Legends & Losers - The Podcast Silicon Valley Needs

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065: Brewing Up A Category King: How Verve Coffee Mastered Their Category & Became THE Standard Coffee at Facebook, Amazon, Netflix & AirBnB

Most artisan businesses require the artiste to be there every single moment. How can this kind of business scale up to become dominant force in the market? What does it take to train people on the right values? How has coffee culture evolved over the years? On this episode we are joined by legendary entrepreneurs and Verve Coffee founders Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr who tell the story of their journey to become Silicon Valley’s artisan coffee of choice.  

We want the right people to feel confident that they are good at their job. - Colby Barr

Takeaways

  1. Coming off as pretentious is usually from a lack of confidence, not from too much.
  2. Good design is good business.
  3. If employees are well trained, they can be confident in their job they will give the best service.

At the start of the show, Ryan and Colby shared on their beginnings as musicians and how they were inspired by coffee culture, and the different waves of coffee the market has seen. They also shared how they built a business that can scale and expand. Ryan and Colby also shared on giving up the CEO role and how that gave them so much more freedom. Towards the end of the show, we talked about building from the ground up, starting their business during a downturn and making their partnership work, “we’ve seen what the other side could look like and we don’t want that in our company.”

We also spoke about;

  • Barista culture and latte art
  • “We’ve got your back” decision making
  • Being seekers of truth vs. seekers of wealth
  • How institutions create communities

If you want to build your category and brand, it’s all about who you associate with from the start, but having an excellent product is still highly critical. What makes Verve stand out is that it’s founders are still in the trenches for their brand, they’ve built an institution that builds communities and they staff encourage autonomy and empowerment. It’s an artisan business that puts a high-end customer service at the center of everything. Everyone in the business is confident in their training, the value of customer service and being a truth seeker over a wealth seeker.

Guest Bio

Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr are the co-founders of Verve Coffee, a third-wave coffee company. In 2007, Ryan and Colby built and opened the first Verve cafe on 41st Ave in Santa Cruz, California. Today, Verve has locations in cities from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Tokyo, but our roots remain planted in Santa Cruz, where we roast our coffee on vintage roasters and enjoy the endless surf of the rugged California coast. Go to VerveCoffee.com to learn more.

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064: Brewing Up A Category King: How Verve Coffee Mastered Their Category & Became THE Standard Coffee at Facebook, Amazon, Netflix & AirBnB

Most artisan businesses require the artiste to be there every single moment. How can this kind of business scale up to become dominant force in the market? What does it take to train people on the right values? How has coffee culture evolved over the years? On this episode we are joined by legendary entrepreneurs and Verve Coffee founders Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr who tell the story of their journey to become Silicon Valley’s artisan coffee of choice.  

We want the right people to feel confident that they are good at their job. - Colby Barr

Takeaways

  1. Coming off as pretentious is usually from a lack of confidence, not from too much.
  2. Good design is good business.
  3. If employees are well trained, they can be confident in their job they will give the best service.

At the start of the show, Ryan and Colby shared on their beginnings as musicians and how they were inspired by coffee culture, and the different waves of coffee the market has seen. They also shared how they built a business that can scale and expand. Ryan and Colby also shared on giving up the CEO role and how that gave them so much more freedom. Towards the end of the show, we talked about building from the ground up, starting their business during a downturn and making their partnership work, “we’ve seen what the other side could look like and we don’t want that in our company.”

We also spoke about;

  • Barista culture and latte art
  • “We’ve got your back” decision making
  • Being seekers of truth vs. seekers of wealth
  • How institutions create communities

If you want to build your category and brand, it’s all about who you associate with from the start, but having an excellent product is still highly critical. What makes Verve stand out is that it’s founders are still in the trenches for their brand, they’ve built an institution that builds communities and they staff encourage autonomy and empowerment. It’s an artisan business that puts a high-end customer service at the center of everything. Everyone in the business is confident in their training, the value of customer service and being a truth seeker over a wealth seeker.

