A leadership three-pack

February 28, 2011

“The leadership instinct you were born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.” – Elaine Agather

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John C. Maxwell

When your product or service sucks

February 28, 2011

“I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks … in truth not one of our top performing companies had a marketing budget in their initial business plan. … in my talk at Harvard Business School, I said “Early in a startup, product decisions should be hunch driven. Later on, product decisions should be data driven”. I’ve seen that line tweeted a thousand times since then. Clearly people like that rule. Here’s another.

Early in a startup you need to acquire your customers for free. Later on, you can spend on customer acquisition.

… For the consumer/free part of the web, there are some obvious things you will want to do: ….” – Article


Good Debt?

February 28, 2011

“Conventional wisdom states that borrowing money for education or a home is “good” debt. Unlike using a credit card or borrowing to buy a car, schooling and your home are things that stand the test of time. No one can take your education away from you. It’s unlikely that a cargo truck will clip your home and “total” it. Theoretically, both education and a home will appreciate in value. Since 2008, we know all too well that we can’t take that value appreciation for granted. Who would have predicted that borrowers could become underwater in their homes? The students who graduated just as the economy took a nosedive do not necessarily feel like the money they borrowed for their education is going to see a return on the investment. So does that mean we need to rethink the idea of good debt?

What Makes Good Debt Dangerous

The idea that it is worth it to go into debt to further your career and own a house is not a bad one. The alternative would be to work for years at a low-paying job so you could set aside the money for college, or to live in an apartment for thirty years to save up for a house. Clearly that’s insane. Borrowing money to do these things before senility sets in is definitely in your best interest. The problem lies with the scope of what you borrow. ….” – Article

A typical money fight

February 28, 2011

Girl Ninja and I are pretty different. She’s reserved, I’m obnoxious. She’s beautiful, I’m not. She’s a “hope for the best”, I’m a “prepare for the worst.” Typically, our differences compliment each other, but every once in a while, we butt heads. This is especially true when it comes to money. I love personal finance, I know significantly more about personal finance than Girl Ninja, and I’m a horrible communicator. Those three characteristics create some pretty interesting financial conversations. Here’s an example of what one such conversation might look like….

Girl Ninja: I saw this really cute duvet cover at West Elm that would look great on our bed. I think I’m going to get it.

Me: No you’re not.

And that, my friends, would be the extent of our conversation. Girl Ninja usually stops talking to me, and I usually don’t want to be talked to. … I admit fault. I often say things in a way that don’t represent the love and respect I have for her. Instead of saying “No, you can’t buy that duvet cover”, I should have said “Do you think the $70 that duvet costs is worth it?” You see what I did there? Instead of TELLING Girl Ninja what she can and can’t do (like I even have that authority), I created an opportunity for dialogue. …

I’ve put together a short list of things I need to remember next time we talk money….” – Article

10 Legal myths you need to know

February 28, 2011

“Since legalese can be intimidating, here’s a plain-English list of legal myths you should know about because they may save your butt somewhere along the line. Keep in mind that state laws may vary.

  1. Incorporating or forming an LLC will protect your personal assets. While it does provide some limited protection, from a practical standpoint, it really doesn’t. If you do something illegal that results in considerable damages, you can definitely expect the damaged party to go after your personal assets and potentially win.
  2. Attorney-client privilege is absolute. There are all kinds of requirements for the privilege to apply, exceptions to the rule, situations where the privilege is at some point extinguished, and cases where courts have ruled to pierce the privilege.
  3. CEOs and CFOs are not civilly or criminally liable for misleading or untrue statements in SEC documents. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act changed all that. Not only are they civilly liable, but they can and have been criminally prosecuted for knowingly providing false information to investors. How about that?
  4. Bloggers and commentors are protected by the first amendment against libel claims. ….

7.  Patents and NDAs will keep others from stealing your ideas. ….”


Get out of your cave

February 28, 2011

“You may not know this, but I wrote an award winning book in 2008 — Awake at the Wheel. It’s all about what it takes to originate, develop, and implement bold new ideas. It’s a fable, a toolbox, and a guide to the creative process — a great way to get out of the cave of your own limiting assumptions.” – Article

Apple without Steve Jobs

February 27, 2011

“I am continuously asked what would happen if Steve Jobs left Apple, or as he sometimes put it, if he “got hit by a bus.” I tell people that Steve is not replaceable as a charismatic, visionary leader of a consumer-product-centric company, but that he can be replaced by a triumvirate to carry on his legacy. Apple will have a new CEO but he, or she, will fill only one part of Steve’s role.

Jonathan Ive, the modest Brit who breathed life into the designs of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, will continue to dream up designs for products everyone wants to use and own. Phil Schiller will continue to dream up product concepts, laying the path for the future of technology. One of several contenders will take over Steve’s role as the driving force over the unsung teams who translate the visions into software, hardware components, and the other elements that bring the concepts to life. COO Timothy Cook is clearly the leading contender to take the reins of the company, as he has now done; he has proven himself in this role since he has already so successfully kept all the separate pieces functioning during Steve’s absences. …

A new age company has to be product-centric and operate every day as if it were a startup. So Apple is the new standard in organizational operations. All the principles of product development, leadership, talent, and sales, are on display at Apple, and I do not see that changing without Steve.

It has been very unusual for a Founder of a company to still be in charge over 30 years later, but some prominent ones are examples of the past that have all the characteristics of Apple. When Walt Disney left Disney, when Akio Morito left Sony, David Packard & Bill Hewlett left HP, all these leaders had put very strong organizations in place to keep their companies on course, and it worked.” – Article