Starting-Up with ThePowerMBA

During this Corona Pandemic, lots of people have decided to use their free time at home to do studies online. According to TheGuardian “increasing numbers of people are using the time to build their skillset, with an upsurge in enrolments on online learning platforms”.

I also decided to invest my time to learn new subjects online. As I wrote in a previous post about Continuous Learning: “Everything we know, including our professional skills, is rapidly becoming obsolete. This means that it’s not enough to work. We must be constantly updating our knowledge and acquiring new skills.”

After some investigation, my choice was ThePowerMBA. My background is in the field of Computer Sciences, but as an entrepreneur and CEO of my own startup company (KashKlik) it is important for me to learn more about Business Management, and in particular the topics that are more relevant for startup companies.

The Curriculum of ThePowerMBA has lots of subjects which are extremely relevant for startups:

  1. Business Model Innovation
  2. The Lean Startup
  3. Strategy & Business Fundamentals
  4. The Power of Being a (Real) Marketer
  5. Entrepreneurship
  6. Leadership
  7. Management Skills & Tools
  8. Finance & Accounting
  9. Disruptive Tech in Business

I think it is very important for new entrepreneurs to learn all these topics, which will certainly have a direct and immediate practical application in their startup companies. As I wrote in a previous post: “When you are the founder of a startup company you have to do many things that you have never done before, and many of these things are difficult. Actually, most things you are doing as an entrepreneur would have been difficult even for someone who has experience doing them.”

For example, the first module about Business Model Innovation covers the Blue Ocean Strategy (among other things). I read the Blue Ocean book when we were planning the features of our influencer marketing platform, and it was really inspiring. I have recently published a post in which I describe our experience applying the principles of the Blue Ocean Strategy at KashKlik.

Another topic I’m enthusiastic about is the Lean Startup. I read the Lean Startup book by Eric Ries several years ago, and since then the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop has become an integral and essential part of every new project I execute. I’m excited that Eric himself is a contributor to the materials in ThePowerMBA classes.

But of course the ThePowerMBA curriculum also has several topics that I really need to learn more about. For example the module about Strategy & Business Fundamentals covers Industry Analysis, Competitive Strategies, Marketing Basics and Corporate Growth Strategies. These are very interesting subjects that I never really had the opportunity to study, because all my academic formation is in the field of Computer Sciences. In practice, I’m a technical CEO, and thus I lack this business background.

Another module which I’m sure will be very important for me is the one about Finance & Accounting. This module covers Accounting Fundamentals, Financial Statements and Analysis and Valuation (Investments and Companies). Unfortunately I still feel that I’m very ignorant about these subjects, so this will be a great opportunity for me to learn more about them. Of course to perform well as the CEO of a startup company I must also be able to understand all the financial aspects. This is even more important in our case, because KashKlik is already a global company, doing business with customers in several continents, and with diverse sources of revenue.

I’m excited to be learning these new disciplines, but what is even better is that, in the case of ThePowerMBA, I’m sure that I’m going to put these new skills in practice. I believe that if we really want to understand a new subject, we must be able to apply the new concepts that we are learning. Thus it’s simply fantastic that I’m going to do a course with so many relevant topics that I will be able to immediately use in my own startup company.

I decided to share with you (my readers) the main insights I will get from this course, and thus in the next months I will be posting here regularly about what I’ve learned. I’m sure it will be a great way to grow while we must stay mostly at home.

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Blue Ocean Strategy: KashKlik Use Case

I read the Blue Ocean book when we were planning the features of our influencer marketing platform, and it was really inspiring.

The Blue Ocean Strategy “presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and outlines principles and tools any organization can use to create and capture their own blue oceans.”

As summarized in the Wikipedia article about the book, it “presents analytical frameworks and tools to foster an organization’s ability to systematically create and capture ‘blue oceans’—unexplored new market areas.”

The authors analyzed the correlation of success stories across industries in order to formulate their innovation strategy.

In the slides and video below, I explain how we applied the Blue Ocean Strategy to plan the main features of the KashKlik platform and its business model.

