Human physical and mental abilities have not changed much for thousand of years, yet you are required to be tens or hundreds of times more productive than your parents were. And the pace of the demands on our time are not likely to slow down in the future.
So we have invented the discipline of time management, knowing all too well that it is not time that needs managing, but rather our attention. We need to adapt the way we work to squeeze out more output out of each unit of time and build a moat to stem the tide of (digital) distractions.
The single most effective change that has worked for me is also one of the easiest to implement. I have divided up my time in slots. There are vertical slots (i.e. days of the week or of the month) and horizontal slots (i.e. hours in a day).
Vertical slots are allocated to work projects, domains or themes. For example Mondays are for Project A, Tuesdays are for Accounting, Wednesdays are for Sales and Marketing, Thursdays and Fridays are for Project B, etc.
Horizontal slots are for individual tasks, routine or one-off. For example 7-9 am writing and editing, 9 to 11 am phone calls and email, 11 to 1 pm meetings, 1 to 3 pm project management, etc.
The resulting matrix helps me allocate activity more effectively, procrastinate less and, crucially, stay focused and away from distractions. Try it!
Filed under Management, Tips
I sometimes work on Sundays. Usually not more than 2 or 3 hours, but still… I find it easier to start the week with the right energy and velocity if I take some time to prep on a weekend. Last Sunday was an exception, in that I spent the entire day and most of the night at my desk. While at it, I wondered how many in my extended circle shared this habit. So I ran a quick Linkedin poll.
Turns out I am not alone. In fact, about only 14% of the respondents never work on Sundays and almost half (47%) work on Sundays often (2-3 times a month!)
More interestingly, the results suggest a strong inverse correlation between the size of the company you work for and the chances that you will work on Sundays. The self-employed/startup/small biz people work harder?
Entrepreneurs around the world often grossly underestimate what it takes to enter the US market. Take for example technology or software, sectors that I know. Attracted by the size of the American market and the potential opportunity to raise millions in capital that is not available home, entrepreneurs decide to take the leap and create a beachhead.
Conventional wisdom around Europe and Asia is that a local parent company will keep its engineering and product development home and “open a Silicon Valley office to market the product/service/technology”. Perfect. Until you get down to assessing what resources are required. And assessing you must, least finding out later in the game that you are grossly undersized for the challenge.
I may cover legal costs, accounting, infrastructure, rent and other investments another time. Now I want to focus on talent, the scarcest of resources, even in this market.
I have been in looking into crowdsourcing business models for the last couple of months. Personal and professional interest. As often the case, when a subject is on your mind, you stumble upon it. So, when ads like this one started popping up on my Facebook page I clicked through.
The ads send you to Logo tournament (LT), a crowdsourcing play on logo design services. It’s quite straightforward. Company needs a new logo, it submits a “contest” to LT and sets a price. Designers send in one or more designs. The best design wins and the designer gets paid.
I tried to figure out how a business model like LT’s would look like.
LT charges designers a 15% transaction fee. Companies set the price they are willing to pay in advance, with a minimum allowed of $250. Paypal transaction fees are passed on to customers.
Note that LT will take the money from companies in “escrow” and select and pay a winner at the end of the contest even if a company does not select a winning design. That means that if a contest is listed, the money will be paid and the commission earned.
LT lists all open and closed contests at any given time. I counted about ~165 open concurrent contests with an average age of 5.1 days and ~1,800 closed contests. I sampled 100 contests at random and calculated an average prize amount of ~$315. Assuming a steady flow of contests, that means about ~1000 contests a month (i.e. 30/5.1*165=971).
With commissions at 15%, that adds up to a monthly revenue of close to $50,000. The estimate is obviously highly sensitive to the monthly contest count estimate. Here’s a back of the envelope revenue estimate (with lower and higher estimates to test for sensitivity).
Out of 10 people that can do a job, 1 is an A-player, 3 are B-players and the rest are C-players, or so the story goes… Simple enough, right? So, I ran a couple of public polls on Linkedin. Just for fun. They probably have no statistical relevance, but the results are interesting :).
First, I asked respondents to self select in the A, B or C player category. 78% put themselves in the A-Player list…
Filed under Fun, Management
In a recent post, Auren Hoffman argues that, in this economy, hiring has become harder… and he is rather convincing at it:
That’s right … hiring in tough economic times can actually be much harder than when times are good. In a downturn, the amount of resumes from C-Players massively increases while the amount of resumes from A-Players probably remains the same.
I generally agree with Auren’s premise and conclusions, though I believe it is important to recognize that most companies will never have access to the A-Player pool in the first place, and explained why in my comment.
Because of my work, my board role at an international business association, and my alum status from a European business school, I often receive or come across career/bizdev help requests from European and, though less frequently, Asian professionals, students and companies. At the risk of insulting someone, I’d like to offer some advice to the many non-Americans friends out there.
Filed under Management, Tips
Once a year, Y-Combinator holds Startup School, its “annual free conference for hackers interested in startups.” This year’s videos from speakers like Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen and Peter Norvig among others are available online here: http://omnisio.com/startupschool08/
Recommended to any startup entrepreneur.