Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Power Point "Disaster"




"Oh No!" Bob was in BIG trouble.  He had just plugged his laptop into the projector in the conference room, but now he couldn't locate his Power Point slide deck—the one he had just spent all night tweaking. The CEO and his team would be arriving any minute now to hear Bob's presentation on a new software product.

Bob had had high hopes for this presentation.  He had noticed that, during his previous presentations, the CEO had always seemed distracted and not paying attention.  Bob's proposals usually ended up low priority and not funded.  But, this time, Bob had made sure that the CEO would notice!  He added lots of colorful details to his presentation, pictures, sounds, and animations.

Now, he thought with a sigh, he would have nothing.

Just then, Bob's friend Norman walked in.  He immediately saw the look on Bob's face, and asked him what was wrong.  "I lost my presentation!"

"What?", said Norman.

"My whole presentation.  All of it!  I can't find the file and the meeting is about to begin..."

"Relax! Focus. You don't need Power Point, Bob.  You're the expert.  You KNOW what message you want to get across."

"But Norman, I don't know how to organize it! And the CEO is walking into the room now!"

"Get a grip! Can you draw a simple box?"

"Sure, I can do that."

"Then draw a simple box.  Then think of a way to make the box convey your message, simple and succinctly."

The presentation started and Bob drew a simple square box.  As he stopped to think for a moment, he could feel the CEO look at the box—and then look at Bob.  Finally, after what felt to him like 5 minutes (but was actually less than 30 seconds), Bob drew a horizontal axis called "reactive" and "proactive".  He then drew a vertical axis labelled "hi quality" and "low quality".

"The upper left side of the box represents a reactive, but high quality product.  This is our current flagship product.  Our customers love it, but we mostly attract large companies who are not cutting edge.  Meanwhile, the smaller, faster growing innovative companies go with Acme, because they stay right on the cutting edge, but their quality is not good.  They have a lot of complaints, and their customers have to constantly apply patches and upgrades.  We have a golden opportunity here to capture these companies, with a more proactive, lesser version of our flagship product, that still keeps its reliability."

Instead of being distracted and tired, the CEO was excited!  "I've been sitting through Power Point presentations all day, and was dreading another, but you made a great presentation.  Short, quick, and focused!  I totally understand what you're proposing, and I agree!.  We'll do it!"

And with that, the CEO left.

Later, Norman congratulated Bob.  "They are going with your idea and putting you in charge.  You'll have lots of meetings now."

"Yes, but I'm ditching the large, complicated slide decks.  I realize now that complexity was holding back my success in presentations.  From now on, I'm just going to draw simple boxes on paper or white board.  As a bonus, no more worrying about audio-visual glitches!"



© 2019 Praveen Puri

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Top Mistake I Made As A Company Founder




Back in 1999, during the original dot com boom, I founded ListWeasel.com, and was CEO.  We wanted to allow authors and publishers on Amazon.com (which was still just a book seller) to offer commissions to website owners who would sign up and advertise their books on their sites.  

Our big mistake was that we didn't see that Amazon could easily set up their own commission program—which they did (Amazon Associates).  Where we had to advertise and attract both authors/publishers and website owners, Amazon could simply offer commissions on all their book listings.  Because of the traffic on their site, they could advertise the program and easily attract website owners. 

This is a recurring theme in technology.  A small company is founded to service a gap in the offerings of larger companies, then the large company simply extends their offerings to close the gap.  Microsoft, for example, saw how smaller companies were providing tools and networking capabilities that weren't available with DOS and early versions of Windows.  Then, they added those capabilities into future versions of their products.

By early 2001, in less than 2 years, we shut ListWeasel down.  Luckily, I was the only full time employee, but the people working for us either part time, or as contractors, lost a source of their income, just when the recession was deepening.  More importantly, we felt a loss from the time and creative energy we had invested.

For me, I ended up becoming a tech executive at a large bank and, 13 years later, launched my strategy consultancy.  In hindsight, I can say that the experience of founding ListWeasel.com was very valuable, and certainly not a waste.


© 2019 Praveen Puri

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com

Red Flags that You're Reading a Phishing Email



Recently, I have seen phishing emails purporting to come from Apple that completely copy its visuals and color scheme.  The email looked completely legitimate. 

There were 2 red flags, however:

1. Email address and url:  This is the big one.  If you look at the actual value of both the email address and url, you could see that the addresses were not from apple.com.  Instead, they were for some weirdly addressed page.  The lesson here is that, if you see an email you suspect might be phishing, don't click on the link text (for example: "click here").  Instead, right-click on the link, copy it, and paste it in a text editor or word processor.  Then, you can see the actual link.

2. On the landing page, in addition to account and password, it asked for the social security number.  Apple would never ask for this piece of information.


© 2019 Praveen Puri

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com

Guest Post: How to Grow Your Small Business By Satisfying Busy Customers




Photo via Unsplash

How to Grow Your Small Business
By Satisfying Busy Customers


Today’s consumers don’t have time to wait for websites to load or customer service agents to reply to their questions. After all, your customers are just as busy as you are! If your business isn’t set up to satisfy people in a hurry, you may have a hard time retaining customers or acquiring them in the first place. Here are a few simple tricks to please those busy shoppers.

