Trust and Value

[Trust is] the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
-Stephen Covey

trust and value

Trust is the pipeline through which all value moves. I recently wrote on value and the need for value propositions to be made if progress is to be expected. Trust, in my estimation, is a key element in value exchange. Here is the flow as I see it. Imagine a pipe. Through the pipe flows needs and wants in one direction. After, in the opposite direction, flows value. And then consideration returns. Now imagine with me a pipe the size a drinking straw, the cocktail sort. For some reason the other trust is not there. Needs and wants are restricted. The other is guarded with their desires. They not think it in their best interest to open up and share. The result. The first has not the opportunity to help. Even what little they gleam, the straw so small can only receive value in step. Of course consideration is in proportion to value and so the whole thing, the whole process lackluster. Leaving both feeling of what it should have been.

Now image with me a pipe so grand in diameter. Needs and wants are freely shared. Even a hint of a desire is known the other before it is solidified. And value, oh how it can move through this pipeline. Consideration always in proportion leaves both feeling impressed. To put it simply: the more trust; the bigger the pipe. The bigger the pipe; the more desires, value and consideration, which all are in proportion to each other, can flow. It all starts with trust.

Trust, in my estimation, is fundamental to relationships. And business and partnerships are simply relationships. If you ever hear something of the sort, “nothing personal, it’s just business.” This is a hint, in my estimation, that someone does not understand how to move value. That they do not understand business at all.

Are you spending the time building trust that is needed in your business relationship to reach your organization’s goals? How would you measure trust? Perhaps our receipts is a good place to start?

 

-A takeaway from a Mavidea client website UX meeting

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

A Journal Entry: When to Talk

let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
-Saint James

When to talk and when to listen

I have come to keep a journal. Reflections on the day and so on. This morning in my time set aside to blog, thoughts of reflection on a topic that has gone unanswered too long and an idea of resolution consumed me to journal instead. So this week I will share this entry. Names removed, adding in verses for and some of my thoughts that did not make their way to the entry for context, etc:

5.2.15

In the past I have not been sure as to the volume of my speech. In business settings, in the past I have felt like I, in general, have ideas I think will help. So I have always erred the side of sharing them. That said, I have been mindful of God’s word that encourages us not to speak hastefully and in great volume. It has been a point of uncertainty for me. The balance of volume my speech. Should I talk or should I remain silent? Is this a point of pride? That everyone must hear my idea because my idea is so good? Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my mentors. My struggle on the matter came up as we talked about James 1:18-20:

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

I have come to believe this to mean that if we are going to be God’s firstfruits amongst His creatures, if we are going to serve and love our fellow; the formula to make that possible is to be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We need to listen to be positioned to love others well. It does not say “do not speak” it says to “be slow to speak.” This I think helps us focus on listening. The opposite thinking about what we are going to say and waiting for the first opportunity to speak, I do not think is slow to speak but rather quick for we have already spoke to ourselves and are just waiting to privy others our thoughts. The question I asked him was how does this work with the gift of speaking and teaching and sharing understanding. He looked at me and smiled. He gave no answer. No word left his tongue. Interesting. Perhaps now I think he may have been teaching me a lesson after all. After breakfast he and I went to visit an old friend of my fathers that was in town from the city on a case, he is a God fearing lawyer, his father was too. I asked him this same question after talking about James 1:19. He said that it was a tough question that he had no answer. He did however afford me a piece of advice his father gave him. ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ That is, as I took it, when in doubt remain silent. Still my dilemma remains for my confidence soars in conversation that a particular idea should be shared for the service of those there. Not to my glory of course, that I rescue them with my idea or some nonsense, but instead, should what is shared help; glory be to our God who makes all things known, the Creator of all ideas. I was mowing the lawn last afternoon, preparing our home for a dinner with the families of two business partners where we planned to discuss how to help another in a new venture. As I was mowing the lawn reflecting on the day, I came to this bit of advice that my fathers friend passed to me from his father. ‘When in doubt remain in silence.’ Then a thought flashed in to my mind. 1 Peter 4:10-11:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In my estimation, if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow, then speak as it is your duty. This, I think, is when the doubt is removed; that point of balance I had been searching for. When to talk. My father’s friend said something else that I think answers the ‘if’ of the qualifying question above. That is; discerning if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow. I am doing my best to recall and paraphrase his comments, ‘I thrive in hardship.’ He said, ‘It is good for me. To be humbled and know I rely on God. I have no humble bone in my body. God brings me to my knees.’ This sort of revelation has been reoccurring to me as of late years. My complete reliance on God. On God’s Spirit to show me what to do. I think now, God willing, my dilemma in speech will draw me closer to God. Practicing the presence of God. God give me discernment and faith with wisdom, understanding, knowledge. I need Your help God. I depend on You moment by moment. Draw me near You God and draw near me. Show me what to do.

