Hi i'm @nickhac. In this blog i hope to share my experiences creating, growing and selling software companies. I'm currently the Founder & CEO of GoodCall Inc, before that Founder at BuzzNumbers (acquired 2012), before that worked at Microsoft, BetFair and Unilever. I also help Australian technology entrepreneurs move from idea to US VC funding as part of StartMate.
I wrote this document a couple of months back to help the StartMate 2015 teams navigate the Silicon Valley VC process as they moved to San Francisco.
I figured i should share it on my blog, raw as it is. Here is the summary
For Australian founders, to even have the chance to raise seed financing ($500k-$2M) in the US, you need to have at least 1 engineering founder with a large equity share, be Delaware incorporated, have a clean cap table, a working prototype product, some initial success metrics and a clear vision of how you can become a $100M+ company within 3 years. In my view, most startups fail at capital raising due to either lack of persistence, lack of understanding what motivates investors to complete an investment, failing to close interested parties quickly enough (time kills deals), or being unable to communicate their initial vision into a large enough vision that has shared excitement with their financial partners.
US VC’s also have different investment criteria to Australian VC’s - which will work in your favor. At GoodCall, we raised our first $1.5M seed from US investors with no revenue and 0 users. You can do this also.
We have all sent many emails to VCs or Angels or Advisors or customers asking for their time / advice / money etc and never heard back. Many of us take that as a signal that they are not interested.
The reality is that most important people are really busy and have very full inboxes that fly by like a twitter stream. If you email someone once, and don't hear back, do not take it as a sign they are not interested!
You need to followup over and over with your targets, and unless they tell you to fuck off, keep chasing them with emails that are short, content relevant with researched information from their social / news activity that shows you are interested in them, and end with a very clear ask.
In the US business culture, persistence is admired. It shows you are determined and don't give up until you succeed. You are not annoying, you are determined and are a winner.
At GoodCall.io - we generate 90% of the results for our customers on the 5th to 12th email outreach to cold targets over 1-2 months.
Don't be a shy aussie stereotype. The "polite but persistent" follow up is key to results.
Go get that cash - it is waiting for you if you are determined enough to take it.
For GoodCall after StartMate, it took us 7 months to raise our 1.5M seed round, which we did close in 3 weeks once we found the right investor, and we had 0 revenue and 0 customers when we closed the round. We spoke with over 100 investors over this time with many many many rejections which was a kick in the balls every time. At many times we felt like giving up, it was hell. But persistence pays. My co-founder Dan Treacy had this great philosophy on our feelings of failure - "suspend disbelief". So suspend any disbelief you have.
Don't lose heart. Persistence is the scarcest commodity today for startup founders so don't become a statistic and just keep going!!!
There is an investor out there who will fund your company if you keep trying with persistence for long enough. Don't let the bastards get you down! Repeated rejection is what every successfully funded company dealt with before they got their win.
b) Can the on-boarding process become low-friction? This directly affects customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Is the product naturally sticky (i.e. low churn)?
Section A(a) requires that the new business is disruptive and not sustaining in nature, but it’s still worth comparing the incumbents RPV against the new business here just to be sure.
b) Fast followers
Are there any companies with the same RPV as you? By selecting a market that is unsexy and requires a lot of *customer development* you create a large barrier to entry from fast follow competition in the valley. A good test for this is if startup folks tune out quickly when you answer the question *so what does your startup do?* at parties….then it’s unsexy.
I've been reading (aka youtubeaudiobooking) some of Franz Kafka's works.
These quotes piqued my interest You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid. In the fight between you and the world, back the world. Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted. A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it. No sooner said than done - so acts your man of worth. God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them. It is often safer to be in chains than to be free.
I've given probably 2000 demo's of software to decision makers in enterprises. Currently i'm training a team of sales reps for GoodCall, and i wanted to share my process for demoing software that we use.
Key points are
Ask questions!!!! The other party should be speaking 50% or more of the demo.
