Posts made in June 2019

Nobody Wants To Leave Their Baby With A Stranger : The Trust Pact Between Clients & Contractors

Entrepreneurs. CEOs. Mom-preneurs. Dad-preneurs. Artists. Contractors. Whatever title you hold, your brand and business is your baby and no one wants to leave their baby with a stranger. Who is a stranger? A stranger by definition is someone you do not know. A stranger as defined in business is someone who has not proven their worth through work ethic and skills; and that is scary when you are rebranding or getting your business off the ground and they are yelling ‘pick me!’. It is no secret that there are some very crafty scam artist who will display all of their skills and ‘clients’ only for a business owner to discover that they misrepresented themselves. Unfortunately many have been had by a stranger which makes them look at a legitimate business as a stranger. This can cause a lot of tension in a business relationship, because there is no trust for the expert. On the other hand there are many contractors and freelancers that have also been attacked by strangers, but they must carry their baby (skill sets, time, and services) in to the next hands and hope that this new client will be careful with their baby.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BABY FIRST

The reason we hire people is to complete tasks that we are otherwise incapable of doing, understanding, or do not have time to do amidst other tasks. When you take a baby to a daycare it is hard to part with them, the same happens when you are a business owner or contractor that must relinquish total control in a new project. Before you take your baby to daycare, it’s imperative to spend time with them first so that you can get to know them and their needs. The same thing happens when you are building your business. You need to craft how you want your business to run and be open to suggestions, and not having tunnel vision. When you are handing a tasks over to let’s say, a Creative Specialist, you should educate yourself on that particular realm of expertise. This does not mean that you learn all of the schematics of the field; however you should have a ‘Creative Specialist for dummies’ level knowledge of what the person does so that when you hand over your baby to this person you should know what to expect as you would expect of a daycare provider.

  • Learn the basics of how the field/skills works.
  • Look for pricing as if you were a contractor trying to price yourself.
  • Google your company (if you have a website) or similar companies to see how they operate and how you want to be different.

These tactics are imperative to get to know how to take care of your ‘baby’ as either a contractor or a business.

As a contractor it is important to know if your ‘baby’ (skill set and expertise) will play well with a potential client’s baby. If you know that the project  will require more than you are capable of, be honest, and say that you will collaborate or refer them to another contractor to complete the tasks. Just as some children can be in the same room, but do not play well together, it is the same thing when it comes to providing a service to a client. Knowing that a project does not fit within your brand or expertise or vice versa is  a disappointing experience, yet a humbling and honest one to where both parties walk away and ‘play nice’ because they know the value and characteristics of their respective businesses.

STRANGER DANGER 

The infamous term of mansplaining is also applicable to strangers who want you to pick them so they can make quick money with little work or get a lot of work with no money paid. This is equivalent to be lured to a van with candy. We’ll call this Candy-splaining. Candy-splaining: The act of presenting a ‘sweet’ opportunity in an auction style tone and carnival slyness that insists the company/contractor choose them and a payment or product is under-delivered or not delivered at all. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of new businesses, whether a contractor or business.

When a colleague of mine was starting her business, a woman had presented a grand opportunity for travel, expansion of skills, and moving to New York City. She was a contractor who worked in a creative field jumping at every opportunity she could to build her portfolio and her first love, travel. Plans and a small deposit were made that the ‘Candy-lady’ insisted upon because a bigger payout was coming later. My colleague took the candy and did $5,000 worth of work. When the payday came the Candy-lady had absurd yet believable excuses. After a while of believing the sweet lies , my colleague had to cut her losses and move on, never receiving her payment.

If you find yourself in a Candy-splaining situation have enough power to walk away, because you do not want your baby to get caught in a van that they may never find their way out of.  Unfortunately after coming through an experience like this, you are wary of anyone who is trying to sell something to you, and this is on both sides of business. My advice is not to have a sweet tooth; a desire to chase money and not having discernment about the type of client/contractor.  Opportunities to excel always look great, but read the ingredients: Fine print on the proposals, researching the client/business/person, checking who else they are connected to and avoid anyone you are in direct competition with. In my experience, those who can and will deliver are humble in their approach, asks and answer questions authentically, and have a general idea of how they want ‘the children to play together.’ Be friends, not strangers. 

