Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Family Office - Empowering Family Dynasties!

10 money lessons from professional athletes worth millions

10 money lessons from professional athletes worth millions | Competitive Edge |

It’s far from guaranteed that rich athletes stay rich, which means there’s a lot to learn from these 10 standouts handle their money.

As Steph Curry and LeBron James duke it out in the NBA finals, there can only be one winner. Actually, scratch that. They both win…in their bank accounts. That might sound obvious—Curry is reportedly worth $27 million and James, $223 million—but it’s not.

There are plenty of examples of stars making millions and squandering it all: Mike Tyson, for one, famously declared bankruptcy after earning $400 million. Vin Baker earned $100 million playing basketball, and was last seen working at a Starbucks. And by one estimate, nearly 80 percent of former NFL players end up in dire financial straits two years after retirement.

So it’s far from guaranteed that rich athletes stay rich, which means there’s a lot to learn from how financially savvy pros like these 10 standouts handle their money. Read more: click image or title.



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Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great stories to learn from, some of those guys are smart and very modest.

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What I Learned From The Very Rich

What I Learned From The Very Rich | Competitive Edge |

In my travels I've met several billionaires; interestingly, two were not yet that successful but later became so; none would remember me, but I certainly remember them. In my first career, I was a geologist, and I met all three billionaires while I was in the oil and gas business. What is interesting to me is that two of them were not yet billionaires when I met them. The first encounter was with Australian businessman Robert Holmes a' Court, whose company Bell Resources had bought the East Coast (Westport, Connecticut) international E&P company called Weeks Petroleum back in 1983. But since Weeks Petroleum was in the middle of buying the public company I worked for, Energy Minerals Corporation (Denver, Colorado), I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Holmes a' Court. In fact, since I was the Chief Geologist at Energy Minerals, and a triple board meeting was scheduled, I was asked to lead a field trip along the edges of the Denver Basin to give the Aussies and the Weeks Petroleum people an introduction to some of the oil and gas plays Energy Minerals was involved with at the time. This turned into quite an affair, with all of us packed on a bus and driving up and down the Front Range, stopping to look at outcrops that told the story of oil in the Denver Basin. I briefly spoke with the big guy on that trip, but later I saw how things worked in his world.

 Read more: click image or title.



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Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent article filled with wisdom for situations when choosing investments, investing in companies, deciding on important business deals and going through essential #negotiations.

Roberto Voltolina's curator insight, March 22, 4:06 AM
Le persone/aziende di successo non lo raggiungono per caso. Storia interessante da leggere che contiene tre piccole "lezioni": 

1) Lessons I took away from this experience included the tremendous attention to detail brought to bear by Mr. Holmes a' Court and his team, their wisdom in only keeping people on staff who actually added to the bottom line, and their clear vision and decisiveness in determining whether a course of action moved the ball forward or merely kept everyone busy. 

2) Lessons I took away from this encounter that I use as an investor include looking for company leaders who are strong contributors to the life of their communities, who have a curiosity about how things work, who are innovative, and who are open to the concept of life-long learning for leaders within the firm.

3) Lessons I learned from this encounter that I use in evaluating stocks include tolerating big thinkers who are aggressive but remembering that aggressive risk takers can get into trouble once in a while. This tends to make me see companies that are big risk-takers as trades, not investments; or at least as investments that need to be watched carefully.
Cheyenne Hernandez's curator insight, March 23, 8:08 AM

Through all of these people, he was able to learn at least one thing from each person. Although none of these people specially remember him by name, he was able to take better skills from them to make him a better. He worked his way to be a better speaker, and which it allowed him to get more people to draw their attention to him. 


In my opinion, everyone has to start somewhere. You may not start right at the top, you have to work your way to the top. Your achievements depend on how hard you're willing to work. 

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4 ways to turn your chaotic startup into a well-oiled machine

4 ways to turn your chaotic startup into a well-oiled machine | Competitive Edge |
Tips, tricks and platforms to keep your company organized.

