Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New INC Magazine Blog Post by 1871 CEO Howard Tullman

Sometimes You Have to Change the Rules. You Always Have to Be Careful About It.

L.L. Bean got undeserved grief for adjusting its famous lifetime guarantee. But the company needed to deter the "customers" who were gaming the system. Startups, too, face the issue of seeing good intentions veer off course. Learn how to reduce that risk.

CEO, 1871@tullman

There's an old expression that "no good deed goes unpunished," which I sometimes think has become a cliché.  And then when I watch the trials and tribulations of a business like L.L. Bean, whose good-faith commitment and lifetime guarantees to customers have been shamelessly abused for years by flea market phonies, eBay a-holes and other crafty resale store shoppers, I remember that things become clichés, not because they're pithy phrases, but because they're sadly too true. It's unfortunate when a few bad apples (cliché alert!) can spoil things for the rest of us, but it's the nature of our world today.

When a first-class firm like Bean tries to respond-- in a reasonable and long overdue way-- to creeps and cheats gaming its return policies by implementing common-sense adjustments, the company is summarily subjected to cheap shots, bad press, a bunch of SM trolls and strike suits/baseless litigation by the omnipresent class action lawyers. I just hope Bean has the guts to stick to its gum-soled hunting boots. Honestly, knowing that merchants stand behind their products for the long haul is more a source of comfort and reassurance than some kind of dollar and cents consideration.
At the same time and in the interest of full disclosure: I'm a million years old and yet I'll readily admit that, when I bought my latest pair of Doc Martens, I went with the For Life 1460's because I liked the idea that I might actually be around long enough to take advantage of the guarantee. Was the lifetime guarantee really a deciding factor in my purchase or any realistic component of the "consideration" for the commerce?  Did I detrimentally rely on the guarantee, as the lawyers say? I don't think so. It was maybe a "nice to have" add-on or a "feel-good" feature, but it certainly didn't drive the deal. I just love the boots.
And more likely, what's really at work here is another version of the classic psychological observation that many of us who are still buying books (now neatly stacked on our nightstands or in our bookcases) actually do it in part because we think that buying the books will create the time we need to read them. (Concerned digital readers should rest assured that I also have a stack of Kindles sitting right next to the pile of books.)
Of course, in our "right now" world, maybe offers of lifetime guarantees have effectively outlived their viability and even their marketing value in an age where the demand for instant gratification is intense and overnight product obsolescence is virtually assured. On the other hand, if we're lucky, the ideas and values they stand for-- excellent execution, commitment and pride, and true craftsmanship-- will never go out of style, regardless of how many cute little gizmos we can 3D print in our garages. We may not always want to pay for it, but we know great quality when we see or feel it.
This whole "good deed" thing got me thinking about how in the startup world there are also a multitude of ways in which the best of intentions can easily lead to bad decisions and lousy results.  This is something for every smart entrepreneur to keep in mind. We see a problem and we want to be super responsive; we jump to a conclusion, we impose a quick solution (a new rule, a different process, more required approvals, etc.), and then we move on to the next fire.
But, in our desire to hurry up and do something--pretty much anything, if the truth be told-- it's too easy to overdo it. When your hair's on fire, you really want to avoid putting it out with a hammer. Sound familiar? We've all been to this movie but, as often as not, it doesn't have a happy ending, for a few important reasons.
First, effective and consistent communication is harder than you think. You know what your new change is intended to accomplish and how you expect to see it implemented but, in the heat of the moment, not everyone gets the right message. And then things start to quickly go south. Some folks take the news too literally and they end up slowing down every transaction in order to get things exactly right instead of only dealing with the exceptions and the outliers. People aren't good listeners and it pays to repeat yourself a lot. And also, it's very smart to keep an eye on the store so that, if and when things get off the track, you can intervene before it's too late.  As they will tell you at Cape Canaveral, a millimeter's deviation at launch and you miss the moon by miles. Head the problems off at the pass and save a lot of grief in the future.
Second, even startups can be surprisingly bureaucratic. You don't want to answer the same questions over and over again and, for sure, you don't want to waste time addressing the same problem repeatedly, so you make a new policy or rule in order to put things behind you and to bed. And sometimes that happens. But policies don't put themselves into effect; people need to be part of the program and, here again, it quickly becomes clear that one size (or one solution) never fits every situation. You've got to make room for some flexibility and exceptions to even the best rules. Rote rules make for robots, not great results. Overkill is a real issue and customers are very sensitive to changes in the ways you've always done things. This is especially true if you haven't done a good job of explaining the "why" for the change as well as the "what" that has changed for both your team members and your clients and customers as well.  
And finally, take your time and try to overcome your best/worst instincts to fix something fast. Not everything is a fire drill or a complete crisis and going off half-cocked is the worst thing you can do in sensitive situations -- especially when it later becomes clear that you charged off in the wrong direction. In the short term, people want answers, but in the long run, people don't remember how quickly you fixed something; they remember how well the solution worked out for them.

