If There Was an Aftershave Scented to the Essence of “Used Book Store”…

if there was a aftershave scented to the essence of “Used Book Store” then I would be first in line to buy.

I read this in the foreword in a book and immediately tweeted it.  I would do the same. I love old bookstores.  I think every street or two should have them. They are the places where you can simply get lost and be happy that you did. This got me thinking about old bookstores  and countless hours I spent in them. I don’t see that many old bookstores any more. That is kind of sad. I used to literally live in them. I also used to live in coffee shops with old books in hand.

In early 70s it was India Coffee House in Bangalore and Bombay and Irani restaurants, in Hyderabad.  In ICH you can pretty much stay forever, watching people, reading books. The Irani restaurants were different. You get some great tea and small samosas and endless supply of jukebox music.  They were all really inexpensive reading spots.

When I first visited US (in 1977),  I lived for 4 months in Maynard, (I was getting trained at Digital Equipment Corporation aka DEC). It was towards the end of 1977.  Besides the training, the only thing I remember about Maynard was a  used bookstore in Main St. It was a SciFi bookstore and the owner was nice to visitors. He used to give us heavy discounts. I loved that store. I recall returning to India with lots of used SciFi books and a particularly heavy one – a hardbound copy of The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov.

Every city I go to, I go looking for quaint and sometimes used bookstores. When I am in the bay area,  I hang out a lot in the one on Castro St in Mountain View (right next to Books Inc.) In fact, I set up a lot of meetings in coffee shops and bookstores or coffee shops near bookstores.

One thing sad about Chennai is that many coffee shops are not conducive to reading. Too bright and  with lots of loud music.  But there are a few like Amethyst and Chamiers, but we need a lot more.

The More We Share…

A dose of inspiration from an author who writes, gives away his book and tells us why he writes:

A lot of what was on my mind and still is on my mind is how “information wants to be free.” I believe that economies that share outperform economies that don’t. I believe that information multiplies in value as it spreads. This the other selfish reason that I write: The more I share, the richer we all become. We discussed this idea on the JavaScript Jabber podcast earlier this year.

I am very committed to this idea of sharing. I campaigned, hard, for a job on the Firefox OS team at Mozilla. I really wanted to work on developer tools for Forefox OS. I believe that bringing another 10,000,000 or 100,000,000 or even 1,000,000,000 online with smart devices is going to be a tremendous opportunity for the world becoming a better place.

And not just in terms of “Oh look, 1,000,000,000 more people to join our social gossip-sharing gamified site,” but also in terms of there being another 100,000, 1,000,000 or even 10,000,000 new programmers writing programs to solve problems that we can’t even imagine as we sip our tasty espresso. How do we help them program? I’m super-stoked by where Mozilla is going with this, and likewise I’m so excited I can barely sit still when I look at what people are doing with things like Squeak orLight Table.

and so

You can talk about making the world a better place, and you can roll up your sleeves. So, I rolled up my sleeves and wrote JavaScript Allongé.

Need I say more?


Be Nice. Always, Always, Always be Nice

Be nice. Always, always, always be nice.

It is a strange advice to see in a book that teaches you to sell, but not as strange as it appears.  Most of the best sales people I know are extremely nice people.

It’s not your words that sell. It’s your preparation, your questions, your comprehension of the prospect’s problems, and your actions to solve them. Yes, you need to talk about the product and talk about their business, but you have to do it in a comfortable way.
Most of our sales successes have been due to the comprehension of the prospect’s problems and some knowledge of how others solved them. Somewhere in that process, our product might have been involved. One of the advantages you have, as a sales person listening to lots of questions and problems from potential customers is that you become a kind of Information Hub. That puts you in a consultative role.  That is always a good starting point and a way to build a rapport with customers.
unless they have a problem equivalent to their house on fire and you are the fire department, insurance company, and grief counselor combined, you both know that you won’t be doing business together, because that’s how things work.
When customers have urgent pressing problems and they think that you may have a possible solution, they will give you a lot of their time. They will somehow find you.
I absolutely, positively recommend choosing 2-3 media platforms and becoming active. Personally, I use our company blog, a personal blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The blogs enable me to share perspectives and industry expertise in detail, while Twitter and LinkedIn allow for sharing these posts and for daily interactions with customers.
I think this is a great idea and can relate to it.  Several of my fellow entrepreneurs do that as well.
You need to give them a reason to take your calls, return your calls, or spend five minutes with you when they do answer the  phone.
This will be very difficult initially. But if you provide value in every interaction with the customer, it gets easier.
As you are calling each of your prospects and inbound leads, white papers are effective because they show that you are serious about the industry and that you are participating with thoughtful contributions.
We did not do this well at all. But I have seen how some companies like Hubspot do such a good job.
Know your industry-specific news sites. These industry news sites give you plenty of reasons to call a lead or a prospect to ask them how a particular  happening affects their business.
A bit of shameless plug. If you want to know how to discover news and send them to your customers or use them as conversation starters, we can certainly help.
The process of  migrating a ‘user’ to a ‘customer’ will reveal the answers to several vital questions about your business and its viability.
If you are a startup in the early customer development phase, this is invaluable. Even as you grow, this process can keep you well rooted.
Startup Selling: How to sell if you really, really have to and don’t know how  by Sambucci, Scott is really a book worth reading. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I think I will go back and reread parts of it later. Thanks to Sid for suggesting it.

Emerge Forum at Calicut, Kerala, India – Sep 27th

Emerge Forum at Calicut, Kerala, India  – Sep 27th

Why Service Companies Should Consider Product Initiatives
Why Service Companies Should Consider Product Initiatives

My talk was about Product Initatives for Services Companies. My theory is that service companies can augment their business by building few products or apps.

There were over 30 participants – mostly local entrepreneurs from Calicut. My talk was followed by a lively discussion and quite a few questions both in the seminar hall and outside during the break. I think I would like to go back there and do some workshops.

Entrepreneurs from Calicut

I told that that I will be happy to visit them and spend time with them once in a few months (even once a month, if it helps) to bootstrap a product innovation ecosystem.

It is always a pleasure to meet and have conversations with entrepreneurs. They are a special kind of people. Giving talks is one of the ways of finding really smart people and making friends.

Nasscom Emerge Community organized it.  They do a wonderful job of helping entrepreneurs in Tier 2 cities. This is my 3rd such visit in about a year. The others were in Cochin and Madurai.

My Slides:

How Service Companies Can Benefit from Product Initiatives

From ThoughtWorks: Infrastructure as Code and Other Trends

A fascinating read from Thoughtworks Technology Radar on Development Trends

  • Embracing falling boundaries — Whether you like it or not, boundaries are falling down around you. We choose to embrace this by examining concepts like perimeterless enterprise, development environments in the cloud, and co-location by telepresence.
  • Applying proven practices to areas that somehow missed them — We are not really sure why, but many in our industry have missed ideas like capturing client side JavaScript errors, continuous delivery for mobile, database migrations for NoSQL, and frameworks for CSS.
  • Lightweight options for analytics — Data science and analytics are not just for people with a PhD in the field. We highlight collaborative analytics and data science, where all developers understand the basics and work closely with experts when necessary.
  • Infrastructure as code — Continuous delivery and DevOps have elevated our thinking about infrastructure. The implications of thinking about infrastructure as code and the need for new tools are still evolving.

ThoughtWorks also provides suggestions on how to handle these trends – Adopt, Trial, Assess, Hold.

The 13 page free pdf is full of valuable insights and links.

Source: TopicMinder Alerts