Monday, May 26, 2014

Top 10 Quotes For Entrepreneurs

Starting a company is a riveting roller coaster of emotions with tremendous highs and at times, difficult lows, but one thing that always helps me through the ups and downs is to connect with some of the greatest minds. Below are just a few of my favorite quotes:

1) “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
- Peter Drucker

2) “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
- Steve Jobs

3) “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
- Thomas Edison

4) “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
- Albert Einstein

5) “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
- Napoleon Hill

6) “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.”
- Warren G. Tracy’s student

7) “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
- Mark Twain

8) “When you cease to dream you cease to live.”
- Malcolm Forbes

9) “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
- John C. Maxwell

10) “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
- Bill Gates

Feel free to leave your favorite quote below!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Disrupt Your Industry With Love, Not Contempt

“You ever notice how the first slide in any pitch deck these days is ‘[industry] IS BROKEN?’”

A friend pointed this out to me last week talking over coffee during a cold rainy New York afternoon. It was noted with a bit of smirk – both in terms of its consistency but also how it has a “to a hammer, everything is a nail” quality — the world is broken and entrepreneurs are here to make it better!

Now of course there’s a beautiful truth to this: entrepreneurs see problems everywhere. Problems they are compelled to fix. One of my emerging theories is the best products/startups are built on an emotional base of love and greed.

Love in the sense that the founders are motivated by some deep warmth and appreciation towards the area they’re innovating within. And greed not solely in the notion they want to make lots of money – although they believe profits are a tool – but rather that they won’t stop until everyone is a customer because their product is just that good, and that’s the way the world should work. Looking at Homebrew’s 2013 investments I see clear examples of founders “fixing” their industries with love, not contempt. The two most striking for me are UpCounsel and The Skimm.

UpCounsel connects businesses with on-demand legal support by creating a marketplace, really a virtual law firm, of the best independent attorneys. Folks like theWall Street Journal are taking notice. Matthew Faustman, UpCounsel’s CEO/cofounder, is a lawyer himself, having left prestigious firm Latham & Watkins to create what he saw as the future of the legal profession. UpCounsel wasn’t founded because Matt hates lawyers. Quite the opposite – he believes both lawyers and clients are underserved by current options and he can build a way for both sides to have more meaningful interactions. 

The large law firm structure is crumbling and UpCounsel wants to make sure every great independent lawyer has everything they need to succeed. Look at Matt – he’s a handsome smart guy. Could have stayed the course, made partner, got the nice house, etc. But that wasn’t the impact he wanted to make on his profession. He stepped away from a surer thing to do the new thing. And I see that DNA in his business. In the way they interact with lawyers on the platforms – recognizing they’re talented, unique individuals, not just fungible resources.

For Carly and Danielle at The Skimm – close to the same story. Two twentysomething NBC News rising stars but felt to the core of their bones that traditional media was underserving their generation and any other busy professional who wanted to stay in the know. What do most people do? Nothing. Keep collecting the salary, the promotions, the false stability. Instead they left. Not shaking a first at the existing institutions and toasting how they’ll burn them to the ground, but with love. We can do this different and better. And we need to do it from outside of the current structure in order to bring it to life true to our vision.

Hunter Walk
Partner at Homebrew VC (fmr YouTube, Google, Second Life product lead)

How to Be Creative (and Why it's Necessary)

My work is fundamentally creative. There are loads of analytical pieces, but at the end of the day, marketing is about making a connection with human beings who are not as predictable as marketers would like to think. 

Yes, there are lots of studies on consumer behavior and human drive and we can move the needle by tapping into those things that motivate buying behavior, but so is everyone else and the companies that 'win' the loyalty and sales are the ones that are more creative.

Content marketing, which is the focus of my current consulting, is all about being creative. There is a good amount of noise out there: companies writing blog posts, producing video series and posting regularly to social media channels, and most of it really doesn't matter. It follows formulas and delivers the same old same old that we've read a million times before. There is nothing to distinguish one inspirational quote from another. There is no point of view.

So I am to dig deeper. Provide something different. Something valuable. Something thought provoking. I shoot for remarkable.

But thought provoking, valuable and remarkable take time. They take long hours of thought. And, frankly, most brands don't want to pay for that. We just got them to the point that (many of) them are realizing that content is important and some of them are willing to pay something for it, but that's only a small piece of it. Stopping there would be like giving someone a bathing suit and expecting them to swim across the Atlantic.

