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8th Rockefeller Habit for Business Growth -- Diary of Radish, a tech start-up

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event - it is a habit.”

Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Philosopher and Scientist


Do you have good business habits?  Are your current habits getting you the results you need and want? Those firms using the Rockefeller Habits, as organized by Verne Harnish in his bestseller Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, along with the “Pursuit of Passionate Purpose” principles have an easier time producing great results.  Perhaps it is time to take your habits to the next level and as a result take your firm to the top.  Here is the 8th Habit that the most successful, fast growing firms have embraced along with an example of its application at Radish Systems.


8th of the 10 Rockefeller Habits.


8.  Ongoing employee feedback and input is systematized to remove obstacles and identify opportunities

  • Employee hassles/ideas/suggestions/issues are being collected weekly
  • There is a systematic process for addressing issues and opportunities
  • Thank you cards are being written every week by senior management


Radish Systems Case Study.


Have you tried using a Stop / Start / Continue list with your team?  Radish now has a monthly all-hands meeting where we, among other items on the agenda, ask what we should stop doing, start doing, and continue doing.  At our last meeting, people unanimously wanted to continue this kind of forum.  Since our team is spread from CT to NC to TX to CO to CA, we hold virtual meetings using audio and web conferencing.  This is one means to get and address feedback. 


In weekly meetings each functional team discusses status relative to its Critical Metrics.  Additionally, this is the place for team mates to offer additional suggestions to dehassle the organization.  Those ideas are either reviewed and immediately enacted in the department, or brought forth to the weekly senior staff meeting for a decision.


Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I just sent out online Thank You cards to three members of our sales team who are living Radish’s core values and making progress with significant accounts.  I also sent a group thank you email to our Launch Team which includes creative and hardworking team mates from development, support, marketing, support, and administration. After defining what needs to be done by when and by whom in a detailed Launch Plan, they are using the “Divide and Conquer” strategy --  dividing a big task into smaller pieces and tackling the small piece until it is complete.  There is much to do.  Yet there is progress.  Providing the team a sense of progress builds intrinsic motivation to continue persevering.

Interested in more of the story? Follow Radish @RadishSystems and @ChoiceView on Twitter and on its blog at

Theresa Szczurek ( and


There are not enough women leading tech start-ups.  My last article explored the why, where, and why-- why bother getting more women leaders, where do leaders come from, and why girls don’t pursue tech degrees and careers.  Here are some practical actions to take to change the situation.

While the research has been showing the same causes over and over again, here’s what to do about it.  Believe and act -- Believe it is possible to change the situation and take action.

1.  Build the Pipeline. 


“The key is to identify girls’ interests at an early age, provide them with the opportunities to learn about math, science, and technology, and link them together in a support network to keep them motivated.”

—     Sally Ride, NASA astronaut and founder, The Sally Ride Science Club     

  • Start early. Help the girls in your life learn to love mathematics and science and to envision themselves pursuing a related career.
  • Ask your schools to sponsor a MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) or some similar support program.  Colorado MESA is a state-wide pre-college program that provides after school math- and science-based learning activities to over 3,600 preK-12 students(in 2009), with over 78 percent from ethnic and gender groups that are under represented in engineering career fields.  It works. 100 percent of MESA seniors graduate from high school and historically, more than 90 percent have enrolled in college with over 80 percent enrolling in a math/science related major ( MESA is in many other states.
  • Become a sponsor of a support program, create an internship, or fund a scholarship.
  • Encourage participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs through Girl Scouts and other groups (e.g., University of Colorado Women in Engineering group is sponsoring Girl Scouts math and science badge days for students in September 2010 (


2.  Identify and Promote Role Models.  There are many successful female tech entrepreneurs including long-time veterans as well as up-and-coming leaders:

Margaret “Meg” Hansson has led 7 start-ups including Erth which has patented technologies to dispose of waste.

Diane Green, co-founder and CEO of VMware, transformed a 1998 start-up into a $2B public company leading the virtualization and cloud infrastructure.

Janet Eden Harris, previous CEO of Umbria, a marketing intelligence company sold to J.D. Powers, is now a leader at MarketForce.

Caterina Fake, cofounder of photo-sharing leader Flickr which was sold to Yahoo for a reported $35 million, is now working on the next venture.

