Do it for the right reason

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I see people, some of them friends trying to make a leap to become entrepreneurs and giving up in the process due to some rock(s) in the road.

Everytime I see this, I just think about my own process and how many obstacles  I have had. I always try to feed the recipients with my own experience, hoping that they will get some advise and continue their journey. Almost all the time I figure out that the reason most of them fail to continue, is that they wanted to become entrepreneurs because of money, meaning that they want to earn more money. Then I realize why they gave up.

Money is a valid reason to motivate yourself, but it is not an inspiration when you start to realize that:

1.- Money will not come automatically.

2.- It is not a motivator for your everyday energy.

3.- Money only help you to satisfy basic needs.

Being an entrepreneur is a difficult journey. Money will not solve your frustrations, especially in your early days, because there is no money in the early days .

If you are in the process of leaving your day job or want to start something on the side, I do recommend to do it for the right reason. What is a right reason? Huh, that is a good question. Everyone has its own reason.

First, it has to be bigger than money. Something that inspire you to wake up everyday energized that guarantee that no matter what challenge you have in front of you, the flame inside of you will last forever. What is that reason? Only you will know it. But one technique that you can use is to ask yourself WHY do you want to do it several times, until you get to the aha! moment.

When you get to this point, giving yourself to what you want in life has no expectation on getting anything back on a given time. If you put yourself 100% into that that you love, money will start flowing and it will bring other challenges. But that is another good problem to have and solve it later.

Good luck in your journey!

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Today is appreciation day!!

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Here I am hiding in my room from my wife that wants to take me off the house to start new years celebration. She is complaining, arguing why am I working the last day of the year,  but I needed to write this before the year ends. I feel like those guys that want to do all the stuff they did not during the year in just one day.

I just want to thank all of those that in different ways have bring fun, hope, happiness, love and challenge to my life. Here are my twelve appreciations to those people

1.- I want to thank all my whole life friends for being always there for me and receive me with open arms when I go back to Mexico. Julio, Santiago, Leonardo, Ricardo, Raul, German, Luis, Ana, Aurora. Thanks for all your greetings and your time to share with me.

2.- This year I have to thanks all my collegueas from High School those two reunions were awesome. Keep them going on and on.

3.- I thank my partners Matt, Julio and Rodrigo for being supportive in all decisions we have made over the year.

4.- To @anita_perez and @matt_perez, Julian and @adrian_perez, without you the delivery of Maria Fernanda would be too stressful. Thanks @anita_perez for taking my wife to the hospital and staying with us, thanks for all the support, the gifts, the time and your love. It melt our hearts.

5.- Thanks to my mother in law and my mother to come and help Fernanda my wife to San Jose, CA all the way from Mexico and do it on an “extreme games” (airflight). Those days were easier with your help.

6.- Thanks to all those twitter followers and figures that share your wisdom with your tweets everyday, day and night. @dweekly, @danmartell, @davemcclure, @shelisrael, @andrew_chen, @matt_perez, @carloslaso, @ferhmo, @glfceo, @zapposinsights, @laquesefue, @nogueiradiana, @flabastida, @cyantist and all the people I follow and follow me, my life is different and enriched after you join my world.

7.-My thanks to Shel Israel, Chip Conley, Keith Ferrati, Daniel Friedman, Srikumar Rao, Jim Collings, James Rosswell Quinn, Dave Logan, John King, Brian Solis, Steve Blank, Jeofrey More, all your books are part of my own wisdom.

8.- To my clients for the trust deposited in our company. Scott Carr, Sean Calhoon, Jonhathan, Ray, Lalo, Alonso, Hal, David, Robert, Raza, Jodie, Roger, Luke, Dan, Luis, we are in business and going up because of your support.

9.- All my partners you rock, without your support this year will be impossible. You performed as champions, thanks, Victor, Matt, Jose, Fausto, for your enthusiasm, Ana and Yadira for taking care of us and turn around our numbers, Julio, Rodrigo, Martin, German, Filiberto, Roberto, Victor, Janneth, Yair, Hugo, Diana, Judith, Alejandro, Miguel, Socrates, Jorge, Oscar, Gloria, Aurora, Karen, Sandra, Brenda and Francisco.

10.- To all of those that are not with us anymore that already pass away, I still remember your quotes and lessons though

11.- My friends that are in critical condition right now, I am blessed to meet you in this life. You are in my thoughts everyday.

12.- Finally to my family, without you my life won’t have the same flavors.

Well, I used to do this every year and tried to tell everyone my thoughts, of course, having a blog everyone will be able to see it and that is why I wanted to do it for you.

