Jana Eggers - Listen: Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.


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Startupfest 2014 - "You chose to start a company (or embark on an endeavor). You are passionate about your idea. But often this same passion makes us deaf. We hear feedback, but don’t listen. We miss opportunities to make our product and company better and sometimes we miss the opportunity to succeed. Your ability to listen to information you are hearing is critical to building a company (or project or product) to last.

That said, it is hard. Hard to hear things as they are, not as we are. But as JFK said regarding the US choice to go to the moon “…that goal [in our case listening] will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” My goal with this talk is to give you 5 tips and techniques to take your hearing to listening; your listening to learning; your learning to winning.

Why should you listen to me? I’m a start-up person that’s been lucky enough to have a number of battle wounds and wins to share from helping build companies and ideas with some amazing teams: PTCG (logistics software, sold to American Airlines); Lycos (went public); Apps.com (online applications, sold to Intuit); Spreadshirt (ecommerce, 3x growth in 4 yrs) and Basis Technology (internationalization, re-positioned responding to market conditions); and Intuit’s Innovation Lab (founder) and Quickbase ($1mm to $10mm in 3.5 yrs). My biggest learning is that listening is the most critical and most underused tool that we have."

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  • Tapping test: Listeners right 2.5% of the time
    Information retention: 75% lost in 48 hours
    Jana’s experience: 1-10% is about right
  • vs. 50% of all startups
  • Change or Die slide
  • As you can see, “you can do this”
  • William Duncan Vandiver, house, early 20th century.
    I am from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisifies me. I am from Missouri.
    You have got to show me.
  • Study your customer, and go in w/ a curious mind
  • SOFUS: interplay, decency, foresight, challenge, profit for Fiberline Composites, Denmark
  • Nervousness is a bad energy
    Remind them no right or wrong answer… just what they do
  • Factual and conceptual
  • Speak at 125 words per minute
    Understand speech at 400 words per minute
    >2/3rds of our mental capacity goes off to play
  • Hunger, phone, other notes, spot on your shirt

    The top three reported listening barriers for business practitioners were identified as 1)Environmental distractions such as phones ringing and other people talking, 2) Personal and internal distractions, such as hunger, headache, or preoccupation with something else, and 3)Rebuttal tendency – developing a counter argument while the speaker is still speaking (Watson & Smeltzer, 1984).
  • Jana Eggers - Listen: Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

    1. 1. Listening is Hard
    2. 2. Jana: jana@janaeggers.com, @jeggers
    3. 3. How bad is our listening problem? • 2.5% correct for listeners • 25% retention @ 48h • My estimate: 5-10% “right”
    4. 4. Listening can save your life http://blog.startupcompass.co: • 90%+ fail • 74% due to premature scaling Listening #1 for discovery & validation & efficiency
    5. 5. Listening • produces success in business (Covey, 1989) • minimizes the damaging aspects of performance appraisals (Kluger & Nir, 2010) • increases sales (Drollinger, Comer, & Warrington, 2006) • highly correlates with perception of leadership (Allen, 2010; Bechler & Johnson, 1995; Kramer, 1997) • highly correlates with job-satisfactionLife is better listening
    6. 6. And your brain is amazing!
    7. 7. Let’s build ear muscle
    8. 8. Before your visit
    9. 9. Human curiosity, the urge to know, is a powerful force and is perhaps the best secret weapon of all in the struggle to unravel the workings of the natural world. Aaron Krug
    10. 10. Exercise 2: 2 ears, 1 mouth You have 2+ hours and 3 questions
    11. 11. Exercise #3: car sits
    12. 12. Exercise #4: the HONY
    13. 13. During the visit
    14. 14. Exercise #4: the HONY Step 1: It isn’t the words, it’s the energy Step 2: Realize your approach Step 3: Explain your goal Step 4: Broad questions, slowly escalating
    15. 15. Exercise #5: pen beats keyboard
    16. 16. Exercise #6: cheetah Anticipate the speaker’s next point Identify supporting elements
    17. 17. Exercise #7: boomerang Clear off distractions Find a visual cue Play a game Take a break
    18. 18. Exercise summary 1. Curiosity State: primed to learn 2. 2 ears, 1 mouth (or ear jacks): guidelines, not constraints 3. Ear sits: clear your mind 4. The HONY: set the stage 5. Pen beats keyboard: write it out 6. Cheetah: be responsive 7. Boomerang: bring your mind back
    19. 19. Actually doing it
    20. 20. Where do I find the time?
    21. 21. How do I find customers?
    22. 22. Now, go off and set records! Your coach: jana@janaeggers.com