Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites

Fall: hands-down my all-time favorite season.

What’s so great about fall in Seattle?

Here is my personal list of five local fall favorites to kickoff your season.

running 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 5)  Running.  Is there anything better than running in the crisp fall air with leaves crunching beneath your feet?  A few events I look forward to in the fall: The Seattle Marathon,   The Poultry Predictor Race trail run in Redmond, and the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon/Half-Marathon.

 

pump 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 4) Craven’s Corn Maze.  The Craven Farm is a must-visit fall activity.  They have great pumpkins, and their Corn Maze (especially the night time maze) has been a staple in my fall traditions for ten years and counting.
 
 
okt 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 3)  Oktoberfest.  Whether it’s making the well-worth-it drive up to the magical Bavarian town of Leavenworth, cashing in tokens at the Fremont Oktoberfest, or drinking a seasonal brew…I love celebrating Oktoberfest.

 
cupcake 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 2)  The Pumpkin Maple Cupcake at Cupcake Royale.  I almost planned my wedding around this limited-edition seasonal favorite.  The pumpkin puree is not from a can – it’s fresh and special ordered months in advance from Stahlbush Island Farms in Oregon.  AND topped with maple frosting? Yum!  When this cupcake is available, I start to put on my “winter weight.”  Yes, it’s that good.

seahawks 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 1) Football!  Winter, spring, summer, FOOTBALL.  It’s football season!  The most integral part of my fall is football.  Tailgating and attending games at Husky Stadium, and cheering on the Hawks on Sundays.  What else do people in Seattle do on the weekends?  #GoDawgs #GoHawks

 

What’s on your top five list?

Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy

e2s panelist cracking up 400x266 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With EmpathyFive years ago when taking an HR survey, PR and marketing executive Shauna Causey discovered that she was in the 100th percentile for empathy.  And it freaked her out.  But five years later, Shauna, along with Don Gerould of Cogent Equity, Sandeep Phadke of Airlift, and senior technology exec Brad Carpenter, was a panelist at thinkspace’s Emerge from Corporate to Startup event, and she had this to say:

“What I can do a good job of is putting myself in the customer view.  I just am obsessed with what the customer wants.”

Later in the evening, the panel was asked, “How important are sales skills for a startup founder?”  Sales are key for any startup founder.  Event moderator and CEO & founder of thinkspace Peter Chee made the point:

“My personal feeling is that if you are adverse to sales and you don’t want to do sales, you probably shouldn’t be a startup founder.”

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are adverse to sales in the traditional sense.  It conjures up images of used cars salesmen and pushy telemarketers.   Shauna touched on that point, but also circled back to her customer-centric viewpoint from earlier in the e2s audience emotion 400x266 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathynight.

“I feel like ‘sales’ is sort of a bad word to me, because I don’t ever want to be ‘salesy.’  But simplifying what the customer needs, and the communication side, I think is so valuable.”

So, as a startup founder, how can you reconcile this idea that “sales” is a bad word with the fact that it’s a huge part of what it takes to make your startup successful?   Maybe we can start by reinterpreting the act of selling itself. What happens if we approach our sales from a place of empathy?  See things from our customer’s viewpoint? Relate to them and really figure out what they need?  You can create a symbiotic relationship, where you are not coming from a place of asking for something, you are offering something that can really help your customers.  You are creating connections.  You are creating true value.  And, as Don Gerould responded to Shauna:

“That’s exactly what a good salesperson does, by the way.  If you’re something other than that, and you think you’re good at sales, then you’re not very self aware.”

Video clip from the event:

Handouts from the event:
1) Questions to ask before you quit your job and join a startup.
2) Recruiting Services provided by thinkspace.

e2s audience front view smiling 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s audience smiling 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s don shauna sandeep 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s eddie crowd lobby 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s kate jamie registration desk 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s panelist peter sandeep shauna don 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s peter sandeep laughing 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s shauna causey 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy

Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

emerge from corporate to startup 380 Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupTwice in my career I have left corporate jobs for startups. The first time I left was because I wanted to be in an innovative work environment where we would be inventing and creating technology that never existed. I tasted what it was like to work in a fast moving amazing technology company. I felt alive and the energy from my team was amazing. Before joining the startup here are the questions I asked myself:

Questions I Asked:

  • How much money was being raised through venture capital?
  • What was the burn rate?
  • How much equity would I be getting? How many total shares were there?
  • Do I believe in the CEO’s vision for where the company is going?