Francis Moran recently likened the current state of content marketing to the early state of radio. Anyone with access to the tools could claim expertise in radio, but as it evolved, it was apparent that there were very few examples of radio shows that could hold an audience. And you need an audience to pay the electric bills.

One of the shows that stands out to me is This American Life with Ira Glass on Public Radio. There are very few radio shows that I can listen to for a full hour each week and even fewer that I will go back to listen to multiple times, but this is one of them. There is just something so incredibly entertaining and thought provoking about it.

And then this weekend Mitch Joel pointed out a Google Talk with Ira Glass in which the interviewer asks where he comes up with the programming week after week (for >18 years!) and Glass' answer is amazing:
Somebody will pitch a story that we all feel very excited about and that doesn’t go with any of the themes we have going on at the time, so we’ll just say “Let’s use that story as an anchor for some show” and then we’ll concoct a theme that could plausibly contain it. And sometimes we’ll come up with 2 or 3 different themes that could plausibly contain it and we’ll have other stories left over from other shows that we couldn’t use and see if we can glue anything to it and then we’ll start on a search. And that search could take up to 3 or 4 months often and sometimes even more. Finding ideas for stories is very inefficient.

One of the things when you start to do creative work that nobody ever asks is, “Where are ideas going to come from?” And you have this idea that they are just going to be sprinkled on your head like fairy dust…but you just have to surround yourself with a lot of stuff and a lot of ideas, because ideas lead to other ideas. So at one point, we’ll just go on a massive search…

Then he goes on to describe a very complex process with all sorts of questions and nuances that are unique to every story and every episode, including having to kill about 1/3-1/2 of every thing they start. And adds:
You really can’t tell what’s going to work until you start to make that thing. It’s like you want lightening to strike as an industrial product (in the same spot) every week, and to do that, you just need to wander around in the rain...a lot.
This is the key to creativity. It's not a linear process and it's not predictable. You need to give it space and lots of encouragement. If you are held to pumping it out like a factory, you are probably not going to nail it. And it doesn't come to you at the most opportune times.
Creativity requires:
  1. Surrounding yourself with inspiration, stories and ideas. I'd say that most of those ideas should be on-topic (if you are trying to come up with a great story on wearable tech, surround yourself with conversations, articles and experiences on wearable tech), but you should also step outside of the narrow topic to get inspiration (think about it from the perspective of parenting or fashion or education, for instance).
  2. Space to breathe and grow. You'll go down a million paths that will lead you nowhere. There is no fairy dust.
  3. A purpose. You need a direction. A point of view. A raison d'etre. For Ira Glass, it's the constant search for stories that will change people's perspective. Having an end goal or a point of view will help focus you enough on what you want to convey. Then you just have to deal with the how.
As you are probably already thinking, this process is far too free-flowing and unpredictable for most companies out there. It's why most artists are starving and why the world is full of mundanity. Nobody wants to pay for long hours of thinking about stuff, only the outcome.

The good news is that there is a happy medium to be struck between completely unleashed creative, interesting content - that is "inefficient" as Glass puts it - and completely lifeless outputs of formulaic, mundane content. But the current pendulum favors the efficient (while complaining that the ROI is less than desirable on this particular output). What we need to work on is the message that it isn't just any content that works.

It's content that actually adds value (a term that is understandable to organizations). And adding value takes more thought than a 2 week RFP or a couple of brainstorms.

Jeff Bezos' wildly popular appearance on 60 Minutes provides a fantastic example of a company that is winning and will continue winning by having a purpose, taking time and surrounding itself with inspiration (they spend a good deal on R&D, a dying department). Bezos asserts of their crazy sci-fi drone idea that it'll be 4-5 years before it is reality. But their incredible commitment to customer-centricity helps them get creative in their approach. It's how they became the market leader and how they will stay there.

Let's create more examples of this. Let's find that sweet spot where creativity meets commerce.

Tara Hunt
Market research, strategy, writing and product management.

Top 10 Eureka Moments: Shower, Sleep and Drive

When do you get great ideas? This was the title of one of my latest posts. 211 Managers and professionals from all over the world described as a comment their eureka or AHA-moments. Thank you to all of them.

Some typical quotes from the research:

"In my dreams, either sleeping or day dreaming, while walking in the woods or outdoors in nature, but rarely when I am in the office."

