Random Thoughts: Never Blame Anyone – but Yourself

I recently had an interesting discussion about whether or not to blame other people when they do something wrong or make clear mistakes.
I have the strong viewpoint never to blame anyone, but yourself.
Even if someone should be able to do a job well, and clearly makes mistakes that are not your fault, but their fault.
Even in those cases I always see it as my own fault – and there’s a reason for that.

But first, let me highlight that there is a small yet very important distinction between:

  1. Blaming yourself, and
  2. Taking responsibility
The mindset I believe is important is “Not blame others, and taking full responsibility.” So don’t beat yourself up about it ;)
Instead, take full responsibility whenever you have the opportunity, because it opens up your mind to very very important questions, that ultimately leads to your own personal growth and improvement.

Let’s take an example:
  1. You find a potential newhire to do X.
  2. He has done X for many years he tells you, and it says so on his CV. You send him tests to prove he is good at X.
  3. So you trust that he is very good at X.
  4. You finally hire him, and you ask him very clearly to do X for you.
  5. It turns out he does everything completely wrong – in fact, he does Y. And you told him VERY clearly to do X.
Who’s fault is it? Who to blame?
It’s your own fault.
  • You hired this person.
  • You trusted this person was good at X.
  • You thought you told the person to do X well enough.
  • You didn’t check if this person was really starting to do X.
All of the above areas, are then areas you can improve in.
Use that opportunity. Analyze and understand where you could have done better, to finally ensure he did X well.
Just blaming him, e.g by saying to yourself: “He must have lied on his CV.” or “What an idiot, he’s so stupid”. Is in my view not helping anyone.
Even though he might have lied, and yes, he might have been one hell of a big idiot in your view.

I once many years ago hired a person, who lied on his CV, told me he was great at X and had his friends do his home tests for him, and never did X after I hired him – so we’re talking about a real case :)

But my mindset and questions were:
  • “What did I do wrong?”
  • “How can I prevent this from happening in the future again?”
  • “What do I need to change?”
I finally fired the person, but I never was angry at him actually, and I never blamed him.
And more importantly, I took it as a learning.

I realized the importance of doing and structuring better tests. Interviewing past employers. Having recommendations from friends. And having short workshops where people come to the office and we get to know the person as well, before fully hiring them.

All this stuff, I might never have fully learned and understood the importance of, or it might have happened at a point where the damage would have been 10x bigger (e.g. if I later on had to hire 10 developers, marketers, writers etc.)
So the above is just one example.

Again, let me emphasize that it’s not to blame yourself, but to take full responsibility.

Take charge
, and lead by changing things that does not work properly and needs to be changed.

Just being angry, complaining, and blaming others, helps absolutely no one. Nil. Zero. Squat.
In fact it makes things much worse, and creates a very bad atmosphere among the people you work with.

Somehow everything always seem to come back to that one super important question, that’s always on the top of my mind.

And it’s the same here. It’s all about finding opportunities everywhere that will lead you to asking yourself the question:
“What did I learn from this?”

May 4, 2012

Project Getaway 2012

Hi everyone,

This is just a quick heads up, to let you know that applications for PG2012 has opened.
Be sure you check out the fun videos and more information about the big event here:
Proejct Getaway 2012 Event

March 23, 2012

How To Create a Profitable Law Firm in 3 Months

I often speak with very bright people who dream about becoming entrepreneurs.
They explain how they feel trapped in their current 9-5 jobs but are afraid to make the “dangerous” jump into unknown world, where fixed monthly salaries are a thing of the past.

In this great guest blog post, a dear friend of mine, Kristian Holte, shares his story, on how he quit his job at a law firm 3 months ago, and already today has a profitable business!
Very inspirational and informative 3 minutes read.

******************

Yes, you got it right. It is actually possible to start your own law firm and earn more than enough to survive. Is it easy? No. Possible? Definitely. I did it. And you can do it too.

In this post I’ll outline 5 key principles that made me go from dissatisfied employee to legal entrepreneur in just 3 months.

I quit my job on 1 May 2010 and as of today 10 August 2010 my company Simply Law is thriving and attracting more and more qualified and interesting clients each day.

1. Value-Based Pricing

As you probably know most of the legal industry bills by the hour. There’s really no point since the interests of the attorney and the client often aren’t aligned using this model. The client is interested in getting the job done well swiftly and the attorney is interested in spending as many hours as possible.
So let’s reverse that.

It is so easy to differentiate yourself here by offering value-based pricing. Maybe you think this means that you can’t charge as much. Not at all. It only means that you have to consider the value of each case and price accordingly.

Value can be many things. Urgency, mental pain, accessibility, monetary value and strategic advantages are factors to consider when pricing your services. The pricing of your competitors as well. When you’re starting out your costs are low and you don’t need to price as high to break even. Use this to your advantage by comparining your pricing to your competitors’ when making an offer.

