February 29, 2008

My 100th post!

After almost a year and half I finally reached my 100th post! A goal this year is to post more frequently and on a subject matter that I think will be more interesting from a business standpoint.

When I started blogging I posted on just about any topic that shot into my head. The blog had a few different names and themes. It started out "Kevin Sturm" with a very generic template, then migrated to "fun@life", and I finally settled on "k.sturm blog" with the current layout (which I really like). Originally most of the posts were about my family and general happenings in my life. The blog was kind of a hodge-podge of information.

In the past year I began to refine what I posted on and choose more topics on business related subjects. I made that decision because I love business and am passionate about new ideas and making them happen. I finally quit my job and started my own company, kevin sturm Consulting. Many of you know with that new venture I launched hospitality technology made simple, a blog dedicated to my consulting business.

With focusing so much on business posts and posts for hospitality technology made simple I haven't really posted much about family, being a husband, and being a father. And really that is the part of my life I love the most. Chrystal is my best friend, most wonderful wife, biggest supporter, and often my muse. Being a father to Brody is more than I could have asked for in life, and there is endless blog content in that little head. With the expectation of a new little girl in April I want an avenue to share that part of my life. So, in the danger of spreading my blogging capabilities and time to thin I will be starting a "daddy blog" in the near future...probably late March.

I think that will be all the blogs I can do as I will be covering all of my passions. I may try and use "WordPress" on this new blog because of some great advantages they offer. I've learned a ton about blogger though so we'll see. Additionally I hope to have guest bloggers as I have tons of friends that are crazy funny, and have kids that inspire some riotous laughter.

But the real point of this post is to thank my readers (few as that may be). I have no idea how many of you are out there, but yesterday I randomly discovered one in Benny G (thanks for commenting Benny!). Thanks also to David Jay, Tim Halburg, Andy Morales, Chrystal (obviously) and a few others for being consistent commenters. My request from the rest of you at this point is to add value to the blog and post your insight. I'd love to hear from you!

February 27, 2008

Business Success and Partnerships

I was meeting with a friend the other morning about a new business idea. His idea was awesome and could really change some of the cooperation and communication in his industry. He was having doubts about his idea though because many of his peers kept saying, "Oh that will never work because people won't risk losing profits by working with you."

For clarification I've left my friend's name and the industry out of the post because he hasn't yet got the company off the ground. But he's got a doozy of an idea!

We had a great conversation on how to overcome this problem which made me think about the concepts of launching a new company where partnerships are a must (which is just about any company). Currently my biggest client is because of a reference from a company that offers the same consulting services, but without a portion of very specific expertise that I have. The company is probably losing $30,000 to $50,000 in revenue by referencing me. However, if I can help turn things around then their upside revenue will exceed $2,000,000 with the client. If I can't turn things around the risk is $50,000, but their annual revenues are beyond $800 million so no big risk for them.

The point here is that if you can create an upside with little or no risk for your partner then you really create a win-win scenario. My example is maybe not great because their is no risk for me, but that is beside the point. Here are a few things to think about when creating a partnership that you need.1. What is your motivation in creating the partnership? This is an important question because your motivation MUST be something other than you make money. Is there a bigger benefit that helps you, your partner, and your joint customer. A partner will see right through you if a big motivation is not to help them make money. Guy Kawasaki says a key element of any new business must be "to make meaning", and that is this point. The partnership must help make meaning for all involved.

2. Evaluate the value of each partnership and ensure the returns are balanced for you and the partner. If the upside value is almost all yours, then almost all returns may need to be your partners. If the upside is all your partners, then almost all the returns may need to be yours. Don't not do a partnership because there is little direct profits. There may be indirect profits (see #5)

3. My dad always taught me "Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered". It is easy to get caught up in squeezing the partnership for all it's worth. Fight that urge and take what you should versus what you can.

4. Figure out a way to make the partnership low risk. For example, if you want to sell another persons product they will probably not risk losing revenue to your gain. In this situation figure out a minimum sales number before you take profits. This way your potential partner only gives away a portion of the profit when they sell enough to accept it. You can also build in levels of profit sharing here where the more you sell the more profit you get.

5. Recognize that recognized names can bring customers. If you are the little dog in a partnership the big dog may get you leads because they are the big dog. In follow up to point #2 it may be beneficial to just have the partnership and take little (or even no) profit. Rather negotiate an endorsement of some kind. Free press from an influential person and/or company can bring bigger revenues and encourage other partners to join. Creditability for any new business is huge. Acceptance and endorsement from credible sources is priceless.

