Painting and Gardening – My New Job – Temporarily (April 2009)

May 7, 2009

in general

I’ve been quiet here for a little while. My few tweets and odd links will suggest I’m still connected. I’m busy doing something I enjoy that’s not online. I’m building, painting, landscaping, gardening, cleaning etc. We’re doing an all walls, all wood floors refinish, all garden makeover around the house and that requires all of the above and someone as “contractor”. I don’t want to make it sound like more than it is yet we’ve emptied every cupboard, and by the end of three weeks will have moved furniture I don’t know how many times. Flip My House really defines what’s going on.

I like managing projects with fast results like this. Once early in my career I created “The Genuine Brick Transformation” for a brick company that could quickly make your house a brick house. Much later I ran the marketing for a 30 store chain of garden centers and so became used to weekly promotions, and seasonal variations. (Weekly isn’t frequent enough anymore although the retailers don’t know it yet!) Concurrently, (at the time) I worked with my first landscape gardeners and worked on planting plans. Landscaping out my own garden (complete with using the bulldozer myself) was one of those things. It may be no surprise to some that even today I plant many New Zealand plants in my Lafayette CA garden and put in the well driven irrigation system.

I also like doing tangible things where there are real outputs. I will quickly see the results of this renovation. It also provides me with some time to reflect. I like moving things forward at an accelerated pace. That requires resources or redirection of resources. For six months I’ve lacked the resources to drive Phweet ahead.

It may be my Achilles Heel, but  I always want to build, deploy, gain share, grow a market etc. As a former VP/General Manager of multi-million dollar companies there are always resources or decisions that can be made strategically to redirect resources.  There are ways to prototype and quickly research and test things with customers. Although few companies really know how to do this well. From my perspective the task is building sales, growing revenue and profits. It’s also about learning faster and making the company listen better.

It’s quite a different task to raise revenue to resource a new team. It’s not a portion of the business that is being risked. It is the whole business, in fact the business idea itself. I’ve found myself simply tiring of the “get money” pitch. Phweet for example was fun to build, an experiment, and was built with the idea of finding an investor. However getting investor dollars is not the same as making money for investors.

Just like they say you can’t flip a house without money, I know you can’t build a company without resources. I’m used to delivering results. I’m also a ready, fire, aim kind of guy on the basis that rapid action and better questions gets you to a better place faster. Today Phweet is the type of thing that should be built inside some Mobile Carrier / Telco. It’s the perfect way to help them also test their own API’s and rapidly gather new learnings.

For a few years I’ve done too much work without resources. It means I have taught myself to do things myself – literally. Did I say I was a good mechanic? (I’m good with a spanner or wrench on Porsches and more). Many will know I’ve created “blogography” environments and tested almost every social networking, VoIP and iPhone apps. I’ve done ethnographies and investigated globally the mobile social world. However, my iPhone apps won’t be in the store! There are people better at writing them than me. However creating new marketspace does motivate me and many markets because of mobile social are at that turning point.

My key strength is taking insights into action with teams in innovative ways. So if I now spend another moment just looking for an investor I’m going to go crazy. What I want is partners and colleagues that want to work with me, challenge me, and do fantastic things. I know a good leader when I see one. And I’m wasted when I have to look for capital constantly and can’t restructure efficiencies to get it (Must come from my time with helping an EY receiver!). However if you want a team, you want people, and a collective story to emerge then I’m great at that.

Ideas retained by a single person really don’t matter. It only matters when collective changes take place. I put one year into Phweet with very little consulting work outside and around it. It was informed by work and efforts that came before. In the consumer VoIP space, via Skype, via i-names and identity work. It was informed by views on “presence”, callerID’s etc. Basically that knowledge and a whole lot more is available to be applied to some other context, challenge or direction. Still I’d prefer to be either working for clients or in a company now that needs 4 or 6 of these types of efforts happening in a year, even concurrently.

I believe I have two problems. Many think I have it all buttoned up and don’t need help. I do. The second is few really seem to understand the “exactly” what is it you do? Fundamentally I take insights and turn them into new sources of value. I am a natural assessor-developer / creator-promoter. I like bringing innovative world first products to market. It’s what I’ve delivered as an entrepreneur, for my clients and as an employee over and over.

AND right now I need to rebuild my research and innovation practice or take secure a position with a firm that wants my talents.  Where’s the most interesting things? Well these are as I perceive things. In no particular order.

  • Twitter vs Blogs vs Presence vs Identity and Communications
  • GoogleTalk/GrandCentral vs Skype or vice versa.
  • Nokia vs Android vs iPhone in any order and their markets / retailing
  • Netbooks, MID’s, PC strategy – Dell | HP | Lenovo | Acer
  • Mobile – Carrier API’s – Strategy
  • Emerging Market Mobile Solutions
  • Knowledge Sharing / Work Practices – Human Capital
  • Innovation Consultancies specializing globally in the mobile social space.
  • Do it Yourself! Retail
  • Consumer Product Co’s – Needing Mobile Social Media strategies.

Role. Let’s either get something started or get something turned around.

Where? Anywhere in the world. US, EU, India, Australia, NZ all are possible.

How’s that for planting seeds?

(Note I wrote this post on April 7th. I was not sure I wanted to post it. I’d had a quiet reflective moment and realized it was a transition point. Today my house is “pending” and I expect it will go through. I have so many stories I could tell as a result of the experience. Eg “staging your house”. Maybe I’ll get around to them. Yet that uncertainty remains. What next?)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

dina May 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Your house is beautiful Stuart – well done with the revamp. Too bad about having to flip it over. Then, it is new beginnings and i like the seeds that you have planted for Flipping your work life in the research, innovation and strategy areas :). All the very very best!

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