Category Archives: Venture

CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 3

By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Our business culture has evolved and attitudes have re-aligned.  In sharp contrast to the past, creative employees have finally gained the acceptance and respect they deserve for the crucial role they play in organizational success.  The business climate is faster-paced, than ever—rapidly changing, and multicultural.  Staunchly individualistic leaders backed by a computer savvy workforce characterize our high tech companies, and increasingly, our entrepreneurial ventures.  It is important to appreciate that sequential charts of managerial jargon are no longer well received.  Such things impose uniformity, and uniformity is anathema to today’s creative workforce.  Under these circumstances, it is extremely challenging to manage product design using yesterday’s managerial paradigms.

This is the third of four installments.  We’ve explored the history and current state of modern management philosophy.  Now, we will introduce an entirely new mode of thought—the Controlled Design Management Model.

To be meaningful in today’s culture, any shift in management strategy must meet certain critical standards.  It must be intuitive, adaptable, focused, practical, and measurable.  These are the goals we will set out to achieve.

  • Intuitive and Adaptable – No rigid chart or schematic to implement.
  • Focused – A practical structure, which zeros in on workflow.
  • Practical – Departments will implement the model themselves.
  • Measurable – Management can track progress.

In order to achieve these goals, we must build self-optimization into the product cycle and to meet that end, we base our new thinking on Control Systems Theory, as used in such places as computerized system controls and inertial navigation systems.  We call it the Controlled Design Management Model.  For the purposes of this paper, we will circumvent the complex mathematics of Control Theory and present the ideas in an intuitive format, reducing key concepts to graphical form.

Controlled System

At its most basic form, a Controlled System is a process by which an objective or Input generates an outcome or Desired Output.  Suppose, for example, that the system is a bicycle factory and we are trying to build a super bicycle.  If the factory, as a system, behaves appropriately, then the factory will output the desired output – a super bicycle.  If, on the other hand, the factory does not operate appropriately, the output will be an undesired outcome – perhaps a tricycle.  It will be useful to reduce this to graphical form.  (See Figures 3a and 3b.)

Figure 3a – Controlled System

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Figure 3b – Uncontrolled System

This may seem rather simplistic, so let’s build on it.  To make the system self-optimizing, we add a feedback loop to the above diagram. (See Figure 4.)  When the desired outcome becomes equal to the desired objective, then the error (or difference between objective and outcome) will be zero.  Else, corrections are made (called “pivoting” in Lean Theory) until we eventually arrive at the MVP or initial product deployment. 

Figure 4 – Simple self-optimizing Controlled System

Let’s see what this elementary flow chart accomplishes.  We plot the input and output of the above system, where Time is the X-axis and Magnitude is the Y-axis and produce a graph.  The process swings back and forth until it navigates the optimal path.  (See Figure 5.  Note the similarity to an internal navigation system.)

Figure 5 – Self-optimization through a feedback loop

From Figure 5, we surmise that the output reaches steady state, at t(1) which is when the desired objective is equal to the desired outcome, rendering the error equal to zero.  The behavior of the output prior to reaching t(1) is called the transient response and beyond t(1) is called the steady state response.

  • Transient Response is composed of idea, concept, feasibility, and definition (from the Traditional Model).
  • Steady State Response is composed of Deployment, Growth, and Maturity (from the Traditional Model) and the release of the Minimum Viable Product or MVP (from the Lean Model).

Transient Response relates to the problems of developing a product or process.  It might look like the following example:  How can we make an elevator reach the twelfth floor more quickly?  In actual practice, it may stop at any number of floors on the way, and even overshoot floor twelve before coming back to open the doors for you. Any number of solutions may be proposed.  We examine goals, stretch technology, and make tradeoffs.

Steady State Response deals with entirely different concerns.  The MVP of an optimized elevator schedule is ready to launch.  How can we standardize, market, deploy, and improve the new design or schedule?

Can we control how fast the outcome will reach its objective?  The answer is yes.  Goldman, Shieh, and Chen proved this many years ago by using the Second Cauer Form of continued fractions expansion.4, 5  Let’s look at it in graphical form.  By applying a few minor modifications to Figure 4, we have a self-optimizing module:

Figure 6 – Controlled Design Management Model

Figure 6 differentiates Transient from Steady State responses and adds an Internal Disturbance, representing noise due to poor product design, faulty test equipment, poor engineering, and other considerations. The optimization process reduces such noise closer and closer to zero via the process of a feedback loop.  Mathematically speaking, this is the same controlled system as in Figure 3(a), but this representation depicts the separate influences of the transient and steady state responses.

