Archive for June, 2009

24
Jun
09

#9 – Don’t Panic Call Tim

Combining Acts of Kindness to
Win Friends and Motivate Strangers™

33 Ideas that will empower you with your coworkers, peers, family, friends and strangers

I’m sure you’ve heard the quote from Sir Isaac Newton, “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” Or from President Jimmy Carter, “Good intentions, beget good intentions.” The analogy I’m pushing here is “what we give, we usually get back,” and hence the premise of my book.

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with some remarkable entrepreneurs, innovators of technology and captains of industry. Some of my employers and some of my clients proved to be outstanding managers and business people. Others failed miserably at being managers and business owners, and even worse at possessing any people skills. “Combining Acts of Kindness to Win Friends and Motivate Strangers” will document some of the events that happened during my career, and how a simple act of kindness can trigger combining acts of kindness and change a person’s life. While my book is in development, I thought I’d share some of the highlights in my blog, and welcome your comments.

#9 – Don’t Panic Call Tim

It was a beautiful summer morning, and the beginning of a work week at our start-up electronics company in Silicon Valley. I was employee #30 of 55, in charge of marketing communications as the company’s product was still in beta stage. If any of you’ve worked in a start-up, you know that the job description given you is only a suggestion, and most likely you’ll be handling a myriad of other tasks to get the boat afloat. So I pretty much jumped in to support others in the company where I could, from stacking boxes to handling the phones, to helping in client product demonstrations.

The prior week we hired our first field technician/engineer, a young guy named Remi, who had three years of work experience at a larger, well established company. Remi was still a bit green in experience, but what he lacked in experience, he made up in enthusiasm.

Remi, reported directly to the VP of Engineering. She was a real no-nonsense straight shooter, who was brilliant at engineering, but lacking any social skills, was a true “ball-buster” type of manager. She would routinely degrade her employees if they failed to complete a task, and she would do it in front of the entire engineering team during her weekly staff meeting.

After sitting through his first staff meeting the previous week, I’m sure Remi was thinking “what did I get myself into?” His assignment to have been completed by Monday was not going to happen, and of course, he was panicked at the idea of what he would endure at staff.

That morning I met up with Remi in the company breakroom and asked how things were going and if he was getting settled in. He sheepishly answered he was settling in, but thought he might not make it through the week. I was shocked at his answer, and asked why?

He confided that the VP of Engineering handed him an assignment, but didn’t give any direction on how to get it done. I laughed and told him it was typical and her way of delivering her now infamous “trial by fire” method of training. I told him not to panic and I’d connect him with someone who could help. Walking him over to Tim, one of the co-founders and key engineering gurus for the company, I made the introductions and explained that Remi needed some help in getting a project done. Knowing Tim was the go-to guy for our company, and the fact he was a great coach and mentoring type person, I knew Remi would do just fine.

The Kindness of Others.

The next day I asked Remi how things went at staff. He smiled and said “thanks for the introduction to Tim, he helped me get my project on track and even though I didn’t complete it in time, he gave me great advice on presenting the facts to the VP.” “He probably saved my job!” he said. We both laughed, but down deep I’m thinking Remi was really thinking he was going to get fired, or worse, quit because he was so embarrassed in front of his new peers.

Remi stayed with the company another eight years, and was promoted several times to a final title of Director of Engineering. The company was successfully sold and he started up his own technology company soon after. We’ve stayed in touch over the years since and remain friends. He’s also helped me with introductions to new clients and has helped me in my business. As for the VP of Engineering, over the next two years I worked with her, she lost all respect from her team and the rest of the company. Ultimately, she lost her job because she was extremely ineffective as a manager.

Bright Idea!
When you meet a new employee, take time to get to know them. Take the lead and make introductions around your department or even around the company where you have connections. Don’t let them feel like strangers. Give advice sparingly, as not to be a “know it all,” and become a good listener, so you can learn about them as a person, not just a co-worker.

Get on the list!

The book will be out later this year, if you’d like one of the first copies, drop me a note and I’ll put you on a list for a personalized copy. Write me at connect@allanlinden.com

©2009 Allan Linden. Bright Idea is a service mark of Allan Linden Global Marketing Consultants. Combining Acts of Kindness to Win Friends and Motivate Strangers is a trademark of Allan Linden. All rights reserved.

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19
Jun
09

Looking for money in all the wrong places…

Over the year’s I’ve been part of 6 start-ups, 3 successfully sold and 3 didn’t fare well at the end. Modestly, I must admit that I’ve helped over 100 companies launch during my career and if there was one commonality that they all shared it was money, and the lack there of.

“All we need is $500,000 to get to the next step, but no one is interested.” That is a very familiar comment with entrepreneurs, and whether it is $100.00 or $10 million, the challenge finding the money and investors can be like climbing Mt. Everest in mid-winter. Here are 3 ideas for you and have helped myself and clients in the past:

1. Investor, VC or Business Loan? The first reaction for many is to say “I’ll go after a VC or Investor for money.” It would seem natural and easy as this type of financing is more knowledgeable about working with entrepreneurial risk. But, get in line, as thousands are in front of you pitching the next “Sham-Wow” and giving up 50, 60 even 70 percent of their company and ideas in exchange for a shot at stardom.

Business loans are another idea for funding. Right now, our Government is offering an incentive to business banks to push the SBA loan program. This type of stimulas package is an entrepreneurs boom, and one you should seriously look at. Loans from $5,000 to $2 million are available now, and even with what is happening in the credit market, you can still get funding. Best of all, you aren’t giving up your company to get the ball rolling.

2. Business plans that make sense. I’ve seen them all and hey, even written some of the 168 page “War and Peace” type business plans myself. Bottom line here is to write only what is needed now, not what your dream will be next year or 10 years from now. Why? Simple, the person you are presenting to only cares about the what, who, when and why. Many times a 1 page or 2 page business plan is all that is needed. Keep it simple and win.

3. Asking for $100 or $10 million is just as hard, so ask for $10 million. If you asked me today how many of my clients have gone out of business because they didn’t ask for enough money up front, I’d rattle off a slew of names. Look, if you only need $500,000 to last for 2 years, perhaps you should ask for $20 million instead. If you really do have a $100 million dollar idea, get some real investors behind you. You’ll find it easier to get your running money up front the first time, because going back to the well for more, is twice as difficult and will cost you and your original investors with the ultimate delusion of stock and company value.

Start with clear messaging and strategy for your product or company. Keep description simple so that the average person without a PhD in Biochemistry can understand what it is, what it can do, why someone needs it. Finally, make it clear what’s in it for the investor with clear benchmarks of time, income and profit.

If you’d like to speak with me about writing a 2 page winning business plan, give a call. It’s free to budding entrepreneurs.

Allan
http://www.allanlinden.com
connect@allanlinden.com