Does Your Team Know What Success Looks Like?

Shot of a group of businesspeople high fiving in an office

When Jason Nazar and I launched Docstoc years ago, we got 30,000 unique users on the first day.

I was ecstatic. I remember how my team of engineers and I were all high fiving each other, with big smiles on our faces. Then I walk into Jason’s office and he had a very different reaction. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hey, we got 30,000 unique visitors on the first day.”

Jason: “Yeah, we got 30,000 users on the first day.”

Me: “Yeah, we got 30,000. That’s great!”

Jason: “No, we got 30,000. That’s horrible!”

Me (scratching my head): “What do you mean? No one knew about the website yesterday and we got 30,000 uniques today. That’s great!”

Jason: “No, you don’t understand. We got only 30,000. That’s way too low.”

And then it hit me: We never really defined what success for the launch would look like. So we both looked at the very same facts — 30,000 uniques — and came to very, very different interpretations of what it meant for the business.

You’ve probably had a very similar experience at some point in your career. It’s not that you failed to deliver on the project goals. It’s that the bottom line expectations were not clearly defined. Someone, maybe you, didn’t define what success looks like. And if you don’t define what success looks like, how do you know when you’ve succeeded?

So many times when we plan projects for our businesses, we think through a mountain of details — the timeline, the budget, who’s doing what, and how we’re going to follow through after launch. We consider every little task that needs to get done and who will do it. We then manage it carefully, sprint by sprint.

Except, we often forget to go through one of the most critical tasks of all — agreeing on what the bottom line success will look like, and how we’re going to measure it.

Here is another, more recent example. At unGlue, we decided to build a new feature called Steps for Time, which rewards kids for physical activity like walking, running or working out. The more you walk, the more screen-time minutes you can earn.

You take your dog for a walk, you can earn more time. If you walk to school, you can earn more time. I loved this idea because parents are always trying to encourage their kids to be more active.

And so we decided to develop this feature. We decided on what it would look like and how it would work. We considered all of the steps needed to get the feature shipped. I worked on a PR strategy and a marketing launch plan.

Later, as the data come in, I remember meeting with my product lead. He’s telling me it was a huge success.

And I said, “What do you mean? It was not successful at all.”

He says, “What do you mean? We hit the goals. We hit the milestones on time. It looks amazing. It behaves beautifully. The users who are using it, love it! It’s a huge success!”

And I’m telling him: “What do you mean? We got almost no PR for it. Fewer than 5% of the users are using it, and we didn’t get any noticeable increase in app downloads. It’s a failure.”

And that’s when I realized, once again, holy shit, I fell into the same trap. Even though it was clear to me what success should look like, I didn’t clearly communicate it to the team. From where he stood in terms of responsibility, the project was a success. We hit our product milestones, and we launched on time. It looked absolutely amazing and people who used the feature did love it.

But from my perspective and from the business standpoint of getting A LOT more users to sign up for unGlue, it was a failure. It didn’t move the needle at all. We were both right, of course — looking at things from our own lens.

There are things we both could and should be celebrated. We completed the project on time. It looks amazing. People love it. People are using it. We should absolutely be proud of it and celebrate it, even if it’s not a huge business success.

However, we all needed to agree that this was not a good outcome for the business, as measured by the number of new users it drove. It didn’t change the metrics that were important for the business. If we had come to this understanding, we could have avoided, we could avoid having an argument about opinions and agree on the facts.

With the Docstoc launch, we had some things to celebrate. And we also had a lot of room for improvement. Yes, we were able to launch the website without a hitch (well, maybe a few…), but we also didn’t hit our biggest milestones for site visits. Both of these realities are true.

The vision of success for the overall business is a critical piece of information that is often not clearly communicated to everyone. So the leadership is disappointed and frustrated while everyone else is celebrating. They’re scratching their heads, asking: Why is everyone giving high-fives when we just wasted all of this time building something that didn’t make any difference whatsoever to the business?

