The Stilwater Group

Growth Engineering for Tech Companies

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Check out this question and comment in Quora:

The most important thing to remember is that Profit is not a Goal… it is merely your reward for providing a better product and/or service!

A quick aside….

Budding Entrepreneurs Wonder if they have the Right Stuff

This is how to apply for a job… best resume ever!

BASE Hockey Instruction with Cliff Ronning

This is how to apply for a job… best resume ever!! #BASEhockey

And the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

It sounds like the world needs more introverts, but that we have to deliver some extroverted vibes to be seen as leaders.
I really enjoyed this article from last year but got some mixed messages from it.
Curious what you think…
Why the World Needs More Introverts
Canadian Business Dec 2012

The real question is… Why don’t I listen

The real question is… Why don’t I listen? …because I am too sleep deprived to comprehend the truth!

The evolution of shooting instruction with Cliff Ronning

The evolution of shooting instruction with #BASEhockey

Why you need a Chief Marketing Officer...

There was a time when the only way to get information on products and services was to meet with a sales person and read the literature they eventually left behind. Not to flog a dead horse, but this process has changed. I met with a firm last week that had no Sales Director or VP of Sales. How is this possible? Who runs the sales force? The answer was that all sales fell under the Chief Marketing Officer or CMO.

In the November 21st issue of Canadian Business, there is an excellent article called "Death of the Salesman". In the article, John Lorinc nicely illustrates the challenges that sales people now face and how their role must change and adapt to the new reality (sorry... buzz word!) In fact, the reality isn't that new. Try and find a company without a website or somebody that hasn't reviewed all of the companies competing for a specific solution. Sales people can 't simply come in and talk about their product anymore, because often the customer already knows almost as much as the salesperson. If you subscribe to the Challenger sales model where sales people are responsible for teaching their prospective customer something new about their own business, then you understand how the role must change or how your sales channels must change. Simple commodity items which are sold mainly on price in small quantities might as well be sold on the web. Sales people must become business people with a specific knowledge of the vertical they address or the horizontal that is addressed by their program.

Does this mean that we have to have sales people doing research projects to better learn about how their solution will change their prospects business? No. This is the proper role of marketing within an organization. To provide the fodder and the tools to allow sales people to "sell high" and get their "solution" adopted.

"Customer-centric" (another buzz word) is so overused that it means that companies can't or won't innovate. It is said that if you asked people what they wanted in the horse and buggy age it would have been faster horses and more reliable buggies.... not cars. There would be no iPhones or tablets. We didn't know we needed these things, until we did.

If you combine Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, where decisions are not made with the logical mind, but the emotional mind first, with Simon Sinek's Start with Why, where successful companies or people have a belief system which is attractive to others, you realize that sales is merely the effective communication of a company's ideals. Hold the phone... that was a mouthful. What this means is that if you're corporate belief system as applied to certain industry has to be valuable to start with. Marketing is in charge of ensuring that sale has the right tools to effectively communicate these ideals and solutions to a market that is ready to hear it.

Sales Marketing feedback loop, formerly known as a vicious circle...

Arguably, Marketing is the most influential area in the company when it comes to ensuring that the company's strategic advantage, i.e. its WHY turns into revenue success. Thats why you need a CMO... and that they should be responsible for sales.

Who's with me?

Leadership… it never goes out of style

You know, one of my favourite blogs is written  by Ben Horowitz called Ben’s Blog. He always provides sage, articulate and direct advice regardless of whether you are an intrapreneur or an entrepreneur. Always magnanimous, he is promoting his partner Scott Weiss on this terrific post: Follow the Leader // Scott Weiss. It reminds me of my dad and the way he and his partners conducted business. Nothing was too small to care about.

Apple Really? ….Ya Really!

(originally posted October 25, 2013)

So, exactly a year ago today I paid my first visit to the Apple Store in Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario. I had been trialling an iPhone 4 for a few months to replace my Blackberry and since my “must have” app, ToDo Matrix from REXwireless, had been recently launched on the iPhone, I decided to take the plunge. This was my first experience with Apple directly. It was fabulous, I lined up outside the store and quickly (about 10-15 minutes) was greeted by one of the Apple clones. What transpired from there was magic. Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, therefore I saw magic. The clone was very friendly and immediately was able to tell me that the 64Gb model was not in stock but I could get 32Gb model in black right away. The beautifully, if not very “green”, package arrived at whatever random location we were at in the store and the clone typed a few things into the partially charged new device. It then connected to the WiFi network in the store and everything… and I mean everything from my iPhone 4 started appearing on my new 5! In no time at all, I was fully functional. It even paused the downloads when I left the store and resumed them when I got back on my home WiFi. Totally painless.

