On Business On Companies

The 10 commandments of Steve Jobs

The 10 commandments of Steve Jobs - infographic

I recognize the “commandments” as summaries from the book Steve Jobs by Isaacson. It’s an interesting book, I would recommend reading it if you have the time. I wrote another post about some of the takeaways that I thought were worth sharing from the book. Overall it’s an interesting snapshot into the life of Steve Jobs. Infographic source: OSXDaily

If you are interested, here are some great Steve Jobs quotes.

On Social Media

Are we missing an opportunity for a great conversation with Social Media?

Coffee shop social

I was reading some writing by blogger Jeff Goin who writes about writing. He was saying that social media is a two way street. It’s an unique opportunity to have a conversation with other people. But on blogs people write these complete thoughts, not offering room for conversation. I’ve been doing this! I love to write complete thoughts. It feels so good wrapping everything up.

This got me thinking about a couple things. First, I really agree with his statement that social media is a two-way street. It’s about much more than consuming. It’s a really cool way to co-create thoughts and articles and conversations. Let’s look at some of the tools we have today. With Twitter we can co-create conversations and current events. With Pinterest we co-create galleries of our interests, effectively co-creating digital magazines.

The second thought I had was that social media offers a way of connecting people across the world in one conversation, as if they were sitting around a table at a coffee shop. It’s really too bad that Google and Facebook are trying to give us location based search results. Because this is really is a unique opportunity to connect the world in a totally new way that could lead to break down of social barriers. It’s just a thought. What do you think? Is social media just a conversation, is it really about co-creating and could it help bring people from around the world into closer community?

On Business On Companies

Executing ideas: The power of one… great team

Team Work

I used to think that one guy (or girl) with a great idea could change the world. I’m an optimist, so I still believe it is possible, but my view is changing. I learned pretty early on in my job experience that if you believe you can do something, you can do it. When I was 20 I built my parents home. It’s a nice home, I did a good job. But I didn’t do it alone, I partnered with my friend Dan, 19 at the time, and we hired a couple guys, Mark and Jonathan, around 16-17 years old to help. That was a huge confidence builder for me. People I meet are often shocked to hear I built that home, even more shocked if they find out while standing in the house. My dad, a doctor, wasn’t too comfortable with the idea of me building it at first. That was understandable. I had only worked framing homes for a couple summers, worked as a grunt the year before. Not a lot of experience. But the cool thing is that he let me, he let me build his house.

When Steve and Art (my business partners) invited me to join them in a tech startup, I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t even consider it a risk. I knew we would succeed. I was very confident that we could do anything we put our time into. Almost three years later, I have experienced burnout, got shingles twice (shingles is a later form of chicken pox that people sometimes get under stress but usually not at my age), and gastritus (stomach inflammation from stress). I learned a valuable lesson while I am still young. I can’t do it all myself, it takes a team, a really great team. Not once, but twice I have wanted to quit and throw in the towel. Fortunately for me I have two amazing business partners and the only reason I didn’t walk away was because of them.

Today we are really good at what we do. It was sink or swim and we all had to learn to swim very quickly. Because the startup business model is so young and books are only being published on the subject matter today. It’s all very new territory. So in the startup world we are considered very experienced. In my home city the local startup incubator is only 1 years old. I’m not saying this to pump our tyres, its just a fact for the startup business.

Right now we are working with an amazing women building a very cool community health startup. She came to us with a really great idea and a lot of motivation. In the past I would have probably assumed that she didn’t really need a company like ours. She already had everything she needed, a great idea and a ton of motivation. Today I see it differently, when moving forward with an idea you need a really great team. At minimum you need at least one other person who is as committed as you are and hopefully has a different skill set.

The power of a great team brings a lot of intangibles to the table. Things like encouragement, community, ideas, and multiple points of view. But the traits that move a team from the scale of good to great makes the idea execution so much smoother. A great team has experience in success and failure, knows how to get back up, when to push, when to wait, and understands its business niche (space) inside and out. When you pass a ball to your team mate, the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether or not they are going to catch it. You need to be free to focus on your next move, and know where to focus your energy. A great team allows you the freedom to do that and it encourages coaching along the way too.