Successes and failures should be shared across the company. But when success looks like failure to one team and failure seems like a success to another, then you’ve all made the crucial mistake of not setting the right expectations.

Make sure to clearly define what and how success should look like and share it with the team every time you meet. Bottom line: it’s hard to reach a goal that is not clearly defined.

The first ten seconds of a job interview – The Caveman Brain

Intro

In my previous blog post Do’s and Don’ts of a Job Interview I described the importance of the first ten seconds of a job interview from the interviewee’s standpoint. In this post I will dive into the importance, limitations and traps of the first ten seconds, but focus instead on the interviewer’s standpoint.

The Caveman Brain

Have you ever noticed that when you talk with people you have never met on the phone, you always try to picture what they look like? You try to imagine what their face looks like, if they are tall or short, slim or heavy, if they have dark or light hair, all based on their voice. Of course, when we actually meet the person we usually realize we were completely wrong. What happened was your brain tried to classify the voice into a collection of labels, such as: height: tall, skin color: fair, hair color: brown, weight: somewhat heavy, background: maybe from New York, and so on.

Your brain is doing this because in our early evolutionary stages, for the last tens of thousands of years up until the last few centuries, we needed the ability to make quick decisions based on very little information. You literally had to take one look at someone and decide if he or she was a friend or a foe. Can you trust him or her in a deal? And by “a deal” I mean trading a sheep or a goat. It is much easier for our brain to make decisions based on small number of factors, so we learned to classify anything and everything, and we continue to do so to this very day.

We look at people and make snap decisions about them. We decide that they are fat or thin, black or white, American or foreign, straight or gay, Republican or Democrat, etc. Our brain quickly classifies people all the time, whether we want it to or not. We’re often not even aware of it. I call this part of us the Caveman Brain.

What this has to do with me?

You are probably thinking that this has nothing to do with you. When you’re interviewing someone for a position at your company, you are a professional and experienced interviewer, with a list of questions, tests, and clear criteria for an ideal candidate. So what does this have to do with you?

The reality is it has everything to do with you, because we are people not machines. How many times in the past when you interviewed someone did you get a “bad gut feeling” about him or her? How many times did you “sense something is wrong”? How many times could you “not put your finger on it, but…”? This is our Caveman Brain hinting us towards what it concludes is the best assessment of this person.

Remember that it has nothing to do with intelligence or experience, it is a deeper and more instinctual reaction, like fear, that you can’t control unless you are aware of it. With that in mind, let’s talk about how the Caveman Brain affects the interview process.

The First 10 Seconds of the Job Interview

Our Caveman Brain quickly categorizes anything it sees into small sets of classifications and informs us of its decision, and this happens within the first seconds of seeing our interviewee. Of course for some it takes longer than ten seconds and for others it takes less (they call themselves “intuitive”). The point is that very quickly, before the intelligent part of the brain has had any time to collect substantive information, our Caveman Brain already made a decision and told us about it. Before you asked a single question, some part of you already classified the person, already put them into a neat little box and labeled them.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying we’re all bigots that make snap decisions about people based on their appearance and other shallow factors. I’m just emphasizing the fact that the instinctive safety mechanism nature embedded in us many, many generations ago is still there, and we need to be aware of it when meeting new people.

The goal of a successful interviewer is to reverse the order of things: let the intelligent brain think and collect information, so it can make an informed decision and then let the Caveman Brain add some “gut feeling” to the mix.

Put on a Blindfold

Think of yourself as a judge on “The Voice” TV show, where candidates are judged on their talent before their appearance is even known. I don’t suggest literally covering your eyes, although that would be interesting (should probably try it one day) but rather mentally blocking yourself from focusing on the exterior. Be mindful of the fact that some part of you will want to immediately analyze and categorize the person in front of you, and blindfold it. It’s not simple, but with practice you can do it.

Discuss Anything but the Interview

Take the first few minutes and discuss anything but the interview, talk about the weather, traffic, a movie, etc. It will put the interviewee at ease which should put your Caveman Brain at ease as well. I, for example, go to the waiting area and walk with the candidate, offer the interviewee a drink, chit-chat about something for the first two minutes.