1871 CEO Howard Tullman in Podcast with Leap Innovations CEO Phyllis Lockett



How can advisors adapt their businesses to compete in an age where many clients rely on smart phone apps and technology to manage their investments?

We spoke with Howard Tullman, CEO of the Chicago-based technology incubator 1871.com, to get his insights. Here are his edited comments.

Technology has changed the landscape within the retail sector and is also impacting the way many people manage their investments. How should advisors approach the rapid advancements in technology?

Howard Tullman: One of the things I often say is that retail isn’t dead but lousy retail is dead. And in the same way, advisors can use technology as a shield to protect themselves, or they can use it as a weapon to help them do a better job. How do they make their connection to their customers more personal? How do they make it more about real results? And then how do they add back the human element? Treating technology not as the enemy, but as your friend, is the best approach, in my opinion.

How can advisors go about this? How do they embrace technology and use it to improve results?

Tullman: Well, I think the first thing advisors need to understand is that algorithms and machines can help them do their job better. Because it can free up time that they previously spent on analytics and on reviewing things. And they can convert that time into improving their connection to the customer. Ultimately, I think the best defense against automation, algorithms, and price competition is connection. Connection is about demonstrating that you are actually paying attention to your clients. That means demonstrating on a regular basis that you are actively looking out for your clients’ best interests.

Many of today’s younger investors have never known a world without the Internet or smart phones. They are comfortable transacting online. How can advisors reach out to these investors and establish personal relationships?

Tullman: Fidelity’s own research indicates that a large percentage of advisors would say that they have no connection with the adult children of their clients. That’s something advisors have to work on. They have to figure out how to create an environment where they can have a family meeting or invite their clients’ adult children to a luncheon or some other meeting. Or perhaps, with the permission of the advisor’s client, advisors can create a portfolio document of some kind that shows them where things stand and what they might inherit from their parents in the future. Or even solicit the names of stocks which the children are interested in as a potential part of their portfolio.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it can be hard for advisors to stand out from the crowd and gain attention. Do you have any suggestions for how advisors can execute an effective content marketing strategy?

Tullman: A lot of advisors start out with the best of intentions, but they quickly get overwhelmed. In some cases, they have not looked at their website or updated it in years. They end up with a “ghost site,” and that’s a horrible message to put out to clients and prospects. Even a simple active blog is better than a stale website. But if advisors scale back their plans a bit, keep their content personal, and post on regular basis, they may not find the process to be too onerous. Sharing one or two thoughts a week will help keep their firm top of mind for their clients and prospects. Relating these comments to current events is a good way to make things more relevant. The truth is very few people have enough time to create significant amounts of original content on their own. But if you can be perceived as somebody who’s in the know, who’s keeping clients current, and who’s saving them time, that’s a significant way to reinforce the value of what you’re doing for them.

With the pace of technological change seemingly moving faster every day, what can advisors do to adapt and keep up?

