Learning Business Leadership Lessons From The Superheroes

Learn from Superheroes for founders, leaders, whoever. Good post I came across recently, fun and viable so it does make sense to share it here.

See on Scoop.itEntrepreneurship in the World

Your favorite superhero has the power to save your business too. It’s time for the business owners to take lessons from superheroes, and implement them in order to achieve success.

Samuel Pavin‘s insight:

A great, visual, and smart post compiling accurate pieces of advice for anybody out there but also entrepreneurs.

Not everybody is a ninja or guru or whatever sexy name will come in the future but everybody has strenghts and weaknesses.

Identifying them, acknowledging them and working with or around them is key to make the most out of everyday.

So, are you a Wolverine ?

See on agnipravosengupta.hubpages.com


Entrepreneurs’ collaboration and networking, USA vs Europe

Startup Collaboration.thisissamstown

Startups are cool. Founders are the new hippies/pirates. Setting sail for an entrepreneurial life, filled with passion, freedom, friends and all sorts of failures and successes.

That is the bottom line.

Now, meeting with entrepreneurs from various countries, in various countries too, proves quite an interesting experience.

One reason to that : entrepreneurs are so different in their character, vision and overall understanding of what it means to found a startup.

In my title I mention the USA vs Europe because these two geographies tend to show two opposite ways of being an entrepreneur.

Sure, Berlin’s hipsters can match San Francisco’s. Sure, (startup) parties are of equal greatness in London, Paris, New York or Boulder. Sure, developers are equally amazing. And ideas and passion smashing as well.

The networking of one.

But differences show when we start looking at networking.

What I knew on the large corporation side in Europe seems to remain even at startup level … in Europe.

I have attended a few conferences where the same scheme applies again and again. At networking time, prior, during and after the event (a little less at the “after” time though) people would gather where the food/drinks sit.

Fair enough. Great time to have a chat and get to know the cool founders around. However that, in France or Germany, for instance, would not happen that easily. The usual set up consisting of some small groups of friends or acquaintances, a few introductions happening and various lonely people either making calls or desperately looking at their smartphone screen.

Now, a lone guy trying to reach a cup of coffee is an opportunity for an introduction and a chat. However, funnily enough, the discussion (should it happen meaning the guy would not have run away without a word … ) would consist of giving names, saying a word about each one’s business and the guy would quickly enough find himself in need to a) answer the phone b) catch up with someone c) whatever.

This is uncomfortable networking experience. And that happens in Europe.

Compared to it, my recent experience at an event packed with people from Silicon Valley started with one guy welcoming me at the door. Then, after walking a few steps, another attendee offering me a cup of coffee, a chat and an introduction. Followed by a friend arriving while we were speaking – meaning further introductions and already half a dozen people on my “you have to speak to” list.

That allows me to explore further.

Collaborate or keep secrets secret ?

There is a culture of secrecy in Europe. Ideas do hold a lot of value in the eyes of people having them. It does make sense.

But, at the same time, I am more and more frustrated when meeting founders (or even founders-to-be) who only start the discussion by “NDA”.

Trust is dead. Fair enough. But could we still not consider everybody out there to be some kind of sneaky copy-cat freak ?

People here tend to hold onto their ideas so much that even a friend, asking for advice, would not disclose more information than the kind of company he would want to build and in which industry … . My advice : get some brains .. and balls (balls to have enough courage to believe in his actual idea/product and in advisors around who would be key to his success and brains to not waste my time – or others’ – asking for my time to speak about a close-to-non-existent idea – that is if he would not disclose anything).

Again, compared to the culture in the U.S. and the Valley in particular, Europe seats miles away from the habit to share and challenge ideas through discussion with anybody who is around.

I must admit I rather like to have people speak out loud(er) about their project as it does basically allows them to get not only advice from peers but also mentoring at the same time.

I am quite often surprised to meet with startups where founders, even if very knowledgeable people, seem to ignore the very basics of business (yes dude, a startup is still a company not some kind of 2.0 surfing journey).

That is where getting a good kick from a peer would certainly help (and help high level mentors – which I am not indeed – not waste their time doing kindergarten mentoring).

Time to grow.

From kindergarten onwards. Time to grow … for both populations though.

