Dec 3rd, 2019

Everybody Either Writes Code or Talks to Customers

Earlier this week I had a delightful conversation with Expensify’s founder and CEO David Barrett at the Digital CPA conference in rainy Seattle. We talked about all things culture, innovation and how to bridge those two spheres in front of a group of leaders and CEOs. When asked about his company (which is a/the leader in expense management software and a happy unicorn) and how he keeps people working on the right things (namely: innovating for the benefit of their customers), David made a punchy comment:

“At Expensify you either code or you talk to customers. There are no other jobs.”

As someone who likes to make and keep things simple — this is as a good as it gets: When everybody in your company focusses on, and directly contributes to, the value you bring to your customers, you are truly golden.

Yet how many companies do you know, where this is not true? How many, even relatively small, companies have people working on tasks which are seemingly important to the company, but don’t move the needle for their clients?

Of course, the world is not black and white. And once you become bigger you will start to have people focussed on other things than product and customers. But as a general rule I believe David’s point holds true:

Relentlessly focus your energy on the value you bring to your customer — even if it’s not directly affecting your client, keep asking how the task at hand supports her journey with you, your product/service and your company.

Dec 3rd, 2019

Know Everything There Is to Know

If you have seen my last post, you know that I recently read Blake Snyder’s excellent book on screenwriting “Save the Cat”. It is a great (and fun) read which made me think about storytelling in a different way (especially in the context of pitching a business and my specific craft: Storytelling from stage). Plus it makes you see movies through completely different eyes – the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

In the book, Blake...

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Dec 3rd, 2019

What Screenplay Writers and Startups Have in Common

In one of the best scenes of the 2001 documentary Startup.com (one of my favorite docus – watch it!), you watch as the founders of the staring startup govWorks pitch potential names for their company to random strangers in a döner kebap shop in NYC. It is a brilliant example of some of the best and most valuable things anyone who is building something new can do: Get out there and road test your stuff.

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Nov 22nd, 2019

Freedom in the System

As you scale your business, you start putting systems into place. They take the form of processes, procedures, rules and regulations. It is, in many ways, the only way you can scale beyond a handful of people. But if you are not careful, you create not only bureaucracy but will stand in your own way.

Take my recent experience with America’s beloved airline Southwest. For better or worse I have frequent flyer status on Southwest...

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Nov 16th, 2019

On Paradigm Shifts

I just returned from the Rise of the Rest Summit where I had the distinct privilege of meeting some of the most inspiring, hard-working and smartest entrepreneurs around. In the evening I had an inspired conversation with a blockchain/crypto-assets entrepreneur about public equity markets, why they evolved into their current state of affairs and how a future decentralized system might look like. In the midst of our discussion the entrepreneur tried to explain the...

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Nov 11th, 2019

The 90 Minute Rule

The other day I had the distinct honor and privilege to spend more than an hour talking with LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner on stage at a Singularity University program. We touched upon many topics, the highlights of our conversation being beautifully summarized by the one-and-only Stephanie Crowley Papaioanu:

Graphic Recording

Among the many great comments, the piece which stood out for me was Jeff’s answer to a question from...

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Oct 21st, 2019

Learn to Read Weak Signals

An exercise I love to do in my talks recently, is to show folks the following chart:

Mobile Phone Usage

What you are looking at is the usage of mobile phones vs laptops/PCs and other Internet-connected devices over time in the USA. The question is: Imagine we are at the end of 2008 and you only know about the data for this year. Mobile usage is the tiny, red chevron you see...

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Oct 7th, 2019

Welcome to BBS (Business Bull$#!%)

I am traveling a lot these days. And with travel come long hours in airports and sometimes airline lounges. And pretty much every time I find myself in one of those, working away (or just zoning out), I inevitably overhear someone talking loudly on the phone. You can tell within seconds that it is a “business call”. Words such as “strategic relevance”, “cross-reference” or “best practice” get tossed around. Clients get called names in a...

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Sep 5th, 2019

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From (Their) Children

Let’s talk about something different today: Education.

One of the most common questions I get after one of my talks, is a variation of “What shall I teach my children in this world of ever-accelerating change?” Inevitably I start off my response with some variation of me (somewhat) jokingly telling the audience that they should begin by taking their kids out of school — as most schools just don’t prepare our children adequately for the...

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Aug 27th, 2019

The Brands They Are A-Changin'

In the not-so-old days brands were about signaling and trust.

Signaling is what a brand stands for; the property you align yourself with when you engage with the brand. The once glowing and now shiny Apple logo on your laptop shows the world that you are one of the creatives, a rebel, a non-conformist, one of the others and not a Windows user.

Trust is a shorthand for your believing in the product quality...

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