Find out as much as you can about their company and their problems and challenges before you start the demo. Do not launch into your product without understanding their business and needs
Quickly demo the software, covering key features and benefits - DO NOT DRILL INTO DETAILS
Ask them how the benefits of your software align to their needs
Ask questions about their purchasing process
Anatomy of a software demo to a potential business customer
The following are 7 sections on how i run a software demo to a potential customer during a 30-60 minute sales demo over the web (we use Join.me).
1. Intro's and thank them for their time. (3 Mins)
Introduce your self (not your company) - what your job role is and how long you have been with the company and why you believe in what the company i doing.
Ask them to tell you how long they have been at the company and what their key focus is
Ask them what their key pain points in the job role and team are
2. "Before i launch into a demo, do you min if i ask you a few questions so i can tailor the demo" (5-10 mins)
Ask them about their current systems, what do they use, what is working, what isnt.
Ask them about their department, what their key priorities are at the moment.
Ask them about their staff, how big is the team, who is responsible for what. How many people work for them etc
3. "If its ok with you, do you mind if we take 7 minutes to demo our software" (10-15 mins)
Ok, we have 5 main areas of the software, ill take you through each one.
For each area of the software, state what is does and what the benefits are
At the end of each area, ask them if they understand what they just saw. This improves their engagement
State the number of the next area you are demoing so they feel the demo is quickly progressing
4. "Thanks for your time reviewing our product, really keen for your feedback" (5 Mins)
Can you let me know what areas stand out as relevant to your company?
What key benefits do you think our software can offer your company?
5. Close Questions (5 Mins)
If you were to purchase this software, what would be the process to approve the purchase
Who are the decision makers of this purchase?
Do you currently have budget for solving these problems.
6. Ask for the sale (2 Mins)
Are you keen to get going with our software?
Would you like me to send you the order form / web link to sign up / contract etc
Email / call them every few days, with new information about the product or service that is relevant to their internal problems and that re-enforces the key benefits they saw in the demo
Most software as a service companies seek to acquire customers from online channels, and its pretty clear that increasing your conversion rates is a powerful way to increase customers and revenue.
At GoodCall we have been running some A/B tests to measure and optimize our conversion rates, and just this week had a significant jump in conversions that surprised us so i wanted to share.
We improved conversion rates from 15% to 37.5% by reducing the amount of content on page, and giving less information to our visitors.
Original (15% Conversion)
Variation #1 (37.5% Conversion)
Why was this surprising for us?
In our original landing page design, we had a hypothesis that our visitors would need to know enough information about the service before they would commit to signing up with LinkedIn. Signing up to any service with LinkedIn requires a level of trust.
What can you do to replicate this for your business?
Be sure to sign up with Optimizely and run a few experiments with your landing pages. Its pretty easy to at least half the cost of your customer acquisition costs.
At GoodCallwe make it easy for companies to quickly deploy a high performance outsourced sales team. We are oDesk meets AdWords for salespeople.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” - Ira Glass
The most successful incubator to date yCombinator (reddit, dropbox, airBNB) have a motto for success called "make something people want". It seems so obvious, yet many new companies neglect this thinking. Frequently the founders create something they believe in, yet do not measure if the market actually wants it.
My interpretation of the challenge of making something people want is - how can you get in front of people who care about the problem you solve? What i mean by this is: can your company find a path to customer adoption?
To make something people want you need to find a way to repeatedly find customers who seek a solution to the problem you are proposing to solve. They know they have a problem, and they have a desire to act and solve this problem right away.
2. Make something people love
Once you find a way to find people that have a problem that they want solved, the next challenge is to make a product/solution that solves their problem in a way which makes them happy and repeat purchase.
Even if the customer has a really big problem they need solved, there are a number of challenging and frustrating issues in making a solution that they love. Many times a new company solves the customer problem clearly and profitably, but "irrational" blockers get in the way. I recently saw a company that cut the cost of invoice processing for large companies by 75%, but they had significant trouble selling their solution to the buyer as they were inhibited by the cultural impact of firing 30+ employees. The financial value was a no-brainer but the solution was not loveable as it hurt people in the company.
One key test to establish if your customers love your product is to measure if they purchase and then purchase again. Can you prove your customers repeat purchase 2,3,4,5 times?
