Inerpersonal Check List

My father, a well known psychotherapist, uses a personality model known as the Interpersonal Check List (ICL). This model is notoriously hard to administer, score, and graph. I developed a program to do all of these things automatically.

Interpersonal Check List

This is a 128 question test where people mark whether or not adjectives describe them. Thus a person might check yes to “Good Leader” and no to “Hard to Impress.” Once all the appropriate answers are marked, each one is weighed and put into an appropriate bin. The size of each bin marks the prominence of that personality trait in the person.

I’ve used this program as my first e-commerce venture. Visit http://www.shawnlankton.com/icl to get information about the program, download the fully-featured demo, or purchase the full program!

4-Hour Work Week Review

I finished Tim Ferris’s book, The 4-Hour Work Week. This book is very inspiring, and takes a very different take on entrepreneurship than most books you’ll find on the subject. Tim suggests increasing efficiency in everything you do (both personal and professional) by applying the 80/20 rule and setting deadlines. (The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts) When you only do 20% of the things you were doing before, and you set deadlines so you complete them faster than you normally would… efficiency ensues.

4-Hour Work Week

So in addition to this efficiency point, Tim also suggests setting up little-to-no effort income streams in the form of small niche-market internet-based businesses. He recommends outsourcing everything to a handful of companies so that your only “job” is making sure everybody plays nice together.

Once you have your life efficiently outsourced and funded with a work-free business… you take unlimited vacations and party like a rock-star! That sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I think this review came off making his book seem overly simplistic and not realistic. That wasn’t my experience at all. I really felt like he gave good information on how to make his reality come true! In fact it got me very excited about the prospect of having a “muse” (his word for a hands-free income stream). I’ve been making some moves in that direction since then. This book is definitely worth a read, and will end up in the stockings of some of my friends this Christmas.

Also, check out Tim Ferris’s Blog. It has lots of interesting stories and ideas regarding his “lifestyle design.”

Wisdom from Stephen Fleming

I attended a talk last night as part of the Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition Workshop Series (pdf). This was such a fantastic talk that I will have trouble putting it succinctly into this post.

Stephen Flemming
“Transforming Innovative Tech into Business”

As with any other person who has been a VC or angel investor, Steve was incredibly sharp, and seemed like he would be impervious to BS either on the giving or receiving end. Steve began his talk discussing the pros and cons of starting a business in the Southeast. He went on a diatribe about how ludicrous the spending in California is. Then he pointed out that although there isn’t much VC investment in Georgia and the surrounding states, there is a better tax situation, and much better access to real estate, talent, and customers.

Steve continued by discussing the cyclical relationship between institutional investors, VC’s, and entrepreneurs giving some insight into how that relationship drove VC’s behaviors. Some interesting take-aways were that VC’s want the entrepreneur to get rich, and that they’ll only have to be brutal and cruel if they have to in order to make the returns they promised their investors.

After giving some insight in these areas, he began enumerating the things that you must convince investors of when trying to raise capital for a business.

  1. You have a large, fast-growing market segment
  2. You have a technological advantage that will block competition
  3. You have reasonable financial terms
  4. You have measurable milestones for success

He went on fleshing these out for most of the remainder of the talk, but kept peppering in useful tips. I’d like to point out some here:

  1. Get a good referral (from another investor, an attorney, etc.) If you’re plan comes pre-qualified it. You’re in.
  2. Make a 20 page business plan with a 2 page executive summary. No More!
  3. Power-Point deck using the 10-20-30 rule (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point type)
  4. In all of these documents, sell the company, not the product.
  5. Do your homework on the investors you’re presenting to and tailor the presentation. It will help you and impress them.
  6. Choose your investor wisely. Don’t just follow money; find someone that can help you with experience, expertise, contacts, etc.

Check out Steve Fleming’s website as well. Here you can find his blog as well as some useful information about starting companies.

Furthermore, here is a list of other resources and websites that Steve
suggested:

The Myths of Innovation

I just completed this book, The Myths of Innovation, by Scott Berkun after receiving a recommendation (and borrowed copy) from my friend/colleague Jimi Malcolm.

This short, fast read talks about the myths that people have about the process of innovation, and some steps on overcoming these myths and innovating well anyway! Although I found the book inspiring and informative, I think I can sum up all of Berkun’s talking points briefly below and save you the trouble of reading the book : )

Myths of Innovation

  • Work hard.
  • Work on meaningful problems.
  • Work on hard problems.
  • Work diligently and tirelessly, but take well-earned breaks to reflect. He belabors the point that innovation comes from persistent effort, not “ah ha” moments.
  • Frame and re-frame the problem you’re working on. By following the same rules and same metrics for success that everyone else follows, you’re doomed to mediocrity. Re-examine the problem and re-frame it.
  • Work really, really, really hard.

Finally, here is a video from the “Google Tech Talk” series. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll bet you can get the gist of the whole book over the 1 hour video.

Vision Research Report

Recently I wrote about some startup companies in computer vision. However, this is only part of a good industry analysis. I also want to explore some of the interesting research going on in the field. Below is a list of some of the vision research that I’ve come across that seems most interesting (and applicable/marketable).

Seam Carving

This is brilliant (and brilliantly simple work). It solves a problem, and in doing so gives us tools to solve problems we didn’t even know we had! Its hard to explain, check the video out.

Dr. Ariel Shamir has a host of other interesting research as well: link.

Read on for more great research: Continue reading “Vision Research Report”

Computer Vision Startups

I have spent some time researching startup companies involved in computer vision. This has largely been in an effort to understand the marketability of computer vision research (which I spend much of my time learning about and contributing to). In this post, you’ll find a list of some notable companies. Let me know if you know of some other good ones. (Of course this doesn’t include the big, big companies like Siemens, GE, Phillips, and HP that are working on medical image processing every day! Continue reading “Computer Vision Startups”

Hackers and Painters

Last night I finished Hackers and Painters. This book is a collection of essays by Paul Graham, a PhD computer scientist, entrepreneur, and accomplished painter. (All of the essays are also available on his website) He makes a lot of great points about economics, entrepreneurship, design, and society. He also rants ad nauseum about his belief that LISP is the best programming language ever.

Hackers and Painters

One of my big take-aways from this book are that to be successful in a tech startup you must work very hard, and make a product that is beautifully designed and loved by users. Furthermore, you must continue working hard and improving constantly or you’ll get squashed by big competitors. If you can do this, then Graham claims success is inevitable.

Practical Magic

This weekend I finished reading a book that had been on my “to read” list for *years.* This is a book written by my father in 1980 three years before I was born (and again in 2003). The book, Practical Magic, is not about wizardry or any other kind of Harry-Potter magic. It is instead about some fantastic methods and results in doing brief therapy. My take away though, was on how directed attention to people’s communication methods and your own can be very important.The book talks in depth about peoples’ sensory representation systems (auditory, visual, kinesthetic). It then teaches how to learn by looking and listening carefully, which one(s) an individual uses. The observation is then made that by understanding how people are repenting the world to themselves you can relate to them on a much more comfortable and profound level. This is a large part of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

The book’s supposed audience is other therapists wishing to use these NLP ideas in any type of therapy, but I think that anybody reading this book could learn something useful. Just days after finishing it I’m finding myself watching eye movements and body language and listening for linguistic queues to help me understand the ways people are experiencing their world.