I used to believe all you needed was a great idea, when you have a good idea a team will naturally form around it, and success will follow. Now I have to come to experience that teams aren’t secondary, they are first. It all starts with a great team with a shared vision. If you have an idea, finding a team should be your first move. New and refined ideas will come from within the team, the team will then execute the idea and turn it into a reality. It might still be possible to succeed without a team, but not a lot of new ideas are executed well during burnout. We often contribute amazing successes to leaders like Steve Jobs but without their ability to put together amazing teams it is unlikely that their dreams would have been realized.

On Bicycles

1982 “Ferrari Red” Bianchi

Vintage Ferrari Red BianchiThis weekend I became the owner of this 1982 Bianchi. As soon as I saw it I knew it needed the right home. I have not determined the exact model yet. However, I have a suspicion that it might have been either a custom build, do to the fact that it’s forks are chrome, or a Bianchi Sport SS. From all my research it appears that stock Bianchi forks would have probably been the same color of the bike.

It has full Shimano Golden Arrow components, the predecessor to the Shimano 105 components. These components were available from 1983-86, but Bianchi released them with their 1982 Sport SS Road Bikes. So it’s very possible that this bike is a Bianchi Sport SS. One thing that is confusing is the “Red Ferrari” color. It was a limited color, which is one of the other reasons I believe it might have been a custom order at the time.

Shimano "Golden Arrow" 105 components

The frame is an Ishiwata Magny frame (Manganese-molybdenum alloy double butted tubing). A really good frame from Japan. There is a lot of discussion on the Ishiwata Magny frames, but the overall consensus is that it is a very well made frame and is becoming a more collectible item. According to Sheldon Brow, “While Bianchi is best known as an Italian brand, it was having bicycles built in Japan to its specifications for several years in the late 1980s. These were particularly nice bikes, with better workmanship than the Italian models.”

Bianchi Magny Ishiwata

Visually, it is a beautiful bike and rides very well. I have taken it out on some nice rides since getting it and I am shocked at how well it feels. For being 30 years old the frame and components feel amazing. It shifts really nicely and it feels light pedalling up hills. I have an early 1980s Benotto which I am restoring and the Bianchi’s frame geometry looks almost identical. Which is another confusing matter. The Benotto frame is highly regarded for its geometry.

Right now I am really enjoying this beautiful bike. If you know anything more about this bike, or if this page helped you identify yours, I would love to hear it.

I replaced the bar tape with some nice comfy yellow Specialized tape. I am looking for some brake hoods to replace these, but in the meantime, electrical tape holds them together nicely.

Vintage red bianchi

Classic Bianchi Decal

Shimano Golden Arrow levers

Shimano Golden Arrow shifters

Velvet leather Corsaire 315 San Marco

Edoardo Bianchi decal

Nice Shimano brakes.

Shimano Brakes

Front chrome forks on vintage Bianchi

Ambrossio 19 Extra rims. I really like these rims. I have a set of Mavic’s too, but I prefer these. Ambrossio 19 rims

On Business On SEO

Don’t get punished for bad SEO

Google is literally punishing sites for bad SEO habits. Not just black hat tactics, but all non-ethical spammy techniques. (The grey area stuff). On April 24th of this year Google unleashed the Penguins. Here’s a link to Google’s official announcement.

Google Penguin Update

Any serious Google update gets a name. There was Google Caffeine, when Google started to account for page load times in their algorithm. Then there was Google Panda, when Google changed everything. Now there is Google Penguin, the SEO crackdown. What does this mean for you? If you have used good SEO habits, nothing unethical or borderline unethical then you have nothing to worry about. However, you may accidentally be doing something that Google will punish you for. Maybe you are already noticing that your traffic has dropped dramatically.

What SEO tactics are being punished?

Keyword Stuffing:

Websites that stuff their articles and blogs with keywords that either don’t make sense or are overused, are being punished. They do this to get more search traffic. That is changing very fast.

