Networking as an entrepreneur

October 23, 2018 :: 0 comments

I was asked at a recent startup event what I thought about networking.

I am not a fan of the concept of networking. I don’t have a LinkedIn account. I don’t score myself on how many people I know or how big my stack of business cards is. I don’t usually even carry my own cards, and when I do, they have just name and contact info on them, leaving off titles and anything else someone might use to add me to their network trophy case. When I go to an event, I don’t try and talk to as many people as possible, flitting from conversation to conversation, just so I can boost my connection count. I find it obnoxious when people fill their Twitter bio with hashtags like "#entreprenuer and startup #mentor" or focus on "power networking" techniques like follow-back policies.

Networking is useless, because it’s superficial. You may have 1000 business connections, but how many of them will jump to help you out, or even remember who you are?

Having a network is crazy important. Networking is not.

The difference is a network is an authentic thing. It’s the people that you have legitimately connected with that you have talked to and formed a relationship with over time. A network is not "how many business cards I collect at the mixer on Tuesday night." It’s not going to events and meeting as many people as I can. It’s developing deep, meaningful relationships with people without knowing how those relationships are going to turn out. A real network isn’t built by thinking about how the connections are going to benefit you. Building a network means making sure that you are providing more value to the other person that you’re getting from them. It’s constantly giving, constantly being involved, constantly making sure that you are helping them. Eventually something will come up where they’re going to help you, not because you connected with them, but because you have a relationship with them.

Stretching your team

June 11, 2018 :: 0 comments

As a manager, stretching your team is one of the best ways to improve your output, your team’s happiness, and your velocity. Setting a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" gives your team something to strive for, and even if they don’t reach it, research shows that people that shoot for the moon and miss go farther than people who set easily attainable goals and reach them.

Psychologist Edwin Locke’s Goal Setting Theory research found that regardless of discipline, harder goals resulted in higher performance. He also discovered that people with extremely hard goals "consistently performed at a higher level" than people with very easy goals, even though the harder goals were less often reached.

As anyone who has been bored by an easy job already knows, he also found that people with challenging goals had more interest in completing their tasks and reported getting more enjoyment from doing their work.

Read more »

Physical camera shutter for Cisco Spark Board

July 6, 2017 :: 1 comment

Spark Board Shutter I have one of our newest products, the Cisco Spark Board, hanging in my home office. It’s a combination digital whiteboard, video conferencing system, and wireless projector all in one. The 55 inch one I have is designed for small conference rooms and team huddle areas in offices.

Our desktop video systems that are commonly used in home offices have a built-in camera shutter so you can block the camera entirely, but room-sized systems like the Spark Board don’t have one. That’s inconvenient for a home office where I might not always want video going.

So here’s a CAD file you can use to 3D print a shutter that you can slide over the camera when you’re not using it. It’s sitting on my 55" board, but might also fit a 70 board.

Download STL file

Shutter in use

How the shutter fits

My Travel Coffee Setup

January 20, 2017 :: 0 comments

travel coffee gear

I’m a coffee nut. I own more brewing equipment than most coffee houses, home roast as a hobby, and generally drink way too much of the stuff. I also travel a lot, which presents a dilemma: how do I get my fix when I’m on the road? This is complicated by the fact that I travel light and never check a bag. I’ll go on two week trips with just carry on luggage, so bag space is at a premium.

Over time I assembled the ultimate coffee geek road warrior setup. Every time someone hears about it, they want the details, so I’m posting it here so I have something to point to.

I’m on the road now, and took some authentic travel photos in the hotel room.

Read more »

Turkey Legs

May 30, 2016 :: 0 comments

My great grandmother was sitting with us one day and asked if anyone wanted a turkey leg. We all declined. She asked again later. No one wanted one. A few minutes later, she stood, announcing that she was going to go get a turkey leg and are we sure we didn’t want one? Again, we all declined.

