Tag Archives: Started

Here's What Happened When I Started Running My Life Like a Business
February 13, 2018 6:23 pm|Comments (0)

I wear the same thing every day. My banking is 100% automated. Once a year, I go to Costco and stock up on an entire year’s worth of essentials. My wife thinks I’m a little OCD (and you probably do too!) … but I firmly believe systematizing my life has made me more successful.

I run my life the same way I run my company: with streamlined systems and processes to guarantee success. You can’t go in blind and expect to land in the right place; you need to be planful, create a vision, and establish actionable ways to achieve your goals. It’s not for everyone, but I believe we all can benefit from implementing systems into our day-to-day lives.

There’s a System For That

Entrepreneurs spend so much time building out processes to keep their business running like a well-oiled machine. These systems are the nuts and bolts of everything the business does; without them, the whole thing would fall apart.

Few of us apply the same mentality to our personal lives. Most people are insanely busy all the time — myself included. I run four companies, I have three kids, and I value my personal time, too. The more tasks I can systematize, the more time I have to focus on everything that matters.

Take packing, for example. Most people make a new list every time they pack, but that’s just not efficient: not only are you wasting time on a repetitive task, you also run the risk of forgetting something. I travel a lot so I have a ready-made list that I use every time. This way, I don’t have to overthink it and the process is more efficient. Systematizing my life is about being purposeful with my time and never wasting a minute.

Systems Are Reliable — and Fixable

I’ve always believed in Michael Gerber’s sentiment, “People don’t fail, systems do.” Systems are meant to function cohesively and to set you up for success; if something goes wrong, it can almost always be traced back to a glitch somewhere.

I schedule my working days down to the minute — from the moment I wake up to when I go to sleep. This allows me to maximize my time so there’s never a second wasted, not even my commute: my assistant schedules all my phone calls for when I’m driving, so I can be just as productive enroute as I am in-office. (Don’t worry, I’m always hands free!). If I tried to squeeze calls into my office hours, I’d never get anything done.

It comes down to your mindset: when you start looking at each aspect of your life as a distinct system, it becomes easier to identify, address and streamline for the future.

A Systematized Life is a Simplified Life

Over the years I’ve learned that the less complicated the system, the more likely it is to work. That’s why our systems for our businesses are incredibly simple — as in, they fit on one page. Anyone who reads our operations manual can run a successful franchise. I apply this same philosophy to my life.

How’s this for a simple system: I wear the same jeans, T-shirt and Chucks almost every day. It’s my way of removing an unnecessary step from my life. The less time I waste on decisions like what to wear, the more time I have for more important things like my family and the business.

Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist, but inefficiency is one of my biggest pet peeves. I swear it’s not just an oddball quirk; being efficient lets you spend less time working and more time living. After all, a simple life is a happier life.

Tech

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Why This CEO Started a Secret Company to Compete with His Existing One
February 10, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Eighteen months ago, FreshBooks CEO Mike McDerment did something that might blow your mind. In secrecy, he started a brand new company to compete with his existing one.

Finding Space to Experiment.

In my recent interview with McDerment, he described a moment in the winter of 2013 when he had been feeling uneasy about the steady growth of his business. Freshbooks, which had long been the darling of the DIY bookkeeping industry, needed to keep innovating to remain competitive.

The reality, which McDerment recognized, is that software products, by their very nature, are malleable and constantly changing. In today’s business landscape, consumers expect products to be constantly improving.

But how do you make major changes in a way that does not disrupt existing users? Especially when their livelihood depends on your product?

How does a company allow for the exploration required for innovation without screwing up what it’s already getting right?

McDerment asked himself these questions. And he believes he’d found the answer by rolling out an updated product, but not under the FreshBooks brand.

And so, he started BillSpring.  

Newcomer BillSpring could market its product as “in development,” thereby creating the space for experimentation and attracting new users with its updated design.

Sure, this strategy is logical, but it’s jarringly unconventional. However, McDerment says Freshbooks has sought to establish a culture of putting people at the center of every decision, so for him, it was an obvious move.

Being Human-Centered.

FreshBooks took the coveted first place spot in the highly competitive Great Places to Work survey. The secret sauce, according to McDerment, is the company’s ability to embody a human-centric approach to all facets of the business: from product development, to hiring and training.

