Startup Links

August 14, 2012

Every day I comb through my Google Reader reading sites like Hacker News and others, and star articles that are especially interesting about startups, entrepreneurship and miscellany. These are some of my favorites:

Startup Links

July 20, 2012

A couple of interesting articles from the past few weeks:

Startup Links

May 6, 2012

Every day I comb through my Google Reader reading sites like Hacker News and others, and star articles that are especially interesting about startups, entrepreneurship and miscellany. These are some of my favorites:

Shirking Responsibility

November 15, 2011

In the past, I’ve found ways to shirk responsibility.  It all started with girls.  In fact, one girl in particular in high school.   There I was, standing there minding my own business when this girl walks up to me in the cafeteria and says with the utmost conviction and gumption “We have slept together.”

Stunned silence on my part.  I believe my mouth was hanging open as I stared at her, looking her up and down.  My first thought was – who the hell are you?  Honestly, I had never laid eyes on her in high school and I knew that I didn’t go to elementary school with her.  My second thought was – please god no, do not let her be pregnant!

The next words out of her mouth were, “In fact, we have shared a bed together on many occasions.”  My stance changed to the defensive, peering deep into her eyes and thinking “I have no clue who you are” then glaring at the few people who had gathered around us, seeing if I could garner any clues as to her identity.


A cold sweat permeated my body.  More people were looking over at our small group; pointing, whispering.  I fully expected someone to wheel in a baby carriage and for her to launch into the full blown antics that I had witnessed on Jerry Springer – only this time there was no Steve to break things up.  I knew I had to do it.  I never imagined that at the age of 17 I would be in this situation.

“I’m terribly sorry, we may have slept together, but I seem to have forgotten your name.”

Thank you Jennifer.  It turns out that we had slept together.   On many different occasions.  And we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and played with each other for hours.

As toddlers.  Over 15 years ago.

Jenn had just switched over to my high school and her mom had told her to look me up.  We had a few mutual friends that were in on it and from that point on I never looked at women and responsibility the same way again.  I figured that I had dodged one bullet, so let’s see how many others I can dodge.

It took me another 12 years to figure out that my behaviour was hurting not only myself, but those that I cared about as well.  I had created this wonderful behavioural pattern around shirking responsibility – being accountable to no one except myself (and I was not hard on myself either) and it was beginning to show to those around me.  I had started the 31 Day Sprint as a way to hold myself publicly accountable for my successes and failures and it was not until today when I fell back into my old habit that I realized that something more drastic had to be done (hence this post).

I’ll admit that right now I’m struggling with the shift in focus from marketing activities to sales activities.  I know that this week and next week I will overachieve on my daily numbers but it will be the weekly numbers that will hurt the most – units sold, sales volume (in terms of $$), and income (%age).  I will fail miserably at achieving a sustainable level of sales activities to translate into income.  I expect this failure knowing that I will use it to learn and adapt and figure out a way to turn it into a success.

I’ve been in business too long for myself without having to produce a weekly income that drastic measures have to be taken – I have no choice but to continue to break my behavioural pattern.  Wednesday morning when I wake up I will do the two things that I fear most – only because these two activities will help me become successful – workout for an hour and call my clients and business associates.  I’ve relied far too long on technology (email, social media, etc) and I’ve been content with the mediocre results for far too long.  Now is the time to overachieve.  Now is the time to get results.

Hard numbers for today – 67 (12 over daily average)

Marketing – 62
Sales – 3
FLH – 2 (0 fitness, 1 hobby, 1 life)

When I wake up, it will be a new day.  I relish the opportunity for another woman to give me the opportunity to dodge more bullets – just not when it comes to those that I care about most.

Day 23 and Day 24 of The 31 Day Sprint

October 24, 2011

Thursday and Friday of this week were a struggle.  After a 90 minute run on Wednesday morning I was feeling lethargic and slow until Saturday.  It took me a while to figure out that getting four hours of sleep each night is not enough if you plan on not having a sedentary lifestyle.  I’ll be gunning for 6-8 hours of sleep each night and will try to keep the productivity level high.

