New Years Resolution: Get More Out of Your Tech

My good buddy Nathan Whipple, and I were talking on New Year’s Eve about how wide a spectrum exists in terms of being “tech savvy.”

Tech savvy can mean a lot – but we were talking about how well people utilize the power of the hardware and software they use everyday. For example, the general population – of which the cutting-edge-tech-nerds are a sliver – have smartphones, use gmail, find quick facts online, and collect digital media.

However, I have all of my contacts synced across all of my devices and gmail account, important files saved in the cloud, digital media available on my HDTV, sleep easy when a big website gets hacked, and can keep up with the cool kids while chatting about the latest hot app. Meanwhile, my parents and most of my friends tend to use their smartphones pretty much as they used their cell phone 5 years ago, would be lost if not for Verizon’s contact transfer service, have overflowing disorganized gmail inboxes, can’t play their media across devices, and confusingly brag that they don’t “get it” in regards to buzzworthy apps and websites.

Key Mindsets to Realize the Benefits of Your Technology

After that chat with Nathan, I decided that one of my resolutions for 2013 would be to help people close to me get more out of tech. In my opinion it all comes down to 2 key mindsets:

  1. The super early adopters are the power users. They sort out what is useful and valuable from what is just chaff or a fleeting fad, and they’re generally real good at it. They are trustworthy.
  2. An upfront investment will yield a fast and huge return in benefits. Usually this means taking some time to identify and set up the features available beyond the core basic set-up. But, it is indeed an upfront investment.

First Steps to Move From Tech Average to Tech Savvy

I recommend you do these in the following order, and commit to sticking with it!

  1. Secure your online accounts! If you know the password for any of your website logins, you’re doing it wrong. Even worse, if you are using the same couple passwords for every site, you’re asking for a major nightmare of identity theft. Use LastPass, and read this LifeHacker article for some honest, smart, simple explanation. Costs: Make no mistake, this will take a pretty serious upfront effort to change your old crappy passwords to secure ones, and to get used to using LastPass to handle your logins. Benefits: You are VERY secure, and can rest easy as websites announce that they have been hacked.
  2. Use Gmail (seriously – if you’re still on Hotmail or Yahoo, welcome to the 90’s – time to move to gmail). And use it effectively. First, unsubscribe to mailing lists that aren’t worth your time. Second, follow this article to set up labels and filters. Then get to know the Inbox Zero methodology and USE IT. Costs: Unsubscribing and setting up filters are EASY! Transitioning to Inbox Zero takes very little effort but usually will be a few weeks in transition. Benefits: You’ll never stress about email again!
  3. Sync your whole Gmail account to your smartphone – not just your email. Gmail provides excellent email, but their contact manager and calendar system can save you major headaches of lost contact information or scattered calendar items. Start here.

Those are the first three steps that I would take. Each of those have a few layers of potential, so keep an eye out for a more detailed post about them in the future. Good luck!

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Rick Maher’s Professional Notes Reset

Yikes – It’s been far too long between updates on this site. My sincere apologies for that.

It’s 2013 and I’m ready to get back to it this year, but I’m hoping to slightly change the tone.

The Old Rick Maher .info

The original purpose of this site was to grab search results for Rick Maher – my name. As it turns out, there are a few Rick Maher’s kicking around and I’d like to make sure that I’m not misrepresented.

The New Rick Maher .info

From here on, the primary purpose of this site will be to add value to you readers! …Assuming of course that you readers are interested professionally in similar topics as I am. For example, I’ll try to provide content, ideas, links, and opinions on healthcare innovation, operations management, entrepreneurship, tech, business strategies, personal productivity, and so on…

Onward!

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Rick Maher – Startup Business Founder – To Be

A couple months ago, I left my stable, high paying, highly engaging job as a management consultant to start my own business.

Why Leave A Perfectly Good Job?

I’ve been asked over and over, why would I want to leave my job… “especially in this economy.” Two reasons:

  1. I loved my job and my employer, but I feel I can make a greater impact on the world by creating something new
  2. I have confidence in the risk / reward bet that I am making

What Business Are You Starting?

It’s funny how curious people are about what I am going to do next. It’s even funnier how confused people are when I tell them that I have no freaking clue.

When I quit my job I did have a clue – I planned to start an online business improvement program (to over-simplify). In fact, my business partner and I spent lots of time working through this concept. But ultimately we decided to put it on pause for two reasons:

  1. We weren’t passionate about it
  2. We had some significant questions of the concept’s potential to “go gangbusters”

So WTF Are You Going To Do?