A New Perspective

What advantages does the Controlled Design management Model offer over the Lean and Traditional Models? The first is simply knowing which phase of the model contributes to the transient portion—idea, concept, feasibility, development—and which phase contributes to the steady-state portion—final deployment, growth and maturity of the design. For management, this is critical.

  • By controlling the part of development that contributes to the transient response, management can optimize the rise time and minimize time to deployment.
  • By controlling the factors that contribute to the steady state response, management can optimize the deployment, growth, and maturity of the product.

A mid to large organization includes many and varied departments through which product development flows from idea generation to maturity. What are some of the advantages to our new model?

  • By describing our model in the language of the digital age, each individual department can easily put it into practice.
  • Each department is responsible ONLY for what it can control. Each is given a unique decision input and desired output.
  • Each department can optimize its output using the model. This, in turn, yields an optimized organization.  An optimized organization is, quite simply, the sum of the optimized departments.

Next, we’ll demonstrate these ideas with a practical example.

Coming next: Part 4

 Go back to PART 1

 Download full paper (PDF)

.

References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors.   Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012)  https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 2

by Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

In the early 2000s, after the internet bubble burst, it became abundantly clear that the US needed a new competitive edge.  A product management philosophy took hold, called Lean—Lean Development, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Planning, Lean Sigma, Lean Start-up. 2  Lean is a management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise, which does not directly add value to the final objective, as superfluous—be it product development, customer service, or for that matter, the entire enterprise.  It examines all processes and eliminates the ones that do not add value to the end objective.   Lean is an attempted departure from the traditional way of doing business.  It found favor in the US and, to one extent or another, became a dominant model.  This is the second installment of a four-part article about managing creative enterprises. 

Lean

In Lean Management, a project is broken into two phases.  Phase 1 – Stealth Mode – represents the alpha version of a product.  The nascent prototype is tested in the internal company environment.  Further development leads to a beta version for which certain companies, by invitation, test the product before release to manufacturing.  Phase 2 – Market Mode – represents the completion, approval, and release of an MVP—minimum viable product—which then goes through a correction phase that includes bug fixing.  At the same time, a company will test features. This includes, by implication, changes to marketing plans, sales strategies, etc. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2 – Lean Development Mode

The Lean Model does a superb job of describing the modern way of thinking about the product cycle, but the same thinking that governs the Traditional Model drives it.  As before, it finds expression as a high-level sequence.  It provides a manager no road map to improve a situation, and instead depends entirely on personal talent and resourcefulness to win the day.

Traditional vs. Lean

Lean presents certain points of emphasis that distinguish it, such as the MVP, but the irony is that when we compare the Lean Model to the Traditional Model, we find that they are basically the same.

  • Idea, Concept and Feasibility” in the Traditional Model are no different from “Objectives, Ideation, Definitions, and Mockups” in the Lean Model.
  • “Preliminary Business Case, Definition, and Final Business Case” in the Traditional Model are not any different from “Proof of Concept and Alpha Version” in the Lean Model.
  • “Development” and “Deployment” in the Traditional Model is the same as the “MVP and Releases X” in the Lean Model.
  • “Initial Growth” in the Traditional Model is the same as “Release 2.0 and Releases 2.X” in the Lean Model.
  • “Maturity” in the Traditional Model is no different from “Release 3.0 and Releases 3.X” in the Lean Model.

Obviously we could point out more similarities and the reader may ask what we have gained out of the so call Lean Model.  The answer is actually quite profound: A significantly different perspective on the same thing. 

New management models may induce radical change in various ways, but companies will always consist of people, their ideas, and a structure.  A commercial concern can be described as the organized creation and distribution of products and services.  That probably will not change.  So we are dealing with the same basic material, but the point of view and emphasis makes the difference between one model and the next.  The change in perspective can be highly valuable and the ramifications extreme.  Compare for a moment some of what has already been discussed:  Japan’s renaissance in the 1980s, JIT, Lean, and the Hollow Corporation.  But we can do better.

The Current Environment

Today, automation is reversing the problem of cheap overseas labor and increasingly bringing manufacturing back to our shores.  We are only at the beginning of this new cycle.  Meanwhile, a new entrepreneurial economy is bursting forth.  Design is moving to center stage.  Our business culture has evolved and attitudes have re-aligned.  In sharp contrast to the past, creative employees have finally gained the acceptance and respect they deserve for the crucial role they play in organizational success.  The business climate is faster-paced, than ever—rapidly changing, and multicultural.  Staunchly individualistic leaders backed by a computer savvy workforce characterize our high tech companies, and increasingly, our entrepreneurial ventures.  It is important to appreciate that sequential charts of managerial jargon are no longer well received.  Such things impose uniformity, and uniformity is anathema to today’s creative workforce.  Under these circumstances, it is extremely challenging to manage product design using yesterday’s managerial paradigms.

