Date archives "February 2011"

Breaking the Cycle

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret

February has been a choppy month for my blog posting schedule. I have not been able to keep track of when one day ends and the other one starts. The first year that I started blogging, this was a problem in the beginning as well. However, when you get the momentum going, you get into a groove that gets you to post daily.

When I read this post about Jerry Seinfeld’s own productivity secret, it stood out and had a lot of similarities to what I had experienced in the first year of posting everyday.

Going to make sure that I start creating that chain, one, which will get the momentum started.

Jason Fried on Design

One of the companies I greatly admire is 37signals. This company has a suite of business productivity products that I use every day for the projects that I manage.

In this video, he talks about the design methodology behind the building of their products. That is something I have drawn great inspiration from in building Identifii. I hope to be able to stick to focusing on the components that are necessary and not over thinking the unimportant things.

Feb 22nd: Required Weekly Readings

I tend to do a lot of reading online on a daily basis. I come across many articles I enjoy and believe would be useful to a lot of individuals, specially those who read this blog. Hence, I will be posting one entry weekly with a list of the best posts I have read during that week.

Startups in stealth mode need one piece of advice.

How to think about cash vs. equity compensation

8 Questions to Help Decide if You Should be Raising Money Now

5 Steps to Working smarter

How to Hire a Great Marketing Person

How To Know Your Side Project Is Ready To Be A Startup

What Interviewing 31 Sales People Taught Me About “Sales”

Pull that damned reserve cord earlier

Learn to Be Patient for Entrepreneurial Success

Right Place at the Right Time

The topic of being in the right place at the right time, comes up a lot during conversation about the success of companies/businesses/career progressions. On the surface it appears to be strokes of luck, which in most cases is not the case at all. I have found in my experience, that a majority of those who find themselves in the right place at the right time, are actually there as a result of continuous action towards a specific goal.

Clarity of a long term vision, provides the ability to take steps towards a goal or whatever else you want to achieve in life. This is never a linear path, no matter how much we may want it to be. Along the way, we gather more information, get a greater level of information and begin to learn to zig instead of zag. All this cumulative learning provides one with the ability to perceive future events with a higher degree of accuracy.

This acute perception is what leads a privileged few, to be in places that others believe are purely functions of chance and luck. I strongly urge everyone to look deeper into those stories, rather than making assumptions about how a person actually gets to those points. Most of the time, their journey is a meandering series of events and experiences that lead them to that point. One stands to learn far more from these stories than looking at singular events in isolation.

Semi Unplugging

Everyone goes through periods of intense work/thoughts at work. Periods when, abstract ideas are deconstructed into simpler actionable steps. I went through such a period these past few days. It is at times like these when, to fully soak in what has been discussed and decided, I like to take a few days to do very little. The days can be filled with catching up with friends, movies, reading and writing. It is not a complete disconnect, something I hope to do more often this year, however, it is enough to let your thoughts digest while you focus your attention elsewhere.

This article “Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain“, provides some deep insights on the impact that unplugging has on our brains and our ability to focus.

What is Identifii?

I have been talking about this project quite a bit and think it is time now to give everyone a better idea of what it is that we want to do.

The primary problem we aim to solve through this, is one of incorrect career path selection. I graduated from college nearly 5 years ago and when I catch up with old friends, I estimate that over 70% of them, are not entirely happy with what they do on a daily basis. However, they are at a point in their lives, where change has become an extremely difficult option and the decision to “just to live with it”, is how they resolve the issue. Many of them selected career paths at graduation, paths which were not always suited for who they were, but rather paths chosen and based upon other factors, such as employer brand or monetary compensation.

Identifii wants to operate in this space, a space where early career decisions are being made.

We are a web service which assists fresh college graduates and young professionals, make better career decisions. We do this by providing them the ability to learn about their personality and workplace preferences. After establishing their preferences, the system recommends specific career paths and also indicates whether someone in their social network can help them get started on the path.

Our mission is to make career discovery simpler for Gen Y. I strongly believe, that armed with enough information about personality preferences, career path options, companies and network connections, a person is in a hugely better position, to make critical career decisions.

Selecting the right career path enhances our lives. It also has a positive impact on all of the people around us. By helping one person, we will be able to make a marked difference in the environment around them. Multiplying that, to benefit thousands and then millions of people, is what gets me up every morning, and motivates me to work hard to make this a reality.