A quick programming note: I want to clarify something that was clear in my mind when writing in my journal but could be taken for granted here. And when I say clear in my mind I do not mean that I have figured this out, only that I have come to believe these things important. These things are things that if, should you believe you are to speak, I do not think should give way to manners and other proverbs addressing our speech. Things like talking in definitives or otherwise squaring off that you are in the right, interrupting and other forms inserting yourself when another is speaking, or dominating a conversation as to not let another contribute. 

 

-A journal entry on speech

  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

God willing

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
-King Solomon

God willing

James is a most useful book for Christians who want to learn how to act. In it James writes to newly Jewish-Christians and explains just that; as followers of Christ, how are we to live. There are many practical things in this letter. As a business person here is one that I have come to believe is important to practice.

In business there are plans. Plans to do this and to do that. When we speak about the future as Christians I think we need to understand the power of our words. As a quick side note please consider reading James chapter 3 for a better understanding on how our words can change the course of our whole life. Back to it then. In business we are called to speak of the future, to lead a team to a better place in time. James shows us how we are to do this in James 4:13-15:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

It is my estimation, that as Christians we are called to uphold God’s reputation. Here James also tells us not to boast in the future but humble ourselves and to submit it to God. Admit that it is subject to God’s will. This I have come to believe is a way to uphold God’s reputation. Here is an example of what I am trying at:

Whenever we talk about the future may we honor God. Let this remind ourselves that God is in control. Let this proclaim our belief that our future rest in God’s hands that others would know that we belong to God. The Creator of all.

 

-A takeaway from a study in James 4:13-15

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs 27:1

-A takeaway from a study in Jeremiah 9:24

-A takeaway from a study in 2 Corinthians 10:17

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Codex for Entreprenuership

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
-King Solomon

entrepreneurship codex from Proverbs 24:27

Before anyone talked about nailing it then scaling it. Before Mr. Collins’ bullets and cannon balls. Before Mr. Blank had an epiphany and started developing customers and before Mr. Reis coined the phrase lean startup that now dominates high growth venture philosophy; King Solomon laid down the codex to entrepreneurship in Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

All these books are fantastic. And as I read through them I could not help but thinking how lucky I was for the opportunity. They had so much truth in them. This is why I was not surprised to see this verse in proverbs backing up the core principle of these great thoughts on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain. Gaining understanding is the first step. Is this problem worth solving? Do people really have it? Do they care enough about it to switch and pay to solve it? Does this solution we have solve it in a meaningful way? Can we produce this solution? Can we produce it again? And again? Now that we are past the basic stuff, what is the riskiest assumption we are making? Lets try to turn that uncertainty into certainty too. Oh and do not forget we need to do this in a way that turns uncertainty into certainty with the least amount of resources possible. And this brings us to our first principle from Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without,

Why? Why not just throw a lot of with at it, a lot of resources? Let us think about it this way. If entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain let us equate this to driving a car in the fog. The obvious thing to do here is to not go faster than you can stop before what you see comes to pass. It makes sense, right? Jumping in the Mustang and throwing some rocket fuel in the tank to see if she can take it and what she can do will not help things. Entrepreneurship is the same way; a lot of money; a lot of resources expended too early can lead to some costly mistakes. Costly meaning of course too costly, that is; otherwise avoidable. These core assumptions previously mentioned (all the questions above that need to be answered before we speed up), most of them can be answered without actually starting a business. Prepare thine work without.

But how do we turn all this uncertainty into certainty without starting a business? How will we know if the widget will fix the problem and if we can build it at a price that allows us to build more and so on and so on, without actually building the widget and trying selling it? This leads us to our second principle:

and make it fit for thyself in the field;

Mr. Blank is famous for the saying “get out of the building.” And this is a fantastic example of how an entrepreneur needs to shift from planning (identify those core questions) to interacting with customers. The idea is simple. Figure out the next riskiest question, that is; we think this is true but if this came back false this plan will not work, then go and interact with customers in a way that allows you to learn from them if it is in fact true or false. Search lean startup, minimum viable product, or best yet at this stage minimum viable experiment to learn more about exactly how to do this. The idea here again is simple:

  1. create a plan
  2. identify its riskiest assumption
  3. go test that assumption, with the least amount of resources possible
    1. if true, back to step two with next riskiest assumption
    2. if false, back to step one and create a new plan

Build, measure, learn, rinse, repeat until you have everything tested, as Mr. Ries would say, until you have a product-market fit, as Mr. Blank would say, until it fits in the field, as King Solomon would say. Then what? On to the next principle:

and afterwards build thine house.