Unnatural Links:

Apparently Google is gunning after paid links. They use links in their algorithms to determine content value. To increase link SEO some people pay for links in other sites. However, Google is cracking down on any paid links, link spam, comment spam and or unnatural links within content.

So if you don’t do either of the above, you are probably going to be okay. However, if you have noticed a big drop in your traffic in the last 4 weeks, it is likely that Google Penguined you. You will want to remove keyword stuffing and unnatural links pointing to your site.

On Business On Companies

Facebook’s IPO Part 2: Another one bites the dust.

Facebook shares have fallen in early trading on Wall StreetA few days ago I wrote an article about what the injection of funds to Facebook investors will mean for the startup community. Well, just a few days later, Facebook’s IPO stock price is falling and everyone is pointing fingers.

The initial investors have a nice payout, they walk away happy, but at what cost? Some blame Morgan Stanley others blame Facebook for the hype. Investment funds around the world are claiming to have been mislead and lied to. They were told that Facebook was oversubscribed, and that they would be lucky to get any stocks at all.

“Some investors say they felt misled by the underwriters. According to one London-based fund manager who asked not to be named, bankers indicated demand was so strong that he placed a bigger order than he thought he would get, leaving him with 40 per cent more Facebook shares than anticipated. He sold most of that stock on the first day of trading.” The Star.

So what does this mean for future startups looking to launch an IPO? It means three things.

1. If a tech startup raises their stock value a week before their IPO, expect distrust.

2. If a tech startup releases 25% more investor shares after raising their stock value, expect distrust.

3. If a tech startup claims over subscription, expect skepticism.

Facebook still has a big future, it is the largest Social Media site on the web (700,000,000 users). It’s future has little to do with the stock price. Unfortunately, however, due to their size and influence Facebook’s greed has probably tarnished the investors trust of most other technology startups looking to enter the stock market in the future, making it that much harder for the next one.

On Business On Companies

Facebook’s epic IPO – Another one bites the dust.

Facebook IPO officially went live a few minutes ago. Astonishingly, when businesses around the world are struggling to find financing, Facebook continues to soar, and people everywhere are talking about it. You can’t buy the kind of media attention and PR Facebook gets.

What does this mean for the rest of the tech community?

More investments

A lot of Facebook investors just got really rich. Apparently Bono is supposed to make more money on his investment in Facebook than on his entire music career. (I haven’t double checked that, but it does sound too good). Investors love to invest. So startups expect more capital to be available very soon.

More opportunities

A lot of companies slow down on innovation after releasing their IPO. Facebook has beat the odds so many times before, I predict they will beat the odds again and remain successful. However, they have already announced to world that they are ready to acquire apps that fit into their growth and revenue strategy. They just purchased Instagram for $1 billion. So there is an opportunity for startups to solve the problems Facebook has, with a great possibility of being acquired.

Increased competition

It is likely Facebook will have more competition and it is likely there will be more startups starting up. The trend is that when one startup gets massive traction and success, others are quickly to try to follow.

What to do?

If you are already a startup company, the best thing to do is to ignore the hype and buzz. You know your space, you know your business, keep doing what you are doing. Focus on solving the problems you know best.

Essays On Intelligence

How to restore your creative confidence: By David Kelley

I watched this Ted video tonight and I got excited because it touches on some of the ideas I have about creativity and analytical thinking. I actually wrote an article a few days ago on something similar. My thoughts were that perception of ourselves and of others locks people in as either analytical or creative. This happens with our view of intelligence as well. I believe however, that most often our potential is greater than our perceived reality. Well Kelley argues something similar. If you are interested you can read what I wrote here on When Left Meets Right.

Watch the video, it’s slow at first, but you get into it.

“David Kelley’s company IDEO helped create many icons of the digital generation — but what matters even more to him is unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations to innovate routinely. Is your school or workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create.” – Video description from Ted

Here’s the link to the original video on Ted Talks.

