Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oh, How the Mighty Fall

Just remember this the next time you think that your iPhone or Android is the best and that it will never ever be a turd: in 2000, Nokia's market cap was worth over $245B (with a B) and the industry was still abuzz of the infamous meetings between Bill Gates and Jorma Ollila, which pushed Nokia to form and launch Symbian. Today, Microsoft, not necessarily at the top of its game, acquired the Devices and Services business at Nokia for $5B and some access to patents for $2.2B.

10 years (maybe even 6 years ago) ago, if I had told you that Nokia would have to buy Symbian to keep it alive before eventually ditching it and licensing Microsoft Windows, then Microsoft would buy Nokia to keep it alive, you would have thought me the fool. Oh, an Blackberry is on the block for sale for pennies on the dollar.

That would have been hard to believe, but change happens. Over and over. It will happen again. As Ray Noorda said: "Cause change and lead, accept change and survive, resist change and die."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wow, I could have had a startup V8!

Sometimes it feels like I need to schedule my bathroom breaks it's so busy. There's seems like there's never a shortage of fires or even dull, menial things to do. The fires seem to grow out of control quickly, and no matter how long I procrastinate, there are no magic elves that complete the other daily tasks. I'm sure this is not just a startup phenomena but universal for any small and medium businessperson.

Dude! You spent your precious time doing what?!?
We find ourselves spending time working on tasks that are important but are not core to our business or do not add clear enterprise value. Still, we need to pay the bills. Employees like to work with lights on, it seems. It's excusable when there is no other option, but sometimes there are expert service providers at economical or even free prices that will do the work for you. You have people. This is especially true and important when it comes to real estate.

I've recently gone through two different office searches using a combination of drive-bys, online searches, cold calls, and office visits. I can't tell you how much time I personally spent driving around, calling, visiting and searching online. Yet, there are corporate real estate professionals that would have done this for me. They spend their time and expertise to filter and curate, for free. That's a 4-letter word that any entrepreneur can enjoy.

The sheer fact that its cost effective is great, but the biggest benefit is the time that you recover to spend on the task list items that are core to your business and your clients. Additionally, these professionals not only know the market better than you or I, but since:
  1. This is their job, they know the latest before it happens and shows up on showcase.com.
  2. They know how to negotiate, what to ask for, and what to look for in leasing agreements.
  3. They are doing this for not only you, but for many others like you, so they have economy of scale and knowledge.
Here in Dallas, there are some local corporate real estate professionals, like Brian Brooks (Brian.Brooks@cnl.com) and Campbell Henry (Campbell.Henry@cnl.com) of CNL Commercial Real Estate that focus specifically on startups and entrepreneurs that not only need to worry about getting comfy, convenient and cheap digs that attract talent but have an eye to the future for when they need to grow or reduce.

It's always good to have people in the know, especially when you're struggling to find time for a bathroom break.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Foodie Sleuth

Miss your old-school Whole Foods challah bread?  Us, too.

We missed it so much, we ask "what the what" happened overnight to the delicious, soft challah that we bought weekly.  It was great to crap overnight.  We were told, quite kindly, that Whole Foods shut down their local Dallas bakery and were now shipping their breads up from Houston.   Figures.  What the ef do Houstonians know about bread?

Your friend in baking
Well, we lamented for a few months, and it occurred to me that the Dallas location of the Whole Foods bakery was still open and active.  Except, it was no longer called Whole Foods Bakery, it was called the Village Baking Company.

So, I informed the Mrs. Yonks of this serendipitous discovery and low-and-behold: they bake awesome bread.  The esteemed Mrs. says she will no longer buy bread elsewhere.  And, this, solely from partaking in their scrumptious Ham Croissants and French Baguette.

Moral of the story: don't accept second rate bread and definitely get pissed when someone takes away your challah.  Good things comes to those that dig.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I read a great Seth Godin piece once that spoke about the need for products and services to stand out, to literally be remarkable.  That is, provoke people to say something about it.
As we look at all the marketing knobs from our top level goals down the creative and copy used in campaigns, it sure helps when what you are talking about is remarkable.

