Why I bring a chair to a casual meeting

Back in high school, I remember having an english teacher who always carried a short stool around.  Not one you would play a guitar on, but one that is quite low.  He would give us an in class assignment to do and sit down at his desk.  If we had a question, he would walk over with his stool, sit on it to be at eye level with us.  His reasoning was great.  He wanted to make sure we were comfortable, and that his 6 foot frame would not be intimidating to us.  It puts him more on a personal level with us.

I still think about this today in the workplace.  I may not practice this to the full extent by bringing a stool around with me, but when I do need to run over to a colleague’s desk for a quick discussion, I do ensure I grab a chair near by and have a seat.  It keeps me in a more comfortable position when speaking with my colleagues.  I don’t want to feel like I intimidate others by standing tall while the other(s) are sitting.  I do hope that I come across softer, and more professional.  I may not be a psychologist, but standing and speaking in a non-formal situation puts you in a more commanding position.  Probably not your intention as there is certainly a time and place for that.

Switching roles.  If you were the one sitting and the other is standing, most individuals feel a bit more intimidated, and possibly put on the spot.  In those cases, I stand up and put myself at their level.  Much like meeting someone for the first time with a handshake, it is considered rude to not stand up and perform the shake.  It can show a lack of respect.

So the next time you need to speak to someone, grab a chair, stand up, squat.  Just put yourself at the same level.

The Fine Balance of a Minimum Viable Product

One of the most difficult task for a product manager, let alone a company to do is finding that Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Whether you are trying to launch your first product, or updating an existing one, you’ll need to make those hard decisions to cut features and functions. If you’re going to try to get Widget A to have all 100 key features from its initial conception, don’t hold your breath. By the time you launch your product, you might already be chasing your competitors. YMMV.

But MVP doesn’t necessarily mean that your product won’t have any features. It may mean that you have just enough to get your customers off and running for the time being. With a SaaS product, you do have the freedom to go back and forth with your customers to fine tune your product. Missed the boat with a feature? Get those major items identified early on in your research.

I do like to make sure you give your customers the functionality they need to be able to get their job done. Just enough. Put the must-haves and nice-to-haves in separate buckets and move them from one side to the other based on your research. An important aspect of this to not forget to return back to your MVP and find out if the nice-to-haves still need to be implemented. You might find out it’s not needed after all.

It is a fine balance between what’s needed and what’s enough.

Which Car Should I Buy?

As a resident ‘car guy’, I get this question a lot. It’s a difficult question for me to answer for someone else. Your tastes are different than mine. It varies greatly depending on many factors. I have noticed a lot of people do buy cars based solely on asthetics. I don’t think this is this right approach as it can lead to a poor driving experience. Here are a few things to think about when you’re car hunting:

1. Set your budget.
The budget is the most important thing to set. It puts a cap on how much you want to spend and keeps it (hopefully) in that range. Don’t set it to something you can’t afford for obvious reasons. Make sure you factor in any additional costs to the price of the car such as interest rates if you’re getting a loan and taxes. If you’re looking at something used, you’ll also need to factor in inspection and post purchase maintenance costs.

2. Figure out what you will use it for.
Whether you’re buying a daily driver or a weekend fun car, you’ll need to set a requirement of what you really want out of it. Maybe all you’ll need is something that gets you to work or school? Or you need to be able to haul friends and family around. Every car can have a different use, or be very multi use.

3. How long are you going to keep it?
This can be important. Maybe you’re an expat and just need a car for a few years. You’re probably not going to need to get vintage MGB or a Ferrari 308. If you’re looking for something that lasts for years, do the research and find the brands that have great reliability ratings and focus on those.

4. Go test drive a variety of options.
Once you’ve narrowed down to a few options, go out and test drive them, as well as comparable ones. It’s good to get a feel for each as you may find that your first choice might not be the best choice.

In summary, it’s a very personal preference, high dollar item to buy. You’ll want to make it an investment to purchase the right car for your needs. Good luck!

The Importance of Networking

I recently started to realized how important networking really is in business.  Networks are oh so very important when it comes to doing some form of business whether you are seeking out customers for your startup, looking for a reference for a 3rd party vendor, and even seeking out new jobs or looking for someone to fill a role at your own company.  Sometimes you seek these people out for travel recommendations.  People have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, and from various ‘networks’ if you will.  They can be categorized up in the following, and possibly more:

  • Friends and Family – People whom you spend a lot of your free time with.  These are those whom are close to you, whether you have done any work-related business with them or not.  They are still close to you on a personal level.
  • Work Friends and Acquaintances – These are those whom you had worked with at your previous employers.  You might have spent the majority of your week with them for months and years at a time. They know you very well on a professional level and in many times, on a personal level too.  Some of these individuals may cross over into the Friends and Family
  • Work Acquaintances – These are a bit different from the above.  These individuals are those whom you did not work with (at the same company), but rather maybe they were your vendor, or your customer.  “Money” may have exchanged between your company and theirs at one point.
  • Social Media Acquaintances – Who are these people?  Well, you may not have met them before, but there was some connection at one point that brought you together with them.  They followed you on Twitter, you followed back.  They connected with you on LinkedIn or Facebook, you accepted for some reason.  You may not have even spoken to them at all!
  • Similar Interest Acquaintances – Not sure if that’s the right description, but will explain here.  These are those whom you have a similar interest with.  Perhaps part of the same book club?  Maybe you play intramural sports with them.

All of these are great networks to reach out to when needed.  I am part of a mailing list made up of Similar Interest Acquaintances and realized how far the reach of experience and connection there is there.  We all have one common interest, which brought us together, and even just asking the most out of the ordinary question brings a heap of answers and responses.  But isn’t this what social networks are for, you may ask?  Quite possibly.  I think they are complementary to how you communicate with the different networks.  There’s probably a different social channel for each of those categories.  Use them how you feel is right.