Regardless of industry, product, or service, running a startup is a complex endeavor. Though startup failure rates vary by industry, the general consensus is that about nine out of every 10 will fail – and poor management the primary reason. To succeed, organization is a must and requires that everyone is on the same page.

A survey from 2014 showed that fifty-four percent of American employees felt frustrated about work and “40 percent say they don’t understand the company’s vision or have never seen it.

“A structured foundation supports any fast changes your startup is subject to as you rapidly expand. Organization allows for greater flexibility, something that many fast-growing startups need to embrace if they want to be a top competitor,” said Phil Tadros, the Founder and CEO of Doejo, an innovation studio for brands.

With the use of centralized solutions, startups can create an organizational system that keeps all the data they need within easy access and helps the entire company avoid a sense of collective confusion. Read more: click image or title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#Management tools come in handy when organizing complex situations like #startups.

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God’s New Bankers

God’s New Bankers | Competitive Edge |
Pope Francis has brought in outsiders to clean up the Vatican’s finances—risking a confrontation with the powerful Curia that governs the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis listens attentively at the front of the packed lecture hall, a one-man island of white amid a sea of cardinals in black cassocks and scarlet zucchettos, or skullcaps. The pope and these “princes” of the Roman Catholic Church have gathered in Vatican City’s Synod Hall, a modern glass and steel building steps from the Renaissance-era St. Peter’s Basilica, to get an update on the financial health of the Holy See.

In any other setting, the scene would have been unremarkable: PowerPoint presentations, charts, graphs. But the Vatican has until recently regarded its finances as so sensitive that its full accounts were known only to the pope and his closest aides. The Feb. 13 briefing, says Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, was the first time the Consistory of Cardinals had ever received such a detailed look at the books. Equally groundbreaking, the presenters included lay experts, not just clergy. And some of them spoke in English, the language of commerce, not in one of the Vatican’s two recognized tongues: Italian and Latin. Read more: click on image or title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Managing your organization's finances needs clear and well structured accounting. Even the catholic church has found out about that. Pope Francis is tearing down old structures.

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Startup Advice: Stay Alive - A Guy Who Sold His Startup For $200 Million Has Simple Advice For Founders - Business Insider

Startup Advice: Stay Alive - A Guy Who Sold His Startup For $200 Million Has Simple Advice For Founders - Business Insider | Competitive Edge |
Stay alive.

What's the number-one reason startups fail?

Some studies find it's a lack of product fit. Others say it's because companies run out of cash.

But a common reason startups fail is because the founder doesn't want to run it any more, and he or she decides to quit.

Bryan Goldberg cofounded Bleacher Report and sold it for more than $200 million to Turner. He now runs Bustle, a media site that targets women and earned 11 million monthly readers within its first year. Goldberg's recipe for startup success is pretty intuitive: Just stay alive. 

If you keep your startup alive long enough, you may break through a traffic barrier, earn traction, or outlast a competitor and gain industry recognition.

"Winning in startups, and in media specifically, is very much about refusing to give up. Resilience matters," Goldberg told Business Insider in an email. "It takes a long time for a media publication to gain mindshare with the general public — in the case of Bleacher Report, it took five years until people at parties or networking events told me, 'Yeah, I know you guys.' That's a long time for a startup, especially when each day brings growing pains, financial complexities, and potential fire drills. But you have to stay alive...Tough, nimble, spirited media startups are going to thrive, so long as they stay focused on their mission and have the patience to endure."

Paul Graham, the cofounder of startup incubator Y Combinator, calls this refusing-t0-die mentality being a cockroach.

In 2008, when he let Airbnb into Y Combinator, he told the cofounders that he appreciated their hustle (Airbnb used to sell boxes of cereal to fund itself when no investors wanted to give it cash.) 

"[Paul] was basically looking for cockroaches," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said at a South by Southwest talk. "He said we were cockroaches and that's why he funded us." Now Airbnb is valued at about $10 billion.

Graham believes failure is often a founder's choice. They could choose to keep their startups alive — they just don't want to.

"You should shut down the company if you're certain it will fail no matter what you do. Then at least you can give back the money you have left, and save yourself however many months you would have spent riding it down," Graham wrote in a recent blog post. "Companies rarely have to fail though. What I'm really doing here is giving you the option of admitting you've already given up."