Tullman: The most important thing to remember is that the world won’t wait for you and that you need to start changing now. Or else you’ll be left behind. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable or uneasy about these things. Nobody is going to be a master of it on Day One. But if you don’t put your toe in the water, then for sure, you’re not going to be able to keep up. I think it’s also important for advisors to understand that in many cases, they have acted as a “Lone Ranger” in many respects. That’s how they grew up and it’s how they built their practice. Today, that’s just not a good strategy for success. Nobody is going to be able to do this stuff on their own. You need to have partners and people who can help you do a better job. Collaborating with your broker dealer can help you serve your clients and the next generation of investors even better.

Monday, February 19, 2018



Feb 19, 2018Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Works from the collection of Howard Tullman, CEO of tech incubator 1871 and entrepreneur, will be auctioned at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on February 19. Tullman and his wife Judith began collecting as a young couple and have since amassed an impressive collection of mainly figurative works, many of which are by artists featured in Juxtapoz in the past, and were discovered by the Tullmans there. The couple is committed to supporting emerging, boundary-pushing, visionary artists and have developed personal connections with many of the artists featured in their collection. See some of the work from the collection in the gallery below.
One such artist is Joe Coleman, whose work City Medical Patrol, is the top lot in the upcoming auction. Coleman is renowned for his painstakingly detailed surreal narrative paintings and fantastical portraiture of the famous and infamous. Deftly executed with a single haired paintbrush, under the magnification of jeweler’s loupe, the result is reminiscent of a Flemish Master illustrating a Mad Magazine Fold-In. City Medical Patrol, 1988 is an earlier career example by the artist, depicting in his typical intricately grotesque fashion a zombie disease outbreak ravishing a gritty urban street, perhaps self referentially eluding to the scourge of heroin addiction that Coleman battled in the 80s with fantastical virtuosity. Coleman, an artist in the Outsider tradition, has been widely embraced by the mainstream, as his work is highly sought after and he boasts an A-List clientele of rock, movie and art star collectors.

In addition to this masterpiece, works by artists Jamie Adams, Asgar/Gabriel, Laura Ball, Daniel Barkley, Libby Black, Erin Cone, Monica Cook, Matt Duffin, Dirk Dzimirsky, Natalia Fabia, Angela Fraleigh, Korin Faught, F. Scott Hess, Caitlin Hurd, Ian Ingram, Steven Kenny, Willi Kissmer, Adela Leibowitz, Kris Lewis, Alex Lukas, David Lyle, Daniel Maidman, Eloy Morales, Mark Mulroney, Reuben Negron, Jennifer Nehrbass, Tim Okamura, Omar Ortiz, Jennifer Presant, Lee Price, Chris Scarborough, Sharon Sprung, Alison Stinely, Jonathan Viner, Marie Vlasic, Caleb Weintraub, Barnaby Whitfield, Dan Witz and Rob Zeller, all of whom have been featured in Juxtapoz, are highlights of the auction and demonstrate the Tullman’s appreciation for artists in our realm. For more information and steps to register for bidding, click here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


When You Follow a Legend, You Can't Be Meek
Bosses such as Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer, who take charge after a founder departs, have a particularly difficult challenge. But there's a trick to successful succeeding: once you solve the people issues, everything else gets easier.

CEO, 1871@tullman

Taking the leadership job is tough enough.  But there's an even higher degree of difficulty in being Act Two, following in the footsteps of "larger-than-life" founders like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Sam Walton as they move away from the day-to-day of a thriving business or sell the whole shebang and leave you holding the bag for the new buyers. Even if most of the miracle tales of superhuman struggles and successes ripped from the jaws of certain defeat are somewhat inflated, these founders got the deals done; the investors and customers appeared; and serious businesses got built.
Following such an act is not going to be easy. But, as the Navy Seals say, there's no easy way and the only easy day was yesterday. The initial change and transition in some cases might just be something as simple as: (a) the team deciding it's time for the CEO to stop selling directly  and for him or her to focus more on financing, strategy, strategic partnerships and other matters; or (b) it could be a big company-wide reorganization with you taking on a lot of new reports and responsibilities or (c) because dreams sometimes do come true, maybe the board or new owner decides that you're the right one right about now to get the job done.