Blue Ocean Strategy: KashKlik Use Case from Hayim Makabee

Here is the video of the talk (in English):

Posted in KashKlik, Startups | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Panel: Israeli Innovation at HackingRio

HackingRioI had the pleasure to be invited to speak at the HackingRio virtual conference in Rio de Janeiro. I participated in a panel about Israeli innovation together with my friends Ricardo Hechtman, Beny Rubinstein, Marcelo Treistman and Ricardo Lomaski.

Here is the video of the event (in Portuguese):

Special thanks to the HackingRio team that invited us and coordinated the panel: Lindalia Sofia Junqueira Reis, Rodolfo P. Lopes. and Bruna Petit.

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Gvahim Webinar: Managing Your Reputation

I was recently invited by Gvahim to present a webinar to a group of Olim (new immigrants) in Israel. In this talk I shared useful guidelines about how to manage and develop your personal reputation. I focused on providing practical advice about how to create opportunities by generating value to the people in your professional network.

You can see my slides and video below.

Here is the video of the talk (in English):

Special thanks to Gvahim and Limor Schwartz, who organized the event and invited me to give this talk.

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Automated Machine Learning

This week I was invited to give a talk at the Haifa Tech Talks meetup. In this talk I presented an introduction to Automated Machine Learning (Auto ML).
I discussed some approaches to face the challenges of Auto ML, including Data Preprocessing, Hyperparameter Tuning and Algorithm Selection.
I also presented two popular tools for Auto ML: Auto-sklearn (based on Bayesian Optimization) and TPOT (based on Genetic Algorithms).

About the speaker:
Hayim Makabee has 25 years experience with Software Development, and in the last 10 years has specialized in the field of Data Science.
He is currently the CEO at KashKlik, an advanced Influencer Marketing platform.
Hayim provides consultancy and mentorship to startup companies in the fields of Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.

You can see my slides and video below.

Here is the video of the talk (in Hebrew):

This talk was hosted by the Haifa Tech Talks meetup group. Special thanks to Roman Levin who organized the event.

Posted in Data Science, Machine Learning, Research | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Managing your Reputation

This week I was invited to give talk to a group of Brazilian Olim (new immigrants) in Israel. In this talk I shared useful guidelines about how to manage and develop your personal reputation. I focused on providing practical advice about how to create opportunities by generating value to the people in your professional network.

You can see my slides and video below.

Here is the video of the talk (in Portuguese):

Special thanks to Carol Hauser Slapak who organized the event and invited me to give this talk.

Posted in Efficacy, Social Networks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Coronavirus, Black Swans and Worst-Case Scenarios

blackswanThe concept of Black Swans was popularized by the author Nassim Taleb. According to his definition:

“What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes.

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme ‘impact’, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explains almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.”

It is clear that the current spread of the Coronavirus is an example of a Black Swan. It was completely unexpected, it has extreme consequences and is now being explained. In practice what it means is that our reality became much worse than any worst-case scenario.

Worst-Case Scenarios

When people make plans, a traditional way to develop a solid strategy is to consider several potential scenarios. Because we are dealing with the future, we cannot be absolutely sure about anything, so creating possible scenarios sounds like a good way to deal with the uncertainties. One of these scenarios is the worst-case scenario:

“A worst-case scenario is a concept in risk management wherein the planner, in planning for potential disasters, considers the most severe possible outcome that can reasonably be projected to occur in a given situation. Conceiving of worst-case scenarios is a common form of strategic planning, specifically scenario planning, to prepare for and minimize contingencies that could result in accidents, quality problems, or other issues.”

However, when there is a Black Swan, like the current Coronavirus pandemic, reality may become worse than the worst-case scenario. The Black Swan is by definition an event totally unexpected, and as such it could not have been part of our plans.

Goals, Plans and Attributes

The purpose of a plan is to reach some goal. But when there is a Black Swan, all the plans become irrelevant, because the goals themselves need to be changed. For example, instead of having the goal to grow their revenue or increase their sales, at this moment many companies are just trying to survive.

