Strategic Governing

Efficient, Effective and Accountable Leadership = Results that Matter.
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Chuck Eesley introduces us to Customer Development and Lean Startups in his online technology entrepreneurship open course.

Venture Performance  = product development + customer development + team building + luck.

Drew Curtis, the founder of, tells the story of how he fought a patent troll lawsuit. I agree with his quote, “Don’t negotiate with terrorists; patent trolls have done more damage to the United States economy than any domestic or foreign terrorist organization in history, every year.

What really motivates employees? Awards? Recognition? Bonuses? Higher Salaries?

You may be surprised.

Lean Startup Machine is a three-day workshop where attendees use Customer Development and Lean Startup principles to validate an idea for a new product or service.

I first learned about the event from Irene Mwathi, founder, Start Up Katalyst, an Austin, Texas-based organization that mentors startups and coaches them through funding and post funding stages to sustain growth. A native of Kenya, Irene graduated with an MBA in 2006 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Here’s an incredible opportunity!  A consortium of top tier universities including Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, U of Michigan, and U of Pennsylvania offers free online courses. You’ll take tests and be evaluated just as if you’d paid hundreds of dollars for this education.

The program is called Coursera. Check out the course offerings, which include topics ranging from music appreciation to computer sciences and higher level math.

Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner offers 2000 free videos and podcasts, featuring entrepreneurship and innovation thought leaders.

Topics include venture financing, startup advice, leadership globalization and best practices.

You can also download the eCorner App on your iPhone.

I had the honor of attending a keynote address from Attorney David Henderson at the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) Development Day. David was the keynote speaker for the Central Texas NFBPA Chapter, which recently won Chapter of the Year. He’s the Toastmaster from San Antonio, Texas who won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking in 2010. Henderson had presented his winning speech, titled “The Aviators” to a crowd of more than 1,600 fellow Toastmasters from 113 countries.

David had some top tips on public speaking, which were not what you’d expect. After all, he wasn’t expected to win the Championship. He hadn’t been in Toastmasters very long (just 3 years) and had a nonconforming style of incorporating stories that brought the audiences to tears. Traditionally, speakers are taught to project their voices, enunciate well, use repetition, make eye contact with the audience, open with a joke, provide three solid points without seeming rehearsed, etc. Henderson may feel that these are tips on how to talk “at” the audience, not with them. Stories, he said, have been told for centuries and the best ones are still remembered today.

Here’s what I gleaned from the keynote, which was to the group of public sector employees at the event, who ranged from various areas of the workforce, including top city managers and chiefs of staff. These are my takeaways based on Henderson’s advice.

  1. To be a good public speaker, you should first be a good person. An interesting person that people would want to listen to. Someone who speaks from the heart and from experience.
  2. Public speaking is about telling a story and making a point. Learn how to tell a story that helps the audience connect with you. Stories are a way that you can give a visual to the audience while also relating to them. David recommended a book entitled, “Made to Stick”.
  3. Break down your message and keep it simple. If you can’t explain your message on a paper the size of a matchbook, go back to the drawing board. Your message is probably too complicated (and therefore too boring) for an audience. Simple ideas are often the most powerful and memorable.
  4. Always tell the audience what you want them to do. Each speech should have a goal or an action; something for the audience to reach for or achieve. Many people are “doers”, so once you tailor your message, ensure that it includes a call-to-action that will empower your audience.
  5. In the end, make sure you let your audience know that everything will be ok. No matter what your topic is, no one wants to feel depressed, hopeless and helpless at the end of a speech. Use your call-to-action to make sure your audience feels empowered and enlightened.

At the end of the David’s address, the audience gave a standing ovation. Powerful speeches are often those that touch us. These tips can not do justice to the power, precision and thoughtfulness of the ideas David provided, but they’re key insights into improving our communication skills with audiences of all sizes.

The annual Getting Connected event provides resources for small businesses, which is a good opportunity for B2B, nonprofit and government leaders.

Classes are free for small businesses. Participation is free for nonprofit organizations.

The Real Value of Social Media for Social Good [INTERVIEW]In 2007, Chris Hughes left Facebook, the social network he co-founded with Harvard roommates Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, to work for the man who would become America’s 44th President. As the Director of Online Organizing for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign…the work Hughes did has helped to shape the current generation of online organizing tools and practices.

This article highlights some great insight that can’t be found anywhere else. For example:

Q: What are the ingredients that make online organizing successful?

Online organizing starts with the message. It’s got to resonate with people and help them understand why that particular issue or candidate or cause is important. You then have to provide opportunities that are meaningful. People have come to see through petitions or pledges and are searching to key into a cause at a deeper level.

Chris Hughes is just one of Facebook’s successful entrepreneurs. As employees and early investors cash in, many are branching out to other successful ventures. 

Takeaways from Mashable’s interview with Chris :

  1. The challenge in using social media to change the world is two-fold: developing messaging and content that drives people to care, and constantly re-imagining ways for technology to foster meaningful action.
  2. We should be constantly thinking about how to use networks to help take action.
  3. For many challenges, we do not need to use social networks to reinvent the wheel. We can use social networks to help supplement and extend the work of experts in given fields.

This lunch series would be a good networking and learning opportunity for those interested in gender communications in the workplace.

Wednesday, March 28    11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

TITLE: Dare to Ask. Negotiating When it Matters.

Are women less effective negotiators than men because they are afraid of social  disapproval if they come on too strong?

Dr. Amanatalluh explores the situational moderators that free women to effectively leverage assertive bargaining tactics without fear of social backlash for violating gender norms.