From a startup perspective, this is so critical.  Sure, you can always slap some lipstick on the pig.  What is much harder yet has much more impact is to look seriously at your product or service, the business needs, the user needs, and technology or real-world opportunities and limitations and truly improve it.

And, differentiate it in a meaningful way.

When your product is truly remarkable, it will speak for itself.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hooray for Booze!

I like the "Hooray" for Extra Effect

'Nuff said.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Be a Sissy!

Being the male of the species, it's often difficult to discern the wants and needs of a significant other.  In the case of where we needed to go out to eat this week on date night, my mission could not be any clearer, Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar on Henderson.  My lovely wife, with her Latin accent, kept asking for what could only be understood as Cici's, but I was reasonably sure that she did not want buffet pizza.  Now that we have tried Sissy's, even if I was wrong, I believe I have won some reputation points for the meal.

The dining room was very comfy and the waitstaff were warm but respectful of our time and space.  They were all dressed in throw back apparel completing the 50s vibe of the dining room.  The place was packed, with people waiting up front.  A real mixed crowd, from blue hairs to tattoos.

We opted for no appetizers, saving room for desserts, and headed straight to Sissy's Jalapeño Margaritas.  They were made with blood orange juice and you could see the jalapeño seeds swimming in the drink.  Not too sweet, just the right amount of bite.  ¡Perfecto!

My wife pretended to look at the menu, but it was very clear before she entered the beautiful, she was going to order the fried chicken.  I'm pretty sure she looked at the menu just to preview the desserts and decide what I should order, so that she could try a second dish.  Needless to say, as metal buckets of fried chicken were delivered to several adjacent tables, it was clear that my wife was not alone in her obsession.

I opted for the Texas Fish and Chips.  I don't know why.  There were several intriguing comfort food options that will need exploring in future visits (spoiler: I liked it and will definitely return) including the Crispy Chicken Fried Streak, but I was quite content with my selection.  The fish and the fries were perfectly crispy on the outside yet cooked to perfection.  The fries had great seasoning, though I'm sure that some might think they are too salty, but as the song says, "That's what fries are for...keep smiling, keep biting..."

The desserts were both good, though I will admit that I will opt for the appetizers next time, as the savory won out handily over the sweet at this establishment.  Oh, and I will be back.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Most Fortunate Person in the World

One man's pittance is another's fortune.  While I might not have been happy with the quality of the pizza I ate Friday night out with the family, for many in our communities, that pizza might have been the only meal they would have had all day.  Maybe, for several days.  It puts things in perspective.  Mine are first-world problems, when many here in North America suffer what we would consider third-world problem, but the awareness of the issue is low.

Andre Angel of TangoTab, Jay Ratliff and Cliff Geathers of the Dallas Cowboys at Minnie's Food Pantry
As we approach summer, the problems of hunger in North America get more difficult.  Food bank shelves are challenged.  Many kids who rely on school meal programs no longer know where food will come from some days.

Last month, we took the kids and friends to see the opening of the Calatrava bridge in downtown Dallas.  As we drove on the highway, the bolt on the bike rack came off and a bicycle flew off the rack to oncoming traffic behind us.  It happened in an instant, and we were in panic.  As we pulled off the road and looked back, we were amazed at our fortune.  All the cars avoided the unintended projectile.  No one was hurt.  Even my son's bike survived unscathed.  I still can't believe it, but I am so thankful that nothing bad happened.

Accidents happen to people all the time.  The recession has humbled and hurt many.  You may never know, because they hide their troubles behind their pride.

Look in the mirror.  Count your fortunes in small denominations and be happy and appreciative every day.  Others are not as fortunate, but we can do very easy, simple things to help them.

Donate.  Volunteer.  Use free services like TangoTab, and help feed the hungry, just by dining out like you normally do.  You will feel wealthy regardless of your financial status.