Only after you have followed this codex for entrepreneurship should you spend the resources to build the business, the product, the service. This is where so many entrepreneurs think it all starts and that is scary. We can not forget all the hard work with next to nothing; no investors, no partnerships, no customers, why perhaps no one else at all for the first stent. Entrepreneurs often have to prove out a lot of these assumptions before they can even attract their first team member. Until then you are just another person with an idea, which is great mind you. And we can not forget all the prepare our work without and the making it fit for ourselves in the field and just run out and ask for money, I do not think this is good for anyone.

I am of the belief that entrepreneurship has wonderful potential when it is done the right way. I am also of the believe that God is the creator and created us in His image that we might go on creating. We are always creating. Entrepreneurs are always creating. They receive an idea and start out creating. God willing; creating wonderful products that make our lives better, creating wonderful services that make our lives better, creating wonderful jobs that make our lives better and on and on. Praise God for giving us the codex to reduce our risk in creating new things for our fellow!

 

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs

-A takeaway from The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

-A takeaway from Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank

-A takeaway from Running Lean by Ash Maurya

-A takeaway from Great By Choice by Jim Collins

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Getting In

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
-C.S. Lewis

friendship in business

In business the desire for strategic partnerships often arises when trying to accomplish. As an entrepreneur I have found myself doing what I suppose many entrepreneurs do from time to time: dreaming about a future in which we have partnered with another who is already serving the masses. Dinner with the king and so on. But how does one broach the matter with the great? The bible gives Christian business people an understanding on exactly how this works. Let us have a look.

 First things first the bible shows us what the dynamics of the situation are in Proverbs 19:6a

 Many will entreat the favor of the prince…

 Entreat. Ask someone earnestly or anxiously to do something. So we know that the great are approached earnestly and or anxiously by many. What is an earnest approach like to the great? I am assuming it is not like getting a call from your cable provider on the benefits of latest bundle. It is more likely, I think, that these are more like the I have a dream speech. It is quite reasonable, I believe, to assume that the solicitors care deeply about the matter, that they have thought deeply about it for some time, perhaps even sacrificed to bring it to its current state for years. How are we to stand out?

Anxiously. In this context, I take this to mean that the solicitors’ sense of desire is great. Perhaps to the point of causing the solicited to be a bit put back, startled or even uneasy. When we think about it the two are in very different positions. One has just heard of this idea, proposition, or even this person; just now. The other is quite the opposite. This passion and sense of urgency and desire on the matter seems only separate them further.

The verse goes on to say:

Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

So what is this mention of gifts doing here then? Interesting. Another verse in Proverbs mentions gifts and the great and even speaks to the topic of broaching the divide between ourselves and them. Proverbs 18:16 reads:

A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

 So the bible is telling us that a gift will help us get our in so to speak. But what sort of gift is this? A new car? A fruit cake?

Gifts. The very best sort are focused on the other. Giving a gift that you like is one thing; I enjoyed this so I thought you might to. But then again your mother may not like so and so as much as you. But let us suppose this Mothers Day you found out a bit about where your mother would like to be and gave her a gift that helped her get there. In business this, I think, is of the very best sort. Not so easy of course, but all the same the best I think.

I have come to believe that these great business people are great because of their being focused on those they are serving. Again this speaks to how difficult it can be to present an idea to them. They are likely consumed with executing their specific plan for serving their customers and there may not be room for a new idea that is yours. It is highly probable that they have a plan and that you can learn about it. Perhaps the gift you bring could establish your friendship by coming alongside them in their journey of service. How much better if it was on their terms and not yours. If you were focused on joining them on their journey not inserting yours and trying to make it fit. Focused on them. The question, I believe, then becomes: how can you give a gift that helps them with their plan of helping their customers?

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com shareholder meeting

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Love and Business: Protection

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:7

Love and Business: Protection

What role does love play in business? One part often overlooked is the beginning of verse 7. “it always protects,” Sound counsel for those of us wishing to lead. A wise business man once taught me a lesson in the importance of intangibles in business. Protection, one of them, I learned is very important.

