Accurate Always Call Center Recording Blog by Kate Haley
Aviators By Design and Assistance by Necessity: The Case of the Little Startup that Could

May 09

10

I have to confess that I'm a sucker for an underdog. And I'm amazed by what people accomplish when they do not know what can't be done. This post is dedicated to the birds, an the startup, that really inspire.

Parrots, the ultimate aviators, have been plucked from the trees and smuggled into the country. Here they are sold and change hands constantly. There has been a huge industry push to crank out more of these guys, as parrots, behind dogs and cats, are the most popular "pet" in America. To wit, every year approximately 350,000 companion parrots find themselves without a home.

Parrots scream, self mutilate, bite and have other destructive behaviors that commonly crop up far before they have a shot at getting real help. They are often beaten, neglected, euthanized, "released," left in small cages with limited access to fresh food and clean water. I wish it wasn't true- but trust me- it can get ugly.

(Not that the fellow below, at the Save Haven Parrot Sanctuary, is ugly. Actually, he's a looker but you should have seen him when he came in after getting multiple injuries from a tangle with a ceiling fan.)

Yo. What's it take to get a little humanity around here?

Sometimes the best these parrots can do is to make it to a sanctuary, often via a referral from the Humane Society, who's not equipped to handle the needs of parrots. There's no way around it; a very special place, with very special people, is needed for the care of these aerobats, dive bombers and Amelia Earhart's in their own right. Luckily, many have found a home with one of the best fledgling non-profits that I've seen in a while.

Safe Haven Parrot Sanctuary, Inc. is a startup in the truest sense. No, you won't see Aeron chairs, VCs or painful PowerPoint presentations. This is the real, grass-roots, deal.

It started with one woman. I think of her as the Rosie the Riveter of the Avian-inclined. Frankly, all the nights I slept under my desk over the years are a cake-walk compared to what she does before I get close to stumbling towards the espresso machine. If I was reviewing her operations plan, I'd see "working her ass of to do the best she could by these birds" was the idea. And I'd say there's no freakin' way this would fly.

But, it did. Word spread and now there are in excess of 100 parrots, now served daily, out of her sheer determination, love and grit.

Safe Haven Parrot Sanctuary is simply, honestly dedicated to the care and safety of unwanted parrots. That's their corporate mission, mantra and vision in one nice little, but hugely difficult, package. They provide the high quality care, even love, that's desperately needed for parrots that have lost their home for whatever reason.

From a business stand-point, they know their niche. They specialize in parrots that are not adoptable due to abuse, physical deformity and related challenges, and/or overall behavioral problems.

The barrier to entry in this market is high, as you'd have to be crazily devoted to have your ears blown out on a daily basis, while serving orange wedges. Round the clock feedings and emergency veterinary care requirements arise just when you think you can catch a few zs. (Ok, so I know a little about this too.)

Their profitability plan is iffy. And amazing. 100% of the money donated goes directly to the parrot care. Yes, really. A single salary from an outside gig pays for everything else. Efficient? Yes. Focused? Hella.

Any real hope, like any soon-to-be successful business, all comes down to a call to action.

Safe Haven provides natural living spaces for parrots that are as close to their native homes as possible. Learn by example while donating and saving these parrots from an uncertain future. They need your support to provide these cheeky fellas with the environment they so richly deserve. See Safe Haven now. Accurate Always is a supporter of Safe Haven and they'd look great on your personal or corporate donation list too. Of course, all donations, while karmically sound, are also fully tax deductible.

 

 

Assassins, Ninjas and On-the-Job Training

May 09

4

I've been getting some heat around the office about how you (yes, you!!!!) can become a ninja. Like I'm giving that up. At least not in this post.

I can give a tip: I always suggest starting with the easy stuff first, like hiding in broad daylight and blending in. And I'm not the only one.

I haven't played a video game in and eon or two. That said, a very kind colleague sent me a link to a Real Life Assassin's Creed video. Get loaded and check it out.



