How do I measure success?

John D. Rockefeller was famously once asked, Mr. Rockfeller, how much money is enough? Without missing a beat the titan replied, “Just a little bit more.” That led me to start thinking about how do we actually measure success and when should we allow ourselves to feel that we have actually achieved something. I expect my focus for my entire professional career will be on building companies and entrepreneurship. In the field of growing companies it’s often seen as simple to define success – he who dies with the most money wins. When I was twenty and I started working at SSB the seemed like the right definition, in line with glossy celebrity magazines and the great American dream. Ten years later, though, it seems like the situation seems is more complex than that.

The simple truth seems to be that no matter how much money you have there will always be someone with more. Say your goal is to be the world’s richest person. In this day and age the most you can hope to do is hold that title for a period of time riding the markets exuberant valuation of your company to the top spot. Inevitably, though, you lose the position and someone with more toys at the time takes it over.

It strikes me that that the creation of an enterprise that creates a Croesusian level of wealth is something that occurs principally as a matter of luck where the unique skill of an individual, which is important, meets the proper market environment which is orders of magnitude more important. Bill Gates would be lost to history if he was born five years earlier or later. You would have no idea who Marc Andreessen is if he hadn’t been in the right place at the right time. Mark Zuckerberg would be another random guy from Harvard if the idea of Facebook hadn’t come his way while Friendster – remember that – and MySpace were vulnerable. This is in no way to take away from the efficacy of these company builders – it’s simply to help divide between the factors they control and factors they do not. This is in line with the fundamental attribution error which states that people tend to over value personality-based explanations and under value situational explanations for something.

What’s more, the distribution of wealth is clearly not merit based. A monarch of an oil rich state – through very little personal skill – has more wealth than I can ever hope to amass. Children of wealthy parents tend to be wealthy be virtue of the fact that they start out with far more opportunity. In the same way, the golden tickets of being born (i) American, (ii) into an upper-middle class family and (iii) smart are in no way based on any work that I have done. Clearly, how hard I work in my substantive professional years has an impact on my success. That said, factors that I in no way control have at least an equal if not greater impact on my success.

Given all that, the question becomes what do I choose to measure my success? What is a measure that I can use that accounts for the things I control and discounts the things that I do not? The goal is to define success in a way that allows me to measure whether I am achieving my full potential in the context of my life. It should not wait factors that are principal matters of luck but should ensure that – if I get lucky – I am well positioned to take advantage of that luck.

2012 Life Goals


  • Work out five days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Maintain weight under 180 lbs


  • Eat a diet of less refined items including, sadly, Diet Coke and focus on more natural items
  • Take fewer drugs and over the counter medicines – focus on the few items that have real benefit
  • Make sure I get enough healthy fats in the form of fish or supplements
  • Be good to my bones– Get enough calcium and vitamin D and drink less soda
  • Drink the same amount more often – a few drinks several times a week – moderate daily drinking has a positive health benefit


  • Take a picture of baby girl everyday
  • Develop at least one family hobby
  • Go on a date with my wife at least once a month
  • Take a trip at least once a quarter with the family


  • Execute the plan for 2012
  • Hit 6M in revenue run rate before the fourth quarter of the year
  • Secure SSB’s position as lead software and services provider in accessibility market
  • Grow laterally into development services market and prepare for movement into secondary compliance domains – SEO as a primary starting point
  • Define an M&A plan to complement the organic growth plan

2012 Packing List

Oh yeah, this is what I pack when I go on a trip.


  • Workout Shorts (3)
  • Workout Shirts – White (2), Black (1)
  • Headbands!!!
  • Athletic Socks (3)
  • Boxers (5)
  • T-shirts – White (2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Polo Shirt (2)
  • Sweater (1)
  • Shorts (1)
  • Pants (1)
  • Belt
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Flip Flops

Meeting Clothes

  • Dress Shirt
  • Dress Pants
  • Dress Shoes
  • Dress Socks
  • Tie
  • Jacket


  • Dopp Kit
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • iPhone Charger
  • Kindle Charger
  • Laptop Charger
  • Workout Headphones


  • Laptop and Kindle
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Office and House Keys

Note: Shorts and a jacket work better than yoga pants. Jeans are not a great way to go especially long flights.

Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Book Notes


  • The concept is that we are all seeking to be happy
  • Being happy is about being in flow
  • Flow is state that comes ensues when you lose sense of time and feelings external to what you are doing.
  • Getting into the flow requires you to engage in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions
  • The question is how we acheive that state of flow on an ongoing basis
  • Flow comes about from an active control and directing of conciousness
  • Training and practice in controlling your conciousness in these routes is what makes the flow possible on an active basis

The Anatomy of Conciousness

  • Consiousness is the combination of concious events (sensation, feelings, thoughts, emotions) our perception of them and our reaction to them
  • Intentions are the directions that conciousness takes – like if we are aware of feeling hungry we can form an attention to get food and our conciousness order itself around that intention
  • Intentions tend to be ordered in heirarchy and the self is just the set of heirarchies we carry around with us based on life experience. For example my self wants to have a comfortable house, success at work and a loving wife. Those intentions then form sub-intentions – go to work, have a good job, buy flowers for the wife, etc.
  • Attention can be thought of as the energy we expand to shape conciousness
  • Anxiety, pain, rage or jealousy generally can be thought of as disorder in the conciousness, turbulence in the flow or psychic entropy. They occur when we get information that conflicts with or keep us from carrying out our current set of intentions – acting on our self.
    • As an example think about something that is worrying you. The worry is caused by a violation – current or anticipated – of your self. The worry goes away when this violation is reconciled.
  • Order in conciousness means a lack of turbulence or psyhic entropy thus flow.

Enjoyment and the Quality of LIfe

There are two main ways to improve the quality of life:

  • Bring external conditions inline with internal goals.
  • Change the way we experience external conditions to make them fit our goals better.

For example if you desire a greater sense of security you can (i) buy an alarm system or a gun of (ii) accept that the world is an insecure and uncertain place as part of your definition of security. Neither approach should be used exclusively and both are valid at certain times and places – wisdom in knowing the difference.

Ultimate Sales Machine – Book Notes


  • Market Influencers – The people in the market who influence overall purchasing – bear specific attention and focus and should be part of their own ongoing marketing campaign
  • After you understand all the challenges that a customer is facing in the market a great segue to your solution is something like, “Those challenges come up a lot with our other clients. That’s one of the reasons we are conducting this research. In fact the findings were so overwhelming that we put together an executive briefing on them. Let me talk you through some of that data. If you don’t have time now we can schedule some time to follow-up.”
  • Ask a sales person to present something to you as part of the interview process. Give them a slide with bullet points and talking points, ten minutes to prep, and then see how they do
  • Setup a sales skill teleconference ounce a week to role-play, share strategies and updates for team members
  • A good option is to offer a free report but not be specific that the free report is actually a presentation. When talking to a customer that transition would be something like “Oh, you thought it was a report that we send over? No, it’s actally much better than that. If we just sent you a report with a few hundred pages you probbaly wouldn’t read it. So to go the extra mile we hired a graphics firm and had the data built out into a orientation we present live in your office. It’s packed with great information and graphics to illustrate points – it’s a great experience and everyone we show it to is impressed. The last few presentations to Named copmany, named company have all loved it….”

