SNAP Selling – The Scales Are Weighted Against You

I’m reading SNAP selling by Jill Konrath right now (still fairly early in the book) and she mentions that “people are very protective of their inboxes”. I think everyone already knew that but it was valuable for me to read it.

She then goes on to outline what it takes to get into someone’s inbox and get your email read. She uses a series of charts to illustrate that the scale are weighted against a prospective customer opening your email:

So, your product has to be Simple, iNvaluable, Aligned, and a Priority (for the prospective customer), which spells SNAP.

That’s the book I’m reading and the background behind my thought process.

The other day I attended a small business expo hosted by a number of government agencies. One of the vendors participated in a panel discussion and her organization was a non-profit, primarily government funded, focusing on supporting startups and innovation.

I emailed the person and effectively said “I am a local startup looking for test cases to prove the value of my software, I would be happy to provide it to you for free”. The response I got was “thanks, we’ll let you know if we have a need of the services you offer”.

Later on in the trade show I met another non-profit also supporting startups. In 5 minutes, at a loud & busy trade show I was able to provide my elevator pitch. I must have clearly communicated what it does and the value provided because the person eagerly gave me his card and asked me to email him (remember, people are protective of their inboxes).

The feedback from the first person might lead a founder to think they’re lacking a value proposition (can’t even give it away for free to someone paid to help). The feedback from the second person might lead a founder to think there is a clear value proposition, it is communicated clearly, and prospective customers are willing to pay for it. Another way to approach it, is in person the communication is clear & effective while via email it is daunting and/or confusing. Another perspective is different personalities and workload.

I do wholeheartedly subscribe to the Lean Startup methodology of identify assumptions then take a scientific approach to testing each assumption. But, 1 confirmation or denial of an assumption is not enough to keep or throw away an assumption. And, you can’t take negative feedback or brush-off’s personally (unfortunately I do).

I hope my documenting my startup journey helps other founders (I have 0 customers and 0 revenue thus far so not sure I can call it a startup journey yet).

HR/Hiring Idea – Feedback Requested

I have an idea that I feel is unique and provides a very real, valuable solution. As I am not in the HR or recruiting industries I’m hoping you’ll give me a few seconds and provide input.

Thanks in advance!

So, here’s my idea.

HR or hiring managers post a job. The process of posting a job consists of creating questions you’d like applicants to answer. When people wish to apply for a job they provide long-form answers to the questions and upload their resume (no cover letter, the long-form answers do that). Answers to specific questions allows HR and hiring managers to compare applicants more easily. Answers to specific questions also allows the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, spell check, grammar check, etc. so the web application can provide automated insight into candidates.

For simple math, right now it is possible to have a hiring manager provide answers to the same questions the applicants answer. It is then entirely possible to rank candidates by their similarity (or fit) with the answers provided by the hiring manager.

If this sounds intriguing.

Feel free to provide your email and we’ll send you personal updates on the progress (and absolutely no spam, we promise).

Year in review: ICBC faces $400m loss as court tosses out cost-saving measure | New West Record

""BC Supreme Court has told Victoria its changes to the court’s rules in an attempt to slash ICBC’s accident case costs through cutting expert witnesses are unconstitutional.

And, said Attorney General David Eby, it’s a decision that could cost the insurer almost $400 million in cost savings it was attempting to realize in dealing with the public insurer’s debts." –

What happens when the ONLY auto insurer is "in bed" with the legislative branch? You get the government legislative branch attempting to make rules to reduce claims costs and those rules turn out to be "unconstitutional".
Let’s say, for example, a person had a brain injury and nerve injuries and soft tissue injuries and psychological trauma and broken bones as a result of the insurer negligently insuring poor drivers. That’d require far, far more than 3 experts to attest to the impact on that person. I don’t see how they ever thought this was fair/constitutional but more likely hoped that it’d slip through and save them money.

28 December, 2019 16:11

Lean B2B, pg 128 – Etienne Garbugli
I find, while reading this book, that I need to keep reminding myself I have already done a lot of problem interviews and validation at my previous job. It seems like the book is sort of written for a person that wants to start a business but not sure where or what to start. I am a little beyond that as I have validated the solution and value proposition.