Torture Memos: Just hum a few bars and you're a marketing genius!

Apr 09

23

I have been thinking about the extreme importance of zigging where they zag, doing where they dolt, and marketing the hell out of it all. And, babe, let me tell you, it ain't easy to sell a concept that is still in Alpha, or worse, when the concept is so young that it's still learning the alphabet. Yet, whatever stage company, or product rev, you are in, it really all comes down to creativity and feeling. And sometimes a little musical intervention.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let me better identify the role of a marketer. Strangely, folks still confuse marketing with selling. While the two should be comfortable sharing a sandwich now and then, they still have their own houses to keep in order. 

Get this: marketers take products to, you guessed it, market. They throw a lot of weight around and determine price, placement, positioning, market segmentation, how to make their numbers look better for VC pitches, and do many other Very Important Things.

Sales aces let marketing kick the leads in and work within given product launch plans, break new accounts and are the natural schmoozers. They generally range from the "Heroes for the customer class!" or "Just plain used car annoying"  in the Ninja Success Spectrum, or the "NSS" as we like to affectionately call it here.

Marketeers are my favorites, at least until some sales guy sends me a convincing tee-shirt (hint: size sm, color black), so let's talk about the art of marketing some more. 

Now, there are often opportunities to find new ways of looking at things and educating your market as such. Take waterboarding. You could sell on the entertainment side but it's still going to get messy and the message muddled. (Trust me, I know: I had similiar challenges when doing contract gigs years ago, but I was young and needed the money....) But, now, I can say with 100% confidence that this is a perfect example of where a little jingle clears up an uncomfortable memo. 

Take it away Jonathan Mann! And, by all means, hire this guy for any major product launch campaign, customer-facing torture projects or the neighbor's kid's birthday party.

Lunar cycles and killing spree connection in common ninja behavior?

Apr 09

10

I've felt like howling all day. Is it the work? Is it thinking about startups? Is it a intense, deeply personal issue that needs years of therapy? Who knows.

I think it's the moon. My theory is that ninjas have to be bad sometimes. Possibly, like me, all will use any excuse for bad behavior, especially one that involves werewolves (or zombies, for that matter.)

Of course, a sample size of one, while convenient, is a bit sparse. So, I'm openly testing and polling to data mine and support evaluate my theory that moon phase X = increased ninja activity. See below, comment or drop me a line if blood feuds are on the rise in your organization at a given lunar stage.

Business Gurus & Bungholes

Apr 09

8

or when the Cornholio is the message: here's what they won't tell you about the man who can save us all.

Fig 1: Cornholio does commerce rightCornbil

Ain't venturing forth grand? If you are still considering a career in sleepless nights, here's to full disclosure and eventual salvation!

First, know that you'll eat, sleep, dream and occasionally have nightmares about your venture. Marketing will elude the best of us sometimes and a company can lack focus. This is all a normal part of starting up and these dreams, like the poor, will always be with you. But, you will find allies along the way. I'm here to introduce you to mine.

The single biggest influence in my life has been a great man. An animated man. A Cornholio man.  If you're crazy enough to startup, get to know your inner cornhole.

Incase you haven't made his acquaintance, Cornholio is the hyper, high-strung, intensely focused go-getter from Beavis and Butthead. Cornholio is Beavis' alter ego. But, more importantly to succeed, know that Cornholio is you.

At first, you may be focused on finding TP for your bunghole. That drive will get you moving (yuck, not that way) and you will find that you are changing. You may feel stronger, more assured and like it's just automatic. You will simply learn how to do the job/rule the world by not thinking about it- atleast not all the time. 

But you can't stop there. Once you do acquire the TP, you may have already noticed that the world is more vast than you could have imagined. There really are more sugary treats to be had. Despite the number of converts you have, never lose sight of the fact that Cornholio knows not compliancy.  Beavis' drive is multi-threaded. Never underestimate the value of cornering the crapaschino market. And all markets. (Hint: you better be doing this in tandem to stay ahead of the other animated critters.)

