Free advice for companies

June 30th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Yo listen up.
There’s 2 things you need to know

1) I’m a fair person.

2) Don’t argue with me when I’m right.

That’s all you need to know. To deal with me and pretty much everyone I know. 

Now all you need to do is empower your employees to deal with that. When I’m rightfully making a point, they should listen. (See point 2) IF they contradict me, they will get raised hackles. (See point 1) If they acknowledge my point, you get my business again.

When I’m wrongfully making a point, they can (cordially) set me straight, and I’ll take that. (See point 1) And you’ll keep getting my business.

Makes my life easy, and believe it or not, yours too.

The Brewery: Real-time, location-based car/taxi pool app

June 25th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

(That’s the first rule of a startup satisfied – use them buzz words liberally… :P)

So I’ve been travelling to and from the Sydney domestic and international terminals lately. (Side note: Did you know they now add a $3.00 surcharge right off the bat if you take a cab from the airport? Why? I have no idea. It’s not like the cabbies didn’t hang out there before the surcharge….) Anyways, I always travel alone, and usually with minimal luggage. The last time I was waiting in line, it was taking forever. When I got to the taxi bay, one of them giant Toyota Tarago cabs stopped for me. It felt like such a waste, and I was willing to wait and let a family take it, but the queue co-ordinator and taxi driver insisted that I get in. So I did. But before I slid the door shut, there was a moment I almost yelled out to the line ‘Anyone wanna share? I’m headed to Maroubra’. I didn’t. Instead I started fantasising about carrying a cardboard with me next time I travel, holding it up with where I’m headed scribbled on it the next time I’m in a taxi queue. 😛

And that’s basically the idea. A mobile app where we can locate people in our immediate vicinity who want to share transport straight away. Without having to yell and looking like a complete loon. I wouldn’t limit it to taxis – makes sense to extend it to private modes of transport as well. I’d be happy to pick someone up from the airport on my way back from sending someone off.
Thinking the best way to do it would be to integrate it somehow with one of those location services already out there – Foursquare, Gowalla etc – and give people the added pooling option if so required. Having said that, it could be stand alone. You only really need to use it at the moment you need transport.
Also I’d leave the cost splitting options to the parties involved. They’re adults, they can sort it out.
Haven’t thought of monetisation though… I’m sure it’ll come to me if I mull on it, but the main benefits are obvious – save money and possibly time, reduce traffic on the roads, and a potentially positive contribution to the environment.

Whaddya think? Is there anything like it out there already? Would you get into a taxi with a stranger?

Startup lesson from the World Cup: Beware of Rock Stars

June 22nd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

So I’ve been watching the World Cup, as I do every four years, and have been mainly supporting the underdogs. My exceptions – France, Brazil and occasionally Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Actually, I wasn’t sure if I’d be supporting Brazil this year – they crashed and burnt 4 years ago, and my heart hasn’t recovered. And then France, the runners up last World Cup, go and lose their first game and draw the second. *sighs*
And then there’s England – they draw with USA, their fans go into shock then rage, and I wonder why anyone is surprised at all. I mean really, that *is* their pattern… *ducks*

Now the reason I mention these teams is that they’re full of rock star players. Guys who make millions doing what they do really well between World Cups. Guys who win Player of the Year awards and are household names. These teams’ player lists read like the fantasy football teams we build.

And yet, the teams are crap.

And so, musing on this in a sleep-deprived haze, it suddenly hits me – Many Rock Stars does not a Team make.

As you know, I’ve been job hunting the past few months. One thing most startup job listings have in common? Using words like “Rock Star” in their role descriptions. And I’ve come to realise that they aren’t using the term just to look cool and funky, as startups tend to do. That’s what they’re actually looking (waiting) for. And so, those of us like me, those who are really really good at what they do but don’t have a rock star reputation preceding their job application don’t even get a look in.

There ain’t nothing wrong with wanting to hire a rock star mind you. All I’m pointing out is that filling a team with too many rock stars isn’t the best thing for a startup. Every startup needs ‘generalists’. People who can fill in the voids between the specialist rock stars. I do believe there is enough anecdotal evidence out there as well, from following the startup scene via blogs, as well as listening to ‘insider’ stories of failed or troubled startups.

