The first thing you probably should know about having a mentor is that a mentor is defined as:
Someone who was once where you are now and is now at a place you want to be and is willing to assist you to make the jump.
This means that only someone making moves towards where I am interested in going should be my mentor. A poor man can rarely mentor you into riches, if he knew how to be rich, he would not be poor, would he? A bricklayer cannot mentor you to become a civil engineer, you would have to seek someone else.
The person has to be willing to assist. You have to keep in touch with her, she also has to keep an eye on your progress and monitor you and pump you up to get things done. Do not confuse mentors with role models, for example, unless you figured out a way to talk to the dead, guys like Albert Einstein cannot mentor you. You can read his books and learn from his story, but he is merely a role model to you and nothing more.
Is mentorship compulsory? NO.
It merely makes things easier as you get to leverage on the experiences of your mentor without partaking in the pain it took to learn those lessons.
So, I received a message from a contact on a social media site with the title: “This is worth checking out”. Normally, I would have clicked the website address he sent without a second thought, but then, I froze.
“Is it really worth checking out?”
Am I even sure my contact actually sent me the message? The app could have auto sent the (lame) message to everybody on his contact list. What if the website is even a malware that will just infect my device and open me up to hackers (yeah, I have been watching Mr Robot too).
After all these analysis, I ignored the message and moved on. I came here to write this post!
Is this the end of relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is the idea of getting people you know and trust to market products and services to you rather than a strange, cold company that you have never heard about. Relationship marketing eventually gave a strong base and footing to multi-level marketing where you make money by recommending products and services you ought to have tried and found working to others.
Sadly, both relationship marketing and multi-level marketing seems to have broken down in terms of the original idea of simply trying to be useful. What everyone is interested in now is the number of points they will accrue to their account when you buy or click or whatever and not the value the product ought to add.
When the rush to promote our business services leads us to erode and pollute these marketing channels, it reduces the potency of the campaign and we would then need to start looking for alternatives.
It does not have to be like that.
A single heart-felt referral is usually more useful to business in the longer run than a dozen scammy or semi-scammy referrals. But as always, if all we are counting is how much and not how well, we may as well send out a million automated messages like the one I received and get ignored like I did.
Watching The World
We do not try hard enough.
We give up too early.
We conclude that it is not working even though what we have done so far is so little that it barely even counts as work.
We fail to follow up after the first proposals were sent out.
We slipped back into old and unprofitable habits after a strong resolve to become more profitable.
We do not try hard enough.
When I started Gistcaster in 2009, all I knew I wanted to build was a social media site that allowed people to exchange gist. I was building it in the mold of Twitter, and my plan to render Twitter useless was by building loads and loads of cool features.
I figured out my ideal pitch was “Gistcaster is just like Twitter, but on steroids!”
Of course, the whole thing came down crashing. It takes more than features to win in a game like this. People do not signup to use your app because you have a cool feature they cannot find anywhere else. When we download your app or open up your website or turn up at your cinema house or shop, we are there not necessarily because of the features.
We turn up because of the experience you are promising.
Therefore, do not design and stick up a million features. For your next social app, do not just head over to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and the rest, write out a bunch of features they have that is lame and then build yours based on that. Probably would not work. It is about the experience you are promising and not the individual features.
It is about been able to define the mission and vision of your project and allowing that to guide you into things to do and things to stay away from. That is the core, the soul of your project and it is very very important.
Watching The World
A vulture is a lazy eagle, never ready to invest the hard work needed. Always looking for carcasses (shortcuts, easy kills) to eat. An eagle on the other hand is hard working, diligent and industrious. Always holding itself to high levels of excellence and elegance.
People usually prefer to associate with the eagle, very few people would admit to be vulture-like in their operations. In fact, attributing someone to vulture-like characteristics is usually taken as an offense.
But it is not a matter of saying I’m an Eagle! No! Show us your hand work, the projects you have executed and leave us to decide if you are truly the brave, wise eagle who goes out to scout his work diligently or if you are a vulture who looks for easy way out, ideas to copy-and-paste and shortcuts.
The difference between the eagle and the vulture is that the excellent eagle always has an edge over the vulture in everything.
