Author Archives: Matt

Jack Welch
Jack Welch is a winner. In his many years as the head of General Electric he has proven himself as more than competent at leading a corporation and it’s people to great success. Mr. Welch, after working his way up the corporate ladder became CEO of GE in 1981 and held that position for 20 years. These days he shares his secrets, and personal insights to thousands of people through his books and speaking engagements.

Recently I read the book Winning by Jack Welch. It’s filled with lots of ideas about how to best manage a company. One of those ideas that will make company competitive is the importance of candor within the organization.

Candor is about open and free flowing conversation. When you’ve got candor everything operates faster and better. To most North Americans real candor is unnatural, that’s why it takes many many years to really develop the kind of candidness that will really make a business efficient. A lack of candor within an organization doesn’t mean there is malevolent dishonesty, just that people are not frank about their opinions and emotions, they don’t communicate straightforwardly and encourage productive debates. Many people prefer to keep quiet and save face when having a discussion with other people, especially superiors. That can backfire because nobody makes the best decisions all the time, and without input from everyone on the team eventually a decision will be made without some vital fact being known; then you have to deal with the consequences.

HalOtis, as a new company, has to be very mindful of it’s developing culture to make sure that candidness is encouraged both up and down the corporate ladder. Being honest about company performance lets everyone know when things are getting tight or when things are going good. The more they know the better they will understand and respect corporate decisions. It’s also important for lower level people to feel comfortable sharing their insights with their supervisors. Those are the people that can identify inefficiencies and propose better solutions.

Jack Welch won and he considers candor to be one of biggest reasons why he did.

leadership compassGreat leaders are made, not born.

Leadership is a requirement to any successful business because the nature of of good leadership is that it provides important direction to an organization. But the one thing that Leaders need in order to be Leaders is: Followers. Forcing people to be your followers will never work, but there are things that you can learn, and practice and do that will make people willing to follow you.

The US Army developed a framework for leadership in 1973 based on be, know, and do. This is how they define these as it pertains to leadership:

  • BE
    1. A professional. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they will eventually, do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
    2. A professional who possesses good character traits. Develop good traits within yourself, such as honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforward, imagination. Develop good character traits within your team that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
  • KNOW
    1. The four factors of leadership – follower, leader, communication, situation.
    2. Yourself. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do, attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through reading, self-study, classes, etc.
    3. Human nature. Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
    4. Your job. Be technically proficient. As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees’ jobs. Train your people as a team. Although many supervisors call their organization, department, section, etc., a team; they are not really teams…they are just groups of people doing their jobs.
    5. Your organization. Use the full capabilities of your organization. By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.
  • DO
    1. Provide direction. Make sound and timely decisions. Use good problem solving, decision-making, and planning tools. Keep your team informed. Know how to communicate with your team, seniors, and other essential people within the organization.
    2. Implement. Develop a sense of responsibility in your team. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Communication is the key to this responsibility.
    3. Motivate. Set the example. Be a good role model for you employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. Know your team and look out for their well being.

Good leaders define an organizations culture, the direction, and work ethic. It is their job to build trust, and engage others to get things done. Becoming a leader yourself takes a personal commitment to take the time to study, and to practice the skills and techniques. Luckily it’s a skill that is learnable.

When I’m bored strange things can happen. Today I tried to draw up a mind map. It’s a tool to think about how things react and interact. This is what I came up with for the HalOtis company. Mind MapThis gives me a list of things that I either have to do, or learn more about. It’s pretty vague about what I should do next but it should serve as a good check list to quickly assess where I am in this project.

I’ll go through all the bubbles and explain what they mean to me and why I think they’re important in building a business.

Book keeper – Having a book keeper/Accountant adds legitimacy to the finances. There are at least 2 great reasons why it’s important to hire a 3rd party to do this work. First they are a good business contact, someone that knows about money, and deals with it on a full-time basis. Their specialty should help with the success of the business, by letting me see potholes before the come up. Second, it gives the business more leverage when it comes time to get a loan from the bank, because the bank will see HalOtis as being a serious company that has it’s finances in order, they’re more likely to trust the numbers, and thus provide a bigger loan if a book keeper is on the team.

Tax Strategy – Having a tax strategy is something that interests me, mostly because it’s an interesting problem, where there is room for creative solutions. It’s important because paying 50% income tax rather than 20% is a huge difference in the amount of money that HalOtis will be able to use in the future on projects.

Corporate Entities – Knowing about how best to structure a business is important for both the tax reasons stated above and also to limit the liability of myself, or my other ventures. If my Web services business gets sued, I don’t want to loose my home, or any of the real-estate investments. Having things correctly structured avoids one failure from wiping out my other successes.

Real-estate – Real-estate is an investment vehicle that I’m interesting in getting into. It’s easy to see how real-estate can provide a nice passive income, through rental properties, and that appeals to me. The other thing about real-estate is that even a small profit margin equals a large amount of dollars. In my research it seems like every wealthy person realizes the importance of real-estate in their investment portfolio, so it’s definitely something that I want to explore.

Business Contacts – It’s who you know that’s important. Business is such a complex game that going it alone will almost never work. There are too many issues that come up that where having someone to bounce ideas off of, or connect you to someone interested in buying products. People at the top of other companies can wield so much power that landing one contract could make the company. It’s extremely difficult to get a meeting with these busy people without knowing someone to give me an in. The more business contacts the more advice I can get and the more potential I have of landing deals.

Building Assets – Assets are things that put money in the pocket of the company. The more assets the company controls the more money it has the potential to make. Assets include hard assets like real-estate, and softer ones like patents, and market presence.

