Recruit and Retain Employees by Answering this One Simple Question

Why Does our Company Exist?

 

The last 5 years in the tech industry have been a very competitive labor market to say the least. When I have sat around with my management and recruiting teams over the last few years, I have referred to it as the Global War for Talent. If you are running any tech organization, you are competing with the big guys like Google, Facebook, Apple and the new big guys, the Unicorns and Decacorns. And frankly we have also been competing with people going to start their own thing in an environment flush with funding.

We have spent a lot of time debating and honing, pay levels, equity percentages, vesting schedules and refresh grants. We have spent an even greater time talking about benefits and perks including the number of web enabled beer kegs and the breadth of the selection of flavored waters available in our newly remodeled employee kitchens. And we have spent a lot of time establishing and maintaining the right culture. I am not making fun of those things. They are very important. But I think we have not spent enough time on answering the most important question that employees will eventually ask.

That question is simply. “Why does this company Exist?”. They don’t ask it that way. In fact, I have never had an employee/recruit ask it outright. But almost everyone is searching for and crying out for meaningful work. It is not just millennials. Everyone wants his or her work to matter. If they do well and the company does well, what will we have achieved? Will it have been worth it? We are all going to spend an inordinate amount of time, talent and treasure to try to achieve something. There are going to late nights and early mornings, redeye flights, brutal competition,  and demanding customers. There will be incredible highs, but also soul sucking lows. And when your recruits and employees are exhausted and down. They will ask themselves “ Why am I doing this?”, Why don’t I take a cushy job at Hewlett Packard or IBM and catch the company bus home at 4:30pm. And when they ask that question, their compensation, flavored water and autonomous culture won’t keep them going. They will have to answer in their hearts “Is this worth doing?” and when they get to that point they should know in their hearts the story of why our company exists. And why the mission we are on is meaningful and important. If what we are simply achieving is moderate improvement in the status quo or something even more esoteric like “creating shareholder value”, then why bother?  Why not just punch a clock somewhere else?

But few companies, founders and executives are really good at answering the question: Why does our company exist? And those who do, tend to distill into down into a meaningless mission statement that will be discarded by employees even if you go through the trouble to laminate it on nice paper stock.

What is needed is a compelling story to answer the question. It can be put into a few powerpoints if you like, but it is best told off the cuff and from the heart.

Over the past 15 years , I have been called on the deliver the “rally the troops” speech many times or have  been asked to help close the star recruit or save the key employee who has a bigger offer. And over that time through hundreds of speeches and even more one on one chats, I realized there was a formula for telling the story and answering the question “Why do we exist?” So here is my formula. It is not scientific, it was not developed at any prestigious business school, but it has worked for me. So let me share it and feel free to give it a try.

Step 1: Identify the Problems of the Paradigm that You are Trying to disrupt.

We are good at this in tech. We founded and run new companies to burn down what was have built before. We are never happy with the status quo. So describe the status quo in painstaking detail and get good at telling others how intolerable that status quo is. Here’s an example from Uber. If I were developing their story several years back it would have been easy to talk about how bad the taxi industry was. Dirty, poorly maintained cabs; poorly trained, unmotivated and rude drivers. An intolerable dispatch system or sidewalk hailing system that was unbearable. Poor payment systems. And a complete mismatch of supply of cabs to demand especially in peak periods, Need I go on?

You need to develop you own horror stories of the status quo. Make the list long. Punch it up with humor and concrete stories. Make everyone feel the pain of the status quo.

Step 2. Develop Concrete Impact Statements on the Consequences of the Status Quo

Simply listing the problems of the status quo is not enough. If you are not careful your long list of problems will seem trivial and unworthy of serious pursuit. They might ask “A better taxi service, really? Is that it?” Is that what I really want to write on my headstone as my major life accomplishment? So you need to take it the next level. Let me continue with the Uber analogy:

The taxi industry is so bad, that X% of the population uses their car even when they know a taxi would make more sense. And that causes: a) greater traffic congestion, b) chronic parking problems and most importantly c) increased carbon emissions of X %. Also, the unreliability of the taxi industry causes business lost productivity of Y %. And perhaps most importantly, the incompetent taxi industry causes many people, especially younger people to drive their cars after drinking. Drinking and driving kills 10,000 Americans every year. We have to stop this!

You need to develop impactful statements of your own to compel those around you to join you in your mission. It takes a little work, but if you nail this, then you have something that really works.