She left the room and returned with a Drumstick ice cream, and when my dad said ,"That looks good, are there any more?" she replied, "I just asked you if you wanted a turkey leg and you said no!"

Speaking for Geeks: Your Slides

December 17, 2015 :: 0 comments

At most tech events, the audience and the producers expect you to have some slides to show alongside your presentation. I recently gave a talk without any slides at all and I think I made the audience uncomfortable.

Creating great slides for a presentation is a subject that others have covered in great detail elsewhere. It’s the subject of entire blogs and books. Presentation Zen is probably the best known of these.

I’m not going to try and provide you an exhaustive list of what to do and not to do with your slides. Instead, I’m going to give a few tips that help me, and call out some of the most obvious common errors I see tech presenters repeating.

See if you can find out what aspect ratio the projector or screen you’ll be using is in. If you create 16:9 wide format slides but end up projecting on an ancient 600x800 projector, most of your content will be squished, off the screen, or otherwise unusable. If you can’t find out the format, use a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s easier to display a 4:3 image on a 16:9 screen than vice versa.

Find out how big the room will be and what sort of lighting is in there, if possible. A brightly lit room that’s super deep requires a much higher contrast color scheme to be visible in the back of the room than a dark, small room. If in doubt, go high contrast: white on black or black on white.

Avoid words on your slides. Your slides are not content. They’re supporting your content. They don’t need to stand alone. No one needs to read them without you around. By putting lots of words on the screen, you’re losing your audience. They start reading the text, and since they can read faster than you can talk, they reach the end of the slide before you do. Then they go off and read their email, or daydream, or start their expense report. You’ve lost them and good luck getting them back.

too-much-text.png

If you have 10 words on your slide, you probably have too many. Regardless of how many words you have on a slide, don’t read them verbatim to your audience. We can read, thank you. We don’t need you to do it for us. And we can read faster than your verbalizing. One way to make this easier is to just not put text on your slides at all.

If you’re in a situation where someone really does need to read your slides without you around, consider creating two versions of the slides. One that you present, and one that you leave behind. When I advise startups on pitching for investment, I recommend this approach. Have the “pitch deck” that investors expect full of details, but present from a “presentation deck” that just has supporting information like charts and diagrams.

Your slides should illustrate your point. They’re a visual to anchor the audience’s eyes and keep them from wandering to something else, like their email. Think about when you watch TV news. The anchorwoman is talking to you. Behind her is a graphic that explains what you’re hearing about. The graphic doesn’t try and convey all the information the anchorwoman is giving you, it’s just there to tell you what she’s talking about. When it changes, you know she’s moving to a different topic.

Don’t put animations in your slides. “Transitions” or “animations” are one of the worst things that PowerPoint and other presentation software ever gave us. Flying, fading, spinning, zooming objects all over the place distract the audience. They have no substance.

A more practical reason to avoid animation is that it often breaks when moving from one environment to another. You’re expecting your content to come sliding in, but when it’s viewed on the laptop the conference is showing all presentations from, it doesn’t show up.

Unless you’re a designer or you have a designer helping with your presentation, use a pre-existing template for your slides. Both PowerPoint and Keynote come with a bunch of them. You can also buy templates from a variety of sources for reasonable rates. The simpler the better, at least until you have some experience under your belt.

Presenters that try and design their own templates often end up with things that are unreadable when shown on a big screen in a large room.

Don’t put things on your slides that don’t need to be there. The page number on every screen isn’t needed. No one’s going to later ask you to pull up page 6 of your talk. Assuming you’re presenting to a public audience, leave off the ubiquitous “proprietary and confidential” footer. If it were confidential, you wouldn’t be showing to a room full of people.

Conversely, I DO like to put a logo and my contact info—either email or Twitter — on every slide. This makes sure that if someone takes a picture of your side and posts it somewhere, people can tell where it came from.