Along with previous models, Lean has proven its worth.  But once again, current conditions call for an entirely new point of view—a clear and simple model that works with creative organizations that have no patience with past modes of operation—a model that adapts to most every organization regardless of mission and organizational structure.  We all seek efficiency and excellence in our design and manufacturing processes, and we emphasize these objectives more than we do any others.  Today, for the release of any complex product, we need a new model that optimizes and controls efficiency and excellence.

The Controlled Design Management Model

At their root, all the models that have gone before are based on the same kind of thinking—the placing of categories in the right sequence.  Now we will come at the problem from with a different set of criteria and a different mode of thought.  We will lay aside any disputes between high-level models, and in fact adapt to most any sequential life cycle that an organization embraces.

The next article will describe this radically new way to manage creative organizations.

Continue to PART 3

Go back to PART 1

Download full paper (PDF)

.

References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].

Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.

  1. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  2. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors.   Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  3. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  4. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  5. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012)  https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 1

By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Today’s business culture is more strongly creative and entrepreneurial than at any time in history, posing new organizational opportunities and challenges.  That calls for a new way to think about and implement design management.  Using the language of the digital age, this article introduces a new perspective, applying a radically different technique to the management of the creative process, and then demonstrates an intuitive working model that functions in any modern organization.  This is the first installment of a four-part article. 

Current Management Models

Management models have undergone disruptive changes over the years.  The early 1980s was a time when Japanese productivity achieved the highest level anywhere in the world. At that time, productivity had fallen in the USA, and many felt that America could and should learn from Japan.  There was a real call to break from the Traditional Model of product management.

Curiously, the Japanese renaissance was, in large part, the product of an American—the pioneer W. Edwards Deming.  He espoused high product quality coupled with a humane approach to managing people.  He laid out a complex set of principles to realize those ideals.  Deming built his approach on different assumptions than the Traditional Model.  I had the pleasure of working at a company founded on his principles.  This was rare in the USA, but the Japanese implemented his theories with fervor.  Much can be said about the details, but when you boil it down to its simplest terms, Japanese success was actually based on three broad factors:

  • A focus on a strong corporate structure
  • Long-range staff development
  • Consensus decision-making

These factors led to lower turnover, higher job commitment, and higher productivity.  This initiative was then adapted for use in the USA by William Ouchi and became known as Theory Z.1   For a time, Eli Lilly, Rockwell International, General Motors, Westinghouse and many other large corporations embraced this new dogma.

But this new paradigm clashed with the ideas of western management and the expectations of an American workforce.  Theory Z didn’t gain lasting traction in America, where the Traditional Model continued to dominate.  Why the cultural clash? It has to do with the way we think—more particularly, the way in which we picture or imagine a process.  Figure 1 lays out the Traditional Model of product management in graphical form:

Figure 1 – Traditional Product Management Model

The Traditional Model can be expressed as a high-level sequence and it is, quite simply, one specific mode of thought.  To its credit, it does an excellent job of defining a product life cycle.  Everything is placed neatly in a row.  There is a defined beginning and end.  But the weakness of this model slows many organizations that use it and it does nothing to improve or optimize a process.  The inherent top-down mode of thought is a limiting factor, and is also limiting to the models that grew out of it or rose up in reaction to it.

New Paradigms

Nowhere was the contrast with Japan greater than in automobile manufacture.  Japan, long known for its cheap, low-quality vehicles and other junk, began to crank out the best-made cars, electronics, and other products in the world.  Meanwhile, Detroit remained mired in the concept of planned obsolescence.  Consumers took notice and they voted with their wallets.

Then Toyota rolled out Just-in-Time Manufacturing (JIT) as a way of reducing the cost of inventory.  Among other changes, JIT heightened the awareness of design management itself.  Eventually America had to adjust if it was to compete with the Japanese, and the resulting chaos changed the way we do business today.  Companies began to adopt JIT, and increasingly moved toward a new ideal—the Hollow Corporation—also known as the Virtual Business.6

At its extreme, the Hollow Corporation is an organization stripped of almost every function.  Brand means everything and the company makes nothing.  Everything is measured in money, and profit is the only goal.  A simple example of a hollow corporation is an American clothing designer taking on a European-sounding name and making designer clothing in China for sale to the world.  As this trend grew, companies outsourced more and more functions.  This intensified the importance of brand marketing and marketing for globalization.  While this was going on, America was busy transforming itself into a service economy.