Step 3: Position your Company/Product as the Only way to Stop the Status Quo from Continuing to Wreak Havoc.

Here you list the features and benefits of your product or service and show how they solve the problems you outlined in Step 1. Again to use the Uber example:

You will be able to hail a ride by pressing a button on your phone without the need for a dispatcher or by mindlessly waiving at speeding cars.. The app will tell exactly where the cars are and how soon they can pick you up. It will help the driver navigate efficiently to you and then your destination. It will have an integrated payment system that will do away with the need for cash and tipping. And it will have a patented demand based pricing system that will allow for the free market to match supply and demand, especially in peak periods. And so and son on.

Can you do that with your product or service. You need to be able to concretely show that your company can/will solve the problems you outlined in Step 1.

Step 4: Show that You have a concrete plan

Saying you have an idea or an early version product will be good enough for some employees, but many others will want to here the concrete steps that must be taken to get to the end game. You don’t need all the answers, but you need to not come off as a dreamer company that is short on specifics. Also have a plan to fight when the status quo belatedly fights back or when another new emerging startup launches a similar service.

Step 5: Tell Them that it will be Hard and that You Need their Help.

Don’t forget this last step. Every executive, founder knows they can’t do it alone. But we too often come off as people who think they know all the answers or have all the plans. Be prepared for closing with a story and a plea for help. “It will be hard, there is much we do not yet know and hurdles that we know we must overcome, I need help and the right people on our team. We need your unique skill sets, and your perseverance to carry us through. We cannot let the status quo perpetuate itself and we need to ensure  a new and better way wins the day.”

It seems easy . Five simple steps. But I think we need to spend more time on building and telling the compelling story of why the companies we run should exist. And if we spend time to develop the story, then maybe, just maybe we can get by with only three flavors of water in the employee kitchen.

If you want to read about a concrete Enterprise SaaS of one of my stories click through to my blog and read an additional supplement to this post. How I creating our story in the Gmail versus Exchange cloud battle.

2007 Flashback: Gmail vs. Exchange

Why Gmail for Business should exist?

In February 2007, a group of associates and I launched a head on assault on the status quo of email. We planned to offer a cloud based alternative to Microsoft Exchange, Lotus notes and Novell’s Groupwise. At the time, 95% of all email was on premise solution and Microsoft had about 70% share. Here was our story that I developed put within the framework I wrote about in another blogpost.

Step 1: Identify the Problems of the Paradigm that you are trying to disrupt.

Existing email systems are a nightmare for end users and heinously complex and expensive for IT.

  1. Email box sizes are much, much to small for today’s information age. The average is about 500MB. That is way too small for a world where email volume is increasing by 25% annually. Most users spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up their email box, deleting and archiving so that their email box can fit new email. If you don’t spend a lot of time managing your impossibly small inbox, then existing systems stop delivering new email to you! Its crazy, why are we forcing users to live in this environment?
  1. Existing Client server emails require you to download email to your PC. Users are spending tons of time waiting for email to download. And if you are a road warrior and have a bad connection or can’t get through the corporate VPN then there is no email for you. How crazy is this. Do we really need the email to live on our laptops? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to store it on a server? And wouldn’t it be more secure?
  1. Users spend an hour a day foldering and sorting email. This is a galactic time killer for every information worker. Do we really want to treat high volume electronic communication like it is piece of paper from the 1950s. Back then, we saved each piece of paper into a separate folder and stored it in filing cabinet. In age where we can easily search and find things on a data source called the internet, can’t we develop some email search technology that would allow us to find email without having to spend an hour a day foldering email. You know what is worse than spending an hour a day foldering email? Spending an hour a day foldering email and then still not being able to find it because you can’t remember what folder it is in!!! I mean really, its 2007, this is just such bullsh*t!
  1. Existing email systems are way too expensive and consume large amounts of scarce IT resources.

On premise systems require hardware, system software and application software to be procured provisioned and maintained. In addition to that expensive virus scanning and spam filtering software and hardware must be added to each email server. Most email systems are deemed mission critical and require high levels of redundancy to ensure data integrity and high levels of availability and performance. So take the normal email hardware and software configuration and multiply it by 2 or 3. Furthermore the nature of most workforces is increasingly distributed, so the It configuration must be deployed in a complex distributed fashion. Lastly, the Microsoft applications require frequent patching to ensure security and reliability. Every second Tuesday a large number of patches are distributed to Microsoft customers. The number of patches is so large and frequent, that the industry has come to know every second Tuesday as “Patch Tuesday”. I mean it is so cumbersome they have a name for the day that you just maintain the system!!!