Start with the Intelligent Brain

Some people do just the opposite; they move directly into the interview. They will wait in their office, briefly welcome the candidate and jump right into business. This approach, although it sounds cold and impersonal, has a great advantage: you put your intelligent brain in the driver’s seat from the get-go. It’s harder for the other person, but as the interviewer it’s much easier since you don’t need to shift gears/brains. Again, because this is much less personal make sure to be extra nice.

Post-Interview

Think about the candidate and the interview for a few minutes after the interview is over. Once the person is not in front of you, the Caveman Brain is no longer in charge and the Intelligent Brain is in the driver’s seat. Think, analyze, process and write your thoughts down. Talk with others who interviewed the candidate about their thoughts, and evaluate other perspectives.

Final Thoughts

Doing this is hard, I know, but it’s much harder to find really good people. Now that you know about the Caveman Brain you’ll be more aware of it and hopefully take its suggestions with a grain of salt. There’s nothing wrong with your gut feeling, after all it helped your ancestors survive for generations, just don’t let it drive your business while the Intelligent Brain sits in the passenger’s seat.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of a Job Interview

Credit: Fotolia

Like most people who have lead teams and companies for many years, I have interviewed hundreds of people. It always amazes me to see the same mistakes repeated time and time again. Sometimes I just want to tell the person sitting in front of me what to say, or what not to say so that I can end the interview. But I don’t, because I want to give the interviewee a chance. With so many sites and blog posts dedicated to interview advice, you might think that there is no need for another one. The difference here is that I will represent both the interviewee and the interviewer, as both sides need to do and avoid certain things. In this blog post I will focus on key things the interviewee should address and avoid.

Short and relevant resume, please!

The interview begins when you send over you resume. Of course, the interview might not even happen if the resume is the not a “good” one. There are many sites that advise on this topic, but I will only stress that the resume should be short and relevant to the job. No one has time to flip though ten pages of projects and a detailed job history. Two short pages is the max, and always make sure you customize it for the job you’re applying to. Yes, it’s more work but if you want the job, you’d better start working for it. Recycle your resume and your resume will be recycled into the bin.

Prepare

What hasn’t been said yet about preparing for an interview? And yet I still interview people who don’t really understand what Docstoc is, what we do, how we make money, don’t know me, etc. It’s only a Google search away to find something about the person you’re interviewing with and it’s a big win to do so, not because it flatters the interviewer but because it shows you did your homework in the most direct and personal way. Same for the business itself; go to the site and spend 10 minutes clicking on every link and reading key pages, make sure you really understand the business. Most importantly, figure out how you can help them, how you see yourself there, and how your experience can benefit them. That’s the goal after all, for you to join this business and make it more successful. Do your homework, no one will hire lazy people.

Dress For The Right Event

If you have no fashion sense and your wardrobe is composed of jeans, t-shirts and sandals, go to any store and spend $100 on a basic slacks, a button down shirt and basic black shoes. Nothing fancy, no tie or jacket. Don’t rent a suite and don’t borrow your dad’s; it looks funny and distracting and will not add to your chances of getting the job. I don’t believe in overdressing, as you want to see the person you will work with, not some made up version of them. Find the balance, it’s an interview not a wedding.

The first 10 seconds

An interview can last from 10 minutes to over an hour, but for most people the decision is made in the first ten seconds of the interview. The reason is simple, over tens of thousands of years our brain evolved to make quick decisions about the things we see. Should I run or hide? Is the person in front of me a friend or foe? Even though we are not running through the jungle with a spear anymore, our basic instincts are still part of us. Most people don’t understand this and translate it as a “bad gut feeling,” and the interview is over before it begins. The problem is that our instincts were never built for this kind of setting: an office interview where one person is looking for a job and the other is trying to figure out if there’s a fit. Our brain automatically and very quickly wants to classify the person in front of us, label him or her by making a “life or death” decision: friend or foe.