2. Compete on Quality

Don’t compete on price. This is an endless spiral which drags you downwards and which does nothing but attract the wrong type of clients. It makes you earn less and less money over time as well. You don’t want that. Instead, position yourself as a speciliast within some or a couple of fields, obtain cutting-edge knowledge and market yourself by sharing this knowledge with current and prospective clients.

3. Lean and Mean

Keep your costs low. I don’t even have a real office. I work from home. Or from the coffee shop. I decide myself. I rarely have physical meetings, because I find they often aren’t necessary. Clients don’t find them necessary either, apparently.

I use a range of free or low-cost online tools, I’ve outsourced the secretary function so I don’t have to answer the phone all day. I get e-mailed once my “secretary” has received a call from a current or prospective client.

In short: It isnt’ necessary to reside in a castle and to have chocolate with the firm’s name on it. Focus
on being excellent and communicating this to the right people. Then, you can have the chocolate later. And the impressive marble office.

4. Pick Your Niche

Have an idea of which niche you want to focus on. But don’t start out too narrow. I have chosen intellectual property law as my area of specialty and 75 % of my revenue is generated by IP-work. However, I also have a client base within the restaurant business. Now, I hadn’t anticipated that, but along the line I noticed an opening here.

So: Pick a main niche, but don’t be too specific and picky to start out with. There is plenty of time to specialize narrowly as you go along. Someday you’ll be THE expert in your niche.

5. Market Yourself Everyday

A lot of attorneys don’t like to market themselves. But this part of being a legal entrepreneur is crucial.
I enjoy marketing myself as much as I enjoy pracitising IP-law. Sometimes more.

Set up your own marketing system which you execute on a daily basis. I spend about 50 % of my time marketing Simply Law. If you do this well, you don’t have to worry about attracting the right clients.

This was a quick overview of some of the principles I’ve found to be useful. If you have any questions or
comments please feel free to e-mail me at holte@simplylaw.dk or simply post a comment below.

Kristian Holte, legal counsel
Simply Law

*************

Do you have a similar story? Please share it below in the comments! I love to hear these success stories!

August 10, 2010

Build a Startup in 7 Days! Inspirational Presentation

A lot of people asked for the presentation afterwards (surely for the wonderful animations ;), so I put it up for you here.
Feel free to share it with your friends.

Thanks everyone and Stardust especially for setting up and arranging everything so well!

Note: It is quite heavy on graphics and video, so you might have to let it load for a short time.

April 27, 2010

Go Paperless! Tips and Tricks for Startups


I love to reduce unnecessary work and clutter, and always seek to eliminate such things quickly.

As a result, I decided to go paperless 5 months ago, and now wanted to share with you my experiences from running a paperless startup office. So here is a brief post, to help you go paperless today and even protect the environment at the same time.

What you need:

Scenarios:

Here are some usual scenarios, and how I use the above to handle them effectively.

Bill received via snail mail

[Total time: 1 minute]

  1. Scan with JotNot iPhone App (makes it look like a perfect scan)
  2. Forward to assistant with header “Task: Please pay and archive”
  3. Recycle paper and get a cup of coffee

    It now gets paid by my assistant, and the document is put in a special folder in my Evernote account which my assistant has access to. I can now also search all my documents and easily find them later on, as the text is OCR scanned automatically in Evernote. Annual reporting becomes a simple export of my Evernote folder for the accountant.

Electronic document needs to be signed

[Total time: 3 minutes]

  1. Upload document to RightSignature website
  2. Sign document using iPhone RightSignature App
  3. Done.

    No need to print, sign, scan etc. RightSignature now emails the signed document to you with a special signature certificate attached to it. You can easily forward the email to whomever need the contract, or forward it to your Evernote email account for archiving.

Paper contract needs to be signed

[Total time: 2 minutes]

  1. Sign on paper
  2. Scan with JotNot iPhone App
  3. Forward to Evernote email account, or assistant with header “Task: Please archive contract”
  4. Recycle paper and relax while wondering why life is so wonderful

    Very easy. And again, Evernote allows you to easily search for documents by OCR scanning everything automatically.

I hope this gave you some inspiration as to how you can reduce paper and clutter in your daily life and work.

I can warmly recommend going paperless – the technology is now ready to make it easy and convenient!

April 14, 2010

Zappos CEO presentation!

zappos-716183-716210Yanik Silver, a very successful online marketer, just released a really interesting presentation by Zappos CEO from his yearly Underground Online Seminar.

I really enjoyed watching the presentation, and how the company just focuses on two things, and as a result the growth and success apparently comes by itself according to the CEO.

So which two things makes Zappos so successful?
1) Outstanding customer service!
2) Amazing company culture!