Step 2. Develop Concrete Impact Statements on the Consequences of the Status Quos

The problems described in Step 1 have the following impact on organizations

  1. Legacy email systems designed for volume email environment of years gone by have a huge negative impact on information worker productivity. It is estimated that information workers spend 30 minutes per day doing unnecessary email hygiene primarily in unnecessary foldering and email/attachment deletion or archiving. Eliminating that 30 minutes would lead to a 6.25 increase in productivity! No other simple system change can have such a big impact on information working productivity.
  2. It is estimated that 20% of the data in a company is structured data and 80% of that data in unstructured data. The majority of that unstructured data is in email or in attachments and files sent though email. And yet we force employees to constantly delete, archive or use an arcane foldering system to manage the largest amount of information in your company. If you cannot easily locate our unstructured information, then your decisions, processes are underperforming through lack of complete data. In today’s competitive world you can’t operate without comprehensive data at your fingertips.
  3. The average company of spending $500 per year per user on email boxes that are 500MB. Expansion of those email boxes is prohibitively expensive. So users are in the worst possible situation: High costs for a service that is not and cannot meet their needs.

Step 3: Position your Company/Product as the only way to stop the Status Quo from continuing to Wreak Havoc

Gmail for business is uniquely capable of solving the problems of legacy email solutions:

  1. Gmail offers 25GB of storage for every users. That is 50 times larger than your average corporate email boxes. Users will never have to delete an email ever again. Not only will they not have to spend time deleting email, folders and attachments, but they will have access to all their email at all times.
  2. Gmail has integrated Google Search technology built into the product. No need to create and maintain cumbersome foldering systems. Simply type in a key word and Gmail will find what you are looking for, just like Google on the internet.
  3. Gmail is a completely cloud based service that requires no hardware, system software or application software. It comes with integrated virus and spam filtering technology, so you can get rid of your expensive in house system. Google does all the work on the system so you can redeploy IT personnel to other projects.
  4. Gmail is $50 per user per year. This is 1/10 the expense that you are paying for your tiny email boxes today!!!

Step 4: Show you have a concrete plan

Here is our plan : ( just a sample)

 

  1. Develop some still unfinished enterprise features that could slow adoption in larger accounts.
  2. Be able to quickly deploy these new systems in complex It environments.
  3. Develop a scalable way to train and handle change management
  4. Compete with MSFT who has dominate share, customer install base leverage and financial contracting advantages due to ties with other MSFT products.
  5. Convince the market that the cloud is safe, secure environment for corporate data.

Step 5: Tell them that it will be hard and that you need their help.

The closing pitch went something like this:

This is an important mission that we are on. Email systems touch every employee in a company. It is the primary way companies use to communicate in today’s era. And yet we are using systems architected for the late 1990s. Users are furious with the current state of this important application. Companies are overspending on outdated technology that is inherently insecure and heinously complex. We are the only company that has the product and resources to compete with Microsoft. They have no incentive or ability to significantly improve the status quo. Without our efforts, companies will continue to overspend on systems that drive users crazy by enforcing email storage limits and systems that are a decade old. But we need more help. We especially need help from people like you to help us make this new paradigm a reality. There are still unknown technical and integration hurdles to overcome. Microsoft will not take our entry to the market lying down. Expect them to counterattack very hard, to ridicule our new method and spread fear uncertainty and doubt that the future is a scary place. I could sure use your help over the coming years to maker our vision a reality. If we can pull it off, then I think you and I can both look back on this with significant pride because it is an accomplishment that will have big impact on an application that touches every single employee.

Defending the (Enterprise) Unicorn

The unicorn is under attack. Not a day goes by now where the tech press is not publishing a “Who will be the first dead unicorn” story. Every tech conference contains lots of fireside chats where we opine about the overfunding of late stage companies. We also seem to now be drawing parallels between what we are seeing in 2015 and what we saw in 2000-2001.