  • Write about, talk about, promote, and get to know the women leading technology start-ups.  Find ways to show it has been done in order to inspire more girls and women to see themselves as leaders in the tech industry.
  • We need successful role models to mentor other girls and women.  Encourage them to envision themselves successful in this leadership role.


3.  Improve Access to Funding.  Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported in its 6/25/2010 article entitled’Women Entrepreneurs Still Struggle to Get Funded,’ that “Women launch nearly half of all startups, yet they lead only 7 percent of companies backed by venture capital.”  Wall Street Journal reporter Shira Ovide found that "only 11 percent of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders."  The I/O Ventures challenge as reported by Lindsay Holloway ( is a start, but not enough. 

  • We need supportive investors like Fred Wilson and Brad Feld to challenge the rest of the VC world to jump on the bandwagon to mentor and fund women-led businesses.
  • Establish funds that focus on supporting female entrepreneurs such as the now-closed Women’s Equity Fund.


4.  Think Bigger.  Women entrepreneurs may benefit from having a bigger vision.  In a series of focus groups my consulting firm ran on behalf of the Women’s Equity Fund and Boulder Technology Incubator, we concluded that female technology entrepreneurs were typically developing business plans that could generate up to $5M in revenues.  This size firm is not attractive to traditional tech funding sources such as venture capitalists. With the right strategic advice, many of these businesses could become much more successful. 

Women technology entrepreneurs should set a larger vision, develop business plans, and build teams to grow $100M+ businesses.  Hear more when Theresa Szczurek speaks on Thurs 9/16/2010 5:30pm at Boulder BPW (

Theresa Szczurek (,


There are not enough women leading tech start-ups.  The buzz is on ignited by the 8/27/2010 Wall Street Journal article “Addressing The Lack Of Women Leading Tech Start-Ups.”  As a serial tech entrepreneur, I participated in heated discussion for decades exploring why the dearth and how it negatively hurts society.  I propose four practical actions of what to do about it.  But first why, where, and why.


Why bother getting more women tech leaders?  Besides addressing gender equity issues, everyone stands to benefit – companies gain from female creativity and management styles, those companies’ customers, half of whom may be female, find unique products being brought to market in novel ways, the employees and people involved in the company benefit from women’s leadership, the women themselves self-actualize their potential, and our nation is ultimately more competitive from the outputs of more start-ups. The end result is a stronger tech engine.

Where do leaders of tech start-ups come from?  One proven path to tech leadership is to start as an engineer, scientist, mathematician, or computer scientist.  While women represent around 50 percent of the US graduates of law, medicine, and business degrees, the percentage of women graduates in engineering, science, and math graduates is well under 25 percent and has gone down over the years.  The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) reports, “In 2008 women earned only 18 percent of all Computer Science degrees. Back in 1985, women earned 37 percent of CS degrees.”  The same under-representation of women is seen in other tech fields. In 1996, only 17 percent of bachelor degrees in Engineering were earned by women.

Disappointedly, many females who graduate with a technology degree do not stay in the field.  The Society of Women Engineers ( reports statistics that between 7-16 percent of engineers, depending on the discipline, are female. According to a National Science Foundation 2009 report, only 11 percent of the engineering workforce in 2003 was women.


Why don’t girls pursue tech degrees and careers?  That is the question the Girl Scouts Research Institute explored.  The Girl Difference: Short-Circuiting the Myth of the Technophobic Girl, through a synthesis of relevant research, shows the following: 

  • Adults are not encouraging girls to pursue math, science, and technology-related courses.  (National Science Foundation)
  • Girls and women do not encounter enough mentors in their career pursuits.
  • Early childhood messages prevail. Boys are expected to learn about machines and how things work. Girls are not. Gender specific social expectations may play a role in limiting the likelihood that girls will be creators, shapers, and producers of technology.
  • Girls reject computer games that are violent, and they find action gaming boring and repetitious. Girls prefer games that feature simulation, strategy, and interaction. (American Association of University Women, Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age).
  • Women would be more attracted to computer science if it were integrated with other subjects and resulted in their ability to do something useful for society in their work. (Margolis, et al., Carnegie-Mellon University).

Four Practical Pointers of What to Do.

Stay tuned for my next article on what to do.  The answer is believe and act -- Believe it is possible to change the situation and take action.


Theresa M. Szczurek (,,