3 Steps to Capitalizing on Mistakes: Admit, Act, Access (Raptors & Startups)

Mistakes happen. The question is, when they do, what are you going to do about it?

Customer service skills are crucial for startups.  Whether you’re in validation phase building your base,  beta testing, or are about to hit your one millionth user, your customers matter, and bad days are going to happen. Servers go down, orders go missing, a team member blows it with a client, etc. Whatever type of bad day your startup is having, or mistake you’ve made, the world won’t end.

Here’s a quick three step guide to stepping up on mistakes. Admit. Act. Access.

  1. Admit There’s a Problem

The Raptors whimpered away from the Milwaukee Bucks in one of the most lopsided losses in  NBA Playoff history on April 20 (104-77, Game 3, Round 1 – not that we want to remember).  All-star point guard Kyle Lowry could only be honest in saying “we got our ass bust.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes. Whether it is to a customer, a client, or a team member, they just need to know you know there’s a problem. No excuse, no explanation, just admit there is a problem.

You can handle that right?
Your business won’t close, you wont lose (many) customers.

You won’t.

In fact, Salesforce states that making mistakes can be can be the perfect path to customer loyalty.  But you can’t start the journey if you don’t own the mistake.

2. Take Action to Solve Problem

Social media makes spectacles of companies that don’t own their mistakes fast enough and don’t lay out out appropriate action plans to remedy the problem.

Amy Gallo of the Harvard Business Review article, “You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What?” states, “Focus on the future. How will your misstep be remedied? What will you do differently going forward?”

This is a good reference for how to frame your relationship and what you will do in the future. Action is often demonstrated by learning something from your mistakes you can use to to remedy similar situations that arise.

Referencing the Raptors, DeRozan talks about learning from the teams mistakes in their colossal loss and how they will “use it as motivation… [to] be back and ready for Saturday.”  The Raptors took action and won their next game 87-76 tying the series at two games a piece.

You’re a startup. You’re lean.  What action steps do you have to do to fix your mistake? Move the pieces around, look at your processes. Are you trying to do too much, is someone in the wrong role. Take a look, develop an action plan, communicate it, then rock it.

Make sure you act effectively and fast to show that the problem matters to the stakeholder and that you’re taking steps to fix it.

3.  Be Accessible

While there are different sizes of mistakes, there are few that won’t give you the opportunity to rebuild trust, but that means being accessible. Whether its a follow up email to see if your action steps resolved the issue, supplying your affected customers some type of feedback tool, or being active on social media being accessible is really important.

After the Game 3 lop-side loss, DeRozan pinned his 2010 tweet “Don’t worry, I got us…”

Mistakes happen.  What are you going to do about it?
You got this.

– – – – –

Further Reading / References:

Demar DeRozan Twitter

Gallo, Amy. You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What? Harvard Business Review.

Grothaus, Michael. United Airlines Has a Social Media Nightmare On Its Hands, Fast Company.

Shukle, Ravi. Why Making Mistakes Is The Perfect Path To Customer Loyalty, Salesforce.


Performance Assessment Crossword – 2015

Rumor and research states that crosswords help you get information OUT of your head.
For tomorrow’s exam – here’s a crossword to help get all the info you’ve read on Witiger.com over the past three months  for CCT224 – Performance Assessment out of your head and on to the paper.

Best of luck and see you tomorrow.

CCT 224 Crossword

Download a print-friendly PDF copy of the crossword here:   CCT 224 Crossword – Download File


Wondering What To Do With Your Million Dollar Idea?