 

unicorn

So while everyone is freaking out. I would like to write a defense for some of these unicorns and more specifically for the Enterprise unicorns. But first some caveats. I am not saying that all Enterprise unicorns are all huge winners and I am not saying that some of the Enterprise unicorns are not potentially overvalued. I am also not saying Enterprise tech companies are not immune to dying or being sold for scrap. Indeed, while Webvan and Pets.com were B2C companies and became the poster children for Web 1.0 bubble, There was plenty of Enterprise tech carnage to go around. Remember these names: Ariba, CommerceOne, Epiphany, i2? I don’t need to go on, it is too painful.

So with those caveats, let me lay out 5 reasons why there is no overarching crisis in Enterprise Tech valuations.

1. Enterprise Tech valuations are high, but not as high as B2C tech companies.

The really big private company valuations – the so called decacorns- are Consumer plays. Uber, Xoami, Snapchat, Pinterest, AirbNB, Flipkart all have valuations over $10B. The only pure Enterprise company in the $10B plus club in Palantir. And that is a very special and secretive company. Dropbox is a 50/50 play and valued at $10B.

2. Even if B2B Tech companies are overvalued, a Web 1.0 meltdown won’t happen.

This is is the most interesting thing about the unicorn attack phenomenon. I believe that unlike 2001, Enterprise tech companies are real businesses with great recurring revenue and many happy referenceable customers. In 2001, companies bought a lot of “exchange and procurement “ software from CommerceOne, but few if any every got live and the chance for repeat customers and new customers from references dried up real quick.

If Enterprise unicorns are slightly overvalued, it will not really disrupt their business. The investors, founders and employees will all make a little less money. Even the late stage investors appear to be protected by so called ratchet clauses. So in the end. if valuations are toohigh, I don’t think we have a fundamental problem.

The only risk here is that companies might be raising too much money at high valuations and not moving towards businesses with strong gross margins, acceptable customer acquisition costs and high customer retention rates. But the Enterprise SaaS model is getting well proven and I think highly valued Enterprise tech management teams understand this and are not making the types of mistakes that we saw in the first meltdown.

3. Enterprise Tech SaaS business models are inherently strong and will stand the test of time.

Enterprise SaaS is a great business model.  Contracts are typically annual commitments and renewal rates tend to be quite high. Modern Enterprise SaaS is easier to implement, time to value is quick and enterprise customers are not fickle as consumers. Ie – they don’t change their technology stacks very often. The bottom line is SaaS companies have predictable repeating revenue which makes a great business.

Secondly, gross margins tend to be good. The business is pretty simple. You charge customers  for usage. Your cost to deliver that service tends to be predictable and has high economies of scale. Most Enterprise Saas is multi tenant, so you make the software once, run it in a single or few instances. So at worst , costs scale with revenue, but more likely marginal costs drop as you add customers. That is very good!  Also, they don’t run our their data centers anymore, they run on Amazon or Azure or Salesforce. We don’t have big upfront expenses to get our business going, because we just rent compute and storage.

Customer acquisition costs can be high, but nowhere near the high costs in consumer tech ( see Fanduel or Draftkings). There are now well established models to acquire customers without blowing your bankroll and with proper investment in customer success teams, you can keep and expand customers for a decade. That makes for great margins.

Not only is this model, way better than the on premise model software model, it is much simpler that the B2C tech models that exist. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a advertising model like Google or Facebook, but Consumer Tech business models do not offer the type of predictable revenue and solid margins that Enterprise Tech does.

4.The trend to replace on premise software and hardware is irreversible and we are still early in the cycle in most categories

Enterprise Tech Unicorns are largely SaaS plays replacing or extending functionality provided by  on premise software vendors. The on premise software model is hopelessly broken  In those models, customers pay for a perpetual licenses and then pay about 20% per year in “maintenance fees”. Customers are also heavily incented to pre-buy software and even buy ‘all you eat” licenses. This led to a ton of shelfware, where many,many licenses go unused. The on premise software model was also famous for long expensive implementations, where time to value was measured in decades. The old model was famously inflexible. Even if you got the software implemented in was incredibly difficult to upgrade due to the massive complexity of a traditional on premise software/hardware stack. Lastly, the on premise software model is an incredibly insecure environment where tracking and applying multiple patches to many layers of the software stack lead most companies to have long periods of time where known vulnerabilities remain unpatched.

Enterprise SaaS solves almost all the problems caused by on premise software and with the possible exception of CRM software, most categories are early in adoption/replacement cycle.

