Why losers get hired – The Stigma of Uncomfortableness

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Every organization out there, big or small has made a bad hiring decision. Some organizations are riddled with B, C and D players. We spend hours crafting interview questions and agendas, we check references, and yet people who aren’t very good continually find ways to get themselves hired. Why does this happen?

Mark Horstmann at Manager-Tools once said that interviewing is about looking for a reason to say no. Unfortunately most people aren’t looking very hard because it’s uncomfortable to do so. When a candidate avoids a question by giving a canned response that doesn’t really answer the question it’s uncomfortable to drill down and MAKE them give us a real answer. When we ask “what are your weaknesses?” and a candidate for a sales position answers “well I’m not very technical so don’t ask me to change the toner.” we don’t press for a real weakness that’s job related and what they are doing to work on it. Putting people on the spot is hard. It’s not something you probably do in your social life, and it doesn’t come naturally to most of us as interviewers.

The good news is that it doesn’t take very much effort to be just a little bit better than every one else. Force yourself to make candidates answer the question that you ask, don’t shy away from making things uncomfortable, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of reasons to say no to someone to whom you might have said yes.

Categories: Small Business

Design Outside the Box: Jesse Schell at DICE 2010

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

This video is brilliant, especially mind blowing in the last 5 minutes or so of Part 3. I can’t recommend watching this enough as not only does the content provide an interesting hypothesis about the bleeding of gaming into every aspect of our lives, but Jesse Schell is a wonderful and dynamic presenter who’s odd delivery and perfect pacing make watching and listening to him a unique experience.

Big thanks to G4TV.com for recording the presentation and to kottke.org for posting it.

Parts 2 and 3 after the break

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Categories: Facebook, Gaming, Reality

Debt is NOT a four-letter word

I’m a finance guy. It’s a big part of what I do and it’s also fairly common knowledge in even my extended social circle. So I guess it should come as no surprise that I’m often asked for advice when it comes to matters of dollars and cents. It just comes with the territory, and I’m always willing to spend a little time educating people on personal finance and taxes.  I use the term “educate” specifically because the first thing I generally tell people is not to take anyone’s advice. I tell them that it’s important to educate yourself and that what’s right for your friend, or your brother-in-law or your office-mate may not be right for you.  Generally in a conversation, it’s hard to demonstrate exactly how true that is, so I decided to illustrate that point with an example that debunks some generally held beliefs about savings and debt.

The setup

Kelly from Toronto is pretty good with his money. He doesn’t carry a balance on his credit card, lives within his means, and his only debt is a $1,000 line of credit (8.5% APR). He’s got a little bit of money at the end of every month and he’s trying to decide what to do with it.  He’s getting all kinds of advice but he decides to ask his especially handsome friend Michael to help him decide what to do. Michael doesn’t want to give Kelly advice so he decides to walk him through a couple options and let him decide for himself. Let’s see what they come up with.

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Categories: Personal Finance

Measurement Manifesto

“The things that get measured are the things that get done. Companies measure the stuff they care about.” – Mark Horstman

“That which is measured, improves.”

Measure everything.

There are 2 distinctive measurements you should use to capture and accurate picture of the performance of your business. The first and most common are lagging indicators. These are measurements of results and include examples such as: revenue, expenses, average days outstanding etc.

The second and far less measured type are leading indicators. These are generally measurements of activities and behaviours that should lead to successful outcomes. They might include such things as: number of cold calls per day/week, or days from date of sale to date of invoice.

Not only is it important to measure both leading and lagging indicators in order to ensure things get done, but it’s also important to ensure that we’re constantly improving.

Having a wide variety of good data is also going to ease the decision making process by removing a great deal of the uncertainty.

Measure everything.

Categories: metrics, Small Business Tags:

The best presentation is NO presentation

A great article by everyone’s favorite blogger Seth Godin. I can’t tell you how many ineffectual presentations I’ve sat through that could have just as easily been sent around in an email. Presentations should only be used when persuasion or buy-in are required. If the purpose is solely to update or provide information, send an email.

The Best presentation is no presentation

The Power of Free

McDonald’s Corp. said global sales rose 6.9 percent in April based partially on sales of the new McCafe line of coffee beverages. McDonalds promoted the new line by offering free small coffees for a period in April. The cost of the free coffee to McDonald’s is fairly insignificant, but the perceived benefit to the customer relatively high, especially if that customer is someone who is buying a coffee every morning as many of us do. Nobody illustrates that better than Photographer Chris Jordan who’s series Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait demonstrates the immense scale of our consumption.

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Categories: Marketing, Small Business

Small business killer #1: Cashflow

This will be the first entry in a series I’m calling “The Small Business Killers”. Unfortunately the list of problems that can sink a small business is very long. My goal here is to provide real actionable steps that can be taken to mitigate the impact these problems can have on your business. So let’s get started.

Poor cashflow is like the zombie apocalypse we see in so many horror movies today. It starts out a small problem, an isolated outbreak, but over time it builds and builds, mostly under the radar, until your business becomes overrun by it and unable to survive.

What’s worse is that, just like zombies, it spreads from company to company. Company As bad cashflow causes them to pay their vendor, Company B, slowly, who in turn has to pay their vendor, Company C, slowly as well, and so on and so on.

The good news is that there is hope. A few behaviors added on a regular basis can dramatically improve your cash position.

Read more…

Categories: cashflow, Small Business Tags: