Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brownbag with Phil Libin, the CEO of EverNote

These are my tweets from the brown bag with Evernote CEO, Phil Libin.
June 9, 2010

  • Best product does win. Conventional wisdom that "best product does not always win" is getting less and less true.
  • Platforms are diverging. Not converging.
  • People who use desktop and mobile version of your apps are more likely to pay.
  • If a friend invites a friend another to use #evernote the invitee tends to continue to use the product longer.
  •  For 89 cents u can buy a user download. But users u 'buy' are one tenth as good as users who find you.
  • About 2 % of all users pay. About 6% of active users pay. Premium users r growing faster than free users
  • 16 Engineers at #evernote.
  • In a 'cohort' of users who join #evernote those who use it for two months, continue to use it for years
  • It is far more important for users to stay than to pay.
  • Premium users say that they pay because they love #evernote
  • Older (not by age) users are far more valuable for #evernote
  • Premium users do not use the 'premium-only' features. But there is an uptick when premium features are announced
  • Google checkout and paypal were not very reliable. We built our own ecommerce.
  • People are genuinely suspicious of free. #evernote
  • The longer u keep free users, the more likely they pay. So focus on keeping ur customers. They will pay.
  • You can buy #evernote premium in shrinkwrapped boxes in Japan #ceo
  • #Evernote sees users as part of monthly cohorts. - Interesting way of looking at user data.
  • Freeium model works if u have long term retention rate. Works for prodducts that increase in value over time. Works if low variable costs.
  • Only active users cost #evernote money.
Thanks to my friend, Terence Chesire for compiling my tweets.

If you are interested in finding out more about Evernote, here is a video of Phil Libin talking about Evernote to Mashable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Create a Micro Site for your prototype

We all create html or screenshot based prototypes that we share with colleagues, partners and customers for feedback. Most people zip the file and send it to multiple parties as email attachments or via FTP. Then they worry about versions, have problems with downloads and huge attachments.

Instead get a domain, get a cheap hosting site and place your prototype there. Protect it with a password if required. Sharing the link and password via email is easy. It will also spread virally. People tend to click on a link way more than they open an attachments.

If you want recommendations on what works, leave a comment here or DM me @sprabu and I'll share the details of how to do this.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6 Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono

I have worked with people multiple cultures and countries for many years now. One of the effective tools for distributed development is not software. It comes in paperback.

It is the 6 thinking hats process for thinking and communicating as a group.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono.

This process works well when you have to talk over the phone to an audience who cannot see your facial expression. It is also effective when people in the room are from different cultures and have different styles of communication.

You don't need very elaborate training for a team to use this. If one or two people know the process, you can start by saying "If I put my black hat, which is a negative hat, and give you my thoughts, this is what I will say". It is much better than saying, "That is wrong" or "I don't agree".

Leaders at all levels by Ram Charan

I am listening to the book, Leaders at all Levels by Ram Charan

Leaders at All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership)

This is good book for talent managers, HCM folks and anyone interested in reaching the C-Level office.

In the book, Ram Charan talks about the importance of learning by apprenticeship, learning by doing, mentoring and learning by mentoring. I find the message simple and clear. Learn by doing. Help others grow by making them learn on the job.

It is very interesting the see the number of times the words learning, apprenticeship and relationships are mentioned in the book. It is what you know, what you do and who you can trust to help you do things.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Open Leadership by Charlene Li

I am reading Open Leadership by Charlene Li  and looking at it from the point of view of career,  performance and development. I plan to highlight the things that catch my attention. Sometimes it is compilation of my tweets while reading the book away from my desk.

 Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead

Chapter 1: Why Giving Up Control is inevitable
Who should read this chapter: If you are a CEO and have time to read only one chapter, read this one.

In the first Chapter Charlene makes the case that openness is inevitable for most organizations. Just 20 years back, countries, not just companies, were able to keep their people in the dark for weeks together about developments outside. Today information gets out in minutes, if not seconds. So being open and transparent and enabling people to make decisions based on all the information available is the only way to succeed.

Chapter 2:  The Ten element of Openness

In Chapter 2, Charlene gets into the details of what openness means for the CEO, a project team, the Human Resources team and so on. I found compelling arguments for the CEO to blog, the CIO to invest in collaboration and micro blogging tools and the HR executives to insist on openness. She also suggests that the sharing culture of the next generation work force will demand that you be open.
  • When a CEO blogs she can tell the mission of her org in her own words and provide operating updates. #charleneli #openleadership p27
  • Use of microblogging by teams speeds up product development #charleneli #openleadership - Some people are overwhelmed a bit. But it works.
  • #charleneli talks about an onboarding use case in c2 of #openleadership #page26
  • The net generation believes that sharingness is next to godliness #charleneli #openleadership - r u ready for them?
Chapter 3 : Objectives determine how open you will be?
Chapter 3 covers the engagement pyramid. Watching, Sharing, Commenting, Producing and Curating are the five levels in an engagement pyramid. In the US, about 80% watch, 61% share, 36% comment, 24% produce and 1% curate.
This chapter also talks about creating an action plan based on the objectives of the organization. Charlene says that the first step is to identify the strategic goal and put the learning systems (I think she means social-intelligence gathering systems) in place to support that goal. She also says that you need to determine the best approach, the level of openness and the ability to be an open organization.