5. Almost all traditional Large Enterprise players are not well positioned to compete with Enterprise SaaS.

The new Enterprise unicorns largely compete to replace solutions from Old tech – IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, Cisco and Microsoft. With one notable exception, these companies are not well positioned to compete in SaaS organically. They have typical innovator’s dilemma problems and their size and age makes them less than nimble competitors. They also typically have little large data center, cloud experience and have difficulty attracted the employees with the skill set to compete in the new world.

I must say, Microsoft is the exception here. Their Bing and former Hotmail consumer products gave them some great cloud DNA and they have done a decent job with Office365, Azure and Dynamics. So don’t count them out.

But other than Microsoft, Old Tech is not likely to outcompete Enterprise unicorns. And in fact, their large cash hoard and slow growth rates make them ideal acquirers of Enterprise Unicorns. ( See Eloqua, Taleo, Responsys, SuccesFactors). Stock buybacks can’t buy you top line growth, so stay tuned for a more robust M&A market.

So there you have it. Enterprise Unicorns are in good shape at a macro level. Quit fretting, If you want to worry, go worry that Snapchat’s $16B valuation in a company without a reliable revenue model. Leave the Enterprise Unicorns alone. They will be just fine.

United/Smisek’s Marketing Sucked!

United/Smisek’s Marketing can’t work in a Hyper Connected World

Authenticity is not an option anymore!

friendly skiessmisek1

I have flown Millions of miles on United Airlines. And I can’t say I shed a tear when I heard  Smisek was “stepping down”. I am pretty sure my fellow 1Kers and Global Services passengers were also leading a silent cheer last week.

To be fair, Smisek and all airline CEO’s have a brutally difficult job. It is a tough business and the legacy airlines have tremendous transformation to go on just about every facet of their business.

But I can’t cut Mr. Smisek any slack on the horrific marketing that was pumped out during his tenure. I was a very frequent customer of United (SFO Hub) and the marketing would drive me crazy. Why? Because it was just so phony! Or more politely, inauthentic!

In today’s social/mobile world every consumer is hyper connected. It is not like the old days, where customers and prospects could not engage with one another and advertising and marketing could just decide what positioning and marketing message they wanted. But It today’s world, your brand and marketing message better be “who you are”. You can stretch it a little and brand “who you want to be”, but you better be showing tangible effort that your company is trying to get there quickly.

Bottom Line: In today’s hyper connected world, authenticity is not an option, it is a requirement. Violate the law of authenticity and become an Internet meme!

United’s marketing violated the new laws of marketing authenticity and then didn’t just violate them a little, they were guilty of multiple felonies.

Let’s just discuss two examples

First, United tried to rebrand itself as the “friendly” airline with a return to the Friendly skies campaign from yesteryear.  I am sure this sounded good in the marketing meetings. Customer research surely showed that passengers wanted a friendly experience and United’s competitors were not trying to “own” that positioning or word….so let’s go for it. Unfortunately, it is not 1970, you can’t just broadcast a message on traditional media and pound the message into customers. Customers knew that United was “Not friendly”. A quick examination of the united Twitter feed would have shown that. If you surveyed a 100,000 United customers and did a word association test, I am certain that United would get zero “friendly” responses. In fact, I am pretty sure “hostile” would far outrank anything close to friendly. The company has a long history of labor issues with its unions and every united passenger knows that their flight crew, gate agent and call center person is very unhappy with their job. I make it a point to never complain to United flight crews because I know they are less happy than I am when seated in 34B on EWR to SFO. The advertising was not only ineffective, it was a negative to the brand. It made customers dislike the airline even more.

Second example. It’s a smaller one. But it drove me crazy. When you get on the plane and have to watch the Airline’s promo videos, they were simply the worst. They were wonderfully produced and very high quality, but once again they violated the authenticity rule. They always had very happy United employees talking about the “how they loved working at United”. Really? In millions of miles flown, why had I never met any of these employees. The granddaddy of all inauthenticity was the “London Symphony video”. In that video, Smisek in a great suit, perfectly coiffed hair and a great manicure explained how he had contracted with the London Symphony orchestra to record the United theme song. Talk about tone deaf. The company who is too cash strapped to pay its employees or treat its customers well, is spending money with the London Symphony on the theme song?????!!!!! Worse than that, they actually produced a TV spot showing an orchestra playing in a United plane. The social mobile consumer was quick to point out on the internet that it was highly unlikely that a cello could fit in any of the spaces United alots for seats. And the message of the ad was “every movement carefully planned, coordinated and synchronized” and compared United performance to a finely tuned orchestra! Really? It does not come any less authentic than that. I mean, have you ever see United board a plane? How about just getting the right amount/variety of crappy food on the plane?

