Quality people and quality workers are VERY different

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Technori CEO and Startup Showcase host Scott Kitun and LaSalle Network kick every bag on the way home with this little podcast gem; firing friends, Inc 5000 lists, movie quotes, corporate culture, and how to avoid the pitfalls of hiring shitty sales people – are just a FEW of the things to click for!

 

3 Things Great Leaders Do Every Day

1. Spend 30 minutes a day using your own product.

 

“Use it or lose it”, says Reverb.com CEO David Kalt. Ahhhh, can you say that again? “Use your product at least 30 minutes every single day.”

That’s it. And most of us missed it.

As David tells it, nearly all of his success – and there’s been a LOT – are founded in pain! For example, following his first exit, he pissed through a few million bucks trading options… “bad investments” that would ultimately pay some HUGE dividends. Wait what? Ok, so losing $2 million wasn’t the plan, but in doing so, David discovered a major pain-point in options trading; and #BOOM, like that a golden rule was born!

Good leaders spend at least 30 minutes every day using their own product. Great leaders encourage their entire team to use the product for 30 minutes a day.”      –David Kalt

It’s so obvious! How can you possibly understand and solve the pain points for your customers if you don’t know your own product? The short answer is you can’t. When I heard this I immediately thought… when is the last time that I went to technori.com just to scroll? I won’t tell you how long it had been, but let’s just say that I was not following Kalt’s golden rule!

His point is simple, but it has gotten him pretty damn far. Prior to acquiring Chicago Music Exchange for $8 million in 2009, he founded an online trading company, called OptionsXpress – which literally was the result of his own personal online trading experience… And, compliance be damned, when he built his OptionsXpress team, he made sure to institute this must-do-rule of using their own product on a daily basis – after all, how can you have exceptional customer service (another massively important factor to operational success) if the people on the other end of the line haven’t even used the product?

Oh, yeah! He later sold that company for more than 1 billion dollars 😲

[note: the next day, I personally read through several of my own posts and noticed a lack of engagement, then I  pulled a story, rewrote it, hit re-post and within the hour social engagement exploded]

2. Write your next hit song every day

 

David didn’t stop there – far from it, actually! As a gift to himself for exit #2, Kalt bought a SWEET ‘63 Fender Stratocaster for $7,500 (another solid investment) and in doing so identified another opportunity – which led to buying the whole store, and subsequently raising of more than $25 Million from the likes of musicians Brad Paisley and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, and fellow Michigan Wolverines (and Chicago Tech royalty) Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky to completely revolutionize how musicians buy and sell equipment.

This acquisition, which became what we now know as, Reverb.com, brings us to the NEXT amazingly simple tactic used by leaders such as Kalt.

Practice (thanks, AI). In a recent Grammy event at the Reverb HQ, musician (and #GOT alum) Ed Sheeran shared with David that he writes a new song EVERY DAY, which is completely INSANE, btw!


Ok, for a musician or writer… this makes sense. But, how does that help me as a CEO? I’ll tell you… We often get caught up checking boxes, in other words, we focus on deadlines and forget to ask ourselves (and our team), “is this the best work that we can do?

I do a lot of speaking engagements to share with others what I have learned from interviewing hundreds of tech founders; and invariably I am asked, “how can I tell the winners from the losers?” My answer is pretty simple. The most successful founders I have met are all obsessed with the details, rather than rewards. They work tirelessly on their craft – with the majority of their work ending up in the trash bin – so that their customers only experience the best they have to offer.

As David told us, taking this approach of continued high volume production lends itself to amazing analytics, and that is the main reason that going from an options trading platform to selling guitars wasn’t the crazy leap you might have thought (it’s also the reason Reverb is going to do a billion dollars in business by 2020).

[note: immediately following this conversation with David, I pulled my team aside and explained to them how important it is that we create multiple versions all of our content, from my show to our videos and written pieces before posting AND that each person will be responsible for knowing their metrics from here on – because if we aren’t pushing our own boundaries, we’re regressing, and that’s simply unacceptable]

 

3. Play together

 

Speaking of pushing boundaries, David dropped one final gem on us that I think will make me, my team, and most importantly, you… a much better leader. You’ve heard the saying, “a couple that plays together, stays together… Well, the same is true of companies! At Reverb on a regular basis the entire team gets together for jam sessions to build the important traits that mark any healthy relationship; things like, trust, passion, honesty and timing!

Think about it.

How can your team handle the grind and blowouts that inevitably cripple even the toughest collaborators? Ask David, and he’ll tell you that it all starts with transparency. Accountability begins with trust. If you show your weaknesses, passions and an ability to help those that wanna help themselves, you build up team trust; resulting in a data-driven team that has a level of accountability and performance pride that’s enabled Reverb to know where we stand (metrics-wise) on a daily, if not hourly basis.

“My team has come to expect me (and others) to ask questions about daily performance and you’d better know what you’re talking about,” Kalt says.

Reverb established this culture by playing together… which for a company full of musicians isn’t terribly difficult. But, what about those that don’t play? They hold plenty of extracurricular activities (sometimes even in the musty basement of the HQ) where the team can work together on things like public speaking, other artistic passions or just shooting the shit.

And, it’s clearly working because Reverb has grown more than 12,000% since 2015 and was recently ranked 18th on the latest Inc 5000 List.

[note: This might be the biggest takeaway for my Technori Team; we typically just fly in and out of the office and throw our content rundown together remotely – if at all. Moving forward, we’re going to find time to shoot the mini basketball and play some office knockout, talk through our favorite stories and work together to improve on things we all want to become better at – work related or not]

 

Bad KickStarter Campaigns: PooPerch Needs to be Flushed

One-in-five people drop their phones into the toilet according to a Plaxo study. The PooPerch mission is to cut down on accidents and potentially save millions in damage costs with a shelving unit for your toilet paper holder. And PooPerch hoped crowdfunding would get this potty-time shelf to the masses.