dollar-sign-in-lightbulbYou know you’ve had at least one, maybe twenty, those ideas that could change the world for thousands of people, and subsequently put a ton of cash in your pocket.
Every time I hear of a new ‘disruptive’ tech start-up earning a $20m valuation out of the box I’m like “Are You SERIOUS?” I thought of that 5 years ago!” Okay, so maybe that’s not always the case, but you know the feeling.  We get these great ideas, and we hold on to them, chat about them with our friends, etc. We literally have a cache of millions of dollars in our cerebral storage that we’re hobby-ing.
A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine, whom I love chatting about ideas with, shared with me his GoDaddy account with me. It was filled with dozens of domains for business concepts and ideas he’s had over the last few years. While he works for a dynamic start-up, he hasn’t had the opportunity to develop any of his brilliance.  (My personal favourite idea of his was a solar powered lawn mower that operated similar to an iRobot Roomba vacuum, which was already invented by Husqvarna. While the idea was already out there, his originally sourced concept was incredible).
Having attended and competed in several ‘business concept’ competitions at the University of Toronto, and having the opportunity to consult and work with some incredible start-ups, I’ve discovered a few key points that have helped me figure out what I need to do with my good ideas, and hopefully they’ll help you figure out what to do with yours!
1. A Good Idea Solves a Problem
It can even be a trivial problem, but make sure your idea solves a ‘problem’ or else you will run out of audience very quickly.
You took the train downtown but need a car to get to x asap and there are no cabs on your street; Uber, Zip, RideShare, Lyft…
You take frequent business trips and fly United who constantly lose your luggage (or you just hate packing): hello DUFL (love this one)
You want to unwind on your commute home and just want to mind numb a bit while crushing candies…
It doesn’t matter what problem is solves, just solve something, for someone.
(Also referred to as ‘pain points’ – thanks Dr. Chattoe, I was listening)
2. Good Ideas Need a TEAM
Unless you’re a developer, marketing genius, networking professional, patent lawyer, accountant and a few other roles, your idea is going to need a team to make millions. Working in teams can be great fun and stressful. The success of any start-up genuinely starts with the idea, but it’s the team that makes it happen.  In a team environment, concepts have the opportunity to grow as each person adds their skills, expertise and ideas to the base concept creating something even more amazing than you initially envisioned. However, a development team can cost upwards of $1million / year, so building the team can be a stumbling block or a great reason to pitch for funding.
3. Good Ideas Need to Be Shared
Sharing your idea can give it the greatest possibility of it becoming a reality.  If you think you may have the capacity to develop your idea, this could be sharing it with a group of colleagues who may have the connections to make it happen, or sharing your idea with a development group like MarsDD or other incubator. Or, you could just give your idea away to see if someone can make your idea a reality (yikes!).
Being honest – this is one I’m jumping into for the first time  today. I’ve been sitting on what I feel is my best idea to date for almost a year. It earned an “A” in my Technological Entrepreneurship class and a $19m hypothetical valuation at a recent business competition from a TED speaker, however I don’t have the team or capacity right now to develop it. So this afternoon I reached out to a local start-up CEO in the field who has the potential to make it a reality as an extension of their current business and am excited to hear their feedback.
4. Keep Creating Good Ideas
Now that you’ve either built a team for your idea, or shared it with someone who can, it’s time to double down on that idea by either thinking of new iteration for your concept, or develop a new creative idea with the motivation that you just gave away a million dollars.  If creativity breeds creativity, don’t get stuck on an ‘old’ idea, keep pushing forward for the billion dollar concept.
If you hold on to your ideas; I’d love to hear your plans on ‘getting them out!’ Of if you want to be bold and share an idea in the comments section you haven’t shared out loud before… maybe you can start building your team right here!

Extreme Project Management Exam Review #MGD428

Sometimes – you have to pull out all the stops and work your butt off for what you want.

For me, pulling out the stops, when it comes to studying, means recording my notes onto MP3 and listening to them at every available moment to try and learn difficult subject matter in the shortest amount of time possible.  The bust, as difficult as it is to listen to the sound of your own voice… I have a cold this week :p

Why not just settle? I’ve had a goal I haven’t made public, maybe if I do it will make it more legit, but it also makes it a little more scary… ok, here it goes… I would REALLY like to graduate from UofT’s Digital Enterprise Management program with “High Distinction.”