New United CEO, Oscar Munoz has a huge task in front of him, I can’t imagine his “fix it list”. Improving the airline’s on time record and customer service will be hard. Fixing the marketing won’t. Just make it authentic!

SCOREBOARD and other reasons I like hiring College Athletes

I counted it up and over the last 30 years, I have hired over 1000 people to work in my organizations. I have learned many lessons. But let me just write about one of those lessons. Hiring college athletes especially those from team sports has been a home run for me. No, I am not talking about hiring “stereotypical dumb jocks or jockettes.” You have to have the mental horsepower to survive in tech. But I am talking about any smart high level athlete:  D1, D2, D3…they all work for me. Also the sport doesn’t really matter:  Football, Baseball, Basketball, Volleyball, Rowing, Water Polo, Rugby, Soccer, Track…it really doesn’t matter.  Why do college team athletes succeed so often in business? Its not what people mostly think. Yes, they are goal driven and often type A personalities….but in my experience that’s not why they succeed.  They succeed because they have three proven traits that I value a lot.

HiRes

Trait #1: They understand a SCOREBOARD!

Athletes “get” that there is ultimately only one measure of success. They  don’t try to make up their own metrics and call it success. They understand that moral victories don’t get you a trophy. SCOREBOARD! Do you have more points than the other team? That is what  matters. They also get that the SCOREBOARD has a CLOCK on it. They understand urgency. We need to have more points than the other team within a specific time period! Yes, we would all like more time and play for the longer term, but the scoreboard doesn’t allow for that. If you don’t have more points than the other team at the end of the allotted time, you get the “L”. Very simple, very clear, no ambiguity.

I am continuously amazed by how many people in business do not understand SCOREBOARD. They bring me beautiful powerpoints outlining products or projects with few success metrics and usually incredibly long “investment periods” before results can be achieved. Are you kidding me?!!! We are not starting a project without a freaking SCOREBOARD and we are certainly not starting a project without an agreement that we have a CLOCK on that SCOREBOARD. I have had very smart business people tell me that annual, quarterly or monthly targets and measurement are an impediment to long term thinking. I cannot count the number of times that a sales team has come to me and said “ We didn’t lose, but we can’t get the deal this month/quarter/year”. Really, thats like a football coach saying we didn’t lose , we just ran out of time. Here’s a newsflash, you LOST. Time has run out.  SCOREBOARD!

Another thing I love about SCOREBOARD oriented employees is that they are not afraid to admit they are losing. Why? They look at the SCOREBOARD! And if they are losing they will try to change something in order to win.

I am constantly amazed by business professionals running business units, products, projects who refuse to admit they are losing. I have sat through Quarterly Business Reviews where everyone is doing great. Nine out of ten slides in every  presentations trumpet their greatness, while one lowly slide is allotted to “challenges or lessons learned”.  Really?!!! How stupid do they think I am?  If every product, project, campaign was going great wouldn’t the scoreboard show that we are 200% of Plan!

An athlete understands SCOREBOARD and will tell me: “This is how we are doing on the original metrics. We are behind in these areas and we are making these changes. We understand that there is a limited time for success and we are acting with urgency”.

Trait #2. They can handle failure.

If they have been an athlete they have failed more than they have succeeded. They have lost, they have been injured and they have been cut. Hell, if they haven’t been cut, they would not be in my office looking for a job. They would be playing pro sports!

Business is predominantly about overcoming failure. Most product launches are not immediate hits, most marketing campaigns miss the mark, NPS scores usually start  low and a 33% win rate in sales is pretty damn common. Success in business comes most often through iteration, through the ability to learn and adapt and the ability to be persistent.

Athletes don’t have to learn this on the job. They have learned it already. You won’t have to pat them on the back and give them a participation medal. They will hate their failure and regroup.

Trait #3. They know how to play their position.

If they have played team sports, then they know that you cannot achieve your goal alone. They understand team dynamics. They have been on teams where they were the superstar and teams where they have been a role player. They understand that there are forwards and defenceman or backs and lineman. They understand that not only do they need to be excellent individually, but they have to be part of a system that works together. They understand that they can’t do everything themselves and they know how to be positive and encouraging with their teammates.

