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What I've Learned in Business So Far... - Page 9

post #121 of 310
i think the discipline and work ethic from just being in the military helps in general. i haven't been in the work force for that long, but i first came in, i was in for a doozy. a realized how immature you are when you first enter the work force. starry-eyed with fresh ideas from college and how you're going to change the world... you never had to deal with so many crappy personalities when you were young. i was fortunate enough that my adjustment period wasn't quite as horrible because of my mentor (external person who i could complain and seek fresh perspective) AND i had a terrible trainer (taught me a lot). still young and learning but i think i'm making progress. if you didn't like certain people before you had a job, you either didn't have to deal with them too long or you would avoid them. you're conditioned to be very pain-averse from 1-22 the military is different. they give you all the crap no one else wants to do and expect you to do it. in essence, i feel like you learn to suck it up. i feel like in the military, if they teach you nothing else, it's the concept of "suck it up and deal with it."
post #122 of 310
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashpool View Post
Is Visa better or worse than Amex in Europe?

I prefer Visa, in general, because it's accepted by anyone who takes credit cards. Amex has great perks, but the high interchange fees means a lot of merchants won't take it. For travel abroad, though, the bottom line is to take whichever card minimizes foreign transaction fees. Same thing goes for cash--use ATMs linked to an account that has low foreign withdrawal fees, and try to avoid currency exchanges.

If you're living abroad for more than six months, but still earning in USD, it might be worth opening an Interactive Brokers account and funneling your salary through the Forex markets. It costs ~$120 annually, and there's a 60-day holding period before you can withdraw to your foreign account, but you save a few percent in exchange fees. I haven't been in one place long enough to try this, but if I were, I would.

Also! Two-prong US adapters are readily available abroad, three-prong adapters can't be had for love or money (particularly in eastern Europe). If you need one, bring it from home.
post #123 of 310
There's some straightforward, valuable and awesome advice here. A lot of what I would have said has already been covered. My experience is mainly in start-ups and smaller organizations (less than 100 people) so I come at this from a slightly different perspective - - Do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. - Do what moves you. If you're not excited by the product, service or space the company is in, find something else. You're going to spend too much time making big deals out of petty shit instead of building a company/organization to be the best it can be. - Relentlessly focus on doing 1-2 tasks daily that bring you one step closer to realizing a long-term goal. "Researching and calling a lead" is one. "Picking new stationary" is not. - People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. (I stole this) - Really powerful ideas can be explained in 1-2 sentences. - It's really cliché, but true: don't ask permission, beg forgiveness. - If you're going to criticize or challenge something come prepared and be ready to walk your team/superior through the problem and your solution. - Learn how 'political' the organization you work for is early and figure out how you're going to deal with it. - Make sure you understand what your role and responsibilities are and how it contributes to executing the vision of your organization. Make sure your team and manager understand this role. This is easier said then done. - Find people who can give you really honest feedback about your strengths and weaknesses. - It's okay to say "I don't know the answer to that" on a regular basis. - Don't do a start-up expecting to make any money. This is the best book I've found on heuristics for business.
post #124 of 310
Thread Starter 
This is good stuff Aaron. Thanks.
post #125 of 310
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
- People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. (I stole this).

decent TED talk by this guy: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/si...re_action.html

he's on the speaker circuit
post #126 of 310
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRon View Post

The ones I hate the most are the people who read that awful "presentation zen" book that says just put a photo that has nothing to do with anything on the slide and talk about what you want... miserable.

LOL - I actually use those type slides a lot, maybe 1/10 of my decks. I hate to talk specifics about my products, until I talk about what the customer should be thinking about. so I use some slides with pictures totally unrelated to my product to discuss points.

I have one slide with an iceberg that I use a lot. I basically say "you all want to hear about the plastic of my product, and I am going to tell you about that in a minute - but this type of product is like an iceberg, the important stuff is what you can't see, what's under the waterline, so before we talk about the plastic, I want to tell you about the stuff you can't see" and then I go on and tell them why we are so much more expensive than the competition whose products look just like ours.
post #127 of 310
Honestly Zach, what that tells me is a so/so powerpoint will do far less to tank a good speaker than a great powerpoint can do to make a mediocre speaker successful. But in the end, it really is about the speaker first.
post #128 of 310
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRon View Post
Honestly Zach, what that tells me is a so/so powerpoint will do far less to tank a good speaker than a great powerpoint can do to make a mediocre speaker successful.

But in the end, it really is about the speaker first.

This is true in my experience.
post #129 of 310
Thread Starter 
The Airport Test In consulting, this is a term sometimes used to describe the likeability of a candidate. The idea is to ask yourself if you would not mind spending 2 hours in an airport with a colleague. If that seems like no problem then they have passed the "airport test". But as I get older I think this also applies to business partners. Business is too hard already to not have partners you care about. My small software company is doing well and I hired two "grey haired" gentlemen to help me get the product commercialized and the patent completed. They have been invaluable as mentors, educators, and all around good guys. Some people have book smarts or the right level of experience or the right pedigree but are strange or odd in different ways. Find smart people who will disagree with you but present good arguments and that you don't mind having a beer with.
post #130 of 310
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Carlos View Post
Black gradient background.
Myriad Pro semibold font in white.