Until taking Statistics with Professor Bailey it was completely attainable, but those in the know, know how that turned out. Fortunately the knowledge I’m taking away from stats does not reflect the knowledge I gained in stats #enoughsaid.  My goal is still attainable, but I need pretty much all A’s til the end of time, and Professor Fuller (Project Management – UofT) threw down the gauntlet with his “student’s go into the exam with 90’s and leave with 60’s.”  Ouch.

Pre Exam Term Grades
Pre-Exam Term Grades (Sam Dumcum)

My term grades are great, and I really enjoyed making a ‘project’ (looking forward to adding it to my professional portfolio), however memorizing the “Project Management Institute’s Project Management Book of Knowledge” has not the easiest thing I’ve tried to do. With 48 hours to go, I’m officially entering Extreme Study Mode,  as best I can while taking six courses and have a “Technological Entrepreneur” exam on Friday.

In my world, Extreme Studying includes:

  • Reading chapter and lecture notes
  • Copying out notes (by hand, in three colors if possible)
  • Completing past exams
  • Reading my notes onto MP3 & listening to them while I drive. *
  • The whole ‘listening to the sound of my own voice’ only comes out in ‘extreme’ situations, but it’s worked in the past, and it enables me tostudy while I drive #timemanagement.  I’ll let you know in a few weeks if it worked or not; but if you need a study edge for the PMI and need to learn the Project Management Processes - Sam DumcumProject Management Processes in the Project Management Book of Knowledge 5th Edition, I uploaded the process overviews to soundcloud. Feel free to download them if you want to listen to me with a cold for 30 mins reading PMBOK Input / Tools & Techniques / Outputs for half an hour :p  #studyhard #bestofluck

When is it OK to be a Wild Card at work?

2014 Wild Card World Series

Tomorrow evening, two wild card teams face off against each other for the MLB World Series Championship.  If you’re in to baseball, it’s a bit of an odd and exciting pairing with the Kansas City Royals facing off against the San Francisco Giants. The Royals definitely didn’t look like a playoff team in April, but a brilliant second half of the season, and an epic 16-2 run through the playoffs to get this far has definitely shown they were a worth investment in Vegas at the beginning of the season.  Veteran loaded San Francisco Giants seem to have an October magnet in their pocket, no matter how good / bad, high / low the previous season has been, they bring it together to play ball in October and this year they’re back at the big show for the third time in five years!

In sports, there is room for comebacks and stories of grandeur, but when you have to slug it out every day in the work place, many employers would agree that they appreciate consistency.  While it would be a dream to consistently have top performers, its unfair to assume an employee won’t hit a slump that they need to bounce back from or have a ‘building year.’  A wild card in the work place could be potentially identified as a cowboy or a creative type who goes after company objectives in a colourful way. Wild cards could also be people who often work hard but can’t seem to quite close a sale they’re working on, yet can land a whale.  Or wild cards could even be someone who comes out of left field with a brilliant idea. Having been seen as both a wild card, a utility player, and a veteran, in the work place here are a few things I’ve learned about when it is okay to be a wild card at work.  

It is OKAY to be a Wild Card at work WHEN:

1. You play well with others
If your game is a little inconsistent at times, but you’re a contributor to team projects, work well with your team mates, forgiveness flows more freely.  Even if you think your boss is a jerk, they’re likely intelligent enough to see your efforts contributing to the team and see your value through your contributions.  So if you know you’re a wild card, make sure you’re also a team player!

2. You communicate with your stakeholders
We likely see our work mates more than our family and friends and as such you have to be open and communicate.  Life happens and slumps can come from just about anywhere; personal illness, family/marital issues, death of someone close to you, car trouble, accident…  Being open and explaining your situation to your boss and your team doesn’t make a drop in performance ‘okay,’ but if people understand where you’re at, you allow them to be in a position to support you best so you can get back to your A game asap.

3. Your crazy idea backed by hard work pans out (or doesn’t)
Effort matters.  If your known to have crazy ideas but back them up with hard work, effort is appreciated, even more so if it pans out as a win for the company. However, there comes a time when too many crazy ideas in a row without results does not make it okay to be a wild card (#lifelessonlearned).