I see people executives and talent managers playing a very important role in creating the above action plan. Since people are at the center of this plan, this is something that the customer facing business units and human resource executives need to work together on. Conflicting messages and directives from different departments may confuse employees.

Chapter 4 :Understanding and measuring the benefits of being open
Chapter 5 : Structuring Openness with Sandbox Covenants
Chapter 6 : Orchestrating your open Strategy
Chapter 7 : Open Leadership Mindsets and Traits
Chapter 8 : Nurturing Open Leadership
Chapter 9 : The Failure Imperative
Chapter 10 : How Openenss Transforms Organizations

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

You are not a functional manager. You are a venture capitalist.

While I was at DigitalThink, I worked for @ErikSowa. Erik behaved more like a venture capitalist than a traditional functional manager. He looked at most of his team members as CEOs of their operations. He funded all of us with money, support, advice and contacts. In return he demanded and got the best out of us. He even came up with a brand name for the team - Solare.

Here is a simple example of his behavior. In 2001, When I wanted to create a customer extranet to improve collaboration with customers, he did not go to the CFO for his permission or the IT team for support. He just "funded" me with $35 a month so that I can get SharePoint workspaces going for about 35 customers, who together brought more than $25 M to the company. I just expensed the software cost every month and, in my spare time, ran the site myself with the entire company's customer collaboration running on less then 100 MB space hosted by Microsoft. It was the best return on IT investment ever. There are several more examples that I won't go into.

To contrast how efficient Erik was with deploying people and money, I want to point out that just a couple of years later the company spent more than $250,000 on a collaboration system, which was retired after a while without accomplishing much.

I was thinking about this experience a few days back and realized that every manager needs to have the same mindset, if he or she needs to succeed today. A good manager needs to identify what his team members are good at, give them what they want and let them excel at their work. If you are a person managing NetGen workers, I suggest you take the approach that Erik does. If you are an employee, I suggest you search for and find a manager with Erik's mindset. It is worth the trouble.

By the way, the team that Erik led, developed a CEO mind set. The Solare alumni now work at places such as InsideView, Zurich Financial, McKinsey, Infosys, Accenture,  FLUID and SAP. Thank You Erik for being our "Venture Capitalist".

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable

Just finished listening to CD 2 of 3 of the book The Big Moo by Seth Godin and 32 other business visionaries.

The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable

The book is a collection of short essays by 33 successful business leaders. Has some interesting tips and advice. The main theme of the book is this. Stop trying to be perfect at work by following the rules written by others. Instead, start being remarkable and really useful for others. That is the only way to succeed.

Friday, June 04, 2010

My South Indian Cook Books and the Recipes I Use

I cook south Indian food at home. Apart from "Cook and See", the bible of all cooks from Tamil Nadu, I also find the book "Dakshin, Vegetarian cuisine from South India" useful.
Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India

The Plantain Poriyal from the above book is one of my favorites.

How a new hire is taking charge of the first 90 days in his new job

Recently a friend of mine accepted a job offer from a top consulting company. We spoke about the challenges of a new employee in a new large organization. We discussed the research done by two MIT professors on new-hire on-boarding.

After realizing the importance of connecting with people in the first few weeks on the job, he is taking charge of his on-boarding process to ensure that he can hit the ground running right from day one.

Weeks before his first day, he created a workspace and shared his thoughts and goals about the first 90 days at his job. He then invited his mentor from his new company to join so that he can connect him to the right people. He invited, the senior business partner who interviewed to review and comment on his goals. He also invited his former colleagues who supported him during his job change to join the workspace to support his first 90 days in his new job.

Since a major part of his job is implementing enterprise software he also invited his contacts who are product managers from enterprise software companies to advice him during the process.

He used @SAPStreamwork to create the workspace and take charge of his On-Boarding into his new job. You can too, for free. Streamwork is free for up to 5 activities.

Go ahead. Give it a try. Take charge of your on-boarding if you are changing jobs. It does not matter whether you are changing companies or changing jobs within the company.

PS: I will update this post to share more info about his experience.

How a hiring manager is taking charge of the recruiting process and getting the best talent for his team

One of my colleagues @MChewD is building a world class design thinking team to turbo charge the SAP On-Demand team. He is hiring product managers, smart technologists and design thinkers. He has to manage the hiring process for several open positions within his team. He is looking at both internal and external candidates.

To manage all the process without drowning in email and attachments, he has taken charge with an innovative approach. He created a workspace and invited his recruiters and 2 HR business partners  to join the workspace so that he can clearly articulate his hiring needs to them and help them find the best candidates for him. When he expands his team in Germany, he plans to invite his German HR partners as well.

He also invited one of his senior team members to join the workspace to help him review the candidates, rank them and eventually hire the best people. He told me that this has taken the multiple emails and multiple attachments out of the picture.

If you are a hiring manager tired of using email to manage the hiring process, give @SAPStreamwork a try. It is free for up to five activities. You just need one activity to manage your hiring process. You can invite recruiters within your company, contract recruiters who are not in your company's email system and friends outside the company who are advising you on the hiring process to join the workspace and help you out.

If you are a hiring manager, you know that hiring is a collaborative effort where your relationship with the recruiter and the HR business partner matters a lot. Managing this relationship via email is stressful. So, go ahead. Take charge of the hiring process, engage your recruiters and HR business partners and get the best people for your team.

PS:Streamwork home page will state that it is a decision support tool. Yes. It does that very well. But it can do much more than that.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...