"Lying in my bed just before sleeping; I often get up then to write down the idea in order not to forget it; when showering; when doing a walk in nature."

"I get mine whilst driving, many a time have I had to call my own phone leaving a voice mail with the idea before I forget it!"

"Walking the dog, I almost see things more clearly than sat at a desk. Quieting the conscious mind giving the unconscious mind room to breath."

"Most of the time it's late at night about 10 min after I go to bed. When my brain has slowed down and I am free to think whatever I want".

Analyzing all the 348 moments creates this top 10 Eureka moments, which accounts for two third of all 'the moments of great ideas'.
  1. Showering 11.2%;
  2. Sleeping 9.2% (dreaming);
  3. Driving 8.6% (my car, motorbike);
  4. Walking 8.0% (in nature or walking the dogs);
  5. Working out & running 7.2% (jogging);
  6. Before sleeping 6.6%;
  7. Waking up 6.6%;
  8. Talking to others 3.7%
  9. Alone 3.2%
  10. Always 3.2%
What strikes me most is that only 0.6% of the eureka-moments happens "in a brainstorm" or "at work". This small research on Linkedin seems to confirm that that if we STOP thinking, our best ideas pop into our minds. In my profession this is called incubation. It is defined as "a process of unconscious recombination of thought elements that were stimulated through conscious work at one point in time, resulting in novel ideas at some later point in time".

If it takes time to get our best ideas you should plan an incubation period between defining your challenge and sharing ideas on this with others who are involved. I have developed a structured method to start innovation in which incubation has an explicit role.

In the FORTH innovation methodology there's a step of 'Observe and Learn' between the kick-off in step one and the ideation workshop in step three. In the 6-week-'Observe and Learn'-phase you get new insights and ideas at those 'not-thinking' moments. During this period you have an 'Observe & Learn' booklet at hand to write down everything which comes to your mind: in the shower, while sleeping and driving home. And this pays off. In the 'Raise Ideas' phase everybody enters the room with booklets full of great ideas :-).

So if you really need a great idea: STOP thinking.

There Is No Lone Genius; Hire a Team With these Four Types

There’s something romantic about the idea of the lone genius. The early success of GE is often attributed solely to the inspiration and perspiration of Thomas Edison. But experience and research both tell us that lasting success is built by teams that drive each other through collaboration, different skill sets and, yes, tension. 

It’s difficult to imagine the stratospheric successes of Steve Jobs without Stephen Wozniak or Mark Zuckerberg without Sheryl Sandberg. Edison had many collaborators and competitors who drove him, including the engineering genius Charles Steinmetz.

Diverse teams drive more innovation. Hiring people with different styles, backgrounds and experience increases the success of teams. My sense of what makes a successful team is constantly evolving, but these days I look for these four types when I hire.

  • The fish out of water. People who are from, or have lived in, global markets expose the company to different mindsets and ways of approaching tasks. Different educational backgrounds also help foster critical thinking skills. Candidates who have studied anthropology and psychology, for example, bring keen observational skills to your team, which is especially good for early stage market and customer prototyping.
  • Someone who can FIO (Figure It Out). Teammembers who can FIO are critical to navigating the ambiguity of the global economy, which no longer has a standard playbook. This quality isn’t necessarily detectable on a resume, so I like to give interviewees hypothetical but decidedly ambiguous scenarios and creative challenges laden with constraints to test their fortitude and creativity.
    Still, there are some signs that someone has the skills to FIO. Anyone who has served in Teach for America, the Peace Corps or a similar organization has most likely been thrown into a leadership position in a challenging situation. I remember a candidate whose background in disaster relief for non-profits in locations ranging from Haiti to Somalia made me confident he could have figured anything out in the corporate world. Likewise, my work with GE’s Veterans Network has shown me that people with military service can perform complex tasks with scarce resources.
  • Candidates with design training. Businesses need design thinking, and not just for creative roles. Design training helps people get a feel for the essence of an issue quickly. It also trains them to visualize concepts in a way that bring people together around a common narrative. Think of all the great ideas that started as sketches on the back of a napkin – that’s design thinking.
  • The well-balanced player. Teams need specialized skillsets but they also need people who can work across disciplines and contribute in multiple ways. A few years ago at GE, we came up with a framework to define a well-rounded team called the 4 I’s: Instigator, Innovator, Integrator and Implementer. The 4 I’s are present, to some degree, in every candidate we interview but some people have them in just the right balance. Those people are often your team leaders.