So, what do you do? Be as calm, friendly, as secure as possible and smile so the caveman-brain classify you as a friend. Just remember, what you wear, how your hair looks, how you walk, the handshake, your smile, it’s all part of it. I know it’s not fair but it is what it is and you understanding it will only help you win the job.

Ask smart questions

As an interviewee, asking questions is an important part of the interview but you need to shoot for the “hmmm… good question…” type of question. These questions make the interviewer sits back in his/her chair, look up at the ceiling and think. I’m still shocked when people ask me questions like: “Who is your competition?” or “How do you make money?” Really? You tell me. For all the simple questions the answers are just a Google search away; when you fail to take the time to run a few simple searches, it shows you’re lazy.

A good question to ask is something like: “What are the three most important things I need to do in this role to be successful?” Usually the answer is: “Hmmm… good question…” as it deep and shows you truly want to understand how you can help the company be more successful by succeeding yourself.

No one knows everything

You don’t know everything, no one does; so don’t try to pretend that you do. For me, part of the interview is getting to know people’s limits, trying to see what they don’t know and then how they react. Do they think on their feet and come up with a smart solution? Do they ask smart questions? Or do they get upset and defensive, or put up a wall?

This is an important test because in life we always hit our limits and you want to work with people who deal well with challenges. When I can’t get people to admit they don’t know something, even when I ask them about things I have no clue about and are probably completely impossible, I have a reason to stop and think.

Remember that not knowing is not a disadvantage or a weakness, it’s natural and perfectly fine. Of course, if the things you don’t know are key to the position you are in trouble. But then again, you’ll be in trouble anyways so why prolong it?

Don’t ask: “So, how did I do?”

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes people ask me at the end of the interview: “So, how did I do?” This is a mistake. What possible good can come out of this question? Just statistically speaking, most of the time the answer is no. I used to be honest and answer it right then and there, which usually resulted in an awkward moment for us both. Do you really want to take the precious time you have to impress your interviewer and have him/her coach you on how to interview? Even if you feel the interview went so badly you won’t get the job, be professional and end it with your head held high. Send a thank you email later that day. You never know.

Will this job make you happy?

The first two questions I ask everyone are: (1) what are you looking for? (2) what will make you happy?  You may need this job badly for financial reasons, or think that it will help your career. Maybe it’s close to home so you can see your kids more often, or maybe it’s the title. None of these things are the reason to take the job,they will probably not keep you happy in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to have a job close to home, with a hefty salary and a cool title but it’s like chewing gum, the sweet flavor will disappear at some point and you will find yourself grinding your teeth.

It’s better to find a place that makes you truly happy, even if it’s not the ideal  salary, distance, or title.  You’ll do better in the long run,on both a personal and business level. Life is too short to waste it on the wrong path. I know it sounds naïve in our day and age but it’s one of the “secrets” to a healthy life: Be Happy!

Microsoft Windows 8. Is it A Game Changer?

Like all of us, I’ve been using Microsoft Windows forever. Thank to Bill Gates, Windows became a fact of life. We know that a computer is built from parts like a CPU, memory and a hard disk, hardware you must have in order for the computer to work. Microsoft made sure that you  must use its Windows operating system for it to function. It did more than that, it made sure that no matter where you buy your computer: Dell, HP, or even build it yourself, you must use their Windows operating system. Now, that is a nice market to have.

It wasn’t an easy ride for Microsoft, and there were many competitors along the way: IBM with OS2, different Linux operating systems, and of course Mac OS. But Microsoft kept the status quo, partially because of competitors’ mistakes, good products they created (sometimes, not always), and people’s tendency to stay with what they know. But the main reason that everyone wanted Windows was software. Everyone needed software because everything was implemented as software. Every game, productivity tool, utility, chat, email, etc. (and there were millions to chose from) had software you needed to install, and they all run on Windows. Other OSs had only a tiny fraction of the software built for them, which is why everyone flocked to Windows. The masses would not think about buying a Linux OS because it could not run their favorite game and Word. It was a market Check Mate.

