Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CEOs can think globally and act locally

When you are CEO of a small, growing company it's about the practise of thinking globally and acting locally -- having a vision of what's good for the world, but implementing it locally in your business.

CEOs often get a bad rap in the popular press. Just like "banker" has become a dirty word, "CEO" can connote outrageous pay, corporate jets and not caring about the little guy to many people. Ever increasing compensation, cutting jobs, managing profits... the cartoon exec with a big car and a big cigar.

But being CEO of a new, growing company is the reverse of that stereotype. Your responsibility is all about job creation and community - something we need across the whole country today.

The job creation machine in it's simplest form has series of steps:
- Paint a vision what you are going to do and why
- Raise money - whether from a VC, friends, your bank or your savings account
- Build the first wave team - the people who will help you turn your ideas into a product
- Build the culture - decide what kind of company you are building - what are it's values, what does it stand for?
- Set up your business processes - finance, HR etc. so you can provide a stable, professional work environment for your team
- Build the second wave team - the commercial types - sales and marketing to help you bring your product to market
- Grow and repeat

And the net result is you build a community - that in itself can get involved in it's local community. That process of giving back, whether you organize it yourself or you work with an organization like the Entrepreneurs Foundation to help you, it is a key part of building the glue that helps teams outperform - and so grow - and so create jobs.

Of course this sense of community can have a dark side too. Sometimes you have to let people go - which is always incredibly painful. And sometimes they leave you. When this happens it is hard not to be angry and feel betrayed. The CEO of Mahalo, Jason Calacanis, gave us all a lesson on how not to handle a resignation last week -- amazing reading, but true -- and it pays to remember that it is a small world and you may well want to work with the individual again.

In the end a CEO is paid to make money for the shareholders. And the good thing is making money for the shareholders can make money for the employees too if you stay focused on it. Thinking locally to me means helping parents put money aside for kids college fees, helping my team put a down payment on a home or save for retirement or travel - whatever they value for their future. And being a community as you do it.

It's why being CEO, with all the stress and intensity that goes along with it, is worthwhile.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Do your kids watch TV on a TV any more?

If your house is anything like our house, you know that "the TV" is in danger of being marginalized. Yes we all love the big screen, but where we get the content is changing dramatically and it's not always easy to get it on the big screen -- because the TV content is now on Hulu, YouTube, Twirl, Netflix and iTunes (and probably several I have not discovered yet).

Yes, you can buy a special box to put under you TV to make it think like a PC - a box like that early toy TiVo, a Roku, an Apple TV (we have several of these) or even your XBox. But in all cases it's not easy, you end up with lots of boxes, cables and remotes and it's a barrier to broad adoption.

Enter the coming era of the Internet TV. I think the solution is going to be through Wi-Fi or by adding a hard wired network connection into the TV.

I'm watching this area in FirstRain because I am frustrated by the complexity of switching devices all the time. Recently Google jumped into the fray, forming a rumored partnership with Intel, Sony and Logitech to create a total internet connected experience around Android (and selling us ads). You have to know Cisco, Apple et al will respond. And what about the cable guys who like to charge an arm and a leg each month for content that is free on the internet?

It's going to be really fun to watch this unfold. It should benefit "the consumer" - that's you and me - but I wonder if it will bring the kids back into the family room - or if they are now so used to watching TV on their Macs and iPhones while lying on their beds that they'll never come back?

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