But it’s gonna cost $30 dollars. Here’s how the product is pitched:

PooPerch is clever bathroom accessory that hangs under any standard toilet paper holder and provides a convenient, safe shelf for your phone. With PooPerch, any small items in your hands or pocket can instead just be placed on a stable easy-to-reach shelf, securely removed from the risk of sudden toilet drowning.

My first point of contention with this product is that the shelf encourages people to put their phone away. Why not keep it in your purse or pocket? Isn’t the problem that people enjoy using their phones while taking care of business? Why would you attempt to incentive people putting their phone down with a $30 shelf? In all likelihood, the shelf will be ignored.

Also, aren’t you more likely to leave your items behind in the bathroom if you incentive people putting their pocket-belongings on a shelf and off of their bodies? All around, this product, while well-intended, is dumb.

And the internet has not taken kindly to PooPerch. Coverage from both Mashable and CNET did little to raise funds. The TP shelf has raised $321 of the $8000 goal.

For these reasons, I think PooPerch deserves a courtesy flush.

i.c.stars Helps Inner-City Adults Find Work in Tech

Sandee Kastrul, president and co-founder of i.c.stars, is no stranger to helping and teaching those in need. i.c.stars is a nonprofit leadership and technology training program being recognized by 1871 and the Timmy Awards for its outstanding efforts in developing Chicagoland’s most promising tech talent.

This Startup has a cure for your hangover

If you’re having problems with getting to work after a night of drinking, stop and consider your relationship with alcohol.

HA!

Or maybe give Morning Recovery from 82 Labs a shot. The startup world is looking for a solution to everything. And solving the morning hangover is one of them. And as we know, the older you get, the longer your recovery time will be.

Morning Recovery is a bottled-drink made from Hovenia Dulcis, a Japanese raisin tree. Dihydromyricetin is an extract from the tree that helps detoxify the body. Consumers are instructed to drink the beverage before bed and promises that you’ll be rearing to go once that alarm clock rings.

Sisun Lee is the CEO and founder of Morning Recovery. Lee previously served as a product manager for Tesla, Uber and Facebook. During a trip in Korea, Lee noticed that the locals were taking supplements to combat the after-effects of alcohol. So Lee returned to the States and began testing the drink with doctors and made it FDA-compliant.

Morning Recovery has raised over $200,000 on Indiegogo.

So next time you attend that after-work social, let loose and say damn tomorrow because you’ve got a new medicine that’ll get you to that 9:30 a.m. meeting.

How to objectively measure real estate value

Real estate value is hard to quantify, often subjective when you think about whether an apartment has granite countertops or not. Enodo aggregates property data with demographic and economic data to come up with a result that helps the consumer find the right property. Marc Rutzen, CTO and Co-Founder of Enodo joins Scott to talk about real estate analysis and Enodo which is still in beta.

Raise nets $60 million in funding round

Raise has continued to be a leader in Chicago tech.

Raise.com is a place for you to sell your unused gift cards. Founder George Bousis and his company has raised over $140 million since he founded the company in 2013.

But the company has another reason to celebrate this recent rake. One of the investors involved in the series C round of funding was PayPal. Raise has been a major bright spot for Chicago tech growth. The company recently had to address issues concerning criminals selling fake or stolen cards on the platform. But the company has made it more difficult for fraudsters to use the site.

Watch Bousis talk with Technori CEO Scott Kitun on WGN’s Startup Showcase. And also stay tuned for the Raise CEO to join Scott in studio again in the near future.

Chicago’s Premiere September Event is Here

On Tuesday, Chicago Tech Rocks is going to rock the socks off all you Chicagoans out there. Founder of CTR and Synap, Jeremie Bacon, joins host Scott Kitun in studio to talk about the event, what it means to the city, and how you can score yourself a ticket.

Reconstruct Your Face in 3D

Today in system hacks brings us 3D transformation for all your photos. Do you feel like the next bunch of pics you want to share with family and loved ones don’t offer enough zip or pizazz?

Then try this 3D Face Reconstruction tool from researchers at The University of Nottingham’s Computer Vision Laboratory.

Be closer to actor Elijah Wood than ever before!

3D face reconstruction is a fundamental Computer Vision problem of extraordinary difficulty. -Computer Vision Laboratory

This may appear at first glance to be a silly gimmick. But what the AI has pulled off is actually quite impressive. According to the research team, AI usually assumes the availability of multiple images as input. This system only needs one image. Another major hurdle is communicating between the endless range of facial poses and expressions. But the Computer Vision Laboratory found a way.

3D facial recognition could mean many advancements in Augmented Reality and social media are on the horizon. Will you be on board?

You can learn more about the project here.

Which Gubernatorial Candidate is Most Trendy?

Bruce Rauner probably isn't sweating 2018 too much.

So, I decided to check in on Google Trends to figure out which of the announced Gubernatorial candidates are showing the most interest currently. I just want to brace myself for the 2018 Midterm Elections.

The race is more than a year away, but there’s enough major Illinois figures that want to unseat Gov. Rauner that it might be time to see who’s catching steam. And yes, I did leave out some of the lower tier candidates like Tio “Mr. Ceasefire” Hardiman. I’ve met Tio and like him, but sorry, this is Illinois politics.

So take a look, does any of this surprise you?

By the looks of it, Chris G. Kennedy of, yes *THAT*, Kennedy family shows an ability to spike. And of course current Governor Rauner will be the most trendy since he’s currently the man with the power. But J.B. Pritzker is the most solidly relevant of the competitors.