Questions every business should answer

I recently read the book Zero to one by Peter Thiel and I want to add here an idea so I won’t forget about it.

He talks about seven questions every business should answer. They are what could make a business succeed or fail.

  1. The engineering question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
  2. The timing question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The monopoly question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The people question: Do you have the right team?
  5. The distribution question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The durability question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The secret question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Get them right and you will have a better chance at building a successful company.

business

Are You a Fox or a Hedgehog?

I have an ever growing list of books I want to read. One of them is The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.

People seem to like human and animal comparison. I’m not a huge fan of them, but Nate Silver as a really interesting one in his book.

How Foxes Think How Hedgehogs Think
Multidisciplinary: Incorporate ideas from different disciplines regardless of their origin on the political spectrum Specialized: Often have spent the bulk of their careers on one or two great problems. May view the opinions of “outsiders” skeptically.
Adaptable: Find a new approach – or pursue multiple approaches at the same time – if they aren’t sure the original one is working. Stalwart: Stick to the same “all-in” approach – new data is used to refine the original model.
Self-critical: Sometimes willing (if rarely happy) to acknowledge mistakes in their predictions and accept the blame for them. Stubborn: Mistakes are blamed on bad luck or on idiosyncratic circumstances – a good model had a bad day.
Tolerant of complexity: See the universe as complicated, perhaps to the point of many fundamental problems being insolvable or inherently unpredictable. Order-seeking: Expect that the world will be found to abide by relatively simple governing relationships once the signal is identified through the noise.
Cautious: Express their predictions in probabilistic terms and qualify their opinions. Confident: Rarely hedge their predictions and are reluctant to change them.
Empirical: Rely more on observation than theory. Ideological: Expect that solutions to many day-to-day problems are manifestations of some grander theory or struggle.

So what am I, a fox or hedgehog ?

  • Multidisciplinary vs Specialized: Easy one, Multidisciplinary. I studied marketing, started working in sales, then did some marketing, project management, product management, product design, web design and development, social media, community management, event organizing. Now I’m thinking about switching to data analytics.
  • Adaptable vs Stalwart: I would dare to say Adaptable. I get bored by doing the same thing and it is even more boring doing the same thing in the same way. There are always new and sometimes better ways to do things, so you could at least try some of them from time to time.
  • Self-critical vs Stubborn: Well .. a little bit of both. I always acknowledge my mistakes and I never mind taking the blame, but I do tend to be stubborn and sometimes I do not see things as they truly are.
  • Tolerant of complexity vs Order-seeking: I think Tolerant of complexity. I do like order, but I think that things are most of the time complex and I do enjoy trying to solve them or looking for solutions.
  • Cautious vs Confident: Probably too Cautious for my taste and I little more confidence wouldn’t hurt.
  • Empirical vs Ideological: I think Empirical, but I’m not totally sure of this one.

It seems I am a fox, although I do have some spines.
Is this a good or a bad thing? I don’t really know.
Should you prefer a company full of foxes or full of hedgehogs? I don’t know, you could pick either one.

But looking at the agile approach companies seem to take in the last years I think a fox would be a better fit.

It is better to move in smaller steps and you want to observe, measure and adjust along the way.
You need to be aware that customers don’t always fit a typical already known belief. So you need to prepare for more than one outcome.

And speaking about more than one outcome, it is probably a good idea to also have in mind more than one approach. This is why I am a big fan of multidisciplinary teams. You always get great results when you mix ideas from different disciplines.

I also want to add that if something worked yesterday it won’t necessarily also work tomorrow. And if something didn’t worked yesterday, it will probably not work tomorrow.
Don’t get stuck in the past.

So are you a fox or a hedgehog?

fox

Related Posts

Review Philips HC3410

Four months ago I bought this Philips HC3410.
Since then I’ve used it weekly, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a few words about it.

