Posts Tagged ‘Atlassian’

So-long Cancer Dude

September 4, 2009

It saddens me to bring the news that Jeffrey Walker aka Cancer Dude has lost his final battle against cancer. Jeffrey was my blogging inspiration and mentor. His RadioWalker blog images, humor and personal approach has greatly inspired my blog writing. In many ways he was my blogging Godfather.

Jeffrey Walker
Jeffrey jamming

Simon, my co-founder, and I met Jeffrey in June 2008 at The Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, USA. Even before then Jeffrey commented on my blog. Jeffrey warmly welcomed Simon and I to the Enterprise 2.0 community. In January 2009 when I started to loose the blogging faith and reflected on my first years blogging Jeffrey responded. He said “Be yourself. Let your personality through. Oh, and keep the images. And keep the faith, dude.”

Earlier this year when I heard Jeffrey’s cancer was back for the third time I wrote one of my favorite posts on fear, uncertainty and doubt. Within this post I refer to Jeffrey’s latest battle against cancer. Again, Jeffrey commented so nicely saying “Thanks for the kind thoughts. I really appreciate it. I am doing well.”

I did not know Jeffrey particularly well, however I consider him a friend. I found him a very kind, fun loving and passionate man. Jeffrey had a thirst for life and living. When I interviewed Jeffrey last year I saw a man who enjoyed every little experience and everything he saw. Life is so short. Jeffrey’s death is a reminder to us all on how brief our lives are and how we can live our lives. We can choose to live like Jeffrey with “zest and  passion” as his family said.

Jeffrey’s last words to me were “Live Strong”. It seems to me that Jeffrey burned so very brightly and its always better to burn brightly than fade away.

So-long Cancer Dude!!

Inside Dragons’ Den & Rachel Elnaugh startup lessons

March 24, 2009

Rachel Elnaugh of Red Letter Days and Dragon’s Den fame spoke last week of her Den and startup experiences. Rachel now mentors startup founders. Rachel said ‘99% of all Dragon’s Den footage ended up on the cutting room floor’ and only the “bitchy” comments make it to the final cut. Dragon’s Den is great entertainment but it does have its darker side.


Rachel confirmed my long held view that Dragons’ Den is not how real business funding is done. The show producers deliberately put many unsuitable candidates in front of the investors to provoke and maximize emotional responses on both sides. This makes for exciting entertainment but is frequently at the expense of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur’s often become the laughing stock. Some of the entrepreneurs are naive. Some are foolish. Many of them are unprepared but they’ve all taken a significant risk to start their own business. We now live in a time when our economy needs young fresh businesses the most. So lets celebrate entrepreneurship and give them a helping hand.

In the past I’ve heard negative comments questioning Rachel’s success. I even heard some of these after Rachel’s talk. From my experience of interviewing and working for entrepreneurs there is often more to learn from failure than success. Yes, Rachel did fail after having a big success, however she has not quit. More importantly she has continued to learn from her experiences. This has enabled her to change her focus. I think there is much to learn from Rachel’s 16 points on starting and running a startup:

  1. You need the ability to overcome constant knock backs – It can be an emotional roller coaster of a ride. You have to pick yourself up and keep running. Good things can come from bad situations. My startup was badly let down by a freelancer last week but in the end we found someone even better.
  2. Think BIG – Jim Connolly posted ‘6 words to transform your results!’ - “Start with the end in mind.”. This is not a new idea – Laurence J. Peter said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
  3. Have a killer idea – Hummm.. difficult one. Innovation is not easy. A great way to look at the Innovation challenge: Tyler Durden’s 8 rules of Innovation. We’ve taken a long route to come up with our product idea and that’s only the start.
  4. Your first/fast decision if often the best one – I agree but also some thought and analysis is always useful.
  5. You will go through a ‘Dark period’ (the ‘pit‘) - When the knock backs get too hard or they come too often you may loose all hope. Keep the faith and keep believing as this entrepreneur did.
  6. Yours sales will be half your forecast and costs will be double – I’ve heard variation on this from 2.5 to 4 times cost multipliers. Oh dear!
  7. Pay for marketing help – Good idea if you can afford it or you don’t have the skills.
  8. A good sales model should be effortless – Sounds like a dream. ‘Pinch me quick!
  9. PR & Word of mouth marketing is vital – Absolutely number one in the new open web world
  10. It’s dangerous when you win business awards. The ego rules. – I’ve also heard this before. Good advice.
  11. Keep the company lean – A lean mean fighting machine :)
  12. Get proper funding if your going to grow your company – Not aways the case. Atlassian is a good home grown example
  13. Believe in yourself – But don’t forget the people around you
  14. Know the numbers – A very important point which the Dragons’ always expect entrepreneurs to have
  15. Have absolute persistence and determination – For me its back to Jim’s point “Start with the end in mind“, then you have something to aim for
  16. Take responsibility (don’t blame others)A true leaders quality

I enjoyed Rachel’s talk. She showed openness, commitment to business ethics and reflective learning. Many of Rachel’s points are obvious but as I’ve said many times over the last three years the ‘obvious is all around us, but it’s hard to follow’. There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path’.


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