Globalization Matures

But industry discovered that it was not only possible but also cheaper to manufacture products overseas and ship them back to US shores.  Whole industries moved their factories offshore—especially to China.  The entire textile industry left.  Tool and dye left.  Electronics manufacture left.  With time, others followed, including crucial smokestack industries such as steel.

The next logical step was to offshore project management and product development.  Creative and physical design had always been a key competitive advantage in the USA.  Its business world smugly expected it to remain so.  But due to the ability to collaborate across the internet, actual design began to take place at multiple locations across the globe, with products for sale to the world—and with great success.

These trends were not without intriguing and sometimes counterintuitive aspects.  Businesses made adjustments.

  • Many US electric generation utilities sold off their physical power plants in search of greater profits as distribution networks.
  • Fluctuation in the currency market led Japanese automobile manufacturers set up production facilities in the USA, closer to the end consumer and using American workers—and still, American manufacturers struggled to compete with them.
  • US automobile manufacturers and other industries abandoned the policy of planned obsolescence and over time learned the new culture of quality.
  • South Korea began to design and manufacture high-quality goods—from pianos to automobiles to mobile phones.
  • China began outsourcing to the Vietnam and other third world countries in search of even cheaper labor.

Lean

In the early 2000s, after the internet bubble burst, it became abundantly clear that the US needed a new competitive edge.  A product management philosophy took hold, called Lean—Lean Development, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Planning, Lean Sigma, Lean Start-up. 2  Lean is a management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise, which does not directly add value to the final objective, as superfluous—be it product development, customer service, or for that matter, the entire enterprise.  It examines all processes and eliminates the ones that do not add value to the end objective.   Lean is an attempted departure from the traditional way of doing business.  It found favor in the US and, to one extent or another, became a dominant model.

The next article will compare and assess Lean in light of previous models.  Then we will introduce an entirely new way to manage creative enterprises.

GO TO PART 2 – LEAN

Download full paper (PDF)

.References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors. Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012) https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE BAG

John Jonelis

I’ve asked it before, “The way you conduct business—is it meaningful to those left behind?”  Is it? 

I’m here at the Levy Entrepreneurship Group, talking with some of the most brilliant business minds in Chicago.  This group’s been meeting for over 60 years.  It’s the genius of Joe Levy, the prolific entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist—the son of a south Michigan Ave car dealer.  Joe was an endless entrepreneur—constantly learning, constantly experimenting—the quintessential gentleman who gave everybody an at-bat—who spoke quietly but directly and told the truth as he saw it.  He pushed people off the bag“You’re lousy at this.  What are you good at?  Contribute.  Help somebody.”  People found inspiration and hope.  Never a disparaging word about Joe.  “If you don’t have a satisfied customer, you’re compromising your future.”  He was the original automobile mega dealer, angel investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.  “God put me on this earth to produce, not to consume.”  Joe Levy is dead at 92.

 

Joe Levy by Anne Elisabeth Hogh

Now I’m sitting with his group—face to face with his family.  We hope to make them understand why we all loved our Saturday morning meetings—why Joe loved them.  The moderator opens the meeting:  “Welcome to the special clubhouse we’re in.  This is a magical place.”  Then we each take turns telling stories to the family:

The Levy Group by Joel Berman

Entrepreneurship Stories

  • Joe told me, “Take your foot off the bag.” It was a constant voice in my head.  Every time I thought, “Should I start this business that I really don’t know much about?” I’d hear that phrase, “Take your foot off the bag.” Sometimes I might take it off a little bit too much.  But I would never be able to start what I’ve done multiple times without that voice in my head and without the support I’ve had from the group.

Take your foot off the bag

  • Joe and I were at the Bryn Mawr Country Club having lunch. Outside the window was this pond with two swans and during the meal, he made a point of the swans, saying, “Aren’t those swans beautiful?”  I said yeah.  Then he did it a second time.  And a third time.  After the meal, we took a walk right up to that pond.  And he said it a fourth time, “Aren’t those swans beautiful?”  I’m like, “Yeah Joe, they are, but what’s your point?”  He said, “Those swans are rental swans.  They’re a business.  I know this guy.  He rents them to all these country clubs.  It’s a beautiful business.”  So the guy puts them out in the spring and he picks them up in the fall and he takes them somewhere to feed them all winter and breed, and then he brings them back again.  It’s got no competition.  Who even would know it exists?  But his point was not only that it was a great business—it’s that it was a simple business in a niche.
  • When Joe found out that I was running my business from my home, he said, “No, you can’t do that.” He said the building next door was empty. He had bought it to store the Levy Center furniture, so we moved in.  That was a big help for us.  A year later, he sat me down.  He said, “Now buy the building.”  The timing was right, so we did.
  • This is the honorary Joe Levy tie. They named a street after him in Evanston where the dealership was.  Following the street dedication, we got ties, and no better day to wear it than today.