Collected from LinkedIn.Com

Email, Still A Sonofabitch!

Just about two years ago, I went off the deep end. I had come home early from an event in an effort to do something responsible: email. I was on the road and knew the situation would be dire (since I had not been checking my email all day). I was wrong. IT was a  disaster . It may as well have been Inbox Trillion. There was  NO way I could get with All My Sanity intact through IT. So I did The only  logical  Thing.  I Quit email .
It was both an experiment and a statement. I decided that I wasn't going to respond to email for an entire month. And while I did cheat a little (I would still check it from time-to-time in case of emergencies and to delegate some work-related items that couldn't wait), it was without question one of the best months I've ever had.
I was decidedly less stressed out. I found myself enjoying the internet more. I no longer dreaded opening up my laptop or looking at the push notifications on my phone. And guess what? If someone really needed to talk with me about something, they figured out a way. Funny how that works.
And yet, the good times couldn't last. The month came to a close and  I was back on email . While I don't think I actually missed anything in my time away, the sheer ubiquity of the medium and the realities of life brought email back into my life full time.
And I hate it more than ever.
In the months and now years following the experiment, a number of people have asked for an update on my epic battle with email. The good news is that a few things have gotten much better. The bad new is that everything else has gotten much worse.
After my experiment, I tried a bunch of different things to make my email situation more tenable. What I ended up coming to was a system where I would be checking email constantly throughout a day, responding to what I could quickly from my phone, archiving anything that didn't need a response, and keeping the rest in my inbox until late at night, when the incoming volume would drop to near zero. Anything that wasn't timely would then sit in my inbox until the weekend when the incoming volume is uniformly lower.
It was a bit like letting pressure build up (quite literally, you might say) and releasing a bit of it at night so my inbox wouldn't explode. And then releasing the rest of it every weekend. And then starting over on Monday. Every Monday. Forever.
This was my life. And while it was manageable, you know what? It still sucked. Because I would find myself getting gradually more and more stressed out throughout the week as I saw my inbox grow and grow leading up to the weekend release. It made me more stressed out on Friday than on Monday. I now somewhat dreaded the weekend. Email time.
Then one day a  CrunchFund  portfolio An idea by Company asked ME to run. That Company, Orchestra , had they learned from What Army was planning to take to-do and make a new Kind of Switch app email client. That, of course, became  Mailbox .
The moment I First Heard The idea from,  I knew  IT was a winner. It was essentially taking a lot of what I was manually doing with email and streamlining the process. And they were doing it in an extremely smart and even sort of fun way, using the native niceties of modern smartphones.
Mailbox quickly became my most-used app. It still is. It basically alleviates the pressure build-up in my inbox by allowing me to release it constantly throughout a day. Brilliant.
But also sort of an illusion.
I'm not alleviating the pressure by responding to emails right away. Instead, I'm pushing them off to deal with at a later time. My system of Responding to The Weekend is on or largely Emails at The Same Night, I NO longer have to Simply  Watch  Up Until I am Ready to build those Emails take Action.
Now, don't underestimate how wonderful such a system is. IT's a system that will continue to improve and with that automations and The Mailbox now has like The Resources of  them behind Dropbox . But don't be fooled into thinking that the problems of email have been solved. The underlying issues very much remain.
Simply Mailbox perfected The Game of  Whac-A-Mole-  All We play that.
One major issue that remains with email is the notion that every message should get a response. And a big reason why I hate responding to email during the day is that too many people are too quick to respond to my reponses. For every email I send in the day, I seem to get two in return - often immediately. (As a result, this caged animal has been learning not to touch the electric fence - hence, night and weekend emailing.) And a large number of those responses are "K" or "Cool" or "Great" or "Thx" or some other banality best left unemailed.
The problem with these responses, even the short ones, is that they all take time to consume. If I read them in Gmail, it takes a couple seconds to load the response. And then another couple seconds to archive it. If I read them on my phone, I have to wait a few more seconds to download the messages from the server. Not to mention the push notifications that come in alerting you to the new message, taking up yet more precious seconds.
Seconds make up minutes, which make up hours, which make up days, which make up months, which make up years. One day we'll all be laying on our death beds wishing we hadn't wasted all that time reading a million "K" email responses in our lives.
Email needs some sort of quick response or maybe even a no-response reply system. Maybe it's read / unread states that all recipients can see. But that's been tried before and understandably, some people don't like others to know when they've read a message. So maybe a simple checkmark BE IT needs to, like in Path Recently introduced its  new messaging system .
Or maybe the answer is something like emoji / smilies / stickers. Believe me, I know how lame this must sound. I mean,  stickers  for Chrissakes?! But ignore the immense cuteness and joy of stickers for a second and focus on what they signify: an ultra-quick way to express a reaction. This could work for email too.
Neither of these things would work if they simply came in the form of yet another email response - thus, defeating the purpose. Rather, these should be in the form of some sort of quick-loading visual cue that resides * on top * of an email system. That would likely require everyone using the same email service (unless this somehow became a new standard that every email service provider adopted - not gonna happen). But perhaps a fall-back system could be put in place to deliver these quick messages in email form if the recipient isn't using the correct email service (giving them an incentive to sign up).
My Point is I guess while statement we're seeing that come out with a Lot of services to new and interesting ways Overload Combat email - beyond Mailbox, see:  HandleTriageEvomailMail Pilot , and many Others - The only way EVER email truly gets "fixed" is to be completely re-imagined. It doesn't need a paint job, it needs a demolition job.
My fear is that this will never happen. We'll keep getting better tools to handle email on various devices (on your iPhone, on your iPad, on your iWatch, on Google Glass, etc) but eventually the moles will become too quick and plentiful for any of us to whack.
At that point, email will become something we only use for work while we use some other quick messaging system for everything else. This is already happening to some extent - when was the last time you sent an email for "fun"? - But the messaging world is increasingly fragmented and not universal.


