Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

On numbers and getting out there for business

Sidney Toledano (a student of math & engineering, now boss of Dior Couture), via Lunch with the FT:

‘If business is not good, don’t stay in the office’. Some people try to find out what’s wrong through the numbers. But if you stay in the office, nothing will change.”

For a mathematician, Toledano is casually dismissive of too much financial analysis. “My father taught me it’s better to have no explanation for success than a lot of explanations for a failure. Success is intuition, action, decision and take some risks. Frankly, numbers; I see them every day when I get the worldwide update. I can see every single figure for every single piece. But I don’t spend more than 10 to 15 minutes on it because I follow them every day.

“It’s like a good doctor. They see the numbers very quickly — temperature, whatever — but they talk to the patient. I’ve never seen a doctor fixing a problem with a thermometer. And you never fix a problem with the numbers. Don’t look and you miss everything.”

Tips from Paul English on work & management

Via The Way I Work: Paul English of Kayak.

I get about 400 to 500 e-mails a day, and I probably send about 120. At any given moment, I’ll have only 10 items in my inbox. When an e-mail comes in, I read it and decide immediately: Delete, reply, or delegate?

Customer emails? Let everyone see them. Because when an engineer sees the same query coming in a few times, they’ll stop and fix the code. This makes a lot of sense – which is why in traditional organisations, the support organisation needs to be tightly coupled to the engineering organisation. I’ll throw in the sales engineering organisation to this too.

Diversity of success, style, thinking and language – hire for that. 

A lot of companies have the “no assholes” rule. So if the greatest programmer ever is also a jerk, he’s fired. Our rule is “no neutrals.” So when the new guy walks down the hall, is my team drawn to him? Or do they divert their glance? If they divert their glance, we fire that person. I call it the hallway test, but it’s more of a conceptual thing. The idea is when you put superstars together, you can ask, “What did you do today that excited the people around you and made them better at their jobs?” If you can’t give examples, I don’t want you here.

Favourite metric? Revenue per employee.

Cancelling Basecamp? They issue refunds!

I was really impressed by cancelling my Basecamp account — they have an interesting refunds page. Keep in mind that it wasn’t Basecamp that I didn’t enjoy using (I love the entire suite); projects that I had used it for were pretty much over, so I just wanted to export the data, verify it was good, and then stop using it. Most of what I do can be done quite easily in OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and Evernote (and there is Google Drive for collaboration). Chat has mostly been outsourced to Slack.

Anyway, long story short, I opted to cancel my account recently. I was pointed to the refunds page. I learned this:

If you forgot to cancel Basecamp a couple months ago, and you haven’t used Basecamp since then, we’ll give you a full refund for a few back months. No problem.

Wow. So I emailed their support, and it turns out they can provide refunds for up to six months if you didn’t use Basecamp much (yes, they also do partial refunds). This is amazing. I’m not sure how confident any other SaaS company is when it comes to refunds, but this puts the customer first, and Basecamp gets it right.

Next time I have a project, I will signup at Basecamp, with confidence.

Migrants try harder

How a Vietnamese Refugee Is Rethinking Food Delivery in America – Bloomberg Business:

“Tran says his experience as a refugee has stayed with him. He hates wasted food. Obstacles make him think creatively. The need to prove himself in a foreign country makes him work harder. And there’s the enormity of his parents’ sacrifice, which he feels he must validate.”

I have always said that migrants generally do better because they have more to prove. They’re not in their comfort zone and that usually provides need to have creative solutions. 

A temporary manager of your assets

Oleg Tinkov, a Russian oligarch, at his recent Lunch with the FT interview:

Tinkov says the major difference between himself and more conventional Russian oligarchs is simple: “I don’t depend on the government like they depend on it.” Most oligarchs are “temporary managers of their assets — they are not real owners”.

This got me thinking quite a bit, because the idea of being a temporary manager of your assets is an interesting (albeit, true) one. This is probably true in many situations, and one that resonates in the startup world is when you’ve taken on venture funding. It also applies to most of the Top 10 list of richest businessmen in Malaysia, whom largely got their wealth through rent-seeking/cronyism/etc.

It doesn’t however apply to a bootstrapped company I would think (where you are a real owner); there you just have to wait till you become profitable and proud!

Software misfocus

It looks like the result of a company that is focused on adding features, not focused on creating something well-designed. – John Gruber

He was referring to Evernote. We talk regularly about feature creep, don’t we? How many pieces of software have you seen that is basically mis-focused? 


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