The Joe Levy Way Tie – Photo by Rachel Kaberon

  • I recall when they named the street after him. As usual, everybody gave elevator pitches at the start of the meeting.  When it was time for Joe’s introduction, he said, “I’m Joe Levy and now I’m a street.”
  • Twenty years ago Joe wrote a play about internet funerals called Cyber Mourning. It was at the Northlight playhouse in Skokie.
  • When I first met Joe, he asked me what I wanted from him. I knew he had so much to offer a guy like me—a poor immigrant from Greece.  Knowing that people always ask Joe for investment, I thought about his question for a second or so and responded, “Your friendship.”  What I received in return was much more than I could have imagined or hoped for.  He became a friend and a mentor—a man who could address any business issue, and some personal ones as well.  The other thing that we talked about was Joe’s faith—both of our faiths.
  • Not only did Joe teach us the art of being a gentleman—which is very, very hard to do—but he also taught us that entrepreneurship is endless. We took Joe’s words of wisdom, and put them in a placard.”

Plaque presented to the family – Photo by Rachel Kaberon

 The Levy Group

  • The group to me was a way to get working on Saturday without working on Saturday—to get my mind working as an entrepreneur.
  • I remember just 20 years ago coming to the Levy Group and feeling like it was a continuing business education. I call each Saturday a class.  In those classes we talked about business but I also learned about life, loving, giving, and family, and sometimes even death.
  • The ultimate benefit of this group was becoming a ‘Friend of Joe.’ That meant you were part of a group that spanned many a decade and you became aware of the wisdom that came from the experiences shared through the years.
  • I’m having lunch with Joe one day and make a comment to him. And he looks back at me and says, “Do you have a twin brother?”  So I say, “No Joe. Why do you think I have a twin brother?”  He looks at me and says, “Because no one person could be that f’n stupid.”  I use that line all the time today.

Joe in his Flintmobile – Joe Levy Collection

Joe’s Automobiles

  • One Saturday, he brought me into the garage to see his Flintmobile. A full size Flintmobile!
  • He was first at multi-dealerships. Back when Joe was in car dealership, he had eighteen.  People have one, maybe two.  He was the first one to have many.  At one time, he owned 18 dealerships.
  • Car dealerships wouldn’t give a woman the time of day, even if she was with her husband. If she wasn’t with her husband, they took total advantage of her.  Not Joe.  Joe was courteous at all times, and he built an incredible business.  He became the largest Buick dealer in the world.
  • Joe hired a clown for the dealership to entertain the kids. The clown also spied on the spouse.  What she wanted was crucial to the deal.
  • When Buick sold a model called the Wildcat, Joe made sure the Northwestern coaches all drove them.

Joe Levy – Photo by Nathan Mandell

Life

  • One day Joe heard on the radio that they were going to auction off a rare stamp in New York. He gets on a plane, goes to New York, buys the stamp, and before he gets on the plane to come back home, he called Carol and said, “Hey, I’m gonna be late for dinner.”
  • The first thing that will come to my mind when I’m at the racetrack or around horses is Joe Levy. He used to take us there as kids.  He gave us each an envelope with Win, Place, and Show for every single horse.  That was one of Joe’s ways of making sure everybody was a winner.
  • At my daughter’s wedding, my father-in-law took a scissors and snipped away Joe’s tie. Joe thought a moment, then went over and he cut my father-in-law’s tie off.  It was like a Laurel and Hardy thing.  So there they were, the whole evening, with these ties that looked sort of like bow ties without the bows.
  • We had a horse race in the parking lot that included questions about Joe that only the regular group could answer. We had them on silks—sewn numbers on the horses.
  • He gave me an appreciation that family was not just flesh and blood, and giving was not all about money. Time and caring in helping others were way more important in your life, in your learning.
  • Most of the people in cognitive behavior haven’t caught on yet. And all these theorists—they just haven’t caught on to how important kindness and helping and giving are to being able to be an entrepreneur.
  • And if I look back at Joe, what I think about is what he left behind, and that is teaching people how to be good human beings.
  • My dad loved this group. This group was his favorite thing, I think.  All week he looked forward to it—and just so proud of where everybody had come from and gone to.  So, I just—I don’t know what to say—this is just so moving.  So thanks, everybody.