In Defense Of Email!

"Nobody uses email anymore - you get too much of it" - Yogi Berra
In Last Sunday's New York Times, We were treated to Another  rant  about HOW BECOME email has dysfunctional and burdensome. This particular piler-on lays the blame at "how stagnant the format of email has remained, while the rest of communication and social networking has surged light years ahead."
Really? If you ask me, I think the problem exists largely between keyboard and chair (see illustration).
I don't mean to say that email providers can't do a better job of serving their users (raise your hand if you don't want Gmail to be faster), but innovation in email is anything but stagnant. In my view, the 30-year old "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol" (aka SMTP) has served us remarkably well, and continues to do so.
I've always felt that the "overwhelmed by my inbox" meme was a combination of humblebrag and mismanagement. Those Twitter posts bemoaning too much email often sound like somebody complaining about too many invitations to the prom - an "everybody wants me" or "I'm in such demand" kind of boast. In reality, a lot of people do have too many messages in their inboxes, but it's hardly the fault of email itself. They're just doing it wrong.
Another popular bromide suggests email is an evil time suck that prevents us from getting work done. For many - particularly engineers, designers, artists, or writers who need extended periods of concentration - this is undoubtedly true. Email can be a distraction that breaks our concentration if we allow it to do so. But for many of us, email actually is our work - or at least a vital part of it.

I'm bemused by the CEOs who declare their companies are giving up email ... We tried that. It was called the '80s.

