Executors execute on the ideas of Wizards. They build the companies from the ideas of others.
Shipping an MVP – a minimum viable product - is critical to success.
Wizards have vision – but not the line of sight to see how to build a company around the idea. “We still have some refining to do and we believe the argophilous* queries should be baked into the primary code block, so we’re going back in… *Yes; It’s a totally made up word.”
By now you should already recognize which role you play.
The purpose of the Executor is to protect the Wizard.
If your wizard is thinking about anything except what’s next, you’re losing money.
They can’t worry about whether the coffee has been made
Or whether the coffee has been purchased
They can’t worry about whether the rent has been paid…
Or whether the rent CAN be paid. That’s your problem.
But it takes more than just two co founders or co owners to make a great company.
Today, I’m going to take a look at not only this concept of Wizards and Executors, but OTHER assets and attributes of highly successful companies.
The most successful companies have leaders that understand the power of extraordinary teams If these two start something and have big goals for their organization…
People like this tend to get on board.
Takeaway - You’re not hiring someone to fill a bag, ship a box, do your books, or answer your phones or customer service emails.
Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – you hire has to be superb at creating Raving Fans. Everyone. No exceptions.
You want to hire this guy. No. Really. I know this guy. Not only will he up your pickup game of basketball in the parking lot, at age 23, this guy will improve your corporate culture and wow your customers. He’s a captain of industry and a leader of men… and he doesn’t know it yet. Takeaway – hire diamonds in the rough. You’ll make some mistakes, but hire for culture fit, independent thought, self-starter and can-do attitudes. You can almost always teach the rest.
But you keep hiring these guys. Who are as uninspiring to your customers as the stock photo they populate.
Really. I know this guy. Not only will he up your pickup game of basketball in the parking lot, at age 23, this guy will improve your corporate culture and wow your customers. He’s a captain of industry and a leader of men… and he doesn’t know it yet. Takeaway – hire diamonds in the rough. You’ll make some mistakes, but hire for culture fit, independent thought, self-starter and can-do attitudes. You can almost always teach the rest.
Begin with asking yourselves as founders and CEOs - What do we stand for? What do we believe? Culture starts from the top. Set the tone you need for your success.
Resumes verify – take the time to verify
Peer and manager interview combinations – task assessment – is invaluable in determining cultural fit.
The USP isn’t the sharp point. It’s the color. There are loads of colors, but none are so noticeable as the RED pencil. All the pencils CAN be sharpened. Only the red one can be red.
You’ll hear a lot about needing a USP from Angels and VCs. If you’re raising money, being perceived as having a USP is a good thing. But in ‘real life’, tell me the USP between one rail line and another, between GM, Ford, and Chrysler, between one cell phone and another. It comes down to stylistic preferences. A robust competitive marketplace keeps you on your toes. USPs are often not more than cosmetic. Keep them in perspective.
All that said, if you can translate a clear, defensible USP into a patent portfolio, you may have an asset worth owning.
Yes. Access to capital makes a great deal of difference. A lot of good ideas DO die for lack of access to capital. However, unlimited capital is as deadly as too little or none. More companies survive with little to no startup capital than thrive under the sodden-ness of working with too much capital. Lack of restraints is not a good thing.
Companies CAN live or die based on where you decide to build the company.
While Podunk might have the advantage of less expensive real estate….
Depending on what you’re building and whether you’re raising capital, you might want to consider other locations. – Dallas for medical devices
Boston for medicine
Wichita is a great place to found a company that supplies the aerospace industry.
As is Seattle. And for the same reasons. Boeing has a large presence in both cities. Go to the mountain, as it were.
Of course, Silicon Valley. Again, if you’re looking for funding, going to where the money is makes a huge difference. While employee costs, real estate and other costs are higher, the best of the best are all around you.
They don’t go it alone. Attribute - They know their strengths and weaknesses Asset – Numerous, powerful mentors helping them overcome weaknesses as soon as possible. As their weaknesses change, they change mentors as needed. As they grow, they get mentors who have walked the path just ahead of them at every stage.
Again, they don’t go it alone. They seek out and make time for peers.
An offshoot of mentors and peer advisors is a foundation of a decent education and nurturing. There are precious few successful CEOs who come from an inner city state-controlled foster care couch surfing childhood. The assets that make children successful as children and adults involves access to information, being imbued with a sense of the importance of education, and the ability to study. There are numerous successful CEOs who rebelled against constant adult insults about their abilities. Reaction is as strong a motivation as being among supportive adults.
Chris Gardner’s story was codified in his autobiography and later a movie, titled, The Pursuit of Happyness. While it seems he is the exception to the rule, having overcome extraordinary odds - hunger, poverty, parenting a child literally on the streets, apprenticeship without pay, and more, the truth is that Mr. Gardner has the support early in life – to wit:
“Born February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Christopher Paul Gardner’s childhood was marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy. Gardner published his autobiography out of a desire to shed light on these universal issues and show they do not have to define you. Gardner never knew his father, and lived with his beloved mother, Bettye Jean Triplett (nee Gardner), when not in foster homes. Gardner is indebted to Bettye Jean for his success as she provided him with strong “spiritual genetics” and taught him that in spite of where he came from, he could chart another path and attain whatever goals he set for himself.”