But in the past few years things have changed. The Internet evolved, became faster, reached more people, and new types of sites were created. Not just for consuming content but for sharing content (aka, web 2.0) and lately for productivity and collaboration. You can now do everything online, you can chat, check your email, create documents or spreadsheets, work on your photos, play tons of games and everything in between. If you think about it, what software did you install on your computer lately? There are only three categories that still require installation: Anti Virus/Security, Office, and sophisticated games (i.e. Call of Duty). Everything else you can do online. There are other niches like Photoshop and movie editing but for 99% of consumers, that short list is pretty much it.

So, if everything is online do you really need Windows or just a browser? This exact question is what Google wants everyone to ask and Microsoft dreads. With less than 45% browser market share and dropping Microsoft is not even situated to control the browser market. Google was smart and fast to promote their Chrome browser, which is biting at Microsoft’s IE market share like nothing we’ve seen in the past. I guess when billions of people come to your website each day you can promote your product pretty effectively.

Microsoft was late for the smartphone market and is now in a long and expensive uphill battle. Even though Windows 7 phones are very good and not just another icon based smartphone, it’s a hard sell for the iPhone addicts market. Google is coming fast from behind with Google Docs and Spreadsheets, conquering the Microsoft Office market share and not just on the consumer space, but also in Microsoft’s backyard, the Enterprise space. Microsoft was also late for the tablet/slate market and is working extra hard to catch up with the iPad. While Apple just released version 3 of the iPad (read my though on it here), Microsoft’s slate is still in the works. To top it all off, Mac sales are at an all time high and, if it was once, too expensive and all around strange to buy a Mac, more and more are flocking to Apple stores and buying one. It feels like Microsoft is under attack on all fronts and is losing ground. Not an easy situation to be in.

The question we need to ask is the following: is Microsoft the type of company that, when major challenges arise, will make tough choices and come out on top?

I believe so. I’ve been paying close attention to what they are doing and I strongly believe they are making a comeback, and it’s called Windows 8. It’s not just another OS with nicer icons and cooler drop shadow effects. Microsoft is making some brave decisions here that, no offense, we’ve seen coming more from Apple than Microsoft. Windows 8 is significantly different from anything else currently in the market with its Metro style, navigation and user interaction. They are basically betting the house on this one and they know they can’t lose. Playing with my Windows 8 tablet (slate) I was fairly impressed. It’s very different from anything else out there and its something we haven’t say about a Microsoft product in a while: IT’S COOL! It’s designed in a way that tech babies as well as dinosaurs can understand, which is very important to Microsoft. They have about 500 million Windows 7 users that they hope to convert to Windows 8. They integrated a store into the OS and are working hard on getting as many apps as possible ready for launch. Windows 8 will work on all computers from tablets/slate to heavy servers, which is a huge advantage to developers and consumers alike. Since Apple brought the importance of installing applications back from the grave, I believe Microsoft will take that approach with a thunder. This time, Apple simply followed Microsoft’s gameplay not the other way around. Apple only called them “Apps” instead of Applications or software, but Microsoft invented the concept.

Doing a pivot in a startup is easy, turning a ship the size of Microsoft is hard, slow, and risky but it looks to me like they are doing it right and with a lot of though. I would not bury Microsoft just yet; more likely start buying Microsoft stock while the price is low, before Windows 8 hits the shelves.

The New Power of Parents on the Web – Soon

The proposed California bill SB 242 below attempts to change the way minor’s information is displayed on social websites as well as what rights do parents have, which is quite earth shaking.

The bill will allow the parents of any kid under the age of 18 to request any social networking web site like Facebook to remove ANY personal information from the site, within 48 hours upon request. In addition it prohibit from displaying any personal information for any minor under the age of 18 without consent.

The best part of is that the bill will impose a civil penalty, not to exceed $10,000, for each violation.

Ouch!

