Monthly Archives: March 2005

Salesforce.com Sponsored Event for High School Students

In my involvement with the BizWorld Foundation California Advisory Board, I met today with the Suzanne DiBianca, the executive director of the Salesforce.com Foundation at the Salesforce.com offices. My friend Marc Benioff is the CEO of Salesforce and has made the Foundation integral in the company – I’m a big fan of his vision of integrated philanthropy in businesses.

Along with the director of BizWorld, a Salesforce employee, a couple Salesforce interns, and a fellow board member, we kicked off the planning for the summer BizWorld S-Academy – a multi-day event for high school students in the Bay Area to learn about business and sales & marketing with the salesforce.com application as the tool of choice.

We are looking for two high school age girls in the San Francisco area to be on a youth advisory board for this event. Please email me if you know some girls who could be interested in this community service project.

Core Values

After giving some thought to the issue, I have realized that the four core values of the Ben Casnocha of today (I’m sure they’ll change as I get older) are:

1. Excellence – For things and people I care about, I will give nothing less than 100% effort. I want to strive for excellence in every aspect of my life and hold a higher standard than most of my peers. I will never get on the treadmill of mediocrity.

2. Health – I will feed my body, feed my mind, and feed by soul. Staying in good health (physically and otherwise) is a commitment I will uphold. If I feel like my physical or mental health is ever being compromised, I will seek help. Happiness is founded on good health.

3. Humor – This is a weird one. Most people wouldn’t think of “humor” as a core value. But it is for me. In our finite amount of time on this planet, the chemicals released during a laugh are among the most pleasurable. Committing myself to finding humor in the mundane and infusing humor into my work and life is a priority.

4. Knowledge – I believe the hero’s journey is premised on the spirited pursuit of knowledge. I want to acquire knowledge – not through filling my head with facts – but through passionate interactions with people and the reading of books. A close corollary to this is the constant asking of questions (think Socrates).

Lofty values like “integrity,” “generosity,” and “friendship” crossed my mind but I didn’t feel like they are core. What are your CORE values?

Do Not Prolong My Life

Let this be the official word:

If I am unable to make or communicate decisions regarding my health care, and IF (i) I have an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in my death within a relatively short time, OR (ii) I become unconscious and, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, I will not regain consciousness, OR (iii) the likely risks and burdens of treatment would outweigh the expected benefits, THEN I direct that my health-care providers and others involved in my care prolong my life as long as possible within the limits of generally accepted health-care standards until ANY member of my immediate family decides that the medical treatment costs would outweigh the expected benefits. I direct that the best medical care possible to keep me clean, comfortable and free of pain or discomfort be provided at all times so that my dignity is maintained, even if this care hastens my death.

Link: All Law – Forms – Wills and Trusts – Power of Attorney for Health Care.

"I'm Going to Break Ben Out of His Shell"

A friend told me a minute ago, “[Redacted] told me that she’s going to break you out of your fucking shell this summer.” I get this a lot. I don’t have time to build social relationships with a lot of people at school. Instead, I’ve surrounded myself with a small group of guys who I trust and enjoy and for everyone else my relationship is very surface. One particular jarring incident this year is when I told someone flatly, “I am not going to commit to building a friendship with you.” Insensitive? Probably. But what my high school peers don’t realize is that building a relationship takes significant time and effort and I’d rather be upfront. I find a lot of value in my social relationships at school – but not enough to divert more time from my other endeavors just to climb the social ladder.

The downside to this is that I have a reputation to a lot of people for being…mysterious, unaccessible, or unemotional. This doesn’t bother me; in fact, it makes me laugh, because I don’t care what they think.

The Education or Diploma?

In a not-too-enlightening review in the NYTBook Review today, there is a provocative question at the end:

In ”Harvard Rules,” Bradley describes the case of Joe Green, an undergraduate disillusioned by his experience as a student representative on the committee evaluating the Core Curriculum. ”Green kept thinking about a question one of his professors had put to him: ‘If you could either go here and get no diploma, or not go here and get the diploma, what would you do?‘ ” Bradley writes. ”It bothered Green that he couldn’t easily answer the question.” It should bother the president of Harvard, too. The answer, in the end, is the difference between a great university and a brand name.

Competing with the Big Boys

Nice post by VC Ed Sim on how a start-up should think about competitive dynamics when a big gorrilla enters the market. I would boil it all down to one word: focus. If you can convince a prospect that you will maintain extraordinary focus on their needs then you’ve taken care of the biggest selling point. Now it’s about convincing them that you’re credible (and won’t go out of business!).

Talking Slow = Credibility in Sales Presentation

No one likes talking to a “salesman” in the conventional sense because most people’s first thoughts are a fast-talking guy who will say Yes to everything and is just there to get your money. Be it insurance on the phone or enterprise software in-person, it is critical to counter this stereotype. In my opinion this is most easily done by saying everything at half-speed. In a big sales pitch, adrenaline will be running, the spotlight will be on you, so if you keep telling yourself to speak at half-speed, it will come out at normal speed. This was my early struggle because I feared dead time – that is the moment of silence in a meeting when no one is talking, I’ve later learned that that moment of silence after a key point is critical for the audience to reflect and internalize when you’ve said – therefore things came out a million miles per hour. Also, talking super-fast screams “geek” and when you’re trying to sell anything tech to a non-tech person, you want to do as much as possible to be “one of them.”

Voicemail Technology Just Sucks

Sitting in a meeting this evening with some prospects we were talking about Comcate’s case-management technology when it comes to emails or logged phone calls (and our partnerships with IVR firms) and we got off on a tangent about how voicemail technology really just sucks. There’s nothing I hate more than hearing I have 3 new voicemail messages and having to sit through each of them, press 7 to delete or 9 to save, and then waiting for the next one. Even worse is when you pull up old voicemails and have to listen through tons of messages just to get the one you want.

Bottom line – I want all my voicemails converted to email-able sound bites that I can sort and listen to in my email client. Automatically.

Statistically Improbable Phrases in Amazon.com

Just saw this feature on Amazon called “Statistically Improbable Phrases.” This is brilliant.

Amazon.com’s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or “SIPs”, show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

Renewing My Effort at Full Engagement: Values

As the stress level starts to increase for me this spring (along with busyness) I am determined to make a renewed effort at implementing the philosophies outlined in The Power of Full Engagement and its Corporate Athlete Training System. For those who haven’t read the book:

Objective: Perform in the storm. Build the necessary capacity to sustain high performance in the face of increasing demand.

Central Conclusion: Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance. Capacity is a function of one’s ability to expend and recover energy; every thought, feeling, and action has an energy consequence; energy is the most important individual and organizational resource.

  • Full engagement relies on skillful management of four interrelated dimensions of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
  • To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
  • Lifelong Energy Objective: To burn as brightly as possible for as long as possible in the service of what really matters.
  • Full engagement requires periodic strategic recovery (disengagement).
  • Sustained high performance is best served by assuming the mentality of a sprinter, not a marathoner.
  • Most of us are under trained physically and spiritually and over trained mentally and emotionally.

I am going to start with reflecting on values – a value in action is a virtue. What values do I strive to embody regardless of external pressures? Some common values are listed below. After reflecting on this, I will post my thoughts and the next step.

Authenticity Balance Commitment Compassion Concern for others Courage Creativity Empathy Excellence Fairness Faith Family Freedom Friendship Generosity Genuineness Happiness Harmony Health Honesty Humor Integrity Kindness Knowledge Loyalty Openness Perseverance Respect for others Responsibility Security Serenity Service to others