A Timeless Post

Respect

As a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone. And, when I violate this, as I occasionally foolishly do, I always get burned.
Dan S. Kennedy, The Single Most Important Habit of Successful Entrepreneurs

Metacognition

I truly believe Seth Godin when he says what really matters about blogging is “the metacognition of thinking about what it is you’re going to say”. I like to think that I’ve gotten my return-on-investment & hope it shows in my day-to-day activities – whether it be an email, presenting, networking and even talking to my friends and family.

I could stop blogging and simply delete my domain & it’s content. But part of that metacognition is that things on the Internet never really get deleted. Part of that meta-cognition is that people will Google you & they will find stuff.

So while I may not blog anymore, I thought it best to leave a timeless post.

Punctuality

I have to admit. When I first read Dan S. Kennedy‘s The Single Most Important Habit of Successful Entrepreneurs, I thought he was being a little drastic. But since then, I’ve been more cognizant of my own punctuality and quite naturally those I interact with.

As someone committed to the startup ecosystem, I can well appreciate that

Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.
Peter F Drucker.

Time & time again I find myself reflecting back on Dan’s words:

It is my conviction that a person who cannot keep appointments on time, cannot keep scheduled commitments or cannot stick to a schedule cannot be trusted in other ways either. There is a link between respect for others’ time and respect for others’ opinions, property, rights, agreements and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality.

While I understand connections will go down, Windows will freeze up, Macs will spin their beach ball of death, demos will fail and traffic will jam up, I will do my best to be punctual. Punctual when we meet for coffee, or lunch. Punctual when I return a voice message, or, email. Punctual when I offer an introduction, or, follow-up on one.

Until Next Time

I suspect I won’t be blogging much, so if this is the last post for a while, I just wanted it to timeless & relevant – should we ever meet 🙂

Update: I don’t know where I got this impression from but I always felt that being punctual with regard to returning email and voice messages means replying within 2 business days. I know some people feel there’s no point in replying, if they’re waiting on someone else’s input, or, they don’t have an answer yet. I understand. Nonetheless, my personal preference is to reply stating that’s the case and follow-up accordingly.

Image source: picjumbo.com

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Volunteering ROI, or, Just Because I Have Ears

Just Because I Have Ears

Just Because I Have Ears

There’s a Pattern Here

The funny thing about teaching, or, mentoring is that more often than not, the teacher ends up learning from the student. Such was the case yesterday when I was volunteering as a Mentor at FounderFuel‘s Mentor Day.

I was talking to one of the Cohorts & they were expressing their frustration with customer acquisition. I related well to the situation where you have your Unique Value Proposition but the prospect gets bogged down in an area you perceive to be out of your problem domain. As Startups, we have to stay laser focused on what we aim to deliver & can’t afford to entertain distractions. But in this particular case, there was a pattern to what  prospects were asking for, and it was a barrier for entry.

Fortunately, within a few suggestions, there seemed to be  a solution in sight. All without a line of code being changed and no additional costs to expanding the Unique Value Proposition.  We’ll see if they experiment with the idea & the respective results, but the point is there’s a pattern here. It’s the “Just Because I Have Ears, It Doesn’t Mean I’m Listening” Pattern.

I Think I Do My Best Thinking When I’m Asleep

So I wake up in the middle of the night recalling a conversation I had earlier in the day with Chris Arsenault. Chris was asking about Menschenables.com & while he seemed to appreciate the Unique Value Proposition, was concerned about the onboarding process. The Problem: How do I know who are my preferred contacts to invite to Menschenables.com? Are you asking me to manually go through everyone in my Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc? The Solution: I didn’t have any because that list of preferred contacts would be a result of using Menschenables.com. Shazbut !

Later that day I was talking to Naomi Goldapple who’s seen Menschenables.com & wants to sign-up.  Do you know what her problem was? Same as Chris’.  Same as others interested in signing up. 

Shazbut?

I don’t think so because Naomi asked:

Why can ‘t I just import everyone & let Menschenables.com figure out who are my preferred contacts?

