Startup Archive

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GLSEC Retrospective

GLSECI’m back from a quick trip to Michigan.  The Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference was taking place and my talk had been accepted.  My talk was titled Breaking the Law of Bureaucracy (I’ll upload my deck in a few days) and the topic was Servant-Leadership.  Though I really enjoyed giving my talk, the best part of my visit was all of the people I interacted with.  I finally met Casey DuBois, a guy I’ve known via email and phone for over a decade.  We used to do business together (long distance) and this meetup was a long time coming.  Next, I met several people from Atomic Object and drank a bunch of their coffee.  Later, I met the organizers, sponsors, and other speakers who made the conference happen.  And to think that was just Friday.

Saturday went by way too fast.  Everything ran very smoothly. I gave my talk, we played Simon Says and Red Light Green Light, and I even had an opportunity to meet Ben Lichtenwalner from ModernServantLeader.com. If I could have done anything more, it would have been attend more of the sessions.  The speakers and content were top notch.

It was really exciting to talk to a few local startups from the Grand Rapids area and to hear about a local incubator called Momentum. It made me realize the importance of local incubators and helping startups succeed.  These startups have solid ideas!  I’d write about them now but I want to have standalone posts for them.

So, I’m going to keep this short.

Thank you to Grand Rapids for a truly awesome experience.  A very special thank you to Mr. Casey DuBois for his amazing hospitality.

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New Show Announced on ThisWeekIn Network #TWiCCourtesy

You heard it here first, the ThisWeekIn Network is announcing its latest show titled This Week in Common Courtesy.  In this week’s episode, Derek Huether expounds upon the topic of common courtesy.

Guest 1:

Our first guest is none other than TWiVC host, Mark Suster. Mark had quite a bit to say about the right way to cancel a meeting.  I certainly agree with his frustrations.

Thank you Mark for the short but to-the-point reply.

Guest 2:

After a (Generation Y) Mahalo employee gave his resignation notice via email, CEO of Mahalo and TWiST Host Jason Calacanis, calmly explained the value employees provide, just by showing up for work.  He went on to provide valuable insights to help some Generation Y understand their place in the world and what they deserve.

After this very instructional message, you’d think members of Generation Y would have had the common courtesy of listening.  A few days later, I reported an average performance rating for a (GenY) subordinate.  She then argued with me about not giving her a perfect 10.  When push comes to shove, I’m the one doing the assessment.  Have the common courtesy of respecting that and ask how to excel in your position, not just show up.  Jason’s supporting comment to me was:

Jason, though she is no longer with our organization, I will make sure she gets her trophy.

That’s all the time we have for this week.

I would like to thank @PowerVPS We’re powered by the cloud

& @Jason We are entertained!

Don’t forget to thank our sponsors and use the hashtag #TWiCCoutesy

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The Critical Path Week Ending February 28

January 28 through February 5Due to working crazy off hours in preparation for my v1.0 launch, I not only forgot to do a week in review on the 20th, I also missed meeting my writing commitment on the 24th and 25th.  Whatever the excuses, I was feeling a little burned out.  I have to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Writing a daily blog takes a lot of discipline.  Though I have so much to say, it can escape me if I don’t get the idea captured quickly.  Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s almost March.  At least there should be viewer posts about snow removal.

2/26/2010

Putting Things In Perspective

I had mild chest and shoulder pains this morning. I am in the ER waiting to see the doctor. I’ll let you know the outcome and my status shortly…

2/23/2010

Satisfying Needed Scope Versus Wants

There are many templates and means to ensure your project meets the requirements.  But I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure you’re working to satisfy the requirements (or scope) first…

2/22/2010

The Hateful Cycle of Apathy Hits a Nerve

Have you ever stuck your neck out and get no support?  Did the trust among that team start to break down? I’ve seen it happen first hand and Geoff Crane wrote an awesome post over at Papercut Edge about it…

2/21/2010

How To Prevent Your Project From Hemorrhaging

This post is in response to a post written by Jennifer Bedell on the PMStudent blog about goldplating. Goldplating is very common in application development and can be very expensive…

2/20/2010

How Owners Managers and Leaders Differ

I was asked a very interesting question today, requiring me to stop and think. How do I believe being an entrepreneur and a business owner differ? It’s a very good question because…

2/19/2010

What You Need Is Some Kaizen

While sitting in a governance meeting the other day, I heard how (before I joined the team) a vendor brought in some high paid six sigma black belts to…

2/18/2010

How to Thank a Managed Camel

I was informed I am the winner of the very first Freedom of Speech February (FOSF) giveaway from How to Manage a Camel.  My comments last week on a blog post by Gary Holmes earned me a free copy of the Method123 Project Management Methodology (MPMM™) Professional from their partners at Method123…