BTW, I told my wife it is not work, it is my connection to the world. Ok, ready to start celebrating. Happy New 2010!!

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Driven by purpose and passion

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

The current year is close to the end and it is funny that I have been learning so much stuff in the last 15 days.  I want to share one of the things that I have learned that feels deep and important for me.  This is really good stuff.

If you want to be Driven by purpose and passion instead of power and fear, develop yourself and never, ever loss sigh of your vision.

I almost killed my-self

For most of us this was a terrible year overwhelmed with problems, perhaps some of our dreams were collapsed due to the bad economy. For some other it was a challenging year, armed with the fact that you can “make it” in spite of the turbulent waters and for the few left it was a “lucky” year, a success on their lives.

Well, for me it was between terrible and challenging, but the first part really hit me and I am serious. I felt that I lost my sense of humor, I started to worry more about others think about my actions than thinking about myself. I was self-judgmental, and started to raise reasons to stop believing in what I wanted and created my own obstacles. In a few words, I almost killed my-self.

Sure, it will sound exaggerated for some of you, but it is reality. I am not talking about killing my-self physically, but intellectually. Never the adage that says “You value more for what you are, than for what you have”, made more sense to me ever, not because I lost properties, but because I felt diminished.

I have always been driven by the challenges I have set to my-self, that inspire me to be a better person, more useful for those around me, for the society and the world. I have always wanted to go to the next level.

But, I made a mistake that I have not made before, I let others to make noise in my dream image and I permit my-self to get angry over those things that happened to me that I was not able to control (for example, the economy, the mood of others). This was killing my-self, my enthusiasm, my dreams, my inspiration to others,…..until I heard my own alarm.

One day I was with my kid and he asked me a question… why are you not laughing with me? End of story, that night when I was meditating I promised to my-self to process the garbage and throw it.  I wanted my self-back.

I had a purpose and a passion and not defending my dreams was having a side effect: to loose them and to not originally go after them. It was like being a stranger to my-self just to please others.

What are your dreams?

Life has a lot of distractions and frustrations and those can deviate your attention to the non-important, urgent things you have to do and, in the process start losing the passion for what you really want, your dreams.

Those same dreams can save you from falling in the dark side, but you have to defend them. If you want to know how brave you are, fight with yourself to make your dreams come true and to not forget them. Because think about it, that is the gas that wakes you up every morning.

A good way to do it is to write it down on paper and stick it to the wall so you can see it every day, or you can create a wallpaper for your computer. Do whatever you want, but do it. It is very important, especially in difficult times.

Are you ready for 2010? Start now!!

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Stretch your pocket

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Christmas season is always the best season to spend says my wife.  “I find a lot of savings in stores”.  Mmmm have you heard this before? Sure you have. This time is for consuming and companies are fighting to attract the majority of the consumers.

At this time money is short than ever and it seems that product companies are sacrificing some of their profit to sell cheaper (I just saw some ads for HDTV 20% lower than normal) but…. you still have the same budget.

So it is time to stretch your pocket and get more for the same budget but do not spend more in the future. Credit card companies want a slice from your future paychecks and they are bombarding with publicity, do not fall in the trap or your will have a hangover for months.  Remember we just had the worst crisis ever due to that philosophy. Enjoy the season and do not regret next year about it.

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Why blogging now

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Some have asked me about my blog and why am I blogging and why in English and Spanish. Well, it is difficult to maintain both versions.

I will try to publish in both languages, but it will certainly be difficult for two reasons:

1.- Time. It is time consuming to translate everything I have to say.

2.- Context. Some of my post will make sense universally and some will make sense in Mexico only, due to global knowledge applied to my local town and extended sometimes to my country.

Why blog in English?

I am not trying to exclude those who do not read english, but it is just that some thoughts come in english for me. When in Spanish it is for the same reason. Either way I know that all the information I will post here will be interesting, controversial and some times funny.

Well, I leave you here with my thoughts and experiences and hope it feeds your brain for good!!

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El control por diseño

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

La teoría de Administración tradicional nos enseña que administrar consiste en planificar, organizar, dirigir y controlar todos y cada uno de los componentes de una organización, con el fin de obtener una utilidad. Hablando en terminos comerciales.

La realidad en las empresas es que se planea poco o no se planea, poco es lo que se organiza y se cuenta con insuficiente dirección, lo fantástico es que en todos los lugares de trabajo existe una ambición y una obsesión por controlar (lo que no se planea, organiza, ni dirige). Y tiene sentido, porque para cumplir un objetivo sin estos elementos es normal que haya un exceso de control.