So I ask you, “The way Joe conducted business—is it meaningful to those left behind?” 

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

written by John Bueter, 

comments by John Jonelis

Wow!  Who can resist this?  Take a look-see at this invitation from John Bueter, famous fly fishing personality. 

I’ve printed the letter below along with recent local photos so you can see what’s going on over there.  This is the perfect getaway for a Chicago entrepreneur! Check it out:

The ONE, The ORIGINAL, The ONLY 

SALMON CAMP ‘18

A Tradition for 28 Years!

September 28-30

Well, kids, it’s THAT time of year again!  The excitement of the season is overwhelming, as the River comes alive with HUGE fish. Our target species is the mighty King Salmon in the wild and scenic Pere Marquette River.  This area is FLY RODS ONLY.  No spinning gear.  No snagging.  No treble hooks welded to spark plugs.

Last season’s fish weighed in heavier than normal.  This year they’re even LARGER, with documented catches off shore of 40+ pounds!  Bring your big guns, Kids!  We’ll be hosting festivities again at the Bueter Compound.

The 24 hour Campfire tradition continues, providing the backdrop for the usual hijinks, exchange of regional information (mostly lies), recounting of the day’s adventures (again, mostly lies), and permanent cementing of friendships.  Campers are encouraged to use the showers to control the fly, bear, and buzzard problems.

The spirit of mentorism and camaraderie will flourish once again.  Proven fly patterns, proven knots and rigging—all demonstrated.  Maybe some new stuff, too.  Be sure to bring your tying gear—you’ve got things to offer and learn!

We’ve manned the barbeque pit. All the usual suspects will again prepare a super-duper-up-north dinner Saturday night, and a breakfast that will revive the near-dead.

There’s always room for newbies—no matter your level of experience.  Remember the founding concept of Salmon Camp: “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves!”

Lookin’ Forward to fishin’ with y’all !!!

Your Master of Salmon Mayhem,

John Bueter

Is that a compelling invitation or what?  Wanna go?  Well, yeah!  I get to chase 40 lb salmon with a fly rod? Who wouldn’t want a thrill like that?  Let’s go early! 

I particularly like the legal jargon on their “catch and release” form:

“…Illegal substances, firearms, and spinning tackle are not welcome in Camp…Camp “crashers” will be found, drawn and quartered, and their hides nailed to the fence so as to discourage others.  This Camp will go on rain or shine—NO WHINERS.  We encourage good stewardship of our resources, and will not tolerate scofflaws.”

Never fly fished before?  Neither did the gal who caught a 40 lb Chinook last year.  Didn’t stop her.  Oops—guess I just can’t keep a secret. 

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Here’s the place:

  • Bueter’s Salmon Camp 3200 South James Road, north of Baldwin, MI 49304
  • RSVP John or Rhonda Bueter via phone, ‘e’mail, or snail mail, so we don’t run outa bbq sauce & eggs.  Office 231-745-3070, Cell  248-345-1402,  j.bueter@sbcglobal.net , Website www.cloud9baldwin.com
  • Cost for Salmon Camp ’18:   $135

Hey, that’s a bargain!

Pack this stuff:

  • Michigan all-species fishing license
  • Big Dog Fly rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
  • Quality Reel with super-smooth drag
  • Sink-Tip Flyline
  • 12 pound tippet, or higher
  • Lots and Lots of flies (Note: max size #4 single point hook)
  • Waders, Boots, Wading Staff
  • Hook Hone, Nippers, Pliers [Hemostats are worthless here]
  • Big Landing Net (17 inch handle max)
  • Polarized Glasses
  • Flashlight, Lantern, Headlight [Important!]
  • Rain Gear, Appropriate Clothing
  • Tent, Sleeping Gear, Personal Stuff
  • Don’t Forget yer Bubba

Read: ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH,

THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

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 Read: TOO MUCH FUN

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Photo Credits

Various photographers as posted by John Bueter on Facebook, just prior to the event.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Fishing, fly fishing, Heartland Angels, Hyde Park Angels, Impact Engine, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, investor, Kellogg, MIT Enterprise Forum Chicago, MITEF, salmon fishing, Startup, startup company, The City, the great outdoors, vc, Venture, venture capital

NORTH STAR

by John Jonelis

We catch 647 fish here in 4 days.  On average, that’s a pike every 2.8 minutes.  This place is wild, unspoiled, perhaps like this continent a thousand years ago and summer feels like spring.