Guest Bio

Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr are the co-founders of Verve Coffee, a third-wave coffee company. In 2007, Ryan and Colby built and opened the first Verve cafe on 41st Ave in Santa Cruz, California. Today, Verve has locations in cities from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Tokyo, but our roots remain planted in Santa Cruz, where we roast our coffee on vintage roasters and enjoy the endless surf of the rugged California coast. Go to VerveCoffee.com to learn more.

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063: Cheating Death & Becoming Legendary with Australian Marketing Maverick Vaughan O’Connor

Failure and setbacks can discourage any entrepreneur from keeping up with their ultimate goal. How do we recover from failure and how do we make it work in our favor? What's the increasing role of automation in our contemporary business context? And is the concept of the work-life balance accurate? In this episode, Vaughan O'Connor discusses his theory on recovery, challenging marketing, and much more.

You should always keep moving forward and you should keep thinking there needs to be another revolution moving forward. - Vaughan O'Connor.

Takeaways

  1. Resilience and motivation can help you recover even after the heaviest of injuries; the key is to believe in yourself.
  2. The concepts of empathy and kindness can resonate with anyone, so they are powerful when building a category.
  3. Traditional media channels and digital media channels can integrate very successfully. Not all marketing is digital - think about how you can reach that balance.
  4. Work and personal life shouldn't be separate or try to be balanced - legendary people see them as one and that's how they design their lives.

We started off with talking about Vaughan's background and how helping out with his father's business gave him the very basis of entrepreneurship. Vaughan then told the story of breaking his pelvis and his hard-fought way to recovery. Vaughan also mentioned and thanked all professionals who have helped him recover from his injury. We then moved on to talk about how resistance and accepting the reality of your situation helps you overcome self-pity and rediscover the joy in life. Afterwards, we also discussed how the development of technology has changed the essence of business communication between different parts of the world. Then we discussed the role of kindness and empathy as well as their use as part of category design. Vaughan then explained the connection between creative marketing and information technology. He confirmed that focusing on just digital marketing is can be detrimental. We also summarized how an open-door policy towards clients can be category design in itself. Vaughan then pointed out that digitalization can be a benefit of any future-oriented entrepreneur. Vaughan pointed out what really benefits a company's staff - the overall success of the company. Finally, we talked about the symbiosis between personal and business life and how they're ultimately one and the same.

We also discussed;

  • Vaughan's decision to go off painkillers for his injury
  • How an injury can change your CEO style
  • Vaughan's charity work
  • What we can learn about life from surfing
  • The concept of informatic communication investment
  • The ''orange and shot-put'' theory
  • Rapid Media's outside investment
  • The responsibilities of a category leader

If failure is your biggest fear, remember that recovery, no matter how hard, is possible. Even if you feel like everything is lost, keep fighting and sooner or later results will follow. Overcome your own self-pity and learn your strengths - they will guide you through the difficult times. Acknowledge professionals around you and ask them for help, you will receive valuable life experience. Apply these tactics not just in your business, but also in your personal life, as both should comfortably exist together. Furthermore, learn how kindness and empathy can be marketed to define your business and your category. Finally, never give up on your goals. Some of the most legendary entrepreneurs have built their multi-million dollar businesses through recovering from their failures. Embrace technological advances and constantly strive towards improvement to achieve success.

Guest Bio

Vaughan O'Connor is the managing director of Rapid Media, a well-established communications company in Brisbane, Australia. He started the agency with Katrina O'Connor in 2001. With a marketing and human resources background, Vaughan takes a hands on approach with the majority of his clients and works across the strategy and key media negotiation functions as well as developing and fostering Rapid Media’s internal staff development and capabilities. Prior to starting the agency Vaughan had extensive media and creative production experience in various media formats including Television, Radio, Cinema and OOH which has given the agency a great understanding of and connection to media owners in regards to how they view and manage agencies and client relationships from within. Find more about Vaughan and Rapid Media at RapidMedia.com.au

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062: Compton Superior Court Judge Kelvin Filer

Born and raised in Compton, Judge Kelvin Filer is an inspiring man who comes from a family of activists and social advocates. What are his biggest life lessons? Why is his father such a big inspiration in his life? What was it like swearing his own daughter to the Bar? On this episode, Judge Kelvin Filer joins us to share his legendary life story.