Another way to test how much your customers love your service is to ask what they would do if you cancelled the service. If you find your customers protesting that you should not cut off their service, you have ticked the box of making something people love.
3. Make money...
If you now know how to find people who have the problem you solve, and you know how to make these customers happy - congratulations, you are part of a very small minority of startups who make it to this level of success.
Unfortunately this joy is short lived. I'm sorry to say that now business fundamentals come into play. You now need to measure if your customers pay you more than it costs you to acquire them and serve them.
The hard question becomes is it worthwhile for you and your company to spend the time and money doing what you do compared to other opportunities out there? This is what your investors are thinking and calculating, at least the financially focused investors out there.
One of my past businesses was kicking ass on new customer growth, customer renewal rates and overall company satisfaction. But when i spent the time to run the numbers i realised it cost us more to acquire and service our customers than they paid us. This was a ticking time bomb. Luckily we found a way to optimise the business and turn our model around to be profitable on each customer and the business became a success.
Putting aside popular distain for investment bankers, they do have some very useful tools for calculating the value of your efforts compared to other opportunities including WAAC and IRR. Is your venture the best use of your time and money? If not, you will likely need to find a strategic buyer who can take your solution and product to their customers and leverage their scale to make the business work.
A really useful line of thinking i was introduced to by Niki Scevak from StartMate is the 5-50-500 path to growing your company.
Before you try to boil the ocean, you need to roll-out out your offering in a way that validates your business and gives you the learnings to fix problems in advance of any major blow-outs.
Finding your first 5 customers
Find 5 customers for your product from your personal network. Friends, co-workers, past employers etc. These are people you can use your relationship with to get them to buy your offering. Regardless of their doubts about your new business/product, they will hopefully take a risk on you. This is your fastest path to adoption and you need to actively push them for honest feedback. What do they like and dislike about your offering? What works, what doesn't? If you cant get 5 customers from your personal network, then that is a pretty strong signal that you have something deeply wrong with your business and need to change before you consider scaling (or your personal network is the wrong market for your product).
Expand to 50 Customers in your network
If you have been able to get your first 5 happy customers, you need to test that it is not just your personal charisma that sold your product. Your next 50 customers should be people that you know as a 2nd degree relationship. This is important as it validates the customer pain beyond just your personal sales ability. From these 50, you need to learn and document their purchasing process, their objections and their adoption path. These 50 will teach you about how your product works in the real world, and will help you determine what you may need to change to keep them as ongoing happy customers.
First 500 Customers
After passing the test of 50 arms length customers, with these learnings you are now ready to scale to the mass market. Your next 500 customers will be people who you do not know, who have a problem that you have proven to solve. You will now use your learnings from the 5 and the 50 to create re-useable customer education and customer onboarding processes. You will have a product that creates happy repeat customers by solving a problem they have. To get these 500 you will need to use sales and marketing channels beyond your personal and extended networks. You need to find, test and explore these new paths to market and validate that you can acquire customers profitably.
The topic of "being present" and "mindfulness" and "the power of now" has come up several times from my peers over the last few years, but i have struggled to actually realise these concepts in any impacting way.
In this talk, Aditya provides a clear and compelling case that we all short-change our present happiness by getting distracted with replaying past events and over-analysing potential future situations.
Aditya also describes a simple and adoptable path to getting off the self-destructive cycle of past guilt and future worry that burdens so many of us.
It is hard to find good people and it is hard to attract them to leave their current job and join you.
More importantly, it is often hard to measure how well new employees actually perform until months and months into the job. At that point it can take a few more months of performance management to get them to either improve or depart.
I have found the single most valuable trait of an employee is the ability to get the job done against the odds. It is so easy to find reasons that block completion on a task - the best people always find ways around any blockers and just get it done - the rest make excuses.
So how do you quickly separate the men from the boys?
A technique you can use when you first hire new people is to run them through a bunch of standardised trial tasks.
Create a specified requirement for a project or task that will take no longer than a week. Have a couple of your best employees execute on this task as a benchmark and document the results.
When the new employee joins, get them to execute on this task with the full belief that this is a real project needed by the company. You should stress the need for successful completion of this task within the week.
