Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.

Archive for the ‘Life’

Worth the $200

March 05, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Our youngest daughter has been sucking her thumb since I first saw her via ultra-sound at 5 months. Today we took her to a specialist who helps children stop. She had a 1 hour initial meeting where they did a number of measurements, and talked to Sammie about what the ramifications of thumb sucking. I had no idea. Ignorance is bliss.

In today’s visit, we learned:

– her right thumb (the sucker) is considerably longer
– her tonsils are redder and slightly enlarged, because of the germs that keep entering her mouth
– her front teeth are moving forward and sideways as a result of the thumb sucking
– her top jaw is coming forward, the lower jaw backwards
– in a normal, non thumb sucking child, when the mouth is closed, the tongue should be pressed up against the top of the mouth. With the thumb in the mouth, the tongue is down, and this difference begins to impact her speech. Which explains, for example, why she sounds like she has a Boston accent when she pronounces her sister’s name “Parker” as “pawker”

The Action Plan
At night, we are to put:
– medicine on her thumb
– a band-aide over the medicine
– a sock on her hand – taped
– every successful night, she get’s a sticker.
– if we slip, that’s ok, we start over. positive re-inforcement

Deserving of Trust?

February 18, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Facebook needs to adopt a Don’t be Evil filter of their own.

Crown Jewels Unattended? Time to compete.

February 12, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Feel it’s time to venture out and start a business? You don’t have to be visionary. Just find a known business that’s left it’s crown jewels unattended.

It’s an embedded part of the American culture to always want more. To want what we don’t have. It’s no surprise than that some percentage of business ventures, after some time, forget who they are in their desire to be something else, something bigger, something ‘better’.

Yahoo, in it’s quest to become a media company, forgot it was a search company. It left the back door wide open for Google to just walk in and steal the crown jewel of search.

In nearly every category of company, there is likely an example of some player that forgot their origin or has simply become complacent.

Find one and attack it. It doesn’t take vision, it takes simple analysis and hard work.

Family to Family

February 02, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

I was looking for a simple way for our family to help a family in need, and Google led me to this little non-profit that helps families in rural areas that are not supported by a food pantry. Fedex donates delivery services, and the program is designed to make up food shortages at the end of the month when food stamps run out.

The program is called Family to Family, and if by chance you are not able to package up food items every month, you can simply donate $25 per month, and the local food bank will ensure that the family receives the food.

It’s a simple program with a simple mission. If everyone just helped one family, we’d go a long ways towards making some lives a lot better. My heart goes out to the children of these families. They didn’t have a choice. Providing them any hope or security is a real gift.

Wandering is Important

January 28, 2009 By: Andre Category: Entrepreneurism, Life, Musings

I meet with a number of entrepreneurs who struggle with the uncertainty that’s natural in any new business. In their anxiety to land their business, they sometimes sacrifice a better future trajectory by committing to early to a certain path. Wandering in business, especially in the early days is important. Many great businesses sort of wandered into their situation. Google is no exception with their advertising business. The lesson is, don’t set up camp at an oasis when the promise land might be just beyond the horizon. But you have to be willing to be a bit patient.

Unless you know exactly what you are doing (perhaps you’ve built a similar business before), take your time in making sure you understand your market, what’s unique about your approach, where the competition is going, what sorts of macro-trends are driving your opportunity and how you can reach your market effectively.

Every business, over time, develops a sort of DNA. This DNA, once set, is very hard to change. So make your decisions on where and how to play wisely. Seek expert assistance during this phase if you can. Experience has a lot to do with eliminating the wrong choices. Realize also that decisions made early have more weight on your success or failure. Even small mistakes, made too early, can kill a venture. Over time, if you survive, you will build up the strength and defenses to mitigate the impact of a mistake to the organization, but early, there is little room for error.

So, the point of all of this is that choices made early are very important, and in your rush to get a business off the ground, make sure the cement of you business DNA does not dry too quickly, because speed and scale of where you will ultimately go is largely dependent upon the fundamental characteristics of the space you choose to operate in, the timing, your approach to the market, etc. etc. All things that can be considered the genetics of your business and having very little to do with how well you execute.

In the end, serendipity and following the money trail will have a lot to do with landing your business, but just be aware that once you lock and load and begin down a path, it’s very difficult to change that path without significant cost and loss of time. Cherish the time you have to experiment and wander and hopefully you will avoid the mirages.

Beyond Tragic

January 28, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

This story is beyond tragic. How could it be that this family felt there was no other option than to kill themselves and their children?

We MUST do more for one another as a community to help each other through rough times. I have not done my share. I have not been pro-active. Our family has been given a gift with Kim’s recent accident. We’ve been shown the gift of help by friends and family. We’re going to find ways to pass that forward.

Proud to be American

January 20, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Today I am proud to be an American. But we have a lot to live up to, and a lot of work to do.

