Posts Tagged ‘Guy Ralfe’

Week In Review – Apr 18 – Apr 24, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 25, 2010

Webinar Strategy and Elephant Chunks

by Wayne Turmel, Apr 19, 2010

Most small companies and startups do not have the time and money to create marketing webinars, customer training and recordings for the website. The task may seem daunting, but not so if you break it up into small bite sized chunks. In this article Wayne provides a concise strategy to attack this problem. more…

In Sharing look for Caring

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 20, 2010

Great article! A must read. In your entrepreneurial endeavor, you will meet a variety of people. Guy has made it really simple to identify them into 4 distinct categories. Partners are those with high level of domain knowledge and have the inclination and capacity to assist you. Seek them. At any cost stay away from onions and decoys. But make sure your assessments of people are correct though. more…

Leadership Cancers #6: Leave your heart at home

by Gary Monti, Apr 21, 2010

Yet another deeply thought provoking article by Gary! Life is challenging and business is even more so. Every day you come across situations that require you to make tough decisions. When at a cross road, reach out to your inner compass. This reminds me of the great speech Al Pacino delivers in the movie Scent of a Woman. more…

Announcing 99tribes.com – People discovery engine for Twitter

The Active Garage Team, Apr 22, 2010

This is a great day for us at Active Garage! We are proud to announce the launch of our newest project, 99Tribes – A People discovery engine for Twitter.

What distinguishes 99Tribes from all other people directories on Twitter? 99Tribes helps you find and DISCOVER twitter users who share their interests. Based on the patented Rawsugar technology, you can start discovering people by typing what you are interested in (popular examples being: marketing, sales, blogging etc.)

Don’t wait. Go ahead, check it out, add yourself to 99Tribes and have fun discovering others with like interests!

Author’s Journey #18: Evaluating your current online visibility

by Roger Parker, Apr 23, 2010

After going through the first two steps Planning and Writing, we are now at Step 3, Promoting. The first thing to do in this stage is to evaluate your online platform that determines your online visibility. In this article Roger provides some great tips and techniques to cultivate and enhance your online assets. more…

In Sharing look for Caring

by Guy Ralfe on April 20, 2010

Whenever you try something new and share your idea with others, you get met with such diverse responses. How people respond affects how you see the world too.

Go through a day where you come across three people who spend all their time telling you why you will fail and you quickly start to question your judgment. On the other hand discuss the same idea with three optimists and you suddenly think you are setting your sights too low.

What we must always be aware of is that when you tell someone your idea or ambition their response is always from their point of view. Their point of view appears to be driven by two factors:

  1. Knowledge of the topic or business area
  2. Support – driven by the persons mood, personality, ambition combination

Having reflected on this over the last few weeks I have come up with Guy’s Magic People Quadrant.

Guy’s Magic People Quadrant

Neatly illustrated in the picture there are four quadrants; Partner, Decoy, Fairy, Onion determined by the intersection of the above two factors of Knowledge and Support.

Partner – These are the individuals you need to isolate and partner with for longer term success. These individuals have a keen understanding of the business or topic to be able to advise, mentor and facilitate your success not just provide you with support. These individuals are interested and inquiring into your plans and able to guide rather than just bestow good wishes. They care.
Decoy – These are the individuals you have to watch out for. While they share the same knowledge as the partner group, their moods, personality and ambitions prevent them for providing you support, unless it is for their gain. These individuals (or groups) appear as inquisitive as partners do but are extremely selfish and you are viewed as purely a pawn to achieve their ambitions. They can come across as supportive but will soon show up in conflict with their words through their actions. BEWARE!

Fairy – This group have little to no knowledge of the topic, however from what you tell them they formulate an image based on how they see what you are doing. Your ambition appears to them as grandiose and enviable. For them they cannot see themselves making a similar choice or action, for this they are in awe and wish you every success, and believe that you will have success. These people would help you if they could. In reality this is the fairy godmother talking to you – yes you do feel good but you are no better off when you wake up.

Onion – The next best way to describe this group is disinterested or self important. These people are so selfish that the notion of you having an ambition brings tears to their eyes. Having the conversation with these types is like talking to a black hole – it sucks the life out of you. Keep clear!