At the end of the week, run a review of their project, and find out if it was successfully completed. Compare the results against your benchmark.
This technique will at least enable you to quickly determine if you have just hired someone who gets the job done, or someone who talks the walk. At best it will reconfirm your successful hire of a great team member, who has now proven themselves to be autonomous and able to get shit done.
After being involved in enterprise sales processes for some time now, one lesson has become really clear.
It takes longer to lose a sale than to win a sale.
In running some analytics on our sales pipeline, it is abundantly clear that sales prospects that do not end up converting take up significantly more of your time and take much longer to say no than prospects who say yes.
Sales prospects who express interest and who end up buying your product, often take as little as 1/3 of the time to close as sales prospects that are ultimately unsuccessful.
With that in mind, what are you going to do differently to improve your sales closing skills?
A number of friends and associates have recently asked me how an acquisition works. So here is my topline explanation. While every acquisition is different, here is my take on the common process. 1. The seller or a buyer initiates interest in an acquisition 2. Company documentation is created to support the acquisition 3. A process is run to determine interested parties 4. Term sheets (or Heads of Agreement) are negotiated then signed 5. Due Diligence is conducted 6. Sale and Purchase Agreement is Negotiated 7. Completion Part 1: SPA Execution occurs and the buyer pays the seller 8. The handover or earn-out process runs its course 9. Completion Part 2: - Earn-out/handover is completed and any necessary payments made 10. Completion Part 3: Warranty expiration. Over the next few weeks i’ll post a more detailed explanation of each phase of the process
Any questions or feedback please feel free to leave a comment or email me.
A few people per week contact me asking for feedback or assistance on their new entrepreneurial idea. In addition to this i see around 200-300 startup pitches a year from StartMate and PushStart,
In response to these pitches, i have some feedback and advice to new entrepreneurs.
To proceed successfully with your new venture, you need to be able to clearly and quickly articulate
1. What problem you solve
2. How many people have this problem
3. How will you get to all these people who have this problem
4. What proof do you have that these people will pay to solve this problem
If you have answers to these questions, and you can show you solve a painful problem that many people have, and you have a clear path to getting in touch with all these people - then you are much more likely to get the attention of investors and more importantly become successful in your own right.
The first design i ever did of BuzzNumbers. Notice the heavy use of buzzwords from that time, eg CGM and WOM. I don't think the phrase Social Media had been invented yet. I love the little men with their arms, it so bad its awesome.
2008 - Version 2
I had a professional design firm create our logo and then a freelancer make up the website. I still really like this design. Simple, concise, clear call to action.
2009 - Version 3
In an effort to make BuzzNumbers more fun and more "Web 2.0" we upgraded the design again. Bigger logo, speech bubbles to reflect what we did. This design was relatively short lived as there was negative feedback on it.
2010 - Version 4
In an effort to become more "Professionial" and realising that our key market was Australia / Asia Pacific we rebranded to try to appeal more to our perceived market. We also had a BuzzNumbers.co.jp version of this website for our Tokyo distribution partners which has been lost along the way. This was the first time we had started to collect email addresses on the home page, which we then hooked up into our FeedBurner so that they automatically received all future blog posts.
2011 - Version 5
Some internal people felt that the design was not "Product Focused" enough. We had a differed 3rd party design firm come in. We ran this on wordpress which was our first CMS implementation for the BuzzNumbers site. We also took advantage of the then emerging theme to have a logo cluster of the press you got on your homepage.
2012 - Version 6
When BuzzNumbers expanded beyond pure product sales to include services, we rebuild our website with a focus on diversified offering. Personally i disliked the heavy black colors, but this was now out of my control as our Marketing and Design team had run the process and had data that showed that this was the best choice of design.
Last week, at 31 years old, my company BuzzNumbers was acquired by Sentia Media (MediaMonitors).
It's been nearly 5 years since i started building BuzzNumbers and has been a wonderful journey and one hell of a ride.
Having one of my own technology companies acquired by a multi-national has been one of my dreams since i taught myself to program as a teenager in the 1990's.
