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Mediocre At Its Finest

Om call 2008 the year of Mediocrity.

Ted points to for whom the Bell tolls.

Let's start with the source of money closest to the hearts of the start ups. The VCs. Over the past 60 days I'm hearing the following "the VC's don't really have the money in the funds they represent. They have to go to the LP's (Limited Partners) to do a cash call. Some are having problems getting the money from their LPs so the deals aren't closing."

Translation-Dear Mr. Startup CEO. Yes we agreed and gave you a term sheet but we don't have the money so we can't fund you. Good luck.

Excuse me. I don't go to Nordtroms to buy a suit, try it on, have the salesman find the pants in my size, pick out a shirt, a tie, some nice cool socks, and have the tailor measure for cuffs, seat and waist alterations and then say, "oh, but I don't have the cash."

What is going on today? Hasn't anyone ever heard of bad faith negotiation? When I asked a VC I know about term sheets and deals. He said "not really" because a term sheet isn't a deal. Then I brought up the famed "no shop clause" and he said "then they'd (the VC) have a problem."

Now lets look at the Telco. They still are the "plumbers" that Ken Camp refers to in his post. As a matter of fact plumbers make a big living fixing the plumbing that's already there, but it's the pipe-fitters and steamfitters are really the ones who make the money laying new pipe under the direction of a general contractor in the big cities (and where unions remain.) Consider this scenario. The telcos commit to installing a T1 from a company like Speakeasy. But the Bell head installer is "delayed" on another job. When he does show up the "inside" guy back at the CO (Central Office) isn't around to do the "inside" test. So the install is rescheduled and that's before the SpeakEasy installer can do his part. Result the customer waits and waits. Business doesn't happen and work is slowed. But the customer still pays the same thing regardless of the install happening on the date promised or whenever the telcos got around to having the install happen. I didn't know we lived in Provence.

What ever happened to the simple fact of keeping your word?

One of the things I learned a long time ago was to say things like "no" or I'm not sure I can do that. Then I would go out and do it. Get it done and come back and say, "it's now done." In my business we do a lot of outreach. We don't promise anything. We make no guarantees. We just go out, and deliver what can be delivered. It's called underselling and over delivering. People hire us for our track record of delivering.

Om doesn't promise pageviews to his advertisers. He promises content to his readers. The readers come because the content isn't mediocre. It's good. In return the advertisers get pageviews. They buy GigaOm because the audience keeps coming back.

Ted doesn't promise crap in his work as an IT consultant. He promises the job will be done right and knows he won't get paid if it's not done right. His business grows because he gets the job done.

The changes that are needed to go from mediocre to good aren't hard to make, but I'll contend that most people really don't know the difference between great and good, let alone mediocre.

Think of it this way. Many people have bought Chryslers because the sales person said "this is a wonderful car for you, sir." If Chryslers were so wonderful would they have needed two bailouts in our lifetime? That's not mediocre. That's pathetic.


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