Lifecycle of Ineffectiveness

IT Culture
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Before you read this: This isn’t Vartruth or Channel Watchdog, I’m not trying to single anyone out or make it a personal hit. That said, you will certainly see the similarities between these descriptions and people/companies you have met. Your opinion (or consideration of mine) is not what is relevant – however, looking at these patterns and avoiding them when you encounter them in your own career/company is critical. If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing scroll down to the last paragraph.

Lack of attention span isn’t entrepreneurship

Every now and then you will meet folks who are in webinars / panels / conferences for seemingly no overwhelming success or reason – maybe they just sent in a positive survey on the day that the marketing manager organized a webinar and their sales engineer called out with flu. This is how the Mediocre VAR becomes an Industry Expert that is paraded around the circuit because there is nothing companies love more than uncompensated third party endorsement. Unfortunately in business you can’t fake your way into profitability so eventually these folks end up in significant vendor roles because they “understand our clients business” (dear vendor friends: if they did, they wouldn’t be asking you for a job). Except they don’t, and in real companies you have to show results or you end up back uninstalling spyware for a living.


So if you can’t play, coach. Or advise. Or provide input. Eventually they learn something in the death spiral process and they go back to being some sort of a solution provider.

Lesson here is that if you’re charismatic enough you can avoid real work but that can only get you so far. Real entrepreneurs are obsessed about their businesses and maximizing their profitability, they don’t sit around looking at the grass on the other side of the industry.

Leveraging attention deficit

Bad decision making and lack of work ethic isn’t limited to individuals, companies can fail in the same way. Fortunately for those of you with paychecks, it takes a real business model (or a venture capital fund) to keep people on payroll and put the whole house on Black or Red. But it happens.

VAR realizes it has something on it’s hands and it’s easier to grow the fastest possible way – find similar beasts and teach them how to make a killing. Inventor becomes the vendor and then one of the two things happens: most die when the business model flops or they win out by making acquisitions or being acquired.


Lesson here is that there are many business plans out there and only a few will win at them while the majority will lose.

What do they have in common?

I have spent a lot of time talking to a lot of entrepreneurs. Big and small.

One difference I’ve been able to pick out between the successful ones and the failures is in the way they treat their business: Are they focused on their business or something else?

If you meet a technology employee (regardless of rank) at a technology event (regardless of the event) and you’re both in the same field and you DON’T talk to them about technology – run.

Technology business isn’t a community college, you aren’t trying to find yourself and figure out what you want to be when you grow up – technology business is a business and it’s a business of making money now. And if you aren’t good at it then why are you talking to me?

It’s really that simple. Unless you’re extremely attractive, single and willing to do things so inappropriate I can’t even write them on this blog. Though if your decision making is so poor that you’ve found me attractive you’ve failed somewhere along the way.

Phoenix Firebird is just a myth

There is this myth that amazing things can come out of ashes. I’ve never seen a bird ignite itself and it’s nest just to immediately spring back to life more beautiful than ever.

Yet I see businesses, employees and entrepreneurs fail every single day.

There is no substitute for hard work. You’re no better and no smarter than the next guy. Want to see people that think they are smarter than the rest – go to a prison or a flea market and look behind the bars. There are no shortcuts.

Hard work doesn’t get glorified because it’s not attractive. In casual discussions more people are envious of successful folks and many would rather talk trash than be willing to join them with the same level of work ethic and dedication. Not everyone that becomes a success is a crook. Here is what it boils down to:

If you suck, you will fail. It doesn’t matter if you’re a VAR, Vendor or employee.

If you’re good and you work really, really hard… you still may fail.

Hopping from one sinking ship to another has only one certain trajectory: to the bottom. The difference between the success and failure in the long term is staying motivated and continuing to work on being the best. If you’re lucky enough, it pays off in the end. It’s still a heck of a lot better than drowning in the ocean of failure.

Persevere.. because winners don’t blame others for where they are at.