Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.
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Archive for December, 2009

Innovation

December 11, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Another great quote from my EO forum yesterday while on the topic of mentors and finding people to help you build your business.

* 99% of everything has been done before by someone. You just need to find them and ask them to help you.
* The other 1% is innovation. No-one can help you with that. You either have it or you don’t.

Creating Wealth

December 11, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Scott Davis, one of my EO brothers had a great quote last night.

1. Concentrate your position to create wealth.
2. Diversify your position to protect wealth.

I don’t know that I’ve quite appreciated the beauty and simplicity of these statements.

Balancing Extremes

December 11, 2009 By: Andre Category: Entrepreneurism, Musings

One of the hardest things to do as a CEO is to determine where in the shades of gray to land between long-term and short term, between strategic goals and tactical mandates. And how to change the mix as the market changes, resources change and competitive situations change.

I’ve heard two great quotes which summarize the extreme endpoints of the decision making spectrum, as it relates to product related decisions and quality.

1. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
2. There’s nothing worse than doing well, that which no-one cares about.

In an early stage company, you’re not quite sure what the market wants, so it’s not unusual to go a bit broad, and a bit shallow. In this period of the product life-cycle, you’re essentially trying to avoid mistake #2 above.

As the market matures, and as the customer feedback loop matures, one has a better understanding of what the customer wants, and then you need to make sure that you don’t forget to circle back around, and close the loop on #1.

Berkonomics

December 10, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

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Dave Berkus was one of my first mentors, and was an investor and board member of my first company, Durand Communications (circa 1993-1998). Dave is a true entrepreneur, who’s been coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs for the bulk of his professional career. His practical advice and pattern recognition on what it takes to succeed in business is exceptional. Now he’s consolidating his knowledge and is offering it from a new blog, in addition to a recently published new book.

I read his blog regularly and if your a budding entrepreneur, I recommend you do the same.

Measuring Success

December 07, 2009 By: Andre Category: About Me

A new email acquaintance asked me a fairly profound question the other day, “how do I measure success?” I found myself introspective and realizing that my answer depended on the context of course, but also realizing that my answer has changed with the years.

Recently, I find myself keeping score differently. I’m evaluating my contribution (and measuring success) over the big picture more than I have in my past. I value the movie more than the single frame snapshot. In business, this translates my valuing sustainable growth over simply ‘growth’ at any one moment in time, with the emphasis on ‘sustainable.’

Let me explain why.

I believe that productivity gains through specialization is a wonderful thing, but when things become very compartmentalized, one unintended consequence is that it can distance people from the outcome, or the downstream ramifications of their decisions. When cause and effect become too distanced, we lose track of the true cost of any one action. This, in my opinion, is a bad thing. Much of the default credit swapping that was going on prior to our recent meltdown showed how when you push risk too far from those that should care about it, bad things can happen.

While not a precise analogy, the notion that a factory could produce cheap goods while emitting a lot of pollution showcases the problem. The factory get’s rich, people who purchase the goods benefit from cheaper prices, but those that live in or around the factory bear a health cost that wasn’t fully accounted for in the profits taken by the factory. In effect, the factory has externalized a cost of doing business, making it ‘someone else problem.’ If one measured ‘success’ and only accounted for the profits of the factory, you would say the factory was successful. However, if you measured success and accounted for the factories true societal cost of doing business (bad health in and around the factory), you’d come to a different conclusion.

Fact is, when you measure success over a longer horizon, you’ll notice that it’s harder to get rich quick and not create externalities (e.g. costs) that have to be born somewhere, often times to society as a whole.

Responsible growth is growth that can be sustained.

I respect that.