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Ben Horowitz On Management - Business Insider

Ben Horowitz On Management - Business Insider | Competitive Edge |

The excerpt below is from the lecture "How To Manage," by Ben Horowitz, investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. It appears in the online class "How To Start A Startup."
This text is annotated! Click on the highlights to read what others are saying. If you'd like to add your own insights, comments, or questions to specific parts of the lecture, visit the lecture page on Genius, highlight the relevant text, and click the button that pops up. Your annotation will appear both here and on Genius.

When Sam originally sent an email for me to do this course, he said "Ben can you teach a fifty minute course on management?" And I immediately thought to myself, "Wow, I just wrote a three hundred page book on management. So that book was entirely too long."

I didn't actually have time to collapse the three hundred pages into fifty minutes. Like Mark Twain, I didn't have time to write a good short letter, so I'm going to write a long letter. But in this case, I am going to teach exactly one management concept.

I see CEO's mess up this one management concept more consistently than anything else. From when they're very, very early to when they're very, very big as a company. It's the easiest thing to say and the most difficult to master. The concept in musical form is from Sly and the Family Stone. "Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong. My beliefs are in my song. No difference what group I'm in."

That's the musical version of today's lesson. For those of you who are musical, you can leave now.

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9 Ways to Fix a Bad First Impression

9 Ways to Fix a Bad First Impression | Competitive Edge |
Bungled that all important first meeting? All is not lost if you follow this advice.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression," the old aphorism tells us, and both science and lived experience testify to the truth of this everyday wisdom. First impressions are quick, powerful and lasting, which is why it's so important to do everything you can to make a good one.

But sometimes, despite your best efforts to be charming, something goes wrong. Personalities clash, jokes fall flat, nerves get the best of you, or one party is simply having an off day, so a relationship starts with a fizzle rather than a bang. Is there anyway to bounce back from this sort of lousy first impression?

To the relief of entrepreneurs, job seekers, and anxious daters everywhere, experts agree that while changing a first impression can be difficult, it is often doable. Here are some of their top tips for turning things around.

1. Decide whether it's worth sweating

Not everyone gets along with everyone. That's OK. You don't have to please every Tom, Dick and Harriet you meet. So your first response to the sense that you and a new acquaintance didn't get off on the right foot is to assess whether it's worth worrying about in the first place.

"I'm all about building a confident first impression but sometimes people get too caught up in having to make a perfect first impression," leadership trainer and host of the Coaching for Leaders podcast Dr. Dave Stachowiak told the Art of Manliness (you'd have to assume this tip applies to the ladies as well). "Does it really matter to try to fix it? Is it really a big deal? If not, let it go."

2. Stop pretending

One common way to muck up an introduction is to stress yourself out pretending you're something you're not. Not only is this bound to make you awkward and unhappy, almost everyone can sniff out this kind of falseness and very few will respond positively to it. If your nerves got the better of you and you put on airs, the fix is simple, according to Tom Jaffee, a dating service CEO who has no doubt seen plenty of first meetings gone wrong. His solution: confess and stop.

"Your best hope is to be honest with the person," Jaffee told Real Simple. "Admit you were just trying to make a good impression." Follow that spoken honesty up by acting like yourself the next time you meet.

3. Apologize...

If you got off on the wrong foot because of a simple stumble on your part, own it and apologize. "Sometimes bad first impressions are caused by genuine mistakes. Perhaps you discussed a touchy subject unknowingly or mistook your new contact for someone else. Simply apologize for your mistake," advises career expert Heather R. Huhman.

4. ...but don't over-apologize

While admitting to to a misstep or to letting your nerves get the best of you can pay dividends, according to counselor and coach Susan Fee, you should nevertheless avoid over-apologizing for a dicey first meeting. "Saying you're sorry is important, but overdoing it can create another uncomfortable situation," she has written on her blog. "It puts the other person in the uncomfortable position of having to constantly reassure you."