Here are the updated numbers:

  • Total Weekly Points: 337
  • Average Daily Points: 67
  • Rolling 7 Day Total: 491
  • Rolling 7 Day Average: 70
  • LinkedIn Connections – 1,700+
In otherwords, I managed to hit my goal even though Thursday and Friday were technically a flop.  In addition to the Gobi Capital site, there are four other sites that are being prepped for launch.  One of them will be a subscription based portal that will provide business owners and soon to be entrepreneurs the tools to test their new business/product/service idea, launch their project and then achieve a high level of growth.
The objective of next week is based on income.  The whole purpose of The 31 Day Sprint was to achieve a higher level of activity that would enable an increase in income for myself.  I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another 31 Day Sprint, but adjusting the metrics slightly and setting a different objective.   When I was studying in Findland, there was a course based on a book called The Balanced Scorecard – I think I’ll start to adopt some of those concepts and take a more holistic approach to the next sprint.
Hard numbers for this week:
  • 63+ marketing points each day (minimum of 315 Monday to Friday)
  • 8 fitness points for the week (Saturday-Friday)
  • 5 life points for the week
  • 10% increase in weekly income
  • Identify 5 new potential projects
That’s it for now.  Have fun!

Day 19 of the 31 Day Sprint

October 15, 2011

Point breakdown for the day:

  • 108 marketing points
  • 1 life point
Since it’s Friday, I’ll give you an update on my rolling 7 day numbers:
  • Total points: 261 points
  • Average daily points: 37 points
  • New subscribers to newsletter: 22 people
  • Daily average for this 4 day work week: 53 points
  • Total points for this 4 day work week: 210 points

So in terms of trends, things are looking up.  I overachieved on my rolling 7 day average – 37 points as opposed to 33 points.  In terms of looking at this 4 day week, I am up to an average of 53 points – setting the bar pretty high for next week.  In case you don’t remember, here is the ruler that I’m measuring myself against:

0-15 points – Danger level! I may soon have a boss.
16-33 points – Average – if that’s what I want.
34-51 points – Looking good. I’m in the top 20%.
52-69 points – The Million Dollar Pro.

I guess the bar is raised to a minimum of 52 points per day for next week.

The focus on the next week is to qualify the projects that are currently on the go and to find five new potential projects and get them off to the right people.

Day 16 of The 31 Day Sprint

October 11, 2011

Halfway There:

Well it’s been over two weeks.  The results are not that impressive, but here are the stats:

  • 1,400+ connections on LinkedIn
  • 3 days with over 20 points
  • 2 days with over 30 points
  • 1 days with over 40 points
  • 10 days with under 10 points
  • Total points – 147
  • Weekly average – 74 / 129 for the past week
  • Daily average – 11 / 18 for the past week
Looking at my production level, the first hurdle is having a daily average of 18 for the past week (check!); then over 34 points for next week.  Truth be told, it will not be easier as I’m counting out 7 work days – so next week does not work towards my benefit.  I am happy with the numbers from the past seven days and I’m looking forward to the remaining six work days.

Day 16:

The goal for today was simple – work on ways to leverage my existing network and find a muse.

Now ways to leverage my network is pretty simple – I can divide it into 4 categories:

  1. Lenders and Investors
  2. COI’s – centre’s of influence – people who refer deals
  3.  Acquaintances, Friends and Family
  4. Unknowns
I’m sending out a brief newsletter (it won’t look pretty but it will be functional) that will hit on the first two categories, inform the third category, and allow me to qualify the fourth category.  Over the past two weeks I’ve added almost 3,000 new contacts to my network and the majority of those fall into the “Unknown” category.  At the end of the month, the plan is to categorize the unknowns and start to develop a better relationship with them.
The goals for today and whether I accomplished them:
  1. Newsletter out………………………………………………..done
  2. Connect with 30+ business owners……………………..done
  3. Hit a minimum of 33 points……………………………….done
  4. 1500+ connections on LinkedIn………………………..done
  5. Complete To Do list………………………………………….done
  6. Update web site………………………………………………done
So far today the total point count is 43 with 1 points for fitness.
Now onto a muse.  I borrowed this term/idea from Timothy Ferris (author of the 4 Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body).  A muse is a reference to a business that can be launched within a short period of time that will grow to a $1M business within a year with little or no daily effort (here’s the blog post that describes how to go about developing a muse).  So far I’ve mapped out the process to go through and now testing a few ideas using the tools provided.  I will keep you posted on the progress.
I have also been batting around the idea of doing a Start-up Weekend or Start-up Week with a few fellow entrepreneurs.  I’ll devote more time tonight to fleshing out the idea, but it will revolve around the idea of a muse.

One Third Of The Way There….

September 30, 2011

Once upon a time there was a young man who wanted to do more – not just more in terms of sales or with his business, but with his life.  More health, more awake, more money, more travelling, more adventure, more fun!  So he set a goal for himself and devised a way to to achieve his goal and took the first step.

