Category Archives: Connector

tip: Make your browser homepage blank

quick thing you can do to boost your productivity:

Make your default browser homepage blank.

So you won’t be tempted to do something else when you open a browser to accomplish a task.

people who have their browser default page MyYahoo or MSNBC are in for a productivity suck as they will be likely drawn to an interesting news article every time they open a browser instance.

Jason Foodman on trade show marketing

Jason Foodman, CEO of DigitalSwift Corp, wrote a great article is this month’s edition of Software Business Magazine on how to better market at trade shows. For those of you who know Jason, he’s obviously a very smart and creative guy. and i highly suggest this article if you are planning on attending a trade show in the future:

Thinking ‘Outside the Booth’
Unconventional Software Marketing Means Better Trade Show Returns

make tasks your start-up page

quick thing you can do to boost your productivity:

If you use Outlook.

Go to: Tools\Options\Other\Advanced Options

In the “Startup in the folder” pick “Tasks”

Then, every time you start-up outlook, the first thing you’ll see is your tasks. A small (but hopefully noticeable) productivity boost will ensue …

The best job in the world

StonebrickToday is a very important day for me. It is the two year anniversary of my company, Stonebrick Group. We got our first customer, LaunchSquad – a PR firm, on July 1 2003.

After selling BridgePath (an enterprise software company) in October 2002, I took some time off … reading, attending foreign policy conferences, going on trips with the military, learning … and then I started to get a little antsy.

So I did what every career advisor tells you to do but no one ever actually does … I decided to try to design my own job. One that I would absolutely love doing every day. And one that I would be able to excel at. It is tough to find both. I’d love to be a professional soccer player … but I don’t think that’s in the cards for me. And I might excel at a bunch of business things that I might not love.

So I designed my own job.

More than anything else, I love to help people. Especially when I can help people by connecting them with others for their mutual benefit (and therefore help two people at once). I love to help people build long-term relationships. Turns out, I’m actually good at it too.

So my only dilemma, before starting Stonebrick, was … would anyone ever pay me for that?

But LaunchSquad took a flyer on me. The four partners there (Jason Mandell, Jesse Odell, Jason Throckmorton, and Brett Weiner) are terrific to work with and worked with them for 16 months — helping them build long-term relationships. LaunchSquad was a five person company at the time. Now they are triple the size, just took over an entire floor of a downtown San Francisco office building, and have large expansion plans.

Then Zoom Systems became my second client in August 2003 and I started working with Clarium Capital that September. Since then, we’ve had 18 customers including Microsoft, Sanyo, Gerson Lehrman Group, Travelocity, CB Richard Ellis, and others.

And so today, I sit back and reflect … I am extremely thankful to be doing what I do. I love going to work every day. For me, helping others build relationships is the best job in the world.

What could you be doing if you never watched TV?

I tried this experiment two years ago when I unplugged the TV and stopped cable. And wow. I’ve read more then ever, got more work done, took on new pursuits, and exercised more.

(Of course, when I travel and have a working TV in my room, I’m absolutely captivated because I’m so TV-deprived … )

Try unplugging your TV for a month and see what happens…

Don’t Play Golf

People often ask me questions about networking. How does one build connections? How does one build relationships? Should we go to Churchill Club meetings?

Woods0223_apMy advice: don’t do what others do. … be different …

Do what you like. Do what you have a passion in. Don’t do something just because others are going to it.

You love dogs? Get involved in helping dogs. I guarantee you’ll meet many more interesting people then if you force yourself onto the organizing committee for the hippest posh Atherton fundraiser.

Like when making decision to go to a lecture:
– are you going to be interested in the content?
– is the format of the meeting (like panel discussion with 200 people in attendance) conducive to your learning?
– is the cost of time (to travel there and attend) less than the benefit of what you learn?
– would you benefit more from listening to the lecture on your commute to work?

The rule: never go to an event just because you want to meet other people that will be there. Go because you are really interested in the content, you want to learn something, or you really believe in the cause.

I actually don’t go to tech conferences anymore. Though a lot of great people go, I rarely find the content useful and rarely learn much from the presentations. But I go to a lot of foreign policy conferences — because I tend to learn a ton there.

And only play golf if you really love golf. And I mean really love it. Don’t just do it because it is a thing to do. Don’t give into the fad or peer pressure. Make your own path. Don’t be a follower.

I’ve never played a game of golf in my life. I am planning on playing … on my 75th birthday …

future network of a person and the “network enhancing event”

it is hard to predict the future network of a person might have. but someone’s key value to an organization is their network — especially weak ties to other people. obviously, the younger a person is, the more likely s/he is to have massively increased network 20 years from now as people’s value grow.

many people go through what i call a “network enhancing event” — that is some sort of life event/change that massively increases one’s network. Like b-school. Harvard Business School is a good example (large, highly social people). One’s network can essentially double or triple. most of the people who go to college experience this.

my feeling on the value of college is not much (besides pressures from society and learning how to drink beer). but the network one gains can be extraordinarily important and one can learn a lot.