One thing to know is that there is a lot of gray between the obvious extremities that I describe above, but if you are going to discuss your ambitions with others be mindful of the individual behind the spoken words before you respond to them. Reputations are earned and past actions are a fairly good indication of future. There is no short cut to gaining Knowledge, but gaining it from people who care is about as good as it gets.

Seek out Partners in all that you strive for in your careers, and bump into the odd Fairy just to keep your spirits up. Good luck!

Week In Review – Apr 11 – Apr 17, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 18, 2010

Lifecycle Management: Knowing what your company owns, how it’s being used and where it lives

by Matthew Carmen, Apr 12, 2010

The key to managing a financially sound IT organization is to start with a sound planning and implementation process. You need to know what it is you are managing. They are software licenses, hardware assets, leased equipment and the list goes on and on. Knowing this is the first step to understanding how they are used and the details surrounding the total cost of ownership. more…

Leadership Cancers #5: Simplemindedness

by Gary Monti, Apr 13, 2010

The difference between simple and simplemindedness is a razors edge. When designing a solution for a customer, you need to understand the disciplines, principles and the balance between them that is required to go from customer requirements to functional specifications to design to production. Failing to recognize any one aspect will lead to a simpleminded solution that will introduce unintended complexity. more…

Customer is King

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 14, 2010

As Guy wades deeper into his new domain of business, he is able to understand with great clarity that the first order of business is to take care of customers. This cardinal notion spans across all industries without exception. If you do not take care of your customers, somebody else will and you don’t that to happen. more…

Business Valuation in divorce is different

by Steve Popell, Apr 15, 2010

In a divorce situation, the manager-spouse purchases the community property interest of the non-manager-spouse through the process of community property division. The standard “fair market value” method of evaluation is not valid here. Read this article to understand the fundamentals of this evaluation method. more…

Author’s Journey #17: Finishing your book on time and avoiding writer’s block

by Roger Parker, Apr 16, 2010

Finishing a book on time and avoiding writer’s block is a challenge to many authors. Better planning will help you finish your book on time. Start by creating a content plan and commit to a daily progress. more…

Customer is King

by Guy Ralfe on April 14, 2010

As I continue to share my experiences in the journey from corporate jockey to being an owner and entrepreneur it amazes me how similar business is, irrespective of which vertical or market sector you operate in.

I have moved from the high tech IT solution delivery to application of specialty coatings in the construction world. What is very apparent is that business seems to be the same at successful companies. Contrary to conventional understanding business is not about the product. Yes product is important but not fundamental in a way that customers are.

There is a saying “Take care of your customers and the business will follow

I have found this to be true looking back at the various companies I have worked at and when business has been good. Where I see the challenge is that most people don’t stop and think who the customer is for them or their organization.

This last week I watched a TV program Undercover Boss, which featured Chris McCann, President and COO of 1-800-Flowers.com going undercover to visit franchise stores to get a better understanding of what they could improve.  What became very clear is that they had lost focus of who their customers were – yes ultimately it was the consumer of their product but along the way the franchise store is actually their primary customer. What was amazing to see was that even though the product (arranged flowers and chocolates) were the same for the stores the individual stores success hinged on the relationships the staff created with the customers. And by the same measure the challenges that the franchise stores were facing was as a result of a neglected relationship with the central franchisor management.

In reflecting on how we transact, think about the people that you socialize with and who you call for help or favors in your network. Without giving it much thought you go out your way to take care of them and maintain the relationship. These relationships work in a symbiotic or balanced manner and just as when you feel down they help you through. So too should you be doing the same for your customers, both internal and external.

As another quote I found says – “If you don’t take care of your customer, someone else will….