In hindsight where these good questions?

  • We raised $21M.
  • We burned through that money in less than 12 months. You’d think $21M would last a long time. It doesn’t when you’re hiring like crazy. I was one of the first few hires and we ended up hiring 90 people at our peak. Hiring and growing can mask how a company is really doing. From the outside it looks like you’re successful. The burn rate was out of control.
  • I got a ton of stock options. Worthless if the company doesn’t survive. The initial job offer had two options A) Higher pay, lower stock options. B) Lower pay, high stock options. I counter offered and asked for option C) Higher pay, higher stock options. If you think you’re worth it, ask for it.
  • I met and believed in the founder and CEO, I drank the Kool-Aid. I was in the inner circle.

Today I would ask a different set of questions:

  • Would I personally invest in this startup?

Joining a startup is akin to investing in a startup. You’re about to put a ton of your time into building up this startup. You’re investing more than what an investor is putting in. This question leads to more questions such as market potential, addressable market size, competitive landscape, founders’ backgrounds, customer validation, etc. If I wasn’t ready to invest money into the startup, I would’t want to go work there.

  • What are the credentials of the founding team?

If I don’t believe in the people that started the company, there’s no way I would go work for them. This is actually more important to me than what the startup actually does. Startup will shift direction and for lack of a better word, pivot. There are people that I would work for where I don’t care what the idea is, I would just join them because I believe in them.

  • What are the core values of the company? Do my core values align with those of the founders?

This question is more important to me than ever. If we don’t align here there’s no way I could go work for that startup. Startup pressure is so intense and when the founders are facing the darkest moment only their core values will stand the test. Who are they when they hit the wall. Is that something you want to be associated with. Is that something that you will be proud of their decision making. If not, don’t even bother working for them.

  • What kind of work culture do I want to work in?

You will be spending most of your day with the people in this startup. What’s the culture like? I want to enjoy working with the people I’m around all day long and the work environment. I personally want to work with people that have a goal crushing attitude, love to serve their coworkers and customers, and are always learning. We all have a choice in what type of work culture we want to be in.

  • Will this be a demanding, learning environment?

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I want to work really hard, that the only thing I know how to do. I also know that I have a ton more to learn. If I’m not in an environment where I’m always learning, I don’t want to be there.

What are some questions that you would ask?

If you’re looking to make the jump from corporate to startup and have questions like these, you should attend our event “Emerge from Corporate to Startup” on August 14, 2014 at 6pm.

 

Agenda:

6:00 – 6:30pm – Networking (Meet some startups who are hiring!) / Pizza and Drinks
6:30 – 7:10pm – Session 1: Emerging as a startup founder or co-founder / QA
7:15 – 8:00pm – Session 2: Emerging as an early stage startup employee / QA

bradcarpenternewline150 Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupBrad Carpenter  @bradcarpenter

Brad worked for Microsoft for over 20 years — he was a GM worked on Surface v 1.0 as well as managed the Keyboard Mouse Device Division. Brad has also been involved with multiple startups as CEO. He is also an angel investor and part of the Seattle Angel Conference board.

dongerould Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

Don Gerould @dgerould

Don’s corporate life was spent at Citysearch and as a Senior Manager with Sales Operations at Amazon. Don’s last company was the Surf City Marathon. Don started his current company Cogent Equity more than 12 years ago and provides services including exit strategy planning and capital fundraising.

