Enthusiasm – the real “Focus”

MG Siegler at TechCrunch wrote a great piece a couple days ago on the role of enthusiasm. I think he’s dead-on, but I’ll add my little bit of advice: Make sure your Enthusiasm is the right kind.

The Enthusiasm you need is really a deep love for what you’re doing. This is the kind of enthusiasm that gets you up early full of energy and ideas.  A quote from Siegler’s TechCrunch piece:

… When co-founder Biz Stone says he thinks Twitter can change the world, it may sound crazy, but it’s not, because he believes it.

[From The Importance Of Enthusiasm In Any Product]

This kind of Enthusiasm goes beyond just the rush of being part of something successful. It’s a belief in something that’s not only bigger than you, its bigger than your product or even your company. The best kind of Enthusiasm comes when you truly believe that what are doing matters.

In the most stark form, the wrong kind of enthusiasm is the kind that comes only when you are growing and successful. This celebratory enthusiasm is cheap. It will not focus your effort on making great products, on working diligently for your customers, or on building a great team. It certainly won’t sustain you through any rough patch in your business. When you are successful, growing, and getting a lot of fabulous press, it’s very hard to separate the enthusiasm for success from the Enthusiasm for what you are doing.

Enthusiasm and passion are so important, no matter what you do. If you don’t feel like you have that towards the company you are with, you should seriously consider leaving.

Better yet, if you have the power in your company to start something that you are passionate about, do it.

[From The Importance Of Enthusiasm In Any Product]

This isn’t just about making it easy to go to work every day. It’s not just about keeping your energy high. This deep Enthusiasm brings that elusive “focus” that often seems a cliche’.

When you are truly Enthusiastic about what you are doing, you have a deep understanding of what you are creating and why it’s important. You are constantly refining that concept of why your company and product matters.  It helps you make the right decisions for customers. It informs your marketing and sales efforts with that sense of purpose. And it makes all the difference when you need to make those tough choices about what you are NOT going to do.

Enthusiasm is the real “Focus.”

Favorite Podcasts: This Week in Startups (TWiSt)

My friends all know that I enjoy good PodCasts. My daily commute only is about 8 steps from my bed… maybe a bit more if I detour to the stove to start the tea kettle before starting work. But when I’m visiting clients and or attending events I’m usually going at least 40 minutes (Palo Alto) or an hour (SF or Silicon Valley). PodCasts are a fun, productive use for that time.

Today I’m writing about one of my favorites. This Week in Startups has only been around for 13 episodes as of this writing, but it’s proven to be one of the most interesting, entertaining, and useful PodCasts that I follow.

The host is Jason Calacanis, a serial entrepreneur with a no-nonsense approach and a New Yorker attitude. He attracts some great guests, all entrepreneurs themselves.

Episode 13 is a particularly good one. It features Matt Mickiewicz, founder of Sitepoint.com and 99designs. Matt’s been an entrepreneur since he was 15 years old. Amazing guy with some great insights.

One small complaint… There is a trailer for the movie “We Live in Public” that was just too long. If you agree, just hang in there, or skip over this section to get to the good stuff.

My favorite part of TWiSt is the “Ask Jason” segment, where people can call in to ask advice. Well, it has been so far. In Episode 13, they introduced “Jason’s Shark Tank”, where they allow two entrepreneurs two minutes each to pitch Jason and his guest. It was great and if it has legs it’ll be a great addition to the show.

Part of what I like about this podcast is that it’s not all hard-nosed business advice. Jason, the guests and the whole crew have a lot of fun during the taping. In this episode, Jason gives dating and marriage management advice that’s just classic, with some great stories illustrating how to put a little extra thought into the time you spend together.

I also appreciate all the companis that sponsor all these Podcasts that enjoy, and following Jason’s lead I’ll fulfill my “Giri” and give my thanks to these great companies that sponsor TWiSt:

webspy

So check out TWiSt, and let me know how you enjoy it. If folks like this review, I’ll do more.

ciao!

How to Hire for Tech Support

Tech Support folks should also be friendly and like helping people. They should be communicative both inside the organization and with customers. Dont just expect your team to "be professional". That admonition is at the core of the wooden, scripted responses that frustrate customers.

What should you look for when hiring Tech Support staff? My answer to this may be a little counter intuitive.

Great Tech Support people are:
– Problem solvers
– Friendly and they like helping people.
– Communicative
– Confident enough to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”

This last point is very important, and too often overlooked. It’s critical in Tech Support to have a team that will respond well when presented with something they don’t know. Every one of them should not only be comfortable with it, but should relish the opportunity to figure something out.

Tech Support folks should also be friendly and like helping people. They should be communicative both inside the organization and with customers. Don’t just expect your team to “be professional”. That admonition is at the core of the wooden, scripted responses that frustrate customers.

“Knowing the answer doesn’t scale. Hire Tech Support people who can figure things out.”

Why didn’t I include something about technical qualifications? While a foundation of technical expertise may be important in your business, a candidate who is a better problem solver and better with people will still be the best choice, even if they lack experience in some aspect of your product or market. The best Tech Support people learn very quickly, and learn best while solving real problems.

Knowing the answer doesn’t scale. Focusing on “knowing the answer” is part of the “Quick Resolution Paradox” – it puts you on that treadmill that brings ever growing costs and support staff burnout. If you know the answer, you should be working to make sure you never get that question again, first by putting the answer at the fingertips of your users, and then by fixing the product so that this problem goes away forever.

Knowing the answer is a side-effect of providing good support, not its goal.

To make a great Tech Support team, the right hiring is critical. The right folks, with the right skills, will build your reputation with your customers with every call.

The Search for Meaning… from the Square Peg Blog

Arianna Huffington was the morning Keynote Speaker at the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp for Non-Profit, Saturday in Berkeley, CA. I was looking forward to her speech. I enjoy Arianna on KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center and usually agree with her editorials in The Huffington Post. I knew it would be a good speech – an inspiring and thought-provoking speech. it was a lot more.

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[More at Square Peg Blog]