So long as you’re doing the right thing or doing your best to do the right thing, that’s really all anyone can ask. - Judge Kelvin Filer

His Father Took the Bar 48 Times

Judge Filer’s biggest inspiration is his father, a man who was very active in Compton society. Maxcy Filer was so determined to be a lawyer that it took him 48 times to pass the Bar. When he did pass in 1991, people across the world celebrated, and his story is the greatest lesson on perseverance. Even his gravestone has the words “never give up”.

Judge Filer knew Richard Williams (Serena and Venus’ Dad)

Judge Filer has been an advocate for Compton, and in the 1990s he founded the Compton Athletic Foundation, and Richard Williams came for assistance and support. Back then, Richard said his daughters would be the greatest tennis players in the world.

The toughest part of being a judge on a criminal law case is the sentencing.

When it comes to crimes like murder, so many people are affected in the process. The victim’s family suffered a loss, the defendant’s family also suffer from a crime they didn’t commit. For judges, sentencing has to be fair to the victim’s family, and take their loss into account.

Doing the right thing is something that will always work out well for you, and no matter what you do, always persevere if you have a dream. As we learned from Judge Filer and his father, don’t give up on something you believe in, even when it’s hard. At a time where so many people question our justice system, it’s a comfort to know that someone as honorable, humble and dedicated sits on that bench.

Guest Bio

Kelvin D. Filer is a judge for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in California. He was appointed by Governor Gray Davis on August 8, 2002. He received a bachelor's degree from University of California at Santa Cruz in 1977 and a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law in 1980.

 

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061: How Jon Vroman Built A Movement & A Company At the Same Time

Self-awareness is a vital skill to have, especially in competitive fields and categories. Can you foster self-awareness and perception? Does mindfulness really work? How is practicing mindfulness similar to surfing and skiing? All these questions and a lot more are answered in this week's episode with special guest Jon Vroman, host of The Front Row Factor podcast. Jon will explain what differentiates him from other motivational speakers and how the Front Row mentality relates to category design.

It's about mindsets, relationships and environment. Those are the three factors and we need to have a hard look at those and say, what are those creating and do we like it? - Jon Vroman

Takeaways

  1. Practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life. Learn to be present in the situation, so that when you get to your goal you won't regret the way there.
  2. Keep a close eye on the people you're with, the thoughts you have and the environment you're in. If you don't like anything about any of these, change it.
  3. Ask yourself what your biggest fear and greatest love is. It's what builds up your energy and generates your motivation.
  4. Knowing that we want something or knowing that we have a goal that seems unattainable encourages us to fight harder.

We started off with Jon talking about his new book and his goal with moment-making. Jon shared his philosophy about fleeting moments and seizing the day. After a few examples, we also discussed staying focused on our own goals and identity, as well as practicing mindfulness. Jon pointed out that mindfulness can easily be integrated in your everyday life, and that relies on redefining your understanding of ''critical''. We then touched upon letting things pass and realizing that it's not your job to educate everybody. Jon then emphasized how important it is to regard three factors - mindsets, relationships and environment - and how they shape our personality. From then on, we moved on to discuss Jon's category design and what makes him different from other motivational speakers. Jon mentioned the role of charity in his life and he explained his path to recognition of life in the front row. We then moved on to mention a few examples of unique category design. We talked about how telling the correct story appropriately can build up the right motivation and design the correct category. Jon explained how discovering and telling amazing stories helped him develop his ideas, as they didn't contain a specific meaning, but rather they were very easy to interpret. We also touched upon the obligation we feel to offer advice in difficult times and how that's not always the right thing to do. Finally, we agreed that work life and personal life can exist together and that our family life can teach us a lot about our business and vice-versa.