Chapter 4 – Becoming a Brilliant Strategist

  • Strategy is long term plan to acheive a long term gain – like having customers generate a set amount of revenue year-over-year
  • Tactics are the short term activities require to acheive a short term gain – like driving a single sales to close
  • The critical executive shows a mix of both strategy and tactics
  • Good tactics closes a sales once – good strategy causes a sale to occur again and again
  • This means focusing on educating the customer and helping them across the entire life of potential buying – not just when they are ready to buy
  • Educating the customer allows us to set the customers buying criteria – which allows us to define our solution as the best solution
  • The Stadium Pitch or Core Story
    • If you had to pitch to a stadium of your potential prospects what would you say?
      • How not to get sued by blind people
    • Generally your market will be split up into a set of people where
      • 3% buying now
      • 7% open to it
      • 30% not thinking about it – not averse, just don’t care now
      • 30% don’t think they are interested
      • 30% know they are not interested
    • Goal is to develop a sales structure that allows you to address all of those people in the initial hit
  • Education based marketing
    • Offers something of value to the buyer
    • If the information is good repositions you in the mind of the buyer as the expert
    • If the content is developed with an eye towards positioning it can sell your services far better than a straightforward sales process
  • When you sell you break rapport – when you educate you build it
  • Benefits of education based selling and the stadium pitch
    • Easier to get appointments with clients
    • Makes you relevant to just about anyone including the 90% not buying now
    • Establishes you as an expert and makes your credible
    • Makes any sales material that follows more credible
    • Allows us to define the buying criteria in a way that makes us unique and compelling
    • Makes people want to give us something of value (Reciprocity)
    • Can create a moral obligation to pursue accessibility
    • Said everything that top management would want the rep to say and know
    • Makes the reps smarter and drives insight into the business
  • The stadium pitch should do all of the above
  • The data that makes up the stadium pitch
    • Should be the core of all your marketing or your core story
    • Should shift all the buying criteria in your favor
  • Building the core story
    • Market data is way more important than product data
    • Market data is the core of the stadium pitch and defines why your product is important
    • The smoking gun is the one thing that makes your product unique and compelling amongst all the others
    • Look at how the data is changing over time and the speed of change – those are the compelling story items

Chapter 5 – Hiring Superstars

  • Think about what hiring one superstar sales person would do for the company. How much faster could you grow?
  • Put the highest possible number people can earn in your add (Compensation plan starting at 120K)

What makes a superstar

  • Key is finding the right personality profile
  • DISC profile – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance
    • Dominance – Strength of personal ego, drive for control and how well you assert yourself in situations. Generally we are looking for high dominance individuals
    • Influence – How well you communicate and interact in social situations
    • Steadiness – Consistency in actions
    • Compliance – HOw you relate to structure and organizations
  • A superstar tends to display high influence and dominance
  • We can train around weaknesses in personality traits but the goal would be to not need to train around them
  • Note – Expect to get rejected an average of eight times before someone says yes
  • Look for agressive behavior in interviews – they are selling themselves as the product

Guidelines for Hiring

  • Build an ad that is agressive – asking for superstars only
  • List the blunt amount of money you can make in the role
  • Age and background are not relevant – its about pesonality fit and intelligence
  • Do a phone screen and immediately reject people to see if they push back
  • The interview
    • Relax – Get them feeling comfortable and relaxed
    • Probe – Check into their background and see what shaped them
      • This can be legally tricky so you need to get their permission to do this
      • If the job is about personality and they agree that personality is what shapes them than you can talk through this area
      • Focus on people that have had blindly encouraging parents – be one yourself
      • People with high Influence (empathy) will open up well in this phase because they love to bond
    • Attack – Tell them they don’t have the job because they are a superstar. If they crumble they probably aren’t the right person for the job. If they come back – hire them.
  • Sales is like a competition and the strong should survive and thrive and the weak should be moved to customer service

Rewarding your superstar

  • Set a low base pay and a high incentive plan
  • Give the superstars a blow out package if they knock past their numbers
  • Jump on your desk and tell them that God orders them to stay at your company
  • Put together a recruiting document showing people how much money they can earn over a few years
  • They work hard and sell well they make money
  • Setup incentives such that people keep being focused on new business
  • Build out a compensation plan that shows how much money people can earn over a long period of time
  • People will build the company for you as long as there is money to pay them

How to Manage a Superstar

  • Compliment them on what they are doing
  • Constantly challenge them to do better

