A better interview question & 5 steps to succeeding in your company.

I own a own small business and have done a lot of interviewing over the years. I’m the one sitting on the hiring side of those interviews, and there is one question that gets asked by almost every person:

“What opportunities are there for advancement?”

I hate that question because in my business, like most small businesses, there’s basically everyone doing the day-to-day work and then me. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for pre-defined corporate advancement. Yes, we have big plans as a company and hopefully those advancements will be in place some day. But I’d like to suggest, even if that happens, there is a much better question to ask: Continue reading A better interview question & 5 steps to succeeding in your company.

Black hatting Yelp: How to wreck a company profile photo


A few days ago I went to our Chicago Yelp page to find that someone had gamed Yelp and managed to update our company profile picture to a close-up of a young woman that has absolutely nothing to do with our business (we fix broken iPhones and iPads). It doesn’t even show her holding a phone. It looks like a Match.com profile picture.

Continue reading Black hatting Yelp: How to wreck a company profile photo

My Response to a Customer that Questioned My Employees’ Integrity

We recently received an email from one of our customers concerning his daughter’s iPhone which was rebroken. Our warranty policy does not cover phones that are dropped and broken again but we had a new employee working when he initially called us and he was told we would refix it for free. When he came in, the employee that actually helped him that day, a different employee, told him we don’t cover new damage. He was very upset and requested to speak to the owner.

That would be me.

Because of the confusion, I decided we’d make an exception and fix his phone again at no charge.

Then later that day he sent me a very legalistically worded email which included the following couple of sentences:

Continue reading My Response to a Customer that Questioned My Employees’ Integrity

My Startup Made More Money Than Amazon

This is my third version of this post. The first attempt was a rant about how idiotic it is that so many people think it’s a good business practice to lose money and worry about profits later. Profits need to be a major part of any business strategy. I firmly believe that.

But it was an angry post so I started over.

The second version focused on the idea that you don’t have to make an investment in the future OR make a profit. You can, as Jim Collins says, embrace the AND – make money AND invest in the future.

It was a good post and you’ll never get to read it.

I shared it with a couple of close and trusted friends. They happen to be the founders of an LA startup business called Adomic. They’re sharp guys and their business received $1.7 million in funding back in January of this year. Both made the point that things are more nuanced than simply, “make a profit AND invest in the future.”

A lot of startup businesses can’t make a profit until they’ve built a product (which takes time and money), put together a team (more money, more time), and started to bring in paying customers (money + time). In short, there are legitimate reasons for a well run company to lose money.

I hate it when smart people make me reconsider my position. It requires actual hard thought and, in this case, admitting I was wrong. Not completely wrong, mind you, but a little bit wrong.

Now for my third attempt… Continue reading My Startup Made More Money Than Amazon

Top Tips from a Series on Time Management

Recently I was asked to write for a great Chicago startup blog called Technori. A few weeks ago they had me do a three part series on time management. The ironic thing is, each post turned out to be pretty long and it took a fair amount of time to read all three of them. So I decided to distill the top points from each post right here in something much shorter and quicker to read.

Continue reading Top Tips from a Series on Time Management

Applying for a Job on Craigslist

About 4 months ago I did a post on how to find a good employee using Craigslist. We’ve used the techniques discussed in that post a few times since then and hired several great, new employees. That said, we still get a lot of responses from people that make me scratch my head. So I decided to complement that first post with some advice for prospective employees.

Continue reading Applying for a Job on Craigslist

The Mistake Process

This is a post about dealing with mistakes. To illustrate the process we use at JCD Repair, I’m going to use an example of an iPhone 4 that we broke. Before I go any farther, I’d like to state one thing: Our repair technicians are fantastic and they do an incredible job.

I don’t say that to brag or for marketing reasons, but I want you to know that what happened here is extremely uncommon. In the past year we’ve fixed over 12,000 iPhones, iPads, and iPods with a 99.9% success rate. That said, once in a very rare while we make a mistake. That’s what this post is about. Mistakes. They are fact of life – business or personal life – and it’s what you do after a mistake happens that really defines who you are as a business or as a person.

So without further ado, a real world example of a mistake and how we dealt with it…

Continue reading The Mistake Process