How to get meetings with people too busy to see you

get into my head

According to Steve Blank, asking, “Can I have coffee with you to pick your brain?” is probably the worst possible way to get a meeting with someone with a busy schedule.  Abetter approach: don’t just ask for a potential customers time, instead offer to share what you’ve learned about a technology, market or industry.

via How to get meetings with people too busy to see you.

Watch The Lean Webcast Series

It’s the dog days of summer and while many of us are enjoying time off or heads down on projects, the Lean Webcast Series is underway and not to be missed. Put on by O’Reilly Media featuring Eric Ries,  (the Lean Startup Founder) and authors of the Lean Series publications, The Lean Webcast Series is a must for practitioners of the Lean Startup movement.

With two of the four sessions remaining, click to learn more and register below for the final two webinars, featuring Ash Maurya & Eric Ries this coming week and Laura Klein & Eric Ries September 24. O’Reilly is also making each of the four webcasts available within days after the event. Links to the first two webcasts in the series featuring Jeff Gothelf and Eric, and Allistair Croll and Eric, are below.

The Art of Lean Testing, Presented by Ash Maurya (Running Lean), Eric Ries, Aug 14, 2013 – 10AM PT.  Register Now.

Essential Tips for Lean User Research, Presented by Laura Klein, Eric Ries.  Sep 24, 2013 – 10AM PT.  Register Now

Be sure to watch the first two Webcasts from the Archive:

Better Product Definition with Lean UX and Design Thinking, Presented by Jeff Gothelf, Eric Ries.   Watch Archive

Lean Analytics 201: Five Lessons Beyond the Basics, Presented by Alistair Croll, Eric Ries.  Watch Archive

Have you attended the webcasts?  What do you think?

Why Failing Fast and Often is a Very Good Thing

FailureAmong the most critical truths for lean practitioners is that “failure is good”. A greater contradiction of our learned beliefs as people and as business builders there could not be.

Yet, in the world of lean product development, its critical to shed these age-old beliefs and accept that failure-equals-learning, and the faster we fail and adapt from our learnings, the better. While a foreign concept to most new practitioners of Lean methods, “failing fast” (not failure) is critical to success, and taking immediate action based on these learnings is critical to building successful products.

The sooner we get this (and add layers of thick skin when potential customers reject our hypothesis and good work) the more capable we will be on the path to success.

Can you think of a time, place or thing you participated in where failing was encouraged? Let us know.

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Try This: A Logical Approach to Goal Setting

Goal setting is huge in the world of entrepreneurship, but are we doing it entirely wrong? This post discusses the problems with outcome-based goals and proposes the solution: rate-based goals. More …

By Tom

Rates help you get real

A chef’s plea to disrupt the antiquated food supply chain

Chef Tony Marciante sees a need to disrupt the food supply chain and has a wish list that might just be a game changer.


In the last decade, most industries, no matter how old and entrenched, have undergone a dramatic revolution in the way they do business. Energy is becoming cleaner, automotive is using robotics, retail is using iPads as point of sale devices, and so on.

Enter the world of food distribution, however, and you all but travel back in time to the last century. Much as it was done throughout the 1900s, food distributors use a largely paper-based system and onsite visits to take orders and payments. Phone orders and fax are widely used, sure, but ecommerce options –  even basic email – are scarcely found.

As a restaurant owner (and technophile) this frustrating situation is something I constantly agonize over. And notably it runs contrary to other parts of the restaurant industry, where automation and efficiency are driving innovation. Owning a restaurant is highly stressful and the margins are slim, so…

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Why Chromecast Will Win

It’s official: Google Chromecast is a gamechanger!Image

My $35 Chromecast dongle arrived Wednesday. Four minutes after plugging it into the HDMI port of the bedroom TV, I had paired it with my phone through the house wireless network and was controlling and watching YouTube and Netflix from across the room. No box, no wires, no issues. And while I have enjoyed my Apple TV for its simple connectivity over the past few years, there are some fundamental differences between Chromecast and Apple TV worth pointing out.

