Steve Jobs’s Tips for Hiring Your A-Team -Jay Elliott

Define the requirements but don’t be rigid.
At first glance, this point will sound painfully obvious. But too often, the person doing the hiring hasn’t given enough thought to defining the need precisely enough. You might be interviewing the perfect person and not realize it. Or the person in charge of filling the position might be looking for the wrong type of candidate. Worse, you run a high risk of hiring the wrong person.

Steve always had a very clear grasp of the need. Yet at the same time, he was not at all rigid about what qualifications he was looking for. Sometimes his choices surprised me, when he saw something in a candidate hardly anyone else would have seen — something that told him, “This is the right person for the job.”

That’s what happened with Susan Kare. At her high school in Pennsylvania, Susan had known Andy Hertzfeld, who would become one of the early Mac team members. Steve was captivated by the “graphical user interface” he had seen at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, which used icons on the screen to make routine operations obvious and easy; you use such an icon every time you drag something to the trashcan symbol.

Who was going to dream up those icons, and the other parts of a pleasing and easy-to-use onscreen design? Andy suggested Susan, whom he knew had become an accomplished artist. Almost any other executive in those circumstances would not have agreed to let Susan come in for an interview: She was a creative artist who knew nothing about technology. She had “not qualified” written all over her.

But Steve saw in her a spark, the ability to catch on quickly and the kind of creativity that suggested she would be able to offer the kind of inventive contributions Steve was committed to having. He decided that Susan’s talent, passion and flair were more important than the fact that her background in technology was a big blank. He accepted her as a key part of the Mac team.

Don’t limit your search to the usual methods.
Steve’s accepting invitations to lecture to classes at Stanford University became part of his routine. The students considered it a rare privilege to be able to discuss real-life business problems with an entrepreneur whose start-up company was already in the forefront of the new industry of personal computers. But it was a two-way street. Steve felt inspired and energized by the students. And everywhere he went, he had his antennae up to find likely candidates for the Macintosh group.

Mike Murray was a 20-something MBA student at one of those sessions. Steve spoke plainly about Apple and how we were trying to change the world with personal computers. That was all Mike needed to hear; he wanted to be part of it. Steve was impressed, and Mike was given the job of heading up the marketing group for the Mac.

Bob Bellville was 21 in the spring of 1981 and about to graduate from Stanford. For some eight years, he had been working at least part time at Xerox. Steve saw that Bob had a deep insight into how to build technology into a total product. Bob also had valuable insight into how a company should operate, which Steve liked. He saw a very smart engineer who had independent thought and technical leadership abilities.

Someone at Stanford gave Steve the name of Mike Boich, a former Stanford undergraduate who had gone on to earn an MBA at Harvard. Steve got in touch with Mike and hired him. It was Mike Boich who tackled one of the toughest challenges facing the Macintosh when it was launched, coining the word “evangelists” for people on the team he helped assemble: Their job was to persuade software developers to create software programs for the Mac, and it proved to be a very successful effort — so crucial that the Macintosh might not have survived without the evangelists.

Talented people know other talented people.
Steve often said, “Make sure you’re hiring only A-players.” Hire a few B-players, he said, and they hire B’s and C’s, and pretty soon the whole operation is going to pot. Obviously not everyone can afford to hire only A-players. So how do you find people who are exceptionally talented and a good fit? One of the greatest sources is your own employees. Really sharp people generally prefer the company of other really sharp people. When you need to hire someone, you ask the people on the team to recommend somebody they admire.

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Tec Update-Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user’s data, software and computation. -From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wow that is confusing, huh? Let me make it simple.  Imagine your PC and all of your mobile devices being in sync—all the time. Imagine being able to access all of your personal data at any given moment. Imagine having the ability to organize and access data from any online source. Imagine being able to share that data—photos, movies, contacts, e-mail, documents, etc.—with your friends, family, and coworkers in an instant. This is what personal cloud computing promises to deliver.

In essence, personal cloud computing means having every piece of data you need for every aspect of your life at your fingertips and ready for use. Data must be mobile, transferable, and instantly accessible. The key to enabling the portable and interactive you is the ability to synch up your data among your devices, as well as access to shared data. Shared data is the data we access online in any number of places, such as social networks, banks, blogs, newsrooms, paid communities, etc.

