Here is the slideware for my second talk, “Dating Skills For Engineers ( 2013 Version)”, given to UBC Engineering Physics Students (Fizz) yesterday. I begin with Seth Godin’s Be Remarkable. Then I focus on four skills – Communicating (Heath Brothers), Listening (Marshal Goldsmith), Helping (Edgar Schein), and Don’t Be An Asshole (Robert Sutton). I also add in the Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) as part of Don’t Be An Asshole.
I used to call this talk “Entrepreneurship Fundamental Skills” and the nickname that emerged was “Dating Skills For Engineers”.
Here is a list of links that support the presentation
I was out at UBC today lecturing on Entrepreneurship to Eng Phys ProjectLab students. Here is the slideware.
I say that Entrepreneurship is about Radical Change. I talk about “HowTo Change” using the example of Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad process ( which is an iterative, step-by-step, drip-by-drip method ) plus support from other experts.
I focus on 5 Points — Purpose, You, Process, Customers, and Scorecard.
Purpose » Drucker’s Purpose of Business, You » Martin’s Knowledge Funnel + Soft-Skills, Process » Blank’s Customer Development, Customers » Moore’s Crossing the Chasm + Product/Service Journey Sketch, Scorecard » Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.
A big Thank You to Jon, Chris, and Bernhard for providing me the opportunity to speak.
The conclusion: People problems are the leading cause of failure in startups.
The patterns he focusses on are:
Career Dilemmas – Should I found? When? Why? With Whom?
Wealth vs Control Dilemmas – The finding that drives this is On average, the founders who keep the most control over their company make the least amount of money.
Founding Team Dilemmas – Solo vs Team? Friends? Roles? Rewards ( Equity Splits and Compensation), Hiring, Investors, CEO-Succession
Many of us have a few unique experiences in each of these areas, but none of us have this huge array of experiences. It is good to see that we’re not alone in our experiences and that there are other choices to make.
The Wealth vs Control Dilemma is a curious one to me. It really grabbed me when I read Eric Ries’ review of this book last year. It made me think of PMC-Sierra founder Greg Aasen right away. I always thought his “give up control” strategy was unique and only worked for him. But turns out, “it’s a thing”. A good “thing”.
The only “quibble” that I’ve found so far with this book is that “It’s not a practitioner book”. It’s a data driven study of startups. That’s not bad, just is what it is. How one chooses to “interpret” the data always creates some “tension”. It’s also “too logical”, if that makes any sense.
Let’s start by referring to Drucker. We get the following definition from pages 20 & 21 in “Essential Drucker“.
There will always, one can assume, be the need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superflous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.
Here are some more supporting points from those pages:
Business has 2 basic functions: marketing and innovation.
Despite the emphasis on marketing and the marketing approach, marketing is still rhetoric rather than reality in far too many organizations.
True marketing does not ask, “What do we want to sell?”. It asks, “What does the customer want to buy?”
It does not say, “This is what our product or service does. It says, These are the satisfactions the customer is looking for, values, and needs.
Indeed, selling and marketing are antithetical rather than synonymous or even complementary.
Discussion — Overall, this is a very tall order.
How many products/services fit this bill? The product that comes to mind quickly is iPod. The iPod, and its ecosystem, illustrate just how difficult it is to get a product to sell itself. It’s iPod, iTunes Player, iTunes Store ( they solved legal DRM problem and got music industry on board), an O/S for multimedia, the CD ripper/burner, and more details. It’s taken ~ 5+ years to get going on all cylinders. It was obvious in the early years that people wanted music on the net ’cause Napster was such a huge thing. But making iPod mainstream, that is a work of pure genius (and loads of hard work). It was a good idea that was refined, refined, refined, and is still being refined. It’s like a non-stop loop of listen & react. ( I think the Japanese have a word for this “kaizen”)
I like how Seth starts with the no-brainer idea of “sliced bread”. Yup “Sliced Bread” sucked for 15 years, it was not an instant hit.
More On Purple Cow Book
He argues that the only way to cut the hyper-clutter of products and advertising today is to innovate something new, unique and remarkable – like a purple cow.
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones. (via Seth)
Why is that all of us can have a good meeting with a customer and then come back to the office to disagree with everyone else on what the customer wants? Most people are good at talking to the customer. Our society prepares us well by banging the customer into our heads all the time with phrases like, “The Customer is always right!”. We all know about Listening and Reacting. Why are we so often individually correct and collectively in disagreement?
The root of this disagreement is often that the customer is more than one person and communication between all the groups within a customer is not perfect . Each of us talks to a different set of people who each have different requirements. Few of us talk to more than one department within the customer’s organization. We know what each individual group wants, but often we don’t understand what the “whole” customer wants. We need to aggregate all this communication and we’ve got to decide which “customer/prospect” we should be talking to.
This disagreement is exacerbated by the fact that post-sales departments usually have better relationships with the customer than pre-sales departments ( ie sales & marketing ). The post-sales guys actually work with the customer over long periods of time and have to develop a working relationship. A lot can be learned about what the customer wants from post-sales staff. That said — The post-sales guys can also be a real drag when a past great customer becomes a bad investment. These departments will resist change and will question “new prospects” forever. They’ve invested a lot in the past customers. I read a great quote the other day in the Wikinomics Book that fits here, “These people act like Tarzan … they hold onto the old vine until the new vine in securely in place.”
In summary, Listening and Reacting to the customer is challenged by the following points.
The Customer is a “group” of differing opinions.
You (The Vendor) are a “group” of differing opinions.
You have many departments that have a strong preference for who the customer should be.
It is very rare that the “whole” customer and the “whole” firm meet at the same time.
These challenges define the most important actions that people with marketing titles perform. That is:
Know who the right customer is.
Connect that customer with the right people, and information, inside the firm.