It feels amazing that something that i brought into the world has been valued so highly by such a large media company that it has been acquired so rapidly. The acquisition took 6 weeks to complete.
Being acquired has created a mixture of emotions for me personally ranging from victorious joy through to sadness over the loss of "my baby". But like any parent, one day you have to let your children leave the nest and soar to new heights.
When i founded the company, i always thought that MediaMonitors would want to acquire us.
All throughout my internet life, starting as a kid in 1991 with Bulletin Boards through to IRC in 1994 to the 1999 "dot com boom" and beyond, i believed the internet mattered more than any previous media channel. The internet democratised global communication and information sharing. The internet meant we could all be producers as well as consumers of public information. I saw this as such a fundamental change to the existing media communications structure that at the time was largely top down produced (eg TV/Print/Radio where the overly empowered minority produced information for the voiceless majority). I believed the internet was going to change this, and it turned out that the "Social Media" and "Web 2.0" revolution of 2007-2012 actualised this change.
I knew and loved MediaMonitors as one of their customers in the mid 2000's and saw that as they only tracked TV/Radio/Print they would one day need to care about the internet. With the acquisition of BuzzNumbers, now they do :)
During the course of the business, several different larger companies approached us to acquire us, most of which we couldn't find the right fit. Even during these last 5 years we had entered into acquisition discussions with MediaMonitors 3 times, and while we saw alignment, we ended up not completing for one reason or another. At the start of this recent successful M&A transaction their CEO and I joked that we had dated a few too many times now to not get into bed.
I'm delighted with the acquisition and feel so enriched and rewarded by the process of creating, building and selling a company. I look forward to seeing BuzzNumbers future success as part of Asia-Pacific's largest Media Intelligence company...
Every few days i need some kind of adhoc report from one of our systems databases. Usually the information im trying to see is activity over time (hits, views, pageloads, messages, purchases, call logs, quotes, invoices, updates, etc etc).
What happens in most databases is that record entrys have a datetime field and the time component makes it difficult to easily group by day for reporting purposes.
I've had to solve this problem maybe 5k times in the last 10 years but every time i forget the SQL Syntax to round datetimes to days. So here it is.
Im writing this blog post purely to provide a record for myself so i don't have to search old database scripts each and every damn time :)
select count(*) as RecordCount, CAST(FLOOR(CAST(CreateDate AS FLOAT ))AS DATETIME) as DDMMYY from Records group by CAST(FLOOR(CAST(CreateDate AS FLOAT ))AS DATETIME)
Watched an interesting video tonight arguing that established large companies are increasingly less secure in their leadership positions. The point made is that we are seeing less and less time between the disruptive waves where new companies overtake their predecessors.
This line of thinking really challenges the widely held notion that holding fortune 500 share portfolios are a means of safe long term asset growth. Although Warren Buffet would most likely disagree with this idea.
Study of the fortune 1000 - Which companies decline from leadership positions?
1973-1983: 35% of Fortune 1000 fell off the list
1983-1993: 43% of Fortune 1000 fell off the list
1993-2003: 60% of Fortune 1000 fell off the list
2003-2011: 70% of Fortune 1000 fell off the list
In my opinion this explains why public markets are not seeing much growth and private companies and startups are seeing all the value creation!
Watched a very interesting lecture by Sam Harris on Free Will...
In this elegant and provocative video, Sam Harris demonstrates — with great intellectual ferocity and panache — that free will is an inherently flawed and incoherent concept, even in subjective terms. If he is right, the concept will radically change the way we view ourselves as human beings
- What we are doing?
- - Why its unique, interesting or valuable? - Why you should care...
I really wish i had recorded my early elevator pitches for BuzzNumbers. As i indulge in recollection of past events, my first investor pitch took 10 minutes to complete. Rushing forward to today, i've pitched thousands of times over to associates, clients, investors etc. It now feels so natural to give an elevator pitch in less than 60 seconds that i had kind of forgotten that i even had to try to hone the perfect "elevator pitch".
I've recently been working with StartMate and internal teams at BuzzNumbers for new products we are bringing to market this year and the concept of elevator pitch has come up a few times this week and spurred me to think about this again.
