Run scientific-ish experiments in your startup with this simple template

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Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else”

Remember the time you experimented in high school? Behind the gym, with the kid selling “herbal cigarettes?” Yeah, well this article isn't about that kind of experiment!

I’m talking about experiments you can run in your business to test things, learn, and improve.

In high school, those life experiments were spontaneous, easy, fun, and required little planning. So why do business experiments seem so damn complex and scary — like a Dean Koontz novel?

Probably because there’s a lot more at stake than getting busted by the principal as you skulk back into class smelling like hooch. Landing on the wrong side of a business decision can seem like life or death. You might be afraid of the repercussions — which are likely more serious than high school detention and a wrap over the knuckles. …


Act as a catalyst to inspire others.

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

If you’re a fan of the TV series, The Office, I’m sure you can relate to working with a David Brent-type character at some stage in your career. A boss who creates an uncomfortable awkwardness. A boss you cringe at any time they speak.

If you could describe them as a sound, it’d be like fingernails on a chalkboard. Eeeeeeeekk.

Leaders who present this way can have a misguided sense of self-importance and entitlement. The David Brents believe certain tasks are beneath them now they’ve earned the right to be a “leader.” …


You don’t need a culture to support remote working — remote working is what you need for your culture.

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Image by JL G from Pixabay

Despite what most people think, the ability to work from home isn’t a perk of a company culture steeped in trust— it’s a driver for it.

New York Times best selling author Daniel Coyle provides a valuable observation as to why.

“Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust — it precedes it,” he says in his book, The Culture Code.

Never before have employees been more vulnerable. …


PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR STARTUPS

Kill the term “check-in” from your startup team’s vocabulary.

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Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

It stands out like Prince Harry at a royal function.

It’s in bold type, masquerading as some strategic touchpoint, scattered throughout the customer engagement or success plan in so many startups.

It’s the “Customer Check-in Call.”

Yuk! It’s a bugbear I can’t overlook. Rarely have I seen any value from Account Managers (or Customer Success Managers) making customer check-in calls based on some arbitrary time-frame.

As a startup leader, you should consider it time wasted. Talented staff playing cat and mouse with the customer point-of-contact to nail down the elusive “check-in” call. Whatever that is.

As a customer, it can be infuriating, too. The notion of someone checking-in can feel disruptive and like a hindrance to progress. It reminds me of my teenage years and Mum “checking-in” on my girlfriend and I as we watched a movie upstairs on the couch. The only purpose of Mum’s touch-point was to make sure she was in front of mind — an outcome much more in her interest than mine. …


Don’t let single-mindedness be your kryptonite.

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Image by prettysleepy1 from Pixabay

The difference between strutting heroically in your underwear and tights, or being a bumbling buffoon with unfashionable eye-glasses, is your ability to embrace superpowers.

Most of us probably relate to Clark Kent more than we do Superman. Yet, we all have superpowers — we were born with them. Being kind is a superpower. Love is a superpower. Generosity, vulnerability…both superpowers.

Another superpower, an unassuming one we all have, is optionality.

I was ghostwriting a piece for a tech-company CEO recently. Finding a unique angle is the obligation I take most seriously during ghostwriting assignments. The article needs to float atop the sea of constant content — most of which, at the moment, contains the words “zoom”, “remote”, “unprecedented” or “Trump” in the title. …


For startups, customer proof is like gold. But what if you’re doing it wrong?

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Customer case studies should be engaging and memorable, like a Quentin Tarantino film (minus the cussing). But most aren’t.

Most case studies are impersonal, dry, overly formal and full of assertions — just like this:

“In working with ACME Limited, Solutions’R’Us made a decision to build upon their investment in SuperSol Online and leverage SuperSol Planner and SuperSol PowerData. Planner had already caught their eye as a potential line-of-business integration tool and given the large number of integrations already offered, it made sense for them to leverage Planner for workflow purposes.”

This is an excerpt from a real case study by a global corporation you’d definitely know — company names and product names changed to protect the innocent. …


PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR MANAGERS

Two rules and a bunch of practical tips to make one on ones better.

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Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

My pet hate is ineffective 1 on 1s. They’re cringeworthy…like Ricky Gervais’ monologues at the Golden Globes.

Actually, I find Ricky quite funny.

But there’s nothing funny about crap 1 on 1’s.

Admittedly, I’ve been on both sides — I’ve had managers who were terrible at 1 on 1s and I’ve been responsible for serving up sloppy ones in my past.

It’s so easy for 1 on 1s to become a waste of time, and deep down you and your direct report know it. …


In a startup, you need people who are willing to be first.

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I captured this shot many years ago (my son’s not so little anymore — he’s kind of big and smelly and sweaty). We were out walking on a foggy morning on an unmade countryside road. I didn’t know where it led, so I told him to stop and turn around.

He shot this look back at me. As if to say — “are you kidding me, we are definitely going to go down this dark foggy dirt road and figure out where it goes. You coming or not, Dad?”

Of course, he didn’t say that. He was only four and not so articulate. I love the photo because it reminds me to explore, to push into the unknown, seek out ambiguity. …


A simple shift in perspective can boost the effectiveness of your team efforts

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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

“Hi, ah hello, it’s Robert here,” said the voice in my ear. His whispery and breathy tone made me picture an elderly man.

“Yes, hello Robert, this is Samantha, how can I help you today?” said another voice. This time I didn’t need to form a mental image — Samantha was sitting next to me. I was wearing a headset, listening in to her customer-service calls at Zappo’s call center during three days I spent with the Zappos team in Las Vegas.

Robert went on to explain he was after a pair of Jessica Simpson high-heel shoes for his wife, but they were listed as out of stock on Zappo’s website. As he was explaining this to Samantha, she covered the microphone on her headset and whispered to me, “he always calls and asks for these shoes”. …


Being your own boss sounds amazing. Until no one cares.

Photo by Clayton Moulynox shows empty chairs in front of a streetscape where cars are rushing by.
Photo by Clayton Moulynox shows empty chairs in front of a streetscape where cars are rushing by.
Photo by Clayton Moulynox

It’s 5:37 am on a Monday and I’m staring at the ceiling. It’s still shrouded in the darkness of pre-sunrise yet glowing in blue light cast by one of the devices somewhere in my room incessantly making its presence known.

My thoughts default to someone at work pinging me in desperate need of help. Because, you know, I’m important. Even at 5:37am.

Except I’m not important to them anymore.

This isn’t a normal Monday.

It’s the first in a long time I’m waking up to a day where no one’s looking at me. No one’s watching (if you exclude my wife laying seven inches from me. …

About

Clayton Moulynox

Aussie, based in Perth, via Melbourne & Seattle; Helping startups grow; Untamed creative streak | xMicrosoft; xAuth0 | I consult at mxgrowth.com

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