Fast forward 1 year. I went into the store the 2nd time today as my earpiece had stopped working. There was a sign on the store saying that it was presently closed for 1-on-1 training which I could see was in progress. I flagged a clone and said that I had pre-scheduled an appointment on-line yesterday but I can see that the store is closed. He said that, “if you scheduled an appointment then we will see you now… is your name Jason?” He then directed me to one of their “geniuses” at the bar at the back. He greeted me by name and started doing diagnostics right away. He then asked if I was having battery issues. I was and I had assumed that I had too many things running sometimes charging the phone 2x in the same day. He told me to come back in 50 minutes and both repairs would be complete. When I return, another clone recognizes me and asks if I am here to pick up my phone. Magically, the technician that actually fixed my phone comes out to explain what was done and that it has been tested and working fine, but there is no screen protector now. She then selects the the proper protector and engages another one of the multi-tasking clones who actually installs the screen saver in addition to allowing me to pay for it. I think I have now travelled 12 feet in the store and spent a grand total of $15.

I’m not talking about the magic of technology here. What I see is the physical embodiment of the company’s belief system. In his excellent book, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, he outlines how great companies and great leaders inspire great outcomes. His inspiring TED talk is here.

Sure technology has enabled the experience but it hasn’t created the experience. That was done by the the “How” and the “What” to deliver on the “Why”: Products and service in-line with the corporate philosophy. With Steve gone I pray that Apple sticks with its fundamental belief system.

It is not the technology that creates the magic. It is the firm belief that each customer’s experience should be spectacular, not just good. Its why people line up for untold amounts of time to get the next Apple magic box.

I don’t even remember that I paid premium prices for all of this gear…

Top drawer Apple…. top drawer!

Yours truly,
An Apple Convert

The Stilwater Group provides management consulting expertise to medium sized corporations, early to late stage startups & divisions of large enterprises. We relish the provision of a superior Return-on-Investment in a Business-to-Business environment or on-line retail. We add value to firms who are trying to instill a high performance sales culture or to launch a new product or service or simply navigating the complex waters of starting a new venture.  Expertise includes hardware, software (product/SaaS) & services in High Technology and also includes eCommerce firms who provide their product/service directly to the consumer. In addition, there is specific expertise in Mobile Financial Services (including payments).

We are rabid fans of "The Lean Startup" philosophy for both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. The principles can be applied to a brand new business, a nascent division or simply a new product.

The Stilwater Group provides both a local and a global perspective with ties into over 30 different countries.

If you want to launch a new product or company, increase sales or simply improve your margins, The Stilwater Group can help.

  • Product/Service Positioning - Research into competitive profile, pricing, unique selling proposal
  • Go to Market Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy - Internal Sales Collateral, Marketing Communications, Training,
  • Sales Strategy - Direct Sales, Channel Strategy, Alliance Strategy,
  • Business Development - Program Development/Market Creation to Accelerate Sales
  • Attracting Funding
  • Software - both product based and Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Services - Plan, Design, Implement, Operate, Optimize
  • Hardware - Networking Equipment, Security, Content Delivery, IP Telephony
  • Consumer Products & Services for Retail - CRM, eCommerce
  • Mobile Payments - Proximity based, remote, person-to-person
Contact Us

Mr. Hurlbut brings over 25 years of experience providing technology solutions to various industries including banking, government, service provider, retail and health care. A start-up veteran, Mr. Hurlbut has been part of 4 successful new ventures including ArrowPoint Communications which was acquired for $5.7 Billion by Cisco Systems in 2001. He was the VP, Sales Development for Siemens, leading the Chantry product launch throughout the Asia Pacific theatre, South Africa and Mexico subsequent to Siemens acquisition of Chantry in 2005. He also spent 4 years with Cisco Systems in various roles including Global Account Manager, Content Networking Specialist & IP Communications Specialist.

He thrives at solving puzzles, especially in illustrating how new technology can solve real business problems and facilitating the creation of a strategic plan. The crafting, coaching & development of a superb team within a high performance culture really turns his crank.

Isn’t it odd how much longer it takes the IT infrastructure to evolve in large corporations vs. IT Service Providers? It appears that MSPs (Managed Service Providers) are constantly providing new services that meet the demand from businesses that are either not available or not sufficient from their internal IT departments. Check out incumbents like Amazon Web Services or upstarts like Digital Ocean if you don’t believe me.

Some would think that the competition for new business is what drives these external MSPs to offer new services while simultaneously working to reduce the costs of delivering existing services. Check out this video on AT&T’s very public strategy on a Software Defined Network to improve services to its clients: A Call out to Academia: The AT&T SDN Network Design Challenge

However, isn’t there also competition for the the internal MSPs in large companies? I submit that there is, but from a different source. These internal MSPs are competing with the external MSPs for the Business Unit’s requirements.

This is the driving force for IT transformation and all of this Cloudy talk. It also drives IT to move in new directions specifically competitive with external MSPs such as the provision of virtual machines for development of new web services. Private and Hybrid Cloud is just part of the IT transformation that is necessary for IT to compete effectively. IT also needs to retool their skill sets to better match the external MSPs and it needs to re-think how the IT relationship managers deal with the business units.

Perhaps, IT’s new role is not to recapture the IT spend that has moved to the Business Units but to take on the responsibilities for Governance and Compliance with respect to the BU’s use of the services supplied by these external MSPs?

What think you?

How many times have you said, I need to get organized and more focused? Do you work-to-live or live-to-work? I think that work/life balance is hogwash. What is needed is an "organized life" that doesn't differentiate between these 2 roles because it is ALL life. You need to be organized TO get more focused!