Oh, and feel free to forward this post to the English manager. 😛

*ding ding* End of Round 1 – Dek in SF

June 10th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Well, technically I’m in the Bay Area, but pandering to an international audience here 😛

So, my visa’s up tomorrow, am flying back to Sydney today.

I’m sitting in my version of heaven, Red Rock Coffee, for one last blast of smooth coffee goodness, and my mind’s whirring with a dozen thoughts and emotions.

  • I don’t wanna leave. The more I stay here, the more I wanna live here. (And it’s not just because of the coffee too :P)
  • The best thing about this trip were the people. I’ve met so many awesome people I now consider friends. So many people both here in the US and back in Aust have been so generous with their care, time and efforts. It’s truly humbling. I got lucky that way 🙂
  • It was a hard slog. Being in a strange place, not knowing many people at the beginning, withdrawals from leaving work I truly loved, the highs and lows of job hunting, being crap at networking, not having a clue, the uncertainty…. Now that I think about it, no wonder there were times I felt overwhelmed!
  • I would do it all again, even though I’m returning without a job. (There are a few things on the burner, but nothing’s confirmed yet). So I will. I’m gonna come back in July and give it another go. I feel like I haven’t given it my absolute all, and that bugs me.
  • Wheeee! The adventure continues! 😀

  • I would say to anyone considering doing the same – Go for it! It ain’t easy, but it is (mainly) fun, and at the every least, it’s a good experience. Oh, and drop me a line, we’ll talk. 🙂

    Bugger Quit Facebook Day, I'm stayin!

    June 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

    So Quit Facebook Day has come and gone. From what I can tell, two of my friends, Mark Pesce and Nathanael Boehm deleted their profile. (It’s hard to be sure just how many deleted their profiles, from what I can tell my total friends’ count has gone up *scratching head*). That’s cool, I have them on Twitter anyways.

    I have read theirs and others’ reason for quitting, and on an idealistic level, they have a point. I’m pissed at Facebook, I feel like they’ve reneged on the deal we had, I don’t trust them AT ALL, and I would like out too.

    Reality however, as so often is the case, is a bummer. The fact of the matter is that I am too embedded in that closed off, archive-free (a pet peeve, indulge me) ecosystem. It’s not about content. A while ago I made a conscious effort to put my content elsewhere and port it all into Facebook. I basically stopped trusting Facebook with my stuff a while ago.

    But here’s what Facebook has that I can’t give up – I *won’t* give up – my people. I’ve spent immeasurable time and effort building my circle and there are people there I don’t have access to outside Facebook. It’s not that we won’t be able to keep in touch outside it, but the fact is that our relationship exists *wholly* within it. We would never email each other – exchanging comments on status updates and wall posts is the extent of our relationship. I would warn against trivialising these relationships due to the nature of the communication. These friends of mine diversify and add colour to my horizon. They’re like the neighbours you see in the street – you exchange pleasantries, clear out each other’s mailboxes when the other’s away – close enough to care, far enough to not share your secret recipes with.

    Another form of communication that doesn’t exist outside Facebook is third-party-enabled exchanges. This is the stuff you see that friends of a friend have put up about them. Stuff that you wouldn’t see otherwise. And before you yell ‘STALKER’ at me and run off, I’ve got a real world example for ya.
    I’m in California, my parents are in Singapore, and my brother takes off for an European tour with his trash metal band. I had no way of reaching my brother, so my only irl source of keeping in touch with him was through my mother. There was one night when I had a call with my mother who was updating me where bro was and how he was, while at the same time looking at pictures of his trip that his band mate had uploaded to Facebook and tagged him in. I in turn was able to update my mother that it looked like he was still in one piece and having fun. 😛

    Resharing on my wall
    And then the kicker – I take an image my brother’s friend (who I’m not connected to) has uploaded and share it on my wall, thus allowing all my people who aren’t friends with him to see what he is up to. The comment in that wall post is by a friend of mine currently in India. That’s a four-party-exchange of information that would not have happened this easily any where else.

    So give me any argument you have against Facebook, any other platform you can build to replace it – as long as it doesn’t replicate the immediate, intimate and enabled methods of communication Facebook currently provides, I can’t leave. I’m staying, and while I’m there, what I can do is make efforts to educate my people on best Facebook practices, and aid organisations like to make big bad Facebook a more trustworthy place to hang out. For what it’s worth, I have hope that we’ll all live happily ever after.

    Where am I?

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