Huge northern pike.  Gorgeous scenery.  What man can resist a fishing expedition?

I am visiting my favorite startup company—North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba.  It’s a paradise—a northern pike factory in the breathtaking Canadian wilderness.  No roads.  Accessible only by air.  Just one lodge on a 50-mile-long stretch of pure water where God and God alone stocks these hearty fish that grow to such prodigious proportions and feed so ferociously.

Six hundred forty seven fish.  Don’t believe me?  I assure you, we keep an accurate count.  Got to.  Boat bets.  Loop Lonagan and Jim Kren will skin me alive for lying about a thing like that.

On day #2, a pike manages to hit my lure before swallowing its previous meal and yes, I count two fish caught on one cast.  The bite is on!

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Shore Lunch

Every day we pause to catch a few fat walleye and then land our boats at a likely island to participate in a great Canadian custom—shore lunch.  The guide cuts wood, builds a fire, cleans, cooks, and serves the fish.  My favorite restaurant of all time.

So many wonderful ways to cook fresh fish.  Beer batter walleye, honey-garlic walleye, traditional walleye with all the trimmings.  A different dish every day, followed by desert.  If you have not yet experienced this wilderness feast, you are in for a treat!

Nothing tastes better than fresh walleye.  It’s a delicacy elsewhere in the world, but nowhere near as good as walleye up here.  These are fresh from of a cold clean body of water—live until cooked and eaten.  Up here, they grow big and thick, with luscious and flaky meat.  I have room for just one.

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Hunting Pike

We spend our days on these pristine waters in open boats, making long casts with stout rods, our heavy lures retrieved at speed.  Attacks by northern pike are sudden, savage, and frequent, with water churning at line’s end.  To our surprise, walleye also strike our lures with tenacity and vigor.

But on day #3, the air grows unusually warm for this far north, and the bite slows.  I put away my heavy tackle and slip out a fly rod.  We glide into a calm bay, looking for big ones sunning and digesting an afternoon’s feed.  We are hunting them.

My guide spots a monster pike 50 feet away and I cast a 10-inch fly at it.  It refuses my offering and paddles away ever so slowly.  “We’ll find it again!” says my companion.

And we do.  I tie on a bigger fly (it looks more like a mop), cast it past this fish, and draw it into the kill zone, then twitch it to entice the lounging lunker.  As I watch, the big fish gradually turns toward my bait and lazily moves on it.  With great care, enormous jaws close over my lure.  I set the hook hard, feel weight and life at the end of my line, and see the huge pike pull against me.  Fish on!

A shiver runs down my shoulder.  Then the big pike charges our boat and I strip line fast, spilling coils around my feet, trying to keep a load on my rod because any slack and that barbless hook can easily fall from a bony jaw.  The pike continues to charge and swims directly under the boat.  Plunging fly rod into water, I work around the bow.  The pike continues to run in the same direction, taking line at will—line that burns through my grip until it spools off the floor, pulls taught, and tugs at the drag on my primitive reel.  The reel gives me an advantage.

Powerful shakes and malicious tugs, then the pike’s 25 pounds rolls in my leader, but hook holds fast and this northern pike finally goes to bottom, still as rock.  The water is clear in this shallow bay and I see my fish and keep pressure on.

Eventually the big pike concedes, and perhaps more out of curiosity than fatigue comes to our gunnels.  My guide and I both gasp. There’s always something awesome about a thick, powerful fish measuring in the mid 40’s.

We net the pike, snap a quick photo, and the trophy goes right back in the lake to swim away and fight again. I can barely express the draining satisfaction of hunting, battling, and landing a pike this big.  Maybe I’ll catch him again next year.  Then primal shouts, a congratulatory handshake, and I relive the fight in my mind all the many miles back to our lodge.

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Revival

After a hard day fishing, this old man needs food and rest.  Management proves courteous and professional and refuses to let me suffer.  We sit around our beautiful log cabin in blissful comfort, sipping beer and telling stories with suitable embellishments while eating steak, ribs, and other satisfying fare.

Up here, summer nights don’t get entirely dark.  By eight o’clock in the afternoon, we’re playing at the pool table, shuffleboard table, and poker table.  Then we shower under deliciously hot water and sleep soundly under warm quilts, on firm and expansive beds.