First a few specifications:

Cutting system
Cutter width 41 mm
Cutting element Stainless steel blades
Number of length settings 13
Range of length settings From 0.5 to 23 mm
Precision (size of steps) By 2 mm
Power system
Operation Corded only
Ease of use
Cleaning Washable blades
Maintenance free No oil needed
Service
2-year worldwide guarantee Yes (Plus 3-years with registration)

I was going monthly to a barber shop for my hair and I always wanted to cut my hair at home. So buying a hair clipper was a good idea.

I use it 1-2 times each week and I can’t say I have any complaints until now. It is a really good deal for its price.
Initially I bought it just to cut my hair, afterwards I wanted to also give it a try on my beard. And since the first try I’ve stopped using my Mach 3 from Gillette.
The power cord is pretty long, 2 m. It is easy to use and also easy to clean afterwards.

I keep my hair pretty short. You could have problems trying to cut longer hair. I heard people complaining that they had to stop to remove the hair. But for me it works excellent!

I can say I got my money back already.

Philips HC3410

Movies for the weekend #001

Moana
1 point from 5
Could be alright if you see it with the kids. But there is nothing special about it. I skipped the singing parts. The story is lame.

Passengers
1 point from 5
Bad movie, bad acting. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have 0 chemistry together. Not a good role for either of them.

Underworld: Blood Wars
2 points from 5
Worse that I was expecting. I think there will be another one considering the ending.
I liked it somehow, but I can’t compare it with the first two.

movies

Related Posts

How to Persuade People

I recently read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. It is a short and interesting book. Considering the things happening in Romania in the last weeks I thought it would be a good idea to summarize here some of the ideas from the book.

people

Cialdini talks about 6 ways of persuading people:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Consistency
  3. Sympathy
  4. Authority
  5. Social proof
  6. Scarcity

Reciprocity

Think about the free food sample you get in the supermarket. There are a lot of reasons for companies to offer them. Even if you refuse them or if you don’t like them that much, afterwards the chances to buy that product are pretty big.

A good example from the book is a little experiment a professor made. On Christmas he sent greetings cards to random people. Most of them responded back, even though they didn’t knew him.

Another important thing to have in mind is that when you get a small gift you will probably feel indebted to return the favour. And often you will give that person a bigger gift or favour.
There is nothing wrong to receiving and giving gifts. The thing is that when you receive something from someone, without an apparent reason, they choose what to give to you. And afterwards they ask for something from you, maybe a particular thing or a favour. They choose what to give to you and they also choose what to receive in return. Doesn’t seem fair.

I like to think that there are no free stuff.

Consistency

I usually see consistency as a good thing, but you really need to be careful with this.
When you take a decision you do it based on what you know and expect in that particular moment. A lot of times things change afterwards. Maybe you receive a new information, maybe one of the initial factors change. When something new appears, it would be a good moment to rethink your decision and see if you are still ok with it. It is alright to change your mind.

I know, easier said than done.
Have you ever received a phone call from a company doing some research about their product or about one of their services ? Or maybe someone knocked on your door ?
They usually say they have 2 or 3 questions to ask and it won’t take longer than 2 minutes. And you say “yes”. After the first 15-20 questions you start thinking that maybe it would have been a good idea to say “no” instead.

Sympathy

Multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations work based on this one.
It’s hard to say no to people you know, people you like, or to your family.
“You don’t need to buy anything, just come and listen to them”. “You don’t need to sell these products to other people. Just buy what you need and you will get a discount. Maybe from time to time you can also help a friend and get them something they need”.

Don’t ask your friends to buy something from you just because you know them.
Sure, I know it works, but it is wrong. Think about Avon, Amway, Herbalife, Oriflame, etc.

Another good example would be the different public figures (so called stars – athletes, singers, actors, etc.) you see on commercials on TV. This is also the reason you hear about them supporting some politician.
It makes you buy a product or vote for a particular politician just because someone you like supports it.

Authority

The best example would be the Milgram experiment.

The best method of defense against this is to ask ourselves two questions:

  • is that authority figure an expert on that subject?
  • how is he?

Social proof

This is a bit tricky. An easy example would be the laughters you hear while watching a comedy series.
Hearing other people laughing at some jokes makes you also laugh. Laughing at something makes you think that that thing is funnier than it really is.

