Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frogy Fear and Loathing in the Cubical

French workers need better managers. 
One of the benefits of being an MBA is that you get great deals on business magazines.  Over the last year, Business Week, Crain’s Chicago Business and the Economist have become sources of information and inspiration.   Plenty of times, I receive text book examples about how to run a business.  I also receive many more examples of how NOT to do business.  I find examples of failure to be much more instructive. 

Case in point came from the November 18th issue of the Economist.  In the weekly Schumpeter column, they pointed to the French Economy and how many people consider their workforce lazy and inept.   It made me feel bad for the French office worker.  Nothing is bigger demotivation than failure.

One could argue that France has been a case study in failure since the formation of the Vichy government over seventy years ago.  You do not hear discussion about French entrepreneurs outside the fashion industry.    Its politics are notoriously messy and riots throw into stark contrast the inability of the French economy to create jobs. 
The nation which gave us de Gaulle, Descartes, Pasture, and Sartre deserves a better reputation in the global economy.  I also believe that the French worker has been unfairly stereotyped. The grim reality pointed out by The Economist is that much of the poor performance of the French can be blamed squarely on how French businesses lead their organizations. 
Unlike firms in America or Germany, who attempt to cultivate leadership inside the firm, many French companies are led by people who get most of their experience from civil service or academia.  As explained in the article:
“…too many big French companies rely on educational and governmental elites rather than promoting internally according to performance on the job. In the country’s many family firms, too, opportunity for promotion is limited for non-family members. This overall lack of upward mobility, argues Mr. Philippon, contributes largely to ordinary French cadres’ dissatisfaction with corporate life. A study of seven leading economies by TNS Sofres in 2007 showed that France is unique in that middle management as well as the lower-level workforce is largely disengaged from their companies.”
Since French workers have little if any chance to earn promotion or additional income because of this system, they just don’t try as hard.  French business laws also make it difficult to remove bad employees so you have the worst of all worlds for a business; bad management and workers with no incentive to work. 

I am not going to wag my finger shamefully at the French.  American business can be equally dysfunctional.  Still, it is clear to me that France offers a great example of what happens when credentials are given more value than experience and leadership.  The French worker deserves better than the French executive.
Until next time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saying Thanks

Have a great Thanksgiving
The last ten years have been a huge challenge for me and for America in general.  I can understand why people are filled with anxiety and frustration. Yet, each time this year, I make an effort to take stock and give thanks for the simple things in life.  This year I am going to share that list with you.

  • I am grateful for tap water which I can drink…over a billion people do not have that luxury.
  • I am glad that I have my family and friends.
  • I don’t know where I would be without the support and love of my fellow parishioners at Lifebridge Church.
  • After a scary stretch, I glad that I am caught up on my mortgage.
  • I am grateful that even during this period of economic hardship I can start a business and find clients who are interested in buying.
  • I am proud that I live in a country where we have both a Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street.  I hope the folks in the Occupy movement are as good at rocking the vote as the Tea party. 
  • Finally, I am grateful to all of you who have read this blog and supported me as I go through the startup process. 
I may not have any clients on the books but I am close.  So in the spirit of optimism which all entrepreneurs must have I can gladly say my cup is full.  I am grateful that all of you have given me nourishment along the way. 

Until next time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Deserve Better

A future vet from Afghanistan, I want to hire people like this.
Friday was November 11th, 2011 came and went with little fan fair.  It is one of those quirky days on the calendar which reads 11-11-11.  For fans of the movie Spinal Tap, it became Nigel Tufnel day.  For others it was an excuse to start a three day weekend.  To me it was Veteran’s Day, which is a pretty important spot on the calendar. 

For American’s Veteran’s Day traces its history to the end of the First World War.  The armistice between the allies and central powers went into effect on the eleventh hours of the eleventh month of the eleventh day in 1918.  Troops continued to fight in the almost criminal stalemate up to the final minute.  President Wilson declared that Armistice Day would be a day of national reflection.  Congress later changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day so that veterans from all of America’s wars could be recognized. 

In the ninety three years since the end of the “War to End All Wars,” American soldiers, sailors, air men and marines have been fighting to preserve liberty and peace in places as diverse as the Chosin Reservoir in Korea to the hills of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  Contrary to the opinion of a vocal minority, we have never acted as an empire but rather as liberators and nation builders.  American’s seem to invest a great deal of blood and treasure in other countries. 
No one pays a higher price than the men and women who do the fighting and the dying for us; veterans.  The biggest change for these young men and women is learning to make the transition from the military to civilian life.  For a person who understands how to fire a rifle and avoid roadside bombs, the daily grind of the business world could seem trivial. 
As a nation we have done a poor job helping these people find meaningful work.  According to business week, the current rate of unemployment for Veterans is 12.1% compared to 9% for the general population.  The figures are even worse for vets ages 18 to 24 who have an unemployment rate of 30.4%.  This is unacceptable.  Veterans have paid a steep price for our freedom; we owe them a chance to make a living in the civilian world. 
If you are a veteran from any of the armed forces, I want to put you to work selling my product.  I will not make promises because of our start-up nature but I think you can help us be a success.  Drop me a line at
Until next time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gold in Them There Mobile Phones.

Mobile phones are gold for a developer and E3 systems.
The last two weeks have been very eventful for E3 systems.  We have hired our first Account Executive so please take time out of your day to send an email to Thomas Rednour and welcome him aboard.  Thom is a marketing graduate from Lewis University and we look forward to how he is going to improve the business.

This issue I want to talk about something software developers ignore at their own peril- mobile development.  The facts are becoming clearer.  According to Development Notes, the release of the iPhone has created a spike in the use of the mobile web.  Furthermore, Mashable mentions that by 2015 the majority of our computing will be done over mobile devices. 
This paradigm change in how people use the web is exciting and scary.  For a developer hoping to remain employable, the will have to learn some kind of mobile development.  Applications today need to work equally well on a traditional web browser and a mobile device.

This is one of the main selling points of our Sully® application.  It works both on the web and on a smart phone.  We are also working hard to improve the mobile experience of our application with JQuery Mobile and Microsoft Tag.  This way it will be even easier to use our services with a mobile device. 
I am proud of Sully® and our potential clients are impressed with how we are providing an economical solution to shipping and receiving problems.  This one of the main reasons I enjoy being an entrepreneur. 

Until next time.