5. Don't let your imagination run away with you

Fee also cautions against assuming your impressions of the meeting match up with those of the other party. Sometimes we think we screwed up far worse than we did. "Usually what we imagine is far worse than reality. Approach your apology by owning your feelings rather than telling others how you assume they feel. This gives you a chance to test their perceptions and get a real handle on the situation," advises Fee.

"So, instead of starting out with, 'You must think I'm a total idiot.' speak for yourself, 'I'm uncomfortable with how I behaved yesterday because I realized I might have offended you. Did you feel the same way?'" she suggests. That way you'll avoid over-apologizing.

6. Pivot

If a straight apology doesn't seem to suit the situation, you can always try pivoting instead. "One of the best approaches for recovering from a bad first impression is to pivot by showing off a different and more favorable side of your personality. In other words, if you tried to crack a joke and it fell flat, then demonstrate sincerity. Or if you tried to be sincere and it rang hollow, then demonstrate compassion. Pivoting to focus on a different aspect of your personality may help to reshape the perception of your character and value," explains the Art of Manliness.

Huhman agrees. "If you're a generally shy person, that shyness may come off as being rude or inconsiderate. Similarly, a feisty personality may be perceived as overbearing and disrespectful. Whatever the case, try to adjust your responses to balance this personality trait. If you're shy, smile more and initiate conversation. If you're too outgoing, take a step back and listen," she advises.

7. Ask for advice

This tip comes from persuasion guru Robert Cialdini via a Dorie Clark Forbes post. If someone dislikes you, one way to put the relationship on a fresh footing is to ask the person for advice. Not only is this flattering to the person being asked, but also offers an opening for further positive interactions. Say you ask for a book recommendation. "Suddenly, you have the basis of an interaction, because now when you return it, you can return it with a book you think he or she might like," says Cialdini.

8. Be persistent...

If you're really determined to win someone over after a rough start, be warned that your efforts may take some time. "A Harvard study suggests that it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person's negative opinion of you. In this context be persistent and patient," leadership specialist Roz Usheroff reports on LinkedIn.

9. ... and consistent

While a sustained effort over time may be required to change a bad first impression, it's not sufficient. You also need to be stable in your subsequent behavior, Fee cautions: "Overcoming a bad impression requires that all future behavior be consistent with how you want to be perceived."

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Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

I think 2 and 7 are my favorites. Be honest and don't pretend, that's the main one.

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Next Generation Customers Will Test Every Business - Startup Professionals Musings

Next Generation Customers Will Test Every Business - Startup Professionals Musings | Competitive Edge |

If you think your business has weathered the storm, think again. In addition to obvious economic challenges, the emerging generation of customers is determined to radically change the rules for customer engagement. Their expectations of relationship and personalization are taxing businesses today, and their power through social media will kill those who can’t or won’t comply.

An eye-opening list of insights was just released in a new book, “Build for Change,” by Alan Trefler, Founder and CEO of Pegasystems. He makes a convincing argument that it’s time for every company to get prepared for the next customer generation, or your company is heading toward life support.

As a backdrop, he defines the evolution already in progress from current Gen Y customers to a more demanding and less tolerant state (Gen D) that will make them even quicker and more technologically able to demonize and destroy your business, if it won’t meet their norms of interaction, personalization, and purpose.

While I’m not so sure that I agree that these represent the ultimate apocalypse of customers, I do believe the solutions he recommends should be taken seriously by every entrepreneur. I summarize here my interpretation of his key points:

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

After posting the previous infographic about how one unhappy customer can be a disaster for your business, this is a more detailed and analytical approach to how to manage your business and deal with your clients in this rapidly changing business environment. Good stuff.

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So You Want to be a CEO — Hone These Traits First

So You Want to be a CEO — Hone These Traits First | Competitive Edge |

Even if you’re several years away from even being considered for a CEO seat, it’s never too early to hone the key traits you’ll need to demonstrate to keep you in the running. Here are 6 tips that can help keep you on the right track. Read more: click image or title.



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Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Do you have what it takes?