I hope this clears up any confusion about “The Cloud” and ultimately I think this technology is a great advancement and we will all head towards the cloud eventually.

Here is a great video that explains the cloud also:

5 Tips To Get Your Business Ready For The Holiday Season

The holidays are just around the corner and that means that holiday shoppers are already looking for gifts to buy. So don’t wait any longer to start stocking up on inventory and preparing your holiday promotions.

To help you get started, here are 5 tips to get your business ready for the holiday season:

Tip #1: With the holidays just around the corner, think about offering Free Gift Wrapping on your products as an extra incentive to those holiday shoppers!  Pinterest has all kinds of great wrapping ideas, you can be as extravagant or crafty as you want to be.

Tip #2: Send out an email newsletter to your fans, followers and customers letting them know what’s new and sharing any holiday promotions!  Newsletters are a cost effective way to communicated with your current and potential customers, just make sure you are consistent!

Tip #3: Include a Thank You Note or Holiday Promotion with your customer purchases this month, this will help differentiate you and build your brand loyalty so your customers come back again and again.

Tip #4: See if you can combine any individual products into gift sets for a holiday product line…it’s a great way to attract holiday shoppers and increase your average sale at the same time.

Tip #5: With all the preparation for the holiday season, don’t forget to take a little time for yourself so you don’t get burnt out.

What are you doing to get prepared for the holiday shoppers?

Customer Experience, don’t underestimate it!

I believe there are three ways a company can compete: price, product/service quality and customer experience. You could make more groups, but I think in the end it comes down to those three very important categories.

Competing on price can be tough on the bottom line especially for small businesses, but for companies that do it well (WalMart), it can lead to great financial success. Competing on the quality of our product is necessary, but it can be difficult for us to educate the marketplace on why ours is superior and why that means they should pay more for it. The customer experience, however, is something that we can make uniquely ours. The first two points we are trying to convince the customer why they should pay more for the product or service, but when it comes to the customer experience all we have to do is our job.  Think about how often you chose to do business – or not do business – with a vendor because of your experience with that company.  For example I love going to our local grocery store because I know all the cashiers, I can request the store stocks an item I would buy frequently, and they always answer my questions.  It is the service I get that keeps me going back because I can buy chips anywhere, I just can’t get that extra service with it.

How does a company deliver excellent, sustainable customer experience? I read about a great example recently, the companies name is MarcParcValet. MarcParcValet was recently named by the Washingtonian as a “2011 Best Wedding Vendor” for Valet and Transportation services. Like all the companies founded by Marc Slavin, MarcParcValet embraces the concept of not leaving the customer experience to chance.

Mike Jasser, the vice president of business development, shared a few of the actions and investments the company takes to create excellent, sustained customer experience:

1) Heavy Supervision. A dedicated supervisor and an event manager oversee the success of each event.

2) Recruiting. Applicants are initially processed by an online service called FastRecruiting. If they pass this initial screening, they are given an on-site interview and a driving test (including a manual transmission). After the interview and test, a background check is conducted (criminal record, driving record, references, etc.). If everything checks out, the candidate is sent an offer letter and is scheduled to attend MarcParc University.

3) Training. MarcParcValet has made a significant investment into the development of MarcParc University. An employee’s first day is spent going through four hours of training with a heavy focus on customer service. At the end of the training, the new employee must complete a written exam before he/she can be a concierge valet. Training doesn’t stop there; employees are trained continuously on MarcParcValet’s “people-first” philosophy and are encouraged to achieve “Silver” valet status.

How has it worked for MarcParcValet so far? Besides winning the Washingtonian award, the company provides service to over 1000 events a year, including such prestigious events as the National Gallery of Art’s 2010 Holiday Party. The Gallery praised MarcParcValet for providing their guests with “perfect” service.

What’s the take away? It’s not enough to just talk about how important the customer experience is for your company. You must invest in it.

Have any great examples of excellent, sustained customer service? How about sharing them as a comment below?