Negotiating real estate deals via email

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The NY Times reports on negotiating real estate deals via email.  As we say in our book, email is just one tool of many in human communication, and overuse/inappropriate use is not going to help you be successful.I recently met a hedge fund manager who said ’email is a glorified fax machine’.

From the article:





But others think that there are circumstances when online bargaining makes sense. Kathleen L. McGinn, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School who has written extensively about negotiation, says real estate is one area in which e-mail negotiation may actually be better than face-to-face negotiation.


E-mail can help buyers and sellers be more forthcoming about what they really want, Dr. McGinn said. ‘It might be uncomfortable for me to sit across from someone and say, ‘Could you leave the sofa?’ she said. ‘But if you put it online, you’re just getting it on a list and you don’t have to worry about seeming penny-pinching or petty.’



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Boosting Returns With Web 2.0 Technologies–Webinar, July 23, 12-1:30 ET (Buyouts Conferences)


I hope you’ll join me for Boosting Returns With Web 2.0 Technologies, a special 90-minute interactive webinar, July 23, 2009, at 12-1:30 Eastern; 11-12:30 Central; 10-11:30 Mountain;  9-10:30 Pacific.  It is hosted by Buyouts Conferences’ Private Equity University.


Our panelists are


David Teten,
Teten Advisors

Michael S. Pfeffer,
Managing Director,
Post Capital
 Seth Levine
Seth Levine, 
Managing Director,
Foundry Group


During this 90-minute online seminar you’ll learn the following:

  • The skinny on Gerson Lehrman, GuidePoint Global, Evalueserve Circle of Experts, DeMatteo Monness, Coleman Research Group and other expert networks–how to get the most out of them;
  • What it takes to join and take advantage of the most popular gated communities for investors and executives, including sites such as ACG Network, Angelsoft, INMobile, and Albourne Village;
  • How to use Web 2.0 services to perform background checks on managers, and to quickly identify and talk with customers, competitors and suppliers of target companies;
  • Which leading professional and social networking sites to join to land introductions, keep tabs on colleagues, recruit executives, find co-investors and unearth opportunities for new transactions;
  • How to use a blog to differentiate yourself and attract deal flow to you…instead of chasing after deals;
  • How to easily and cheaply keep your contact management system up to date and exhaustive.
  • How to optimize what people see when they Google your name



Register now and you’ll get two special benefits: a complimentary PDF copy of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, a book on how to find and close deals leveraging online technology; and a PDF copy of the exclusive slides from the Webinar.


Order a DVD.



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Moving on from

It’s official. As of Monday, May 25, I’m no longer the Entrepreneurs Guide at You can read the full story and more about what’s next for me on my personal blog.

Hedge Funds Feel Tug of Internet Matchmaking

Institutional Investor reports on a range of startups trying to create platforms for investors to connect online with hedge fund managers.


Members-only Web sites with names like, and promote their online offerings as an alternative to real-world meet and greets. They argue that capital introduction – the practice, traditionally performed by prime brokers and third-party marketers, of bringing together hedge funds and qualified investors so they can perform initial due diligence and discuss mutual goals – is faster and cheaper on the Internet.

Asset Managers and How They Power Their Businesses with Salesforce CRM

For our research project on VC/private equity deal origination, Renny Monaghan of Salesforce pointed me to a 2008 Dreamforce panel on Asset Managers and How They Power Their Businesses with Salesforce CRM.  The video and Powerpoint are downloadable here.  My notes follow.

I think the most interesting point came from Erik Yewell, who said, “We don’t (unlike Bloomberg ) currently offer ability to message any other Salesforce user. However, over time you’ll see more networking amongst Salesforce users.”

The panelists’ biographies:


Jim Creighton, CEO, Creighton Capital

Jim’s career in the financial industry spans over 30 years. He has been Global Chief Investment Officer at 3 of the largest global investment management firms – Barclays Global Investors, Deutsche Asset Management and Northern Trust. He has also had ‘hands on’ roles in 3 successful startup investment organizations. He has extensive experience in the management and trading of carefully structured portfolios at the highest level of institutional scale.