As a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has seen thousands of pitches, i have formed an opinion on what makes a good pitch that works for me on both sides of the table and i wanted to share my experience.
The key things i think you need to cover in your pitch is
- What problem do you solve? - What traction/milestones you have that achieved to prove you are solving this problem - What you want from the person you are speaking to? (Your "ask")
So with renewed focus, i though perhaps to deliver my Elevator pitch as see it today for BuzzNumbers...
BuzzNumbers helps businesses track, measure and understand what people are saying online and on social media about their company, people, products and competitors.
Our world-class social media analytics platform has best in breed and patent pending realtime monitoring of News, Blogs, Forums, Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as Video, Classifieds like Craigslist and Ebay and even BitTorrent networks.
Our company was founded in 2009 and is now trusted and used daily by over 150 global fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, AMP, BHP, Astra-Zeneca, EarthHour and multiple Government Agencies and our company is growing exponentially at over XX% per month.
It would be great to get your contact details if that is ok. Do you have a business card so i can send you some information to see if this is of interest?
After reflecting on this <1min pitch, which i use frequently, i realised it is objectively perhaps longer than what is necessary to cement interest and get the business card.
So i cut it down to something shorter
BuzzNumbers helps companies track what people are saying about them online.
Our customers use this information to get market research and consumer insights in near real-time, something that was never possible before our patent pending Software as a Service was created.
We founded the company in 2009, and have since grown exponentially and acquired more than 150 enterprise customers including Microsoft, AMP, BHP, Astra-Zeneca and many many more across all industry sectors.
I'd love to tell you more - do you have a business card i can send you some information about our company?
While now under 35 seconds, surely i could do better! In thinking how i could to get this down, i recalled giving a pitch when i bumped into an old colleague while crossing a pedestrian crossing in the street who asked "what are you doing now?". My crosswalk pitch?
I'm at BuzzNumbers.We help companies understand the voice of the consumer on the web. We are growing crazy fast in both enterprise customers and revenue.
It would be great if you could recommend any potential customers, partners or investors that you think would be interested? Do you have a business card i could send a link to our web demo?
Ok, so im now happy with this badass 15 seconds pitch. This pitch is a taster of what we do and why it is cool, and an "ask" to get their contact details without being too pushy.
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes that a storm is coming, and I hear the far-off fields say things I can't bear without a friend, I can't love without a sister
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on across the woods and across time, and the world looks as if it had no age: the landscape like a line in the psalm book, is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny! What fights us is so great! If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it's with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small. What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us. I mean the Angel who appeared to the wrestlers of the Old Testament: when the wrestler's sinews grew long like metal strings, he felt them under his fingers like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel (who often simply declined the fight) went away proud and strengthened and great from that harsh hand, that kneaded him as if to change his shape. Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.
I've been reading some material tonight that argues that stress is actually good for you from a biological perspective and this is called Hormesis. From reading this, i think we can quickly argue that this applies to psychology and that we can in fact improve our capacity to better manage our lives through actively encouraging and engaging in high stress scenarios.
What is Hormesis?
A universal biological principal whereby a stress that is harmful at high doses promotes defense and repair processes at low doses
Examples of Hormesis in action
Cold showers as an anti-depressant
Lifting weights to grow muscles
Exposure therapy for phobias/anxiety
Boot camp for delinquent kids
Why this matters?
Exposing yourself deliberately to high exposure stress scenarios, improves your ability to handle and respond to stress, conflict and personal challenges that happen on a day to day basis.
This is both a chemical, biological and psychological theory that has a reasonable degree of proof and projected applicability across our personal, interpersonal and business interactions.
There is an identified neurotransmitter in the brain BDNF which is understood to foster the brain's ability to adapt and learn. This theory states that exposing the brain to high levels of stress and exposure across many dimensions ultimately improves the brains ability to manage lower levels of stress by re-enforcing and strengthening existing neural pathways.
This seems reasonably obvious upon reflection, but if we can use this theory as a call to action for us to deliberately expose ourselves to big stress and big challenges and then use our emotional intelligence to realise that when we do this we are just bringing up our baseline, we can actually use previously unwanted stress to actually better ourselves.
