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Einstein and Business by jigordon
February 19, 2008, 9:54 am
Filed under: communication, contract management, negotiation

Max Kalehoff is a marketing expert. He’s also a fan of Einstein – yeah, Albert. In a stroke of pure genius, he realized that Einstein figured out marketing. Check out this list of 10 quotes from Einstein and Max’s commentary from a recent post at OnlineSpin.

1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So why not cultivate imagination? Why not seek it out when screening new hires, or emphasize it in professional development, or cherish it when problem-solving?

2. “A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.” What really are you trying to achieve? How well is your mission defined? Perfection of everything else is meaningless if you and your organization don’t know where you’re headed. This is where leadership begins.

3. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” This is an ideology of humbleness, selflessness and authenticity. Embodying this ideology creates longer-term, competitive advantage. Value to customer is what really matters, not whether you’re successful. You’ll end up successful if you create value.

4. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” In an increasingly quant-driven marketplace, it’s easy to obsess on what you can count and disregard the rest. This paradox contributes to the confusion of aims mentioned above. To be successful, it’s critical to find alternative means of codifying and leveraging the important things you can’t count.

5. “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” Perhaps violence is less relevant in most businesses, but size and complexity are major problems. For reasons I can’t explain, marketers too often get obsessed with size and complexity — as if they’re desirable. The fact is they’re the opposite, and they’re offensive jabs at our most precious assets: time and attention. Marketers may not see this, but customers do. Customers delight in simplicity and efficient use of space and time.

6. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This is true for internal employee communications, as well as customer communications. Master your subject matter so you can confidently pick the language, concepts and style that communicate with the greatest ease and efficiency.

7. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Mistakes and losses should actually be rewarded. Fear and low tolerance for mistakes breads stagnant cultures and boring products.

8. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” When you enable passion, you drive focus, cultivate mastery, leverage spontaneity, foster creativity, build intuition and live toward mission. The dots connect, clarity emerges.

9. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Truth is paramount, but carelessness with what is small is a window into how one may handle anything large. The small stuff matters.

10. “Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” Same for marketing and business in general. Need I say more?


So, what does this have to do with software licensing, contracts or negotiation? Well, re-read the list while you think about contracting (and more specifically, contract drafting). Notice anything? Yeah – the list applies to us as well. So here’s the list again, this time with contracting-specifics:
1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” You can study every contract drafting book in the world. If you do not have the ability to understand what your business folks are doing and translate that into contractual terms that make sense (ie: creativity and imagination), you’re going to miss some really big opportunities.

2. “A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.” What really are you trying to achieve? How well is your mission defined? Perfection of everything else is meaningless if you and your organization don’t know where you’re headed. This is where leadership begins. [I don’t need to change anything here, this is applies as written.]

3. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” This is an ideology of humbleness, selflessness and authenticity. Embodying this ideology creates longer-term, competitive advantage. Value to customer is what really matters, not whether you’re successful. You’ll end up successful if you create value. [Ditto.]

4. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Similar to what Max already wrote, you’re going to be called upon to try to quantify contractual terms, risk and value. Sometimes you can do it, sometimes you can’t. But you need to be able to explain the “why” of what you’re doing, and where it impacts your business. There are times that this will be extremely frustrating. You will recognize a Service Level just begging for an SLA – but you won’t be able to quantify it. Do your best anyways.

5. “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” OK, so I’m guilty of 60 page license agreements. But every year or less, I take a fresh pass through the document to try to slim it down, make it more readable, less complex. I look for ways to simplify, consolidate or eliminate. Having long agreements for the sake of long agreements isn’t good. If you can say in one sentence what you would prefer to say in five, say it in one.

6. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This is true for internal employee communications, as well as customer communications. Master your subject matter so you can confidently pick the language, concepts and style that communicate with the greatest ease and efficiency. [No changes from Max’s explanation.]

7. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Lawyers, accountants and other such professionals seem to be extraordinarily weary of making mistakes. God forbid you ever admit to one, either. But here’s the kicker, we all make mistakes. Yep, even you. The trick is to learn from them, make corrections and move on. It’s only making the same mistake twice that’s not so good.

8. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Some contract professionals believe that they’re trained monkeys – that anyone could do their job with a little instruction and a computer. Well, maybe they’re right to some degree. Writing a contract isn’t really comparable to rocket science. With the proper training and time, I can teach almost anyone how to review and write a pretty decent contract. In fact, most folks want to see other people’s contract templates for this very reason. But there is another level. A class of contract professionals who extend the value, create better contracts and are better negotiators. It’s not talent that separates them from their average peers. It’s curiosity and drive. You can have it, too.

9. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Truth is paramount, but carelessness with what is small is a window into how one may handle anything large. The small stuff matters. [Max nailed it… but here’s a little extra.] You MUST ALWAYS BE TRUTHFUL as a contracts professional. There’s no wiggle room, no area for interpretation. Above-board behavior is the ONLY acceptable behavior. This is why you don’t go to lunch on someone else’s tab during negotiations or accept gifts from potential vendors. But what about…? But what if…? But how…? But nothing.

10. “Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” Same for marketing and business in general. Need I say more? [No, Max, you don’t. Great list, great post.]

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