4. You make it to the World Series
Forbes states that the San Fran Giants are currently worth “$1,000 M” and Royals ticket sales have jumped 12% this year and are expected to make a mint next year in ticket buying power increased sponsorships.  While a big win likely won’t get you a reserved parking spot forever, being a wild card and making it to the World Series will definitely increase your company credibility in the foreseeable future.

What do you think about wild cards in the work place?
If you are one, what are some tips you could give to others to help them be World Series wild cards!?

A bit of baseball:

New York Times: Royals & Giants Make It A Wild-Card World Series
ESPN: Welcome to the Worst World Series EVER

3 Lessons from 1984 Oilers (Leadership, Wayne Gretzky)

Wayne Gretzky - Toronto StarAll feels right with the world when The Great One is trending on Facebook and Twitter in Canada.

The “1984 Dream Team” reconnect in Edmonton this  week to celebrate 30 years of winning the Edmonton Oiler’s first Stanley Cup.  To be fair, I was 2 when this incredible season happened and had to do a little bit of research to find out what made this team special. To say I was absolutely blown away by what I found out is definitely an understatement (thanks for the facts Wikipedia – 1984 Oilers Season).

Here are three things I learned about being a Dream Team from the 1984 Oilers:

1. Push the Barriers of GREATNESS.
In 1984, NHL Hall of Fame legend Mark Messier didn’t even make the top 5 scorer’s list.  MARK MESSIER!  When you share the ice with  Mr Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Mike Krushelnyski and Glenn Anderson, great takes on a whole new meaning.  With a team pushing to be their absolute best, great things happen.  Encourage and inspire your teammates to push their limits, be creative, it’s not about ‘more’ work, it’s about ‘great’ work! 

1984 Oilers -2. Common Goals MATTER
The front line’s objective is to score, but when you have a defensemen scoring four goals in one game (Paul Coffeey), and your two main net minders have a season save percentage of 88.9% – you’ve got a team firing on all cylinders towards one goal.  Make sure everyone knows the goal and is willing to go all in pursuing it.

3. Lead by EXAMPLE
There was no “Alternate” captain on the 1984 Oilers. They didn’t need one with Wayne wearing the C. On and off the ice, with and without the puck, Gretzky was rated the most sportsmanlike player by his peers and league MVP more times than any other player in history.  The Oilers knew following their buddy Wayne was the best play they could make. It’s hard to be a leader day in and day out, but no matter what role you carry on your team, you can lead by example and make a positive difference and be part of your corporation’s dream team!

Some GREAT quotes from Wayne Gretzky this week:

Have fun with your friends:
“Charles Barkley sent me a text and said, ‘what does it feel like sleeping with a grandma?’ I said, ‘pretty good.’ ”  (Toronto Star – quote & photo credit)

Share wisdom and honour where due:
“Thankfully, in my youth I had the best financial adviser a son could ask for: my dad Walter.” (MoneySense)

Have fun being who you are:
“Glen Sather used to say to us all the time, `you guys don’t know how good you are.’ We were kids. We just played. Nobody thought about winning trophies. Nobody thought about being in the Hall of Fame. We were having so much fun.” (CBC Sports)

LinkedIn Pulse (Beta Testing)

LinkedIn Pulse App DownloadThis morning I received an email to download the new beta LinkedIn Pulse app for Android.  While the newest version has been available on iTunes for almost two weeks, and is celebrating their weekaversary on Android today, I think the “Beta” line is their nice way of saying “there may still be bugs.” (although I haven’t found any yet)

If you haven’t seen the app yet, it is a central location to display LinkedIn’s customizable newsfeed that allows you to follow news, trends, tech, and Influencers from the LinkedIn community that contribute to the Pulse news feed. Yup, the same newsfeed you see on your profile.  What I often like about Pulse is that the writing is often very blog friendly and personal containing life hacks, business insights and tips / behind the scenes look at people I want to be when I grow up. If for some reason you didn’t want to put this app in your ‘news’ or ‘social network’ folder, it could wind up in your ‘productivity’ folder because it makes it quite easy to find the info you want, without having to scroll through your feed, thus making for a faster reading experience when you have a few minutes on the train, or in the bathr… wait, never mind.