I was not going to include this slide on humility. I put it in, took it out, and put it in again. I was conflicted about whether it was really a determining attribute of successful CEOs. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, not to mention previous generations – Pierpont Morgan, Carnegie, Rothschild – all convinced me that humility is not a required trait for success. Rand Fishkin convinced me it will be. Rand pointed out that overconfidence and arrogance – also known as hubris are often correlated with poor performance. Humility increases the likelihood of listening to others who may have better ideas.
You can read his book Lost and Founder for a very interesting view on this point coming out May 1.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It helps if you start early. Optimism is the prerogative of youth. It’s a lot more optional as we age.
Have a personal project going. Something you want to create that is not necessarily related to your money making efforts at your ‘day job’. The experience of creativity breaks your obsession with your business and frees your subconscious mind to do it’s work.
Anne – conscious and subsconcious. #11 Billion vs. 200 MM
There is physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. They are not the same. You want to achieve the first two and avoid the last. By ‘fit’, I do not mean Olympic athletes. I think you might be amazed – or amused – by how far Anne and I can plod along on foot or on bicycles. Ask Anne about the Delhil to Agra ”Search Cycle India 2014” some other time.
What I do mean is that you should be mindful to take regular breaks and on occasion very long breaks to clear your mind, provide perspective, and keep your eye on the global landscape and your company’s options within it. Bill Gates famously takes two weeks each year to be entirely alone in a pleasant but small ski cabin in Washington state to read a carefully curated collection of books. He shares his lists, by the way. You can replicate his information stream.
Having a business degree is not an indicator of being a successful CEO in the ecommerce economy. Before great business leaders become great business leaders, they hone their skills. Hire pro’s to teach you what you need to know – you can go from being a presenter or even a timid presenter to a superb presenter with training and practice.
This image is of’ Dan Pink who talks about what drives excellent employees/team members: Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the building blocks of the future of successful teams. Traditional management is great if you want compliance. If you want any kind of creativity, innovative thinking, or breakthrough products in your company, you’ll need to focus on autonomy, mastery, and purpose. But I digress.
The top 3 you all know… the bottom are Larry Ellison of Oracle; Larry Page of Google; and David Karp of Tumbler.
There are alwa.ys exceptions. But sadly, that’s the point. The attribute stands and if you don’t have the attribute, you’re swimming upstream
This hasn’t changed for a very long time.
But don’t give up and don’t think complaining is going to get you any sympathy for not getting off your duff. Because clearly, the road IS passible.
And finally, they have Bridled Passion. Passion is overused, but that’s because it’s a good word. The key is that every young person with an idea has passion around their subject. Great CEOs of any size company retain that passion because they control it.
Anne – beagles. There’s a difference between chasing shiny objects and acknowledging all the exciting opportunities while focusing on one or two. By ‘bridled’ we really mean ‘focused’ passion. Often entrepreneurs are accused of being like beagles – Look! A Squirrel! But brilliant CEOs see the squirrel and understand where their own products and efforts fit into the landscape in which the squirrel is running.
Because the requirements for success have changed in the 21st century, we rely a great deal more on the creative, inventive, and innovative capabilities of humans Machines are replacing rote labor. Dan Pink’s famous TED Talk on intrinsic motivators (such as helping a group to succeed or making the world a better place) vs. external motivators (such as financial rewards) is both fascinating and informative. Find it online at TED Talks.
We will share these slides on Slideshare so you can get the reading list. Theory x management principles were effective in many place throughout history and into much of the 20th century. Theory y became popular in the late 20th century and it turns out that both are complete bunk. Pink proposes that tech corporate culture in the early 21st century is a result of understanding motivators for creative minds.
TAGFEE is just one acronym for a successful corporate culture for a company in need of highly committed, creative minds. You can learn more about TAGFEE at moz.com/about/tagfee
No one would ever have accused Steve Jobs of being TAGFEE. He was cantankerous, often shouting in disagreements and something of a tyrant. But he drove the culture of Apple – bringing elegance and simplicity in technology to the masses – through his company from top to bottom. Apple was a culture of perfection.
Former Boeing Commercial president Frank Shronz gave a famous speech to his ‘troops’ in which he said, “If we aspire to the same level of perfection as FEDEX -99.7% perfect performance, we will kill only 1MM people per year. Go make airplanes!
We find far too many companies that lose their focus in the growth phase. You’ll make more money going deep and becoming the best in the world t one thing than you will going a mile wide and inch deep. Your Executor will often be called on to bring the Wizard down to earth.
Anne – Beagles!
Just because you CAN do a thing does not mean you should.
