Running vs. Walking

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Like most people, I'm busy. Exceptionally busy.

Building a company from dirt means there's a lot to do. All the time.

My work weeks are Sunday through Saturday. I don't take days off. I haven't taken a "real" vacation in years... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm constantly in a faced-paced churn of putting out fires, completing tasks, conducting interviews and more. My calendar has very little white space. Back-to-back-to-back, overlapped and double-booked meetings are the norm.

Despite the jammed-packed schedule, I'm a highly-productive worker.

I know how to get a lot of things done in small windows of time. Time management, prioritization, delegation and saying "no" are my strengths. I know how to execute fast.

But I feel like I'm always running somewhere. Sprinting is probably more accurate.

But I know to be an effective steward of my company and successfully lead us to the "next level", I can't only run. It's crucial I also slow down and walk.

Effective leadership requires we spend extended and uninterrupted periods of time away from the operational urgencies of the business.

We must carve out large chunks of isolated quiet time to read, think, ponder, conceptualize and design the plans and strategies that drive company growth. 

Effective leadership requires we spend extended and uninterrupted periods of time away from the operational urgencies of the business.

Without growth and advancement of vision, over time a team will face stagnation, decreased employee morale, complacency and will miss opportunities. 

As the saying goes, "you're either growing or you're dying." 

Here a few tips on how I make time to slow things down, walk for a bit and focus on nothing else but company vision, strategy and where we're going:

  1. Work weekends -- 6-10am on Saturday and Sundays are ideal for finding time to think and plan. 
  2. Schedule "Strategy Meetings" with myself -- These meetings are usually 2-4 hours long. I put my phone in another room. I close Slack, email and my laptop. I do all work with a pad of paper and pencil. The objective here is to disconnect from your personal digital channels.
  3. Go on personal overnight retreats -- I don't do this nearly as often as I would like, but when I do it's effective. Find a small town within a couple hours of driving distance from home. Arrive early Saturday and leave late Sunday. Find a coffee shop, book store or library to work from. I've found a change in my environment can have a profound impact on productivity.
  4. Buy some high-quality noise cancelling headphones -- These are a must have. If you want to maximize your focus, you have to eliminate distractions. These will help.


 

Rant: The Uninformed Buyer - And what to do about it

Joshua Enders E-Commerce Speaker

Was on a discovery call today with a health care company evaluating e-commerce platforms. We were discussing front-end UI. I was explaining the advantages of an open source framework vs. a legacy WYSIWYG editor. One of their "tech leaders" said "We don't need that."

Huh? Wut? You don't need what?

You don't need full control over the presentation layer. You don't need a modern experience. You don't need speed. You don't need fast page load times. You don't need to be competitive.

And what you think you need is a WYSIWYG editor? For a B2B e-commerce storefront that will generate millions of dollars in revenue annually?

C'mon.

Clients are infamous for having no clue what they really need.  They think they do. But they don't. At least a good portion of them.

The sooner you accept that most buyers don't know how to properly evaluate software, the sooner you see the opportunity in every interaction.

The thing to keep in mind in sales is your buyers will vary greatly in their understanding and knowledge of the technology and domain. It's our job as sales people and service providers to educate them on how to correctly evaluate technology.

Clients are infamous for having no clue what they really need.  The sooner you accept this, the sooner you see the opportunity in every customer interaction.

We're the experts. We eat and breathe our technology everyday. We consume the content about our space. We're the one's up to midnight reading analyst reports and watching YouTube videos. You can safely bet most the your prospective buyers aren't.

Teach them how to buy.

Jack Welch on Making Strategy Come Alive

I recently found this Slidecast about strategy with Jack Welch former chairman and CEO of General Electric. During his 20-year tenure at GE, the company's value rose 4,000%. Wow!

There's a lot of great sound bites in this video and they're on point.  Here are some of my favorites.

Strategy has to be the most agile thing about the company because times change quickly. The organization has to move.
At every level of the organization, people play a part in executing that strategy.
Your group has its own mini-strategy as part of the company's overall strategy.

Austin & Robots

Austin, TX -- Another one of the agency's cofounders and had a three-day requirements deep dive with a potential client in Austin. 

I really like Austin. Most people do. There's a lot to do and pretty people everywhere. 

People think Austin and Portland, my hometown, are similar. I disagree. Austin has way more action; it's busier and much bigger. 

We met with the Digital Improvement Group.  They're known as the DIC. We had great discussions about modernizing technologies. 

This company is executing digital transformation projects across the organization. Every department worldwide will be impacted by the new technologies being implemented. CPQ, CRM, e-commerce, machine learning, AI, IoT... they're doing it all. 

There was a lot of discussion about the "self served" customer. This is a customer that can do more themselves without the assistance of a rep.

My agency is have a lot of these types of conversations lately with clients and prospects. It makes sense. An empowered customer is a happier customer and modern businesses understand this and are investing in technology that enables the customer to do more on the channel of their choice. 

I believe omnichannel commerce, at least how enterprises think about it, will be the cornerstone of delivering the self service experience. I also think few big companies are doing it right. 

If the touch points your company has with customers are disjointed, disconnected and inconsistent, and you're not doing anything about it, you've already lost.