In this episode, we also talked about;

  • Similarities between mindfulness and surfing
  • The cow in the parking lot as a zen approach to overcome anger
  • Controlling how we show up and create a better show
  • Making others' dreams into our goals
  • Fear as a motivator in life
  • Bringing energy from the past to shape the present and the future
  • Why Jon started The Front Row Dads

Achieving balance in your day-to-day life might almost seem like an unattainable goal. In today’s digital age, it's very easy to feel trapped by your own environment and even develop a fear and dislike of what you may have been working so hard to create. If this happens, try to take a step back. Reevaluate your goals, your aspirations and your fears. When you take a step back and reevaluate the most important parts of your life, it's a lot easier to spot mistakes and work to fix them. This goes not just for your business, but also for your personal life. Learn to appreciate the success of others. Everybody wants to dominate the stage, but there comes one point in your life where you realize that it can't just be about you. Finally, never underestimate the power of a good story, but similarly, never try to warp a good story because you think it doesn't work for you. Stories have a power of their own and if you tell them right, they can speak in your favor.

Guest Bio

Jon Vroman is a motivational speaker, lifestyle coach and a seminar leader, who helps entrepreneurs, sales professionals and leaders come alive, find purpose and fully engage in their life's calling. Jon is also the host of The Front Row Factor podcast. He's the head usher for those that want to be in the front row of their lives so they can solve important challenges and elevate humanity. Jon has been voted Campus Speaker of the Year in both 2012 & 2013 by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities and also regularly engages in charity fundraising. To find out more about Jon's work, visit FrontRowFactor.com

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060: It’s the Category

Reprinted from SandHill.com

Category: The Single Point of Failure

Why did Google win in search?

Then lose with Google Docs?

Why did Amazon win with AWS?

Then lose in smart phones?

And why did Colgate win in toothpaste?

Then lose with lasagna!?

In a word, category. It turns out attacking existing market categories with new offerings is a disaster.

A lot of venture capitalists like to say, “We invest in great teams.” Every CEO likes to say, “We hire A-players”.

But a great team is nothing without a great category.

And categories make companies. Not the other way around. As a matter of fact, your category is your single point of failure. No category, no customers.

Or even worse, if someone else gets a hold of the agenda in your category they will position themselves as the leader and you’ll get to be MySpace.

While writing, Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets, we analyzed every venture-backed tech company founded since 2000.

We discovered that category kings in tech earn 76 percent of the market capitalization (aka total value created) in their space.

Making high stakes category dynamics worth exploring.

Google is a great brand because it is the category king of a great category, search. But in the category of "productivity suites" the Google brand is a loser. Because Microsoft is the category king.

As a matter of fact, Microsoft Office has a whopping ninety-five percent market share and does over $12 billion in sales. 

When Amazon attacked entrenched category king Apple in smart phones, they got crushed too. Same story.

And you can guess what played out when Colgate entered the lasagna space!

These category disasters happen over and over and over. Unfortunately many executives make an unconscious, un-questioned choice to position their products, services and companies in an existing category.

On the surface, it makes sense. You see a big market, you have an idea for a good product, maybe you lower the price a bit and pick up the “fast follower” position in a big space and make a bunch of money. Sounds like a perfect strategy.

But it fails way more than it works.

Category disasters have three things in common:

  1. Large existing market
  2. Incumbent category king
  3. A new competitive offering (that ultimately fails)

These multi-billion dollar category disasters don’t have to happen.

Categories can be designed. Just like products and companies can be designed.

Some executives talk about “the market” like it’s the weather—something that happens to them, verses something that they can affect and even drive.

Problems create categories.

New problems or existing problems re-imagined create, or re-create categories. The most successful innovators are natural “category designers”.

They are business leaders who intuitively understand that to win, you have to have the courage to change thinking, behavior and ultimately purchasing.

By changing thinking, category designers change a market. They condition a market to see things the way they want them to. Steve Jobs was the master.

