Why on Earth Would Anybody Post Business Videos on Snapchat?

Why on Earth Would Anybody Post Business Videos on Snapchat?

By now if you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I do near daily “Snapstorms” or a collection of short videos (usually < 5 mins in total) with entrepreneur advice on Snapchat. Here’s a recent one I did on Fund Raising in tough markets. You can follow me on Snapchat at msuster.

Suster Doing a Snapstorm

Honestly, it kind of drives people nuts that I do these on Snapchat and it makes me laugh a bit simply because it drives people bonkers.

Nope! Every platform has its unique strengths. YouTube is great for longer-form for me and could be a great repository. Snapchat has an enormous audience of mobile-first consumers tuning in every day looking for content to consume in a way that YouTube doesn’t. Of course YouTube has huge traffic, but it’s different.

Ah, but I’m doing both! Snapchat for my “original run” and I’ll also store each video to be watched later.

Immediacy. People tune in every day.

I know some people have anxiety over Snapchat. Once you learn it it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s a Snapchat 101 Guide I wrote for people if you haven’t yet grokked it.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

Never Ask Two People to do One Person’s Job

Why you do me like that?

Over the year’s I’ve tried to offer some tangible, practical advice to help people communicate more effectively.

I’ve weighed in on:

But one thing really drives me nucking futs and that’s asking two (or more!) people to do the job of one person.

If you want somebody to action email one person and make it clear whom you’re asking. The cc line is to inform people who are not taking action.

These days everybody goes bonkers with how many people they cc on emails. If you want to inform somebody — great! If they don’t need the email why not save them the hassle and time and avoid sending it to them! If you send it unnecessarily you’re simply adding to their to-do list because now they have to read the bloody thing.

Of course I cc people on emails. But I try to do it sparingly and when I know it is relevant for them. Occasionally in stead I will bcc an email to myself and forward it to a couple of people. I do this for long emails where I may or may not think that person needs to read the email. When I forward I will say something like, “FYI only — no need to action or even read if you’re busy.” Sort of, reader’s choice!

Ok. So most people understand that cc’ing the world unnecessarily is wasteful of others’ time. But I have two more quick tips for you.

If you are soliciting input from a group of people and if they don’t all need to see each other’s responses — obviously use bcc. That way the people you’ve emailed don’t get bombarded by dip shit responses from the masses. You know what I’m talking about — we’ve all been on that list. But you’d be surprised how many people still cc large groups. Oy.

Now. For my main point, and yes, I really did just bury the lede. There is one big mistake many people make and especially with VC firms but of course it’s broadly applicable.

On a regular basis I get emails introducing me to a deal that somebody wants me to review. Great. Awesome! Thank you. I’m reasonably efficient at quickly reading a deck or email backgrounder and knowing whether it’s a good fit for me or for the firm. If it’s a better fit for: Yves, Steven, Greg, Kara, Kevin, Jordan or Hamet I immediately forward it and I bcc our deal-tracking system so the new owner is logged. Easy peasy. We don’t have special incentives for who reviews or does a deal so I really just want to route it to the expert or the person with capacity.

The same happens in reverse. If it’s video, SaaS or data-oriented businesses it tends to flow my way.

But many people send deals to us and copy 2, 3 or even 4 people with “Hey, team, I thought you might like this deal!!”

I call these “credit emails” because they only reason I can figure for asking 4 people to respond to an email that only requires one is that they want everybody to know they sent you a deal. Credit emails are not productive for the recipients. Each individual would have to read the email, open the deck and consider what to do.


Here’s the rub.

You’re actually doing yourself (and in the case of an intro, the company) a great disservice. When you send an email to multiple people for action nobody knows who owns responsibility for the response.

So you’ll sometimes get group emails where nobody responds because they assume somebody else is actioning it. Internally I solve this by emailing everybody and saying “I’ll own this one” or “Kara, why don’t you weigh in on this one” but you’re making the group do extra work and in many cases they won’t.

It’s actually “a thing” know as

And of course it doesn’t just apply to VCs. Think about it: If you get an email that says, “Hey, Sarah, I wanted to ask for a small bit of help …” or even “Sarah, I’m hosting an event on Feb 17th and I’d like to ask if you could make it” you feel it’s a personal appeal to you. If you don’t reply you’re letting down the sender who is seemingly asking you personally, individually and solely.

The minute you send out an email to a group and say, “I was wondering if anybody could help with …” each person thinks that somebody else is going to help.

So there you have it. Ask one person to do one person’s job. If you don’t get a response then ask a second person. If you don’t get a response from a group — now you know why.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

Research: Why CIOs fail and how to fix it

trainwreckatmontparnasse1895-2-e831de136fd6e17c492c31aba7c5837337c076eeDigital transformation has placed CIOs under tremendous pressure. As expectations of IT increase, CIOs must adapt to a business environment where innovation, speed, and solution precision are essential.