On the appointed day, we board our bush plane at the lodge’s private landing strip and fly home for dinner.  If you live in Chicago, a true wilderness isn’t really that far away..

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THE PLACE:

North Star Executive Outpost

http://northstarresort.ca/

Check for a cancellation if you want to book this year.

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VERIFY MY NUMBERS:

Fish frequency calculation:

3 fishermen, 4 days on the water

less 1.5 hours/day for shore lunch

= 30 hours fishing and running around in the boat.

30 hrs / 647 fish = avg 2.8 min per fish caught

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Photography by John Jonelis

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READ “WILDERNESS”

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Canada, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Fishing, fly fishing, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, new companies, pike fishing, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture

CEOs THAT SELL

Why Startup CEOs Still Have to Make Sales Calls

by Howard Tullman

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It’s not your strength, or maybe not even what you enjoy doing. But being there to close the deal isn’t something you can simply hand off to the sales team.

At what point can a CEO turn sales over to professional salespeople?  Before that can happen, the company has to achieve two foundational milestones:

  • You need to know exactly what you’re selling—by doing it over and over again (and not as a one-off).
  • You need to know for certain that others can sell it consistently.

That only comes with the maturity of your product/service.  Until it reaches that point, stay in the field and keep selling.  Your product is still being developed on the fly and continually redesigned/reconfigured to better suit the real requirements and demands of customers.  The fact is, ultimately only you can make the critical design and development decisions and you’ll do a much better job of that if you are hearing it directly from the end users and not from a bunch of whiny salespeople.

I’m seeing more and more startup CEOs who discover way too soon that they don’t like the wear and tear, the travel, and the rejection that are all crucial parts of selling a new product or service.  So they retreat, thinking they can run their businesses while they’re sitting on their butts behind a desk back in the office. That’s not how this game works; that behavior is a formula for failure. You may not be an extrovert.  You may not even know the technology that underlies your business as well as half the other people in the company.  You are, however, the boss and today that fact alone means a lot, at least to the people who make the final purchasing decisions.

Remember—buyers are typically older than you, they grew up in strictly hierarchical systems where titles count, and they need to be made to feel important and respected if they’re gonna sign off on your deal. No offense to any of the members of your team, but customers don’t want to deal with the monkey—they need to see the organ grinder. That’s you. And they want you for all the obvious reasons:

  • People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show up. It’s important.
  • Startup staffs are notoriously scattered and hurried—lacking focus and attention to detail. Customers want to know that you personally are connected, paying attention and directly engaged with their business, their concerns, and their problems.
  • Clients want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Not second hand. They want commitments and assurances from you. Everybody knows that the sales guys will say anything and promise them the world.  They need assurance that you will stand behind your product or service and make good on your promises. The buck always stops with you.

Product Maturity

Once your product/service reaches those critical milestones, it’s time to kick yourself upstairs and focus on other things. I encourage CEOs who find they spend too much effort selling to optimize their time.  I suggest that they find competent sales managers and others who can tee up just the right meetings for them—not opening meetings which are a dime a dozen, but closing meetings where the deals get done.

Finding sales meat-eaters to fill managerial roles isn’t easy; they are the hardest hires for any startup, but it’s absolutely critical to have them onboard if you’re going to build a viable business.

When your startup is hiring talent, you need to avoid certain categories of salespeople. For example, stay away from what I call empire builders.  There’s a whole generation or two of sales management types whose experience comes only from large organizations.  I have found fairly consistently that they are the wrongest guys possible for a startup because they grew up in a system where they measured their value and their success by the sheer number of people they managed rather than the results that those folks delivered. Nothing kills a young business faster than bloat and bureaucracy and having too many sales people sitting on their hands and not selling is the worst kind of poison. So be careful what you wish for and who you hire for this critical job.

There’s no more challenging job than being the CEO. You are responsible for the health of each part of the organization and the trajectory of the entire venture.  Stay in the sales loop until your product/service matures.  Then focus on closing deals.  Customers need you to be there—to say what you’ll do, and do what you say.

 

 Howard Tullman is the CEO of Chicago-based 1871, where 500 digital startups are building their businesses every day. He is also the general managing partner of G2T3V and Chicago High Tech Investors, both early-stage venture funds; a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT Innovation Council and Governor Bruce Rauner’s Innovate Illinois Advisory Council. He is an adviser to many technology businesses and an adjunct professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

@tullman

This article is an excerpt of one that appeared recently in Inc.

Image Credits – Getty Images, MS Office, Howard Tullman

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, new companies, Relationships, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital