Generalists and specialists: when to hire for habits and when not to

When you’re building a team, each role is best filled by someone on a range between generalists and specialists. The first is flexible but lacking expertise, and the latter is experienced but lacking range.

Of course, like the term use among animals, most of us are somewhere on a spectrum, but it still can be a helpful prism to see your applicant pool. Some celebrate the generalist and others honor the specialist but both are necessary and nuanced. And perhaps most important to remember: anyone can move along that spectrum, depending on their willingness and adaptability. But be conscious of your choices.

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Technically Media will be establishing new headquarters

We’re staying in Philadelphia of course. But after three years as a tenant of noted University City-based venture capital firm First Round Capital, we’ve outgrown the space.

By the end of the year, we’ll be moving our more than dozen-person team to the top floor of the Curtis Center, a historic building in Old City Philadelphia that once held the celebrated Curits Publishing Company (the ones behind the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies Home Journal and the Public Ledger, among other brands).

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This column about Technical.ly was spiked by the Philadelphia Business Journal

Ahead of the fifth annual Philly Tech Week back in April, consultant and Drexel University chairman Stan Silverman, who writes a regular column for the Philadelphia Business Journal, decided to write about Technical.ly and my work there.

Unfortunately the Business Journal’s leadership flexed its editorial discretion and spiked the story. It wasn’t the first time we heard something about us was dropped by the publication — Silverman told me he never had a column idea killed like that before by his editor.

One can’t know exactly why but one might come to assume it’s a rather petty swipe at us, as they see us as a kind of competition. I hope we can all appreciate the irony that during this very same Philly Tech Week, we happily included and helped to promote a Business Journal event, their IT awards. Oh it’s too perfect.

I guess it’s just the difference between the open web and ugly legacy tendancies.

Read Silverman’s column, which he published on his personal site, here.

What you can learn from the calendar of our fifth annual Philly Tech Week

The fifth annual Philly Tech Week, now presented by Comcast, kicks off later this week. There are more than 150 events on the calendar, two dozen of the largest anchors we at Technical.ly organize. We publish in five markets now and do an array of events but this is easily the largest undertaking of ours each year.

Below find out what you can learn by looking at that calendar.

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A few additions to Philadelphia magazine’s profile of Technical.ly

Ahead of the fifth annual Philly Tech Week, Philadelphia magazine profiled Technical.ly, the local tech news site I cofounded that helps to organize the calendar of more than 150 events.

The piece is fair, largely flattering but challenging, too. It was written by Joel Mathis, whom I’ve come to know some through Philadelphia media circles but got to speak to more at length during the interview process (thanks for the interest Joel). I can admit that I was nervous how the piece would land after I found out the magazine announced plans to launch a vertical focused on “innovation,” but I’ve seen the piece and their plans for Biz Philly appear to be a wider business blog.

It’s still a strange time here for the local news media environment.

Still, though I think Joel did a fine job, I wanted to share a few more background thoughts for those who might be interested. Read the item here, or find a PDF of the article here or buy the mag if you can, then check out below.

(Also, check out this cool blog post of a mutual friend who reached out to make sure the typewriter I’m using in the photo was authentic — it was a gift from my grandfather.)

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Don’t build a company for 60 days. Try 60 years: SAP CEO Bill McDermott

When you run a publicly-traded company with an $80 billion market cap, it’s easy to focus on the short-term. Strained by a year of declining share price, Bill McDermott, the first American CEO of German software giant SAP, says he’s far more focused on making an organization-wide shift that will better suit the company for the future.

“You can’t build a company for 60 days; build for 60 years,” he said.

I interviewed McDermott as a keynote for the IMPACT venture capital conference held by PACT in Center City Philadelphia last week. Find my coverage of our conversation here.

Obamacare more than doubled my company’s healthcare costs: here’s what we did

Following the July 2014 final rules implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my company Technical.ly was impacted more severely than we expected. This is not a political article — I am not opposed to Obamacare — this is a small business owner’s experience.

With just eight full-time team members (excluding, of course, our part-time independent contractors), I am solely responsible for managing our healthcare coverage plan, and while I tried to prepare for what the change might be, I wasn’t ready for our costs to more than double, and, for some plans, almost triple. Here’s what I learned and what we did.

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Founders aren’t scalable

Founders aren’t scalable. You can grow an organization only so far with a founder and her emotion, personality and drive.

So you shouldn’t build an organization around them. They’re great in the beginning. They’re the ultimate generalists, as a good founder will do anything to get the job done. But it won’t last. It can’t last. Even if a founder stays a lifetime, eventually that life will end.

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