In a well-honed category design strategy, a company designs the category, evangelizes the problem, offers its solution, and then the category makes the company its king.

When this happens at scale, it’s profound. Entire markets can appear or “move” seemingly over-night. Ask the Blockbuster folks how they feel about Netflix.

As Victor Hugo taught us, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Another way to think about it is, once people see a problem, they can’t un-see it. They have to have the solution.

It is the broad agreement about a problem and therefore a solution that creates a category.

In this context, you might say that the biggest marketing problem today is “too many solutions without a problem”.

No one really buy a drill, they buy holes. But for some reason, many companies quickly fall in love with their drill bits and forget about customer holes.

Unless Google can re-imagine the problem Google Docs solves, Microsoft’s $12 billion is pretty safe.

Airbnb had to get the world had to agree that renting a couch was a great idea long before it became a profitable, $31 billion value category king. They designed a new category. Brian Chesky did not position in the hotel space, he positioned AirBNB as something totally different from what had come before.

The mistake most business leaders make is assuming that they can not do the same.

You too can design categories! Markets are not like the weather.

The cloud vendors re-designed the storage problem and therefor solution. Making it suck to be a storage hardware provider.

Think about Sara Blakely the Spanx founder and category design of “shapeware”. She didn’t disrupt the underwear market in the traditional, run head-first into the competition way.

She didn’t call her innovation a girdle 2.0. She didn’t compete.

Sarah designed a whole new market category. And now she dominates it.

Great innovations, products and services are no longer enough on their own. Legendary products are now table stakes.

People thought Picasso’s art was crap until he explained “cubism” – his new category of art. Once people “got it” about cubism, Picasso became a genius.

If you make the same unconscious choice that most business leaders do, to move into someone else’s existing category, with a “we are better, faster, cheaper than the competition” strategy, you lose.

Alternatively, if you open up a new category or define the rules for an emerging one, you get to design the whole space the way you want it.

You become the category designer. And when the right product and right company connect to a strong category, the category literally pulls the product or service out of the company.

If you neglect your category design, someone else will do it—maybe a competitor, maybe customers, maybe a Gartner Group analyst, maybe the press.

It’s not always easy for leaders and entrepreneurs to think this way.

Aiming to design a new category where none exists can seem very risky, since by definition it is a zero billion dollar market.

The temptation is always to pick a large well-understood category and compete for market share.

When you choose to compete against a category king, you’re playing for - at most - 24 percent of total available market cap.

I believe that it is the job of the executive team and board to do everything possible to increase the odds of becoming a category king.

That makes category design a must. If you want 76 percent of the economics in a massive new space.

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059: An Unbeatable Mind - Navy Seal Mark Divine On Life, Business and Kicking Ass

Most people struggle with meditation because they don’t realize that it’s a learning process. What are the levels you need to go through to master it? How do you manage to silence your inner thinker and gain valuable personal insight? What are the benefits of self publishing a book? On this episode, we talk to SEALIFT founder, bestselling author and former Navy SEAL Mark Divine.

If you’re going to do a good martial arts program, there should be functional fitness baked into it. -Mark Divine

Takeaways

  1. Meditation allows for the ability to stay disconnected and disassociated from the thinker inside us.
  2. The way they teach police officers often gets them into trouble.
  3. Self-publishing gives you the chance to build a platform, a business and books that live for a very long time.

At the start of the show, Mark Divine shared on going through CPA training and Navy SEAL training. He also shared how he got on the path to martial arts and meditation. We also discussed the success of his books, and the additions he’s making to his original books.

Mark also shared on;

  • How to shift back to concentration during meditation
  • The advantages of self publishing
  • Finding the right martial arts training

The key to meditation is following your breath and your concentration, and developing the ability to escape the thinking part of your brain. It takes time to get to that level, so don’t give up when you notice yourself thinking, all you need to do is shift back to concentration. Go through the process of first learning to concentrate and learning to disassociate from your active thinking mind, and then focus on concentration and then finally you will be able to get into that void.