Mandy Allen, Senior eBusiness Manager, Fortis

Recently merged with ABN Amro. Runs Salesforce implementation

Mandy has spent the last 15 years in the Investment industry, managing global projects for Sales and Research business areas.  She has implemented 2 previous CRM implementations (both in-house built) before implementing CRM for Fortis Investments in 2008.  Mandy is currently the eBusiness Manager in the Marketing division responsible for Intranet and CRM program management.


Brock Hubbard, Manager, Business Intelligence, Janus

Brock joined INTECH in November of 2003 and joined JanusINTECH Institutional in February 2006. He currently serves as Business Intelligence Manager. Prior to joining Janus Capital Group, Brock was in client service at Great West Life and Merrill Lynch. He received his MBA from Regis University and bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in Business Management. Brock has 9 years of financial industry experience.


Rodric O’Connor, CTO, Blum Capital

Rodric joined Blum Capital in 2003, and has been responsible for leading the internal technology and security group. Mr. O’Connor has 20 years of experience in information technology and development within the financial services and technology sectors and has been recognized as an InfoWorld CTO 25 honoree. Prior to joining Blum Capital Partners, L.P., Mr. O’Connor held the position of CTO at Putnam Lovell NBF, an investment bank. Mr. O’Connor has a BS (Joint Honors) in Computer Science and Accounting from the University of Manchester, U.K.

$3B AUM. Make strategic block investments into public markets, and sometimes then take those investments private.

Moderated by: Erik Yewell, Sales Engineer,, Financial Services Vertical


Using Salesforce since 2004. Started in 2004 in IR. Expanded to LP events tracking, web to lead. Custom objects for project management. We’ve also added in a research database that our PMs use to track portfolio companies and pipeline companies they’re thinking of investing in. Also use this for compliance.


Fully on Salesforce since June of this year for complete sales cycle. 24 month sales cycle for institutional investors. We have workflow implementation: certain triggers go to legal, implementation, etc. We have custom object to track investment accounts. We have customized a Gift & Entertainment solution for tracking our employees, consultants, etc, to help in compliance.


Similar to Brock. We’re now adding a client servicing module, which is used by our outside transfer agent. That’s available to all salespeople. Now upgrading our data reporting, since we’re working on integrating two merged companies. Fortis & ABN Amro had separate client bases with Chinese Wall between them (which we took down later). To enhance user take-up, we made the screens look a lot like Microsoft Dynamix.


In my prior roles as CIO at big businesses, we had huge tech staff to build customized solutions for us. As a new, small business that was not an option for us. We started with sales process & client contact. We now have something very sophisticated compared with what I had before. Have expanded to position & activity side. During the Asian currency crisis at my old firm, I couldn’t see exactly what were my current positions.


We use a custom activities tracking feature that we built in
ternally to capture how we service accounts. We saw that many of our clients have multiple accounts with us, which need to be serviced differently. So we built a tool that allows multiple investment accounts to be created. VisualForce allows us to see those accounts. We need to associate consultants with each account. Prior to VisualForce, users had to know the exact user account numbers. This allows both local and mobile users to have data at fingertips.


BlueWolf spent 6 weeks developing this for us, including process mapping and training. 2 developers needed. Pull in data from ThomsonReuters via XML feed, to avoid rekeying. Use Informatica to pull in data from Advent Axys. We have read-only area to pull in market cap, current shares owned, basic description of company. We also have 20-30 custom fields our investment professionals want to track about the firm. Consensus estimates for 3-4 years embedded. Share price is end of day price.

Easy to see common board members.

Historically we incorporated with Intralinks portal. Intralinks breaks up the PDF file into LP-specific information that goes into the appropriate folders.

For the research database, we implemented Informatica Ipaq for Salesforce.

Implementing the ThomsonReuters XML feed was very complex; the integration with Axys was easy (2 days).


It’s not hard to get to integrated flat file databases, as long as you have integrated account numbers.