It seems backwards, to me, to talk to potential customers, hear about “any problem” then pick profitable solutions. I suggest having at least a basic idea of a problem worth solving then interview potential customers.

I find it very odd that choosing a prospect group is first on this list. In my opinion it’s more like:

  1. Identified a potential problem.
  2. Interviewed those who potentially have it.
  3. Brainstormed a solution.
  4. Re-interviewed potential customers.

Prospect customers before problem is the cart before the horse.

Risk Analysis & Data in Insurance

Many years ago, I wrote an internal app for an insurance company that provided a lot of automation. One of the things it did was take the name of companies applying for insurance and create a link to Google search results, Google reviews, etc. The idea being, the Google results and reviews say a vast amount about the risk exposure of a company. I.E. A company, like Gordon Food Services in the example above, with low reviews are higher risk of theft, arson, and business management is lacking which results in more/worse claims. It quickly became expected that those search results would be saved in the underwriting file since the data was so quick & easy to access.

The, long-winded, story here is that in British Columbia we have ICBC (Insurance Corporation of BC), a government run insurance company. That company is obligated to insure everyone and to provide “book rates” to everyone. 8-10 years ago I built a tool allowing insurance underwriters to quickly & easily obtain data for risk assessment. As a government insurer, do we think ICBC is utilizing this very basis risk assessment data?

No, ICBC is far behind the times and does not allow any variation from book rates for “human intuition & analysis” because that might be “unfair to the voting public”. A prime example of why government shouldn’t be in the insurance business.

Analysis Paralysis & Fear of Failure

I’ve been thinking about this lately, primarily because of the quotes the displays while loading.

Analysis paralysis is, in my experience, simply fear of failure or risk aversion. When developers or companies are caught up in analyzing a product or action to death it is a fear of the unknown (or worst case scenario) that paralyzes them from moving forward in a meaningful way.

Since my near-fatal crash I have come to realize that often human nature focuses on the worst case and rarely applies the same energy to the best case. The example I use is “we walk around thinking what if I get hit by lightening today, but we don’t walk around thinking what if I win the lottery today”.

In my opinion the analysis paralysis boils down to fear that no one will want/like what we’ve built or that we’ll get negative feedback. So, flipping that around, what if people do like what we’ve built and what if we get positive feedback? If we live in analysis paralysis and never build anything we have to live in a state of the unknown, which I would argue is actually worse than negative feedback. If you find yourself in analysis paralysis, which I often do, just remind yourself that the unknown is even worse. And, you can put an end to analysis paralysis by just building something.

Read – The 3 Fundamental Mistakes I Made Founding a Startup

"Make those potential customers give you feedback during the development of the fix, and continually ask them what their barriers to buying are." I think MAKE is a strong word here and I’m guessing not what the author intended. I think you’ll have a hard time forcing potential customers to give you feedback.

The 3 Fundamental Mistakes I Made Founding a Startup.pdf

Read – How Women Can Get What They Want in a Negotiation"salary data from Glassdoor and other reliable sources" – Self reported, unverified salary data is considered reliable?

"Prior to a negotiation, women can use positive priming (thinking about something positive or engaging in a joyful activity) to increase positive emotions, resulting in greater creativity, openness, and willingness to collaborate, all of which are essential to successful negotiation."

"While male (or masculine) negotiators may win the battle but lose the war because of their competitiveness and unsympathetic approach to relationships[…]" – Competitive and unsympathetic collaboration is one of my pet peeves.

How Women Can Get What They Want in a Negotiation.pdf

Mirror Neurons & Intent

Telling To Win, pg171 – Peter Gruber

This is a really interesting and good point; think of walking down the street and seeing someone glance up at a plane versus look at something in the sky, in the latter case you’ll often look up to.

My New Notes Format

I really liked the “bibliography” at the back of Dare to Lead as much as I didn’t greatly enjoy the book itself.

The format was:
Source/page – author

In the past I have tried to keep all thoughts on a topic or notes from a book in one place. I.E. a single page on this site. That makes it harder for me to manage and doesn’t leverage the search functionality of WordPress.