3ca77bb Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupSandeep Phadke @viaairlift

Sandeep was responsible for the Kindle rending engine at Amazon. Sandeep also worked for many years at Microsoft. Sandeep quit working for big corporate companies for life changing personal reasons. He is on his first pivot and now joining forces with another Seattle startup!

shaunacausey Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

Shauna Causey @shaunacausey

Shauna started her career in Marketing and PR working for the Seattle Mariners, Q13, Comcast, Nordstrom and has worked at a handful of startups like Ants Eye View (acquired by Price Water Coopers), Decide.com (acquired by Ebay), and UP Global (aka Startup Weekend). Mentor and advisor for startups.

Pass the veggies, please.

I recently watched the documentary, “Forks Over Knives.”
The premise for the documentary:

“What has happened to us?  Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.  Two out of every three of us are overweight.  Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population.  About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug.  Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels.  Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to ‘battle’ these very conditions.  Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.  Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems?  A solution so comprehensive, but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?”

Fruits and Vegetables 400x268 Pass the veggies, please.  “Forks Over Knives” makes the argument that most – if not all – of what makes us “sicker than ever” can be addressed (and in some cases reversed!) by cutting out our menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The researchers (two doctors: Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) featured in the film call for a plant-based diet.

Now, hold up.  Plant-based?  That sounds super strict right?

What about my juicy grilled steak?  What about having goat cheese on my salad?
A “plant-based diet” would say to replace the steak with grilled eggplant and the goat cheese with some kind of legume.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally for plant-based foods.  I just don’t know if I can commit solely to plants just yet…

But despite my inability to instantly implement a plant-based diet…I can’t stop thinking about what was presented in this documentary.

Since watching it, I’ve changed my intake.  It’s caused me to stop and ask questions like:

“Do I really need that much cream in my coffee?”  (yes, yes I do)

“Do I really need to eat some sort of meat for dinner five nights a week?  (no, no I don’t)

“Forks Over Knives”  was powerful for me to watch because of two primary reasons:
1) my family history, and
2) my current context.
My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, so unless I want to be a part of the family-history-sickness-legacy, I need to take my health seriously.  And change the patterns.
My current context is working as a Chaplain in a hospital, where I see the effects of how we treat our bodies on a daily basis.  Not a day goes by that I don’t encounter sickness and death caused by poor health choices.

So…pass the veggies, please.  And keep ‘em coming.  If plant-based foods can help reverse the patterns of health our country is facing, then sign me up.  I’ll try my best to keep the cupcakes and hotdogs to a minimum (really, I will!).

I invite you to journey with me in this conversation.  Let me know your immediate feedback, or watch the film – it’s on Netflix – and let me know if you agree/disagree.  See you in the comments section!

Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.

comparison Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.We compare all the time and in all sorts of ways.  I compare my startup to another startup.  I compare my marriage to another’s marriage.  I compare my car to another’s car.  I compare my _______ to another’s _______.  It’s an endless cycle.

There are two types of comparison – comparing “upward” and comparing “downward.”  Upward comparison is when you beat yourself up by thinking other’s lives/businesses/bodies/kids/cars/houses/etc are better than yours.  Downward comparison (keeping those same things in mind) says “I am better.”

Both types of comparison work the opposite way you want them to.  Comparing upward doesn’t automatically get you what you want. More often than not, it creates an entitlement mindset that leaves you ungrateful for what you currently have.  Comparing downward uses the limitations of others to feel better about yourself.  Which is a shallow way to feel good.

Though comparison is a way to gauge how we measure up to others, it doesn’t always help you accomplish your goals.  Unless you compare yourself to yourself.  If you want to grow your company – compare where you are at the of the first quarter to where land at the end of the second quarter.  If you want to run a faster mile, compare your time at the beginning of the month with your time at the end of the month.  Comparing your company’s growth with another company’s growth, or your body’s performance with another body’s performance, isn’t fair and isn’t accurate.  And that type of comparison will end in one of two ways: with insecurity (upward comparison) or an over-inflated sense of self (downward comparison).