Other darker examples would be from small religious cults. Being part of a group makes you do things that you wouldn’t do if you were alone. You can read about the Seekers cult from Chicago. I also recommend watching the movie The Joneses.

Scarcity

I think everybody knows about this but for some reason all people choose to ignore it.
If something is rare (or appears to be rare) we expect for it to also be expensive and we also expect it to be a good deal.
Best examples ? “Huge one day sale”, “Limited offer”, “Black Friday”, “if you don’t buy it now I have another customer that is ready to pay good money for it” ..

Conclusion

Is hard to defend against all of these. The first step is to know about them. It is also really important to observe how we act when we are under these kind of influences. Afterwards it will be easier to avoid them or to see some red flags when we are acting in a certain way.

MillyBridal scams customers

Update 12.02.2017: After one month of emails/chats/negotiations we received almost all the money back. I guess it is better than nothing.

Iarina thought to buy some things from http://uk.millybridal.org/ (http://millybridal.org is basically the same site) for the wedding.

After searching more info about them she decided to cancel the order and request a refund.

This was a month ago. Since then she basically talked with them daily. She still hasn’t got the money back.
We will look at what legal actions can be done against them. But I also wanted to write about this so other people are warned.

MillyBridal scams customers. Be careful.

If anybody needs more info about them, check this:

MillyBridal scams customers
MillyBridal scams customers

“Screw It, Let’s Do It”

I started reading “Screw It, Let’s Do It” by Richard Branson. I was a little circumspect when I got the book, didn’t know if I will enjoy it. But man .. this is such a great and fun book to read. It just gives you a nice boost of energy and it awakens in you a desire to do stuff.

While I was reading the book it got me thinking about myself, how I am living and what I do with my life, job, if I’m really enjoying myself. And in a way I can say that yes, I really am.
Is there room for improvement? Yes ! A hell of lot of it.
But I’m doing my best.

I think that the thing that always gets me going is that I get bored really fast and I always feel the need to be challenged, to learn things and do stuff.

My first job was in a bookstore. Selling books and other stuff. It was a really fun place and I had great colleagues. But I was paid close to nothing, little less than 200 euro per month. So the small salary and the routine made me quit in about 6 months.

Second job. I got a sales job in a small IT company. First thing I did there? Putting invoices in envelopes and sending them to customers. Pay was a little better (not much more) and I knew I will be learning a lot of things. And I really did.

When I left, after almost 3 years, I was working as a Project Manager, running projects worth millions of euro, implementing ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems that were used by hundreds of thousands of people.
After 3 years there, doing all the things I did, I can say that if I will ever be in position to run a company, I’ve got the knowledge to do it.

While I was working there I got bored again so I thought I want to learn how to build websites. I had some knowledge from school, but didn’t knew that much. So I started learning HTML, CSS, some JavaScript and a lot of things about building things on the web.
In short time I was already having some small gigs and making some extra money.

I was having fun creating websites, so I thought that maybe I can get a job. So I quit my job prepared to look for something else and with enough money for about 3 months.
It took me less than a week to get an offer and I said yes. It was from my current work place where I work as a Web Designer.

Fast forward to January 2017 (almost 2 years later). What I do right now beside my daily job?

  • have some fun on freeCodeCamp, learning things about web development
  • enroled in a nanodegree program from Udacity, learning Android development (got a scholarship, and I’m really grateful for it)
  • learning to play a xylophone and it is a lot of fun
  • learning German
  • part of a team at work and we are building an AR prototype
  • learning more about design (and will maybe move to a UX design position)
  • a lot more stuff

And all of this just because I get bored easily.

Is it hard? Yes.
Is it fun? Yes.
Do I got the right skills for all this things? Unfortunately, no ..
Will I succeed in doing all of them? I don’t know and I don’t care that much. I want to do them and I do them.

My point. Read “Screw It, Let’s Do It” by Richard Branson. Start doing anything you want to do. It is worth it, you will find your place in this world and things will get better and better.

grass growing

Related Posts