How to use unwanted stress to actually improve yourself?
Push yourself deliberately into scenarios that you are significantly uncomfortable with (and actively try to engage your emotional intelligence to not worry about it) with the knowledge that this improves your ability to better manage everyday situations and ultimately make yourself better equipped to operate in your world.
You might just find that your unwanted stress, actually ends up making you a more balanced and less stressed person!
Having worked with terabyte databases in SQL Server for over 5 years i thought i would share the top 9 queries i use to manage my databases / datawarehouses.
1. View longest running queries - [_DBA_Queries_LongestRunning] Shows which queries since the last SQL restart have taken the longest time to execute. Also shows number of times the query has been run and average execution time.
2. View queries with greatest IO impact - [_DBA_Queries_MostIO] Shows which queries since the last SQL restart have used the greatest IO. Also shows number of times the query has been run and average execution time.
3. View blocking transactions - [_DBA_ViewBlockingTransactions] Views which queries are currently running that are blocking other queries. Shows the Query SQL and the ID of the processes so you can KILL [ID] any naughty queries that may be screwing with your DB performance.
4. View currently running queries - [_DBA_ViewCurrentlyRunningQueries] View which queries are active in the system. Very useful if you are curious what queries are active and shows which user is running each query.
5. View Index Fragmentation [_DBA_IndexFragmentation] Shows how fragmented current indexes are by percentage as well as how frequently they are used.
6. Rebuild Indexes - [_DBA_Indexes_RebuildFragmentedIndex] Run a task that rebuilds/reoptimises indexes in the most effecient manner possible. Rebuilds worst performing indexes first. Takes 20-50% of the time to run as the built-in maintenance task for reindexing.
7. Show missing Indexes - [_DBA_Indexes_FindMissing] If you have multiple users/applications you may have queries that you are unaware need to be optimised. Its also useful to see if you have accidentally defined an index incorrectly (eg missing a column that is needed)
8. View datafile usage - [_DBA_ViewDBFileUsage] Shows which files your database is using and how much space they are using on disk as well as how much free space may be in the file. Very useful to check if you can shrink your files.
9. Shrink datafiles in chunks - [_DBA_ShrinkFilesInChunks] If you have a large database and clean up a big block of data, you will want to shrink the files on the filesystem. The built in SQL task that does this, may takes hours or even days to run (with no visibility on progress) and will impact database performance in the meantime. This script shrinks the datafile in chunks so you can see visibility and run small shrinks over several days
What queries have you used that have been helpful? Any comments feel free to share.
Edwina reminded me of a youtube documentary that we watched some time ago. Basically it explains where money comes from. When you withdraw 20 bucks, where does the value behind that actually come from and what hold it as worthy?
My dad gave me some advice a long time ago, and it has really altered the way i think about almost every public speaker i hear and almost every conversation i have.
When i was growing up, if i was sitting at the dinner table and had just told the family what happened that day, he would say "you have to give me a dollar for every time you just said umm"
Now, adjusted for income earning power and inflation, today it should be $100, and in my opinion this should apply to "Umm", "Ahh", "you know"
Its always more poignant to leave a white space rather than feel you need to fill the air with noise. Listen to almost all political and key business leaders, they almost never use these words, and often use big clear white spaces in their spoken word.
Now at this point i have to apologise to you if you are reading this, as this information has fundamentally ruined my ability to listen to others who use the words "Umm", "Ahh", "you know"
Sorry... but i hope this makes your speech a little more poignant
As a leader in your company or as a specialist with years of experience in your field you are often called upon to help others address their challenges on a regular basis.
From some recent learnings i've had there are 5 different ways that advice is given or received, and i have found this useful to reflect upon as often as specialists we focus on solving others problems rather than enabling them to solve their own problems.