Week In Review – Apr 4 – Apr 10, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 11, 2010

Social media distress – 3 ways to destress

by Deepika Bajaj, Apr 5, 2010

Technology has made it possible to be connected at all times and it’s getting easier everyday. Falling into this trap can cause stress. Deepika suggests some ways to help you overcome the social media stress. more…

Leadership Cancers #4: Adrenaline and testosterone

by Gary Monti, Apr 6, 2010

If you don’t plan, you have to react. In some environments, reaction is the modus operandi and it becomes the culture. Ability to react quickly is a virtue, but if that is the way of life, it causes serious problems. The solution is to plan. If you plan properly, your project will have greater flexibility at a lower cost. Of course there will be detractors and their common refrain is it is a luxury to be able to plan. They are wrong. more…

Support for Success

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 7, 2010

With a family to support, leaving a secure job in corporate America to pursue the dream of entrepreneurship in the worst economic conditions in recent memory takes guts. Guy has done it! He says he could not have done it without the help of others – Business Partners, Industry Knowledge Partners and of course support from family and friends. Moral of the story is don’t try to be the lone ranger. Getting all the support you need is crucial for your success. more…

Don’t hold back. Do ask.

by Himanshu Jhamb, Apr 8, 2010

When people get what they want, it is not magic or miracle. They ask. Unless you let your intent be known, you will not get what ever it is you are looking for. From the outside, it may look like some people are lucky. Not true. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. more…

Author’s Journey #16: Attracting the right literary agent

by Roger Parker, Apr 9, 2010

One of the most important steps in your journey to a published book is to attract the attention of the right literary agent. The old “shotgun approach” which is very inefficient and will not get the desired results. Branding is the new way that will make the agents seek you. Read this article to find out examples of the “new way”. more…

Support for Success

by Guy Ralfe on April 7, 2010

Now that I have officially started my journey as a business owner and entrepreneur, but still in the honey moon phase I can share some stark realities about starting a new venture.

Most importantly it takes guts and lots of support. At the age of 38 with a wife and two young children to support, I am leaving a secure and stable employment to relocate half way across America, to the mid-west, to start a new company in one of the worst economic environments the world has known. Making this decision consumed a lot of thinking time and with this uncertain background, produced by the media, conventional thinking does not leave you in a sane place.

I have been looking for this opportunity to begin a new business for over 6 years now, I still do not have enough guts of my own to start this – and this is why I say you need lots of support. To give you an indication of the support I am using to get this off the ground:


Business Partner –
I have a business partner that already has a very successful business in the same vertical that can provide operational expertise and contacts within the industry to minimize the lead generation and prospecting phase of starting out.
The partner approach allows for the lowering and distribution of start-up overheads, much like  an Incubation start-up.
Laws, expectations, codes of conduct, processes that can take so much time to learn and often expensive when starting out, can be circumvented.

Financial – contrary to what you may think about business, it does not all center around the business plan, it centers around the execution. You can make all the sales in the world but if you cannot cash-flow the operation then you can never think about being profitable.

Most companies will need capital to start. I have  acquired a reasonable amount of assets, which are valuable to me but they are not all seen equally valuable to my financiers. Start to think about what instruments you can use for financing before you want to begin your business.

What type of assets do you hold? –  as that affects the ratio by which banks will offer/secure lines of credit.
What is your credit score? – what can you do to minimize the impact on your credit score leading up to opening your business.

What do you need to execute your operations – transport, utilities, insurance, offices, systems, subscriptions? They all send bills regularly and all expect payment regularly.

Industry Knowledge Partners – if you are like me and are wanting to start in a field in which you are not an expert, you will need knowledge experts that can guide you through the rapids in your journey. Look to building relationships with people such as:

Suppliers

Competitors

Lawyers/ Regulatory Bodies

Accountants

Customers (though customers do prefer to deal with experts so use this avenue selectively)

Personal Support – we all have our moments when we think we are the Lone Ranger and we can do it all on our own. As I have written about before, consider the impact one decision may have on other aspects of your life.

One such aspect is your family and close friends. This opportunity wasn’t an option until it became an opportunity for my family too – and I thank them for their support.

So yes it has still taken all the guts I have to make this exciting start, my sanity could be questionable and it sure was not due to conventional thinking that I was able to choose this – it is only possible to rationalize and make this choice because of the support and help that is in place.

Timing the Flood

by Guy Ralfe on March 31, 2010

I came across this quote from William Shakespeare

“Timing is everything. There is a tide in the affairs of men which when taken at the flood leads on to fortune.”