On Business On SEO

5 reasons blogging is the best way to improve your SEO

The following is an exerpt on a talk I gave about using blogging to increase your Organic SEO.

Quoted from:

SEO which means Search Engine Optimization, is critical to rank well on Search Engines like Google. You probably already knew that, but do you know how search engines actually index content? It may surprise you. Search engines want to give their users the very best information possible, so they use a formula to determine the most relevant content to display on the top search results. They look at keywords, links, site authority, social media links, domain authority, and the load time of your site. You may be wondering, “Where should I focus my time?”. If you are new to search engine optimization, and are looking for a strategy, focus on blogging. Fortunately writing articles on blogs targets nearly all of the major SEO variables at once.

1. Keywords

Search engines love keywords. But not just random keywords, they like phrases and sentences too. When writing a blog post some words will be used over and over again. For example, if you write a blog about a vacation destination, it is likely that the word “vacation” will be used multiple times. These words are known as keywords. Search engines calculate the number of times keywords are used within content as part of their page ranking algorithm. They also look at the surrounding content and sentences used near the keywords to ensure that the words are used naturally. (Important note here. Don’t stuff your article with way too many keywords. Spammy sites do this and search engines are aware of this technique and punish sites for it.)

2. Relevance

Search engines want to provide the most relevant information to their users. In many cases, such as news feeds or topical information, they use the date the blog post was written to calculate its relevance. Often a day or two after posting a blog post you will see it ranking at the top of the search results, and then its rank will start to fall again. Blog posts help get websites on the top results when people are looking for the latest articles.

3. Authority

Site and Page Authority are calculated in a couple of ways. Firstly search engines look at how old a domain is. If it is newly registered then it won’t have the same age authority as an older domain. They also look at how many inbound links are pointing to the website. Blogging is a great way to increase inbound links. By providing valuable information, people will often link to your blog posts from their own websites or from Facebook and Twitter. It is generally agreed among SEO experts that direct links from other websites are ranked higher than links from social media sites.

4. Meta tags are dying

This is something that may surprise many people. It used to be that search engines relied heavily on meta tags in the top of your website’s html to index page results. Search engines still use them today, but not in the same way. Search engines rely on content within your site to index page results and then use meta tags to confirm the site’s purpose. Blog posts without any meta tags can still rank at the top of search results. While including meta tags is considered good practice, they have become secondary to site content.

5. More landing pages

Every time you write a post, a new page is created on your site. If you think of your website as a fishing net, every time you write a new post, the net gets bigger. Search engines index each blog as a unique page. Blogging also helps keep people on your site longer. By including links within your blog posts to similar older posts on your website, people are likely to click on the links and stay on your website longer. Search engines also use those internal links in calculating the articles relevance.

The Outcome

If good SEO is important to you, then writing blog posts is the best way to improve it. If you write just one new blog article a week, at the end of the year your website will have 52 new keyword rich, authority building, SEO haven web pages.

Essays On Intelligence

When left meets right

Left Brain Right Brain (Mercedes-Benz Ad)

I went to university for Political Science, it’s no secret (it’s on my LinkedIn profile). I actually went to university to study Biology, until I took biology 101 (yawn), that changed and I wanted to study Architecture. It is very likely that I would have studied Architecture had I not stumbled upon Political Science along the way. Now I work full time as a computer programmer. Weird.

What does this all have to do with the left brain/right brain? Some people are clearly defined as left or right brained. You can tell nearly instantly after meeting them, sometimes before meeting them (depending on how crazy their dress attire is). There are the free spirit artsy types and then there are the mathematical types. I’ve never been tested, per say, but I am fairly confident that I fit right dab in the middle. I am completely comfortable spending hours sketching free form designs or coding systematic (sometimes complex) algorithms.