Instead, when I have thoughts or notes from now on I will record a single thought at a time along with the source. That’s quicker, easier, provides credit to the source, and links back to the original source/thought/idea.

You Can’t Take Lessons Learned To The Bank

Initially Eric Ries makes a good point in The Lean Startup, that you can’t use lessons as collateral for a loan an investors don’t care about learning. Then he spends a lot of time talking about the value of early learning. Maybe I missed something, I will definitely re-read this book.

My Return to Work Failed

One of the great challenges I have faced in my recovery has been managing anger/frustration (and all that goes with it). This book, Project Management for Unofficial Project Managers, is helping me understand the project management failures of my employer resulted in anger for me, which is normal but I could certainly have been more self aware. Many hard lessons learned here.

Read – Problem Solving is a Critical Skill in Business

Problem Solving is a Critical Skill in Business. Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes When Trying to Work Through Something _

//todo need to fill this out more and use a defined process.

  • Problem
    • Root cause analysis
    • Component parts
    • Elicit counter view points
    • Directly link conclusion to action
  • Solution
  • Action
    • Revisit to confirm solution/changes

READ – Radical Candor by Kim Scott

There is a lot of really good information in this book. It’s certainly a resource I will regularly revisit. I must admit, I did not read the final few pages as closely as others. I don’t have a team at yet so I don’t need to worry about all-hands meetings or about taking control of my calendar. I am certain I will revisit this book before those are issues.

Many years ago I said to my father, a successful executive and leader, “why not ask staff to do performance reviews of their bosses, if reviews only flow in 1 direction then there is less opportunity for improvement”. At the time my father said that’d never fly/work. Funny enough, that’s exactly what this book is arguing for.

Finally, it was interesting to gauge my mental/emotional state while reading. On the one hand, I am very excited to grow/scale On the other hand I have had challenges with communication and personal connections and I’m not confident I can be a great leader. It feels like this is yet another thing to be good at; on top of numerous programming languages, full-stack development, server automation, information security, etc I now need to improve my communication. Scaling will very likely mean hiring a leader who is stronger than me and/or some leadership coaching. One of the best qualities, in my opinion, of a successful leader is the ability to identify gaps and hiring to fill them.

READ – I built a Progressive Web App and published it in 3 app stores. Here’s what I learned.

Loser: Apple. They don’t care about web apps. Actually, it’s worse than that. It feels like they are actually hostile to web apps. iOS Safari is the new Internet Explorer 6. It has lagged behind in nearly every web standard, especially around Progressive Web Apps.

I really enjoy this person’s writing, it has a good mix of sarcasm and technical details.

I built a Progressive Web App and published it in 3 app stores. Here’s what I learned..pdf

READ – Ideal tech team structure for a growing software startup

“I cannot stress enough how important a User Experience Team is at a startup. This is the team that’ll do the deep dive into your users. They will define company’s identity, branding, the needs of the users, the scope as well as validate whether what you’re building is actually meeting any of your goals!”

Ideal tech team structure for a growing software startup.pdf

READ – Securing Microservices: The API gateway, authentication and authorization – SD Times

For example, in the puzzle I built above example with my girlfriend, we started by building the frame, then we gathered the pieces of trees,ground, castle and sky separately. We built each block separately, then at the end we collected all the bigger blocks together tohave our full puzzle. Possibly, if we didn’t follow this approach and we tried to build line by line, we could have done it, but itwould have taken a lot more eort and energy. We also wouldn’t have benefitted from being a team because we would have beenlooking at the same line, instead of doing working collaboratively and eiciently.

Securing Microservices_ The API gateway, authentication and authorization – SD Times.pdf

Read – What Makes a Successful Startup Team

I found this incredibly valuable and would probably copy/paste the entire article if I pulled out the pieces I like.

What hit closest to home was:
Stellar teams have it all: hard and soft skills
When we talk about this balance between team member experience (hard skills) and passion and vision (soft skills) there’s a sweet spot where stellar teams seem to live. If team members are super smart and experienced, but they don’t feel like sharing this knowledge due to a lack of alignment about the vision for the company, their knowledge is useless for the business. Instead, these differences in passion and vision make teams perform worse. For example, if the CTO in the startup team has a lot of experience in the cyber software industry that is useful for building the current business, but she doesn’t agree with the CEO on the future strategy of the company, she is less likely to share all her previous knowledge on cyber software within the team.