This is the 31 Day Sprint – an idea started from Tom Hopkins book, “How To Master The Art of Sales” – that I have expanded to include most facets of my life.  The general idea of the sprint is to get specific – to track the activities that you do on a daily basis that will lead to you achieving your goal.  Want more sales?  Map out the activities that you take a potential client through and then add a point for each goal.  Assign one point when you make a “real life encounter”, such as talking to a new potential client on the phone (no points for leaving a voicemail) or getting a contract signed.  For things such as sending out a newsletter or emailing a newsworthy item, you get one point for every 20 that you reach.

Today is Day 10 for my sprint here are some stats – average daily points (11), points this week (102), new referrals (3), new supplier (1).  You can find more info here.  I’ll admit that it took a few days to get going and to ensure that I had the right processes setup to track everything.

Why I Agreed To The Nine Day Challenge

June 2, 2011

I find myself in a unique position this morning and one that I haven’t been in for a few years – I am the underdog.

I don’t mind being in this position except that I’m down 183 to 59 and it seems to be a pretty big hill to climb – not insurmountable but definitely daunting.  I do wake up in the morning in a cold sweat wondering what I can do today to get more people involved in The Nine Day Challenge.  I do worry with every passing minute if we can raise the funds that we promised we would for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters (South Simcoe chapter).  Monday night, Krystal and I gave a pitch to their board of directors, and aside from some concerns about the humiliation part, they were in support of it. Now we have to deliver on our promise.

So the big question is – why did I agree to do a social media challenge with a 19 year old girl?

Yes, I realized when I agreed to do it that her generation lives and breaths social media with the same fervor that my generation adopted the PC.  Take into account that she had setup her page within five minutes and had ten ‘likes’ five minutes after that – I’m up against someone who is dedicated to win and knows what she is doing.

I agreed to do this challenge for two reasons: to help a local charity and to help a budding entrepreneur.  Six weeks ago, Andie at the Nottawasaga Community Futures Development Corporation asked if I would sit down with Krystal to talk about starting her business (Krystal Kares) and applying for the Summer Company program.  From our first meeting, I would see the potential that Krystal possesses.  The enthusiasm and passion that she has for wanting to make a positive impact in her community is contagious and I found myself asking “How can I do more?”

Ten weeks ago I was experiencing one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history while living in Sendai, Japan (as well as experiencing the emotional roller coaster of being on an island while two nuclear power plants melt down and dealing with dozens of aftershocks).  On April 1st, I was part of a team that put together Stories From Sendai to raise funds for Habitat For Humanity to help with rebuilding parts of the North-East coast of Japan.  I realized from that and past experiences, that many local charities have issues raising enough funds to keep their programs running (let alone maintain an office and staff) and have the much larger issue of getting people involved – to either sit on their Board as a director or as a volunteers to run / participate in the programs.  It was also from running that fundraiser that I was able to see how a marketing campaign and fundraising event could rapidly be crafted, fleshed out and then deployed within a very short time frame.

I know that for me, this Nine Day Challenge is exactly that – a challenge.  So I ask for your support in three ways:

1.  Go to my Facebook page for Gobi Capital and click “Like”.

2.  Go to The Nine Day Challenge web site and see how you can get involved.

3.  Take time today to think about what you can do today to make an improvement in your community.  Then act on it.  Pick up the phone, send an email, talk to someone.  I dare you to find your voice and ask a charity or not-for-profit “What can I do to help?”

Whether I win or lose this challenge, I know that I’ve done my part to make this community a better place.  Now I ask you to do yours.  Get involved today.

New Office

May 11, 2011

The new office is officially setup – all phone, internet, cubicles, etc have been setup and now open for business.  The background noise tends to increase as the day wears on and it is definitely easier to see the computer screen in the afternoon as there is no ‘rising sun glare’.

The new cubicles

Not my favourite colour but it suits the work environment very well

The view from the cubicle (taken at 7:30am approx.)

The pool will be open in a few weeks and the sauna was tested out Sunday night (75C for an average temperature).  The gardens should be in full bloom in two weeks (there’s a bit of a lag compared to Toronto) and the first hummingbird was spotted on the weekend.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to the new work environment and a new work ethic of working “smarter and harder (when necessary)”.  The new business cards should be printed up soon and although I will be returning to Asia sometime in the near future, I will use my time in Canada to start having the greatest impact on the community as possible.

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