My final note is don't quit because people don't like your idea. Talk about it with people. You'll be amazed how the idea changes through each conversation. You will turn it into a great idea or realize it probably won't work and scrap it for a better idea.

February 15, 2008

Build Your Own Favicon for Blogger

After some serious frustration, trial-and-error, and getting bad information from a bunch of different blogs and "how to" sites I finally figured out how to implement a favicon for my Blogger blogs. For those of you that want to do the same, here are the steps.

This screenshot curtiousy of Jason Ungos

1. First you have to create an image file that is no more than 16x16 pixels. I did this using Photoshop Elements, but you could use any program. If you already have an icon or picture you want to use, just resize it using your standard photo editing software (iPhoto or Windows Picture Viewer can do this).

2. Second you need to create either a .ico, .gif, or .png file. I used a .ico file by downloading IcoMaker for Mac. Works beautifully. Supposedly you don't have to use a .ico file, but if using a .gif or .png file doesn't work then go ahead and use a .ico.

3. Once you have the file you need to host it somewhere. If you have a hosting site, just post it up there. I use Tripod to host my files. It is FREE, secure, and doesn't require you to download a separate FTP client.

4. Once you have it on the web copy the location of the file and paste it into your text editor software (Notepad or TextEdit).

5. Log into blogger and click on "Layout". Click on the "Edit HTML" area and it will bring up your html code. Search for in the html text. Enter the following code right below it. My looks like this.

If you are using a .gif or .png file it should read like this

6. Click "Save Template"

Hope you get it to work with more success than I first did.

February 13, 2008

Ideas Excite Me!

I just had coffee with my friend Carter Crockett, a business professor at Westmont College. If you have read my LinkedIn profile you know talking about new ideas is one of my favorite things to do. Carter and I had this great conversation about a new business idea and I can hardly get my brain to stop working out the details so I can focus and do work for kevin sturm Consulting clients.

One of the biggest changes in my life since quitting my job has been how I think differently. Versus being mired in all the "things" and "problems" that dominated my day and my brain, I am free to dream about new and fun ideas. Your brain really can do amazing things when you stop trying to force it to do something it doesn't want to.

If you have a new business idea you want to talk about, invite me to coffee. I love hashing it out even if it never happens! I'll even buy!

February 10, 2008

Don't Steal Software

I was on Craigslist today and came across this post.
In response I flagged the post as in violation of Craigslist rules and sent "sale-569449932" the below email. And yes I did give him/her a link to this blog, which I hope they find with this post.There are a few things here that amaze me. First, it is really bold to openly post for the world to see that you do not care about software licensing. Stealing software is a crime, and just really shady.

Second, it takes a narrow minded person to not realize that it is stealing and you are stealing from lots of people. It is not just Bill Gates; it's the Gates Foundation (you cannot argue it's not a good cause), the developers that wrote the software, and some seriously hard working people at Microsoft (that are not rich) which I have had the pleasure of working with during my career.

Thirdly, as much as I like working with Microsoft they are not the only software option. Lots of companies that are not Microsoft exist. If you don't want to buy Microsoft software do a Google search on "mac office software" and NeoOffice comes up on page two. It would take less time than doing a Craigslist post.

If you want something with a little more functionality for a really low price try OpenOSX
for $30.

With so many options out there why resort to something that shows such poor character?

February 6, 2008

Doing Well Just Isn't Enough

In college I was part of a group of guys that met regularly to keep each other accountable in our lives, our relationship, and our walk with God. One of our goals, or mottos if you will, was "To Be Good Men Speaking Well." I was reminded of that motto today when I read this speech given Anna Quindlen at an American University graduation ceremony. For a while I lost track of my priorities and mixed up what was really important in my life. The desire to do well surpassed the desire to do good. Looking around it is easy to see how doing well can take precedence over doing good. We put our faith and happiness in the next promotion, the bigger house, the nicer cloths, and the newer car.

But the promotion, house, cloths and car can't give back. They just lead to the newer car, bigger house, and next promotion. Today reflect on what you are known for. Are you known for doing well or doing good? I'm not against doing well. I want to do well, but when all is said and done doing good will create more happiness and a longer legacy for you and those you are good to.

Speech by Anna Quindlen:
"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre at my job if those other things were not true.

You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".

February 5, 2008

Excercise Your Privilige - VOTE!

Chrystal, Brody and I went and voted today as a family. Give a prayer of thanks that today you get to exercise that privilege, and then go vote. Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent voting is important.