What Makes a Successful Startup Team.pdf

Scalable, Repeatable

There is a (//todo link to google) lot of documentation out there that says successful startups must find scalable, repeatable business processes/models/sales/etc. On the other hand, there’s a lot of documentation about (//todo link to google) “don’t scapl too early”.

I made a commitment a long time ago to document my startup experience. Here I will add/update what I try and what works in scalable, repeatable business.

Read – What the Scrum Guide Doesn’t Say – Serious Scrum
The answer is: You can’t. Motivation comes from inside, or else it’s just behavior modification — some conditioned response to a carrot or a stick. Stop trying to motivate people, and start having the value of their work be transparent to them.

In a traditional organization, prioritization is mostly a HiPPO process: it’s based on the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. “Stakeholder” is a shorthand for “someone further up the org chart than me”. And that means they can jerk my project around if they don’t like what they’re seeing, or force us to work on some idea they have about what it should do.

What the Scrum Guide Doesn’t Say – Serious Scrum – Medium.pdf

Read – The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World


I am very proud that when I was hired at Guardian Risk Managers my boss at the time said “one of the reasons I hired you is for your high ethical & moral standards”.

I recognize the other behaviors are valuable but I am unable to provide unbiased evidence of them. I will continue focusing on developing all of these behaviors.

The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World.pdf

Read – Planning Doesn’t Have to Be the Enemy of Agile

I would reword this to "Planning IS NOT the enemy of agile AND IN FACT IS NECESSARY FOR AGILE". Whether it’s a sprint plan, and larger epic goal, or the overall vision of the deliverable; these are all plans in some way and all require shared communication and vision of the future (a plan). I cannot imagine an organization, tech or otherwise, that would suddenly pivot based on the weekly sprint plan of the development team.

Planning Doesn’t Have to Be the Enemy of Agile.pdf

Read – How To Win Friends and Influence People

  • I wonder if a way to approach the frustrations of dealing with unhelpful people is to approach it as a game, to convert them to my thinking.
  • It starts with “don’t admonish people” and “behavior will change much faster through positive reinforcement”. This is probably timely and appropriate advice.
  • We spend 95% of our time thinking about ourselves. If we stop for just a moment and think about another person’s good qualities we won’t have to resort to flattery.
  • Try leaving a friendly trail of gratitude throughout your day and see how it blossoms into friendships.
  • “I like to go fishing and I also like ice cream. When I go fishing I don’t use ice cream I use worms and bait because that’s what fish like”.
  • Its interesting that this has become the tool of the modern salesman. So far it has talked a lot about being genuine, effective communication, and putting others first. It seems like slimy salesmen have taken what they want from the book and missed the key points. If your sales technique is to flatter, lie, etc then you’ve missed the point that you must genuinely think about and care what another person wants in order to build a real connection.
  • I can read a few paragraphs of a story and predict if it will be well received or not. I can immediately tell if the author likes people. You must like people and be interested in them to engage their attention.
  • “A man without a smiling face should not open a shop” – Chinese proverb. This is so true!!!!
  • Ask yourself “what is one thing I respect or like about this person”. Bringing up that in conversation will make it a positive one and make it easy to compliment them.

Who is Responsible For Social Data

So, social media companies liked,, etc claim they are not responsible for the information posted. They say they are a platform and cannot be held responsible for what is posted on it by their users unlike a blog or a magazine that can be held responsible for the content posted/published.

But, law enforcement says they cannot press charges for content posted on social media. Today I witnessed a person post a picture of driving in traffic that was clearly taken from the driver’s seat of a vehicle. Yet, law enforcement say they can’t issue a ticket for the picture posted of that offense by the perpetrator. Similarly, if you or your social media profile post hate speech you, generally are not charged.

So, who is responsible? If the content hosts, those who control the servers are not responsible. And those who create, post, and upload content are not responsible. Who is?