Maybe people in the Valley gets too “relaxed” and even if people share ideas it does seem that even the average ones (e.g. the umpteenth image sharing social app … ) do net get beaten up enough in the process.

On the over side, people in Europe need to relax a bit, share more and keep developing this proper community spirit that tends to grow (too slowly in my regard).

A back-to-basics for all : think, share, get things done and get organized. Succeed. Or fail, anyway. Restart.

What else ?

Thanks to Hubspot for the picture!

Apple is still wonderful

Apple, currently in the spotlight with Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs and Carl Icahn‘s Twitter “masterpiece” after taking a few hits from Android rivals is still running the show and winning the hearts of customers.

This very post comes from my recent experience with the company. First, while looking from far away. Then from becoming a customer. And last from turning more and more to Apple.

There is no point in telling Apple’s story again and again. The innovation, the design, the user experience and customer service.

They had it all when not any tweet or speaker was mentioning those. Apart from Jobs himself.

But then, in these troubled times for the brand, why are they “still wonderful” when I look at them ?

No geek nor Apple lover?

Yes, that is me. My very first Apple purchase was an iPod shuffle. The very small, clippable, device which I have been using since then when going out for a run.

I have also never been a geek or anything like interested in computer and computing. Meaning I would go crazy in front of my frozen Windows and fight my way through viruses with anything called Norton but would not even think about any Mac.

I also remember a time when customers would mainly be beardy geeks and developers or people with money and inflated self-esteem.

This has kept me slightly away from the brand for years. And then I finally tried it again (always liked my iPod so much that there was no reason the product would be poor) and I purchased an iPhone 4.

It was a great phone. Even if I still admit being frustrated with the fact that everything around it was under Apple’s control (and iTunes for instance).

I liked it anyway and was more than annoyed when it was stolen.

Am off. And back with a discovery.

That “tragedy” drove me towards Android and a very poor Samsung experience followed by an average Sony one.

Those were enough for me to recall that my iPhone 4 was a pleasure to use in the end. Hence my purchase of an iPhone 5.

And a new path walked on my Apple journey : the Apple Store.

For the very first time in my life I actually entered an Apple Store and bought my phone there. That was an eye-opening experience on the actual quality of customer service provided.

I did not enjoy it, I truly loved it.

That was in Glasgow, Scotland.

Back in Paris, I have been to one of the stores a couple of times and was back there today to get a new MacBook.

Yes my Apple squad has kept on increasing. But what I noticed again, other than the usual high quality of the laptop is the ever-amazing quality of the service provided by the staff.

I spent almost two hours there and had three people taking care of fixing any issue and making the experience the best for me.

And that happens in a well-designed shop where anybody can enjoy to stay for a wee while (at least when it is not packed with “tourists” – people just wandering around) and still be fairly relaxed.

Apple is wonderful.

That is where Apple is wonderful. There is no way any of their current competitors can match this level of quality and service provided.

And this is a game-changer. Customer experience (or say user experience) is one of the hot topics at the moment.

Apple have had it mastered for quite a while and they now have completely turned me into one of their minions :)

So, fellow minions, tell me, is customer experience what got you hooked ?

Social media tools for blogging … or not


Social media and networks are one of the biggest revolutions having happened in business over the past years or decade. With the birth of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and … WordPress, our digital world has changed a lot and our real life has taken the same blow.

Who does not have at least a couple of social media accounts ? If not dozens (I must admit).

With those tools has come the time of Me. I showcase my own self on Facebook, tweet about me and my life which I advertise visually on Instagram and Vine (or Instagram video now) and I summarize it all, using all my writing power on my – one or more – blog.

Quick snap of life 2.0. When it comes to businesses, the trend is the same even if Twitter and co are still in adoption process.

Arise App store

We had these tools. Still have them. But a major evolution took place with the app store (and its Google Play rival) and the smartphones becoming the common tool for anybody out there.

Apps also mean a lot of various tools working for, with, around social media.

So, when it comes to the blogging part I initially mentioned, posting on WordPress means that the post may be tweeted, posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…, curated on Scoop.it with its featured image pinned on Pinterest and so on.

A multiplication of the reach.