Las organizaciones tradicionales se administran y “liderean” de forma tradicional. La visión, los valores y la cultura se hereda de la máxima autoridad en la organización y esta se comunica a la organización de la forma Top-Down. Durante este proceso es natural que se pierda la escencia y se diluya la inspiración con la cual fue creada la compañía.

Los líderes tienen la expectativa de que sus subordinados entiendan los objetivos y la estrategia de la compañía, tal cual ellos la entienden, aún cuando los subordinados nunca han participado, ni se han inspirado “para crearla (compañía)”.      En el escenario mencionado arriba, la falta de planeación, organización y dirección son aspectos críticos para el éxito de la organización, solo que no son la solución y por lo mismo existe tanto control en este tipo de organizaciones.

Pero, ¿Es tan malo el control? Podemos obtener dos respuestas muy diferentes desde dos puntos de vista muy diferentes. El dueño de los objetivos  seguramente dira que es muy importante tener el control de estos resultados, por los compromisos involucrados en los mismos.  Por otro lado, podrás preguntar a los dueños de producir los resultados y su respuesta será muy diferente. Escucharás comentarios tales como: “no me tienen confianza”, “me preguntan como voy todo el día”, “nos presionan demasiado y no nos dejan trabajar”, entre otros.

El problema es de diseño

Existen dos fuentes de control, la primera es el aspecto individual. Como individuos de manera natural queremos tener el control de lo que va a suceder en el futuro.  La otra fuente de control es el que esta influido por el diseño de la compañía/organización, este influye a la necesidad de tener control sobre nuestro futuro. Veamos como.

Una organización con un estilo de “command and control”, tiene fuerte influencia en la forma en que toma el control sobre lo que sucede.  Al otorgar poder a la linea básica de autoridad sin ninguna forma de correspondencia, se tiene el riesgo de descuidar la forma y esto es lo que normalmente sucede. En este tipo de organizaciones generalmente se busca el resultado, sin importar la forma de obtenerlo.  Es importante resaltar que la teoría no respalda esta hipotesis, pero la practica lo hace.

Debido a que en este tipo de organizaciones se buscan administradores para lograr cristalizar la visión de la compañía, el liderazgo natural es escaso y entonces las herramientas que se utilizan para controlar los resultados se basan en autoridad y poder, principalmente. Aunque se han inventado métodos para transparentar más el proceso, como Balance Scorecard, estos solo minimizan la intensidad de la búsqueda de control y poder.

Tal es el caso de que para la mayoría de las personas crecer y desarrollarse en las compañías significa escalar puestos, en otras palabras tener más poder y control.

Particularmente en México, la empresas buscan controlar no solo la calidad de sus productos, sino inclusive la vida de su activo más importante, sus empleados.

La pregunta que seguramente te estas haciendo en este momento es: ¿Cual es esa organización que puede operar con menos control? ¿Al menos, cual es su silueta?

Actualmente existen organizaciones que han roto con los antiguos paradigmas, para crear nuevos paradigmas menos estrictos y más flexibles y además exitosos. Estas nuevas organizaciones incluyen elementos fundamentales que por si mismos definen un marco de trabajo natural. Estos elementos incluyen a los miembros de la organización, sus competencias, la diversidad de sus ideas, su creatividad, la participación en los beneficios de la organización y algo muy importante, la transparencia tanto de la operación como de la estrategia.

Me refiero a las organizaciónes democráticas y no me refiero a ningún partido político, sino a compañías privadas y públicas que han buscado la forma de incluir a todos los miembros de la organización (de todos los niveles) en la toma de decisiones. Es interesante ver que las organizaciones se empiezan a dar cuenta que la información es poder y que esta a disposición de la organización agrega más valor.

En otro post hablaré un poco más de la organización democrática, las tendencias actuales y su propuesta de diseño.

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Top 10 things Startups must do

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks back, I participated in a panel hosted by Orrick called the Top 10 Startup Mistakes.  In this post, I’ve recreated the list and made a few changes based on my experience which is based primarily on bootstrapping.
1. Cash Is King, Be Frugal

Every penny counts and at an early stage, money should be spent first and foremost in client acquisition and product development.

Use capital frugally.  Remember when you were a hungry student and you thought hard before spending your limited budget.  Well, it turns out that it was good training if you’re leading a startup.  It always takes longer than expected to start generating revenue and you don’t want to run out of capital first.

If you make your capital stretch until you actually start to get revenue, you’ll be in a much better position to attract more capital to develop your channels, grow in sales, and develop your organization.