A note on all hires

  • YOu can use the Relax, Probe, Attack technique for all positions – not just sales. For the attack you would go a little softer but since we are curious about how people respond to adversity we want to see if they will sell themselves or just wilt
  • Structure all income around performance and reward those who do the best

Final Notes

  • Accept the fact that the best hiring process will have some duds and focus on hiring quickly and firing those that don’t work out quickly. Once you get the right people keep them on board and satisfied

Chapter 6 – The High Art of Getting the Best Buyers

  • Best buyers are simply your ideal clients – they buy more, faster and more often than any other customers
  • Create your target list of 100 dream acconts and target them relentlessly
  • Use social proof to demonstrate that other top accounts in the industry are viewing this
    • We are in the process of showing this to X,Y,Z companies and wanted to make sure you have it
  • Use FUD as a motivator to drive action
  • Go to the highest executive with budget possible
  • Only target customers on the dream list similar to those customers that are spending large amount of money with you
  • You can add in a screening step to the campaign that determines the need of the client. For example, if you are selling computers just call the receptionist and ask what kind of computer they are using. The corollary in are world would be checking the website and seeing if it has an accessibility section on it.
  • If you keep persistently marketing to the organization they will eventually feel obligated to give you business
  • Dream neighborhoods are the business to consumer corollary where you consistently target a specific neighborhood
  • Dream affiliates are the channel marketing equivalent where you consistently target a specific channel partner
  • Who sells to the same customer you sell to that can increase your sales?
  • Decide who you want to go after and then put in the time and energy to get them

Dream Buyer Management

  • How are you going to treat your dream customers so they feel like dream customers?
  • What are things you can do to make them feel special?
  • As a specific objective of serving these accounts you should see if they are comfortable referring you to other customers

7. The Seven Musts of Marketing

  • Stacked Marketing – The concept that you should have a consistent message, look, theme and slogan throughout all your marketing materials


Rules for creating good ads

  • It Must Be Distinctive – There has to be something out of the ad that stands out and demands attention
  • Capture Attention with a Screaming Headline
    • Tell me what you want to tell me in 3.2 seconds
  • After your headline hooks them you body copy has to keep them reading
    • Focus on them instead of yourself (see above)
  • Include a call to action
    • Provide a reason for them to act in a timely fashion
    • Define some scarcity reason for them to respond – limited time or quantity
    • Provide a low invasive way for them to respond like a form, coupon to return with data or business card to drop
  • Other Advertising Insights
    • You can use one ad many times – like by taking out a full page add in Forbes which you then send to all your customers with a post it note indicating the page and a location in your booth at tradeshows

Direct Mail

  • Basically this is a good augment to the core activities you are doing. They rules for writing good direct mail pieces can be found in wild detail in other places and aren’t covered here. Conceptually, though, the direct mail pieces are useful to augment and extend sell through rates to your already targeted prospects

Corporate Literatre

  • Principal issue is that this should be consistent with all your other marketing pieces using the data in your stadium pitch, graphics in your presentations, etc.
  • Your corporate literature is a distillation of the core items in your stadium pitch – so think of this as the leave behind after the initial presentation that you provide to the prospects
  • Use color and graphics! Plain text is boring
  • Make sure you hvae a catchy headline and body copy follows

Public Realtions

  • PR covers outbound articles, getting stories placed in magazines and related activities
  • Writing articles consistent with your overall marketing theme and then working to get them placed in industry and trade group presentations is a great way to grow your overall organization’s brand awareness
  • Ensuring that all these articles have interesting information and analysis is the key to getting them picked up
  • Don’t make the article about you – make the article abou the topic at hand and subtley include your points
  • Building relationships with newspapers is the same as building relationships with any other prospect. Executing a consistent, specific campaign is the best rote to yielding results
  • Stories about you (clients you have one, contracts you have placed) are uniteresting to PR placements
  • stories about topics that are generally relevant are interesting as they relate to the readers interests not your interests
  • As with the core story focus on the data and compelling large amounts of disconcerting data that drive the interest of the story to be read
  • Speaking engagements at industry activities fit the same profile. Create presentations and stories that are of interest to the individuals in the conference audience and your papers are far more likely to be picked up for presentation