The popular if I followed guidelines suggesting should only check one email a day Once or twice, I would virtually Guarantee Slow Down at our IT CAN PROGRESS  Upstart . To a large extent, email is how we communicate and get things done. At Google, my prior employer, I can state confidently that the company would (and did) grind to a halt if email weren't available.
I'm bemused by the CEOs who declare their companies are giving up email. Why? So they can go back to those oh-so-productive in-person meetings and phone calls? We tried that. It was called the '80s. For what it's worth, I'm a big believer that there are many conversations that are better had on the phone, or in person, but that in no way minimizes the monstrous productivity improvements that email has wrought. What company has lasted even a month without email?
The ultimate obituary for email is that it's for, well ... old people. Millennials will tell you that email is where they go when they want to write a formal letter (how us GenXers thought about actual letter writing) or to get my Amazon receipts. There is some truth to this. Without question, text messaging has taken its rightful place as a superior and universal tool when the message is short, and the timing is now. And we should be glad to get that stuff out of our inbox. Yet somehow it hasn't left our inboxes barren.
And what of Facebook and Twitter? Or those myriad enterprise social apps that spell doomsday for email? There's a reason why the newsfeed of your favorite social app can't and won't replace email. Using a social stream to contact somebody is akin to driving past your friend's house in order to visit them. Yes that's right - just smile, wave out the window, and keep on going, rather than pulling into their driveway. That's the newsfeed. The more these social products attempt to implement more directed forms of messaging, the more they create half-baked (or even lesser) versions of email. I should admit that there's one area where Facebook has left email in the dust: you never need to remember or update another email address. But the price you pay, in terms of reliance on a single and proprietary platform, is steep. This is an obvious shortcoming of email that should be fixed.
By the way, if email is dead, why is it that every social / local / mobile app in the world is intent on notifying you via email every time a butterfly flaps its wings? Because that's the only place you'll reliably receive the notification and re-engage with their app.
Listen here, email haters. That protocol from 1982 called SMTP, and the ecosystem of applications and services based on it, are blessed with certain virtues that we've all taken for granted. First, it's not controlled by any one company. Like SMS, SMTP is a very basic communication protocol that allows for virtually unlimited innovation around it. Threaded conversations? Check. Priority inbox? Check. Forgotten attachment detector? Check. And as  Mailbox  has SHOWN, by building a simple Feature that pushes them off receiving Emails Until a Time Feel like you, you CAN build a Company that will countless Receive term sheets from venture capitalists (presumably in Your INBOX).
To the piler-on at the New York Times, I have a few suggestions to relieve the dread you apparently feel each time you come face to face with your inbox:

  • Use a modern email service that has features that put you in control. I'm naturally partial to Gmail, as almost half a billion people on the planet seem to be.
  • Turn off social network notifications. They seem to be such a huge source of your angst, yet they don't need to be. Just turn them off.
  • Don't sign up for mail lists unless you really need to. Nobody can force you. Ok, maybe your boss can. But this is mostly in your control.
  • Filter stuff out of your inbox that isn't urgent. The glory of virtually unlimited email storage (an innovation of the last eight or so years) is that you don't have to keep everything in your inbox, yet you can find it when you need it or browse through it when you have time.
  • If, after carefully considering and adhering to the advice above, you're still inundated with a tidal wave of unwanted email, you might consider being grateful that people actually take the time to write you.

Upstart is a funding platform and mentoring network that matches students with backers who believe in their potential. With funding from Upstart, students can retire student loans, pay for living expenses, take an internship, or start a business. In return, the students share a small percentage of their income with their backers for the next 10 years.

by Dave Girouard

It’s Not Email That’s Broken, It’s You!