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The world's most successful hedge fund just made a big change - here's what you need to know about how it's managed

The world's most successful hedge fund just made a big change - here's what you need to know about how it's managed | Competitive Edge |

"Create an environment in which everyone has the right to understand what makes sense and no one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up about it," Dalio writes.

He believes that even though the truth can be scary (like when your boss points out one of your flaws), it's necessary for optimum performance. Dalio has actually fired employees for talking behind a coworker's back. "If you talk behind people's backs at Bridgewater you are called a slimy weasel," Dalio says.

Read more: click image or title.



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Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This guy is setting the bar very high. Applying these 20 principles can only get the best out of the team and the management.

SurEn R Nyk's curator insight, March 13, 3:52 AM

This guy is setting the bar very high. Applying these 20 principles can only get the best out of the team and the management.

John Wick's curator insight, March 13, 7:34 AM

This guy is setting the bar very high. Applying these 20 principles can only get the best out of the team and the management.

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Let’s Fix Startup Board Meetings

Let’s Fix Startup Board Meetings | Competitive Edge |

I spend a lot of time in board meetings. Specifically, private company startup board meetings. Rooms filled with some of the most talented, bold, daring and dedicated people on the planet, devising solutions to some of the economy’s toughest problems.

More often than not, however, most of these board meetings fail. Despite the good intentions and great experience in the room, the painful truth is that precious time and energy is frequently squandered by directors and startup CEOs. Read more: click image or title.

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Via Pantelis Chiotellis
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#Board meetings can be a 'pain'... Here is an excellent approach to help stick to the essentials and actually make progress.

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Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain - HarvardBusinessReview

Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain - HarvardBusinessReview | Competitive Edge |

It’s good for resilience and decision making.
The business world is abuzz with mindfulness. But perhaps you haven’t heard that the hype is backed by hard science. Recent research provides strong evidence that practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness (a.k.a. mindfulness) changes the brain, and it does so in ways that anyone working in today’s complex business environment, and certainly every leader, should know about. More here:

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"Thanks for all you do to encourage entrepreneurship! You and your team have successfully created a road map that most could follow to completion and exit strategy. Yes, it is possible to do these things on your own, but it can be short-cutted by using your strategy."
Jay Ed Moore

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

MIndfulness, being here and now with all of your attention makes you a better listener and better observer. Also a better person. All good for better business.

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What a letter from 1855 can teach us about startups today

What a letter from 1855 can teach us about startups today | Competitive Edge |

In 1855, Daniel McCallum wrote a letter to his bosses at the New York & Erie Railroad. McCallum had risen up through the ranks from carpenter, to bridge engineer, to chief of bridges, to regional manager of the Susquehanna division of the railroad. His latest promotion, to general manager of the entire railroad, was a big one.

So he picked up his pen and put his ideas about managing the railroad down on paper. It was the first time we know of that anyone ever did this.

McCallum’s biggest problem was cost-per-mile. As fast as the railroad grew in size, operating costs grew faster. Where the company should have seen productivity improvement (declining cost per mile), it saw the opposite. Communication, coordination, operations, sales — all became more difficult, not less so, as the railroad grew.

For McCallum, a productivity problem was a general management problem. And his ideas about general management marked a turning point in business history.

Fast forward not quite two centuries and many talented people in Silicon Valley are in McCallum’s shoes. They’ve risen rapidly in their careers because they were great at their jobs, because the company was growing like crazy, or both. They are getting shoved into leadership and management roles. And it is the hardest transition many of them have ever faced.

Against all their hopes and dreams, the bigger the company gets, the less well things work. Instead of productivity and happiness, there’s the opposite. These companies often have plenty of financial runway. And they have raw talent that’s the envy of the world. But they grind the gears on general management — burning too much cash, energy, and time setting goals, organizing the work, getting it done, and improving performance. The gears grind, people get frustrated, and the runway gets a lot shorter.

McCallum was at the height of his career, still prototyping how to manage. Remember, there were no business schools or how-to books in 1855. No general manager apprenticeships. McCallum had been taught to engineer and build bridges, not to manage thousands of people across half a continent.

