Archive for category Work
When anyone considers coming to Savannah, Georgia for a visit or for work, it’s not for the abundance of game changing start ups. Yet
Since leaving my last ‘real’ job I’ve jumped back into hanging out with a small, determined group of startups that call the Hostess City of the South home. Quickly, I’ve come to see that there are seeds in place that could add ‘entrepreneurship’ to the list of attributes when thinking of Savannah.
At the Aetho ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its move into the Creative Foundry, I was invited to moderate a panel with founders from Aetho, Tour Buddy, The Quick it App and Oak.Works to discuss all the elements needed to build a great start up community.
And, in case my questions aren’t so audible here are the notes I was reading from on my iPad. I didn’t get to ask all of them, but maybe next time…
Questions for panelists:
1 – I’ve looked at each of your backgrounds and you’ve each come to Savannah for various reasons. None of you are native to the area. So why Savannah and why found and keep your company here?
2 – There’s a quote that has gotten a lot of mileage over the years about starting the next Silicon Valley: “Take one part and two parts venture capital and shake vigorously.” What is your reaction to that? Is it over simplified and if its on mark where do you think we Savannah is on that path?
3 – When I launched my last start up (may it RIP) finding partners, vendors and talent of any kind to work at break neck pace, all hours of the night and on a start ups budget was a constant challenge. Is it something you are facing and if so, how are you getting past it?
4 – Each of your companies has some kind of technology focus — as you continue to grow how to you plan to keep in front of the need for more technology talent?
5 – Are the regional and local universities providing enough talent into the start up community and if not, what more do you think we/they can do to make that happen?
6 – As a Savannah start up, what advice would you give someone who is in the crowd today considering
There’s an adage that you don’t want bureaucratic investors in the early rounds of a start up — how
7 – Do you ever think — hey why don’t we just up and move to the Valley or other community where there are bigger and more established start up infrastructure?
8 – If there was just ONE thing you can have more of here in Savannah that would make growing your company easier or faster what would it be?
The point that Tristan and the others made about the City of Savannah needing to get behind the startups in town is bang on. Hot shot designers coming out of SCAD don’t want to work in tourism or for the port — they want to be self made entrepreneurs.
If Savannah doesn’t get behind them by investing in the infrastructure to incubate their companies, they will continue to put the city in their rear view mirrors when they graduate.
- Jose Mallabo
On July 26 SCAD’s Sequential Art program will be hosting a small booth-like presence across the street from Comic-Con in San Diego at the Wired Cafe at the Omni Hotel. Having lived in San Diego back when Comic-Con wasn’t quite the socio-entertainment global geekfest that it is today — I am really looking forward to the trek from Savannah to the place I called home for so long. But mostly I am looking forward to:
- Unleashing a small squadron from my dusty fleet of cool and slightly off-putting t-shirts and calling it business attire. On day 1 of the conference I will either wear my “I’m not sleepy, I’m Asian” or my “Brown Man Rising” shirt. Tweet suggestions to @josemallabo.
- Seeing and hearing what 130,000 geeks, celebrities, media, groupies and doodlers looks and sounds like so I can finally answer the question that’s been playing in my head for years: “Who would win in a street fight between fans of Comic-Con and the Super Bowl?” My money is on Comic-Con not because they outnumber Super Bowl attendees almost 2-to-1, but because they’ve conceived an alternate reality where wearing capes isn’t weird and super powers exist.
- Being in a group of people where I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not the only one who has ever worn a Lieutenant Uhura uniform (replete with the wig and ear piece.)
- Chilling out at Wired Cafe with all the entertainment muckety mucks to see if someone will finally admit to me that the Oscar for Best Picture awarded to The English Patient was a result of a lost bet.
- Just being in San Diego — home for one of my alma maters and the place where I’ve consumed the most quesadillas after 2 a.m.
Good things to know if you’re going to Comic-Con
- In May 2014 the top 300 comic books sales were slightly over $25 million
- The first Hollywood panel at San Diego Comic Con was about Star Wars
- The most expensive comic book ever sold went for a cool $2.16 million
- Every one of the top 10 most expensive comic books ever sold has been made into a major motion picture at least once
- Scarlett Johansson played the Black Widow in The Avengers – and no I can’t recall what the plot was but I remember watching it
A few weeks ago I posted about giving employees their due. Time to move up the food chain a bit. Let’s go to middle management, alternately seen as bottlenecks, conduits, or a*#holes depending on your position beside, below or above them.
Since Wikipedia is rapidly becoming the end all for defining what we don’t want to ourselves, let’s see what they have to say.
“Middle management is a layer of management in an organization whose primary job responsibility is to monitor activities of subordinates while reporting to upper management.”
Wow, that doesn’t sound like something you’d study at Harvard! Sounds more like something the secret police would have been doing in any Middle Eastern dictatorship currently in the throes of being overthrown.
Lest you doubt, it only takes a few word substitutions to make my point:
“The Secret Police is a layer of control in a government whose primary job responsibility is to monitor activities of its citizens while reporting to the king/president for life.”
It’s hard to believe no one from middle management has caught this “big-bro-like” wiki entry so far. Maybe it’s because they’re too busy monitoring subordinates and reporting on their activities. Or maybe it’s because they’re busting their chops and other parts of their body trying to motivate staff, oversee budgets, and communicate increasingly complex information with fewer people, less money and time, and often incomplete or even incoherent data. Yet, US companies have been hedging much of their success on the ability of this mid-level to do it all, while the people they manage are wondering why they can’t.
Over the past year, I’ve managed communication effectiveness projects for some of the best known companies in the US and two themes have been most prevalent:
- middle management is seen as being ineffective communicators, and
- employees want to get more information from their middle managers.
This is quite a dilemma – it’s almost like saying my elected officials are doing a crappy job, but I want them to be better at telling me that. Oh wait…
About twenty some odd years ago, upper management decided computers and automated business decision software would make middle management obsolete. Then the economic downturn of the late 80s became a well-timed trigger for massive lay-offs of middle managers. What upper management failed to realize is that while computers are good at managing data, they’re really bad at managing people. Guess what, they still are. But it’s as if no one above the equivalent of a staff sergeant pay grade in the Army remembers that. Just look at how many mid-level managers lost their jobs in this last go round!
So what’s the solution? Match the tools with the expectation. If you want mid-level managers to be good to great mid-level managers, give them the management, communication and financial tools to do that. Reward them for using them, instead of punishing them for not having the time to ask where to find them.
More importantly, change up that definition to something more compelling and less “big bro-like.” How about this: “Middle managers are role models to their employees.”
Anything more than that and you might as well head to the Middle East.