Customize LinkedIn Pulse AppWhile the customization options on the LinkedIn Pulse app are pretty extensive, one  great feature to add would be the ability to follow anyone who contributes posts, not just Influencers or Pulse News. Currently I follow a few Influencers; executives, ‘life hackers’ and a few young marketing geniuses that I think are doing some cutting edge work, and they show up in my app, but most of the Torontonians business persons of interest and other consultants / interesting people I follow do not.  While commenting on an Influencers post (with 6,000 other people) is great, I’m more interested in my community, with 200 comments.

Something I’ve been noticing wiLinkedIn Join the Conversation - Pulse Appth LinkedIn Pulse articles, is that a lot of my connections comment or like the same articles I see. As someone preparing to graduate from the Digital Enterprise Management at UofT next year, I definitely want to become a more involved in conversations surrounding future trends, and LinkedIn is creating a professional space for these conversations. The LinkedIn Pulse app makes commenting quite easy and will definitely help you be more engaging.

LinkedIn Pulse HomeThe one thing I’m wondering though, is the Pulse news still shows up in my LinkedIn app – do I really need two apps?

As I play with the app a bit more, I’m thinking it may replace Flipboard (my current go-to newsfeed  app). While essentially LinkedIn Pulse is their version of Flipboard, the opportunity to engage with a community I can connect with and to makes the concept more appealing.

While it’s great to see LinkedIn continuing to innovate the app market, I would have preferred to see the iPhone’s “Job Search” app make the leap to Android (with full Canadian support), but I can wait six months for that one!  For now, I’ll enjoy reading and engaging, and preparing for what’s next!

To download the current version of LinkedIn Pulse visit:
Google Play

Timeplay Survey

Do you like going to the movies?  Ever wonder why or what people think about going to the movies, or what they do at the movies?

TheatreThis summer I’m taking a “Research Methods Class” at the University of Toronto and am required to conduct original research. Wanting to do a project on something fun and interactive, that as many people as possible could participate in, I chose the movies!  If you could please take five minutes to tell me what you think about your movie going experience I would greatly appreciate it.  My goal is to have 200 completed surveys by Monday and I could really use your help by:

A Complete My Survey  (takes approximately 3:37 mins)

B – Sharing this 134 character blurb / link to my survey with your friends!  Copy/Paste to social media (takes about :45 seconds) ~

Click here to take my buddy’s @Cineplex / @Timeplay survey to find out if we like the same things at the movies! bit.ly/timeplaysurvey  

Thank you so much! The last question of the survey is a place where you can sign up to get a copy of the results so you can see how what you think compares to others!

Playing on the Big Screen – Research Consent / Info

Thank you for taking a moment to visit my research page, hopefully you can help!

Timeplay Currently I am taking a Research Methods course as part of obtaining a degree in Digital Enterprise Management at the University of Toronto. (Yup, I’m taking summer school) As part of my training I need to conduct an original research project and chose to investigate timeplay. Unfortunately I can’t tell you more about it in this space until AFTER I’ve collected enough surveys, which is where YOU come in. I would greatly appreciate it if you could please take this 5 minute survey which asks a little bit about you and your time at the movies. (The longest part is reading this consent form the University of Toronto makes me publish, if you want to short version “Go To The Survey NOW“)


Playing On The Big Screen –
An Interactive Look at TIMEPLAY Engagement

Sam Dumcum
UTM Digital Enterprise Management
3359 Mississauga Road N.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
E-mail: sam.dumcum@mail.utoronto.ca

Carla DeMarco
UTM Ethics Review Contact
Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex, room 330
3359 Mississauga Road N.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
Tel.: 905-828-5433
E-mail: car.demarco@utoronto.ca

