Posts made in March, 2014

Think like Isaac Newton: 8 Ways to Become an Accurate Thinker

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Change Your Thoughts | 0 comments

What do you find difficult to think accurately on?

How accurate is your thought towards your goal?

Do you want to take your thinking faculty to the next level?

cyt accurate thinkingScientists are said to be the accurate thinkers of all time because they work with fact. There is a scientific method of carrying out experiments which prove their belief.

As a science student in school, I decide to apply the scientific method of getting fact into my way of setting goals and it works like magic. In fact, it helps me to achieve my goals with ease. It’s this method I want to share with you today.

We are in the information age and because of this we are bombarded with loads of information on a daily basis. Due to the noises here and there, we find it difficult sometimes to think accurately on a goal we want to achieve.

I’m not saying meditation alone won’t quiet your mind and give you focus, but it will do you more good if you guide yourself with this approach I want to share with you here. It will also help you gain deep insight into your goal and cut off any form of distraction on your way to success.

Sir Isaac Newton himself said he was able to discover law of gravity by continuous thinking about the Apple that fell down in front of him. Of course as a scientist, he followed the scientific method below to prove his belief.

Scientific method of carrying out an experiment

  1. Title
  2. Purpose
  3. Apparatus
  4. Record data
  5. Error analysis
  6. Apply formula
  7. Graphic representation
  8. Conclusion

This scientific method is very powerful in such a way that if it is properly applied, it helps to track every little detail about a goal. It also helps to make a goal look as if it had already been achieved. And again, this method eliminates any form of assumption and provides accuracy.

I observe that if I set a goal and I was able to think straight on how to achieve it, I will definitely go and get it done in a short period of time before I know it. On the other hand, it’s very hard to achieve a thing you can’t even think accurately on.

But if you follow the method I want to show you here, to set a goal and achieve it will become easier.

Method of making thought accurate

1. Title – What you want to achieve? Begin by giving your goal a title. The essence of naming a thing is for easy recognition. When you give your goal a name, it will serve as a guide and helps you stay on point.

2. Purpose – Why do you want to achieve your goal? Know that, if the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable. In other for you not to abuse your goal, write out the purpose why you want to achieve it.

3. Apparatus – What are the tools you will need to work with? Note all of the instruments that will help you to achieve your goal and make sure you get them. A single material you fail to get might prevent you from achieving the result you want.

4. Record data – Has anyone achieved your goal before? How did they go about it? Try to go through recorded data and find out how they were able to get the result. Then map out how you’ll achieve yours, too.

5. Error analysis – What are the precautions? If you carefully analyze errors, you will find out about some actions that are meant to be avoided. And in case they show up you will quickly look for an escape route.

6. Graphic representation – Can you sketch out your goal? If you represent your goal in a visible form, it will manifest quicker. The truth is, if you can hold the image of what you want in your mind, then you can hold it in your hand.

7. Apply formula – Can you come up with an ultimate formula that will help you achieve your goal with ease? What is your winning strategy or your selling point? Remember that winners don’t do different things, they only do things in a different way.

8. Conclusion – What do you think will be your possible outcome? It’s always a good idea to begin with the end in mind. Know that sometimes you’ll succeed while sometimes you’ll fail, but there is always a lesson to learn. It’s those lessons that made you who you are today.

Sterling W. Sill said, “In baseball we keep an accurate record of the hits, runs, and errors of each individual player. Life is also a great game, and in life the statistics are much more important than they are in a ball game. One of our human weaknesses in life is that when we are losing the game, we don’t always like to keep track of the score. Certainly we are not very enthusiastic about putting the errors down on the paper, and most people don’t even know what their individual batting average is. This makes our success much more difficult both to figure out and to attain… we cannot separate our success from statistics. If each day we could see what God wrote in his book about our work for that day, it would certainly motivate us to make better scores.”

