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  1. Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  2. Don‘t Leave Home Without Them
  3. Take Back Control with These Three New Summaries
  4. Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself
  5. Let’s Stop Meeting Like This – Please!
  6. Search Soundview Executive Book Summaries
  7. Prior Mailing Archive

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

FINDING VALUE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

When you start a new business in an industry that already exists, writes PayPal founder Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One, you are adding more of something to the world that’s already there. You are going from 1 to n, he writes. But when you start a business that is unlike any other business on the planet, you are truly creating something new. In Thiel’s terminology, you are going from 0 to 1.

And you want to be the “one.” Thiel is not a fan of competition — not just because of the required battle for customers but because competition makes companies focus on competitors more than customers. “If you can recognize competition as a destructive force instead of a sign of value, you’re already more sane than most,” he writes.

Thiel uses the ongoing battle between Microsoft and Google as an example. Originally, he writes, there should have been no reason for a fight. Microsoft was operating systems and office applications, while Google was a search engine. Then the two companies developed an obsession about each other. “The result?” Thiel writes. “Windows vs. Chrome OS, Bing vs. Google Search, Explorer vs. Chrome, Office vs. Docs, and Surface vs. Nexus.” The battles were bloody, and the companies, Thiel writes, paid the price by watching Apple surpass them both in dominance. In January 2013,Apple’s market capitalization was $500 billion, while Google and Microsoft combined was $467 billion. “Just three years before, Microsoft and Google were each more valuable than Apple,” he writes. “War is a costly business.”

Building a Monopoly

For monopolies, the situation is quite different. You can charge the prices you need to make the profits you want. There are no competitors driving down those prices. It’s true, as Thiel explains, that monopolies would be bad if nothing changed: They could command any outrageous prices they wanted with no recourse for customers. But in the dynamic world of business, where unhappy customers represent an opportunity for a new competitor to enter the space, monopolies are motivated to create value for their customers, he writes.

There is no simple recipe for building a monopoly, but according to Thiel, there are several elements that entrepreneurs should look for. These include

Proprietary technology. As a rule, proprietary technology should be 10 times better than the nearest technology.

Network effects. This means other users are using the technology. Facebook works because everybody is on Facebook. But it’s important that early users still find the product valuable even on a small scale (e.g., Facebook was just for Harvard students at first), because it will take some time to scale any product.

Economies of scale. Not all businesses benefit from economies of scale. Going from one yoga studio to 10 doesn’t really yield economies of scale: you just need 10 times more instructors. The best startups have economies of scale built into the business model — Twitter, for example, can build up to 250 million users without making any significant changes to its operations.

Branding. You’ll want to create your own unique brand. But be careful to start with substance before brand.

To make these elements work in creating a monopoly, Thiel writes, you need to start small. Look for those groups of people who have a need that is not fulfilled by any one company. Avoid the big markets: Yes, there are lots of customers, but also lots of entrenched competitors. Once you have your niche market created, he writes, it’s time to scale up… carefully. eBay didn’t jump from Beanie Babies to industrial surplus. It continued at first to cater to small-time hobbyists until, Thiel writes, “it became the most reliable marketplace for people trading online no matter what the item.”

Beyond how-to steps, Thiel does not ignore the importance of mindset and thought processes. In one brilliant chapter, Thiel talks about those who have a definite view of the future (they know what is going to happen) and those with an indefinite view: the future is inscrutable, so why bother to prepare for it. To Thiel, indefinites rule the world. Entrepreneurs have a different worldview, however. They intend to make the future they seek.

Filled with insights ranging from financial advice to philosophical discussions, Zero to One is one of the most thoughtful books on entrepreneurship on today’s shelves.

     


Don‘t Leave Home Without Them

In Frances Cole Jones’ book How to Wow, she include a set of techniques that every business person should know and use every day.

1. Three elements of Face-to-Face Communication – 7% words, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language.
2. The Power of Story Telling – speak from your own experience while acknowledging your listener’s situation.
3. My Name is Bond – say your name with such panache that the listener will remember it.
4. Avoid Useless Modifiers – use descriptive words instead of empty modifiers.
5. The All-Important Diaphragm – speak from your diaphragm to give your voice more authority.
6. Persuasive Words – the number one word is “You.” Focus your communication on the listener. Also: Money, Save, New, Results, Health, Easy, Safety, Love, Discover, Proven and Guarantee.
7. What to Wear – from your clothes, to your shoes, to your watch, it’s all important to consider.
8. Nerves – the nerves in your neck affect your nervousness. Bend over and let your head hang free, and your nervousness will dissipate.
9. Listen Up – it’s not hearing, or waiting to talk, or zoning out because you think you already know what they’re going to say. Instead, listen to find out.
10. More Isn’t Better, Better Is Better – concise is often the best.
11. Because, because… – you need to fill in your listening on the “because”, not just give them the solutions.
12. Entrances and Exits – be aware of the entrance into a situation and the exit from it, the technology guy with your microphone, and bus person with the glass of water. It all matters.
13. Two is One, and One is None – have extra of the things you need to communicate, to avoid Murphy’s Law.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the hands-on tips and techniques that Jones has collected over her years of communicating with others. We will be tapping into her vast knowledge of personal communication through our upcoming Soundview Live webinar Proven Strategies for Selling Yourself in Any Situation on January 6th. Register today and mark your calendar. It will be well worth an hour of your time.