THE PLAYPEN PACT 

When you’ve had a Candy Van experience it’s not uncommon to want to micromanage everything to protect your business. When a mother first leaves their child in daycare or their first day of school there is a moment of guilt for leaving them. This is a normal instinct to have, even with your business. Do not allow the guilt of leaving your baby to play with another baby and be in the care of someone else to consume you. It will not serve you well. When two children come together in a playpen there is an unspoken trust that they have within the confines of that playpen. The playpen is your marketplace and with a little trust and discernment the children will play nicely. Continue to learn how to play with each other by respecting each other’s value. Nail down a process that works for both the business and the contractor. Create a space to learn from one another consistently, even if it is the ‘for dummies’ version of expertise. Ultimately the pact made within the playpen is that both the contractor and client are on a mission to grow up together.

Farmbeats: AI & Nature Combine to Keep Us Fed

By 2050 we need to increase food production by 70% to feed the growing population and it can not be done simply by farmers intuition, we need AI. Thankfully Microsoft has developed Farmbeats which uses technology to predict the best times to plant, grow, and harvest for certain crops that reduces waste and increases production.  This is an opportunity for us to quite literally get back to our roots and redefine the food production process, even for small businesses.

Impact on the government contracting market 

Most of the government contracts for agriculture come in the form of conservation consulting and equipment maintenance. Now with this type of technology IT can get in the game. Through  government subsidies for farmers this allows a space for them to create a budget to use this technology and hire a small IT business to maintain, upgrade, and consult on how to improve harvests.  By using Farmbeats, the once separate consulting and maintenance contracts are blended and create a new revenue stream that benefits everyone. From my understanding this is not available to be subsidized just yet. However  I see an opportunity where small IT businesses can make a large impact in this field and possibly create teaming opportunities that would benefit local and national economy by employing more farmers, IT workers, and producing harvests that will over-exceed the need for more fresh produce.

See how this works at the Dancing Cow farm.

 

 

Driving Blind: Self Driving Cars

The idea of a self driving car is spectacular. Imagine sitting in traffic and you don’t have to endure your leg cramping, back hurting, and the impending rage filled honking because someone dared to try to come into your lane, just to sit there. Now that is the car’s problem. While you can stretch out in the back, have a snack, and wait for the rubbernecking traffic to be over. At the same time, that sounds horrifyingly irresponsible! What if a deer suddenly runs in to the road or debris from a truck scatters along the street. How can we rely on the reaction time of a self driving car? What can we expect from a machine that can not see?

The Opportunity

I believe there are opportunities with every type of technology and these self driving cars are no different. As explained the video the car ‘sees’ with LIDAR and Mach-Zehnder mudulator. These devices work together to create the ‘eyes’ of the machine and that got me thinking. Any type of machine needs maintenance. Therefore to continue to evolve this technology there will need to be teams in place to execute that evolution. There are already driverless arsenal and supply trucks for the military in development which means there will be companies that want to manufacturer and maintain said trucks, which opens opportunities for government contractors to create something incredible for the future.

Seeing the dilemma

In the movie I, Robot there is a scene where Will Smith’s character is discussing the lack of ethics in robots. He and a family with a little girl got into a car accident and ended up in a river. A nearby robot saw the accident and calculated that Will Smith’s character had a 45% chance of survival and  the girl had an 11% chance of survival. Since his character had a higher chance of survival the robot saved him and let the girl drown. He reaffirmed his story by saying ‘That was somebody’s baby, 11%  chance is more than enough. A human being would have known that.’

Remembering this scene makes me think about the ethical dilemma when a car with it’s  incredible ‘eyes’ must maneuver in traffic thinking about the safety of the driver over the safety of the cars, motorists, or pedestrians around them. While LIDAR and Mach-Zehnder mudulator can sense different objects around it or coming up on the road, can it make a decision on how to keep everyone in the car and on the road alive. The problem is self-driving cars are not the norm currently. And the adjustment will be a rough one because you will have humans and robots interacting and trying to co-exist.

Once again there is an opportunity here. I would love to be able to lean back and let the car do it’s thing. However knowing that the technology still needs to perfect it’s ethical ‘human’ side, it’s not quite time for us to be solely reliable on self-driving cars. The opportunity for companies is to employ more robotic, mechanical, and driving experts to create more margins for error so that the robot can function simultaneously on a mechanical and human level so it won’t be driving blind without ethics.