Business Ideas

  • Blogging – Blogging for me is a way to not only document the process, but also to connect to people that have ideas, and similar visions. It’s also an experiment in how to generate traffic and money from a website. Lessons learned from blogging will help to develop other websites, and create a community of people interested in following what happens.
  • Web Services – This is a business idea that leverages my knowledge of programming. This is an area that I understand how to develop, and should be able to physically accomplish. It therefore seems like a good place for me to start in developing my chops for business success. Where as starting a restaurant would make no sense for me because I know nothing about restaurants, doing something that I know gives me the least barrier to entry.

Last week I re-directed my RSS feeds for this site to go through FeedBurner. FeedBurner provides two main features that are nice to have for RSS feeds.

  1. I can know how many people are reading my RSS. As a gauge for traffic and interest having that number right there on my page makes it easy to see that not that many people are regular visitors to this site. It can be a powerful motivator to know that there’s still a lot of work to do before reaching the popularity of some of the other blogs out there. For perspective, I would estimate that if I had 2000 people reading my feed, that might be enough traffic to generate the same income that I do now in my full-time job.
  2. When the number gets higher it becomes possible to monetize the RSS feed by inserting advertising. FeedBurner only offers this to feeds that are consistently being read, and have enough of an audience that putting ads in there is feasible.

RSS is in general a great thing to have for a blog like this one. It gives people the ability to quickly know if there’s a new post to the site by going through their bookmarks, or if they’re reading through an aggregator, at least it keeps you on their radar.

So often what happens is that I come across a website that I’m interested in so I bookmark it. In general that bookmark stays in the bookmark list and never gets visited again. However I do check the feeds several times a day. The dynamic nature of a feed keeps me coming back to the site again and again, and the ability to quickly scan the titles makes it easy to check all of my favorite sites in less than 10 seconds.

I highly recommend that if you’re not using RSS feeds that you start subscribing to them. You’ll notice the RSS icon on the right column of this page. It’s an orange square. Click it and you will be able to bookmark the feed for this site.

Today HalOtis is involved in a small project to increase the traffic to several websites.  I will be promoting this blog and my personal blog www.halotis.com/otis as well as the main company site www.halotis.com by posting links back to the sites on various forums, and submitting the sites to search engines and social networking sites.  Hopefully this work will pay off, and I will see a substantial increase in my web traffic.

With an ad supported website getting and maintaining an audience is key.  I’ll keep track of everything I do to promote the site, and post a list in the future, as well as the results I got.

Yesterday I signed up for the Pay Per Post website. I was able to register my personal blog at www.halotis.com/otis in their system which means that I can now get paid about $5 USD to post reviews. Some of the people on the site have made in excess of $4000 USD through the system and I think it is probably one of the best ways to monetize a low traffic website.

Supplementing my income is the first step to making it big. Many experts will agree that having several income streams is a key part of becoming rich. It’s amazing how much they all add up.

What do you think about getting paid $5 for 15 minutes of writing in the evening when there’s not much to do other than watch TV?

When investing in real estate your money is made when you buy not when you sell. There are two basic investment situations, either you’re picking up a piece of property to sell again, or you’re looking for a passive rental income. In both cases make sure you make your money on the buy side.

When turning the property around for a quick sell it is imparitive that you buy the property at below market value. The difference between the purchase price (plus carrying costs, fees, and other charges) and it’s market value is the amount of built in equity that you have in the deal. It means that in all but the most extreme circumstances if you buy below market value, you’ll make money.

In the second case where you’re going to use the property for rental income. It is important to work out all the numbers up front and know that you’ll be making money, and not subsidizing someone else’s rent. How many properties can you afford to buy if each one costs you $200/month? How many properties can you afford to buy if each one pays you $200/month? If you see a possible deal, make sure you negotiate the interest rates and terms on the loan it could make all the difference.

Buying and selling property is a killer way to make some big bucks. But it’s important not to jump right into it. Knowing how to write solid contracts that allow you a way to back out of a deal that goes sour is key to lowering your risk. Risk management is a big part of any investment plan, and it starts with knowledge. The more you know the less likely you’ll fall into traps, and the quicker you’ll be able to evaluate a potential deal and close it before someone else beats you to it.

NASA announced Tuesday the opening of team registration for five Centennial Challenges prize competitions with cash prizes totaling more than $1 million.

Teams can now register for the following competitions:
– Astronaut Glove Challenge, administered by Volanz Aerospace/Spaceflight America with a total prize value of $250,000.
– Beam Power Challenge, administered by the Spaceward Foundation as part of the annual Space Elevator Games with a total prize value of $200,000.
– Lunar Regolith Excavation Challenge, administered by the California Space Education & Workforce Institute with a total prize value of $250,000.
– MoonROx (Moon Regolith Oxygen) Challenge, administered by the Florida Space Research Institute with a total prize value of $250,000.
– Tether Challenge, administered by the Spaceward Foundation as part of the annual Space Elevator Games with a total prize value of $200,000.

Read the Official press release from NASA here

New Scientist is reporting that the LiftPort Group, a private US company, has launched a Balloon suspended ribbon one mile long to test it’s latest in both ribbon and robotic technology.

LiftPort is trying to reach the goal of having a fully operational Space elevator in 2018. With this first iteration of the technology they are one small but vital step closer to that goal.

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This year at CES Seagate announce the next greatest thing in hard drive technology. In February this year they expect to start shipping notebook hard disks with a 160GB capacity. They’ve accomplished this by developing a perpendicular recording technology that has the potential to provide up to 500Gbpsi (Gigabytes per square inch). That level of aural density would be able to provide 3.5 inch drives with a capacity of 2 Terabytes or a 2.5 inch notebook drive with 500 Gigabytes to play with.

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