Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mistake Bank #12 - Don't forget about support!

When I began my first job as a product manager, I inherited a new product that was being sold by a large partner. And once the first sale happened, I learned that having a support strategy is not optional.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The accidental filing system

Patsy Bates thought the deal was dead, so she could clear her files. Then her boss called...

Edited Transcript:

I was a buyer for a catalog company, actually two, run by the same person. We were not only buyers, but investors in the company, and we were also finding investors in the company - because we wanted to grow. And I remember introducing the president to one of our very good friends who was an investor. And I thought he'd be a good one to connect with Bob.

We got the meeting together, and they interacted. It was a positive meeting, I thought. But anyhow, at the end of the day, we did a lot of paperwork but it just never came together.

So, time went on, it was probably six months later, and I was working at home. My son was visiting us. It was a Saturday, a weekend. And we were sitting around, I was cleaning up my office. I cleared away a lot of papers that were no longer valuable to me. And I put them in the garbage.

Later in the day I got a call from the president of the company. He wanted to get back together with this investor; he wanted the names and he wanted to get all the paperwork I had on it, and would I please call him within an hour with all the information. Of course, this was all the information I'd just thrown in the garbage. I couldn't possibly tell him that on the phone. So I said of course it was in my file. If he would give me a minute I'd call him back, I'd get the information from my files, so we could connect these important two parties together. I went to my garbage can and pulled out all the papers I'd just thrown away. It took me a while to dig through the garbage to find it all.

I called him back with all the information. He was just so impressed with me, that I'd had it on file, and I'd got it back to him within an hour.

I got a big raise out of it. He thought I was such an incredible important part of this company because I kept such incredible files. Of course, he didn't see me pull it out of the garbage can. Which was a lesson for me. I shouldn't just say it won't connect, it's never going to work, so let's just clear out the papers and get them out of here.

It's good to hang onto papers for maybe two years, because God knows what going to happen down the line. Something might work when you think it doesn't work.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Overextending the expense account on client entertainment

Hank Bates tried to make up for an embarrassing mistake by his boss by inviting his clients to a nice dinner... and may have been a bit too generous.

Making a cultural faux pas

On a trip to Ireland, John Caddell reinforced every stereotype of the clueless and wasteful American, simply by taking a shower.

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Getting caught unprepared at a public meeting

Financial advisor Jim O'Boyle recalls a time long ago where he thought he was completely prepared for an important public meeting--until someone surprised him by asking him to talk about where the money was going.

Not paying attention to negative signals when hiring

Banker Bill Runner talks about several instances where he hired someone despite signals that they might not work out, from tests and others' opinions--and they didn't work out.

Incomplete due diligence in a real-estate transaction

Continuing our look at successful entrepreneurs and the mistakes that shaped their careers. This video was part of the Mistake Bank Ning site, and I was reminded of it as we toured the city of Wilkes-Barre, PA, last weekend. My wife was driving, and from time to time she'd point to a building and say, "My dad owned that one."

This story was from the beginning of my father-in-law's real-estate investment career, and to me says a lot about due diligence. I've heard many entrepreneur mistake stories where inadequate due-diligence was at the heart of the issue. On the other hand, diving into a deal without having everything figured out, and then making it work, eventually brought these business owners to another level of success.

So: mistake or bold move? Discuss.

Don McFadden on Due Diligence in a Real Estate Transaction - a Mistake Bank story from John Caddell on Vimeo.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not doing my financial due diligence

John Caddell describes the dream of a career--being able to become part owner of a business--and what he learned after he was afraid to ask too many questions before signing on.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A product killed by poor packaging

When John Caddell first became a product manager, he thought his MBA had prepared him for the jump from software development into the marketing world. He still had a lot to learn, as became obvious when he had to create pricing for a new product.

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Hiring the wrong person

When John Caddell first became a supervisor, one new task was hiring employees. When his fellow supervisor refused to let John defer yet another hiring decision, he was on his own to decide. And it didn't work out.

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