In order to face unexpected situations, we do not need plans, but we do need relevant attributes. In the case of software systems these are normally called “non-functional attributes”, because they are not directly related to the function performed by the system. These non-functional attributes are properties that all systems should ideally have. Examples are Robustness, Resilience and Fault-Tolerance.

Thus we do not need a predefined plan to handle the Coronavirus crisis, and it should not be taken in consideration as a potential worst-case scenario. What we do need is to develop the attribute of Robustness in order to survive this or any other Black Swan that we will never be able to predict.

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Welcome to Chaos: Corona, Bat Soup and the Butterfly Effect

butterflyThe natural tendency of humans is to look for order. In general, the progress and development of technology and society have enabled us to live in a world that is much more organized and predictable than the one of our ancestors. However there are moments in which this order is disrupted and things become chaotic. We are living one of such moments now, with the Corona virus spreading fast across countries.

But what looks like chaos is not necessarily the total lack of order. Actually, chaotic states may also be studied, and this is the purpose of Chaos theory. According to Wikipedia:

“Chaos theory is a branch of Mathematics focusing on the study of chaos—states of dynamical systems whose apparently-random states of disorder and irregularities are often governed by deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary theory stating that, within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization.”

One of the most popular concepts of Chaos theory is the Butterfly Effect:

“The Butterfly Effect, an underlying principle of chaos, describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state (meaning that there is sensitive dependence on initial conditions). A metaphor for this behavior is that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in Texas.”

Corona Virus

bat soupAt this moment, the Corona virus is disrupting the life of hundreds of millions of people globally. Factories have been closed, travelers have cancelled their trips, conferences have been postponed, children are studying from home.

There is a rumor that everything started with a Chinese guy eating bat soup. Imagine that: one person eating bat soup in China causes Billions of dollars of losses in the economy worldwide. Exactly like the Butterfly Effect.

But it is not really important if the Corona virus started with a bat soup. The fact is that at some point a single person got infected accidentally, and now all the world is suffering the consequences. This is Chaos theory, in practice.

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Time immigrants: facing the unknown

time_travelAn immigrant is a person that makes the decision to leave his native country and move to a foreign country. The immigrant is conscious that he will face many difficulties and will have to adapt to a new reality. He may need to learn a new language, and probably will have to acquire new skills. When a person immigrates, he decides to face the unknown. He leaves a world that is very familiar and well understood, and moves into a new environment that is full of challenges.

Today we are living in a world that is changing extremely fast. New sophisticated technologies are constantly replacing other technologies that become obsolete. Some traditional professions are disappearing while new specializations are being created. College students are not sure if they will be able to find good jobs when they graduate, and at the same time many companies have difficulties hiring qualified professionals with the right expertise.

We are not able to predict how exactly our lives will change in the next decades, but we know for sure that the future will be very different from the present. We will probably face many difficulties and have to adapt to a new reality. We may need to acquire new skills. We are leaving a world that is very familiar and well understood, and moving into a new environment that is full of challenges. We are not immigrating geographically, but we are time immigrants.

Are you ready to time-immigrate? What is your strategy to succeed in a world that will be drastically different from the one you know?

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On Brainstorms and Criticism

This is the definition of Brainstorming from the Wikipedia:

“Brainstorming is a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.

In other words, brainstorming is a situation where a group of people meet to generate new ideas and solutions around a specific domain of interest by removing inhibitions. People are able to think more freely and they suggest as many spontaneous new ideas as possible. All the ideas are noted down without criticism and after the brainstorming session the ideas are evaluated.”

In the quote above, the emphasis on “without criticism” is mine. As we know, it is not a natural tendency for people to avoid making criticism. They may even be able to refrain from making an open criticism, but in general it is quite hard for people to identify with the innovative ideas being proposed by others.

Therefore, even if during the brainstorming session the ideas are not criticized, most of them will be immediately discarded when “after the brainstorming session the ideas are evaluated.”

This is very well depicted in the cartoon below:

ideas

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