2. Recruiting Is Your Number One Job
As a first (or even second) time CEO/Founder, you may think you have to do everything.  And that would make you wrong.  To have a chance to succeed, you need to recruit the best team you can.  Hire people smarter and better than you are in Engineering, Marketing, Sales and Finance.

It doesn’t matter if you are great at one function or another, if you are the CEO, you must find somebody even better to run that function.  Your job is to recruit them, lead strategically and build the organization.

And remember, “hire slow, fire fast!”
3. Choose Your Investors
Do not take money from just anybody, even if you desperately need it.  If you do, it will cost you later.

Make sure that your investor’s goals are aligned with yours.  It may sound like a difficult thing to do but it will pay off in the long run.  In the long run, you want an investor that understands your business and can help you connect with customers and other investors.

Remember, your number one job is recruiting and it applies to investors, too.
4. Choose the Best CEO
This is almost always too difficult to accept, but if you are not the best CEO for your company, fire yourself and recruit the best CEO you can find.  Ask your team for help in finding the right person.

BTW, lack of experience is not a disqualifier.  Bill Gates and Scott McNealy had no idea how to run a company when they started doing so.  They did surround themselves with good people, with more experience than they had.  And they were very quick learners.  So, it can be done.

The question is, are you and will you be the best CEO for your company?  Unless the answer is a resolute “yes,” start looking for one.
5. Don’t Go It Alone
We have a saying at Nearsoft, “we don’t want heroes.”  I personally do not want to hand out with “heroes.”  If you want to go far, build a team.  Be a team player yourself.  Understand who is best at what and leverage them.  This is true for your company’s employees but also your Board.  They deal with lots of other startups and companies at other stages of growth and can bring in a different view of things.
6. Focus, Focus, Focus and Execute
What are the three things that you need to do to start getting traction?  Make a list of them, focus on them and do them.

Start by defining a long-term vision of where you want to take the company.  But then, break that down into actionable steps that can be done in 90-day chunks.  Then, break them down into weekly tasks and get them done.  At an early stage, execution is 95% of your team’s job and your job to make sure they understand this.

I’ve had the experience of developing a great strategy but failing at execution.  Make sure everyone in your team understands this: most businesses fail because they fail to deliver.
7. Listen to Your Customers
Your customers are your best friend.  They will determine if your strategy is right and if your team is executing correctly.  Having a good strategy followed with great execution is ideal.  But you’ll only find out how right (or wrong) you are by going out and starting to sell.  If you’re not getting traction, your brilliant execution may need changing.  Your customers and potential customers will tell you by their actions if your product really helps them.

Stay close to them.  Call them.  Meet them.  Conduct a Focus Group.  Listen on Twitter.  Whatever, the point is to stay in communications with your customers and follow their directions.
8. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate.
You do not want to copy the competition, but you do want to know all about them.  In particular, you want to know what their customers are complaining about.  That little tidbit of information will let you know how to differentiate.

More likely than not, your product is trying to solve a problem that somebody else is already addressing.  Hopefully, your solution is intrinsically better or cheaper or greener or whatever.  But that’s not enough.  You have to be able to convince customers that your solution is more valuable to them.

So, listen to them and learn how they talk about your competitor’s products.  If you are good at it, they will tell you clearly what they consider valuable.  Maybe your product is technically better, but if that’s not important to your customers, it leaves you as a “me, too.”

Follow them on Twitter, check their product reviews.  This is not a very sophisticated approach, but, as simple as it sounds, it is business intelligence.  Use this information to frame your offering based on what your customers value.

9. Create a Sales and Marketing Organization
I personally think this is one of the most important things you must do as quickly as possible.  Every company needs a machine that attracts customers and generates revenue.  This is the only way you’re going to grow your business.

Depending on your product or service, you will either sell direct or go through channels.  Whatever form it takes, your company success depends on it.

And remember, that it takes more time to get sales going than you can imagine.  You must start to develop an excellent marketing and sales team from the start.  More than anything else, you must make sure this aspect of the business is successful.
10. Measure Everything that’s Important
Don’t depend of anybody’s opinion on whether your company is doing well or not.  You need to measure, measure and then measure some more.  You also need to use what you learn from these metrics to course correct often.

Choose three to five indicators and track them. Take time to really know what external factors impact them and what can you control. Setting up the system to collect this data is not easy but it worth the effort. Everyone needs to know how they’re doing against expectations.  We all need feedback and your indicators will tell you this.

That’s it.  I hope this can be of some help in your current venture or the next.

BTW, events hosted by Orrick are excellent.  They offer good information and good networking.  They’re a great service.

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