It resonated quickly with me as I have just been through two such events recently. In the quote there are two components to the statement above that are very relevant in business:

  • Timing – being at the right place at the right time
  • Opportunity/Risk – what’s on offer at the right time

A while ago a group of us wanted to start a project. We came together and bought into a project as minority shareholders. At the time our assessments was that the investment was aligned with the return. A number of months on and with the project experiencing some hiccups and delays most of the group became distracted on other now more pertinent projects. In my case I have decided to quit my job and go and start a new business half way across the country. Now it would just happen that at the same time as I undergo my change,  the original project suddenly gets a spurt of life and with a flurry of activity another opportunity arises to invest. Only this time the project is at a stage where a product is almost in sight. In addition the particular circumstances determine that the same investment can net you more equity than at the start.

We considered it great timing back at the start of the project when I was liquid and invested, but now the opportunity is half as risky, and costing half as much for a like stake. This is the flood referred to in the quote. This is being at the right place for the jackpot and you are able to play.

Just as it is easy to have 20/20 hind sight, it feels obvious, this is when I would rather have invested, but now I can’t due to my career change decision…that’s business. Decisions are made in the moment, the sequence of events there after play out differently based on the actions taken.

The trick to hitting the flood is anticipating the future and being conscious about the decisions you make…and that they likely won’t affect just one aspect of your life.

Week In Review – Mar 21 – Mar – 27, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on March 28, 2010

Everything is so amazing and nobody is happy

by Vijay Peduru, Mar 22, 2010

Have you taken a moment to reflect how amazing it is to be living this time and age? There are so many gadgets and tools that increase our capacity phenomenally, but we often end up complaining about trivial things about them. Watch a short humorous video in this post and that will help you realize that we are very lucky indeed! more…

Leadership Cancers #2: The insanity of multitasking

by Gary Monti, Mar 23, 2010

The human brain is similar to a single core microprocessor. Multitasking in either case involves context switching which is expensive. But is it effective? Multitasking should not be confused with some tasks we can perform simultaneously, like chewing gum and walking. In this post, Gary argues that high value tasks or tasks that have high impact when something goes wrong, are not conducive to multitasking. Don’t agree? Well, have you read about the impact of texting and driving? Or next time you go to a meeting, try working on your laptop and listening to the conversation at the same time.

One of our readers Avi commented that multitasking is related to picking up tasks in a “wait” state. While it is true that this enables efficient use of time, it does not mean that you can do multiple tasks at the same time. If task A takes 40 hours, you cannot expect task B to be fit in at the same time. If task A hits a roadblock and cannot progress, task B gets worked on. Do read Gary’s response too. more…

Past is NO way to the Future

by Guy Ralfe, Mar 23, 2010

Ever dealt with a financial advisor or read an investment brochure? Their standard disclaimer is that past performance is not an indication of future performance. While knowledge of the past definitely is valuable, we should be aware that the future will not mimic the past. Now, apply this to your life and your actions; don’t let the past hinder your future performance. more…

CAPEX-Free IT: How to refresh your technology, deliver stellar IT, and keep your CFO happy

by Marc Watley, Mar 25, 2010

Money is tight everywhere. According to most surveys and reports, CAPEX spending in IT is going to increase slightly this year at best, if not remain flat. Resources are down to 2005 levels. So, how do you do more with less.  With the advent of virtualization and cloud computing, there are numerous options to pay as you go. When implementing this strategy, do it the Kaizen way. more…

Author’s Journey #14: How to get others to help you write your book

by Roger Parker, Mar 26, 2010

In this post Roger describes three basic approaches to getting others to help you write your book. They are:

1. Paying for Help
2. The Network Approach
3. Social Media Approach

Read the post to understand what they are and how to leverage existing tools. As always, your choice should be determined by your goals and your resources. more…

Past is NO way to the Future

by Guy Ralfe on March 24, 2010

In many aspects of life we look to the past performance to gauge the expected future performance. Not to be confused with the warning label on all financial institution advertisements “”Past performance is no indication of future returns”. Ironically though, every financial product sold is positioned based on its past performance. We see this reference to the past particularly in sports, where carefully compiled statistics are processed and constantly fed back during commentaries. In hiring interviews people are often asked how they handled a past situation to get an indication of what could be expected in the future.