Guest Bio

Mark is the founder and CEO of SEALFIT, and a highly sought after speaker, coach, author who makes frequent media appearances to discuss Seal way of life. Go to SealFit.com for more information.

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058: One Woman’s Legendary Startup Quest: With Michel Feaster

Customer service is essentially how every company is going to win or lose the next generation. Why is data at the center of winning in customer service? How does category design play out in the enterprise space? What does a founder need to be equipped with to lead well? On this episode, we are joined by the engaging Michel Feaster who shares on her career and gives insights on being a founder.

Data isn’t the end game, the action of the data is the end game. - Michel Feaster

Takeaways

  1. Doing customer service well is all about context and personalized relevant action.
  2. Find the visionaries that will bet on you to make you a household name.
  3. CRM is going to be reinvented and that the future is essentially all data driven and in real-time.

Categories are created when more than 3 big disruptions affect the same individuals in a company. Only then do you have a buyer who is under enough pain that they need to change the status quo, move money to the vendor and establish something new. Customer service will continue to determine the survival of companies and their ability to become category kings. To succeed, the data we have has to be put in the right context and it has to be put together in the context of workflow. This will make personalized relevant action possible and help brands win with future generations.  

At the start of the show, Michel shared on the paradox of being a founder and how her company came into existence. Next, we talked about how categories are created, why the data conversation is useless without context and the importance of personalized relevant action. She also shared how therapy has helped her, how she worked her way up from working in a convenience store, and why secure leaders are so rare.

Michel also shared on;

  • Why customer service is the new battlefront
  • The struggles female founders face
  • Finding the right people to back your venture

Guest Bio

Michel is the co-founder and CEO of Usermind, responsible for company vision, strategic direction, planning, and execution. Michel’s enterprise software career spans almost 20 years with roles in sales, product, strategic marketing, and general management. Before founding Usermind, Michel was VP of products at Apptio, where she drove product strategy, defined the category and discipline of Technology Business Management, and helped grow the company from 30 to almost 400 employees. Go to UserMind.com for more information.

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057: Chris Voss: How To Negotiate With Terrorists, Businesspeople & Children

There’s never going to be a deal where you’re not hiding stuff from the other side. What are the other keys to mastering negotiation? Why is it so important to have a positive mindset? How do you get out of a potentially violent situation? On this episode, negotiator and author Chris Voss answers these and many other questions.

I’m never going to be able to win at any negotiation, unless I can navigate it from how you see it. - Chris Voss

3 Things We Learned From Chris Voss  

Every kidnapping in the world ultimately devolves into money.

In the realm of kidnapping, money is what often decides the outcome of the situation. Even when the needs of the kidnapper seem to be based on control - there’s a greater need to get money out of the kidnapped person’s family. It’s necessary to be careful, because some kidnappers will change the terms if they think the ransom has been met too quickly.

For most people, avoiding loss is a much bigger motivation than increasing gain.

Most decisions people make are based on fear of loss, and we are driven to avoid loss as opposed to finding the best ways to gain. The key to life is getting into curiosity and avoiding negativity because it gets in the way of excellent decision making.

Everyone lies 7 or 8 ways but they tell the truth one way.

When it comes to detecting lies, the people who are best at reading people are able to pinpoint how someone tells the truth. People only have one way to be honest and that’s why people are asked baseline questions to determine how they tell the truth. Even if they have different ways of lying - if it opposes the truth then you can tell.

The essence of an excellent negotiator is to put aside how they see things to understand how the other person sees things. You’ll never be able to win at any kind of negotiation, unless you can navigate from that angle. Remember that person’s viewpoint is what affects your decision making. Being a good negotiator is about being a good conversationalist and always seeking to understand before you are understood.

Guest Bio

Chris Voss is the Founder and CEO of the Black Swan Group Ltd and author of Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. He has used his many years of experience in international crisis and high-stakes negotiations to develop a unique program and team that applies these globally proven techniques to the business world. Go to BlackSwanLTD.com for more information.

 

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