Divya Maharajh
Course Instructor, CCT208
CCIT Building, room 3013
3359 Mississauga Road N.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
E-mail: divya.maharajh@utoronto.ca

Date: Aug 10 – 20, 2014


This research project is titled “Playing on the Big Screen, An Interactive Look at Timeplay Success.” The principal investigator of this project is Sam Dumcum, a student at the University of Toronto, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information Technology (ICCIT). I would like to investigate factors that contribute to Timeplay’s success as an interactive mobile application. In cooperation with my supervisor Divya Maharajh, a lecturer at the University of Toronto, I am collecting data from random online, voluntary participants. This data is collected as additional support for my research objectives, and will be used in conjunction with supplementary research as empirical evidence for my research project. This investigation is part of an assignment for a course in which I am enrolled called: Writing and Research Methods in Communication (CCT208).


The procedural method for this project’s research investigation will be a one-off survey consisting of approximately 20 questions about your Timeplay experience at Cineplex movie theatres in Canada and what demographic category you fit into.

Participating in this project is completely voluntary. Other than the personal satisfaction of knowing you contributed to academic research about going to the movies, no compensation is offered and you are able to withdraw from the project at any point. Should there be any part of participating in this project that makes you feel uncomfortable, please stop and contact myself, Sam Dumcum, the Principal Investigator (my contact details are at the top of this letter), to discuss your concerns on any aspect of the study.

Please know that confidentiality is one of our top priorities and any information your provide will be handled in accordance with the 1998 Data Protection act: your name and any identifying details about yourself will be anonymized in any publications relating to this study, unless you give your explicit consent to identify you as a subject. For additional security, copies of any data you provide will be secured in a locked cabinet in a locked office at the University of Toronto. Electronic information (data files) will be stored on a password-protected, secure networked system. Your data will be stored for the duration of one year.

If you have any questions about the ethical conduct of the research please contact the course instructor (Divya Maharajh) or the research ethics contact at the University of Toronto, Mississauga (UTM) (Carla DeMarco) using the contact details at the top of this letter.

Thank you very much for participating.

With best wishes,

Sam Dumcum


Before I ask you to participate, I would like you to read following statements and give your agreement to take part in this study. This information will be stored separately to guarantee the confidentiality of your data.

  1. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I may withdraw from the research at any time, without giving any reason.

  2. I am aware of what my participation will involve.

  3. I understand that there are no risks involved in the participation of this study.

  4. All questions that I have about the research have been satisfactorily answered.

I agree to participate.

I am done reading, now TAKE ME TO THE SURVEY!

Pinterest Evolves Again (Messaging!)

Pinterest Messaging goes live
Pinterest Messaging goes live. (photo from my inbox!)

In a game of “The most connected survive” Pinterest has evolved again increasing the relevance of their social media platform.

In the busiest summer of any of the SM platforms; Pinterest has grown to help their users become more connected.  A quick peek at what’s been added during the past sunny season:

April 9, 2014New ways to add Pin It buttons to your website
May 15, 2014 – Promoted Pins (Pinterest monetizes)
June 5, 2014Official Promoted Pins and analytics upgrade
July 8, 2014New Follow button
Aug 7, 2014MESSAGING

In watching Pinterest’s 24 second Youtube teaser to “messages” it is sooo simple, clean, efficient and does exactly what you think it would. While I’m not an avid Pinterest user; a quick test drive this morning left me beyond impressed. Messaging is light, simple and super intuitive, nothing really to ‘learn’. Personally I like it better than Facebook’s newest mobile messenger app, and it absolutely blows Twitter’s DM out of the water (which is in need of a serious upgrade my opinion).

And let’s be real, they have one of the greatest views in the world in Pinterest’s full intro video (2:11), so what’s not to love!  If you’ve given it a test drive – let me know what you think of the experience.

Pinterest Video Toronto Skyline
Pinterest Video Toronto Skyline

Pinterest Blog – Start A Conversation