Monthly Archives: July 2008

Art of the Introduction

How to introduce two people so that
they both benefit

 

Intros are
a science.  Making introductions the
right way will massively increase utility between two people.  And doing it the wrong way can make one of
the parties look bad or alienate one or both parties from you.

 

The
following few paragraphs will take you through the best way to make an email
introduction between two people.  Before
we go through the mechanics, let’s first define the objectives.  As the introducer, your objective should be that
you benefit both people you are introducing. 
If it can only benefit one of the parties, you should not even
bother.   At the end of the meeting, both
parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other
person, and thankful to you.

 

First, before
you start, take your time.  Good
introductions take time.  If done
hastily, their impact will be minimal.  
Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each
other and spell it out in an email.  I’m
sure we’ve all been victims of hastily written email intros (I recently got one
that said “Auren/John – you two just HAVE to meet each other.   You two take it from here.”)

 

A good way
to go about it is to first email the more well-known person and ask for permission.   Make the case of why they should meet the
other dude and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two of you.  Usually it will work well but occasionally
someone will say that they are too busy. 
If that’s the case, you just saved both friends a lot of trouble.  You never want to make an introduction where
both parties don’t immediately respond to each other … that will make you
look really bad.   When you email people,
you want to make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to
quickly arrange a time to talk.  

 

Take the time of each person into
account
.   Suggest whether they should meet for lunch,
coffee, over the phone, or just exchange emails.  Often people should just have a quick phone
call and you don’t want to waste the time of one or both people by suggesting a
lunch.    Be clear in your email
introduction what the next action should be.

 

Rarely
introduce your friend to someone just because your friend wants to meet her.  There needs to be an exchange of value
between the two people … they both need to come away with getting more value
than their time is worth.  Proactively
suggest who they might want to meet.  

 

Clearly give the location of each person.  If one person is in LA and the other is in NY,
let them know.  Maybe they are going to
be in the same city in two weeks and they can meet in person.  Or maybe they are going to arrange a call and
they will now know what time zone they are in.  

 

Be sure to
give their first and last name and a
quick bio of the person.  I often get
intros from people to jim@company.com – so
I know the first name of the person is “Jim” but don’t know their last name and
it makes it difficult to save the person’s contact information.  And a quick bio will go a long way in giving
context.

 

If you know two people have met
before, even briefly, mention it in the intro
.  Often
people forget brief meetings and you don’t want to embarrass one of them.   

 

Only forward emails that make the originator
look good
.  And, of you have to, edit
the email before forwarding.  I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone by an introducer who
forwards me a semi-confidential email chain that I probably shouldn’t see.  

 

 

If you are
introducing single people of different genders, make sure there is no misunderstanding the intentions of the
introduction
.  If it is a business
introduction, make sure you are clear about it. 
You don’t want to create an embarrassing situation were people have
misalign intentions.  

 

If the
people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if
appropriate. 

 

 

And
overall, your goal should be that both parties leave the meeting with each
other happy that you made the intro.  
They need to BOTH get value
from the meeting or you have failed.  But
when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of
both people.   An intro can be the best
way to help people. 

Seven deadly sins that lead to start-ups going under

This is one of the more interesting blogs I have read in a long time.   This is from a cofounder of a company called Monitor110 that eventually went under:

http://www.informationarbitrage.com/2008/07/monitor110-a-po.html

According to the post, the seven deadline sins are:

  1. The lack of a single, “the buck stops here” leader until too late in the game
  2. No separation between the technology organization and the product organization
  3. Too much PR, too early
  4. Too much money
  5. Not close enough to the customer
  6. Slow to adapt to market reality
  7. Disagreement on strategy both within the Company and with the Board

(saw this on Jeremy Liew‘s blog)

introducing Huddler [investments]

i recently made an angel investment in Huddler.   Huddler easily allow you to make communities to discuss products.  

See their green products huddle.  In fact, if you can get detailed information on the Tesla (this site will make Elon proud).

They just launched Huddler with two active huddles, one on environmentally friendly products and one on mobile products.   given they just launched, they are doing well on the traffic front.

Huddler.com_uv

revolution of the wine tasters . . . the emperor still has no cloths

Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics and everyone’s favorite economist, talks on his blog about a wine test he conducted with some Nobel prize winners:

Cheap Wine

(special thanks to Stephen Dodson for sending me the great article)

Right now, it is amazing how many smart people believe one bottle of wine is so much better than another. In fact, it seems (from my humble little poll of friends) that the more educated someone is, the more they believe the myth of wine and the more they buy into marketing messages.