2/17/2010

Creeping Ever So Closer To Closure

As my startup project is creeping ever so closer to its closure and the actual launch of the product happens, I’m feverishly completing activities late into the night.  It’s not easy working crazy hours to get this done.  My family goes to bed, I drink a pot of coffee, and get to work…

2/16/2010

Interesting PMI Perspective On Claiming PDUs

…Based on the telephone conversation I had, if you’ve worked as a PM for at least 6 months, you can claim 5 PDUs.  Otherwise, if you are able to say you spend more than 1,500 hours per calendar year in that roll, you also qualify to claim the 5 PDUs…

2/15/2010

Getting Exactly What You Want

I just wrapped up a week long logo design project at 99Designs, with an intellectual property transfer agreement.  Flash back to August 2009, when I was watching Episode 13 of This Week in Startups

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How Owners Managers and Leaders Differ

I was asked a very interesting question today, requiring me to stop and think. How do I believe being an entrepreneur and a business owner differ? It’s a very good question because if you don’t know either an entrepreneur or business owner, I don’t know how any textbook answer would satisfy.

From my perspective, a business owner’s identity is merely the act of having and controlling property.  They could potentially inherit the family business, therefore becoming a business owner.  They could be very excited or could care less, looking for an exit strategy.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand are passionate, committed, skilled, creators of value.  They create because they have a fire in their belly.  As an entrepreneur, they can’t help themselves.  It’s in their DNA.  They are so laser focused on what they are trying to create, people can either think they are crazy or brilliant.  But, with that charisma, people will be inspired and follow.

These contrasts aren’t too far off from Project Managers and Project Leaders. PMI defines a Project Manager (PMBoK Page 444) as the person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. As I wrote in a previous post, there are several contrasts between a manager and a leader (Bennis & Goldsmith 1997)

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

So, what are you?  Are you happy? Why?

(image by apogeehps.com)

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Getting Exactly What You Want

I just wrapped up a week long logo design project at 99Designs, with an intellectual property transfer agreement.  Flash back to August 2009, when I was watching Episode 13 of This Week in Startups. In it, there was an interview with the founder of a disruptive startup which connects passionate designers from around the globe with savvy clients who need design projects completed in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.  The company is called 99Designs.  With less than 30 days from our startup launch, it was time to complete a scheduled task titled Get logo for HueCubed.

Because this is a bootstrapped effort, my budget was very low.  With a mere $150 to award to a designer, I was told it could go a long way on 99Designs.  As the contest sponsor, I answered a few questions about what the logo was for and any preferences that could help designers create original artwork to meet my needs.  The website was very straightforward. What was very helpful was it allowed both a public comment board and private comment board for your contest.  With 106 logo submissions, we narrowed it down to 3 designers.  Mictoon, Richard Scott Design, and mèrshî

With permission from two of the designers, I wanted to post submissions that made it to the finals.

Mictoon submission

Mictoon was the first to submit to the contest and continued to provide revised logos up until the end.  This designer was impressive in responding to every request we had.  I would post a comment about what I liked and what I did not like and we would get new submissions within a few hours.  I greatly appreciated the efforts made.  But with all contests, there can be only one winner.  Still, if you’re ever on 99Designs, I would recommend you send a direct message and invite a submission.

Richard Scott Design Submission

Another very impressive designer was Richard Scott Design.  Within just a few iterations, this logo was as professional as it could be.  Again, the designer was very responsive to our requests.  That’s the one thing I think made this effort such a success.  There was a huge volume of communications from both the designers and us.  I’ve never seen a successful project, when people operated in a void.  The more communications, the greater probability for success.

And this brings us to the winning submission.  mèrshî made the submission below and we were kind of taken back.  It had balance, clean lines, and nice colors.  The graphic could stand alone or could be paired with the font.  We made sure the font was under GPU/GPL so we wouldn’t have to pay anything extra or hit a legal snag.  Within a few hours of winning the contest, multiple high res versions of the logo were provided to us, and we signed the intellectual property transfer agreement.  Again, 99Designs made it very easy to take ownership.  We really want to thank mèrshî for being so very accommodating, ensuring we had everything we needed.

Winning submission from mèrshî

I would greatly recommend 99Designs to anyone who needs a graphic.  As a disclaimer, I am not being compensated by 99Designs in any way for the review I am writing.  To the contrary, I paid them!

When you’re bootstrapping a startup, you do what you can with the resources you have.  Thank you to Jason Calacanis for creating and hosting This Week in Startups.  Without the show, I might not have heard of 99Designs.