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How To Convince Others You’re An Innovator

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Get Fresh Minds | 0 comments

Edison_bulb

Innovation has been a buzz word for a while now – and it’s one of those hurdles you must surmount if you’re looking for a job. Employers want creative employees. Investors want to put their money behind creative people.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers overwhelmingly look for problem solving skills as a top priority in their new hires. A famous 2010 global survey by IBM revealed that CEOs worldwide rank creativityas a more essential skill than dedication, ability to manage, integrity or vision for the leaders of tomorrow. Studies show that when investing in creativity makes a company stronger than any other initiative it can do. A recent article at Fast Company urges leaders to hire creative people – even for jobs that don’t typically involve creativity.

What makes creativity so important is that it’s not about having ideas pop out of nowhere – it’s about problem solving. Leaders want to get behind people who can throw themselves into creating solutions. They don’t want to hear “it can’t be done” when someone hasn’t even tried.

The problem with creativity is that it is really hard to prove to others that you’re creative. Sure, you could show up in a crazy outfit, send your resume in a pizza box or cover it in glitter – but will that really make others take you seriously? Nor do any standard tests have a score for creativity. And even if you have amazingly creative ideas to share, not everyone agrees what is a creative idea. Something that might be a revelation to one person, could resemble something another person has seen many times before.

So what do you do? Tell people about how you’re a persistent problem solver!

Innovation isn’t about having one-hit wonder ideas. It’s about being able to come up with solutions to problems, and having the mental flexibility to keep coming up with new solutions if needed. Inventor Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Creative people are not those who are stopped by problems that arise. That’s why gaming is such an excellent way to train your brain to be innovative: gamers are constantly failing as they work their way to the next levels. Gamers fail fast and fail often, but they also have many small successes that teach them that persistence is the key to success.

So if you’re looking to convince someone that you’re an innovative person, spend your time talking about how you faced a difficult challenge and how you approached solving it. Tell them the ideas you had that didn’t work, talk about what you learned from each failure, and then talk about how you persisted until you had that great idea that clicked.

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Demand for speed driving investment in customer analytics & marketing technology

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Brian Vellmure | 0 comments

The cabbie welcomed me and we started on our way to Dulles. The snow had been falling for hours, and his impression was that people would be trying to beat the weather. I was indeed leaving a bit early to make sure to catch my flight back to the West Coast. The email I received that morning from my in-laws in French Polynesia didn’t help.

When he asked what the conference was about, I replied “analytics”. He looked at me with a blank stare. I explained that the conference was about people making sense of data, with the help of technology. It helped a little bit, but not much. I began to touch on the use of analytics in sports, making better strategic decisions based on a number of variables: Was it better to repeatedly pound it in to the block, or fire away from 3 point range, or a mix of both? I referenced the TV show “Person of Interest”. I told a story of how Wal-mart had discovered a multi-million dollar opportunity by finding an anomaly in the data.

It began to make sense. While most of the world goes on about their day, clinging to their nightly news, happy that their iPhone takes great pictures, and complaining about Obamacare, the physical world is being digitally connected. These connections are producing incomprehensible amounts of data, which is creating both opportunity and challenges for organizations to earn the attention, trust, transactions, and loyalty of their customers.

Analytics growing in strategic importance

I heard several folks at this year’s SAS Global Forum making the case that analytics is the trump card that is helping to pave the CIO’s path to the more strategic conversations at executive table. The case is underscored by IBM’s latest C-Suite study, which shows several data points that there is increasing demand for strategic CIOs.

There is also plenty of posturing and championing of new roles like Chief Data Officer, and Chief Analytics Officer. Regardless of whether these new roles come to fruition at scale (my bet is no), there are three primary themes to note, all which were underscored at the SAS conference:

  • The analytics conversation is being elevated to the C-Suite and board levels
  • Increased demand for speed and more accurate decisions driving investment
  • There is significant need for, and current shortage of, data scientists over the coming years

While there were around 4,500 people at the event at the Gaylord National just outside of Washington DC, about 1/3 of them were attending the executive conference, a subset of the conference away from the technologists, engineers, data scientists, and statisticians, which highlights the strategic elevation that data analytics is playing in corporate leadership.

The Executive portion of the conference has grown significantly in attendance over the past few years as the impetus to make better decisions by knowing more about customer preferences, behaviors, supply chain details, and market factors, has placed increased pressure on senior executives.