A return to what counts…

December 15, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

According to a recent government study, time fathers spend with their children in Japan has been decreasing since the 70’s. Some estimates say that up to 25% of fathers in Japan never see their children awake during the week.

The world is a tough place, but at some point, it will be better to live with less than live without our children.

View Full CNN Report

CEO Survivor’s Remorse

November 13, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I’ve been good friends with Bernie Daina, an industrial Psychologist, for a few years now. He’s helped me quite a bit with employee and team related decisions over the years, and I respect his insight into people and their motives thoroughly. Bernie calls it like it is.

The last time we were together, he asked me to describe in 15 words or less every other Friday what I was thinking about, and so over the last few months, I think I’ve stopped to send him a quick email two or three times.

He finally got around to responding to one of my emails, and I thought other CEO’s might benefit from his response.

On a Personal Note
While I believe I have suffered from CEO Survivor Remorse, and I no doubt miss some of the friends I worked with early at Ping, my current team of partners are simply amazing people, so I’m living my life enjoying every minute I have together with them.

My 15 Words
What a challenging task it is to keep the torch lit, when so many of the people you started with aren’t around.

Bernie’s Response

Some founding entrepreneurs negotiate progressive stages of funding and growth, and remain CEO, by successfully adapting to the evolving requirements of leadership for a successful emerging-growth enterprise. Rarely do they manage to forge ahead without suffering casualties among colleagues who were crucial in the startup era of the organization. The loss of colleagues outgrown by the business is so common, it is widely considered an ordinary expense of corporate maturation. However, such losses do not come without organizational and emotional costs. Some of these costs are felt immediately. Others take time to incubate and become a source of personal reflection, even misgivings, for the entrepreneur.

Feeling haunted by a sense of loss concerning a loved one who left us, or whom we’ve left behind, is a universal experience. The feelings are most prominent following death, divorce, relationship breakups, kids departing for college, and so on. In those situations, we enjoy social permission to be preoccupied with the loss, to share our grief, let our mourning show, and we benefit from the sympathy and understanding of others.

However, CEOs are usually not afforded the same privilege of freely airing their humanity that the rest of us enjoy. Anything that smacks of weakness is taboo. Foremost, this pertains to sadness, even normal sadness. Founders/CEOs of high-growth companies lead very full lives integrated with other people with whom they form close bonds suffused with camaraderie, shared sacrifice and promise. Rapid, early-stage corporate growth implies scaling a business and this involves continually adding new functions, and delegating the planning and operation of those functions to trusted colleagues.

More often than not, founding teams do not survive intact. Consequently, the Founder who persists as CEO absorbs the pain of saying goodbye to early-stage colleagues, and is occasionally plagued by “survivor guilt.” If suppressed, this guilt can prompt the CEO to avoid closeness with current or successive colleagues. What’s needed is sanction for the Founder/CEO to express his sense of loss for the people left behind, and their contributions. This sanction mostly has to come from within. This does not imply prolonged wallowing in remorse and regret. It does imply honoring what others have given to the cause, presenting it as a foundation and point of departure for the contributions of new colleagues rather than a competitive basis for comparison. This provides a sense of relief to the CEO; it humanizes him to others; it inspires confidence in current team members that their contributions will be likewise honored; that people are not treated simply as replaceable pieces of equipment; and it encourages the newer, successive contributors to step up and get closer to the CEO — to share his sense of responsibility for keeping the flame lit.

On a deeper level, the Founder/CEO who replaces people close to him can feel the loss of strong leadership within himself. The inner sense of drive and purpose that comes from collaborating with other types of leaders within the company can be worn down by having to let go of those people, and further corroded by the necessity of replacing yet more people. In order not to become jaded, maybe that Founder/CEO needs his own set of personal “dog tags” to continually remind himself of who he really is? When important people leave, all their photos on the CEO’s credenza should not be removed and all the concrete reminders of their efforts should not be purged. Surrounding himself with symbols of constancy and continuity can serve the purpose of keeping the CEO anchored in the heritage of his own professional community and in pride in his own leadership. But it is not just a matter of concrete symbols and representations. The CEO’s identification with the people who have helped him build an enterprise — but have moved on — can be integrated into his sense of community and belonging, rather than extruded as some cast-off or foreign object. The CEO’s responsibilities isolate him, to some extent. But he does not have to feel like a lonely person. He does not have to become hardened and repudiate all those whose contributions have been outgrown by the company. He can remain grateful and appreciative to those who have helped him. This will enrich him, and help him continually grow as a leader that others will trust and seek to emulate.

Bernard L. Daina, Ph.D.
Management and Organizational Psychology

Startling… but perhaps it shouldn’t be

November 11, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

This past week, I’ve had three separate conversations (all somewhat random) with people intending to essentially shut down or move their business out of the US on anticipation of higher capital gains and income taxes.

Truth is, everyone owes on the bar tab of the past 30 years, but the last thing that needs to happen is for everyone to move the goose that lays the eggs.