So focusing on happy repeat customers and happy employees, is the absolute top priority for Zappos – an approach which has proven to be highly successful with Zappos 1 billion USD yearly turnover.
Not bad :)

Have a look – it’s 1 hour packed with many good insights and ideas on how to manage your own startup.

Get Flash to see this player.


Zappos CEO presentation

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September 12, 2009

Presentations: Keep it simple!

In a few weeks from now, I have a couple of presentations to do in San Francisco on entrepreneurship, as part of the teaching I do through RealAcad at Stanford.

As usual, I have a couple of slides with me to guide the presentations, and I actually felt I had it all pretty well under control after many years of working on digital design, combined my experience from the consulting world.

However I soon realized that I still had much to learn.

It all happened as I picked up the book PresentationZEN just recently. The book focuses on providing the reader with an understanding of how to create PowerPoint presentations that just works, by providing clear simple messages that the audience 1) understands and 2) remembers.

As I started reading, the book quickly got my attention with it’s visual appeal, clear communication, and naturally highly relevant topic. As a result, I read it over a couple of Starbucks Coffees and Thai Lattes (it’s a very easy read if you apply some simply speed/photoreading techniques).

I especially enjoyed the second part of the book on design and delivery, which provides many great “before” and “after” type of examples on “how not to do it” and “how to do it”.

A mind map for you

As usual, I also scribbled down the most relevant points from the book, and placed them a neat little Mind Map which I have attached below. Feel free to use it any way you like.
(It is an interactive map, so you can use the mouse to drag around and open/collapse items)

TED presentations

While reading the book, I also got inspired to watch some of the TED presentations recommended. TED is without doubt one of the absolute best sources of inspirational, condensed and impactful presentations. With each presentation being only 18 minutes long, the presenters are forced to make their points very simple and clear. As such, the presentations are a great source for role modelling on good presentation skills.
Here is one presentation I especially liked, for the presenters ability to make a statistically highly complex topic very simple, clear and fun :)


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July 31, 2009

Social networking – Is it worth it?

Here is a great video on the hype and usefulness of Facebook, Twitter etc. for business networking.

I strongly agree with the points Seth is making on the little usefulness for medium and larger corporations, but at the same time also believe that especially Twitter has a huge potential for small business/pure online entrepreneurs who seek to quickly build up a cheap marketing channel. Perry Belcher has some good examples on this and how to monetize the twitter base – but watch out, all his videos on this are packed with sales speeches :)

Here are some additional interesting videos from the AMEX event:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/07/four-videos-about-noise-social-and-decency.html

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July 30, 2009

How to Quickly Spot Trends and Determine Market Potential

Probably the most important part of determining whether any new idea has a potential, is to be able to understand the current and future market demand.

With the increasing availability of online tools to analyze the massive amounts of search and social media data out there, we can luckily now much better predict the market potential of these ideas.

Here are the most impactful tools which requires the least amount of effort in terms of data gathering and analysis.

#4: Job Searches

A great way to determine which trends are actually starting to become real and play a major role, is by searching through the open job databases which offers data on which types of jobs are most widely requested.

Read more here: http://smallbiztrends.com/2009/04/how-to-spot-technology-trends.html

#3: Twitter Searches

Social media tool Twitter offers a great and easy way to analyze the millions of tweets updated daily. Using the Twitter Trends/Search tool or the TweetStats tool, you can quickly determine which topics are most popular at any given time. This gives a great overview of what the world is thinking about these days, and allows you to find ways to leverage these thinking patterns/demands in your own ideas and products.

Read more here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/03/what-the-trend-finally-a-way-to-make-sense-of-twitter-trends/

#2: Google Trends

The recently very popular and useful Google Trends tool allows you to not only determine the current popularity of the topics of your interest, but also the historical popularity – giving you the opportunity to derive some interesting future demand curves. Research has shown that this tool can greatly help improve the precision of demand prediction models, but you may even use it to make quick “back of the envelope” analyses of your many business and product ideas.

Read more here: http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?STORY_ID=13497048

#1: Wordtracker

Wordtracker allows you to do really quick and dirty analyses of your ideas when brainstorming many potential opportunities. This tool is great, as it combines both the current demand/popularity of various topics (by combining many search engines simultaneously) and the current supply (websites offering the information/products/services related to the topic).

By using this tool, you can very quickly determine whether there is already a high level of competition on the market your are considering to enter, and whether the market demand is too small relative to this existing supply.

The WordTracker team is already working on a new and improved version, with interesting metrics such as Frequency, Competitiveness and Commerciallity.

Read more here: http://www.wordtracker.com/blog/new-wordtracker-keyword-tool-is-coming/

Additional Suggestions

Do you have suggestions for other tools on how to determine market size, potential and/or trends? Please go ahead and share below!

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May 4, 2009