Social Networking Internet Web Sites Privacy – SB 242 Corbett

Navigating the Challenges of Effective Outsourcing – Startup Uncensored #7

outsourcingThis month’s “Startups Uncensored” will be on “Navigating the Challenges of Effective Outsourcing”.  It will be an open and frank town-hall conversation discussing topics such as:

  • Outsourcing best practices
  • Do’s and don’ts of outsourcing
  • Top mistakes people do when outsourcing
  • What can and should you outsource? Architecture? Code? Support? Content creation? Testing? Other?
  • How to find outsourcing solutions?
  • How do you manage a remote team?

We are joined this month by James Siminoff, founder/CEO of PhoneTag and Aaron Hawkey co-founder and CEO/CTO of Cramster.  Both have extension experience in identifying and working with outsourced teams to build their technology companies.  Plus this month’s event will be moderated by Alon Shwartz.

These events are put on in conjunction with our friends at DealMaker Media. TO SIGN UP FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE

The event is free and is followed by a reception and mixer at the Docstoc Offices in Santa Monica by the 3rd Street Promenade. The venue holds about 140 folks, ALL PREVIOUS EVENTS WERE FULL WITH STANDING ROOM ONLY. If you are not one of the first 140 to RSVP and confirm, we will have a waiting list.

Thursday, May 28th 6:30pm – 8:00pm (Townhall)…. 8:00pm on, Reception
Cost: FREE
This event is capped at 140 attendees.
Confirmation will be required or your spot will be given up for our waiting list.

Santa Monica Public Library (Auditorium) 601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

TO SIGN UP FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE

About Startups Uncensored

Startups Uncensored is a free monthly speaking series, townhall, and networking event for entrepreneurs and technology aficionados, hosted by Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc.com. These monthly meetups are centered around different topics meant to help startups build their businesses. The event, brought to you by DealMaker Media, contributes to the growing Los Angeles technology scene by bringing together various entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, social media experts, and professionals in the tech field. The format of the series typically includes a 45 minute presentation or panel followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers, and its co-hosted by notable CEOs and Investors.

How to Pick a Partner

Last night Jason Nazar, my partner and CEO of Docstoc hosted a session on 10 mistakes people make when starting a business. The event was greatly received and I believe was very helpful. In the Q&A session someone asked about how to split equity between partners. Although I briefly addressed this at the session as well, I think the bigger question is how to find the right partner. Having the right partner can greatly help at challenging times like equity splits. Here is the presentation that covers this topic: How to Pick a Partner

What is a Partnership?

I’ve been married for, oh… some time now. As anyone who is married will testify, marriage is a pretty complex partnership with many challenges. I also have three wonderful kids and when you think about kids, think partnership. I’m also Jason’s partner at Docstoc which brings its own challenges, being a web startup at a glooming economy. I think that gives me some perspective on the concept and meaning of partnership. Beside the free marriage consultation I sometimes give, I want to mainly focus on business partnerships.

Over the years I’ve noticed a few principles that are best followed when choosing a partner, being a life or business partner. I break them into these topics:

1.     Different with Shared Values

2.     The partnership goes both ways

3.     Must be a win-win

4.     Make sure the roles are clear

5.     There will be sacrifices

6.     Be good

Different with Shared Values

I think that a partnership is about being with someone different than you. Hey, no one is perfect so what is the point of partnering with someone who is exactly like you? To quote Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire: “You… complete me”. Someone needs to be the Yin to your Yang and vice versa. Someone has to fill your personality gaps, show you things you don’t see because you can’t see, catch you when you fall.

But not everyone who is different than you qualifies. You must share the same core values and principles. You can’t have a partner who is a greedy MF when you’re a non-profit guy, no matter how good he/she is. You have to believe in the same life values.

When Jason and I just started, he popped at my house one weekend, uninvited when my wife was with the kids and the house was a mess. He said he wanted us to work together on something for Docstoc. We spent a few hours brainstorming and mocking up pages while the kids were pocking their heads through the door every five seconds. I think it was a fantastic idea to see what I’m really like. When you’re with your kids, maybe you can fake it but they will not. You can see ones’ values when they’re with their loved ones.