 

 

The Broken Tunnel: Our Peers Are Our Best Mentors

Imagine you’ve finally reached your peak. You’re not taking on small clients, your business has increased, so has the staff and your corporate account. Then a friend and professional contemporary says, ‘You’re doing great! Now here’s the next step.’
What?!
When you have finely tuned your strategies and tactics and are in the flow of success and someone says there’s another level, it can be disheartening; especially when it’s coming from a friend. The purpose of a mentor is to guide you into a higher place, and a friend should be supportive no matter what right? Wrong. A good friend can accept you for whoever you are, but a great friend sees your potential before you consider the possibility of more.
The Broken Tunnel 
A young woman woke up one morning and decided to build a train. She had ridden on many trains before, some would recognize them as the ‘Get-by’, ‘Hustle’, or ‘Pays-the-bills’ locomotives. She wanted to build something new, something unique to her that many could hop on to as well and they could all get to where they wanted to go faster. She knew specific tracks needed to be laid to carry her train so despite the obstacles and fear mongering naysayers she laid her tracks that she called Possibilities. Then she built her train that ran fast and smooth with no delay or mechanical issue, and she named her train Triumph.  She only allowed certain people on her train that were comfortable riding the Triumph on Possibilities. While they rode on her train they were inspired to build their own modes of transportation to fly high, master seas, and hit the road; all moving forward.
To protect the mechanics and exclusivity of the train she created a tunnel with few openings that would allow new people on who were also moving forward.  She called the tunnel Fear-less because there was much less to fear while inside the tunnel. People would hear Triumph but no one could see it or comment on how it was working. One day a long time rider of the train approached her and said, ‘Have you thought about breaking down these walls and opening up the tunnel? Possibilities could run through many different types of terrains and the view for your passengers will also expand.’ The woman was appalled at the thought of breaking down the walls of Fear-less, stopped the train, and kicked them off.
A few months went by and Triumph’s engines began to wear, Fear-less was still sturdy, and Possibilities began to rust. The woman slowed down the train and passengers began to leave one-by-one. The couldn’t trust Triumph to run on Possibilities and wanted to leave the Fear-less tunnel to get moving on their own modes of transportation. Very few passengers remained and the woman struggled to keep her own faith in the slow moving train. One day a passenger saw a glimmer in the distance of the tunnel. They ran up to the woman and told her to go full speed ahead towards the glimmer. The light eventually got so bright that in shone through the car, though blinded she kept going. Warning lights and alarms started to go off in Triumph, but she kept driving the train forward. Finally she reached the source of the light. Triumph coasted to the end of Possibilities that it could ride on. And there in the broken Fear-less tunnel stood the former passenger.
The woman got off the train and walked out of fearless where the former passenger stood holding a sledgehammer they named Advance. The woman broke down in tears and explained how Triumph was dying and Possibilities were running out. The former passenger said,
“I knew it was hard for you to see where Possibilities could go, because you were in your tunnel. I also knew eventually your beloved triumph would stop running because it was never meant to run forever. You left behind the old trains, but this one was only meant to get you to a point. Well here it is.  You could not see that Possibilities was ending because of your tunnel. Now with this open space you have many options of where Possibilities can be built and travel to. I have a plane, Chance, and with I have seen so many places you could go.”
The woman took a relenting sigh as the former passenger explained that she would need a new train for her new tracks. She broke apart Triumph and used some old parts, combined with new parts to build the next train. The former passenger would allow her to fly Chance every once in a while, as they gave advice on how to build more of Possibilities. It hurt her to give up Triumph, but she realized that the former passenger was the best rider on her train because with them, Chance, and building more Possibilities she created her new train Prosperity.
Break it open
While this is a story, the process is the same. We take different components of our lives to build the ideal life, but we cannot have tunnel vision and be blinded by our own wit or knowledge. It’s hard to challenge our egos when things are going well, even if they are going wrong we still believe in our own minds for what is best. Our friends are our best mentors, because they know the desires of our hearts as well as what we are capable of, even when we don’t. We know the possibilities of our business or lives, but we must build it and trust those who want to help us take chances, ride through our triumphs and move forward with prosperity.