Have you ever asked for something you thought quite reasonable at an establishment only to have an employee say something of the sort “There is nothing I can do for you.”? I’ve asked this question of several people and most everyone has agreed that, yes they have. It may vary a bit, “that is the policy” or “the rules keep me from whatever” but all the same, it is there. And I have come to believe that the root of the issue is a lack of protection. I think, if I am not mistaken, it illuminates a lack of leadership. Leaders of course are called to love. And as we have learned; love protects.

When we hear these responses, and often see the frustration on even their faces, I have come to believe what they are really saying is “I am not protected.” They go on, “you see we have these rules, and if I step outside them, I am not protected. So, therefore, I can not so and so to help you.”

People want protection and they will fabricate it when it is not provided them. What other forms of protection have our teammates created to rely on when we do not protect them? Collecting a string of emails perhaps, when what was really needed was a hard conversation with a client. Or holding back their experiences, when what was really needed was the truth in a meeting. Do your teammates feel protected? If not, what is it costing everyone you are leading?

A quick stop on leadership. Leaders who have authority are, I think, more effective leaders. Still, I do not believe that one needs authority to lead. Is there a lack of protection on your team? Step in and provide it. Lead. A rather animal example but a good one I hope is afforded us from the wolf pack. There is no committee. No vote is taken up to determine the alpha. The alpha is, or perhaps became the alpha, unless I am mistaken, because when danger arose, they went and dealt with it. They provided protection.

But what of the rules, the policies? How will we get on? Policies and rules seem to me to be put in place when there is a lack of trust. When a leader can not trust a team member they place their trust in a set of rules. Let’s think about what this is costing us. I once heard the founder of redbox talk about having this very experience in a Blockbuster long before the idea for redbox ever crossed his mind. “I am sorry but I am not authorized to help you”. At that moment, a spark lit, he thought to himself ‘there has to be a better way’. Interesting. That seemed to cost them the lot.

Trust enables. It empowers. Rules and policies of the variety we are talking seem to do the opposite. They seem to create robot employees that leave our customers frustrated as though they were dealing with a sort of automated phone tree that does not work. By the way the very next part of verse 7: “[love] always trusts”, interesting.

What policies have you lobbied, even put in place? Do you think this is the best way to protect your teammates or could it be that it is your way of protecting yourself? Is it really working, or is it costing you? Verse 5 “it is not self-seeking”, interesting.

Does your business, does your team, need a big dose of love, of protection?

 

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com meeting with Arnold Lovin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business

“Take out a dollar bill and look at it.  Now pat yourself on your back because you are looking at a certificate of performance. If you did not rob or steal from anyone to obtain that dollar, if you neither defrauded anyone nor persuaded your government to seize it from a fellow citizen and give it to you, then you could only have obtained that dollar in one other way—you must have pleased someone else.”

-Walter Williams

The sun on dramatic sky over sea. Natural background. Forces of nature concept.

The setting is an elementary school classroom.  The teacher asks the children what they want to be when they grow up.  The first to answer, a little girl named Suzie, says ‘I want to be a nurse.’ – the class nods and smiles as if to approve her choice.  ‘What a nice little girl,’ the teacher thinks.  The second to answer, a little boy named Tommy, jumps up and shouts as if he can not hold it in any longer, “I want to be a fireman!” – the class thinks “good for him”.  And then there is the third child to answer.  Little Billy, feeling a sort of lumming pressure of an anticipated pending response timidly proclaims, “I want to be a businessman.”  The class is taken back, aghast.  What evil is this child conjuring?

Ok, perhaps, just maybe… I went a little too far.  Yet still the point I am trying to make, through the subtle art of exaggeration, is that I have come to believe and perhaps most will admit, that more would question little Billy’s morals than little Suzie’s or Tommy’s.  Why is that?

In Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin draws from accumulated Jewish learnings to lay out his Ten Commandments for Making Money.  Rabbi Lapin believes the first and most important commandment is to believe in the dignity and morality of business.  His point: if you believe business is evil, you will have a hard time acquiring money.

Thinking about the classroom scene above and how subtlly the immorality of money and business is woven into our world – I wonder if it is worth considering why more of our youngsters do not aspire to go into business?  How come business is not viewed as a means to serve others?  To earn certificates of performance?  How come each dollar is not viewed as a testament of our ability to please others and make their lives better?

A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

 

What are your thoughts on the dignity and morality of business?

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.