Our 26th President of the United States sums it up well:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

The Power of Positive Constraints

lee lefever autograph 400x225 The Power of Positive ConstraintsIn his CreativeMornings presentation in Seattle this morning, Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation, broached the subject of constraints.   Constraints generally have a negative connotation.  For champions of free thinking and unbridled creativity, constraints appear to be the things holding you back, the things keeping your imagination in check.  But constraints can also be incredibly liberating.  In the context of Lee LeFever’s presentation, this set of constraints helped to shape the direction of his company and its product.  But what if we apply this same process to our day-to-day lives?

It is okay to make your happiness a priority.  And sometimes, this means saying, “No.”  A set of constraints can be a set of rules to live by.  It can be a set of goals and values.  Defining what will make you happy allows you to say, “No” to the things that will diminish that happiness.  It’s not about holding yourself back, it’s about having a set of guidelines to create accountability, a set of guidelines that will directly contribute to your happiness.  Happiness is made up of a series of choices, of thousands of micro decisions over time.  In creating positive constraints, you can create freedom.  You develop the power to say, “No.”  You optimize for happiness.

Managing to Milestones & #JFDI Recap

The Redmond thinkspace office had its first Acceleration Services event to talk about the importance of project management. The event was held on Friday, May 30th with panelists Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner; Trent Scott, CEO of Rainleader and Director of Sales and Marketing at Mouseflow; and Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace. Josh Anderson, CEO of One into Many, was our moderator.

Notable take-aways and tweets from the people that were there!

  • Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing (@HeinzMarketingtweeted, “The iron triangle of project management: Budget, scope and quality.@lizprc @thinkspace
  • “Figuring out how to prioritize importance: As the CEO, what can be done by you, by someone else, or not at all? Also, make dates to set deadlines.” – Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner
  • “A project is always evolving and in the beginning you may not know solid details.”  - Mieka Miller, Acceleration Services Director at thinkspace

Benefits of a Project Manager (PM)

“The benefits of having a project manager (PM) on your team are ten-fold.  A PM can help you identify what constitutes a project, help you define your objectives and overall goals. They will hold team members accountable for their project roles and responsibilities. A PM will also keep the project within budget, on time and ultimately deliver what the customer wants!” - Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace.

The difference between helping, fixing, and serving.

This summer, I am participating in a continuing education program at a hospital.  The program is called Clinical Pastoral Education (or CPE), and through the program I have the opportunity to serve as one of five chaplain interns.

During our first week, we had numerous orientations, seminars and trainings.  This on-boarding was likened to a fire hose (meaning we were receiving more information than we could take in).  However, one thing I did retain during that first week was discussing the difference between helping, fixing and serving.

As a chaplain, I am learning that my role is one of service.  I am not there to help or to fix anyone.  This goes against my desire to help and fix a situation when something is wrong.  But when I am meeting with patients, the reality is that I cannot help their suffering anymore than I can fix their ailments.  I am learning that just being present with people – a “ministry of presence” – is sometimes the only thing I can do.  And the only thing that is needed.

An article by Rachel Naomi Remen has been incredibly useful in distinguishing my role as a chaplain intern.  She writes:

“Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between two equals.  When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength….When I fix a person I perceive them as broken.  Fixing is a form of judgment…Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe…[Therefore,] when you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken.  When you serve, you see life as whole.”

Understanding my posture as a chaplain is also informing the way that I interact with my colleagues, friends and family.  I appreciate it more when others listen and understand me (serve), instead of quickly try to remedy my problem (fix) or think that they know what’s best for me (help).  Adopting this service-mindset initiates more relationship in a non-condescending and genuine way.

This is definitely a new way of thinking for me – so I appreciate any comments/feedback as well as critique/pushback!  See you in the comments :)

What Would I Tell Young Me?

