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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

Friday, June 29, 2007

Write it Down!

I met with a client this morning who is looking to purchase a new building. He has done a lot of research on the building and location and has even done a bit of negotiation with the building owner. I asked to look over the financial figures that he is working on and he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. He didn't even remember what some of the numbers referred to.

I worked with him on putting the information into a spreadsheet. We then were able to look at costs, expenses and rental income to give him a better idea of what the actual expenses and income would be for the building. This exercise was incredibly helpful to him. Not only did he get a much better sense of the scope of the deal, but he also has a much better starting point for talking to the building owner, mortgage broker, accountant and his silent partner.

The awareness for today is to take the time to put information down on paper (ideally typed into a computer so that it is easier for editing) so that you can provide yourself with a starting point to begin any project. Whether you are writing down conceptual ideas, financial data or strategic ideas, having them down on paper/computer gives you a much stronger foundation to work from.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Consistency with Employees - Increase Efficiency & Effectiveness

I was recently working with a client where the two owners would give different instructions to their employees. This was very difficult on the employees as they were asked by one boss to do X and disregard Y, while the other boss would say Y is important and to hold off on X.

It is important to keep everyone on the same page, working towards the same goal. If there are mixed messages, employees can become confused and lose momentum because they are constantly shifting their focus based on the varying instructions they are given. This does not make for happy, productive employees.

The awareness for today is to make sure that you, your partners and managers are all on the same page and communicating productive helpful information to your employees that is consistent from all owners and managers. Your employees will appreciate it and you will see increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Running in Circles

Do you ever get so frustrated with a project that you get yourself stuck in a rut? I know that I have done that to myself. I push and struggle so much that I lose my footing and then just begin spinning my wheels without accomplishing anything.

When this happens, it is best to step away. Don't even think about the project. Go for a walk, go to the gym, it is a good time to have lunch, etc. Just step away. When you come back, hopefully refreshed, there is the opportunity to look at the project from a fresh perspective. This has often helped me to get out of that place of aggravation and move forward with my goals.

The awareness for today is to recognize when you are stuck and to allow yourself to step away and recharge before getting back to it. Don't continue hammering something in if it doesn't fit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Important Reminder

I often blog about customer service or the lack of it. Yesterday, I was given a gentle reminder that there may be external factors affecting the way customers are treated.

In general I have back issues (relating back to my back being broken in a car accident in 2001). Yesterday was a tough day for my back and, therefore, for me. In the past five days, I have flown twice and been in two three-hour plus car rides; my back can only handle so much. The point is that while I was in pain, I noticed that my mood suffered. I was grumpy, annoyed and frustrated by people I was working with. Just recognizing what was going on with me helped me mellow myself out, but it definitely was a stressful day for me because of the pain.

Because of this, I need to remember that the times I am receiving poor customer service may not be a normal reflection on the one giving it to me. This is not an excuse or a reason for someone not to try hard, but it helps me to remember to cut people a little slack.

The awareness for today is to simply recognize how our moods affect those around us and to be conscious enough to recognize that others may be taking things out on us that have nothing to do with us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Waiting Game

I am currently stuck in a bit of business limbo. I have been asked by two different associates if I can help with funding on two different deals. One looks quite interesting, whereas the other would be more of a favor to create a relationship for the future. On both of the deals, I am waiting on my funding sources to see if they are interested and would like more information beyond the initial information provided.

It has been about a week for both, but I do not like to keep people waiting. I have left messages and sent follow up e-mails and I do expect to hear back by the beginning of this week. There is nothing I can do at this point other than to wait for the responses. I have shared with my associates that I am doing all that I can and will contact them as soon as I hear back. No one has complained, so I am not in a bad situation in that sense.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we cannot do everything. Even if we do all that we can, there may be times when we have to wait on others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Listening to Your Gut

I am learning more and more to listen to my gut, intuition, whatever name you want to give it. There are often red flags that come up while I am working with others. Red flags are just warnings and not necessarily a reason to step away from a deal, but definitely a notice to pay attention and make sure I am not allowing a situation to get out of control.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to the signs around you. Perhaps you notice your mood change or really feel it, literally, in your stomach. Our brains give us signals and it is up to us to pay attention to them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Helping the Little Guy

I took my car in for an oil change today. Not very exciting, but I spoke with the owner about his shop a bit. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him that I was a business advisor/connector and he asked me if I wanted to buy his business. I was surprised because I knew that his son worked with him and I had assumed that when he was ready to retire (not too far off) that his son would take over.

He told me that his son has some major back problems and that it was best for him to get out of the business. I thought about it for a second as I knew that there was not much I could help him with, but I realized that even though his is a very small business, I may still be able to connect him with either potential buyers or at least some business brokers to assist him in the sale. He was quite appreciative and I know that it will take me very little time to help him.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to activities that are outside of our normal businesses and still help when we can. Do not let it interfere with your priorities, but if it is no skin off of your back, then help someone else.

Monday, June 18, 2007

First Impressions

As the old saying goes, "you only get one chance at a first impression." This is quite true. I wrote a bit about it in my post entitled E-Mail Enticement. If you are looking for money or new customers/clients/patients, you need to portray professionalism during your initial introduction. I have worked with some associates over the years who just pass on a lot of junk and want me or my sources to weed through it to find the relevant information. That method often results in a quick pass on the deal by either me or my sources.

If you are trying to "sell" something (either yourself or your products or your services), then do it; "sell" it! Show that you are putting an effort in and have updated information, try not to leave too many holes and be prepared to have answers to questions or concerns that will obviously come up. Provide the benefits to using you/your product/your service. Share why you want someone's business and show that you will do the extra work to get it.

The awareness for today is to have intent behind your actions. Be responsible for yourself and be confident in your business dealings by knowing that you are putting in your all. Make that first impression count.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer Speed Changes

I have noticed that many of the people I am currently doing business with are traveling quite a bit. This is part of summer's cycle. People's kids are out of school and they take family vacations. Well, I have noticed that because of this, the response time with clients and associates has gotten much longer; people are not responding as quickly as other times of the year.

There is nothing that I can do about this and I am guilty of traveling as well.

The awareness for today is simple: plan a trip and take a vacation. Enjoy the summer and the beautiful weather!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Networking and Not Working

I had a meeting this afternoon and during it we briefly discussed a mutual client/friend who is a power networker. She is great at meeting people and has very strong connections throughout the States. What she lacks, however, is follow through. She may be great at meeting people and making that initial connection, but if she never follows through and just keeps spinning her wheels, she will never get anywhere. It does not help to spread one's self too thin by over committing and them accomplishing anything.

When I network, I am purposeful in my introductions and meeting people. If I say that I will get in touch with someone, I do it. Unfortunately, I often find myself waiting on others. I am by no means perfect, but I am dependable to those who know me.

The awareness for today is to ensure that you follow through on your committed actions.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dealing with Disappointment

I just learned this morning that one of my mega-deals (those huge deals that would be wonderful if they went through, but are not too likely to) is done; done as in off the table as opposed to done as in closed and funded.

This was the type of deal that you make sure not to spend the fee before earning it because the chances of it actually going through are fairly slim. I try not to get too excited about mega-deals, but that is difficult because, well, they are exciting.

This deal cost me very little time as I just connected the involved parties. I didn't lose much time on it at all.

The awareness for today is to be realistic about where we are putting our time and energy. It is great to have high hopes, but we should always "manage our expectations" as a good friend of mine says.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Traveling for Business

I just returned from a short business trip to LA. What I have learned is that I really enjoy traveling for business, but it takes a lot out of me. There is always the "catch up" upon my return (even though I use my laptop to keep up with e-mails!). I just need a bit more practice at it.

The plan is to be completely virtual and able to do my work from anywhere. That is a bit different though as the trips can be planned for fun and I can work while on them rather than a business trip where my time is eaten up pretty quickly.

I am going to do my best to enjoy the weekend and relax a bit. The awareness for today is to take stock of your week, reflect back on it and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Job Types

There are huge benefits to using a laptop. Currently, I am in Los Angeles sitting at a small cafe downtown, eating a sandwich and, now, writing out my blog. I have just checked and replied to e-mail and done some research. However wonderful using a laptop is, that is not what I wanted to blog about today.

I have been working with a client that does market research and surveys. There is a lot of cold calling involved. What this has brought up for me, is that different people have different skills and can adapt to and handle situations and jobs accordingly. My mind is great with computers and spreadsheets, but I would go crazy designing, cutting patterns and sewing, whereas some people love that. There are many people I know who do not like their work, while there are also many I know who love what they do. I think it is important to enjoy the activities that keep us busy during our working hours.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we all have different talents and to try and use yours to your benefit.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Guy Kawasaki: By the Numbers

I read a great blog by Guy Kawasaki on his site How to Change the World that I wanted to share today. It is reposted in full below:

By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09 (June 03, 2007)

Because of Truemors, I’ve learned a lot about launching a company in these “Web 2.0” times. Here’s quick overview “by the numbers.”

1. 0. I wrote 0 business plans for it. The plan is simple: Get a site launched in a few months, see if people like it, and sell ads and sponsorships (or not).

2. 0. I pitched 0 venture capitalists to fund it. Life is simple when you can launch a company with a credit-card level debt.

3. 7.5. 7.5 weeks went by from the time I registered the domain to the site going live. Life is also good because of open source and Word Press.

4. $4,500. The total software development cost was $4,500. The guys at Electric Pulp did the work. Honestly, I wasn’t a believer in remote teams trying to work together on version 1 of a product, but Electric Pulp changed my mind.

5. $4,824.14. The total cost of the legal fees was $4,824.14. I could have used my uncle the divorce lawyer and saved a few bucks, but that would have been short sighted if Truemors ever becomes worth something.

6. $399. I paid LogoWorks $399 to design the logo. Of course, this was before HP bought the company. Not sure what it would charge now. :-)

7. $1,115.05. I spent $1,115.05 registering domains. I could have used GoDaddy and done it a lot cheaper, but I was too stupid and lazy.