Of particular memory was the New England Patriots winning streak in the 2007 NFL season where they won 18 straight games leading up to the Super Bowl. Their past record had been perfect up to that point and it was hard to believe that it wouldn’t continue through the Super Bowl game. I can remember the optimism and near certainty going into the game (even though I knew nothing about the sport of Football having been brought up on Rugby) just based on the historical performance. Unfortunately that Super Bowl was not to be for the Patriots.  Up to the point of losing the Super Bowl game, the historical statistics had been brandished around with such hype in the media, news and commentary, then suddenly they became obsolete and no longer relevant and the world immediately moved on. At times the statistics seem to appear as certainties/facts and you see the future as such.

What we tend to forget is that even though it is the Patriots playing there are some fundamental changes taking place between the games that from an objective point of view would not have us so focused on these statistics of the past to predict the future. The patriots only made up half the game, the New York Giants had also fought their way through to the Super Bowl and rightfully had their statistics to call upon.

This applies directly to business also, just because a situation turned out one way has little to no bearing on the next situation unless it is identical – has all the same players, having the same concerns and ambitions. What we can do however is learn from the experience and keep it in our background as we navigate our way through similar situations. The distinction is that the statistics/ past experiences/ history are kept in our background and should not become the lens through which we navigate our future situations.

This leads me to share an experience just recently where Himanshu Jhamb and I were collaborating on one of our upcoming Active Garage projects. A clear request had been made of me via email to perform some functional testing. Himanshu inquired on my progress to which I replied something like “ Previously when I have offered my help or provided feedback I had been passed over  so I did not feel it was urgent to partake in this request or that any input would be considered so I haven’t done any testing”.  Thankfully Himanshu set me straight by saying “ Guy! you are speaking a number of things not mentioned in the email but clearly they are in your head…” It was only at that point that I suddenly realized that I was looking through the lens of the past in approaching the future and this severely hampered my ability to make an objective assessment and my actions were not appropriate for the situation – the stats suddenly became useless!

Keep the past as knowledge to reference, then deal with the situation at hand working with the future in mind. This way you can build respect, trust and opportunities.

Week In Review – Mar 14 – Mar 20, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on March 21, 2010

More bang for your IT buck: Three keys to success

by Brian Superczynski, Mar 15, 2010

Making sense of financial implications of IT operations can be tricky. In fact, many organizations struggle to understand IT cost drivers and savings opportunities. To start with, IT and corporate finance should establish a meaningful partnership. But long term success depends upon applying traditional financial management practices to vendor and asset management. more…

Leadership Cancers #1: Independence, The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Death of Cooperation

by Gary Monti, Mar 16, 2010

Imagine you have 2 resources who need to cooperate to get the task done, but are at odds with each other. This is not an atypical problem in teams. To understand the various scenarios, you can create a cost comparison matrix using the prisoner’s dilemma model in game theory. The most optimal solution may not be viable. You could tie other forms of compensations and incentives to this model to come up with the most cost effective strategy. more…

Save Energy, be on the offensive

by Guy Ralfe, Mar 17, 2010

Being a project manager can sometimes feel like playing the role of “the pack” in rugby. The opposing team can be compared to time and money. Slipping delivery dates is not uncommon. But if you don’t manage the situation carefully, your stakeholders will be calling the shots instead of you. At this point you wills tart playing defense and this will wear your team out. more…

Looking to sell your company? Don’t be in a hurry…

by Steve Popell, Mar 18, 2010

You are right on the money if you are thinking this is not the right time to sell your company. In fact, it may be three or four years before the situation is ripe for merger and acquisition market to turn around fully. In the meanwhile, focus on making your company a highly attractive strategic acquisition candidate. Have a strategic plan and periodically compare plan vs action. more…

Author’s Journey #13: Testing your book’s proposed title and subtitle

by Roger Parker, Mar 19, 2010

Test your shortlisted titles to narrow down to the best one for your book. It takes a little effort to test, but it can save you a lot of frustration down the road. You can use websites, pay-per-click options and online surveys. Follow the best practices and survey the right people. To learn more about surveys and market testing, the recommended reading is Jay Conrad Levinsonand Robert Kaden’s More Guerrilla Marketing Research. more…