The Partnership Goes Both Ways

Although someone is usually more dominant in any partnership, it is not to be confused with the fact that a partnership is a two way street. From the beginning, both sides check each other, “interview” each other, trying to make sense of each other, read each other’s mind, see behind the mask, find the skeletons.  If you’re the CEO and you’re looking for a partner CTO (sound familiar) you’re not just checking him out, he is checking you as well.

It is even more important later in the partnership, when things become more complicated and more people are involved (employees, kids, friends, investors, etc). A partnership is core, deep, long lasting, relationship with someone you completely trust regardless of your place in the hierarchy, your title, role, salary, etc. It is a two way street that can drive good or bad feelings, it can drive creativity or negativity, it can drive happiness or depression.

People are like energy amplifiers, whatever you put in, you’ll get doubled in energy back. Because it is a two way street, the more positive energy you put into the partnership, the more positive energy you’ll get back, and some. When it’s working, it’s great!

Must be a Win-Win

There has been so much said about “win win” that it became a cliché, but I will mention it anyways. At any point in the partnership, even from the get go, both sides must make sure it’s a win-win situation. When Jason and I started we did not talk about equity split for a long time. This was not me being naive or blindingly trusting or Jason being non-trusting or abusive, we were simply not ready to talk about it. Like marriage. So we each found something else to be the “win” until the time was right. That “win” was good enough even if it will not work out at the end. Let me know if you want to know what mine was.

By the way, I do not believe in negotiation between partners. In my mind, negotiation means finding a way to get the most and giving away the least. Since I believe in win-win, it is in both sides best interest to have the other side satisfied and NOT focus on how you can keep the biggest slice. Negotiation is about ME. ME winning, ME getting the most, ME losing the least. Partnership is about US. US both happy and satisfied. US both giving away something to get much more at the end. Think of partnership as the biggest investment in your life and business. You want to give as much as possible to have a solid starting point, a healthy starting point. Be fair, be realistic, and make sure the “win” of both sides is clear and on the table.

Make sure the roles are clear

I look at the roles my wife and I have in our marriage like a government. We each have specific responsibility in how the family is run. I’m the Secretary of Defense where my wife is the Secretary of State. I’m the Secretary of Commerce where my wife is, of course, the Secretary of Treasury. I’m Homeland Security and she’s Education and so on. Sometimes the roles switch and new roles are added (or removed). One thing for sure it better be clear who is responsible for what or bills will not be paid and the trash will mount outside. Most times, it seems to just work out by itself. Sometimes my wife has to “remind” me…

It seems to be more challenging in business. People do not like to relinquishing control (me included) and delegation is an art not science.  Just remember that giving someone responsibility (or taking responsibility) does not mean taking the other partner out of the picture.          Just make sure you enable each other and support each other when doing your job.

There will be sacrifices

In any partnership there are sacrifices and sometime it maybe more on one side, for a period of time. If you’re planning on getting into a business partnership and expect no financial, time, and personal sacrifice, don’t do it.  But also remember and appreciate the other side’s sacrifices. Just remember that these sacrifices are all for a good cause and a better future. Just make sure it doesn’t leave you without a future…

Be good

In every partnership someone is “wearing the pants”. Doesn’t mean anything. Don’t abuse or take things for granted. Be thoughtful and respectful, be appreciative and supportive. Never underestimate ones effort even if it seems easy and simple, it is more likely you don’t see how difficult it really is. Many married guys think “common… how difficult is taking care of the kids?” Yeah right. Many business guys think “Common… how difficult is making the product stable?” Yeah right…

Just one tip, I always find the power of appreciation of little things so amazing. Focus on that.

Last words

As someone once said “There is a big difference between knowing the path… and walking the path”. I am still learning how to walk the path and I have much to learn.

Alon