While studying Political Science I had this professor who loved to make his classes increasingly more difficult. As we got better, his marking got harder. I got to know how most of my professors marked papers and tests. It wasn’t hard to know what level of work was needed to get good grades. But this one professor was impossible to crack. It wasn’t until my last year in University that I was complaining to a friend about how my professor marks his papers. We had an in class essay coming up and I ended the conversation by saying, “This time I am going to prepare so that I get 100% on this paper, and if I don’t get 90% I will know that this professor is biased.” Turns out that my professor was standing behind me the entire conversation and my friend thought it was hilarious to sit back and watch. I felt like an idiot, “great”, I thought, “He’s gonna fail me.”

What does this have to do with left brain/right brain? I’m getting to it.

In my first year of University I had an awakening moment, spending most of my prior schooling days, listening to the teacher and doing nothing else I had formed a terrible study ethic. In high-school I hadn’t needed a better one to get good grades. University turns out to take more work than just listening. So much information was being thrown at us, that by the end of the semester I was finding it less than easy to recall specific details from the beginning, I hadn’t even opened any of my expensive text books yet. Tests on theory were still easy, but I was bombing anything that required detailed memorization. By the end of the second semester I started getting depressed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a huge part of my identity lay in people telling me I was intelligent. (Probably not a good idea to have your identity in this). Getting bad grades was like having someone constantly yell at me, “You’re not who you think you are.”

By the end of the year I spent all my spare time drawing cartoons, playing guitar, and writing. Now that I think about it, all very right brain things. I was desperately trying to find happiness in a very unhappy time and trying to avoid the seemingly inevitable. Failure. Finally it happened, I took a Political Science 101 course and I failed. My professor failed me. I couldn’t believe what just happened.

Four years later. I am long over my bad study habits. I am working as hard as I possibly can at school and it is showing. But I am frustrated that there is one class that I can’t crack. (You guessed it, this is the one and the same professor who failed me four years prior). I am overstudying for every class. I am exhausted. By the time I actually get to reading the required material for the exam I realize that I have to cram 6 extremely technical papers on International Law in just one night. Not impossible. I go to my study group. Everyone is talking about the papers and I realize that I don’t know nearly enough. I just listen, give a few thoughts, mostly listen. Go home and read. Go to class in the morning. It’s 8am, I start writing.

2 weeks later we are in class and our professor hands back our papers. I am hoping to get a passing grade. As he is handing out the papers he says, “I would like everyone to hear how to write a proper in class essay. I would like Jonathan,” he turns and looks at me, “to please read his paper to the class, and then I would like Dan to read his.” Shocked is an understatement. I was actually terrified. I couldn’t remember what I wrote, I couldn’t remember how I wrote it, my grammar was probably terrible, now I have to read it aloud to everyone in the class. After I had read the paper my friend sitting beside me (the friend from before) turned to me and said, “Wow.” Turns out I received 90%. Which in this guy’s class was a big deal. While some people thought I had written this masterpiece, I honestly didn’t think I had written a great paper at all.

The next day I had an epiphany, it’s all about perception. What we perceive to be intelligence is exactly that, based on our perception. When my professor had overheard my conversation I had singled myself out to him, accidentally, as this hard working student who was used to getting good grades. He forgave my comments about him being biased apparently. Suddenly his perception of me was different. When he singled me out to the class, they perceived me as intelligent. My paper could have been adequate at best, but the praise of my prof gave it credibility. It all came together. Getting good grades in junior and high school was easy, not because I was brilliant, but because each year the teachers had seen me rise to accept awards, they perceived me as intelligent and graded me accordingly. I came to a conclusion. If I could come back from near failing grades to being perceived as this high performing intelligent student, anyone could. However, it is difficult, it takes work. Why? Because we have to work twice as hard. We not only have to earn good marks, we also have to convince people along the way that we are intelligent, we have to convince them to change their perception of us.

I’ll end with this, I think that the left brain and right brain focus on what they are good at, logic and abstract thinking. But I also think that we focus too much on putting people into boxes, either left or right brained. We say genius lives here, or the aloof lives there. I think genius is merely the left meeting the right. The phenomenon when our left logical brain is confused by something and our right abstract brain kicks in and looks in wonder at the person who solves it, and we conclude, they must be a genius. It’s perception.