Read -Database Design 2nd Edition

I must admit, I lightly read the second half of this book. It is from 2012 but not that much has changed since. The author seemed to skip some very critical points such as data independence completely skips the fact changing/dropping existing data structures will inevitably cause failures.

Massive Fine For Employee Dissatisfaction

Let’s be honest, the root cause of this was a dissatisfied employee. Employee who are satisfied, loyal, and feel connected with their employer are far less likely to do this.

It is also an example that people are still the weakest link in information security. Staff education and automated monitoring of internal and external threats is so very critical.


I’ve seen 2 ads for university programs for analysis (data/information) today. Both struck me as missing an overlying concept on risk analysis. Data/risk analysis is essentially 1.) here’s a list of red flags, and 2.) how many points in this information/document generate a red flag.

I’m a firm believer in the value of human analysis but I think we’re missing what computers can do and not training humans to do what computers can’t.

Ask About Employee Goals

I was just watching a Lynda course on managing remote employees and it said part of getting to know your staff is asking about their short and long term (career) goals. This:

  • Builds a relationship
  • Shows you care
  • Allows you to tailor the job/tasks to help meet their goals
  • Hints at what makes them tick and motivated them

The last one is the most important. Figuring out if money, time with family or vacations, praise, advancement, challenges, or something else motivates the employee allows you to reward them correctly.

The Challenge of Web Apps

This, this is why I have such a hard time committing to any task/project management solution:

God knows when the business critical tool you rely on is going to shut down. With any luck you can export your data and import elsewhere but that’s about the best you can hope for.

On the flip side, my hesitance to pay for any of these services is also precisely why they end up shutting down.

This is a great point I hadn’t thought of before and one that I have trouble taking into account as I believe my “lazy threshold” is not the same as the general public.

Beginning MySQL

Finally finished reading this in order to return it. Admittedly I read pretty lightly/quickly as it’s a bit outdated and doesn’t consider any of NOSQL of MariaDB 10.3+ used in

500 Yr. Storm

At best this is a 250-year storm + black swan, at worst it’s now a 2-year storm. This is a very good highlight of why climate change has proven so challenging for [re]insurance. Do you take the cost of claims from these storms and average them over 2 years of 250 years? Factoring in what you competition is doing plus maintaining profitability and this becomes even more challenging.

And yet the current operating model of the insurance industry is cheap, fast, easy, and little or no communication.

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda

I just finished reading Alan Alda’s book on communication and cannot say enough great things. It is insightful while being logical and easy to read. I read it rather quickly as I have a large list of things to do for  but fully intend to go back and read again taking notes. Right now I am busy implementing empathy and story telling in the communication and layout of the Lakebed app and website.

Incremental Gains

In my opinion, an often overlooked part of incremental gains is time savings. If right now it takes 60 minutes to perform a task and you introduce efficiencies to make it 59 minutes. Then more efficiencies to make it 58 minutes. Those are incremental gains but in time saved rather than forward progress.
Anyway, I’m quite happy with 2 time-saving scripts/actions I’ve written.

First, there is a script called Every morning when I start work I run It pulls the latest changes from Git including a .sql file. It then imports that SQL file into the DB so the structure and data is up to date.

I have unique identifiers for each user story, bug, and task. I take the UID and short description of the item I’m currently working on and put it in a text file in the web root.
The text file is appended to the end of the page title. Because of my productivity tracking it is recorded in my tracking so I can actually see how many times I loaded the page in development/debugging.
The text file is also pulled into, which commits to Git using that UID and description as the commit message. also does a DB dump and sends that as well.

App Idea: Meeting Notes


Meeting notes are currently written by hand. This requires a dedicated body just to take notes or that a person divide their attention between meeting and notes. It also then requires additional resources just to send the meeting notes to all attendees.


An app that runs on a laptop, or ideally a web app, that records the meeting and puts it in text in real time. The truly innovative ideas would be to identify separate voices and assign colors to each unique person or “voice#1” so the reader can easily see what was said and by who. It would then be possible to go through and text replace “voice#1” with the person’s name. Or, at the beginning or end of the meeting each attendee states their name and the app handles this.