Personal Contact

  • The most powerful time and to sell and impact clients

Trade Shows and Market Education

There are fundamentally three rules of success at a tradeshow

  • Get Noticed – Do something that makes your booth stand out – like a referee theme or all Hawaiian shirts
  • Drive Traffic – Get people to come by the booth – e.g. offer a free trip to Hawaii and serve Hawaiian drinks
  • Capture Leads – To have people enter the free give away have them drop a business card and complete a fill in the blanks questionaire that provides your qualifiying criteria
  • Tradeshow and themed events should be fun – after all would you go to a lame event?
  • Awards ceremonies for your industry give you a chance to spotlight all the high acheivers in your space
  • Sponsor a conference for the market, charging for attendance where you own the schedule

Marketing Weapon 7 – The Internet

  • Provide a soft yes – an single, easy directed first step for getting marketing – in our world this is AMP Express
  • Provide information of value to your prospects and community on the site – clearly a mistake we learned from at SSB

Capter Eight – The Eyes Have It

  • Products and concepts communicated with both audio and visual information have a much higher stick than those just spoken about
  • Use color to denote information as well – certainly colors have certain primary meanings
  • Pictures of people tend to work well because people are the most familiar image to us
  • Determine which of your sales points is a key point to communicate and then develop a graphic to communicate that accordingly

Rules for effective presentation

  • KISS – Keep it simple, stupid – Headin and four points per slide
  • KIFP – Keep it fast paced – Two to three panels a minte – keep new information coming on the screen about every fifteen seconds. Especially a critical item in webinars to keep people from multi-tasking
  • Use WOW facts and statistics – Start with wow facts early on to hook in the prospect and reinforce them with graphics
    • Remeber – Market data is way more compelling than product data. If you start off your presentation with that you establish yourself as the expert and start setting buying criteria early
    • A history of the market that you are in can be a good way to introduce your company
  • Build in opportunities for stories – Well told stories increase recall by another 26 percent
  • Your presentation should be curiosity driven – Allude to information coming later – make them want to see the next slide
  • Think of each headline as valuable real estate – Headlines are valuable space – make them work – generally that means summarizing the most important slide point in a more dramatic fashion
  • Focus on them, not you – Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is themseleves – get them talking about their challenges. First seek to understand their problems then seek to communicate how you can address them.

Three modes of communication

  • Your words – the actual content you are communicating
  • Your tone – the way that you are saying your words. Speak with a tone of authority that communicates the importance of what you are discussing.
  • Your body language
  • Focus on taking control of the meeting by asking people to stand or sit and stretch
  • Ask people to come out from behind there desk to check out material more effectively – it puts you in control of the situation

Eight common mistakes presenters make

  • Thank prospects for their time or apologizing for taking it – The time that you are presenting is valuable to them – set that tone initially
  • Presenting with your hands in your pockets
  • Presenting from a sitting position – Standing is a position of authority and keeps you in control of the dynamic. Easy request is to ask if you can present while you stand – “I think better on my feet”
  • Being led around by the nose – You need to lead the prospect to what they want – don’t follow them around the store. Practical impact of this is stopping and answering questions that aren’t in the flow of the presentation – keep these in the queue and answer them as you go
  • Letting the materials upstage you or guide you – The materials are there to help your sales process but ultimately they are just aids – you are in control of what and how you present
  • Keeping it totally serious – It’s okay to have fun and breaks up the tedium
  • Failing to practice the presentation each and every time before you give it – practice makes perfect – but remember, some people just plain can’t present
  • Having no idea what comes next in the presentation – Presell every panel in the presentation so your audience mouth is watering for what comes next
  • Don’t call a presentation a presentation – nobody wants those – call it an orientation or an executive briefing – that’s something people might actually want