A “network enhancing event” could be a variety of things. for an academic, it might be writing a well-received paper or book. it might be a job change that forces you to interact w/ tons of people. it might even be gaining a new good friend or significant other that is more social or has access to a different set of people. it might be moving to a new town.

many people go through 2-4 network enhancing events in their lifetime and thus “valuing” someone’s network might change over time

LinkedIn data analysis

Do you think you are getting too many LinkedIn requests? I had a sneaky suspicion that I was getting a bunch of requests, but I wanted to empirically check how many I was receiving.

So I tracked every request I got for a month.

In the last month I received 25 requests – which is almost once per day (and more than once every business day). A summary of all the requests I received are below.

Some highlights:
# Requests: 25
Number where I was the intended target: 2
Number that I initiated: 0
Number that I was just a link of the chain: 23

Of the 23 …
Number that I forwarded: 9
Number that I declined (thought they were inappropriate): 14

Of the 25 … number of hops:
Two: 2
Three: 2
Four: 6
Five: 15
(commentary: because I was hop #3 in a 5 hop chain of most requests, I was less likely to forward the request because I have no relationship either to the person initiating the request or to the intended target)

The data:

2/15/05 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone wanted to recruit a former CEO for a manager position in Teaneck NJ. i declined.

2/13/04 — 3 hops. i was hop #2. one VC wants to meet another VC. i forwarded.

2/10/04 — 4 hops. i was hop #2. good recruiter looking for a candidate. i forwarded.

2/9/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #4. someone wanted to pitch work to someone across the country. i declined.

2/9/04 — 4 hops. i was hop #3. someone wanted a job. i declined.

2/8/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone trying to pitch Microsoft. i declined.

2/6/04 — 4 hops. i was hop #3. some guy wants to connect to a former coworker. i forwarded the request.

2/6/04 — 4 hops. i was hop #2. friend wants to sell something to Washington Mutual. i forwarded the request.

2/6/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone trying to reach the asst to the CEO of Starwood to sell them something. i declined.

2/5/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone trying to reach the CEO of Princeton Review to pitch them something. i forwarded the request.

2/4/04 — 3 hops. i was hop #2. person trying to connect with an old business colleague. i forwarded the request.

2/4/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone i do not know wants a job from someone i do not know. i declined.

2/4/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. someone wants to learn about a company five hops down the chain. i declined.

2/3/04 — 5 hops. i was hop #3. Some guy wants to sell camera phones into starbucks. i declined.

2/2/04 — 5 hops — i was hop #3. some guy wants to introduce a new piece of software to another guy. i declined.

1/29/04 — 2 hops — i was hop #2. someone i never heard of is moving to SF and wants to connect. i declined.

1/26/04 — 5 total hops. i was hop #3. guy looking for a job. i declined.

1/26/04 — 5 total hops. i was hop #4. someone looking to get into the wine and food industry. i forwarded the request.

1/23/04 — 5 total hops. i was hop #4. someone looking for consulting work. i declined.

1/22/04 — 4 total hops. I was hop #3. looking for a candidate to hire. i forwarded the request to a friend who is the potential candidate.

1/21/04 — 5 total hops. I was hop #5. Guy wanted to reach me. wanted to get involved in Lead21. i accepted him. he immediately became a Lead21 member

1/19/04 — 2 hops (guy requested me directly). wanted to sell me something. i declined.

1/19/04 — 4 total hops. I was hop#3. some random guy wants to meet michael yang. i declined.

1/17/04 — 5 total hops. i was hop #3. someone looking for a job. looked unqualified. i declined.

1/14/04 — 5 total hops. i was hop #4. job seeker wanting to get in touch with a recruiter friend of mine. looked legit so i forwarded it on.

Do You Have a Bizarro?

Do you have a bizarro?

A couple of years back i had an eVite bizarro. eVite is a service that people use to invite you to parties and then you can RSVP to them effectively.

I kept going to parties and “Ron Abta” would always RSVP to them. I kept seeing his name and wondered who he was. Then I started going to parties and asking if he was there. Invariably I’d get a response like “he’s in the living room” and then I’d make my way to the living room and I’d get “he already left.” I started thinking that maybe this Ron Abta guy didn’t exist.

Well … soon enough, Ron heard I was doing this at parties and he started doing it to — asking people if they saw “Auren Hoffman”. We went six months like that before finally meeting (and then I introduced him to Arinel’s — the best pizza in San Francisco)…