Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs

Friday, February 1st, 2008
Steve Jobs is a master story teller and salesman that uses themes, outlines, images and passion to make sure he is heard. Learn how Steve does it. This analysis is similar to a previous post that includes powerpoint presentation guidelines from Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki

Facebook platform is so cool, no wonder Linked-In is reacting

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

As a 40-something professional focused on business applications, I have had little interest in using Facebook. But Facebooks new platform initiative compelled me to join. The world has been waiting for object-oriented solutions with plug-and-play integration for years. It's still a long-ways away in business applications, but it looks like Facebook is off to a great start. I played around with this for an hour or so today and was impressed with some very cool independently developed services - like "Where I've been".

I have faithfully maintained my linked-in profile and network for the past few years and it has served me well. But after an hour or so building my Facebook profile, Linked-in seems really dull. If some independent developers start adding in some clever business apps, Facebook could zoom right past Linked-in. I read that Linked-in is pursuing a similar platform initiative - but they better hurry. Right now, only about 15 of my 300+ linked-in contacts seem to be in Facebook, but I think that might change. I'm looking forward to seeing how this shakes out.

Why enter into a crowded market?

Friday, March 9th, 2007
I stumbled across this great post that explains how this VC tried to discourage an entrepreneur from starting a party planning portal/website - "been there, done that", being the reason. The entrepreneur ignored the advice and has created a hot little company called mypunchbowl.

I must confess that I have historically been a "big idea" addict - gravitating towards revolutionary new concepts, as opposed to evolutionary improvements. However, there are a hell of a lot of advantages for entering into existing product categories: 1. buyers have budgets 2. you can learn from the mistakes of the early entrants and do better 3. it is a lot easier to differentiate than to invent from scratch Here are a list of examples big and small:
  • Google is the easiest, most obvious example. Me and everyone else were using Yahoo! before Google came along with better, faster.
  • The Ladders is a great jobsite that uses a model that is the inverse of Monster, Careerbuilder and HotJobs. Candidates pay and job postings are free.
  • Webex OWNS the web presentation market, but that did not stop gotomeeting, who has built a nice business, with the 80/20 model (80% of the functionality for 20% of the price).
  • Why on earth would anyone want to enter the pizza market with Dominos', Pizza Hut and Little Caesars owning the market? Papa Johns did and has consistently gained market share over the past 10 years while the others have lost share.
blah blah blah . . there are so many examples, it is ridiculous. Don't hestiate from entering a crowded market because it's crowded. Just sort out how you will differentiate and take the business away from the other guys.

Spend $100 on these Cool widgets to improve productivity

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
I am continually frustrated with annoying inefficiencies in using email, the web and office applications. So, I have really come to like a few widgets that I have integrated into my day to day use. Here they are:
  • Adding new contacts to outlook is a pain, unless people send around their VCards, which most people don't. What if you could highlight someone's contact information in the footer of an email, or on a website, hit Ctrl-C-C and boom . . it's in your outlook. I love Anagram. $30.
  • Cutting out pictures, text, logo's, etc., from websites and documents is limited to right click and saving a component (which is filled with issues) or hitting print screen, which gives you the whole screen in view . . which is typically more or less than you really want. I love SnagIt - it let's you cut out large scrolling windows that exceed the open screen size as well as objects that don't save/copy well. $40.
  • I have a password protected word document that houses all my passwords. How annyoning - even when you have a standard password, sometimes you have to put one in that is longer, or requires a mix of numbers and letters, etc., a real pain. I just started using roboform. I never thought I would find a good password management tool, but this one rocks. Check out recent review in Computerworld. $30 for the download tool and $40 for the portable USB stick.
  • I like how clean .pdf files are, but I have no need for a publishing tool. I love PDFCreator. It lets me print to a .pdf file from any application - as though it were a printer. It's opensource and FREE.

80/20 business solutions for cash-crunched startups

Monday, January 15th, 2007
Small businesses have tough choices to make when it comes to software and subscription services that help them manage their operations. The natural tendency is sign-up with a market-leader, because you want something that works and don't have time to hunt around for lower-cost alternatives.

Having felt this pain in the past, following are some recommendations (most are based on personal experience) for services that are at least 80% as good as the market leading solutions at less than 20% of the price. Assuming a team of 5 people, I will suggest potential cost savings.

CRM, you can't go wrong with Salesforce, but IF you have a server available and the in-house resources to install it, then SugarCRM is a great deal. It's free. Sure, you will have to spend a few hours to install it and a few hours to upgrade it about once a year, but it works quite well and I have personally found it to be reliable. Savings $995/year to $3,000/year.

WebMeetings/Presentations. Webex is great and has tons of features. However, you can get 80% of that functionality (and a simpler interface) with gotomeeting at a fraction of the price. Savings $5,000/year

JobPostings. There are TONS of options to, Careerbuilder and Hotjobs - each of which will help you find a lot of candidates. Ones that you absolutely ought to try include:

  • CraigsList (for free in most cities) - best for lower-level jobs - I still don't know why, but it works
  • The Ladders - free postings, geared towards $100K+ jobs.
  • LinkedIn- if you have a good network, for a $100, this is quite good.

Savings, N/A - think of these as other low-cost ways to find more good people.

Conference Call Service. Tons of options here, but have you heard of Free Conference Call? It really is free and it really works. You don't get toll free numbers, but most people don't need toll-free anyway. The service can be a bit finicky, so I would try it out for internal calls first.

Then again, for internal conference calls, you can always use Skype. See my other blog post on Skype. Also, if you have an IP phone system, it probably includes some of this capability - built in at no extra cost. Savings - $1,000/year or more.

There are a lot more of these kinds of options out there. Anyone have other suggestions?