Retired General and former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, Colin Powell, highlighted the role that timely and accurate information plays in leadership. Building organizations to sense and respond to information, to differentiate the known, from the speculative, and then apply the very best judgement is the key requirement of leadership. There are probably few leaders in the world that know more about building an information gathering architecture in order to make critical, timely decisions.

Along the gauntlet of challenges then, is vastly improving core capabilities in collecting, analyzing, and understanding key pieces of information and then being able to decisively take action on them. This is the challenge that all organizations are facing today, and the significant opportunity that SAS and other vendors have before them.

SAS is addressing this market need by making investments in coordinating activities for marketers to allow more sense and respond abilities from one centralized dashboard. SAS announced they’ve made improvements to last year’s release of Customer Intelligence 6, a step ahead towards coordinating all marketing operations that SAS provides under one umbrella; planning, segmentation, modeling, creative, campaign execution, analysis, and relaunch. Forthcoming releases will aim to make further improvements to the user experience, integration across marketing functions, and add greater deployment ease and flexibility.

Smarter, Stronger, Faster.

Speed. Speed is arguably at the core of every innovation that’s happening. The basic and fundamental tenets of what we’re doing as a society haven’t really changed in millennia.

Making progress (regardless of the institution) by identifying challenges, imagining new solutions, assembling resources, making, and then distributing ideas, products, and resources is how the world has worked for a long time.

But across every domain, we can, and in many cases we are being forced to, do things much faster, in a more complex environment.

Data driven decision making also isn’t new. The two main differences now are that (1) we now have access to unfathomable amounts of data, ever increasing in its granularity, and (2) we can make sense of it much faster than before. This is evidenced by how automated the public stock markets have become with the vast majority of all trades being made by institutions, based on real time data and algorithms, and constantly evolving models. The migration from gut feel to data driven is happening everywhere.

Not very long ago, decision cycles were typically annual, quarterly, or often on a monthly basis. Historical data informed future projections and decisions. Often times, decisions were made without visibility to key information. It was either not available, or took too long to gather. Data is increasing in its general availability and it’s moving ever closer to real time.

One of the most valuable data sets for corporations is related to their customers and prospects. A flurry of tech startups are emerging at the fringes of this movement to aggregate and make better sense of customer data to help marketers, sales people, and contact center agents be able to respond to their customers better. I’ll highlight many of these in a future post. Have suggestions that might be off my radar? Please send me a note.

The same trajectory as what’s happened in the public stock markets is happening on the fringes of the traditional CRM spectrum, primarily in marketing and service, as customer interactions are disseminated and distributed across a sea of pixels.

The pace of acceleration and innovation is frantic. It’s important to note that concurrently to the SAS event, Adobe was hosting it’s own summit in Salt Lake City, with several announcements of their own, aimed at addressing these very issues, while rumors surfaced that IBM is in talks to potentially acquire Silverpop, a leader in marketing automation.

While SAS, one of the world’s leaders in analytics technology, specializes across many domains, my interest lies primarily with how analytics are being leveraged for better customer understanding and more valuable customer interactions across a widening sphere of channels and data sources.

I heard great stories from Hyatt Hotels, Disney, Wal-mart, and T-Mobile about how they are both embracing the opportunity, but wrestling through the challenges of large data sets and more transient customers, and how SAS has become a trusted partner in their efforts.

The onslaught of big data is forcing the use of new platform technology. Hadoop is becoming (if not already is) the standard for big data processing, and SAS announced its in-memory analytics for Hadoop to allow for rapid analytics to be applied to giant data sets.

One of the challenges with these gargantuan data sets is making sense of them. Ten or twenty years ago, organizations spent massive amounts of money creating reports that provided answers to specific questions. Senior leaders used between 5 and 50 “reports” to gather intelligence about what was happening.

Now, there is increasing pressure and expectation that information be instantly available, visible, and dynamic. These are couple of areas when SAS excels. With their previously released visual analytics and the recently announced visual statistics, users have the ability to navigate and understand enormous data sets in real time, while building predictive models based on the data.

Another interesting highlight of the event is that this current onslaught of data is creating a significant talent gap. In order to help with building the market capabilities required to address the coming talent gap (and obviously to help incubate a new generation of SAS users), SAS unveiled its eduction program that all college students can use SAS analytics for free. Since they’ve seen success with this model at NC State, they are extending not only to all universities, but to all students at these universities.

