My friend Mike Lee was in town for 360|MacDev and we had a chance to chat a few times. We also chatted a lot when I was in Amsterdam, that’ll happen when you’re sleeping on someone’s couch :D
He’s been around the block; helped found companies, worked for Apple, and most recently starting an international movement called Appsterdam. He’s spoken at more events than I can count, thankfully that includes my events. Of all the speakers I’ve worked with, Mike raises the bar. He preps like no one’s business, and puts his heart and soul into the presentation. And he doesn’t repeat and recycle his talks. Each is a unique work that he puts a lot of energy into.
But this isn’t about Mike as a presenter. It’s about Mike as a super smart guy. A while back Mike did a thing where he announced he was charging $1,000/hour for consulting. That’s a steep price tag, but when you consider that it’s not just an hour of slinging code, though it could be if you wanted. It’s an hour of Mike’s time. Having been the recipient of an hour or two of Mike’s time I can tell you, it’s worth $1,000 easy. Thankfully he hasn’t sent me the bill yet :)
Mike doesn’t hold back or sugar coat things, or tell you what you want to hear. He tells you the truth, but it’s couched in an honest desire to help you. I’m making changes to the way I do conferences because of Mike’s input. Spoken honestly and intended to make my events better. It’s eye opening when you hear stuff that makes you realize you’re doing it wrong or going down a bad path.
On the smart people thing, Tom has started something new. Tom and Mike are really similar in that they want to help others. It’s not ego, it’s giving back, and helping people. Tom and I have talked a lot about this and I’m, glad he’s giving this a try. One of our shelved business ideas was antiMBA. A business consulting service aimed at offering real world practical advice.. you know counter to what most MBAs dish out. We’d seen businesses we worked for and businesses we liked do truly stupid things, that had they asked someone who had some common sense and real world experience they wouldn’t have done.
Tom excels at solving problems. We’ve written code together and he’s a great coder, but his strength is solving problems. Lots of people can code, few can solve problems. Tom decided that maybe his business should be just that, solving problems. I think it’s a good move.
Whether you’re starting a business, or just trying to solve a problem in your existing business, Mike and Tom are two people you should talk to. The money you spend getting their feedback will be money well spent, and likely to save you far more money in the short and long term. During 360|MacDev I got to watch Mike be Mike and it reminded me (I didn’t need to be reminded, but still) how awesome he is. The night before the conference a bunch of folks gathered in the hotel bar. I had only met one or two of them at 360|iDev or MacDev in the past, most were new to the conference. Mike came and hung out and while having my own conversations I watched Mike. He engaged folks, met new people and really made them feel a part of the community and the conference. He wasn’t holed up in his room or out with the A-List crowd or anything like that. He was talking to attendees and sharing a good time. Tom is much the same. When we started 360|Conferences and started holding evening receptions, he made it his job to work the room, find the person in the corner and go talk to them. He’d learn about that person, and then walk them over to a group he knew they’d click with based on that short conversation. Then he’d bow out and do it again, and again. Introducing people to each other, ensuring that no attendee ever felt that like they were alone at the conferences. I try to follow his example still, and it’s not always easy, but the feeling you get is incredible.
Mike and Tom are two people I count on tremendously. I’m not normally a decision by committee person, but when I don’t feel able to make a decision myself I’m glad I have awesome, crazy smart and insightful people to ask. Oh and Mike and Tom aren’t the only smart people in my arsenal of brains, but they’re the two who have things that you can pay them for.
Oh and some companies that I think might benefit from spending some money on Mike and Tom;
- O’Reilly (love ’em but they’re way too into themselves to see what they’re doing wrong)
- DC Comics (see above)
- Marvel Comics (see DC)
- CBS (the CEO is on record as saying ‘cutting the cable’ is a fad, and people will come back. We’re actually tormenting your content you dork)
- Hulu (i pay $8 and see just as many ads, BUT have access to the Buffy and Angel back Catalog, AND shows still expire like 30 rock. WTF)
- Netflix (Quickster….)
- HBO (I’d pay good money for Game of Thrones, but HBO Go is tied to a cable subscription…. To The Torrents!)
Those are just the ones I can think of right now that Have either seriously blundered lately or have fallen to new lows of lameness because they no longer see past their previous success/fame and need new perspectives. They’re also all companies that I as a consumer, would gladly give money if they weren’t being lame about it.