Friday, February 20, 2009

NHL MVP Not Good Enough

In cased you missed it, Washington Capitals all-star Alex Ovechkin scored one of the most amazing goals in NHL history earlier this week.

The skill and determination that it took to pull the play off was amazing, but really blew my mind was Alex’s quote after the game. This goal wasn’t a fluke. He’s practiced the backhand self-pass before.

"You have to try something new," Ovechkin said. "Sometimes I try in practice, and [teammates] say, 'What are you doing?’ Sometimes I just need to change my game and it is working.”

For those of you who don't know, Alex Ovechkin is the reigning league MVP and the#1 hockey player on the planet – period. There is no one better. Whatever he does, it obviously works - really well. He’s got a big contract and enough talent to be an perennial all-star just doing what he does naturally. Yet here he is talking about trying something new, changing his game, evolving. He genuinely wants to be better, even though he’s already the best.

Ovechkin has an internal drive to not just be the best in the world, but to push himself to reach his full potential. He competes fiercely against the competition, but more fiercely against himself. He knows that each year, he gets older and his competition gets younger. They are all working their tails off to be the next Alex Ovechkin. He wants to get better - he has to get better – in order to stay on top and meet his own expectations.

So what does that mean for the rest of us without $100+ million dollar contracts? To me it means that I need to continue to evolve my business, my tools, my strategies to stay ahead. The economy today isn’t what it was two years ago. I can’t expect to be successful doing the same things in the same way. Recruiting had changed, communication channels have changed, and I need to change as well, even though I’ve had a pretty good run.

Even if you are the MVP of your company, your team, or your industry – here is a reality check - you are not good enough quite yet. Just ask Alex.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Efficient" Start Ups Still Hiring

It seems as the economy continues to tighten, businesses and consumers are less inclined to trying new things. Instead, people are trying to become more efficient, do more with what they already have. For many start ups and innovative technology companies that’s a problem, because they are often built on the premise of delivering new “next generation” technology. But there are some DC area start ups that are still growing and hiring. While each has different goals and products, they are each united by one common theme – their products make what consumers and businesses already utilize more efficient.

Here are some examples.

Unless things get really, really bad I’m fairly confident that most people are not giving up their mobile phones. Individuals may cut their plans back to control costs, but what if there was a way for mobile phones to actually save money? Even better. Mobile Posse in McLean is making that happen by leveraging previously wasted mobile real estate – the idle screen display that is visible when your mobile phone is not in use. Their platform delivers targeted, real time, location based messaging about deals being offered by local merchants to a customer’s idle screen through a downloadable application from the carrier. Mobile Posse’s technology increases the efficiency of commerce for retailers, saves individuals some cash through the real time discount offerings, and generates revenue for carriers by monetizing previously unused mobile phone real estate.

Have you had a look at your power bill lately? Rates are up and it’s been a cold winter in DC. Positive Energy in Arlington is helping to make consumers more energy efficient and helping utility companies better managed their resources to lower operating costs. Positive Energy is taking what’s been happening for over a century – power consumption – and simply making it more efficient through innovative technology and analysis. Talk about a triple bottom line – consumers save money, utilities become more efficient, and more efficient energy usage is better for the environment. And they are able to ride the Green technology wave without the years of massive research, development, and implementation hurdles faced by companies that develop photovoltaic cells or wind turbines. That’s smart.

The good news is that innovation and cool technology companies are still alive and well in DC. Ask around, find out who’s focused on making everyday consumer actions more efficient. That’s where you’ll find the growth and the jobs.