I know this is going to foment controversy, but screw it. I'm tired of reading about how email is fundamentally flawed and about all the clever new ways to "fix" or "reinvent" it. Email isn't broken! Email is great. I love email; it's my favorite way to communicate. Some email apps, servers, and protocols are better than others, but honestly, it would be OK with me if email stayed as is forever. If your relationship with email is unsatisfactory, email isn't the problem. It's you.
Now, I assume that by this point, many people have already stopped reading and started commenting about how wrong I am. That's great; those of us who are sticking around for the rest of the article can safely ignore all those comments and have a polite and friendly (if one-sided) conversation.
The whole alleged email problem I've been in Thinking about Recent weeks Due largely to The HYPE surrounding The new  Mailbox  app for iPhone (see " Mailbox for Email Triage iPhone Eases but Lacks Key Features , "22 February 2013), purports to mikä finally "put email in its place." In The Mailbox The midst of frenzy, Maria Popova, The highly regarded of  Brain Pickings  Blog,  Twitter on Stated  She was that declaring  email bankruptcy  - summarily Deleting email messages from 7.487 Unread She knew She avoided her INBOX could never get to them all. All this, in Turn, My friend reminded ME of An Influential Blog post by Tantek Çelik, who declared in 2008 that  is Efail Email .
I could give lots more examples, but it's clear that a great many people are completely overwhelmed by email. That's a problem, for sure, and it needs to be solved. What bothers me is when people blame the medium. The world's obesity problem isn't the fault of food, and the world's debt problem isn't the fault of money. Your email problems aren't the fault of email as a communications system, and they're probably not even the fault of the tools you're using. It's easy to pick on email because it won't fight back. But the real problem for most people who feel email is out of control is that they haven't taken responsibility for figuring out why the problem exists for them and how to change their habits to address it.
Email is not unique in this regard; the same could be said of Twitter overload or Facebook overload, for example. But at least in the case of social networking services, you get to decide who you receive messages from, and there's no technological barrier (even if there is a psychological one) to unfollowing someone on Twitter or unfriending someone on Facebook. With email, the solutions are less obvious while the stakes are higher.
Don't misunderstand; I wouldn't presume to say, "Why don't you just grow up and deal with your problem?" As though you're merely being too lazy to implement some obvious and foolproof fix. Changing email habits is hard, like changing eating habits. How many people do you know who have tried one diet after another - with the very best intentions and perhaps even encouraging results - only to find that after months or years, they slip back into their old ways? Email overload is not a trivial thing to deal with. But people have successfully and definitively dealt with it, and you can too. Before you can do that, however, you have to accept that you alone have the responsibility to make email work for you. If you're waiting for the right app or service to come along and magically fix it for you, you're going to have a long wait.
Let's go back to the Mailbox app I mentioned earlier. I tried it, and I hated it. It is, for me, utterly unusable. I could write many paragraphs about how awful I think its overall approach is and how ineffective its particular implementations are. But - and again, I'm assuming we just lost a bunch more people who have already headed for the comments - none of that matters. If you like Mailbox and it makes your email experience better, more power to you. What works for one person may not work for everyone. We all have to find our own paths to email sanity.
The system I've used for years works perfectly - for me. My inbox rarely has more than a handful of messages in it, and it's usually empty when I go to bed. I don't feel anxious or overwhelmed by my email, even though I receive a vast number of messages every day. Several years ago, I sat down and thought about the kinds of messages I receive and what I need to do in order to dispose of them quickly and efficiently. Based on that, I came up with a method I'm comfortable with. (You CAN Read about My system in a somewhat Generic version of My Macworld Series  Your Inbox Empty .)
Adam Engst developed his own way of interacting with email, mikä he documented in The Four-part Series " Zen and The Art of Gmail . "His approach (for details see The Second article in The Series) is as different from mine as CAN BE - I'm certain that neither one of us could follow the other's system for a day without driving ourselves utterly batty. As tempted as I may be to say his way is "wrong" and mine is "right," they're actually both right, because they suit our respective personalities. We've each identified what causes us stress, what we're willing to pay attention to, and what we tend to ignore - and we've adopted systems that work with, rather than against, our proclivities. There are other approaches, Too, including legendary Merlin Mann's  Inbox Zero  and innumerable VARIATIONS thereof, such as  Keith Rarick's Gmail version , mikä Maria Popova is now trying to follow.
So, even though I'm extremely fond of my own system, and even though I have strong feelings about some common habits (I truly can't bear the idea of ​​using one's inbox as a to do list), I'm not trying to prescribe a particular approach to email. What I am trying to say is that you probably don't receive more email than Adam Engst, Merlin Mann, or I do, and if we can get to the point where we feel email is under control, so can you. If you find that one of our systems works "out of the box," that's fantastic; go for it! If you need to adapt a system to your own needs or invent something entirely new, that's also fine. But it's going to require effort. You have to take a few hours of your life to analyze the ways you use email and determine what parts of your approach aren't working, and then adjust some of your behaviors.
You may find it helpful to think about the metaphors we use when talking about email as if they were literal. Would you ever consider declaring postal mail bankruptcy - tossing out all the thousands of envelopes that appeared in your physical mailbox over a period of months without even a glance? Would you allow envelopes to accumulate in a physical inbox on your desk until the pile reached the ceiling? I'm guessing no to both; somehow, nearly everyone finds some way to cope with mail when it arrives in physical form, even though there may be a lot of it, because some of it is important and there could be dire consequences to ignoring it. But "coping" might include taking your name off of mailing lists, hiring an assistant, or taking other more drastic measures. Do the ways you've dealt with paper mail suggest ideas for dealing with email?
Learning to cope with email may involve things that feel painful, such as:
  • Unsubscribing from mailing lists you enjoy, particularly those that distract you into reading more (but hopefully not TidBITS!)
  • Switching to a different email provider that filters spam more effectively
  • Telling your family that you'd prefer not to receive pictures of adorable kittens and endlessly forwarded jokes
  • Forcing yourself to respond to difficult messages immediately
  • Deleting or filing certain messages without taking action on them
Perhaps you'll have to do all these things, or none of them. That's not for me to say. You even get to decide what your actual goal is. Maybe having an empty inbox is irrelevant to you and it's not a good measure of whether you're in control of your email. But in any case, if your current approach isn't working for you, the one thing you mustn't do is shift the blame to email as a medium or to an imperfect email app.
If email is the problem, you alone are the solution.