     

Take Back Control with These Three New Summaries

Feeling as if you have no control over your work or job duties can lead to job stress. When the stress of constant connection and rapid changes in the marketplace start affecting your performance at work, applying new processes to your daily routine could bring great success. Learn how to take back control and handle the high demands by developing mindfulness, collaborating with others, and knowing when to think like a rookie with these three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

overworkedandoverwhelmed

by Scott Eblin

Overworked and Overwhelmed by Scott Eblin

Top leadership coach Scott Eblin provides simple routines to reduce stress and sustain peak performance and a personal planning framework for creating desired outcomes. Overworked and Overwhelmed offers practical insights for any professional who feels like his or her RPMs are maxed out in the red zone. Eblin makes his practice of mindfulness simple to offer actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

 

the reciprocity advantage

by Bob Johansen and Karl Ronn

The Reciprocity Advantage by Bob Johansen and Karl Ronn

Leading forecaster Bob Johansen and business developer Karl Ronn share a model for creating new growth for your business using the underutilized resources you already own that you can share with others. They describe a model for collaborating to do what you can’t do alone. The Reciprocity Advantage shows readers how to leverage new forces like cloud-served supercomputing into scalable and profitable growth for your organization.

 

rookie smarts

by Liz Wiseman

Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

In a rapidly changing world, constant learning is more valuable than experience or mastery. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman explains how to reclaim and cultivate the curious, flexible, youthful mindset of a rookie in order to keep up with what’s needed from employees. In Rookie Smarts, Wiseman details the four modes of the rookie mindset that lead to success.

     


Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself

IN SEARCH OF THE ROMANTIC ELEMENTS OF WORK

Viktor Frankl published his seminal book, Man’s Search for Meaning, more than 60 years ago, but it is only recently that presence of meaning and purpose have become a workplace and work-life focus. Today we expect more from our job than a paycheck. We expect a sense of fulfillment — a sense that we are doing something important and good. We want to be happy at work. In a meandering, 250-page exploration called The Business Romantic, veteran marketer Tim Leberecht takes our yearnings at work a step further: Through business and work, he declares, we are seeking romance.

Taking the Long Way Home

It is not surprising that in the big data, ubiquitous high-tech world of the 21st century, people might yearn for a bit of romance — romance as in mystery, danger, discovery, joy, ambiguity. Most of us, however, would not think of the business world as the location for this romance.

For Leberecht, however, business is the perfect venue. He notes that we are all immersed in business — as leaders, workers and consumers — every day of our lives. We have closer relationships with our colleagues than with our neighbors and even spend more time with them than with our loved ones. And it is not just the social aspects of business that are important, but also opportunity. Through business, he writes, we can make a difference; we can make the world a better place. And so much more.

We can find nostalgia, for example. In a chapter entitled Take the Long Way Home, Leberecht explores the emergence of nostalgia in business. One example is the rapid rise of the Maker Movement, where people have the opportunity to relive the joy of craftmaking. Even the most modern of our new products are in a sense nostalgic. The tablet allows us to directly touch what we are working on. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are based on the age-old desire to share with others.

Giving more than you receive is another of the “rules of enchantment” that form the core of the book. Leberecht quotes the work of Wharton business school professor Adam Grant, whose book Give and Take explored the role of giving in a business context. Grant found that companies that fostered giving behavior in their employees benefited from improved employee performance, notably in areas such as collaboration and innovation.

Filled with a wide variety of stories from business around the world, Leberecht presents in The Business Romantic a compelling call-to-arms to break the business-as-transaction mold and infuse the workplace with romantic elements that will engage and inspire employees and their leaders.

And this romance does not only involve trendy, cutting-edge companies or industries. One of the most compelling stories in the book is from an early chapter in which a businessman remembers his first memories of work: helping his father prepare for the day at a wondrous place called the office. Every morning, as a boy he would watch his father carefully choose his suit for the day, slick down his hair with Vitalis, then walk ceremoniously toward the front door, where the boy would hand him his briefcase. “And then I watched him disappear into the dark, cold, Connecticut morning,” the businessman recalls. Today that businessman follows his own strict morning ritual. “The office no longer seems magical,” the man tells Leberecht “but my morning ritual — and the way it evokes the spirit of my father — decidedly does. We still get ready together every single morning. We are, together, men of business.”

     

Let’s Stop Meeting Like This – Please!

What would happen if you made all of your meetings voluntary? Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 747 program did just that. There are no mandatory meetings on Eric’s watch. He wanted people to be there not because of threats or politics but because they wanted to be there.

You may be like Eric, feeling that too many of the meetings you lead are time-wasting, energy-sapping affairs. Most may seem like useless gatherings endured at the expense of your “real work” – meetings that sabotage your organization’s goals and product while wasting human capital.

If this is the case then you’ll want to sign up for our upcoming webinar with Dick and Emily Axelrod. They have the answers for those of us who are frustrated with our present meeting strategy. In this webinar you’ll learn how to:

• Transform meetings into productive work experiences.
• Identify the habits that work for and against energy-producing, time-valued meetings.
• Identify the critical choices that meeting designers, leaders, and contributors make that transform meetings.
• Create a meeting environment where everyone puts their paddle in the water.

Join us on December 16th for Tools to Save Time and Get Things Done and get a head start on reworking your meeting strategy for the New Year. You’ll be happy you joined us when you’re meetings become productive again.

     



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