Congratulations, the spotlight's shining on you and it seems like the whole world is watching. Showtime! No more rehearsals, second chances or do-overs. And understand that while the process is important, and good consistent and clear communication is critical, this whole transition thing is much more about the people than anything else. I'm talking about the ones who are coming, the ones who are staying, and the ones who are going --voluntarily or otherwise. If you get the people part done well, the rest of the transition will be a lot easier-- because you won't be doing it alone.
And, while we're on the subject of staying or overstaying one's welcome, I'd say, without seeming too callous, that the transition will have less friction if the founder becomes less visible and less active in the business. Founders have a tough time letting go and an inordinate fondness for the past and the ways that business used to get done. Of course, you might get lucky and have a real ally on your side, someone who knows where the bodies are buried and which people and other pitfalls to avoid. Because absolutely everyone's got an agenda.  The best change managers, just like the best managers in baseball, are the ones who can keep the players who hate them away from the ones who haven't made up their minds yet. So, don't be too quick to shove anyone out the door. Good help is hard to find.
And, to be clear, figuring this stuff out on the fly is a real bear. But there are a few ground rules that can help you make it through the gauntlet without losing your soul or any skin in the process. Keep in mind that these are basically tactical suggestions: that is, defining the long view, setting the overall vision and strategy, and building critical cultural fit as well as social capital are topics for another day. First things first: you can't build a new foundation if the place is on fire.
The first rule is to control your calendar and make sure that you are running the show.  You have to rule your inbox, not the other way around. Everything isn't an emergency and not everything has to be done yesterday. Your time is scarce and precious, unlike some of the people you'll have to deal with, who have nothing but time and are always looking for ways to justify their existence as well as to  waste your time. Media mavens, public officials, job seekers, and a million other people with a cause will all appear at your doorstep looking to offer advice and asking for favors, resources, and assistance.

And, while the founder knew the ones who were full of it and figured out early on how to avoid them, you'll have to suffer these same so-and-so's for a while. But you can be smart about it. You can also expect all kinds of other unwelcome "experts" to come out of the woodwork.  Mentors, advisors, and board members who suddenly return to life with only the best of intentions. I'd suggest that  board members in particular should wait a while, to be specifically asked for their help, before rushing in. 

The second rule is to quickly re-recruit your key players and to get the spectators off the field. Work from the inside out and fix the folks first. Focus on keeping the ones who can get you to where you need to go - the ones who've been there before - and not simply the "nice" ones who don't have any other place to be. Your job isn't to defend yesterday; it's to build for tomorrow. Change is hard for anyone and people - regardless of their age - don't like it and they like surprises even less. Ambiguity is a culture-killer and  sometimes any decision, right or wrong, is better than limbo. The sooner you let all the people know who's staying and who's not, the happier everyone will be. The worst thing to do is the "salami" solution - continual small slices and repeated layoffs with no end in sight. Go early and go deep - 2x is better than any piecemeal plan. And remember that the people who come back to haunt you aren't the ones you let go; they're the ones you should have fired and didn't.

The third rule is: don't let anyone make a liar out of you. People who aren't committed - people who are just biding their time and phoning it in - are the ones who you need to confront and convert or tell to take a hike. You need to get any resistance out in the open. People don't like conflict and will try to hide any bad news until the last possible moment when it's often too late to fix. Tell your people what you expect, what that will entail and require of them, and how their results will be measured. Commitments from these people in words, but not actions are worthless. Don't confuse their good manners with agreement. As Samuel Goldwyn used to say: tell me the truth even if it costs you your job. In the real world, the truth only hurts when it ought to, and there's no need to make or take things personally, but having straightforward and direct conversations as early as possible is essential.  And don't accept apologies (or promises to do better next time) from people who don't change their behavior. These aren't apologies - they're insults.

The fourth rule is to fix a few things fast if you can. If you can't commit to major changes overnight (and you shouldn't), commit to what you can do and get those things done. Ordinarily, I suggest that, if you have to eat a bunch of frogs (problems), you swallow the biggest one first. But, in this context, it makes much more sense to watch for a while, understand the culture, get the leaders and the influencers aligned with your vision and aspirations, get buy-in from your board, and then move quickly to make the bigger changes once you've made the decisions. In the meantime, shoot for small victories, visible results, quick turnarounds and then make sure that you celebrate those early successes.