I could see additional usage for university students. With your laptop taking notes for you the student is free to pay attention. The ability to add annotations and thoughts in the right margin would build on what was said with notes just on visual content or thoughts that come up while the conversation is ongoing.

I must admit, I’ve not seen any app do voice recognition for specific people so I’m not sure the complexity. This would certainly take significant processor power so may not work as a web app.

Successful digital business transformation requires a cultural shift
I’ve said this so many times, successful technology change requires:

  1. Documentation
  2. Communication

Documentation is when it should/shouldn’t/must be used. Documentation should also include how to use the technology, how to troubleshoot, and how to access additional help. Unlike communication, documentation must specifically be written for org knowledge retention and repeat access.
Communication on the other hand is how and why it’ll make employee jobs easier. This is the sales pitch and the buy in.

MariaDB's Definition of Microservices

With the microservice approach, developers create the application as a suite of small independent services, each independently deployable, running on a unique process, and communicate with each other using public API’s. The main benefits from this approach are resiliency of services, ease of deployment and independent scaling.

In other words:

  • Independently deployable.
  • Unique processes.
  • Communicate with each other via public APIs.

My thoughts

Why open a public API if you don’t need to? It seems like a security flaw. If a given process is only ever initiated by another internal microservice then it shouldn’t be open to the public.
I’ve achieved this is a few different ways in the past. First, you can have server code or an API on the server but not on the webserver. By doing this it’s a microservice but not publicly available. For example, in PHP you can call it from the command line or include code that may not otherwise be accessible from the web server.
Alternatively, I’ve setup crons that check if a file exists and perform some action when the file exists. As an example, a microservice might create a massive database insert in a .SQL file. Then a cron runs late at night when there are fewer users and if the .SQL file exists it processes and inserts.

Idea – Text Message Spam App

A mobile app that:

  1. Takes messages the user marks as spam.
  2. Removes notifications so the user is no longer annoyed by them.
  3. Replies to the text with a long, annoying string of text messages.

If a large number of people install and use the app it’ll frustrate spammers so much they will hopefully give up (many spam texts are sent by humans) or at least be really annoyed.

An Unsolicited Endorsement

I just received the following email:

My response is, we’re seeing the value of a programmer who worked as an insurance broker and underwriter for 10 years. I see all sides of this problem from customer, user, marketing & business development, to developer & DBA.

Signs My Compliance Framework Is Working

We received the following compliance request from a stakeholder and I’m very pleased that it clearly displays how comprehensive my semi-annual compliance update is:

For the remaining items I committed to providing them by the end of the week and this is the response I got back:

Data From 3.5 Million Employees Shows How Innovation Really Works

Data From 3m Employees
3 thoughts:

  1. If you can get ideas/input/user stories from your customers into the innovation management system you suddenly have more participation AND real users. Even a simple web feedback form could feed into this.
  2. If you could tie this into an agile framework you could almost automate your user feedback and sprint planning.
  3. I was already thinking of suggesting to Cansure a simple feedback form available everywhere on the website and web app. That way there are few barriers to providing feedback/ideas/innovation and you can see exactly where the user was when the idea struck.

As A Technology Organisation We're Broken

We don’t want to document required features & functionality. We don’t want to estimate how long any work product is going to take. We don’t want to spend the time on project management defining what features & functionality entail. We don’t want to write documentation. We don’t want to perform any risk management. We don’t want to perform any quality assurance (QA). We don’t want to ensure the UI design is logical, optimised, or well designed.
What do we want? We want it now. We want new, innovative, never before features & functionality now.
As a result, we’ve built a massive technical debt. We have 1 man hacking together additions at a fevered pace just to keep up with random demands. We are attempting to manage a developer as a sales resource. Management can go to a salesman and say “sell 100 widgets by the end of the week” and the salesman will work a bit hard, might meet his goal, at least come close, and management has achieved what they want. Management is currently coming to the developer and demanding “I want to run reports filtering by X data before my meeting at the end of the week”. “Filtering by X” could entail 1 line of code or could be 1,000,000 lines of code, it doesn’t matter it just has to be done by Friday.