Naomi not only got the Unique Value Proposition, she was also was telling me the pain she faces adopting it and then went even further by giving me the Solution: Import all the contacts you have & use Menschenables.com to weed out the ones most valuable to you & your network. Sort of like…

Menschenables' Preferred Contact Conversion Process

Menschenables’ Preferred Contact Conversion Process

Experiment Time

Let’s see how folks react & take it from there.

 

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Just Because I Have Ears

Just Because I Have Ears

Just Because I Have Ears

The “Yada Yada Yada” Moment

Not too long ago, I was walking through my pitch for my newly named startup – Menschenables.com, with Phil Telio & he said something like “I think this offers tremendous value add for any company with a vested interest in their customers’ business, but you’re focusing on the wrong point. You’ve got to yada, yada, yada…”

And as I stood there, I was saying to myself “Yes, yes, yes… I’ve heard stuff like this before… But …”

The “OMG, I’m Zizi” Moment

That night, I woke up with an image of my brother-in-law & the thought; “OMG, I’m Zizi (aka Zio Johnny)”. You see, Johnny is one of those guys who’d do just about anything in the world for you. Yet despite his generosity, some people (read my mother-in-law) want more. As a result, Zizi has developed over the years, this amazing ability to tune out certain things (read my mother-in-law). So it was a no-brainer when my family & I were last vacationing in Disney World to buy this simple t-shirt with Mickey Mouse’s silhouette & the one line:

Just because I have ears, it doesn’t mean I’m listening.

The “Customer Development” Moment

So I took Phil et al’s advice and modified my Unique Value Proposition just in time for an upcoming pitch to a perfect target. I opened with the above image  & this story. The meeting couldn’t have gone any better.

Since then, that image & one line are forever in my mind’s eye & Customer Development has never been this much fun!

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
— Steve Jobs, 1998

Jonathan Mark's Tribute to Steve Jobs

Apple posted this black and white image of Steve Jobs on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011.

Apple's Steve Jobs Page

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Volunteering: It Doesn’t Pay (In the Currency of the Land)

In general terms, volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be considered self-serving.
Volunteering – Wikipedia

Early-Stage Startup Analytics Bootcamp 35

Seemed Like a Good Deal

OK, I admit it! I didn’t volunteer for altruistic reasons. I volunteered because I’m a Starving Startup & wanted a free ticket to International Startup Festival – Montreal, Canada, July 13-15th 2011.  Eight hours of volunteer work, showing people around, checking badges, setting up & tearing down venues.  But it didn’t stop at eight hours.

Benefits, too!

While others may have stripped out of their Volunteer t-shirt, I wore mine like a badge of honor & kept going back to Guy, asking for more things to do.  It was a blast! Donning the t-shirt gave me carte blanche to approach anyone, or, be anywhere. Before I knew it, I was introducing myself to familiar Twitter avatars, sharing insights & new found friends left, right & centre – even up & down!

Elevator Pitch

By far my favorite & long lasting experience was the Elevator Pitch.  Knowing in advance how things were supposed to work, I planned my pitch very carefully; 30 seconds down to pitch & 30 seconds up, biting my tongue, absorbing feedback from investors/advisers.  And as the Volunteering Gods would have it, Guy asked me to operate the elevator for 30 minutes, so  I  had the benefit of watching 12 other canaries in the coal mine.

Montreal Startup Fest Elevator Pitches from Ondi Timoner on Vimeo.

The Gift That Keeps Giving & Giving

During the event, I met up with Ian Jeffrey – another volunteer, who also happens to be the General Manager of FounderFuel & a Venture Partner at Real Ventures.  And while I often exchanged tweets with Ian in the past, there’s nothing better than meeting face-to-face.  Which in turn probably helped when I volunteered to be a Founder Fuel Mentor.

So at yesterday’s launch event, instead of trying to pitch investors & advisers, I had the humbling experience of  sitting along side of them, listening & doing my best to contribute feedback to those in the accelerator program. (As a matter of fact, Steve Abrams was in my group & was also one of the advisers for my turn at the Startup Festival’s Elevator Pitch.)

Stay Tuned


Photo credit Eva Blue

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