Saturday, May 26, 2007

Brainstorming Technique: "The Search Party"

This concept comes courtesy of Dave Franchino of Design Concepts, and his client Rite Hite.

The way it works is as follows:
  • A group of individuals are seated in a room, each in front of computers facing the same direction and connected to the internet.
  • There is a LCD projector at the front of the room and a selector switch that allows any individual to share what they are looking at on their computer up on the screen.
  • The team begins to search for web links on a specific topic of interest.
  • If anyone finds a link that is interesting or applicable to the topic at hand, they stop the group and put it up on the screen for everyone’s review and discussion.
  • Relevant links are copied into a shared document in real-time. (Hope they use PBwiki --Ed.)
  • The team uses found links to co-educate and to branch out the search and try to explore and document all relevant aspects of the topic in a short amount of time.
Sounds like a great technique for combining two typically distinct tasks--brainstorming anf Googling. Can't wait to give it a try.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How To Persuade Americans, Germans, Spaniards, and Chinese

Fascinating article on how different cultures respond to different forms of persuasion. The bottom line? When asked to do something, Americans ask what's in it for them. Germans ask if the request complies with rules and regulations. Spaniards consider whether or not the person asking the favor is a friend. And Chinese consider the status and connections of the requester.

Perhaps there is something to our cultural stereotypes after all!

Morris and colleagues surveyed Citibank branches within four different countries-the United States, Germany, Spain, and China (Hong Kong)-and measured employees' willingness to comply voluntarily with a request from a co-worker for help with a task. Although the survey respondents were influenced by many of the same factors, some factors were more influential than others.

Employees in the United States, for instance, were most likely to take an approach based on direct reciprocation. They asked the question, "What has this person done for me?" and felt obligated to volunteer if they owed the requester a favor. German employees, on the other hand, were most likely to be influenced by whether or not the request stayed within the rules of the organization. They decided whether to comply by asking, "According to official regulations and categories, am I supposed to assist this requester?" Spanish Citibank personnel based the decision mostly on friendship norms that encourage faithfulness to one's friends, regardless of position or status. They asked, "Is this requester connected to my friends?" And finally, Chinese employees responded primarily to authority in the form of loyalties to those of high status within their small group. They asked, "Is this requester connected to someone in my unit, especially someone who is high-ranking?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book Pick: My Start-Up Life

Starting a company is hard. And starting your first company is nearly impossible.

Now imagine how hard it would be if A) you were still only 15 years old, and B) were struggling to finish *high school*.

That's the situation in my friend Ben Casnocha's first book, My Start-Up Life, which earns my hearty recommendation.

Ben's book mixes together the story of how he came to found his first company, and the lessons on entrepreneurship that he picked up along the way.

It's a great book for first-time entrepreneurs, or for any of us old fogies who've forgotten what it was like our first time out.

Plus, if you buy it today, you can help Ben push it into the Top 100 on Amazon!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Long-term Perspectives for Young Entrepreneurs

I was talking with my friend Penelope Trunk (side note: BUY HER BOOK, like everything else about her, it's great), who encouraged me to post a few of the tidbits I shared. Thank you, Penelope.

I work a lot with young entrepreneurs, which means that I work with a lot of first-time entrepreneurs. Some of the most valuable advice I give them is to take a long-term perspective.

"Don't confuse effort with results."

The romanticized image of working 24/7 often causes young entrepreneurs to think that the key to success is hard work. Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient. The smart entrepreneur focuses on results, rather than simply trying to outwork the competition.

"Don't let your natural instinct for action overwhelm your view of the big picture."

Many entrepreneurs, being action-oriented, think that the first thing to do when a challenge arises is to rush into solving it. WRONG! Reacting instantaneously to everything that happens is a certain recipe for incoherent strategy and business disaster. It's like the dieter who weighs himself every day--basing his self-worth and actions on a metric that naturally varies on a day-to-day basis. Unless you learn something that invalidates your strategy and goals, it's best to focus on the important things, rather than the urgent ones.

"There will be times when you feel invincible. There will be times when you feel doomed. You're wrong in both cases."

Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride. If you treat each step forward as a triumph, and each step backwards as a tragedy, you'll find yourself emotionally exhausted and, likely, making bad decisions. Keep your eye on the big picture, and don't let the highs and lows get away from you.