Do Competitive Research


Any business can benefit from conducting a competitor analysis. A competitor analysis is a type of strategic research that involves collecting useful information about what your competitors are up to. When you’re looking to grow your small business, a competitor analysis can help you discover unique business opportunities. For example, you may discover specific audience groups that your competitor has yet to target with their marketing strategies.

A competitor analysis will also help you determine the weaknesses of your competitors. Many online retailers have trouble meeting the demands of their busy customers. This is an area where your smaller specialty store may be able to get ahead. For example, a competitor analysis may reveal that your competitors’ customers frequently complain about their poor customer service. If this is the case, you can advertise your business’s excellent customer service and response times to win some customers from your competition.

Redesign Your Website


In order to find success and please picky customers, your website needs to grow with your business. Perhaps your cookie-cutter website worked well at first, but it won’t be able to handle customer demands as your business expands. Consider hiring a professional web developer to optimize your site. According to Upwork, a good web designer will understand the basics (HTML, Javascript, etc.), communicate with you through the design process, and tailor your website to the platform you’re most comfortable using.

A professional web developer should know how to build a website that will please your audience. For example, your customers expect your web pages to load within seconds. In addition to a reliable web hosting service, proper coding will ensure fast page load speeds. On top of this, your customers need to be able to find what they’re looking for immediately. If your website navigation is complicated or your products are hard to find, your website visitors will simply leave and shop elsewhere. It’s also important that your checkout process is effortless and seamless. According to Sourcify, 28 percent of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts when the checkout process is overly long or complicated.

Address Customer Inquiries Immediately


While a fast website is important, providing excellent customer service may be the best thing you can do to hold onto time-strapped shoppers. Customers don’t like to wait for replies from brands. In fact, Smart Insights revealed that over one-third of consumers expect a social media response within 30 minutes! When communicating with customers, be courteous and speak like a person. Use easy-to-understand terms so that your customers are clear on what you mean and aren’t forced to do their own research to solve their problem.

Good customer service will help you grow your business because satisfied customers are much more likely to recommend your products to others. Plus, happy customers are likely to buy from you again. Since it’s much cheaper to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one, keeping your customers happy is extremely valuable to your business.

We’re all busy. Show your customers that you value their time by catering to their needs. When it comes to growing your business, pursuing customer satisfaction may be the best business strategy of all!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How to know whether your data is trustworthy

As a consultant, and former bank executive, I have been responsible for working on a lot of data modeling  initiatives, especially in the financial and trading areas.

A key way to test whether your data model is trustworthy is to randomly break your data up into several parts.  Use one part for developing/training your model.  Then use your model to evaluate one or more of the other parts of your data, and see if the results match statistically.

For example, if you wanted to develop a system for trading stocks, and you had data from 1990 - 2015, you might want to randomly divide it up into three parts of roughly 8 years each. 

Then, you would develop the system using the data in part 3.  Let's say that it returned 3% more than the market. You would then test your model with parts 1 and parts 2.  If the results are similar, then you would know that the data is trustworthy.

Another example might be x-ray data used to build an AI model to detect cancer.  You could randomly divide the x-rays into 4 groups. Then, train the model on one group.  Then, find out how many false positives and negatives you get.  Then you would test the models on the other 3 groups of X-rays.  If the number of false positives and negatives were similar, then you know that your data model is trustworthy.




© 2019 Praveen Puri

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Creating a Forward-Looking Privacy Policy

Privacy policies should be reviewed once a year, at the same time each year.  After each yearly review, it needs to be mandatory that it be shared with all employees, who must acknowledge (through a click) that they understand and will abide by the policy.  Preferably, the policies should be presented as a mandatory on-line course with a test all employees must pass.

The main way that the policy can be made forward-looking is by requiring that all information kept on customers can be segregated on an individual basis.  In other words, if future privacy laws by a particular government affect a certain subset of information (for example, specifically social security numbers) then it will be much easier for the company to implement if their forward-looking policy had made allowances that individual data segments can be selected for special handling.

© 2019 Praveen Puri 

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com

Banks Vs. Bitcoin

Banks don't have much to fear from bitcoin itself.  Bitcoin is more like gold than currency.  Most people who invest in it are either trying to trade it quickly to get rich, or to invest for the long term as a hedge against inflation.

Bitcoin isn't practical as a currency, because the value is too volatile.  If, for example, bitcoin was used to pay monthly expenses (such as groceries or rent), the price would fluctuate too much from month to month, since jobs aren't paid in bitcoin.

Also, since bitcoin is not regulated by any government, holders of bitcoin risk losing their money in the case of hacks, forgotten passkeys, or exchanges shutting down.  There was a case last year where bitcoin owners holding their money in a Canadian bitcoin exchange lost it all when the operator suddenly died, and his wife didn't know the password.

Meanwhile, bank deposits are guaranteed by the government, and banks offer interest, and services such as loans, credit cards, mortgages, checks, wires, etc.

Indirectly, however, new financial technologies (fintech) such as bitcoin threaten banks because, through competition and better technology (blockchain in the case of bitcoin), they threaten to reduce the fees that banks charge for handling money.

© 2019 Praveen Puri

Praveen Puri is the Strategic Simplicity® expert who has delivered over $400 million in value. He helps clients "weaponize" simplicity and bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Visit PuriConsulting.com