We use Informatica to push info out of Salesforce to our record-keepers. We use Biztalk for some ERS charges. We are working with S&P Money Market Direct to sync data with them.


Discuss user adoption.


Our primary concern is utilization of dashboards. User only cares about his data , not overall system’s data. We’ve put a lot more workflow into the system, so phone calls are less necessary. This pulls people into the system.


As always, you need strong executive support. The ability of different departments to absorb new technology varies by department. I’m a great believe in making the system as smart as possible for the users. Integrate, automate, innovate. Use triggers & workflows.

Show users that you’re responding promptly to their needs.

At a prior investment bank where I worked, we ran competitions with monthly & annual prizes for best idea. We encouraged excitement about the system, encourage people to think about ways system can be used.

We do upgrades all the time without any special notices. Very transparent.


Was it hard to get executive support?




Our users were using lots of Dynamix, so there was no hardship at all. They were happy to get out of it. (laughter)  We couldn’t make necessary changes in it. We could do changes in an afternoon with Salesforce. We had a strong senior manager who was a strong Salesforce advocate. We kept pushing ourselves to release new information. We changed a lot of screens to make them look like what people were used to.


Very simple adoption, in part because we’re a small shop. We had to nudge a few people, but after a few days the better functionality was helpful to them. They like the ability to do anything anywhere in a secure way.


What do you wish someone had told you that you were not aware of re: Salesforce?


Security. We now can tell service people: it’s your client, you’re the one to take action on a particular client. The security model supports that. Development time previously with SQL was slower-we were shipping data to India. We’re able to customize public info for outside consultants. That’s been a huge win. Investment people don’t want to see more noise.


What have dashboards done for you?


We enabled dashboards so salespeople could see precisely what they’re being paid for. They can readily see if they’re meeting their goals, which drives compensation.


I try to look at AppExchange every few months. We use ComboMerge for some advanced Excel reporting. Availability of 3rd party developers has grown a lot in the last few years. If you haven’t tried it, build your own applications.

Q&A from the audience


We rely very little on prime brokers now. We want to be independent of them. They have a lot of valuable stuff. The only tool we use routinely are the risk models.

Q: Are you integrating with a portfolio accounting system? Do you use Salesforce for newsletters, updates, etc.?


Informatica feed with our accounting system took about 10 days. Very smooth. In our previous CRM system we had 3 accounting feeds; now we have one. We do contact our clients out of the system, using ExactTarget (through AppExchange). We hit them with newsletters, current market environment updates.


Informatica did the integration for us. We don’t do any direct mailing to clients thru the system.


We are just in process of purchasing a mass email tool. Our French office heavily uses mass email. Compliance checks everything before it goes out. Email templates are pre-approved, set up in our system.


We turn off the email functionality for compliance reasons


There is the ability within Salesforce to relay all emails via ‘Email Relay’, so the emails are sent via your email servers.


How did you define an account? In our firm we have 65 UBSs.


We have separate record types: home offices, branch offices, etc.


Only an account labeled a client is verified by finance system. Users can’t create a new account, unless it’s a prospect. Finance then converts that lead into an account. When we first launched the system, we were unsure who’s who.


Record-types are a way to look at different types of accounts in a system.


Who does your administration? IT side, business side?


We have one person doing Administration, and he sits on IT side.


Administration/production is all in IT. We have a change review board that meets weekly. We have administration rights in Sandbox, to show IT exactly what we’re looking for.


I really like the idea of a sandbox. Historically, Salesforce avoided IT departments, because we didn’t have toys to give them. But now we’re moving closer to them. Any integration with other data requires talking with IT.


You need a Sandbox as soon as you add a 2nd application, and particularly when you deal with integration.


Sandbox allows you to clone your entire environment. There are easy tools to move changes from Sandbox into main environment.


We have several consultants working for us now, and each has his own Sandbox.


How did Salesforce impact performance of integration?


No problems with scaling.


Some of our customers had millions of rows of data with Informatica. You can inject 18 streams of data at once.