And finally, don't spread yourself too thin or try to be Superman. Set the major goals and objectives and let your team implement the strategies. Let them do their jobs. This involves and empowers them and gets them into the game rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting to be told what to do. And, most importantly, it gives them a real sense of controlling their own destiny.

Saturday, February 10, 2018



Halfstackmagazine.blogspot.com · 4h

Futureproofing Your Business

Thursday night, 1871 joined UINQLO at their Michigan Avenue Global Flagship Store in kicking off their Chicago Made: Innovating for Tomorrow series. This free series of four event that covers topics on global tech trends, sustainability, retail, and social impact. Every Thursday though March 1, the series will feature 1871's senior executives and key members of the community who will speak and participate at each event. This marks the second collaboration between 1871 and UNIQLO to create a shopping experience that is specifically tailored to the Chicago community.

"We're honored to once again join UNIQLO in an effort to drive engagement and value for the innovators and designers in our community. Working closely with UNIQLO, we're able to share our knowledge on relevant tech and business matters with the creators and pioneers who embody the same entrepreneurial spirit as our members at 1871", said Howard A. Tullman, CEO, 1871

This week's event "Futureproofing Your Business" By Howard A. Tullman, CEO,1871

Howard Tullman, CEO 1871
The night started out with an introduction by Victoria Simpson, General Manger of the UNIQLO Chicago North Michigan Avenue Store, on UNIQLO and their mission to create innovative, high-quality apparel that improves the life of its customers. Along with their excitement to expand the partnership with 1871.

Howard Tullman started out by stating "Today everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Tomorrow everyone will need to be entrepreneurial" This is a trend catching on from Jocks to Fashion Moguls to Music in order to keep up with technology and retail's ever changing user experience.

Tullman gave the audience 11 keys features in futureproofing business. Key features included you get what you work for, not what you wish for, so set the bar for yourself high. Then keep raising it higher. Do a few things well and focus on what is crucial because there is not enough time to do it all at once. If you are multi-tasking you are just doing a lot of things badly. Don't be reluctant to change your mind and don't cling to a mistake because you spent a lot of time on it.

After the presentation there was a Q&A session. While most were asking Howard Tullman about business and entrepreneurship, I had the opportunity to ask to him about product innovations designed for this collaboration. 1871 worked with 20 of the companies that they work with to produce the innovative line of apparel and accessories for UNIQLO. Featured products included Hidrate™ Spark 2.0 water bottle that syncs to an app on your phone and alerts you to stay hydrated. Slapmap® which is a tear-resistant, water resistant, and pen resistant map of Chicago that folds up into a snap-bracelet! Another innovative product is a bracelet by Dresscode™ to excite women and girls about computer science through unlocking coding lessons with the code embossed on the bracelets though their website. There will be a rotation of innovative products during this collaboration.


Dresscode's Coding Bracelet

Consul General of Japan, Naoki Ito made a special appearance.

Left to Right: Kimiyo Naka, Howard Tullman, and Naoki Ito

Missed the first event of the series? There are three more events all hosted at UNIQLO's Michigan Avenue's Global Flagship Store, held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. CDT. The next three featured events are...

  • February 15: "Breaking Ice: Improving Inclusion at Work" with Julie Felix, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Mesirow Financial, and Tom Alexander, COO, 1871.

  • February 22: "Chicago Made Better: Entrepreneurship for Social Good" a panel discussion featuring a dynamic group of Chicago entrepreneurs with social impact missions.

  • March 1: "Behind Bitcoin: Why Your Cash Is Going Digital" by Joe Hernandez, Founder of the Chicago Blockchain Project.

To reflect both organizations' commitment to sustainability and giving back to the community UNIQLO is having a coat drive until March 1. Customers are encouraged to bring in gently-used outerwear that will be donated to Cornerstone Community Outreach.

Curious about 1871 and UNIQLO's collaboration but can't attend any events? Visit UNIQLO and check out the featured line of products!

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