Archive for October, 2008

What Really Matters

October 29, 2008 by Brad

Over the years I have been involved in many different businesses in many different industries.  Over this journey I have consistently been a reader of business books, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review.  When I was younger I would try and assimilate into practice what I was learning about.  It wasn’t very long before I began to notice that what one book said was critical for success were the same strategies I had read articles about that showed business failures that from my point of view were the same strategies.

I began to ask myself are there any ideas, concepts, or strategies that will hold the test of time and not have exceptions?

I have boiled it down to what I think really matters.  These are ideas that I believe successful businesses must do to stay successful, and will stand the test of time.

  1. You must move – businesses that think they can remain stagnant will find themselves out of business.  Any business that thinks they don’t have to actively evolve and change will find themselves with a shrinking margin first, and out of business the next while thinking “what happened, we were doing so well last year.”
  2. Surround yourself with the smartest people you can find or afford – listen to what they say as you pose concerns and questions.  It doesn’t matter whether they are partners, board members, industry experts, employees, or consultants, get them helping you as often as you can.
  3. Get reality on the table – it is the beginning of solving everything.  No progress, or very little progress, can be made if there are things that can’t be talked about, hidden agendas, or any kind of politicking.  It is as basic as it gets, that all those around the table have to feel equal and free to express their feelings.  Heated conversation is ok if it leads to the realities of the business.  It doesn’t matter who has the best answer – only that the best answer surfaces.
  4. Try things – iterate at a rate that will not put the company at risk.  No business can afford to do everything.  Figure out what you can afford to try and then identify the critical components that must be tested to validate or invalidate the strategy.  Then do it quickly.  Waiting to try a concept or strategy till you have all the answers will paralyze the business.
  5. Measure quickly – feed winners and chop losers.  The faster you can figure out what works and what doesn’t the less resources (money, people, time) you waste.  The faster you can recognize when you are off-course and then correct back to course is often more important than picking the right course.

Continue to read but realize that the success stories may or may not work for you and the business you are currently in.  Use books and magazines to increase the idea of “surrounding yourself with the smartest people you can find.”

I’d be interested in your feedback – in keeping with “surrounding yourself with the smartest people you can find.”

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The Financial Crisis: Events Leading up to it and Who is to Blame

October 23, 2008 by Kara

Joe did a great set of videos explaining the financial crisis including what led up to it and who is to blame.  We filmed this one before but I hear it was pretty boring and had bad lighting.  So we refilmed it and here it is.  We got some professional lights thanks to Steph!  Joe also went to a thrift store and got some props.  My personal favorite is the Napoleon bobble head – I love Joe’s smile when he uses it it’s like he’s ready to start laughing.

Joe talks about the savings & loan crisis and the bailout that the government did back in the 1980’s, about the creation of Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae, what a subprime mortgage is, a bank’s balance sheet and how they become insolvent or bankrupt.  That’s in the first video Financial Crisis: Freddie, Fannie & Subprime.

Let me know what you think, do you like this one better?  Are there other questions that you would like to have answered?


The second video is about Who is to Blame, Joe walks through the entire process of a loan and what happens and then lists out who he feels is to blame…and there’s plenty of that to go around.

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Rich Internet Applications (RIA)

October 23, 2008 by Kara

Recently I was asked what Rich Internet Applications (RIA) were and whether they were good or bad, useful or something that we might be able to see in the future. Rich Internet Applications have been used on the web for many years. They are great for engaging the customer and drawing them deeper into your site. One of the earliest ways I remember using a RIA is dreaming about buying a new car and having all of those extra’s added on. So since my dream car is the new Dodge Charger I’m going to use that as my example.

RIA’s allow you to go in and select a product and then choose all the features that you want all the while seeing the price of the product so that you can see how your selections affect the price. So if I want the Charger R/T All Wheel Drive P package in the dark titanium metallic, I’m looking at a starting base price of $36,135. However, who wants a base model when you’re dreaming? After adding the “essential” extra’s like the power sunroof you’re looking at $39,785. Then I can go through and look at the Daytona R/T in Stone White starting at $37,035 add in the same extra’s and the price is $40,320. So within a few minutes I can see it is better pricewise to go with the R/T AWD and save or for less than $1000 go for the cool paint job of the Daytona R/T.

That is what is so great about RIA’s, they allow you to go through the selection of something you are looking at and pick and choose what you want to get the solution that is right for you. You could see if you added a feature if you could still afford it or if by adding another one you couldn’t. Another website I have seen where the RIA is great is on the Sony Ericsson site. Their site lets you go through the options of cell phones and it narrows down which phone would work the best for you (of course it has to be one they make). Verizon tried to use it but they still need to work on it. You can go in and select options but then you have to select view phones and if you select options that are not all included in a phone you get an error of “no match found, please modify selection and search again.” What I like about the Sony site is once you select an option it changes the features and phone selection to only have the options that are truly available shown. If you choose a phone that doesn’t have and option, it grays it out so you can’t select it.

One of the things I really like about a Rich Internet Application is that it doesn’t require me to download anything onto my computer in order to use it. It’s all a part of their site and doesn’t require me to spend 3 minutes allowing something to be added to my computer.  Allow – hey I said allow already! I can see the use of RIA’s growing and more websites that offer a lot of features or options to use them to help customers narrow down what they are looking for.

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Financial Bailout

October 13, 2008 by Joe Knight

The following YouTube is my quick take on the financial crisis.  I think that a lot of the problems in our financial system come from a lack of understanding of the numbers.  I find this problem throughout the country when I am training.  We do not train our managers in business how to read financials.  The media makes it worse by feeding the fear with dire predictions and misinformation.

I am trying to explain how this financial crisis happened and why the solution will probably work.  On the other hand if the wide spread panic continues, we may be in for a rough ride.  We need to calm down and let the system correct…it will.

Also, if you get a chance read my book Financial Intelligence, it will give you a nice background on how to read the statements and what to look for in a company’s financials.  For you entrepreneurs, we just introduced Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs.

It was too long for one video so be sure to catch both part 1 & part 2.

Part 2:

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