Business is the ultimate team sport. But I have spent a great deal of time officiating disputes between sales and marketing or customer service and product. I have met a great many sales people who think they are great marketers or vice versa. I have met many product people who don’t have team first attitudes. It kills me to listen to one department bitch about the other department. “Our salespeople could not find a dollar in bank vault” or “If our product team was in a 100 yard dash, we would use a calendar to time them”. If you have been an athlete, you have likely seen teams break apart because of bickering and you know that mutual respect, constructive feedback and setting guidelines on how we work together makes for a championship squad!

So there you have it. I am not saying that this is the only hiring profile or that every athlete has these traits, but I am saying it improves your odds. Go Team!

Why I Quit Android!

I have done it. I switched religions.  No, not the Catholicism thing….the Android thing. After SEVEN long years with Android, I bought a iPhone6 Plus on Monday, and turned in my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I went right into the Verizon store and made the switch. I have been talking about it for a long time, but talking and doing are two very different things. But I did it. My legs were a little shaky walking out, but I made it to car without collapsing.

 

For those who know me, you know how big a decision this was. I have been an Android advocate since the beginning. I worked at Google when Android was born. I have owned approximately 10 Android Phones and probably trialed another twenty. I have used about 10 different types of Android tablets and 2 Android smartwatches. Hell, I even owned a Motorola based Android laptop device. I have been a committed member of the Church of Android and worshipped at the altar of Andy Rubin. I loudly trumpeted the Android gospel and extolled its benefits from the mountaintop. Not only that, I criticized and belittled the iPhone for its lack of customizability, its originally poor implementations of Google applications, its crappy maps and for its teeny, tiny size.

 

But I can stand it no more. Since the introduction of the iPhone6, I have been secretly harboring the desire to make the switch. But I couldn’t do it. Its not easy for a preacher to change churches. And this fall, I gave Android one more chance, I got new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with a new version of Android and bought a Moto360 watch. It was a bad decision. A disaster in fact…so in a nutshell here is why I switched away from Android

 

The iPhone6 is a really great phone

  • It finally has the size I need in a phone. No more squinting at a tiny screen and a phablet that equals or betters Android.
  • The camera is just freaking great. Takes better pictures than any Android phone. SLO-MO video is unbelievable.
  • Best Apps Ecosystem in the world. Cutting edge apps come out first on iOS. Don’t believe me…how about Periscope and Meerkat?.
  • Fingerprint thing unlocks the phone quickly. Samsung fingerprint scanner is the definition of lame.

 

Samsung Phones are really starting to suck

  • TouchWiz is just a piece of garbage. Still lots of bugs. Widgets sometimes just disappear and apps sometimes just drop off the menu screens.
  • I was having tons of application crashes- Like 20 a day. This may not be all Android’s fault. I think application makers test their iOS apps more.
  • The camera is just not that good.
  • I was having serious battery problems after only 6 months with the phone.

 

The battle of the watches is not close

  • I had the Moto360. This has been widely rated as the best Android watch, but it is really not very good. The notifications vibration is barely noticeable and thats a problem.One of the main killer apps for a smartwatch is notifications. But if you miss the notifications, why not have a TIMEX.  Also, Google Fit is well…..as one review charitably put it: “it is not yet a finished product.”
  • The Apple Watch is not yet a perfect product, but it is a generation ahead of any Android watch. Notifications actually notify you and implementation is pretty elegant. Apple Health is pretty good and my step count is one tap away. You can actually use it for simple texting, not so with Moto360. Lastly, it just looks better.

 

I could not think of a reason to NOT switch

  • I used to stay on Android because the Google Apps like Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Google Now worked great on Android and were not very functional on iOS. Now only the imperfect Google Now is a differentiator.
  • I stayed on Android  because Google Maps with turn by turn direction and all the Maps goodies were only available on Android. Google Maps now available on iOS and Apple Maps catching up.
  • I stayed on Android because it had better form factor choices. Not anymore!
  • I stayed on Android because it was more customizable. And while that is still true…I don’t have all day to install custom launchers.

 

In the end I ran out of reasons to stay, I became upset with Samsung’s latest devices and frankly I started to envy the very iPhone users that I once pitied!

 

So….I switched religions. Better to switch than stubbornly stay with the Samsung/Andorid partnership that is currently struggling. I will keep you posted on how it goes and while I am now an iPhone person, I am keeping the Andy Rubin statue that I put in the Lock Koi pond.