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During my corporate years, one of the taglines the company used for a number of years was, "It’s What We Do Differently That Makes Us Better". To me "differently" always meant figuring out creative solutions to problems and issues. Differently can mean lots of things…innovation on the backend or how you handle processes that interact with your customer/user. Differently many times also equals a higher top of mind awareness which can provide a better rate of return.
Here’s a video from a flight attendant on Southwest providing the normal flight instructions in a differentiated way. How many people on that flight told at least one person about the flight attendant? How many bad days did he fix (at least momentarily)?
What are you doing at your startup to be differentiated?
Hat tip to Susan Beebe.
This week on the nextNY mailing list, the hot topic was "how to deal with entrepreneurial burnout". The topic started with a post by Tobin Schwaiger-Hastanan of CupidsLab. I’ve compiled the tips from the thread below…please add your own in the comments and I will add them to the main post.
Charlie O’Donnell believes that an entrepreneur’s body is his or her most valuable asset.
Dean Collins says that competition helps him stay away from burnouts. He notes, "I swear I’ve had sweat running down the back of my neck at least twice when reading about a new company but once I click through to the site and play with their apps for a few minutes I know they ‘haven’t quite got it yet’."
Kevin Marshall noted, "I just try to get around other energetic people…people/companies that are doing fun and interesting things…action begets action for me. When that doesn’t work, I take a few hours off and go watch a movie or something…9 times out of 10, I get the urge to get back to work and regret going to the movie (because I’m wasting time)…but I think my brain just needs those short bursts of downtime and tuning out to keep up the overall pace."
Fraser Kelton said, "Set up little milestones and goals along the way and celebrate and savor each one you achieve. There’s often a long time between planning and launch and then more time between launch and (what others would call) success. Set little goals for along the way. Celebrate these little moments. Do not let anyone trivialize them."
Jason (no last name or link) says that we should talk to each other. He continues, "When you’re feeling burned out, find another like-minded entrepreneur and ask for 10 minutes (that’s probably all it’ll take) to just vent & complain & get all the muck out of your system. Hopefully your friend will be smart enough to shut up until you’re done, then offer enough encouraging words to get you back on your feet." Honestly this is one of the reasons I like SXSW – gives me a chance to have very intelligent chats with people face-to-face.
There was a lot of talk about going to a yoga class. Those who said yoga really helps with burnout include Edward Potter, Kareem Kouddous has a list of local NYC yoga classes, Tyler Frieling and Mike Street also say that yoga is a great way to deal with burnout. I’ve never done yoga but I can imagine it helps to get your mind away from the business.
What’s worked for me over the years is to either have a hobby or to learn something completely new and unrelated to the industry my company is part of. I love public transportation and find that going out with some other subway fans to take photos, ride some different classes of stock or shoot some video is a great way to escape the 24×7 thoughts of how to improve the business. For a couple of years I studied German at the Goethe Institute. The three hours a week learning a new language was something I looked forward to each and every week. During the class, my mind was focused on the new language and never drifted back to the business. So my tip is simple – do something fun or stimulating that gets your mind completely away from the office.
I came across this resource today via Sanford Dickert which I thought was worth sharing. It’s called "eCorner" and is Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner. It’s a video library with what looks like hundreds of videos from technology CEOs, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs. The videos span about ten years.
Check out the list of speakers (about 300 or so) which includes: Marissa Mayer, Mark Zuckerberg, Guy Kawasaki, Michael Dell, Tim Draper, Elon Musk, etc. Companies represented include what looks like mostly Fortune 500 companies including: Google, JetBlue, eBay, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. Even Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz has a page with about 10 video clips.
The videos are split up into pieces so you can pick the sections you are interested in from each speaker. The videos play in a local player but they can be embedded. Please leave a comment if you find a video worth sharing.
Here are a couple of clips to get you started:
Jerry Kaplan, serial entrepreneur, executive, technical innovator, and author, elaborates on the five biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make:
Fundamental Principles of Entrepreneurship – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn:
Giada De Laurentiis is one of the top chefs on the Food Network in the U.S. Her show, Everyday Italian is the show I want to discuss today. Now you may ask yourself, what in the heck does a cooking host have to do with Web 2.0 or passion-centric communities? Stick with me and I hope it will become clear by the end of the post.
I think it takes a lot for someone to be passionate about an onion or a tomato. And there are other chefs on tv as well. Rachael Ray and Emeril come to mind first. I actually spent a day with Rachael on her set. She rocks as a person and loves food. I have watched Emeril since his first Bam! and think he is such an excellent food personality. But what makes them different than the way Giada demonstrates her passion?
If you watch Giada when she began Everday Italian in the 2003 timeframe, you will see someone who enjoyed cooking but really was not able to get the viewers excited. In interviews she would talk about the passion, but on TV she seemed unhappy or scared. Over the past two seasons of the show, she is now demonstrating her passion and the show has taken off. Just like her TV career has. Why? Because she became able to draw viewers into her passion.
Two of the most important aspects of a passion-centric community are to:
- be passionate – if you don't have the passion for your community, no one else will
- show the passion to your users – you may have the passion but without showing it, it is the same as the other item above, your users won't be passionate either
And these things are the things she does on her tv show today. First, she is completely passionate about the food she is cooking. She lets you know it by the tone in her voice, the look on her face, her expressions and the way she works with the food. It might be just cutting a clove of garlic, but when she does it, it almost seems real. I have never seen someone so excited about food. And even better, watch how she reacts when she talks about chocolate. You can really feel the passion.
Second, she gets the audience involved with her passion. When she takes a sip of a drink she made, or cuts into a meal, you wish you were sitting there with her, experiencing the meal or drink as well. There are times that based on the way she describes the item she just ate, I actually think I ate it as well. This is because of the 2nd bullet above – she can move her passion from herself to me.
So what do you need to do to obtain this type of passion for your site. It is really quite easy. Believe in your product passionately. No matter if it is a web app or a blog or a ecommerce site. Make sure that you do the things that you would want someone else to do if you were using their site. And then, get people excited about what you are doing. When you have done both of these things effectively, you will have a passion-centric community that can't fail!
Everyday Italian is on the Food Network 2x a day everyday – check it out sometime and drop me a line if you agree or disagree about her passion and the ability to draw you into the passion. I have emailed the Food Network to see if we can interview Giada — I think it would be interesting to get her to provide some insight into where her passion for food comes from and more importantly how she is able to convey her message and get others passionated! (new word) about her food.