SAS: A quick assessment

SAS is widely regarded as one of the global leaders in analytics and boasts a who’s who of global clients. They’ve achieved an unfathomable record of 38 straight years of revenue increases. They are also generally regarded as one of the best places in the world to work.

However, their ability to innovate at or beyond the pace of the market is a critical challenge for them at this time. With the scale of the cloud, smaller, more agile technology vendors have the opportunity to compete on many of SAS Institute’s core competitive fronts: analytics, marketing automation, MRM, data visualization, predictive analytics, and in-memory processing. Not only this, but traditionally large enterprise players like IBM, Oracle, and SAP continue to bolster their respective suites to provide solutions to the marketplace. SAS is making moves to address these factors by moving to more pure cloud offerings and positioning themselves to be able to deploy for more Small to Midsized businesses. But, just as this post illustrates, the name of the game is speed, not just for their clients, but also for SAS itself.

DISCLAIMER: SAS Institute, Inc. paid for all of my travel, accommodations, and much of my food and beverage at SAS Global Forum in Washington DC. They are also a thought leadership client.

The post Demand for speed driving investment in customer analytics & marketing technology appeared first on Value Creator.

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Achieving Outrageous Success

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Jill Konrath | 0 comments

Edgy ConversationsEvery once in a while, someone jolts me out of my comfort zone – and makes me question what I’m doing. Dan Waldschmidt, author of the new book EDGY Conversations, is one person who always seems to do that. He’s spent the past four years studying how ordinary people were achieving success against all odds. I hope you enjoy my interview with him.

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One of My Most Frequent Pieces of Advice: Be Politely Persistent

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Both Sides Of The Table | 0 comments

One of the hardest things for most entrepreneurs to know is how hard to push in situations where people tell you “no.”

But then again most entrepreneurs fail. There is that rare breed that doesn’t accept “no” for an answer. It is impossible advice to give because there is such a fine line between being persistent and being annoying and it’s something you probably can’t teach. I often describe “chutzpah” as being able to skate right up to the line of acceptability without crossing over it.

And being persistent I believe is the most important attribute for success in an entrepreneur (assuming of course that you have all the other requisite skills).

Years ago I started using the term “politely persistent” to remind people that you still need to be likable even if you have gumption.

I’d say less than 20% of of entrepreneurs fit into that bucket.

Of course at one end of the bucket are entrepreneurs who are persistent but just aren’t polite. Maybe they’ve hit a few set backs: They’ve struggled to raise money, they haven’t gotten press coverage or they haven’t gotten accepted to present at prestigious conferences. I’ve talked before about the need to get rid of “that negative chip on your shoulder” as it won’t help you in business.

It seeps out into conversations as frustration, anger, resentment, jealousy or worse. It ends up being a turn off to potential employees, investors, business partners and the press.

There are some people who don’t have a chip but also aren’t polite – just rude. They get pissed off if a senior executive at Google doesn’t take a meeting with them, if people are late to their meetings or if they have emails that are unreturned. And they take out that resentment against anybody else that may show signs of one of these past patterns. Their angst at “shaming you” into better behavior has the reverse effect on most people.

But my post isn’t for the haters. It’s for the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs who are either too shy, too nervous, too polite or too worried about upsetting somebody to push the boundaries. The 70% of entrepreneurs that simply can’t get past an un-responded-to email.

I once went to a startup event where a VC told the audience that if a VC doesn’t respond to your email to move on to the next VC – that VC is clearly not interested. WTF? I called it “the worst startup advice I had ever heard somebody give.” (Yes, I could have been more polite on that day) What I actually said was (paraphrasing from memory):

“If you fold at the first un-responded to email what hope to you have at becoming an entrepreneur? Seriously, hang up your cleats now and go back to your corporate job.

 

Do you think the SVP of Marketing from Coca Cola is going to respond to your every email? Do you think that every conference organizer will promptly meet your needs? Will every customer who feels bombarded with sales requests want to take your call?

