28. August 2015 · Comments Off on 2006: Palm (Who?) Ridicules Apples New Phone · Categories: AAPL, Apple, Automobile, From Owner to CEO, Lifestyle, Management, New Technology, Tesla, TSLA

Just ran across this post (from November, 2006) while reading a Daring Fireball post:

Palm CEO Ed Collegian: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

John Gruber: “I saw this [quote] last week, and it took me until today to stop laughing and try to figure out a way to write about it. It’s a simple little three-sentence quote, but I’m not sure what I like best about it.”

With the luxury of hindsight, we now know that the Palm Treo, Blackberry and even Microsoft’s phones were not “decent”. They sucked. After being burned by these first attempts, I was skeptical of the iPhone itself until I finally broke down and bought an iPhone 3.

Other than the first personal computer, Apple doesn’t invent, it perfects things. Complacent automobile manufacturers were put on notice with Tesla; they will rue the day when Apple comes into their playground.

Can’t wait until I hear this qoute: “We’ve learned and struggled for decades here figuring out how to make a decent car. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Think Different, indeed.

21. August 2015 · Comments Off on Use Technology to Maximize Your Life · Categories: From Owner to CEO, Security, Social Media

Time is the fire in which we burn. – Delmore Schwartz

In the past 20 years or so, we’ve seen the world speed up, especially for small business leaders. Never before has an owner been presented with so much information from so many different directions. Every aspect of our lives is moving at an incredible pace, and time is the most valuable commodity we have. But, with all the distractions and overwhelming amounts of information coming our way, How do you take control and truly manage your time?

In order to control the chaos in my time management, I’ve developed some technical methods to control who, what, and why intrudes on my time.

  • Best way to stay on top of industry news and other topics of interest: Feedly. Its a RSS reader. Stop going to multiple websites just to find news – make them come to you. I quickly scan headlines, then save the ones I want to follow up with later.
  • Best way to store notes and other information, wherever you are: Evernote. It runs on everything, everywhere.
  • Best Browser: Safari (for Mac), Chrome for Windows. Safari for Mac because it is fast and makes your battery last longer. Although it doesn’t have the plugins that Chrome offers, it has all I need. Chrome for Windows because of the flexibility and speed. Both allow syncing of bookmarks across multiple devices.
  • Best Social Media Publisher: Buffer. Combine Buffer with Feedly, and you get an incredible curation system. I use Evernote along with Desk to work with blogs, then publish via Buffer.
  • Best security Tool: LastPass. Its a little learning curve for the average person, but just dedicate yourself to using it. Your life and business will be more secure than 99% of the planet.

Together, these tools have saved me thousands of hours over the years. I treat each one as “on-demand”, in that I use them when I want to, not the other way around.

12. August 2015 · Comments Off on Transitioning from Owner/Operator to CEO · Categories: From Owner to CEO

The past couple of years have been tragic for me. My wife Ashley passed away after 2 years of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and while I cared for her during the last year of her life, I, too, had multiple health problems.

While Ashley had one or two doctors to deal with, I had 10-15. I endured 78 days of daily hospital infusions for a spinal infection. The infection was rare, and was not easily diagnosed. Without a clear-cut diagnosis, multiple tests were performed while diagnosing my problem which subsequently resulted in diagnosis of both prostate cancer and a pre-cancerous polyp stem in my colon. After 3 surgeries and 5 hospital stays, it appears that the cancers and infections are all gone. Other ailments remain, but they are not life-threatening.

My wife and I’s problems consumed practically every waking moment. This made it tough to run and work in a business. As President of Kirkham Systems, I was accustomed to working each and every day to make the company better. I felt as if I wasn’t there, something would get missed, maybe some client would not be taken care of, or perhaps things just would not run as smoothly. I felt I HAD to be there.

I was wrong.

Fortunately, we had started an initiative to transform the way in which Kirkham Systems does business. It was perfect timing to bring in someone new, without all the baggage of the way we used to do things, and to initiate many of the changes we needed to make. I was very lucky that I knew someone that I felt would be excellent for this endeavor.

The company changes are working great, and Matt Caswell is doing an excellent job in making sure i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. During his tenure, he has gone from Sales Manager, to General Manager, and now, to President. I am confident Kirkham Systems will be fine without me.

I told you all this to tell you this: Your company will – or should – survive without you.

During these transitional times, it helped a great deal if I thought of the company as a separate entity. An entity that had its own goals, its own resources, its own reason for existence. Sometimes these things were in alignment with personal objectives, often they were not.

Realizing that the company I had founded, ran and worked in for over 10 years while watching clients and employees come and go can make it hard to step back and analyze things objectively.

I had no other choice, and it has made me a better owner, and perhaps a better person.

What is amazing is that prior to my life-changing experiences, I KNEW what needed to be done. I KNEW the path the company needed to go. I KNEW what my weaknesses and strengths were. But work got in my way. “I’m too busy to deal with that, I have fires to put out.”

I was FORCED by circumstances to change my outlook. With a little luck and timing, I had unknowingly initiated these changes BEFORE I it was too late. I suppose I saw the writing on the wall and began planning for worst case scenario. I just did not realize how worse the scenario would become. Had I not done some of the things as early as I did, I KNOW the company would be in much worse shape now.

Leaders come in many shapes and sizes. They possess different skill sets, life experiences, management talents, and personalities. As much as I admire remarkable leaders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, I know that each have their weaknesses and strengths and what makes them successful is building around those weaknesses and strengths. I’ve also observed Wharton or Harvard-educated CEOs of Fortune 500 companies fail to leverage their weaknesses and strengths and create less from more. Education alone does not define a leader or CEO.

In the case of Gates, Jobs and Musk, they were and are terrific visionaries that clearly understand that they alone would cannot execute their visions without help. All truly successful CEOs have clear visions. Maybe they are not visionary, but they have clear objectives, and work hard to fill in the blanks from a talent, skill or experience standpoint.

Maybe your company needs to move into a new direction. Maybe you want to leave a legacy for your family. Maybe you want to take care of everyone that has made it what it is today. What your company’s and your personal objectives are is for you to decide. Then see if you think those objectives will be met in case of your untimely departure. Will the company survive? Will it THRIVE? If not, don’t wait until it is too late.