Category Archives: random

The PROFIT500

Every year, PROFIT Magazine turns successful entrepreneurs into the heroes of Canadian business through its Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program. Now, to mark its 25th year, the ranking is expanding to celebrate 500 of Canada’s best and brightest companies. Once again, ViRTUS is proud to be a sponsor.

If your business has grown by just 50% or more in the past five years, apply now at PROFIT500.com.

Continue reading

How does your growth stack-up against the top 200 fastest growing companies in Canada?

Once again I’m proud to announce that once again that ViRTUS is partnering with PROFIT Magazine to help find the fastest growing companies in Canada. Think you have what it takes? Read on…

Overview
Celebrating its 24th Anniversary in 2012, the PROFIT 200 is Canada’s largest annual celebration of entrepreneurial achievement. Ranking the nation’s Fastest- Growing Companies by five-year revenue growth, the PROFIT 200 profiles Canada’s most successful growth companies in the June issue of PROFIT. The PROFIT 200 CEOs are also invited to the exclusive PROFIT 200 CEO Summit, the country’s most rewarding executive development and networking event for entrepreneurs. Continue reading

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 20,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Top six most popular blog posts

Here are the top six most popular blog posts that I’ve written in past few years:

  1. Adult Experiential Learning Cycle
  2. Five Stages of Learning
  3. Webinar: Leadership in Turbulent Times
  4. Video: What I wish I’d known when I was a teenager
  5. Andragogy versus Pedagogy
  6. Quickest way to measure corporate culure

The value of a virtual office

More and more, CEOs, Executives, and Entrepreneurs ask me about our virtual office and how it works. For the first 10 1/2 years of our business we had three different offices. For the past year and a half we’ve been virtual. It has been one of the best things we’ve done for the growth of the company. Here is what we have learned along the way:

The Fear of Virtual

It’s amazing the misconceptions people have, primarily that if they were to switch to a virtual office that they wouldn’t know what their employees are up and productivity would plummet. They wonder what their customers would think: one of our largest customers said that our experience with being virtual was a key point in choosing us as a partner – they are actively moving 70% of their workforce to virtual in the next few years: 33,000 employees spread out across Canada and three continents.

If I can’t see ’em, how do I know they’re workin’?

The reality of the knowledge economy is that even if you have everyone in the same business you can’t actually see what they are up to. Sitting at desk for eight hours is not a sign of productivity. Look out your office door right now: can you see what people are up to? Are they working, chatting on IM, updating their Facebook profile, playing online poker, beefing up their linkedin profile so they can leave because you don’t trust them? In a physical office setting it’s easy to confuse activity with results. In a virtual office, results are all we see.

What Will Really Happen

Our experience has been the complete opposite of what most CEOs and Entrepreneurs that are worried about going virtual think. It helps that we ascribe to the ROWE (results only work environment) espoused by Daniel Pink in his book Drive!. Here’s what our experience has been so far:

  • We’re collaborating better than ever before (we wouldn’t have invested in the collaboration tools above if we still had a physical office)
  • We’ve had a significant increase in productivity (no commute time means productive time)
  • We make less assumptions around what others “already know about” and this has led to improved communication
  • We’ve moved outside of the box and into the future of tools that are out there to hold meetings, communicate etc. (yammer, Webex, etc.)
  • We have ability and autonomy to work from anywhere and that is priceless: increased efficiency, work-life balance, and adaptablility
  • We realized that it’s not where we are, but what we’re doing and who we’re with that gets the job done (being in the office doesn’t actually mean I’m accomplishing anything)
  • We have increased our levels of trust and put an emphasis on results-based roles or “job descriptions,” which motivates us far more than being in the office 8am-6pm.
  • We’re able to take care of family at home when they’re in need.
  • We have increased productivity and efficiency in work and personal life – less time around the ‘water cooler’ for the wrong reasons.
  • We are able to travel and fulfill life dreams – and still work to pay for them!
  • We feel empowered by the autonomy that working alone provides.

Viva la Technologie

The key to making a virtual office work is hiring people you trust and having the right collaboration technology. Since we run on Macs we have no need for an IT support budget and everything just works “out of the box.” Here’s a list of software we use and why:

  • iDisk – virtual server (connects to our Macs, iPhones, iPads)
  • Yammer – like Twitter but just for ViRTUS (private)
  • Webex – group video conferencing, document review
  • Skype – video conferencing replacing phone calls and face-to-face meetings
  • WikiSpaces – our wiki (similar to wikipedia but just for ViRTUS)
  • TELUS IP Messaging Auto Attendant (virtual receptionist)

My Favourite Question

As you continue to grow ViRTUS will you get an office or offices around Canada? The answer: no. Going virtual was part of our growth plan. The larger we get, the more being virtual makes sense.

Two Important Behaviours

  • Meeting Rhythms – we have a weekly Operations Meeting over Webex, a Quarterly Creative Strategic Plan Update, a monthly Financial Transparency update (over Yammer), and a monthly Strategic Execution Review. This keeps everyone up-to-date on the key priorities in the business.
  • Clear Deadlines – this is important in bricks and mortar as well but in a virtual setting it’s critical to give deadlines with days and times as someone may work best in the mornings or evenings and that might not correspond well with the timeline you have to complete your project or task when it requires their support.

Closing Thought

If you’re not convinced yet: I wrote this post in Whistler, on a Friday, after a day of virtual meetings in the morning over Skype Video and then skiing in the afternoon with my wife, replying to calls and emails from my iPhone. Right now I’m staring out over the lake watching the sunset…

Are you one of the fastest growing companies in Canada?

On behalf of the team at ViRTUS, I’m proud to announce that once again we’re partnering with PROFIT Magazine to find the fastest growing companies in Canada. Think you have what it takes?  Continue reading

Winning the battle for email supremacy

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a note saying that he was feeling overwhelmed by email and wanted to know the strategies that other business people put into place to attempt to “tame the beast.” Since this seems to come up a lot in conversation lately I thought I would share what I do:

  • unsubscribe to all lists and newsletters
  • install Yammer in your company
  • batch process: check email in the morning, at lunch, and end of day and reply to everything at once
  • rules and folders for FYI stuff and delayed follow-up
  • send your worst cc’ers a note to say you don’t need to be cc’d unless it’s critical or requires an action in which case put me in the “To:” field and be very specific with your request and the timeliness of the response
  • delete anything that isn’t directly addressed to you in the first line – friends asking everyone for something realize you’re busy and will call or text you directly if they really need something
  • let go of the guilt that just because someone emailed you doesn’t mean you have to reply in a timely fashion – focus on your priorities first, not theirs
  • ask people at work to include deadlines or timelines on their requests so everything stops appearing “urgent”
  • ask people not to twitter dm, linkedin dm, or facebook msg you (too many Inboxes) then shut-off the auto emails that come from each for notifications.
  • remember this: some people get very little email because they don’t have anything interesting going on in their lives! Your life is clearly the opposite!