I’m going to go through a series of steps that I believe are far more logical of a process than the process most commonly assumed when entrepreneurs try to startup!

1. Determine my passion

Before I do anything else, I’m going to spend some time deciding exactly what I really care about. Maybe it will be a particular industry (hospitals come to mind). Maybe it will be a particular business model (software vs service vs retail…). Or maybe it will be something else …

What I know for sure is that I’m going to pick something that I can get really excited about spending at least the next few years of my life on.

2. Hypothesize some opportunities, and research them by talking to people

It’s been written that successful businesses “solve problems,” but being the optimist that I am, I’ll aim to “address an opportunity.” Once I’ve narrowed in on a passion, I’ll try to identify some opportunities that I can work to solve. And once I’ve got a decent list of potential opportunities, I’ll learn which ones are most pressing and why by talking to people who know them best. I imagine this will be the hard part.  I’ll have to harass my network for insights, and even tougher – meet people that I don’t know and convince them to tell me about all of their problems.

3. Develop some potential solutions using Lean Startup methodology

After I have a good grasp of opportunities that exist and are in need of a solution according to people who know, I’ll start to hash out some ideas of how I would address the opportunities. This part might be tough too. I imagine that my business will include some sort of software or tech product, but I’m not a software programmer or an adept engineer. To avoid pitfalls here, I’ll keep things conceptual at first and spend some time seeing if potential customers are interested in the concept.

I learned this approach after reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. While I was reading the book, I understood the book’s content to be focused on product development, but as I’m writing this I’m wondering if Mr. Ries was thinking more generally about this whole process of starting not with a pre-conceived business idea, but rather with a general area of focus and working towards hypotheses as in steps 1 and 2 above… Cool.

4. Outline a potential business model using Business Model Generation methodology

In tandem with developing and testing potential solutions I’ll be considering how I might structure a business model so as to optimize the product and market fit for a successful business. What I’m trying to say here, is that I’ll consider things like customer segments, my best value proposition, cost structures, revenue models and the like.

This approach is from another recent favorite book – Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder. The essence of Business Model Generation is that while Michael Porter’s assertion that businesses must compete using a strategy of either Market Segmentation, Product Differentiation, or Cost Leadership is still true, a business can achieve or maximize the benefits of any of those strategies by tailoring it’s full business model to match the needs of the market which it serves.

Obviously building a business model won’t be easy, but I’m hoping that I have an advantage here based on my 6years of management consulting and opportunity to work with many different business models from the inside. Exciting!

 5. Finally launch the business!

Five steps and I’ll have a business – seems simple as I type this. Maybe all those consulting presentations where I’ve illustrated paths to solutions to complex business problems in short practical steps has gone to my head.

Five steps or five-thousand, with a tailored business model in mind, positively reviewed solution concept in mind, thorough opportunity defined, and passion at my back, I’ll launch my startup business.

I’ll try to keep my progress up to date here, but look forward to my frantic calls in the middle of the night begging you to be my first user, first customer, first investor / adviser, and my first employee!

Thanks for reading, Rick

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ASU Supply Chain Program Notoriety

I just came across the video below lauding the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and in particular the Supply Chain Management program. I happen to have a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management from this very program. Of course it is good to hear that the program is maintaining it’s top rankings that existed while I was in school!

I’m also happy, and not in the slightest concern to be going against the trend, that top B-Schools admittance rates are nudging up a tad – I’ll be applying in the next few weeks.

If you’re like most and think “supply chain management” sounds like some corporate mumbo-jumbo, click the link below to read a little more and see some quick clear videos on what it means.

[click to continue…]

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Meet Me At MIX – Management Innovation eXchange

If you want to be up on the latest in management trends and buzz, the place to be is at MIX, Gary Hamel’s latest website – a derivation from MLab I think. For those not aware of who Gary Hamel is, think modern day Drucker.

MIX stands for Management Innovation eXchange, and the website is pretty quickly building up a lot of good management content.

The premise of the site is that management in its current form is getting stale, if not already outright rotten. Taking on the 25 Moonshots for Management, MIX aims to leverage its users to collaborate openly on how to reinvent management.

I love the idea of reinventing management. However I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with management is that us management nerds think that every leader in a business needs to be a good manager. What I mean is – when I work with my clients, often they are experts at their craft and captains in their industry, but I show up and immediately try to transform them into good business managers.

I could certainly argue both sides of this concept, but MIX could argue it better! Check it out…

Thanks,

Rick Maher

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