Chapter 9 – The nitty gritty of getting the best buyers

  • Develop a key target list of best buyers – your dream list
  • Develop a plan to target them – expect that plan will involve rejection for the first five, ten or fifteen times you reach out – be relentless. People want to reciprocate your persistence with busienss
  • Seek to serve the industry your are providing service to first – sales come afterwards. “We commmisioned a study to focus on the top ten accessibility lawsuits, causes and common threads and are now making this information available to you at no cost.”
  • Remember that targeting your best buyers is a process that goes on forever and it needs to be done as part of a core and consistent part of your ongoing sales efforts

Six simple steps to get your dream clients

  • Choose the dream list – Pick the people in the company who have the power to say yes! If your contact only has the power to say no you need to go over them in the organization to someone who can say yes
  • Choose gifts to send to them
    • Send little gifts – expensive gifts are likely to be seen as a bribe
    • Send gifts that are useful or are things they could give to kids
  • Create your initial letters
    • Keep the letter short
    • Give it a very clear call to action – providing them an executive briefing
  • Create you calendar
    • Create specific guidelines and timeframes for following up with the prospects. You have to consistently follow-up with them over a long period of time before you can convert to a customer. Ideally you should be hitting these targets every two weeks just checking in and keeping them up-to-date on your company.
  • Conduct follow-up calls – Each mailing should be coupled with a follow-up call
  • Present your executive briefing – Make sure to have the best person presenting it and then have the follow-up go through the individual sales people
    • For web based seminars consistent follow-up it the key to gettting attendance

How to get around the gatekeepr

  • Ask for the person directly – don’t be nice and ask them to put you in to them
  • Keep making the assistant go back and ask the boss for more information

Business Opportunity Profile

Mass market

  • Focus on scalable, repeatable business that benefit from efficiencies and transaction oriented approaches
  • Business that scale independent of cost basis

Old line businesses

  • Mature industry businesses that would benefit from infusion of globalization and larger IT process
  • Local businesses that would benefit from restructuring operations around a global supply chain

Good to Great – Book Notes

  • Level Five Leadership
    • Self effacing, quiet reserved
    • Personal humility and professional will
    • Ambition first and foremost for the good of the company
    • Ego brings about failure in two thirds of the times
    • Desire from the leader is to produce recurring, sustained positive results over time
    • Attribute success factors to the other members of the team
  • First Who… Then What
    • Get the wrong people off the bus
    • Get the right people in the right seats
    • Who questions come before what questions
    • NOT a genius with a thousand helpers
    • Rigorous not ruthless, undoing the wrong decisions in HR are too much
    • Three rules
      • When in doubt keep looking, don’t hire
      • When you know you need to make a people change, act
      • Put your best people on your biggest opportunities
    • Debate vigorously, then act
    • Packard’s Law
      • No company can grow revenues consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company.
  • Confront the brutal facts
    • Stockdale paradox – You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.
  • The hedgehog concept
    • Simple is good
    • Driven by the three concepts
      • What you can be the best in the world at
        • Understand both what you can be the best at and what you cannot be the best in the world at – both sets of understanding are important
      • What drives your economic engine
        • What is the core metric that has the greatest impact on the operation of the company
          • Profit per customer?
      • What you are deeply passionate about
        • The love of toilet paper
    • The hedgehog goal is understanding – not guts
    • Should be created based on outcome of a council
  • A culture of discipline
    • Discipline allows for self management
    • Execution within the three circles of the hedgehog concept
    • Discipline to not stray from execution within those circles
    • Consistent system but flexibility allowed within the system
  • Technology Accelerators
    • The advance application of carefully selected technologies
  • Flywheel
    • The build up of speed over time

What does that mean for me?

  • Be involved in the hiring decisions for the company
  • Determine what the “hedgehog concept” for the company is
  • Red flag process – what is the method for ensuring that a problem is brought to the right level of attention
  • Setup a long term guiding council for company strategy
  • Discuss the necessary steps to determine a hedgehog concept