Rising to the top of the stack

April 25, 2016

By Pascal Finette via theheretic.org   Article

“In programmingPascal there is the concept of ‘the stack’. The stack makes up all the pieces forming your technology. Starting from the operating system to the applications which run and execute your code, the databases, web servers and so on.

In the old days of computing, if you wanted to build something, you ended up writing large pieces of this stack yourself. …

Here’s why this matters (particularly when you’re not a programmer): There are, by and at large, only two types of tech companies these days – the ones which focus solely on delivering value on the top of the stack (which today is less about tech and more about business models, customer engagement, etc) and the ones which operate in areas where there is no established full technology stack and thus create value by building technology.

Neither AirBnB nor Uber nor your next-in-line unicorn startup typically truly differentiates through technology anymore. Yes – they employ some of the the smartest technologists to keep the engines running smoothly. But their true value (and the value their investors see in them) is in their business model, customer engagement and acquisition, brand and marketing.

Chances are you operate in a model where technology has long become a commodity. In which case you better focus on the true customer focussing innovation instead of spending all too many cycles on your tech.”


April 25, 2016

By Todd Ordal via cobizmag.com   Article

How to know if you’re breathing your own exhaust

They tell you what you want to hear because you’re the one whose praise or criticism carries the most weight. Bereft of good input, you start to create your own — internally generated.

How do you know? Here are the signs:

  1. No one challenges your bad ideas (yes, you have many). Your team implements them, and when they fail, people make excuses for you. The market turned. You had unexpected competition. It was a great idea, just bad timing.
  2. In your weekly … staff meetings, everything is going swimmingly with the … new product, new hire, marketing program or software installation — pick one … until there’s a complete failure.
  3. You’ve had seven quarters of good financial results, and you’ve become increasingly confident that it’s primarily because of your good leadership. The fact that you’re growing at the same rate as the rest of your industry — maybe even below — seems less important. …
  4. You know that you could be doing much better if you only had better people. Must be human resource’s fault. Your ideas are great; they just can’t execute! …
  5. The gregarious conversation your team is having suddenly turns somber or quiet when you walk into the lunchroom.
  6. You completely understand what your customers need, so there’s little value in spending time with them. Hanging with your peer group is much more rewarding. …
  7. You’re tired of asking others their opinions. It’s more fun to talk about what you believe the world should look like.”

Updated hierarchy of needs

April 25, 2016



Business without ethics

April 25, 2016


Nobody expects it — until it’s too late

April 18, 2016

By Kurt Leyendecker via cobizmag.com   Article

Why a trade secret is the Spanish Inquisition of intellectual property

“People with at least passing familiarity with the term ‘intellectual property’ can associate it with patents, trademarks and copyrights. But ‘trade secret’ doesn’t often come to mind. Simply put, a trade secret is the Spanish Inquisition of intellectual property: Nobody expects it until it is too late.

Perhaps you and some colleagues left your jobs to start a business competing with your former employer. You figure that with reduced overhead, long hours, hard work and a little luck, you can provide the same product or service at a higher quality and for greater value. You and your business partners form an LLC, rent office space and advertise. You call some of the suppliers you used at your previous job, and you call upon some of your former customers to see if they are interested in switching.

You and your partners invest your life savings into making this new venture a go. But one day there is a knock on the office door, and a process server hands you a complaint and summons. You are being sued for misappropriation of trade secrets. …

Protecting sensitive information isn’t particularly difficult and can be as easy as marking documents and electronic files as confidential and storing the information in password-protected files only accessible by personnel with a bona fide need to know the information. …

Misappropriation of trade secrets is a common litigation claim seen in lawsuits between companies and former employees. The question of whether sensitive information was sufficiently protected and guarded to qualify as a trade secret is very fact specific; information that wasn’t marked and systematically segregated is subject to great uncertainty in front of a court. Tens of thousands of dollars can be spent just determining whether a company has trade secrets before even getting to the question of whether the information was misappropriated.”

Kill your darlings

April 18, 2016

By Al Pittampalli via hbr.org   Article

The Best Leaders Allow Themselves to Be Persuaded

“When we think of great leaders, certain characteristics come to mind: They have confidence in their abilities and conviction in their beliefs. They ‘trust their gut,’ ‘stay the course,’ and ‘prove others wrong.’ They aren’t ‘pushovers,’ and they certainly don’t ‘flip-flop.’ But this archetype is terribly outdated. Having spent three years studying many of the world’s most successful leaders for my new book, Persuadable, I’ve learned one surprising thing they have in common: a willingness to be persuaded.

Alan Mulally, the vaunted CEO who saved Ford Motor Company, is, for example, exceptionally skeptical of his own opinions. Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful hedge fund managers, insists that his team ruthlessly second-guess his thinking. … In our increasingly complex world, these leaders have realized that the ability to consider emerging evidence and change their minds accordingly provides extraordinary advantages.

Of course, leaders shouldn’t be persuadable on every issue. At some point, you have to stop considering new information and opinions, make a decision, and move forward. When time is scarce or the matter at hand isn’t very consequential, it’s often okay to trust your gut and independently choose a course based on previous convictions. But for higher-stakes decisions, it’s important to adopt a more persuadable mindset. …

Kill your darlings. Once you’ve opened the door to feedback and debate, you may find that the evidence is piling up against your previously held view. The next step is to actually be willing to change your mind. That can be difficult when it comes to beliefs to which we’ve become attached, whether it’s a new project idea, an opinion on a longtime vendor, or the assumption that you’re a succinct communicator. Writers know a lot about this fear of letting go. We have this terrible habit of falling in love with our own work and picking fights with editors who try to change our words. That’s why writers are advised to ‘kill their darlings’ before anyone else has a chance to. The same applies to leaders.”

A finite amount of heartbeats

April 18, 2016

By Pascal Finette via theheretic.org   Article

Time Is Precious

“The last couple of days I had an incident which made me think about the wise words of my friend Rick Schmitz, who keeps asking himself and those around him:

‘There is a finite amount of heartbeats you have left. What do you want to use them for?’

As dramatic as this sounds – there is an undeniable truth in his statement. We all spend way too much time with the things which don’t really matter. The tasks which eat up our time but don’t move the needle. The meetings we take out of courtesy. The projects we know don’t go anywhere but we still can’t kill off.

I keep a list of 3-5 ‘big boulders’ I want to move forward at any given time. Projects I am passionate about, which feed my soul and will make a difference. And then I spend at least half my time on these projects.

Make sure that you spend at least half your heartbeats on the stuff that matters to you. Life is too short.”