Joe Kissell

Should Everyone Work In A Startup, At Least For A While?

The answer is: It's probably a good thing but it's not about the money.
Certain experiences shape a career. Some are in the "you-will-be-a-better-person-for-this" category. Getting fired and really bad bosses tend to top that list. Conversely, a special relationship with a mentor or time spent in an exceptional training program can propel a career in the positive direction. But mentors and cool training can be hit or miss. The alternative for pure career shaping moments: time at a startup.
Career shaping moments are built on day-to-day experiences where the requirement is to be able to drink from a fire hose. Many would say that time spent in an early stage company is that fire hose. Time spent there beats an MBA, beats any training program and can propel one's career into a leadership role and create wealth (if that's what one wants) more than any thing else. That's what many would say and most in Silicon Valley.
There is a certain cache to working at a startup. Friends are jealous and assume you might be the next Facebook zillionaire. Other friends are always and willing to lend advice - in exchange for equity. Hot new technology abounds and cool snacks might be in the kitchen. You can probably build an entire wardrobe around logo riddled clothes you receive.
But working at a startup can be risky. Pay and benefits can be less than market rate. The CEO might be twenty-five years old and learning on the job. Venture capitalists and bankers might be annoyingly in your way. More conservative friends may wonder, WTF?, You are wasting your talent. But if you are ready to deal with the risk / reward equation and build a career around the experience, it will pay off. Here is why it can be worth it:
You are always dealing with the biggest business lesson of all: Business is about making stuff and selling stuff. If you are not doing one of those two things, what are you doing?
You learn that cash is king and every nickel counts. Any one in a startup knows two of the most feared phrases are "We are running low on cash", or "Our runway is two months". Living with those phrases will definitely shape a career.
You learn that there are lots of details in any enterprise. You might have to name the company, design a logo, find office space, figure out the legal entity, find an insurance carrier and all the thousands of mundane activities that one takes for granted in a larger company.
You learn that meeting payroll is not an automatic God-given right.
You learn that results matter and shape the company. As in, results count, not effort.
You learn that every situation has an upside. You may not get paid a lot but maybe you can take your dog to work. You don't have to dress up and will save money on clothes. Really close quarters could mean really close friends. You see the results of your labors.
You learn that if you don't make coffee or get the dirty dishes out of the sink, no one else will. There is no maid. You learn that if you call in sick your team will suffer because no one has any extra capacity.
You learn that business is sometimes a series of forced choices. Should we have free snacks or revamp the website? Should we have free coffee or hire another engineer? Should we launch early when we are not quite done, or wait?
Maybe the thing about startup experience is that it almost always happens early in a career and the positive shaping can last a long time. You learn that leadership matters, even if you are twenty-four years old.
Working at a startup is a simple equation. The numerator is risky. The denominator is an experience that can shape a career. You make the decision. And there is that Facebook zillionaire thing.

Creating A Company Culture That Matters!

My company's leadership used to focus mostly on vision, position, product and service while assuming our culture was organic to our company and the employees. It wasn't. Whereas our company ran, communicated and created on point, our culture was random. Last year we decided to work with our team leaders, employees and interns and define a culture that would support the company and define both the experience of working as well as the aspects of the people we would hire and contract.
Together we created the four pillars of the Cinequest culture and the effects were startling. First, within a month of defining the culture, several people who had just signed longterm contracts unexpectedly left the organization. The culture as defined was not for them. Then energy shifted and we started to see both new talent as well as seasoned team members integrate with the cultural pillars. Leaders and employees consistently reinforced the culture both in regular meetings as well as in interviews with prospective employees and interns. The end result has been exceptional: our team has strongly improved as has the day to day vibe of working together. Now the company DNA includes culture along with vision, position, product and service.
The four pillars of the Cinequest culture are, as defined by our team:
  • World Class Excellence: creating work at the highest level of quality and impact.
  • High Energy: drive, enthusiasm, passion.
  • Love: love of the people we serve, each other and of Cinequest.
  • Integrity.
What are some of your favorite cultural 'pillars' you have or would like to see in your organization?

Halfdan Hussey
Co.-Founder & Director at Cinequest