Feb 15th: Required Weekly Readings

I tend to do a lot of reading online on a daily basis. I come across many articles I enjoy and believe would be useful to a lot of individuals, specially those who read this blog. Hence, I will be posting one entry weekly with a list of the best posts I have read during that week.

How to Guarantee You Won’t Make A Bad Hire

10 Killer Adwords Strategies for Startups

10 Things You Need to Do to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Breakdancing and Mastery of the Universe

Startups in stealth mode need one piece of advice

Lean UX: Getting out of the deliverables business

I’m tired of unhappy people

VC’s Are Not Your Friends

Improving Sales: The Excuse Department is Closed

Book Review: Use What You Have

I received the book…Use What You Have, Get What You Want by Jack Nadel a few weeks ago. It is one of those short books, filled with many pages of insights, from a person who has achieved substantial success in life. The book is made up of 100 basic ideas that the author has learned and experienced personally, during the course of his life.

The last three weeks has been an exceptionally busy period for me, yet, I found it enjoyable to open up this book and read the basic ideas in the book. Most of the ideas are not ground breaking. They are not meant to be. Most of the best advice that I have ever received, is being able to take complex problems and explain them through simple solutions. This book does that in many ways. With every one of the basic ideas, the author has written a little about the base premise and attached a personal story to give it context. Listed below are five of my favorite ideas from the book:

1. Sell it before you commit to making it or doing it: This is something that I have recently started to put into practice, far more than I ever used to. This is part of a customer validation process and requires business validation, by ensuring the product/service they are building actually has a customer who is willing to pay for it. I have made the mistake of assuming demand without doing the necessary groundwork, it never ends well.

2. Don’t fall in love with your idea: This one really stood out for me. When I read the accompanying story it made a lot of sense. As entrepreneurs, we do become obsessed with our ideas and businesses to the point that it blinds us from seeing the actual reality. Keeping a realistic perspective and taking in feedback is critical to maintain an even keel. This one idea, was by far the one which had the greatest level of impact on my thinking.

3. If you can’t explain your product or service in 30 seconds, you probably can’t sell it: This is another litmus test that many of us fail to take into account when we construct our business ideas. The ability to articulate your vision into simple and concise words, cannot be discounted. One must be able to communicate the basic premise behind the idea in a matter of seconds. This can be done through frames of reference or simple language.

4. Leave something on the table: This negotiating technique was quite revealing. I was taught to negotiate your way to maximize your personal upside on every deal one does. Leaving something on the table however, sounds like a way to maximize your overall upside. This is what I really like about this book, the fact that it makes you think about the simple facts that one often glazes over subconsciously, without paying them much attention.

5. Money attracts good people, but prides makes them great: This is another great point in the book. I have personally seen this many a time in my own experience. Giving the people that one works with, the opportunity to shine and be recognized for the work they do, does wonders for their motivation levels. Yet, many times these people are not given this opportunity, which is a reason companies lose key people and end up wondering what they did wrong.

In conclusion, I liked the book. It is a very easy read, one that provides a lot of bite sized nuggets of advice, which could be helpful to just about anyone in business, regardless of the stage of their work . If you have read the book, I would like to hear your feedback and perhaps the one idea that you took away from the book.

The Last 7 Days

The last 7 days have been an absolute blur. I have probably averaged 3 hours of sleep daily. It all started when we flipped the switch on for our Identifii Alpha program. We expected our close friends and family to be the only ones who would actually be using it. We were however very pleasantly surprised when after 7 days we have just crossed 750+ alpha users who have signed up for the program. The list is growing at an exponential rate and one could not ask for a better start.

Some major take-aways from the last 7 days have been:

1. Release Early: Launch your web app with the most basic functionality as soon as you can. Keep it behind closed doors, with the functionality enabling existing users to invite more users into the app. This helps you to measure important metrics, like viral coefficients etc.

2. Email Marketing is Critical: Without Mailchimp we would have been lost. Through this channel we have started some amazing conversations with our initial user base. Put an effort into making some custom templates for your emails and split test your subject titles to ensure you get the best ROI on your list.

3. Social Channels: This is a major time-sink once you start to get some traction. Limit your channels to those that you can manage effectively. We are currently most active on Twitter and have a very tight alpha user group setup on Facebook. We have not started our blog yet and will only do so when we find a community manager. (This position is currently open. If you want to meet people all over the world and work closely with the Identifii team, please send me a message).

I will make up for past posts as quickly as I can. I apologize for the gap in my posting schedule!