 

It’s your job to persist. It’s your job to be that one person who calls back periodically, finds a way to get introduced, shows up to an event to meet somebody, finds something unique to say to that person where you can stand out.

 

Be polite, but never accept a simple ‘no.’ “

In fact, NO is the one word that no entrepreneur should accept.

But how do you get past gate keepers? How do you get on elusive calendars or invited to speak at conference?

1. Well, for starters you need to be a great networker. I wrote an example of why this matters when meeting VCs but it’s true of all exec. Nothing beats a warm intro.
2. You need to know how to write good & action oriented emails.
3. You need to know how to make good phone calls and not be afraid to pick up the phone.
4. Understand reciprocity and how helping others earns you good karma points – and favors.
5. Be humble – nobody likes too much arrogance; but
6. Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky. You can take some risks. You won’t have success with everybody you approach but I’d rather see you show some juevos and / or some humor sometimes to stand out. Just don’t go overboard.
7. Be confident while being polite. I recently had a CEO email me to tell me he was “politely withdrawing his consideration for venture money if he didn’t hear back from me.” My first thought was, “huh?” I then searched my email and found it was the 3rd email. Of course I felt badly. And his email – while confident – was very respectful. We did a call immediately.
8. Find under-utilized lines of communication. In the early days of Facebook messaging Jason Nazar used to send me messages at 11pm when he knew I’d be online and undistracted. Rajat Suri used to send me Gchats. Or this guy Eric Damier who sends me funny text messages that make me laugh. He’s “over the top with a smile” and I can’t help wanting to hear from him.
9. Do they blog? Stating the obvious but if the person you want to meet blogs and if they engage in the comments section then this is the best way to build a relationship. Provide thoughtful comments. Engage lightly. Be “present” but don’t be “creepy.” For regular bloggers this is the single best way to engage.

But most of all. Above anything else. Be persistent. You must follow through. A hard “no” is better than no response.  And even a “no” should just be a suggestion to try harder.

Consider this story from the founders of Kayak quoted in this excellent article about the most respected venture capital firm in the business – Sequoia. They had a bad meeting with the founders of Kayak who felt that had something more to prove,

“The two were initially turned down [by Sequoia] before English returned uninvited a day later and convinced the firm to give Kayak a second look.”

This is the norm. Broken M&A transactions that get picked back up. Teams that didn’t hire you only to be impressed later by your performance and / or persistence. Deals that seemed lost but since you never gave up you ended up winning.

There are also the funny & positive ways to connect with the people you want. Take this great story about Sam Rosen who knew I was traveling from San Francisco to Mountain View to present at 500 Startups. He messaged me that he would love to give me a ride down, which I needed. He proceeded to pitch me his business on the drive down – but not too much. Just enough to leave an impression. A couple of years later I brought him on board as an EIR and after that I backed his next company MakeSpace.

If you have any interest here are two stories of how cheeky persistence change my life

1. How I got to move to Europe
2. How I got to work in Tokyo

[Update: When does “no” actually mean “no?” Because of course sometimes it does. Matt Szymczyk asks in the comments section and my friend Ralph Mack who is a very active angel investor and thinks a lot like I do asked me via email. Ralph put it best – that your “ask” has to be in someone’s “scope of interest.” If you’re pitching me a book idea, a film or even a biotech company it really is a firm NO because I don’t do those things.

Similarly, I try to be very clear with entrepreneurs when I really am not interested so that I don’t give them false hope. Equally I often tell people, “this could be something I’m interested in one day – just not now” or “you’re the kind of entrepreneur I might work with some day but not on this business” so that they have context.

I often  privately counsel entrepreneurs to ask these “qualifying” questions (in a polite but direct way of course!) to VCs. “I know you’re passing for now. Is this the kind of business you could one day see yourself funding? Or should I focus my energy in the future elsewhere.” You might not want to hear the real no but you’re better off hearing it than wasting time in the future. Most people avoid giving the direct answer but when asked usually will out of politeness.

Always remember the rule of sales … a firm no is better than a muddy maybe. Raising money is a sale. The golden rule of sales is “qualify, qualify, qualify.” If you’re not a fit then better that your resources go somewhere with a more likely hit rate.]

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