At the EO Accelerator Mixer earlier this week we were fortunate to have Michael Brown, CEO of Affirma, speak to a room full of leading entrepreneurs and share what advice he would tell his younger self. Michael is a seasoned entrepreneur and his company is a PSBJ Fastest Growing Company winner for the last four consecutive years, INC 5000 fastest growing company, and Best Place to Work for three years. Michael has bootstrapped his company to over 110+ employees. Here’s what he would tell himself:

“Young me, bad advice has ramifications only to you, your family and your team.  Find advisors that have successfully been where you are going and get right sized advice.” – Old me

“Young me, Don’t Party with Employees” - Old me

“Young me, a niche service focus can keep you small.” - Old me

“6 months ago me, Business is Personal, Don’t Hire Your Neighbors, BBQs will get weird” - Old me

“Young me, people make perfect sense if you understand the emotions driving their decisions” - Old me

“Young me, bad advice has ramifications only to you, your family and your team. Find advisors that have successfully been where you are going and get right sized advice.” - Old me

“Young me, shamelessly plug your solutions and services” - Old me

What are some of the things that you would tell your younger entrepreneurial self? If you are interested in joining the EO Accelerator check out the following information:

Apply for the EO Accelerator: Email me or fill out this form.

Requirements:

  • Company that can scale and grow to $1M and beyond (see the infographic)
  • $250K in revenue or $250K in funding
  • Founder of CEO

Program starts: July 2014 thru June 2015 Time commitment: Once a month for 3 hours you will participate in Forum with same stage entrepreneurs. One day per quarter you will participate in Quarterly Learning Day which focuses on: Strategy (building your $1M plan); Financing and Funding; People and Culture, Sales and Marketing. Access to EO Mentors (ad hoc, connect with experienced entrepreneurs when you need them!).

The big ‘fat’ launch

The Big fat lunch1 293x300 The big fat launch

Entrepreneurs know what it’s like to be in an environment that changes everyday, and sometimes every minute. To launch a product or service within your budget and on time can feel daunting. Then again, when has a daunting task deterred an entrepreneur?

What to Expect During a Launch:

Change is the only constant when it comes to the launch process. The team needs to be prepared to deal with ambiguity that cannot be predicted by even the best data. As the plan starts taking shape, a clear picture emerges, and that is when a roll out action strategy is created. The key to a successful launch lies in the way the launch manager tracks this roll out plan: meeting deadlines; staying within budget; seeing issues before they become problems; and changing tracks as needed.  In other words, ensuring that the entire process is seamless.
 Now that we know what to expect, what are the three things that must be done in order to have a successful launch?

Don’t assume you know everything about your audience:

In our frenzy to be unique and with the passionate belief that our product and service is going to change the face of the market, we tend to make assumptions about our target audience. This can hamper the success of the product. Know your customers — their likes, dislikes, needs.  Most importantly, know how your product will change their lives. Do not spend too much time analyzing the demographics data; try to understand their mindsets.  What drives them and does your product have the potential to be in the front of their minds?

Create the buzz:

For a typical launch, invites are sent a week before, but entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to launch their product via this traditional route. Before the launch, start having conversations with your community and your peers. Start utilizing social media to create excitement without putting a huge dent on your resources. By using the power of leverage you can get the word out faster, build your customer base more quickly and generate more revenue. Consider for a moment the employees, friends, family, customers, partners, investors, press and associations that you can reach out to – the people that can influence the success of your product launch. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. One person talks to another, who will in turn talk to others and the word will spread. Give your audience something to talk about.

Post launch sustenance is more important than the launch itself: 

Once the product or service is launched, the team needs to work harder and faster to deliver results. Ensure that you answer all of your team’s questions. Organize your team in such a way that every query or problem is answered within one business day. Be open to criticism; not everybody may like what you have launched. Take it in stride and see if you can incorporate the feedback to make your product or service better.

Launching a product or service is not easy, but a calm mind coupled with someone on your team to drive accountability for the project can get you closer to the ‘dream’ launch that we each envision for our products and services!

Ready to launch your next project?

Not sure where to begin? Do you know what tools to use? How fast it needs to get done? Who your audience is? Join us Friday, May 30th at thinkspace in Redmond. We will meet at 12:00 pm to discuss the launch manager services that we offer here at thinkspace. Our panel of experts has insight and knowledge you will need to get your project management on track!

To join the event, click here.