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Archive for Economy

5 Ways to be a Better Mentor

5 Ways to be a Better Mentor

Mentoring is also a more significant part of the economy today than since, perhaps, apprentorship in the craftsman age. Why? The rise of entrepreneurship and the freelance economy is similar to the craftsman age since as the very structure of the economy undergoes massive transformation, workers are increasingly required to find their own means of making a living.

During the Industrial age, most labor was focused on optimizing repeatable tasks. Repeatable tasks are taught. Mentoring was more focused on developing leadership qualities, responsible for corporate management. See Blank’s Sloan vs Durant. Today’s mentoring must teach leadership, too, but additionally, the nature of entrepreneurship.

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There’s No Bubble in San Diego

Whether there’s a tech bubble or not is an interesting discussion going on in the blogosphere. (Reading guide is below.)

I fall into the “boom before bubble” pack. Having lived through the 90s’ bubble, there’s no way we’re there yet. That doesn’t mean there won’t be one, but my feeling is we’re skating a razor’s edge off one side of which looms another wave of housing foreclosures and a doom & gloom Sequoia presentation. Investors herding like sheep around darling Silicon Valley startup memes is not in itself bubblicious, it’s SOP. Sheep investing affects supply and demand conditions that result in higher valuations. Good or bad, that doesn’t in itself represent a bubble.

The Internet bubble was about more that overvalued startups. Horowitz and Graham argue other dynamics way better than I can (see links below), but I think it’s important to point out that bubbles dramatically affect the entire economic climate. The bubble was “our” version of 70s inflation. The bubble caused a huge migration of people to the SF Bay Area. Salaries went through the roof (not just for engineering talent.) So did cost of living. In the 90s, the housing bubble was inseparable from the Internet bubble. The buying of lots of different goods became irrational.

Innovation: Disruptive, Sustaining or Rippling?

The Innovator’s Dilemma not only forms the foundation of Lean Startups and Customer Development, but has brilliant analysis on the role of disruptive vs sustaining innovation in large successful businesses. In a nutshell, big successful companies successfully adopt sustaining technologies that maintain a steady trajectory of performance/cost improvements. These same companies, however, fail to adopt disruptive technologies that radically change performance/cost trajectories. The success of the former dictates the level of success of that business as long as the adopted trajectory is dominant in the marketplace. These businesses tend naturally to move “up market” to maintain or increase margins as the (IMO) traverse into late majority adoption in the technology adoption curve. If and when, however, the disruptive trajectories become dominant (for whatever reason) these same businesses fail, because they are unable to respond to the startups eating up their core business.

Quick hit re: lead gen webinar

I just got off a webinar about lead gen in today's economic environment.   I was pleased to see several process-oriented and metrics driven marketing recommendations, including:

  • need to be revenue focused, rather than # of leads focused;
  • marketing taking greater responsibility for pipeline management;
  • measuring, testing, refining every step of way through pipeline;
  • identified information and activity overload problem;

A few key points still missing, IMHO.

First, in today's environment, business needs to be profits-focused, not just revenue-focused.  This is a critical distinction.   An expensive advertising campaign may add more leads to your pipeline, some of whom eventually buy.  You've increased revenue, but hurt the short-term bottom line.   (Arguably there may be longer-term benefits from raising "awareness" through advertising.)

Second, this may just be a language thing, but I'm guessing not.   Marketing and sales professionals continue to talk about the "sales process," e.g., the necessity to create activities and produce collateral that "nurture" customers through the sales cycle.   Despite the fact that this webinar correctly identified information overload as a problem, the end recommendations still pushed for "getting all the information the sales team needs into their hands."  Step back!  This is classic reactive marketing and emblematic of VP of Sales (& Marketing) driven marketing.

Key question to ask:  what is the buyer's process.

Third, "who is the prospect" was asked at the end of the webinar, when it should have been slide 1.   Even if your company was able to handle multiple segments before the economy tanked, you need to reassess to determine what are your profitable segments now. See point 1.

Comments welcome.

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