Episode 7: Ash Maurya on Scaling Lean

Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean, talks about how to build products and companies that matter, while minimizing risk. How can you systematically de-risk your business, so you can focus your limited time, money, and energy on what makes a difference. Whether your company sells products, services, or both, tune in, because Ash says, “Life’s too short to build products nobody wants.”

“Lean” has become a buzzword, and you may not know what it really means (or means to you). In this episode, Ash talks about how you can “run lean”– avoiding wasted effort and minimizing risk, and “scale lean”, by giving yourself permission to scale in stages (tweet).


Ash Maurya In this episode, Ash gives tips on how to avoid wasted effort and minimize risk in a startup, including:

  • Why you need to fall in love with your customers’ problem, not your solution.
  • How to “get out of the building” to talk to prospects to learn from them (not pitch them), even if you’re actually still in the building. (Advice I wish I had followed many times.)
  • How long should it take to prove (or disprove) an idea?
  • How Jason Cohen (from Episodes 1&2) used lean techniques to sign up Ash to the earliest version of WPEngine.
  • If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around “lean”, consider this: “Don’t build a key first and then try to figure out which door it might open. If you flip it around, and find the door first, building the key is easy.”
  • Why the hard part these days isn’t “building the product”, it’s “building the customer.”

And don’t feel bad if you’ve made mistakes on this path.

A reader of Ash’s first book came up to him and said “I wish I’d read this book 5 years ago.”

Ash replied, “me, too.”

Here’s the link to Episode 7 with Ash Maurya.

Books mentioned in the episode:

WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012The Wine


WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012. (Listed at $58!!! I can assure you can find it for much, much less than that.) Yummy, fruity, strong California Pinot Noir. If you tend to like that kind of wine, you’ll like it. (It’s strong enough that some decanting, or at least airing, would be helpful. Or, if you can be patient, just let it sit in your glass for a while.)


Where you can find Ash: Web site, Twitter

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 6: John Livesay on How to Pitch

John Livesay (aka “The Pitch Whisperer”) helps entrepreneurs craft compelling pitches. He’s the author of The Successful Pitch: Conversations On Going From Invisible To Investable (pretty good pitch, right there in the title), host of The Successful Pitch Podcast, and has been featured in Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, CBS, Fox, and more.


John Livesay
In this episode, John discusses how he got into this niche, how hard he worked on his own pitch, plus:


  • The two simple, critical elements of a pitch
  • Why people are so bad at pitching
  • Why stories are so important
  • The importance of establishing your niche (it’s not just about your pitch)
  • What happens when you confuse prospects with your pitch
  • How surviving in the Amazon is like surviving in the business world
  • And much more…

Books mentioned in the episode:

The Wine

Stags Leap ChardonnayWe did this via Skype, so we each had to bring our own wine.ron-rubin-russian-river-valley-pinot-noir-2013

John had some Stag’s Leap chardonnay (@StagsLeapWines).
Reuben had Ron Rubin (no relation) Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (2013). Quite yummy for folks who like Russian River Valley pinots.



Where you can find John: Web site, Twitter, The Successful Pitch Podcast

Update: Check out John’s TEDx talk on being your own lifeguard.


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 5: June Rodil on wine, customer experience, delegation, and more

June RodilJune started her career in restaurants as a waitress, paying her way through college on the way to a law career that never ended up happening. Instead, she learned a ton about wine, became beverage director for some of the top restaurants in Austin, became one of 147 Master Sommeliers in the world, and opened her own restaurant.

In this episode, June discusses how to pick wine as a beginner, how she became as Master Sommelier, and how she opened her own restaurant.


  • Secrets for great customer service
  • How to delegate as a control freak
  • Why spreadsheets are still important
  • How to set up your product offerings to maximize customer happiness and minimize your stress.


The wine: 2012 Rosie Shuster Sankt Laurent (the ‘k’ is silent). $24. I didn’t know Austrian wine could taste this good. A little sweet, but not overly so. Lots of flavors. (Listen to June give the real description.)


Where you can find June: June’s Restaurant, Twitter (here’s one of those pictures with an interesting mixture of drinks)

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 4: Joe Williamson

joe-williamsonGuest: Joe Williamson, Partner at Alloy Partners, talks about:

  • how to price new products (brilliant stuff), including how pricing too low makes your prospects look bad
  • having an internal locus of control vs an external locus of control
  • what he learned from teaching at The Princeton Review
  • why he wouldn’t turn to sales books for sales advice (and the surprising persona of the best sales person)

Here’s the link to Episode 4 with Joe Williamson.

The wine: Joe doesn’t drink, but he helps me run an experiment on aerating the wine. Listen to get the results. (Hint, you may want to pick up one of the items in the show notes.)

Chateau Recougne 2012 Bordeaux. Pretty rich, definitely benefits from aeration, then mellows out nicely. Yum.

Chateau Recougne 2012

Venturi Essential Wine Aerator

How to Talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, by Barbara Walters

Where you can find Joe: Alloy Partners, LinkedIn.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 3: Adam Boyd

adam-boydGuest: Adam Boyd, Partner at Market Sense, a Sandler sales training firm (don’t hold it against him the way I did) and  co-author of Succeed: The Sandler Way.

Adam talks about the importance of process (and why that gives engineers an advantage), why you shouldn’t talk too much (which I screw up in the interview, giving you a good example of what not to do), how to uncover a solution rather than prescribing it, and more.
Here’s the link to Episode 3 with Adam.


The wine: Aegerter Pinot Noir for Burgundy (the year is 2012). Nice French Pinot, not as fruity as what you might be used to if you drink a lot of California Pinot.







The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Where you can find Adam: @adamboyd24, LinkedIn.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episodes 1&2: Jason Cohen

Jason CohenGuest: Jason Cohen, founder, WPEngine, blogger at A Smart Bear (if you don’t read this, you need to, as soon as you finish listening to the podcast).

Jason talks about how you can use your technical background and lack of “sales skills” to your advantage, why so many small companies screw up in sales and double down on their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths, and more.

We had such a good time that I’ve cut the interview into 2 episodes (we might have had a third if we hadn’t run out of wine).

Here are the links to Episode 1 and Episode 2.



federico-paternina-gran-reserva-rioja-2006The wine: Federico Paternina Gran Reserva 2006 (per Jason’s request of a Spanish red). Quite a nice Rioja, if you ask me (or Jason), not that either of us are experts.




Where you can find Jason: @ASmartBear, WPEngine.com.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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What Not to Say in a Sales Call (Courtesy of Apple)

If you’re doing something that upsets your customers and prospects, whether it’s changing prices, revising a service plan, or removing the universal audio port in favor of a proprietary standard, don’t insist on giving yourselves credit for “courage” in front of your customers. Certainly, explain your reason(s), and don’t feel obliged to share everything, but even Apple can’t pull this off properly. (In fairness to Schiller, he was trying to paraphrase Steve Jobs, who put it more eloquently– not just “having courage”, but having “the courage of our convictions” and “being willing to take the heat”.)