How the Sales organization in a large company slows innovation

November 16, 2018 :: 0 comments

Startup founders are often asked by investors, customers, and employees "what happens if [some big giant company] gets into your business?" The standard answers are along the lines of, "it won’t be their focus and will be ours," or "what if they don’t?"

But there’s another reason. One of the very things that makes a giant company formidable is the thing that makes it hard for them to innovate. The giant sales force and distribution channels they use to take a product to market can get in the way of product innovation.

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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.

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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.

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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!"

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

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How the Sales organization in a large company slows innovation (Nov 16)
If you have a new innovative product inside a large established company, it can be much harder to reach product market fit than it would be for the same product in a startup.
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.

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