McCallum’s letter outlined five key challenges:

  • How do you get a group of people to work together to common goals?
  • How do you give people the right amount of responsibility?
  • How do you make sure the job gets done?
  • How do you know how things are going?
  • How do you do all this with respect for others?

McCallum designed his railroad’s management structure and operation to answer those questions. He created a custom blend of hard assets, people and technology — for instance, he used the telegraph the way we use email or the internet today — to make the railroad work.

I believe that McCallum added years to the life of the New York & Erie railroad. The railroad had financial capital. It had engines, rail cars, all the physical assets it needed. It had fleets of talented people at every level of the organization. What the railroad needed was great general management to amplify the productivity of the capital + labor combination, to extend the life of the business. Great general management adds runway.

OK so what do we do with this story? Daniel McCallum. Interesting person. Hard problem. Railroads matter.

McCallum accidentally gave us a beautiful scorecard for general managers.

Take a look. Here are McCallum’s five challenges:

  • Group works together on common goals.
  • People have the right amount of responsibility.
  • Team gets the job done.
  • General Manager knows how things are going along the way.
  • People feel respected.

By each, write a score for your team from 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.

McCallum’s scorecard is an optimistic one. It’s based on the idea that sometimes you can get better in each of the five areas. So don’t be shy about giving a low score.

Now go back and spend time dissecting the low scores. McCallum took his lowest scoring areas and prototyped improvements. He changed procedures for communication. He changed the organization design. He added some steps and removed others in key process. You can do the same thing.

If you are grinding the gears in your work, the company’s spiritual and financial runway is shorter than it could be. It’s kind of surprising that in the mid-1800s there was a person who struggled with what it meant to be a good general manager. His struggle can save you time and worry. Borrow McCallum’s ideas to put grease on the gears.

Michael Dearing is the founder of the venture capital firm Harrison Metal. He has held numerous executive roles at companies including eBay, Filene’s Basement and the Walt Disney Company.  He most recently served as an associate professor at Stanford University’s

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Lots to learn, even from struggles long times ago.

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How to keep your startup spirit when your business takes off

How to keep your startup spirit when your business takes off | Competitive Edge |
When grew from two to 20 people in two years, its founders worried the business had lost its spark

ust four years ago, were two people. Two years later we were five, and today, we are 20. Just four years ago we were working from Starbucks. Today, we are in an Old Street open-plan warehouse office space. The journey has been short but the expansion has been big.

Last week my business co-founder Andrew and I sat down and wondered if we had lost our startup spirit. As a brand new company, it was easy to get washed away with the excitement of being a startup – few bills to pay, few clients to worry about, only a few new members of the team. This was why we left our corporate snooze jobs; working hard for the boss wasn’t cutting it for us.

Two years on, we had a serious discussion about whether this was going to work and as fate would have it, an angel landed in our lap. A group of angel investors, in fact, who decided to invest £250,000 into our dream. While this was obviously life-changing for us, it also quickly changed our startup dynamic. Suddenly we had to put together serious five-year plans, forecasts, cashflow projections and growth strategies … and, moreover, had to be accountable for them.

This of course brings a whole new excitement to the table too. We were now in a position to create a viable company and one that could grow quickly, and here we had angel investors – of Friends Reunited,, Vodafone and Quidco fame – all believing in the business plan. The startup engines were on fire, with a fancy new office, 10 hires and a sizeable marketing budget to play with. The following year saw a further £250,000 invested allowing us to grow to a team of 20 with an even fancier office and managing to poach talent from the likes of Google and Accenture.

After four years of strong growth, we witnessed more and more desks filling the office, HR policies being put in place, new managerial structures, but fewer opportunities for impromptu fun nights out with the team (after all we had budgets to stick to). The lack of atmosphere became noticeable. Our fantastic team had joined DesignMyNight because of the whirlwind fun and unpredictability of a startup, and we had lost that spirit.