Check out Seth's Lessons from voting for some interesting insights into voting.

February 4, 2008

How Do You Shower?

Okay, this isn't original but it is so funny. I first had this sent to me a long time ago, but Chrystal just got it and sent it to me again. I'm not sure who first wrote it, but they are ingeniously and genuinely funny. They also must be married.

How to Shower Like a Woman

  • Take off clothing and place it in sectioned laundry hamper according to lights and darks.
  • Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown.
  • If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
  • Look at your womanly physique in the mirror -- make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.
  • Get in the shower. Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.
  • Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
  • Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.
  • Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced..
  • Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.
  • Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
  • Rinse conditioner off hair.
  • Shave armpits and legs.
  • Turn off shower.
  • Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.
  • Spray mold spots with Tilex.
  • Get out of shower. Dry with towel the size of a small country.
  • Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
  • Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
  • If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
How to Shower Like a Man
  • Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.
  • Walk naked to the bathroom.
  • If you see wife along the way, shake wiener at her making the woo-woo sound.
  • Look at your manly physique in the mirror.
  • Admire the size of your wiener and scratch your butt.
  • Get in the shower. Wash your face.Wash your armpits.
  • Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
  • Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.
  • Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
  • Sing the National Anthem like you are at a baseball game and love how it echos.
  • Wash your butt, leaving those coarse butt hairs stuck on the soap.
  • Wash your hair. Make a Shampoo Mohawk.
  • Pee.
  • Rinse off and get out of shower.
  • Partially dry off.
  • Fail to notice the water on floor because curtain was hanging out of tub the whole time.
  • Admire wiener size in mirror again.
  • Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
  • Return to bedroom with towel around waist. If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake wiener at her and make the woo-woo sound again.
  • Throw wet towel on bed.
My wife and I were laughing out loud reading this together.

Make Sure What You Do = What Your Customer Wants

Sometimes on the weekends I do very dad-like things.

Brody turns 3 in April, and since we are expecting baby-sister (no name picked yet) in April it was time to move into a "big-boy" bed. So this weekend I built a bunk bed. Okay I assembled a bunk bed, but I did everything but sand and stain the wood. I could not believe the amount of assembly required for this bed. It made me feel very "daddish" though and I was super excited about it. Putting together my sons bunk bad...seriously how dad is that!? Brody loves it and climbs all over it.

And today we were playing with his cars from the movie Cars (he has all of them) and I got this great idea to build a ramp to drive the cars down from his top bunk. I thought we would have a great time building it together. We went to the hardware store and got some material, got the project all setup, and after attempting to hammer one nail Brody got bored with the board. I spent the next 45 minutes building a ramp with barriers, lanes, and finish molding. I thought it was really cool (still do). I took it up to him all excited and set it up. Brody thought it was cool for about 4 minutes until a different toy grabbed his fancy.The reality was Brody did not ask for a ramp. He was completely content just playing cars with me and didn't need anything else.

I often find I want to do something for my customers that I think is cool, even if they don't need it. This is especially easy in software development where unnecessary features get added because they are cool but not very functional (think annoying paperclip man in Windows). Avoid doing something because you think it's cool. Instead do something that is useful, which should start with spending some time with your customer and listening.

And if you're a dad spend some solid time playing with your kids and listening.

February 1, 2008

Spending Money in the Wrong Place

I'm not an economist and I am probably not the best source for how a company worth billions should spend their money. But I think Microsoft is about to spend money in the wrong place. Microsoft submitted an unsolicited offer today of $44.6 billion to buy Yahoo (read about it at Bloomberg.com). This is historic either way as it represents the largest technology take over in history, but I think it may be historic as another bad decision my the new Microsoft. I can't help but think they are competing with Google in the wrong way.

Google did not win the search engine war by buying other companies that were also loosing the war. They were innovative, created a product that was easier to use, and got a reputation as company you wanted to work for (still do). They did awesome things like pay people to advertise for them (AdSense) even when 98% of users never see $0.10. Microsoft's Vista and IE 7.0 "innovation" has created more Mac and Google fans out of former Microsoft fans (me included as I write this from my MacBook Pro using Firefox). At what point did Microsoft make it a business plan to bottom feed buy spending billions of dollars on inferior technology and companies?

This former Microsoft evangalist would like to see them either buy an innovative industry leader (think YouTube) or spend $44 billion dollars and a release a product that gets the kind of buzz and adoption the iPhone got.

At the most basic level they could attempt to copy a very easy thing that made Google easier to use. Look a the three pics below and tell me which you would rather use if you were trying to find something on the Internet.