Above all, remember that belief, and Jolt cola, are the two most powerful allies to have in your corner. And never forget: "the streets will flow with the blood of the non-believers!" Cornholio doesn't.

But, don't take it from me. Learn from the Great.

Gifting Geeks Like Me

Mar 09

18

Whoot. I have a geeky birthday coming up this month. It got me thinking about gifts.

Lots of gifts.

Which got me to think more about getting gifts for geeks everywhere. Before you go any further, it's best that you know that buying for geeks can be tricky. But, there's hope!

You may someday be in a bind, trying to figure out how to gift yourself to love and fame. You may be asking yourself "What do I do if my local Porsche dealership is already closed??!"  Well, fear not, Little One. Wikihow has you covered: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Gift-for-a-Self-Proclaimed-Nerd-or-Geek

But first, on behalf of geeks everywhere, I must suggest that you do verify that dealership is closed- first. We're ok with you saving time and going for something in red.

 Nerdworking[1]

figure a: a geek in his natural habitat. One can imagine he'd decree "gift your geek."

Ninjas don’t carry ID: You think degrees matter? Think again.

Mar 09

17

Your performance, not your pedigree, defines you. If you are starting up, or thinking of joining a startup company that feels otherwise, proceed with caution. If they are looking for letters, rather than results, it may be time to school them on the basics.

I am one of the founders of Accurate Always, Inc. and I’ve sat in on many interviews over the years. I’m always the most interested when someone comes in and tells me what they are doing and going to do once hired. This isn’t a new concept among startuppers but I think it is worth being said to would-be ninjas in either the employee or the founder camp, in this economic climate. 

Maybe it’s because I came from the “turn on, tune in, drop out and dot com” school myself, but I would rather talk about what a candidate is doing over the weekend than what they accomplished while hazing.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against education. If you stop learning at any point, the value proposition for you, and your employer or investors, begins to slip. And this slip can leave you- and your venture- flat. All I’m saying is that you better learn on-the-fly. Success can’t wait and there’s always Gore’s Internet to fall back on.

Now take this A+ and get moving.

Why Ninjas Can Never Have a Bad Day

I was thinking about a great piece of advice I read in Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start. First off, Guy is brilliant and it’s with huge admiration that I need to ninja-ize one of the points that I needed to read the most. It was “a CEO can never have a bad day.”

While this applies universally, Guy directed this comment to all startup CEOs. I find this particularly applies to Ninja startup CEOs, however.

Picture this: you are having a bad day and you just can’t coordinate everyone’s schedules for a blood feud. Your kids made you late using your Tabi boots to hide their Lucky Charms. You may even have gotten a paper cut. But, remember a ninja CEO can never, ever, ever have a bad day. Be down and the team will wonder if the company is about to take an honorable suicide.

That said, one point that Guy neglected to mention is that a CEO, or any C-Level person, should never have too good of a day.

I learned this first hand. Never, ever decorate an office with Peeps or send prank memos. We need to maintain a modicum of respectability. Otherwise, everyone freaks when the sword comes out.

StartUps: Forget the tech park, think South Park

Mar 09

16

Sometimes, I have to bow to the Greats. Dharmesh Shah concisely broke down the vital P* Factor by employing South Park Gnomes. Underwear Gnomes to be exact.

StartUpeers, you may want to check out the "Startup Lessons From The Underpants Gnomes: PROFIT!"

*P = Profit. If this isn't part of the business equation, better go rerun the math.

Ninja-wise or Big Brother? Google keeps us guessing.

Mar 09

12

Ninjas are all about stealth and calculated moves. But, some things are just too much for this ninja.

This is hardly news, but the line between targeted content and George W's wildest dreams is blurring. Trust me, I Googled it.

The best write up I've seen on this is in Wired's blog. Check out their "Google's New Ad Network Knows Where You've Been, What You Do."

I'm all over the opt out. While doing so, I am also making big with the reading. See Google's privacy notices too, if you are feeling all warm and Googley.

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