Are any of you integrating with mobile? What hiccups have there been?


We’re using Blackberries with Fortis. Had some issues with IT. We’re trying to do everything in our team. We find we need people working very closely with test & release teams.


We’re piloting, but not aggressively.

Q: What tool is your sales team using mainly for communication?


Outlook. We’re working on improving the integration, because people are cutting and pasting now. Previously with Dynamix, you had to duplicate everything, which meant your dentist

appointments got into Salesforce, which clogged the system.


Within financial services firms, there are certain areas where Salesforce seems better suited than others. What are the best areas besides investment management?


I’ve implemented this in many parts of investment banks. It’s very suitable for anything that involves interaction with outside people & companies. Our legal people use only custom objects; for them this is really just a generic build tool.


We don’t (unlike Bloomberg ) currently offer ability to message any other Salesforce user. However, over time you’ll see more networking amongst Salesforce users. Currently we don’t focus on trading environment.


Have you run into anything that you haven’t been able to do with Salesforce?


We’ve had some limitations with Reporting, because of one child to every parent limitation.

Parting Thoughts – Ideas to take away

Try creating a custom application, it’s simple

Check every few months

for new apps to make your life easier

Dashboards are key to user adoption

Leverage the resources on the jobs board:

Configuration is very easy

The s
ecurity model is very flexible

Use automated email to notify teams of areas for training

Convenient to access wherever I am

The uptime is very good compared to in-house apps in big companies

The report writer is intuitive and easy to use, for business users


The Evolution Of Networking….a poem by Mark Cecil

Mark Cecil, Conference Manager, Buyouts Magazine, wrote a brief poem for introducing my talk at next week’s ACG Intergrowth.  I don’t think I’ll use the poem (it’s not my style) but I liked it so much I had to post it.


The Evolution Of Networking..a poem


First there were golf links.

Now there are the web links.

First there was the handshake,

Now there is the friend poke.

Long ago there was the deal making heavy hitter.

Now there’s just twitter.

First there was the pitch book.

Now you have facebook.

Long ago there were relationships that lasted.

Now everyone’s just email blasted.

If you’re not busy on linked in,

You will be when the wisdom of this keynote has..sinked in.

And you can be sure you’ll be virtually crushed,

If your business isn’t virtually pushed.

Squeezing Blood from a Stone: How to Elicit Maximum Information in Minimum Time from Management and Industry Sources

I enjoyed presenting yesterday at the Association for Corporate Growth Due Diligence Symposium on “Squeezing Blood from a Stone: How to Elicit Maximum Information in Minimum Time from Management and Industry Sources”.  Contact me if you’d like a copy of the slides.  As always, I welcome feedback.

What The Virtual Handshake Is All About – Media, Business, People

Following a random link on Twitter, I discovered this cool visualization tool called Wordle. We’ve all seen tag clouds by this point. This just adds a nice artistic element to it. I ran The Virtual Handshake Blog through it and loved what it came up with:


Click the image to see a larger view or go create your own Wordle.

Need to Find a Job? Stop Looking So Hard

I posted a page on with slides from all of my speeches most relevant to people seeking a new opportunity, and with a range of other resources that I think people in transition will find helpful. Career resources.

Also, a friend just sent me this link, which I thought had some insight for those in transition: Need to Find a Job? Stop Looking So Hard

Giving Away 50 Free Guitar Lessons to Bloggers

1077302_playing_guitar_2 I posted this on my new personal blog on Friday, but as we all know, big announcements really should go out on Monday, so I saved it for here until now. 🙂

I’ve been hinting on Twitter for the past couple of weeks about my “big new venture”. Well, this is it! I’m the new Director of Online Marketing for American Guitar Academy. Cool story, in brief. I met the founder, Andy Harrison, at an event where I got introduced to him by my friend Ann Collins (who I met on Twitter). Andy and I talked for a couple of hours that night, one thing led to another, and here we are! (See.this stuff really does work!). This venture brings together my love of music and my experience with social media, working with people with whom I’m philosophically/spiritually aligned – doesn’t get much better than that.

