In The Startup WayEric Ries’s sequel to his best seller The Lean Startup, he raises a key question to entrepreneurs and startup founders. As these founders tell him how much they hate big companies he asks:

If you hate big companies so much, why are you trying to create a new one?

I get it. I’ve been there and have the same feelings about the red tape, politics and endless meetings that you see in big companies. But if you peel back the onion, the underlying issue isn’t the size of the company.

I’ve talked to many people about this sentiment – from both sides, the founders and the big company employees – and have discovered that when an entrepreneur says they hate big companies, what they’re really saying is, “I hate the culture the comes along with big companies.

To help articulate this clarification, Ries creates much better labels for the startup and big company. Instead he refers to the two company cultures as the modern company and the old-fashioned company, where modern companies are innovative and growth-oriented, while old-fashioned companies succumb to the innovator’s dilemma.

In my conversations, I’ve found that the differentiator between these two company cultures is the ratio of what I’ll call talkers to doers.

  • A Talker is a paper-pusher, a middle manager, someone who measures output, and thus success/value, by the number of things done (ironic!).
  • A Doer is a problem solver. They measure output, and thus their success/value, by the size of problems they solve.

12 Characteristics of Doers VS Talkers

The cultural change that startups go through as they transform into a big company is that the number of Talkers, and more importantly the stated value of Talkers in the organization (through title, salary, etc), grows at the expense of Doers.

So to counter the strong corporate forces that push your company from modern to old-fashioned, here are 12 characteristics of Talkers to avoid.

1. Meetings – Talkers measure value in the number of meetings they attend; Doers measure value in the number of meetings they skip because they don’t need to be there.

2. Email – Talkers check email at all hours of the day and humble brag about how full their inbox is; Doers close their email, going hours without checking.

3. Code – Talkers measure value by the number of lines of code they write; Doers measure value by how few lines of code it takes to create a solution.

4. Decisions – Talkers don’t want to make a decision without statistical significance; Doers are comfortable making decisions with imperfect information.

5. Deliverables – The result for a Talker is a deliverable; the deliverable for a Doer is results.

6. Poking Holes – Talkers try to poke holes in other people’s hypotheses and solutions; Doers try to poke holes in their own hypotheses and solutions.

7. Documenting – Talkers always document, and do that before doing; Doers do first, and only document afterward when needed.

8. Scaling – Talkers worry about building a solution that scales; Doers worry about getting enough customers that scaling will ever matter.

9. Edge Cases – Talkers account for all the hypothetical edge cases that will likely never occur; Doers focus on lessons from past problems they’ve experienced in real-world scenarios.

10. Knowledge – Talkers’ knowledge comes from reading about others’ experiences, which typically only highlight the “happy path” scenarios; Doers’ knowledge is based on lessons learned from their own, often failed, experiences.

11. Failure – Talkers make excuses when faced with failure; Doers look for validated learning and opportunities to pivot when faced with failure.

12. Success – Talkers celebrate trivial increments and items crossed off the project plan; Doers celebrate validating their leap of faith hypothesis.

This is not to say that Talkers don’t bring value to the organization. Talkers play a critical role in helping manage the growth as your startup gains traction.

However, to ensure your company remains a modern, innovative and growth-oriented company, make sure your company culture continues to celebrate these characteristics of Doers.

Recently our team gave a round of customer feedback demos to some customers, showing off a completely redesigned eVestment Input portal.

On the surface everything went perfect. After all, the users had consistently praised the new look. All our hard work had paid off.

If you looked closer though, we didn’t actually learn that much. Responses were generic & unactionable. And while positive, there wasn’t any hard evidence to back it the good things we hear. Instead, this became a good opportunity share some best practices on how to capture great customer feedback.


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Every company I’ve worked at – large or small, startup or big enterprise – has had a conference room problem.

One of two things inevitably happen:

  1. You can’t find an open conference room to book because they’re all already booked. Yet at meeting time the conference room goes unused because the original booker cancelled the meeting (but not the room reservation), had a recurring meeting that didn’t meet today, or heck, is no longer with the company.
  2. You get kicked out of your room by a more important meeting. Ever heard the, “I’m sorry but we have CLIENTS and need the room,” excuse?

What if there was a better way to use software to book conference rooms?

conference room booking system

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You’re at a conference.

You want to network. Well, you know you should be networking.

But you’re alone in a sea of people. This is overwhelming. You lookout and everyone is talking to each other; it seems you’re the only person without a coworker, old client or agency friend to chat with.

crowd of people

Or at least that’s what you tell yourself as you pull out your phone hoping to find a new unread email.
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Ideas all to often steal the show. Ideas, however, are like the shallow celeb on the red carpet. They look great from far away – successful, valuable, popular. Get near though, spending a few days with the shallow celeb, and you soon see that they’re grasping to their career, putting pieces together of an unenviable social life and sitting on empty bank accounts.

The shallow celeb lacks execution behind the scenes, but that’s not exciting is it?

Time and again I hear a friend joke that if only they’d had the idea for Twitter, Flappy Bird, even Selfie Sticks. But really, any of the countless seemingly simple and obvious, yet wildly succesful ideas out there.

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As the Apple Watch launch nears I want to divert your attention slightly to another successful wearable product. This wearable predates the Apple Watch by two years and came out with an equally raucous launch. Except that wearable failed and while the jury is still out on the Apple Watch, I imagine it’ll have a much more positive response two years from now (spring of 2017).

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Thanks to Pratik and the rest of the ATL Mobile Dev group for the opportunity to present Monday night. And thanks especially to the folks who actually braved the cold to make it out…well the relative cold we call it her in Atlanta.

I’ve been working on this new presentation and this was the first non-friends & family version.

I’ll embed the presentation from SlideShare below. Speaker notes aren’t up yet, but I suppose that means you’ll need to make it out to the next one in person!

Abstract – Congrats – you’ve released your app in the app store! You might’ve even already hit your first milestone of 1,000 – maybe even 10,000 downloads. But your MAU is a tiny fraction of that. And embarrassingly you don’t even know what a MAU is. Time to learn how to use mobile analytics to create engaged users through steps like better onboarding, lifecycle emails, a/b testing and more.

It’s been a little over a year since launching Lessons Learned from Less*.

Despite the efforts to avoid this blog becoming a time suck I’ve found that, well, it still takes a not insignificant time each week. This makes it worth asking myself if it’s worth it to keep going.

Results To Date

Here’s what I’ve accomplished in the past year. Disclaimer, this is not an analytics deep dive, just a quick & dirty to get a state of the state.

Total Posts = 46

My goal is to write a post a week so that’s hitting the mark nearly 80% of the time. Not perfect, but I’m happy with that metric.

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Goog Analytics

Why Blog Now?

A few months ago I decided to start a blog. Late to the party but no better time to start than the present, right?

Of course I had a few goals with blogging:

  • Testing ground for new, unrefined ideas
  • Sharing lessons learned building two companies
  • Practice building an audience through content development

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