others seem to have adopted the contractor model who are disposable by definition. I worry that by focusing on contractor workers there is a real chance of missing out on the best talent available and contracting  certainly brings little chance of loyalty.

So what’s the best way to grow a small team when the time is right? How do you create a sustainable process that fills positions with the best people possible? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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