A Good Excuse Doesn’t Fix a Problem


Brent Frei is the executive chairman and co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a provider of online project management. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Frei talks about early management, what to look for when hiring employees, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are some points from the interview:

  • Work together as a team to become a successful leader: “There are a lot of really successful ways to be a leader, but the only way I know how to do it is to be a part of the team. You get people on board, convince them about the right thing to do, get lots of input and ultimately drive to our goal.”
  • Hiring the right way will result in leadership: “If we hire right, there’s no managing; it’s just leading. And there’s a big difference between leading and managing. Leadership is: “We’ve got  problem everybody. We are all smart people. Lets figure out how we’re going to solve it. Let’s divvy up the pieces and lets go do them “.”
  • Intelligence and a quick understanding is valued: “I look for people who are bright and have a high “get-it” factor. That means they’re quick studies, so I’m talking about something really complex, they’ll say, “Got it”.
  • Don’t do it unless you really mean it: “If you’re not willing to eat rice and beans, and to get your wife and kids to eat rice and beans, don’t bother, because somewhere along the way, it’s going to be that hard. You have to have that mentality. Otherwise, it can be really difficult.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

Culture Always Comes First


Robert Reid  is the chief executive of Intacct, a cloud-based provider of financial management and accounting software. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Reid discussed how his leadership style has evolved, his work culture, and how inspiration is key. Here are some interesting points from the interview:

  • Don’t just focus on strategy, focus on culture: “I found that execution was virtually equal to and maybe even more important than strategy. So I started reading a lot about execution, and I started working more closely with people on the front lines. And then I discovered that was a wrong approach, and what really mattered was culture.”
  • Create a workplace that inspires: “If you create an environment that inspires people in the good times and bad, good people will figure out the right strategy and will do the right things from an execution prospective”
  • Listen to your employees and help guide them: “If someone is not doing something the way you expect or you have a different viewpoint, you need to seek to understand what’s going on and help them.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.


Hearing Every Voice in the Room


When a meeting is called, there will always be that mix of introverts, extroverts, and know-it-alls. No matter what the mix is, it’s important to get the best work out of your team and having everyone lay out their ideas.

When team members have developed relationships, it’s easy for them to organize themselves. Having that trust and empathy makes it easier to have their ideas be brought to the table, but when your company is in the middle of a transformation, team dynamics can easily get in the way of good ideas, and often the group is silenced by the loudest voice.

The best way to get your team to work together as a group is by focusing on these two things:

1) Allowing everyone to contribute their ideas

2) Letting them be heard

Phil Gilbert of IBM, held a workshop where he assembled teams that span skills, different experience levels and points of view. He presented a question directed towards their new business email tool, IBM Verse, which helps workers find information fast and prioritize tasks. The teams where given very little instructions as well as pen and paper and spend 10 minutes jotting down their thoughts and ideas towards the question. Their ideas were posted on a giant white board, and everyone remained silent which didn’t allow people to judge or cause unnecessary battles. The ideas are then sorted and colleagues are left to reflect and take it all in via face to face, phone, or through a group texting tool. This brainstorming experience called popcorning gets ideas running quickly and allows everyone to speak their mind.

This powerful form of brainstorming makes for better teams and leads to better decisions.

Read the article in it’s entirety here.

Are Business Owners Looking To Expand?

2012, 2013, and 2014 have all seen businesses looking to expand. 2014 was a good year for that! What will 2015 bring? For today’s post, we look back at the same 2014 report conducted by UPS Connect from a few weeks ago.

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When asked if business owners are looking to expand in 2014, 58% said they plan to grow their business locally, 34% plan to expand their business nationally, 27% have global expansion plans, and 15% have no current expansion plans.

Since the Great Recession in 2009, companies have been able to put the effects of the economic decline behind them. As the economy has improved, business owners are more optimistic about expanding their companies.

Play to Your Team’s Strengths

02-CORNER-master495Deborah Harmon is the chief executive of Artemis Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment management company headquartered in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Harmon discussed her personal managing tips, her hiring process, and how she got to where she is today. Here are some of the most salient points from the interview:

  • Become a problem-solver and a fixer: “If you have that attitude, it encourages people to bring you their problems early and often, and that’s good. But if you’re a fixer, then you risk spending your whole day fixing other people’s problems.”
  • Play by peoples strengths: “rather than trying to shore up their weaknesses. Because if you play to people’s strengths, you create a team of complementary skill sets. It’s like a puzzle. ”
  • Chance favors the prepared mind: “I use that in our company with young people because they have to be so detailed-oriented, but also in seeing how people prepare for the interview. 

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

What Cloud Computing Means to Your Job


With advancements in technology, there have been many accusations that technology has made many jobs that were once vital to running a society disappear. From the production line to the accounting office, more and more jobs are being replaced by computers and software and it’s only going to continue to grow. In this era of cloud computing that the tech industry is moving into, companies will require smaller departments and less workers. Many companies will eventually have to adapt to cloud computing and that can be an issue. Here are some of the main points from the biggest cloud companies around:

  • Ed Lazowska who holds a chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington said “Technology shapes styles of work. One critical advantage of the cloud is that sharing becomes dramatically easier.”
  •  David Campbell, who is the head of engineering at Microsoft Azure mentioned how they are able to make engineering changes by moving parts of its customers traffic into new software in real time which “takes hours, instead of months and years in the legacy”.
  • At Amazon Web Services they have built the worlds biggest cloud computing business. Work is divided into teams of small size in order to determine what the customer is doing with an important product. This allows the team to quickly adapt the product to work better and look for new insight. For 2014, Amazon announced that it’s cloud division created 60% more new products that it did in 2013.

One can conclude that companies who adapt to cloud computing will be more collaborative, more specialized, and ultimately be better at delivering their services and products. What do you think?

Read the entire article here