This is an example of a scam that works much better on educated people than on those who are just street smart.
My estimation is all but few thousand people in the world can’t tell the difference between different bottles of wine. Its silly. And if anyone doesn’t believe me, I’m willing to wager cash on a taste test.

Wine score:

Street smarts: 1

PhDs: 0

Game over.

People are Highly Susceptible to Suggestion

Your decisions are easily primed by random factors

People are influenced by the strangest things and sometimes we make decisions because of random bias. We should be aware of our bias and how our opinions and actions can be shaped by priming.

Jonah Berger, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of Business, conducted a terrific study where he demonstrates that where people vote affects how they vote. Essentially, people whose voting booth is located in a church are more likely to put more weight into social issues, people voting in fire houses care more about safety, and people voting in a school tend to put more weight on things like education.

Can you believe that where you vote affects how you vote?

People are easily primed by the simplest thing, like their name. University of Buffalo’s Associate Professor and Psychologist Brett Pelham conducted a groundbreaking study that some of the biggest decisions of our life – where we live, what we do, and who we marry – are influenced by our first name. The book The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt explains further:

Men named Lawrence and women named Laurie are more likely to become lawyers. Louis and Louise are more likely to move to Louisiana or St. Louis, and George and Georgina are more likely to move to Georgia.

My guess is that people with the last name of Clinton, Kennedy, and Bush (all relatively common last names) tend to have a more favorable opinion of the Presidents sharing the same last name than the rest of the population.

People can also start acting a certain way because other people expect them too. Berger has other studies which suggest people are more likely to conform to a stereotype of them because that stereotype exists.

In psychology, these actions are known as priming. And we humans are primed often. As advanced decision makers, we need to make sure we are making important decisions for the right reasons and not just because of being primed. Deciding to see a Dustin Hoffman movie just because we have the same last name is no big deal. But if I wanted to switch professions and become an actor because of my name, it might be a good idea to really understand why.

This is another reason why your “gut” isn’t always right. A gut reaction is generally a collection of biases and can be easily primed. While it can be right (the brain can often analyze information implicitly faster than it can explicitly), it can also be dangerously wrong. It would be a really bad idea to hire someone to watch over your child just because you got a “good feeling” about the person.

Your gut might be much better at telling you what not to do than giving you good direction on what to do. If your gut tells you something is wrong with someone, than you probably do not want to entrust your kid with her. But a positive gut-check often does little good (at least for me). When thinking about how this affects hiring, our goal at Rapleaf is to attempt to remove primed biases from hiring decisions. While you’ll never be able to remove all bias, removing just a few of them can give you a dramatically large advantage over a competitor. Malcolm Gladwell has a great anecdote about this in Blink where a metropolitan symphony decides to change its hiring by listening to someone play (person was behind a screen) rather than seeing them play. It turned out that the symphony in question massively increased the number of women they hired when they stopped watching people play and instead just listened to them. And, of course, the quality of the music got much better too.

So the next time you are voting in an elementary school, think twice to yourself if we really need this new school bond.

The C.A.G.E. test for web addiction – see what you are addicted to

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The
C.A.G.E. test is a classic test to see if you are an addict (most famously used
to help identify alcoholics).  

 

1.
Have you ever felt you should Cut down on the activity?
2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your doing the activity?
3. Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about doing the activity?
4. Have you ever done the activity first thing in the morning as an Eye
opener to get yourself started on the day?

 

Of course, the C.A.G.E. test can also be applied to
email, surfing youtube, spending all your time on Facebook, or endless blog
reading.   IF you answer yes to 3 of the
4 questions, you have a problem.   If you
answer yes to 4 of 4, check yourself into the Betty Ford clinic.  Apply the test to your potential addictions
and see what you should watch out for.

economic lesons of premium airline status

If you have premium status, you get better seats with more legroom.  But those seats are the most coveted so you’ll almost certainly be sitting next to an occupied middle seat.   But if you don’t have status you get worse seats (usuall near the back of the plane), but you have a better chance of not having to sit next to someone.  

Bad coach seats with an empty middle seat is BETTER THAN a good seat with a full middle seat.   So depending on when you are flying, you have to make a decision about how full the plane will be as you choose where you’d like to sit.