Anne wrote the book, Global Search Engine Marketing – still the ‘bible’ of this profession. If you’re marketing outside your local region, speak with Anne before you leave. She books out at about $500/hr and you can get her international marketing experience here… free.
The most successful companies have visually beautiful websites – eschew clutter. Hire extraordinary designers for your customer-facing pages. Whether B2C or B2B, the consumer interface can affect as much as 90% of your potential success in online markets.
Leverage the basic human need to share and be part of a group. Raise the bar on ratings & reviews
Allow them to share their own style, knowledge, expertise, experience with each other
It’s more than posting reviews – it’s about being acknowledged for the value of the reviews when others thumb up your review
Agility means being able to meet the FUTURE needs of your target market as well as their current and past needs. It means being able to ID what they will want next and source products/services to meet those needs quickly enough to keep them coming back to you. Relentless research in the thick of your target market is the only way to see trends before they hit the tipping point. At which point, you’re playing catch up, instead of cleaning up the profits.
The hard part about this one is that YOU have to get past the discomfort of working with people with less experience than you have in your own business who will tell you how to do things in better ways…. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is hard.
You can’t avoid the hard stuff. This is what we do for a living… We help companies to launch, grow, pivot and thrive. Know whether you’re building a lifestyle or scalable corporation. That’s a good beginning. Once you’ve settled on that, it’s time to write out your 10 year goals and the strategies you’ll use to get there… and then break it down until you have quarterly tactical plans.
Being buffeted by broader economics is not completely unavoidable. Make it a habit to scan the Financial Times and WSJ for global and regional business news. See who’s inventing new things in your sector. Watch trends in your region and the world around you.
Rand Fishkin famously says, No! Build it, MARKET IT, and they will come… .Chek out the whiteboard Friday. Again, these slides are available to you.
We want to answer four questions -
The dynamic interplay of these 3 fundamental market forces determines the value of resource or a capability.
A valuable asset at one moment in time is not necessarily valuable in the next.
Assets are location dependent and industry dependent. An asset may not be as valuable in your location as it might be to someone in another location.
If you’re accessing huge amounts variant data at your desktop, this multiscreen setup is very cool. If you’re driving a truck, entering and receiving data on the road, a tablet is more valuable. It’s really that simple a concept.
Is it hard to replicate, copy or imitate? Physically unique assets are not replicable
PATH DEPENDENT means it is not likely that others can leap frog the steps you took to get the asset or simply purchase the asset cheaply.
It’s easy to cut costs, get routes and sell low cost tickets. It’s very hard to replicate Southwest Airlines culture of fun, family, and frugality. Rubbermaid continues to do well throughout good times and recessionary times, through changing technologies, and across socio economic strata. Diversification of product lines and having a good eye for where to put resources in part of it, but the total picture is still ambiguous The Moz culture attracts best in class talent and draws a community of top marketers together from around the globe.
If it’s simply too expensive to replicate the asset, your asset becomes even more valuable than the sum of the investment made to create it.
How long will your asset provide you an advantage over the competition? Our ability to calculate has increased dramatically over the past 100 years and the industrial and then technological revolutions rode on the wave of those abilities. From the abacus to slide rules to calculators, we achieved increasing power. To backtrack in time a bit from the hand held unit, the computers at Los Alamos increased the speed and accuracy of calculations, but took weeks to accomplish some tabulations. The CRAY computers became the world’s largest… and then we moved to Miniaturaization – desktops, laptops, tablets, and now Apple and others are playing with watch sized computers that are more powerful than the computer that sent a human to the moon
Who gains the benefit of the asset? Stellar sales people have full Rolodexes– but the asset does not belong to the company. It leaves with those salespeople.
Anne – why service companies are not scalable…. The asset is the brainpower. And it walks out the door when they leave work daily.
How easy will it be for someone to substitute whatever you offer with an entirely different product that solves the same issue?
2018 YTILI Berlin Gillian Muessig - Of Wizards and Executors
Of Wizards & Executors
The Assets and Attributes
of Successful Companies
For YTILI 2018 Berlin
Gillian Muessig | Outlines Venture Group
Wichita – great for aerospace
Seattle – great for aerospace or tech
Palo Alto does two things well. It systematically and consistently creates great
companies, while also marketing itself very effectively. It tells the world that
great companies come form Palo Alto even while the macro trend is that
great entrepreneurs are everywhere.
Julie Meyer, Financial Times
5. Deeply engaged
I want to shop where I can trust
the vendor and the reviewers.
I trust people who care about
what I care about.
Agility comes from rigorous, relentless research of your target market
7. They challenge
TV? Radio? DVDs? Internet.
Now, get out there
…and keep in touch:
Wizard or Executor?
Commuting to work, you are thinking of your company.
Your thoughts include:
Paying bills this coming Wednesday
The competitive landscape
Your next product
Your product’s customer experience
Wizard or Executor?
What do you love to tackle?
Negotiating revenue deals
Finding strategic partners
Wizard or Executor?
What keeps you up at night?
Team Performance Stats
Platform or product design and stability