At a startup, your most important asset is your team. For our team, DesignMyNight is their baby as well as ours and we’d forgotten to keep the dialogue open with them. We had an open lunch with the team to ask them what they wanted and a few weeks later we had installed a ping pong table, darts board, new lounge/chill out area, regular top-ups of fruit, tea and coffee. We started having more regular team nights out, and handed the office decoration over to them. We were reminded to thank and praise the team more than we did, and began announcing “weekly wins” and wind down Fridays (where we shut laptops at 5pm and enjoy each other’s company, and a few cocktails), as well as randomly rewarding the teams with lunches and gifts if there had been noticeable achievement.

These simple, yet inexpensive, improvements instantly re-injected the team and the office with that entrepreneurial startup spirit again. A happier team equals better results. As founders of a new business it is vital to remember why you entered this crazy startup world … because it shouldn’t be simply for the money.

You must regularly step back from the pressures of targets and have fun: enjoy the job, enjoy the emotional rollercoaster, enjoy the freedom and most of all enjoy your team, otherwise you might as well go back to that snoozy corporate job.

Nick Telson is co-founder of

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Via Zonata
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great story. Keep that spirit alive, but don't be foolish.

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Why our startup has no bosses, no office, and a four-day work week - Quartz

Why our startup has no bosses, no office, and a four-day work week - Quartz | Competitive Edge |

As Paul Graham, entrepreneur, programmer and also founder of YCombinator used to say: “For a programmer, the cost of attending a meeting is always higher.”

In 2008, my study partner Hernán Amiune and I had finished studying computer engineer at Catholic University of Córdoba Argentina.

During our last years at university, we had done some internships in companies such as HP, IBM, and Intel. It was the moment we realized there was a mistake in their work methods.

We couldn’t understand why people without technical knowledge had to tell programmers “what” to do and, furthermore, they had to supervise “how” programmers did it.

So, when we created Project eMT, a comparison search engine for Latin America, we decided to work in a different way: without project managers. Six years later, we operate in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia together with 34 engineers that are part of our team, and we still work without traditional management structures and work weeks, and have managed to grow our annual revenue by 204%.

Here’s how we do it.

No bosses

At big tech companies we frequently observed how programmers would do bad work in a short period of time and receive praise from their bosses. Over time, this leads to the standard: “let’s program with low quality but as fast as possible.”

As Google CEO Larry Page used to say: “Engineers shouldn’t be supervised by project managers with limited technical knowledge.”

On the other hand, as programmers, we used to find it profoundly annoying that our bosses would set meetings with us at any moment based on their needs. This may seem striking, but it’s essential.

A developer needs an average of four consecutive hours of uninterrupted work to be able to carry out a good quality job with significant advances. Consequently, the ideal day would be for a programmer to work in the morning from 9am to 1pm and in the afternoon from 2pm to 6pm, in order to reach maximum productivity.

If for example, our boss assigns a meeting at 11am, then the morning is lost since I have to get ready for the meeting, attend the meeting, greet everybody, discuss the topics, then I have to go back to my desk and pick up exactly from where I had left off, see what I was doing and keep on programming. With all these activities, the whole morning is practically lost.

As Paul Graham, entrepreneur, programmer and also founder of YCombinator used to say: “For a programmer, the cost of attending a meeting is always higher.”

No office

The truth is that when we started, having a workspace wasn’t an option. When we were taking our first steps we didn’t have the resources to rent an office.

The scenario stayed the same until the second year when we were finally able to move to an excellent office with the amenities that we had always dreamt of (like ping pong tables, video games, private and personal chef, gym equipment and huge TVs).

This stage only lasted eight months until we decided to go back to working remotely for a variety of reasons.

To start with, the time we waste by commuting to the office whether it is by public transportation or by driving our own cars is on average one hour to get there and one hour to get back home. That is to say, if we work nine hours a day, we are wasting an extra 22% of time just on commuting. We also have to add the cost of the rent and the cost of commuting to and from the office.

But the economic reason is not the most important one, nor the main reason for going back to working without an office; instead it was the physical and mental tiredness that commuting causes. That time could be used to achieve a much more important goal like spending time be with your family.

Lastly, we work today in five countries and we believe that the habit of working remotely will allow us to continue growing.

Four-day work week

Reducing the length of our work week is a relatively new aspect for our startup; we implemented it almost 2 years ago and until now it has been an excellent decision.