1. Cost

Tell a college student the cost of Chromecast and check the box for “No brainer”. At $35, Google has simplified the decision process based on cost. I anticipate buying Chromecast for all the house TVs, one of which will accompany my son to his dorm room TV in the Fall.

2. Stick vs. Box

Chromecast resembles a flash drive or “dongle”, is roughly the size of a flash drive and plugs into a USB or HDMI port on the TV or monitor. What makes it unique is what it is not – a box. Unlike Apple TV or Roku (or Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DIRECTV, for that matter) it does not sit on top or next to your TV. It simply plugs in and, in my case, is out of sight as my HDMI port is behind the TV. It does, however, come with a power cord as do the aforementioned boxes, and in my case plugged nicely into the power outlet behind and shared with my TV.

3. Control

What’s also missing from Chromecast is a remote control. That’s because Google has made the brilliant choice of requiring you to use your own personal devices to control and “cast” video, TV shows and movies to your TVs and monitors. And they’ve made it very easy to pair with your iOS and Android smartphone, tablet or computer. Simply follow the steps on the TV screen the first time you turn on Chromecast and you’re connected.

4. Open

Another stroke of brilliance for Chromecast is Google has enabled an open system for video and TV producers/distributors and online video platforms to “cast” their Apps and web sites to the TV. Upon its release last week, Chromecast shipped with access to only two services; YouTube and Netflix. Not too shabby given that those two services have plenty of video, movies and TV to begin your Chromecast viewing experience. But that’s just the beginning. Google has opened up Chromecast with an API and from the developer documentation I reviewed, it looks fairly simple integrate. So I expect to see many video apps in iTunes and Play Store to be Chromecast enabled soon.

The approach Google has taken basically relegates the TV to “dumb terminal” status, which makes sense given that the Smart TV movement has been sinking on dismal failure for a while now.  What excites me most about Chromecast as a user is its simplicity, low cost, choice and control. As a developer and proponent of smart open platforms, I am pleased to see the experience-formely-known-as-TV  finally get the What Would Google Do treatment. We have finally reached the moment in time when technology, content distribution and mass adoption has proven that a simple innovation like Google Chromecast is not only possible, but ready for the market to respond to.

History will tell whether Chromecast is a success or failure. I see it as a gamechanger that will finally force the content and distribution industry, built on closed and unstable business models, to creatively imagine and deploy value producing new models, products and systems with end users in mind – just like Google has done.

How Kevin O’Connor, and FindTheBest Got Lean

Kevin O’Connor is at it again (he founded DoubleClick, sold it to Google). This time he’s running lean. The company, FindTheBest, is a big concept. Yet after three years of taking a disciplined approach using the Lean Startup blueprint, the company is confident they have found the market and are generating a blueprint for success. Moreover, Kevin insists they will continue to test their hypothesis and prove the viability of products and services or they will be quickly scrapped. A good example where a disciplined approach to Lean is paying off.

Steve Blank

When we started E.piphany there was an equally scrappy startup called DoubleClick (later acquired by Google for $3.1 billon). Over the years Kevin O’Connor, former CEO and founder of DoubleClick and I got to know each other.  It’s been fun watching a 20th Century entrepreneur learn new tricks as he builds his next startup, FindTheBest using Lean Methodology.  Here’s Kevin’s story to date.kevin_oconnor_headshot


You might say Steve and I have lived parallel lives. We’re both serial entrepreneurs. We’ve both used a combination of luck, hard work, and mild insanity to get where we are today. We’ve both published bestselling books.*map_of_innovation_kevin_oconnor

* Okay: my book sold way less copies than Steve’s.

Steve and I have long held similar beliefs about how to run start-ups, even if we’ve used different names to describe the key principles. He came down a few weeks ago to visit our company, FindTheBest, where we chatted about his lean…

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