I think more of us should step up to do work that really counts. We must stop thinking about constrains whether real or imagined, the lack of resources we think we have is merely an illusion. Nothing can stop the determined eagle from achieving any set objectives, nothing at all.
The Google and the Alphabet Inc episode recently got me thinking about the need for vision and the need for a drive to move towards it as soon as we can. If you have a vision and you really want to get it done, it pays to go for the long haul.
Every now and then we meet people who say things along the lines of “I know what I really want to do with my life, but I am starting out so-and-so time”. You might also have met the App Developer who says “I have this grand app ama build soon, but for now I am freelancing and I have 3 apps on the side”.
The reality check is that whether we start moving towards the real thing today or tomorrow or in 10 years time, there will always be resistance, there will always be reasons why you should put it off for another 5 years at the least. On the other hand, it seems things are usually easier when we try them early, using the energy of the morning.
So, therefore I concluded that its best to just say in the words of Richard Branson “Screw it, Let’s do it!” and then dig deep into what you really wanna do. Once you find something you really want to do, something your heart resonates with, wisdom is to drop everything and start moving in that direction. Ignore the nay sayers and just start building out the vision.
Go for long haul, the sooner you get started the better.
David Karp, the founder of Tumblr has this quotable that I have always kept to heart:
“Every feature has some maintenance cost, and having fewer features lets us focus on the ones we care about and make sure they work very well.”
There is a lot of wisdom in this. Rather than spread out too much by trying to offer more and more options and features to people, what if we double down and ensure everything we are currently doing works well?
There is a bank in Nigeria at the moment that is touting a lot of cool features for use over their USSD service, the only trouble is that the basic functionality of the USSD service which is a super cool way to quickly credit your phone account does not work most of the time. I end up just heading to the ATM machine to withdraw the cash instead and then buy from the vendors.
Yes, I am talking about my beloved GTBank.
I feel GTBank should have worked out the recharge card feature, ensure it works 99.999999% of the time before they start expanding into account-to-account direct transfer. If you cannot get the little ones to work well and build my trust, how am I supposed to try out this cool new feature?
By the way, in case you missed out on the news, David went on to sell Tumblr to Yahoo! for $1.1 billion in May 2013.
Watching The World
Business is about getting things done in a way that maximises profit. Tech in its original incarnation used to be about efficiency, but now it seems tech is all about the showoff. Tech is now more about the cool factor, how cool is your product?
Too many technologist out there: programmers, engineers and the likes tend to focus more on how they are going to come up something cool or bad ass and not on solving the business objectives to maximise profit. But here is the thing; nobody cares about you kick ass tech, people have problems and the money goes to whoever solves the problem most efficiently.
To create a viable product, you have to decide you want to fulfill business objectives.
You have to decide if this thing is a business or a pet project.
Watching The World
We are quick to conduct autopsy and post mortem tests for failed projects. Why did it fail? What did we do wrong?
When we succeed on the other hand, we are off to party! We rarely inquire and analyze why we made it. Where we just been lucky? Did we succeed due to timing? Brilliance of the idea or why exactly?
If we could narrow down what worked, it holds a great clue as to things to keep doing and things to run away from.
Trying to win an argument with your customer is just plain silly. When the goal is to win the argument, you present every information you have, demonstrating how well you know what you are talking about and unconsciously pointing out that your customer is clueless and should have kept her mouth shut.
But the customer is always right, you are the one that has to learn how to relate with them better. Most argument against a customer is usually on technical grounds, but we forget that this is not a technical problem. It is a mind game. They endorse or dethrone you by their purchase power. Never underestimate the amount of business a satisfied customer can bring, and never also underestimate the destruction, and bad blood a unsatisfied customer can send your way.
The most seasoned entrepreneurs I know never argue with their customers and clients, they merely listen to every line of the complain and promise to fix it with strong, re-assuring words. They then present their own cases from the point of view of the customer’s situation and perception. Such an approach rarely ever turns into a battle of words, and who is right and who is left.
Every business owner should definitely read up How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and/or the modern day remix: Winning With People by John Maxwell.