The 5 ways of giving advice
Giving specific advice and describing actions to solve problems
Transference of skills, you impart knowledge of a specific process to enable them - "teach a man to fish"
Being available as a wealth of knowledge and experience and sharing past experiences and their outcomes
Amongst a group of people, managing the flow of engagement to create an outcome while having no personal agenda
Creating awareness of the actual current position, thereby enabling people to explore and make choices to create real action and be empowered to solve their own problems
It's important to realise what kind of advice you are giving the people who ask for your time and input. Providing consulting advice is useful in scenarios of high-risk where a solution is needed now, but really doesn't scale as your company grows.
The role of a CEO or leader within a high-growth company should ultimately progress from Consulting to Coach, for example, how many business cards from 1 man companies have "CEO" written on them do nothing else but consulting, contrast that to the CEO of a fortune 500 company who would almost never engage in any kind of consulting, training, mentoring or facilitating but actual purely as a coach to their key executives.
So consider your role within your company or in your engagement with others. How can you progress from beyond being a pure consultant to one that empowers others and creates a multiple of value?
I had been listening to alot of talk 2nd hand about lean startups etc, but i watched this great presentation by Eric Ries (who i didnt realise was CTO and Founder of IMVU).
He addresses some great questions
- Why Agile or Scum development methodology only really solves half the problem for startups
- When to pivot?
- What to include in your MVP? What to leave out?
- How to speed up your innovation / product / market feedback cycle?
Been in SF this week meeting partners, VC's, advisors and some great aussie entrepeneurs
Bardia Housman who sold BusinessCatalyst/GoodBarry to Adobe
Cameron Yulli - Founder and CEO of AdGent
Mick Johnstone from Ycombinator who is now at FaceBook
Elias Bizannes from Vast.com (founder of Silicon Beach)
Marty Wells - serial entrepeneur
Ozan Onay - Co-Founder of TopGuest
Chris Saad - VP Product at Echo
I also had the great privilege of checking out some of the keynotes from Web 2.0 SF 2011
Ive been a long time fan of Kevin Kelly (Editor of Wired Magazine) and he gave a great presentation on the next big trends in the web. He is a little slow to start, but if you care about entrepreneurship, definitely recommend watching it through...
Im writing this blog post from 36,218ft high in the air moving at 448mph on a flight from LAX to SFO on Virgin America. Ive been waiting probably a decade for this moment, and yes, it is as good as i hoped it would be :)
To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.
To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished.
It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.
That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294."
— Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
A couple of weeks ago i was asked to participate in a video project by the guys at microsoft asking a series of questions about the web, technology and innovation.
9x9: web thinkers is an innovative snapshot-in-time video project. Documenting the thoughts and opinions of some of Australians web leaders and thinkers. Its innovative design is specifically tailored to accommodate the needs of a diverse viewership from developers to CEOs to the digirati.
Yesterday i was taking a walk with an old friend of mine and my daughter at balmoral beach. My friend works in finance and olivia is 18 months old.
A group of tween/teenage girls from the local school stopped us for a survey of some kind and the first question they asked us was "What is your passion in life?". My friend who i consider to be a very economically minded individual quickly responded "Health".
This kind of took me off guard, because in my usual circles this kind of question is promptly responded with answers "leveraging emerging technologies to create transformative impact on people, companies, society and government" or a similar tech/entrepenrially focused answer.
Why this took me off balance is that these tween girls wouldnt even understand this. After 15 seconds consideration my response was "making things people want", (paul grahams words not mine) which for me sums up the product innovation / marketing / startup success focus and life passion that i have had for some time.
(Olivia passion in life is Milk so she doesnt count)
This whole experience reminded me of a blog post by fellow australian entrepeneur Clay Cook that i read a long time ago.
Basically it kind of states that there are multiple aspects of your live you need to focus on, and that success isnt just about financial gain and corporate success.
I really should probably put more focus into the other aspects of this wheel...
#1 – Education and intelligence accomplish nothing without action. #2 – Happiness and success are two different things. #3 – Everyone runs their own business. #4 – Having too many choices interferes with decision making. #5 – All people possess dimensions of success and dimensions of failure. #6 – Every mistake you make is progress. #7 – People can be great at doing things they don’t like to do. #8 – The problems we have with others are typically more about us. #9 – Emotional decisions are rarely good decisions. #10 – You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.