Don’t try and copy someone else’s style. When Lawrence Lessig’s culture remix and Dick Hardt’s Identity talk came out, I spent years sitting through bad clones of the rapid fire style of those talks. 300 slides in 30 minutes is hard to do well, and no one did it well.

Have your contact information on a slide early in the talk. Repeat that slide at the end of your deck. I leave that up while I answer questions and wrap up.

In most presentation software, when you’re in presentation mode and you advance past the last slide, the software exits presentation mode. To keep from accidentally doing this, I put a single blank black slide as my last slide. Then if I accidentally go past my contact slide, I can go back one.

I often give a talk on the subject of Public Speaking for Geeks. Here’s the slides from that talk, so you can see some of the principles here in action.

This can’t be good: http://t.co/vJCJ3D2g Jun 21, 2012 10 :07 via Twitter

Am I the only one wondering what would happen if I unplugged that Ethernet cable? Jun 19, 2012 11 :03 via Twitter

Now I know why my hotel wifi signal is so good: http://t.co/ADAKVtPK Jun 19, 2012 11 :01 via Twitter

The Oakland A’s are selling root beer floats to raise money to fight diabetes. Next month, how about beer proceeds donated to AA? Jun 18, 2012 12 :17 via Twitter

Dear gmail, please sort autocomplete contacts by frequency of use. I email my wife Christina way more than I do @ChrisPirillo. Put her 1st. Jun 17, 2012 7 :42 via Twitter

My son’s school is selling or giving my contact info to local businesses. Lovely. Jun 16, 2012 9 :25 via Twitter

Two iPhones in the house took a swim this week. Opened them up, cleaned them out, they’re both working again. Jun 15, 2012 7 :38 via Twitter

If your pitch deck is more about the animations than the company, you’ve already lost. Jun 15, 2012 3 :36 via Twitter

The ER is always filled with interesting people. Jun 14, 2012 10 :04 via Twitter

Proof reading is gud. Jun 14, 2012 6 :31 via Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Best Of

  • Pitching Bloggers Forget what you learned in your PR classes. Start acting like a human instead of a marketer, and the humans behind the blogs will respond.
  • Debunking predictions Read/Write Web's authors have some goofy predictions.
  • Google on the desktop Google picks up Picasa, giving them an important foothold on people's PCs.
  • Best of Newly Digital There have been dozens of Newly Digital entries from all over the world. Here are some of the best.
  • Rounded corners in CSS There lots of ways to create rounded corners with CSS, but they always require lots of complex HTML and CSS. This is simpler.
  • More of the best »

Recently Read

Get More

Subscribe | Archives

Recently

Networking as an entrepreneur (Oct 23)
Having a network is crazy important. Networking is not.
Stretching your team (Jun 11)
Stretching your team is one of the best ways to improve your output, your team's happiness, and your velocity. But they'll need coaching.
Physical camera shutter for Cisco Spark Board (Jul 6)
A 3d printable design for a camera shutter for a Cisco Spark Board
My Travel Coffee Setup (Jan 20)
What my travel coffee brewing setup looks like, and how you can build your own for under $100.
Turkey Legs (May 30)
Product naming gone awry.
Speaking for Geeks: Your Slides (Dec 17)
Tips and tricks for creating great slides.
Speaking for Geeks: Writing Your Talk (Dec 14)
Don’t wait until the night before the talk to write it. Crazy, I know.
Speaking for Geeks: Tell a Story (Dec 13)
Telling a story keeps your presentation focused, keeps your audience interested, and makes it easier for you to remember your talk.

Subscribe to this site's feed.

Elsewhere

Tropo
Voice and communications platforms, including Tropo and Phono. Work.
SacStarts
The Sacramento technology startup community.
Pinewood Freak
Pinewood Derby tips and tricks

Contact

Adam Kalsey

Mobile: 916.600.2497

Email: adam AT kalsey.com

AIM or Skype: akalsey

Resume

PGP Key

©1999-2018 Adam Kalsey.
Content management by Movable Type.