And as my first official order of business, I get to give away 50 free guitar lessons!

Have you always wanted to learn guitar? Or did you start and then drop it because you weren’t learning fast enough? Or maybe you already play and want to take your playing to the next level? No matter what level you’re at, this offer is for you.

American Guitar Academy has trained thousands of guitarists and bassists in the Portland, Oregon, area over the past few years using their patent-pending learning system, which has been shown to be as much as 8x faster than other methods at helping you achieve your learning goals.

AGA now wants to take this method to the world. How?


That’s right – live one-on-one lessons in the comfort of your own home. Personal attention from a patient, compassionate guitar coach who will help you achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible.

Here’s what one AGA customer had to say about her experience:

“I had tried several teachers before working with AGA but was frustrated with the results. I love the one-on-one attention vs. the classroom setting, and my AGA guitar coach seems to understand how I feel as a beginner – he’s very encouraging and supportive. AGA’s online lessons are very affordable compared to the local teachers. The convenience is great, too. I used to drive 45-60 minutes each way for guitar class. Even the closest option is 15 minutes each way – I was spending more time driving than learning. I’m still a beginner, but for the first time I’m really happy with the progress I’m making.”

– Jonalynn, Hawaii

Now I could go on and on about how great the AGA learning system is, but why? The best thing to do is just let you experience it for yourself.

So here’s the first offer.

The first 50 bloggers to call (503) 430-1484 get a free 30-minute lesson to try it for yourself. Now there are some eligibility requirements:

  1. You must have a guitar available to you (duh!). Actually AGA provides guitars for the free lessons in their Portland office, but that wouldn’t be very practical in this case. 🙂
  2. You must have a working webcam and Skype. These lessons are interactive. YouTube videos can’t give you feedback.
  3. You must have an active blog, i.e., 4 or more posts within the past month. Honestly, I’m probably not going to check it. Honor system.
  4. You must speak English fluently (but you can be anywhere in the world). We may hire guitar coaches for other languages in the future, but for now it’s just English. Also, if you’re not in North/Central America, we’ll do our best to find a mutually agreeable time, but we can’t promise at this point.
  5. All levels and ages (well, let’s say 10 and up – we’re not sure yet how well young kids will work with the webcam) welcome! AGA’s system starts with the very basics and goes through highly advanced techniques on both acoustic and electric.

That’s it – no strings attached!

Try it out. Of course, we’d greatly appreciate it if you blogged about your experience – good, bad or neutral. This is a new program and we want the feedback as much as the buzz.

If you love it and want to learn more, here’s offer #2.

If you decide you want to continue your learning, you’ll be eligible for a 50% discount off the regular price. When we launch this program in full, the standard price will be $99 a month, with discounts for longer commitments. If you participate in this pre-launch event, you’ll be eligible to be locked in at 1/2 price – $49 a month (1/2-hour weekly lessons) for as long as you want to keep working toward your learning goals. Only one catch: to be eligible for this offer, you’ll need to:

  1. Post a link to your blog post about your first lesson in the comments here, AND.
  2. Tweet a link to your blog post about your first lesson to @AmerGuitarAcad.

One more offer (that’s #3).

WillBlog4Guitar OK, I’m not going to call it a contest, and I won’t insult your intelligence by calling it “free guitar lessons for a year”, because there is an exchange. So let’s call it an audition. Simply put, we’re going to pick one (or two or three) people to keep blogging about their experience in exchange for lessons. No length requirements – just blog about your lesson every week. No money out of your pocket, just a few extra minutes of your time.

If you’re interested in blogging for guitar lessons, same requirements as offer #2 above – post a link to your blog post here and tweet a link to @AmerGuitarAcad.

So are you ready to start learning guitar faster than you ever thought possible?

All you have to do to get started is call (503) 430-1484 to schedule your free lesson.

And please. feel free to tweet this, blog this, etc., if you think it would be of interest to your friends/readers/followers.

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