But even prior to that, tools like a Pocket (formerly Read me later), Evernote, Google Reader (R.I.P), etc … play a major role in gathering content and topics for articles to come.

And I am not mentioning more technical tools/plugins destined to improve ranking, SEO, etc … .

Shed the tools and get sh!t done!

On to my point. Just off from a TNW Academy session with John Saddington, yesterday, I have retained one major point : “hit the “publish” button”.

Indeed, I am using a fair amount of tools in my blogging process, before, during and after – and I am not even close to some more professional friends. But while I do use all this stuff and try to make my content better and my posts longer and smarter and whatever else, I am not publishing.

I am even struggling at being done with the writing. I almost have no drafts pending.

That is worse, in fact, I have plenty of notes in Evernote, material in Pocket and Dragdis, even bits on a waiter’s pad (…) but these do not make blog posts.

Blog posts are what this post is. A completed, published one.

Be it not perfect, long enough, documented enough but at least making sense, making a point and as we often advise startups, better a released Most Viable Product than a perfect one never reaching the market.

Agreeing or disagreeing to that ? Let me know your thoughts.

[Image owner lonnietaylor, via deviantart.com / under Creative Commons]

Old phone tech - contact page at thisissamstown.com

The Moto X and the sponsored customers

Old phone

Iphone, Galaxy S4, Experia Z and now Moto X.

In between reviews and rants, the new “Google phone” has been the hot topic these past days. Not that I would initially care much to be honest. But after coming across a piece from Robert Scoble in response to a TechCrunch post, I came to think that there is more to Moto X and this current debate than just basic technology.

Let us look into this actual technology bit quickly and move on. There are certainly some nice features, a few innovative additions, the always-on voice control, etc … . But, one thing sticks with me : everybody is comparing this phone to the other brands flagships (above-mentioned iPhone, S4 and Z). Yet, the first article I read about Moto X was stating that this phone’s positioning would rather be mid-level. And so do some pieces at the moment speaking of “phone for all”.

Well then, is the name of Google enough to get people so excited they start another gold rush ?

Coming back on track, the “customers” one, the one for which Scoble’s piece raised my level of interest.

He actually wrote a fair note to journos and tech reviewers mentioning the fact they have a “specs” approach and are not testing the devices for real life. In this regards, as he said, a normal user would not look deep into the features but rather make sure the thing … works. And that usually takes a week or two to get a good grip on the phone while adding apps and trying to unleash some added power from the device (“Oh la la, just discovered I could get an Evernote plugin in my Hootsuite dashboard!”).

I, however, have to not fully agree with him at some point. And that is when, in his speech about real customers, he would hint his review as being one to look at for “real” (standard, normal, me-like) customers.

Indeed, focusing on actual usage of the phone in real-life situations and taking the time to do so is more like a customer review.

But when that is done by a guy who gets his hands on Google Glass and on the yet unreleased Moto X, how normal a customer is that ? That is sure part of the game for brands to provide influencers with their gadgets in order to make some noise and spread the love (or hate but let us leave that to the likes of tech blogs). But at some point, it seems easier to get some love from the cat you are feeding.

So, rather than speaking about customers, I guess the proper terminology here would be “elite customers”, with a little bias in their relation to the brands.

I also retained a point about moving from iOs to Android and so loving it. But with the Moto X now being THE Android (… phone). As a real user and knowing various real users I do agree that chosing either the phone or the OS does have to do with personal preferences.

Yet, I did move from an initial Windows phone to an iPhone, switched to Android on Samsung, quickly followed by Sony and am now back to iPhone. And I actually love it just because I can actually use it.

That is what customer experience [I read “user experience” recently, must be the customer experience 2.0] is about. Trying out various devices and defining which is the best fit, out of experience and usage.

That is also what would prevent me from writing a rant against this or that brand regardless of how bad my experience has been. I do resent Samsung phones which for most users I know around me always performed poorly (when not burning out like mine) but, at the same time, a friend of mine has found his best device ever in the form of the Galaxy S4 … .

Regardless of reviews and reviewers, users experience is the key.

Until the next release, of course. Ready for the rant against the iPhone 6 ? :)


Phone picture from Flickr user robinkaspar (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en)