Employees aren’t the only people who matter when it comes to making decisions at FreshBooks. Customers are in constant focus–a concept McDerment calls customer proximity.

To make sure that all team members understand customers, all newly hired employees spend a month in customer service. And this pitstop in customer service occurs without exception, not even for the new CFO, who had taken three companies public. Despite not having any customer-facing interactions, he too spent 30 days getting to know customers on the front lines of customer service.

As a result of this mentality, the company is hyper-sensitive to customer satisfaction. So in retrospect, the decision to create a completely separate brand is no surprise. In fact, it’s a considerate way of introducing change.

A Considerate Approach to Introducing Change.

Whether change is as simple as a minor feature update or something as significant as starting a whole new company to compete with, the consideration of the impact on all people involved should always remain at the forefront.

It’s not just what Freshbooks values, but as so many companies have proven, it’s just good business. 

Eighteen months after the experiment, Billspring had shown improvements in business performance and customer satisfaction, exceeded those of Freshbooks. At this point, McDerment finally decided it was time to come out of hiding, dissolving the Billspring brand and merging the products back under Freshbooks. 

“When we launched we didn’t want our users to worry. So if they said ‘you know what? It’s great but not right for me’ then they could return to Freshbooks classic,” McDerment says. “We did everything in our power to not destabilize our users’ business, and so the vast majority of people recognized that and chose the new version when they had the chance.” 

The Takeaway: Create the Conditions for Innovation.

The extreme stealth-mode approach may not be the right answer for other companies looking to navigate change and growth, but creating the conditions for change and growth is–for the organization and, more importantly, the real people they serve.

Despite the radical time and cost investment, McDerment stands by his 18-month experiment to deliver positive outcomes for its employees and customers. Ultimately, affording the freedom of time and space is what has enabled the award-winning success that the company enjoys today.

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , ,
KFC Just Started Letting Customers Pay In a Way That Could Change Everything
September 4, 2017 3:43 am|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek

Many traditional fast food restaurants are slowly being left behind.

It’s not that customers don’t crave their greasy goodness.

It’s that many fast food restaurant brands feel a touch old-fashioned and new rivals have come along, offering a heady recipe of a more exciting brand and better food.

This has led the likes of McDonald’s to experiment with, for example, touchscreen ordering.

Never, though, has one of the monolithic fast food brands tried what this KFC is doing.

As the South China Morning Post reports, a KFC-owned restaurant called KPRO — an oddly healthy place that serves salads, panini and fresh juice — is allowing customers to pay with a smile.

I tried getting away with something similar in one or two restaurants during my teens. It didn’t work well, as the owners quickly demanded, well, money. Or else.

Here, though, you walk up to a large screen. You use a touchscreen to select the very healthy food you’d like to quickly consume.

Then you click on the Smile To Pay feature.

It uses facial recognition to decide who you are.

Then it asks you to enter your phone number, for a little extra authentication.

This could be a little awkward if there are people standing behind you.

Don’t these technologists care about privacy? Oh, you know the answer to that one.

Once you’ve ordered, you go and sit down and your food is magically delivered by someone who, one hopes, doesn’t say: “We know where you live.”

KFC worked with Ant Financial, part of the vast Alibaba Group, to create this system, one that will surely make people feel so very modern.

Some might look at the video and think that all this button-pushing and pausing to take a picture isn’t all that fast.

It’s also gloriously impersonal.

Then again, isn’t that what technology would prefer we become? A face and a phone number, rather than, say, a living, breathing, purse-bearing, picky-eating human.

From finger-lickin’ good to face-bearin’ payin’.

This is progress.

Tech

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Hugh Jackman Didn’t Know Wolverines Were Real Animals Until After He Started Shooting X-Men
June 16, 2017 6:10 am|Comments (0)

We hear stories about actors being cast as superheroes who have never picked up a comic book all the time, but Hugh Jackman took this a step further when he showed up for his Wolverine audition back in the late ‘90s for the first X-Men movie. He didn’t even know wolverines existed—and he found out in the most…

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U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil Started Out ‘As Underachieving As You Can Get’
October 9, 2016 10:20 am|Comments (0)

How can someone who has underachieved for years change their course and exceed their potential? This question was originally answered on Quora by DJ Patil.


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