In the industrial era, there was a belief that the more you worked in the, the better the results were; that’s why we have to work 5 days a week and be with our families just 2 days.

In a technology project like ours, more doesn’t always mean better.

What we need is that engineers are satisfied with their jobs and motivated to do them well. We are not interested in the amount they produce; quality is what is essential.

This is strongly aligned with the goal of hiring the best programmers. Indicating that we just work four days a week is an exclusive differential: it allows us to hire only the best people and have a spectacular level of retention.

According to our own experience, an excellent programmer can do in half the time and with better quality what an average programmer does.

What’s more, we are tired of listening to and reading about the balance between work and family. For us, this is the best answer to this historical problem: you can now be with your family 50% more of time.

Step by step

  1. As a starting point, we eliminated meetings completely (one-on-one and group meetings). From that moment on, every internal communication is done through written text. There are no calls, physical meetings, nor teleconferences.

This may sound disruptive, but we have been doing it for internal communication for three years now and it’s something totally normal for us.

Indeed, after reading about how a manufacturing enterprise saved an equivalent to eliminating 200 job positions through reducing the duration of meetings to only 30 minutes and with a maximum of seven people per meeting, we realized we were on the right track.

  1. Furthermore, there is no more agenda; nobody can include a meeting in our work day or organize our schedule. The job is organized by each one of us based on our timetables and knowledge.

In this way, any type of communication, being exclusively through text, becomes an asynchronous communication. This means that we can program (code) fully focused for four consecutive hours without being interrupted and then, when we have the time, we can advance and answer.

  1. Another essential factor was that we eliminated email communication; we definitely got tired of using the email as a to-do list. The email wasn’t designed for this, let alone designed with enough efficiency to perform that role.

We changed from a work methodology that had historically worked through a “push” mechanism to one with a “pull” mechanism. This basically means that nobody can send me a job-related email to tell me what to do (push). I am the one now who selects my next tasks (pull).

Both the meetings and emails elimination is supported by a tool we developed internally and we called “iAutonomous”. It’s simply a SAAS (Software as a Service) app that allows each member of our startup to participate in and create a new project or task.

Like this, we will all see a list of activities in progress inside our enterprise and we can create and participate in those tasks that need our help in order to be successfully completed.

In this tool, we can see what each of the members is doing in real time. We don’t need a boss telling us what to do or if we did it correctly or incorrectly. We are all programmers and we know exactly how our peers work.

Be picky

I personally consider that there is just one main aspect that has been essential to us: the quality of the engineers we hire. The most important thing lies in their capacity of being proactive.

The people that work with us are entrepreneurs themselves—they don’t need someone evaluating whether they work or not.

What is even more problematic is that those engineers that are not proactive cause great damage to our working culture. High-performance engineers will only want to work with another one that works even more and that does things correctly (meaning, writes great code!).

We have made mistakes hiring programmers that didn’t have that profile. But in days—weeks at the latest—we have managed to detect this. I suggest you don’t hesitate to end work relationships that are not working out; it’s not good for neither of the parties. If they need to be supervised, they will surely find their place in any other company (with managers).

I recommend starting with these new habits from the first day. This will be much easier than changing them later.

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Via Günter Schumacher
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great article. Who want bosses? And a 4 day workweek makes the quality of your life so much better, especially when doing work as a programmer/coder.

Scooped by Marc Kneepkens!

Innovation Excellence | Seven Things the Competent Innovation Manager Should Know

Innovation Excellence | Seven Things the Competent Innovation Manager Should Know | Competitive Edge |

f you have recently been promoted — or perhaps demoted — to the position of innovation manager, your first action has probably been to do a bit of research. In so doing, you may understandably have been overwhelmed by the amount of information on-line, in books and peddled by over-priced consultants. Worse, a lot of that information is contradictory, uses unintelligible jargon or requires you hire an over-priced consultant.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic! I am here to help! Here are seven basic things every innovation manager should know. And if you have questions, please ask!

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Also check the article on 'innovation' posted today on 'Mobile Development News':

Steve Jobs' idea about innovation!

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