8. 55. I registered 55 domains (for example,, .de, .biz, truemours, etc, etc). I had no idea that one had to buy so many domains to truly “surround” the one you use. Yes, I could have registered fewer and spent less, but who cares about saving a few hundred bucks compared to the cost of legal action to get a domain away from a squatter if Truemors is successful?

9. $12,107.09. In total, I spent $12,107.09 to launch Truemors. During the dotcom days, entrepreneurs had to raise $5 million to try stupid ideas. Now I’ve proven that you can do it for $12,107.09.

10. 1.5. There are 1.5 full-time equivalent employees at Truemors. For me, it’s a labor of love.

11. 3. TechCrunch wrote about Truemors 3 times: the leak, the leak with a screen shot, and the opening. I wish I could tell you I was so sly as to plan this. Michael Arrington thought he was sticking it to me. Don’t stop, Michael!
12. 261,214. Much to my amazement, there were 261,214 page views on the first day.

13. 14,052. Much to my amazement, there were 14,052 visitors on the first day.

14. $0. I spend $0 on marketing to launch Truemors.

15. 24. However, I did spend 24 years of schmoozing and “paying it forward” to get to the point where I could spend $0 to launch a company. Many bloggers got bent out of shape: “The only reason Truemors is getting so much coverage is that it’s Guy’s site.” To which my response is, “You have a firm grasp of the obvious.”

16. 405. Because some people had nothing better to do, there were 405 posts on the first day.

17. 218. We deleted 218 of the 405 posts because they were junk, spam, inappropriate, or just plain stupid. Interestingly, half the bloggers complained the site was full of junk. The other half complained I was deleting posts. :-)

18. 3. A mere 3 hours went by before the site was hacked, and we had to shut it down temporarily. I was impressed. The hacker who did this might be the next Woz. Please contact me if you are.

19. 36. A mere 36 hours went by before Yahoo! Small Business told us that we were inappropriate for this service because of our traffic.

20. $29.96. Our monthly break-even point was $29.96 with Yahoo!

21. $150. Because Yahoo! evicted us, our monthly break-even point quadrupled to $150. If you’re interested in buying a monthly sponsorship for $151, you’d make Truemors profitable. :-)

22. 2. A mere 2 days went by before Truemors was called the “worst website ever” by the Inquirer.

23. 246,210. Thank you God for the Inquirer because it caused 246,210 page views. Yes indeed, there’s no such thing as bad PR.
24. 150. A week before we launched, if you typed “truemors” into Google, you would have gotten 150 hits.

25. 315,000. Eleven days after the launch, “truemors” had 315,000 hits in Google. I can’t figure out how this can be, but I’m not arguing.

26. 4. I learned four lessons launching Truemors:
1. There’s really no such thing as bad PR.

2. $12,000 goes a very long way these days.

3. You can work with a team that is thousands of miles away.

4. Life is good for entrepreneurs these days.

I recently saw a presentation called Meet Henry and loved it, so I asked its creators, Ethos3 Communications, to help me create a presentation based on these experiences. Here are the slides that go with this speech.

As part of the growing world of Truemors, there are two Truemors add-ons to announce:
Trickler is a standalone application that provides a ticker-tape interface to Truemors.
AffinityBar is a Truemors toolbar for FireFox and Internet Explorer.

Here’s the bottom line: Whether Truemors succeeds or not, I learned a helluva lot. One thing is for sure: no entrepreneur can tell me that he needs $1 million, four programmers, and six months to launch this kind of company. With products like WordPress, MySQL, and Salesforce platform, things are a whole lot cheaper and easier these days.

For not a whole lot of money and time you can get something out there and see if it works. If it does, hallelujah: there’s no better time to raise money than after your prototype is scaling up. Indeed, you may not ever need to raise money. Fyi, there is no worst time to raise money than when you have nothing but an idea. Actually, there is a worst time: When you’ve burned through the first million, and you haven’t shipped or gotten any dogs to eat the food.
I end with a truism (as opposed to truemor): There’s only one way to find out if your idea will succeed, and that’s to try it, so go for it.

PS: We’d love to have a few more “truemorists.” These are folks with “accounts” at the Truemors site. Anyone can post via voicemail, text, email, and online submission, but truemorists can create, edit, save, and delete their truemors. Also, their names appear in green to distinguish their posts from those of non-truemorists.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Staying In The Loop

I often work as an originator for debt financing deals. The deals are brought to me through sources of mine and then I connect them with contacts that I have for funding. I often step back and let the clients speak directly with my funding sources. One request I make when introducing the parties is that I am copied on any e-mail correspondence (i.e. CCed).

This allows me to follow the deal and know the exchange that is occurring between the parties. An investment banker that I often work with has said that I am much more involved than most originators who simply step away after the introductions. I take that as a compliment. There have been many occurrences when one side or the other comes back to me and shares that they have not heard back from the other or have a specific issue that I can help with. I then do my best to keep both sides communicating and help to resolve any issues. I will speak to each side and get a better understanding of any issues they may have. By having stayed involved with the deal through observation, I have a stronger understanding of the where things are headed.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to things you are involved with and to keep yourself in the loop when it can benefit you over the long run.