Unfortunately, the historical relationship between IT and the business has been fraught with difficulty. With IT failure rates estimated between 30- and 70-percent, CIOs have significant baggage to overcome.

The problem is especially acute when a new CIO takes the reins. For this reason, conventional wisdom describes the importance for CIOs to make a mark during their first several months on a new job. Gartner, McKinsey, recruiters and others all explain why the CIO’s initial 100 days are so important.

University professors Tony Gerth and Joe Peppard researched causes of “CIO derailment” by interviewing over “100 CIOs, CDOs, non-IT executives, and board members;” they also surveyed almost 700 CIOs globally. They published results in a paper available as a case study from Harvard Business Review titled, The dynamics of CIO derailment: How CIOs come undone and how to avoid it.

The paper describes five reasons that cause CIOs to fail – they call it “derail.” Semantics aside, the point is creating situations where the CIO meets business expectations.

In my experience studying IT failures, success is defined by how well the CIO and IT meet customer and business goals. Regardless of any other measure, if the business perceives IT as achieving its objectives to a sufficient degree, then the CIO is successful by definition.

Here are the causes of CIO derailment presented in the report:

Misunderstanding the transition. CIOs must be clear about why the organization has hired them. Is it to jumpstart innovation, save a failing project, or get a new IT program underway? To succeed in the role, the CIO must understand the goals.

Ambiguity in defining IT success. Many CIOs operate in an environment where business leaders define IT success as delivering projects on-time and within budget. However, such metrics leave out the all-important concepts of outcomes and value.

To achieve success, the CIO must establish rules of engagement, or:

face a conundrum: [being] held accountable for benefits but hav[ing] little authority over what needs to happen in the organization for benefits to be achieved.

Ambiguity in role expectations. Organizations may want the CIO to play different roles. For example, some companies expect the CIO to provide technology services and infrastructure while others recognize the CIO as a full strategic partner. To meet these expectations, the CIO must identify what the organization wants and meet those goals.

Some non-IT business executives:

view the role as encompassing strategy and innovation but still treat the CIO as a service provider only. Failing to see the contradiction, they want their CIO to be a miracle worker and achieve major impact without having to trouble them.

Poor relationship management with peers. As technologists, many CIOs do not place sufficient emphasis on the need to collaborate with business leaders in their organization.

In my own research into the issue of CIO relationships in higher education, we offered this advice:

Although the top decision-maker and other senior executives shape an institution’s organizational culture, IT can take a variety of steps to facilitate opening the culture to improvement and innovation. However, IT’s historical reputation for being insular and unwelcoming may create negative perceptions that require significant effort to overcome. By establishing processes and workflows for listening to, and engaging, stakeholders, IT can build the relationships needed to support institutional change.

Pushing change at the wrong pace. Although transformation and innovation are synonymous with change, they are among the most difficult challenges facing any organization. Therefore, every CIO must determine the right pace of change for her or his company and situation. However, it is also true that figuring this out is not easy:

Clearly, new CIOs must make an impact, but at what pace? While creating change too slowly can cause derailment, so can implementing change too quickly.

As with all organizational issues, there is no silver bullet for addressing the points raised here. However, the authors suggest:

  1. Clearly understanding the CEO’s vision for IT
  2. Recognizing the ambiguity of the CIO role
  3. Delivering on service and solution commitments
  4. Building a relationship strategy
  5. Proactively defining IT success
  6. Managing the pace of change
  7. Speaking the language of the business

For many CIOs, these issues may seem obvious and hardly worth research or thorough evaluation. However, in my discussions with many CIOs on the CXOTALK platform and in advisory situations, it is precisely these organizational issues that deserve the greatest attention.

Buying technology products and capabilities is easy; developing strategic clarity and the political savvy to execute an innovation agenda requires far greater subtlety and skill.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)

Data science at Dun & Bradstreet

Although data and analytics are core parts of modern computing, the underlying data science is often a black box. To shed light on this topic, I conducted a CXOTALK conversation with Anthony Scriffignano, Chief Data Scientist at Dun & Bradstreet.

Dun & Bradstreet uses data to help its customers reduce risk, market products, and increase sales. Founded before the Civil War, the company has been in the data and analysis business for about 175 years. As Chief Data Scientist, Anthony Scriffignano continues that tradition using modern tools and techniques to find meaningful information from large sets of raw data.

In the video, Scriffignano explains data science in business terms, using specific examples that highlight the challenges associated with making sense of large data sets. He also describes the difference between big data and smart data.

To read a complete transcript, click over to the episode page for this show. Watch more CXOTALK shows, to learn from real-world stories of innovation, leadership, and disruption in the enterprise.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)