Odd numbered bullet points.
Elements must be aligned precisely, i.e., numerical sizing and not freehand guesswork.
Do not distort images out of their original proportions. You can resize or crop, but maintain proportion.
Economy of words; no bullet point should exceed one line.
Style and substance are not mutually exclusive, zero-sum, or inversely correlated.
Always Keynote, never PPT.
Use animated builds, magic moves, effects, etc., where effective. But don't get too cute.
Don't put anything unnecessary on a page. Anything on the page is fair game for discussion, and it is expected that you made fully conscious decisions to place everything where you did.

After being inside a large company and watching countless pitches, I got to really hate PPTs on a dark background with white text. We always took their pitchbooks and CD copies back, and often printed out slides for our own use, and I always hated the dark background ones
post #131 of 310
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRon View Post
Honestly Zach, what that tells me is a so/so powerpoint will do far less to tank a good speaker than a great powerpoint can do to make a mediocre speaker successful.

But in the end, it really is about the speaker first.

yeah, that's probably a good point.
post #132 of 310
Thread Starter 
Some thoughts one charisma in business leaders. You will find along your journey some leaders and colleagues that are charismatic. People and clients will be drawn to them. They will advance ahead of their age. They will be invited to important meetings, often for less good reasons. They will generally be an asset to the company. Some will be genuinely good people, many will be highly political but with the gift of charisma. Of course, one might argue that true charisma and leadership will inspire people and offer follow-through in the decent and fair treatment of everyone on the team. On the rare occasions this actually occurs, I have seen teams do insanely great things. So it boils all down to trust. In business it might be best to follow the ole saying "trust but verify". Actually "verify then trust" might be more appropriate.
post #133 of 310
i heard a great business lesson while sitting in on a class at Sloan a while back ... which I will fail to reproduce eloquently here. when presenting a solution to a client, even if you're sure you have the optimal solution, present several suboptimal solutions as well. most clients don't like to be told what to do - they are "deciders." so even if the outcome of their choice - your solution - is preordained, letting them "choose" it gives them ownership of the solution. (i don't work in an industry that has clients as such so I'm not sure if this actually flies in practice.)
post #134 of 310
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scientific View Post
i heard a great business lesson while sitting in on a class at Sloan a while back ... which I will fail to reproduce eloquently here.

when presenting a solution to a client, even if you're sure you have the optimal solution, present several suboptimal solutions as well. most clients don't like to be told what to do - they are "deciders." so even if the outcome of their choice - your solution - is preordained, letting them "choose" it gives them ownership of the solution.

(i don't work in an industry that has clients as such so I'm not sure if this actually flies in practice.)

This gets into selling strategy. Once I won a $6 million deal by presenting two different solutions, one which meant our solution and once which represented a smaller cut for us because the client's internal team did more work. I created a side by side comparison along the key dimensions which showed our solution was more robust but we also cleverly made one dimension the technology foundation because we knew they were real nervous as their internal IT folks had blown the last ten installs. We won the business.

The key to great selling is intelligence about your client's needs and fears.
post #135 of 310
Thread Starter 
Good Work Habits *Set expectations appropriately on each project. Managing people's expectations is critical. *If you are overloaded decline work but share the reason. *Look at your Outlook or other calendar the night before and think about a "to do" list to keep you on time with deliverables. *Prepare for every call, internal and external. Bring a point of view and any needed analysis. If you show people you are prepared then they will be inclined to include you more often. *Be careful who you copy on your emails. There is a fine line in business between informing important stakeholders and spamming. *Think twice before copying senior managers and leaders in emails. Sometimes you will be unaware of the political goings on in the executive area and an innocent email can lead to unintended consequences. *Consider strongly but don't obsess over format of any content. You want it to look good but you can get OCD and lose sight of the big picture. *Develop a network of close colleagues whom you care share analysis and thoughts with. A good critique is worth its weight in gold. *Find a mentor or close friend you can privately and confidentially bitch about a work issue with. Someone who can thoughtfully share 3rd party insight and advice is invaluable. *Avoid people who don't deliver results. Life is too short. When they blow a major deadline, make sure someone senior hears about it in a diplomatic fashion. *Play nice. Collaborative teams is where it is at. *Avoid office negativity. It may bring you down and accomplishes little beyond the initial cathartic release of pressure. *Reward people who perform. *Treat administrative and operations people with love and respect. It will pay huge dividends. There is no place for bullying anyone with a lower title or any job. *Communicate honestly with everyone you interface with. Senior leaders appreciate the truth-good, bad and ugly.
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