No Off Switch

Thoughts, ideas and musings by Charlie Youakim.

0 notes &

Implementing a ‘Pay To Quit’ program

I recently read an article regarding Amazon’s “Pay to Quit” program and thought it was an excellent idea. There were 2 simple reasons why I thought it was an excellent idea:

1) You make it easier for uninterested employees to leave. If $5,000 is enough to incentivize them to leave, then it’s likely they were not big supporters of the company and its mission, and they may have hurt morale.

2) You incentivize the management team to make the company a great place to work, so that a mass exodus NEVER happens.

What are your thoughts?

0 notes &

Single Sign-on is Broken

I was one of the biggest supporters of the single sign-on concept from providers such as Facebook and Google. I was growing tired of trying to remember 200 passwords, especially in the age of high security password requirements. I was looking for a solution and I was finally convinced to use Facebook. And at first I was happy with the decision.

Facebook did a wonderful job of making sure I felt secure about signing on with Facebook. The app couldn’t spam my friends or my wall, and they only received the information I felt ok to share. Facebook’s sign-on option also saved me tons of time. I really loved it. So much so that we added it to the Passport Mobile Payment platform as a sign on option. I used FB sign-on wherever I saw it.

But, recently, Facebook sign-on (and many other single sign-on options, including Google) have taken a hit. Apps out there are using the single sign-on improperly, and hurting my willingness to click the sign on button.

Here’s an example from


They present the FB sign on option, and after I hit the button and allow them access, they ask me to create an account and a password.


Why? Isn’t that the point of my FB sign on?

The same happened with CBS sportsline when I tried to create my bracket.


After clicking the FB button near the bottom, I’m asked to sign in still:


Why am I clicking the FB sign on button if it’s not going to save me time?

I believe Facebook must do something about this quickly, or their single sign on solution is going to die quickly. Facebook and Google should require Apps to use the system properly, or not at all. 

If they fail to do so, we may find ourselves taking a step backward in time and again looking for a new solution.

0 notes &

The EO Ratio. Seek it out and keep it low.

In the past 3 years I’ve learned quite a few lessons in how to run a business as I’ve brought PassportParking from an idea to a new leader in the parking industry. Of all of these lessons, the most important lesson is that you can’t do it by yourself. You need great teammates to make it happen. But, how do you find those great teammates? I’d say a big part of it is luck. But, another large part of it is seeking out the right characteristics. The most important of these characteristics, to me, has become the Entitlement over Output ratio, or the EO ratio. (I made that up, don’t bother looking it up.)

Of course, you also want smarts and tenacity and charisma. And of course, there are other schools of thought, but it seems that all of these fade into the background for me in comparison to the EO ratio. I’ve found if you can find teammates with a low EO (ie low entitlement and high output) you will find yourself in great shape as a manager in a company.


Now what is meant by Entitlement? I believe it’s pretty self explanatory, but the concept is that you want teammates that don’t inherently believe that they are owed something before they even begin to prove their worth. An example of this was a hire Passport had from a couple years back that wanted to discuss his option pool before he even started. Looking back, I could see that this was where the trouble started for this person. They believed that the company owed them something extravagant before they had even proved their worth to the company.

A coworker with low entitlement, on the other hand, will pull the extra mile without a question. These teammates can see when their help is needed and they just get things done. There’s no asking for overtime pay or special perks. These are the kind of people that only believe they should get rewarded because they earned it. And you had better reward them.


And with regard to output… Well, I doubt that needs much explanation. You need people that get things done and in a quality manner. You need teammates that you can count on to get the job done. You need to be able to turn your back and work on another project and trust that they’ll get the job done so well, you’d wish you could say you’d done it.

The reason I believe that a ratio concept is important here, though, is that there’s no solid rule here. Take Kobe Bryant for example. He’s as entitled as they come, but he also has about as high an output as you can get. In this case, even with a high amount of entitlement, you probably have a pretty good teammate. The same is true in the business world. If that former teammate of mine (the one that asked for the options) had performed at a level that deserved the options, then there would not be an issue. But, he didn’t, and his EO ratio ended up on the very high end of the scale.

The converse is also true. If you find a teammate who may not be the superstar, but rather is a contributor, but you find that they are the most selfless person and coworker, then you have probably found yourself a great individual to add to the organization.

I may have just invented this term, but I don’t think I invented the concept. I believe that you can see it everywhere you look in business. Age discrimination is an excellent example of the EO ratio in practice. It would be no surprise to find that older employees believe that they are entitled to more, including benefits, salary, and vacation to name a few. After all, they have probably been successful, and have probably earned it in the past. All things being equal, this can make it harder for an older hire to find success as the EO ratio has begun weighted in the wrong direction.

The concept can also be seen in action every May and June time frame, when the college graduates join the ranks. These hires generally have an entitlement level near zero, and the best of them can output beyond your belief, which is what makes them such an attractive hire.

The important metrics for your business and your management style will forever be changing and updating, but I believe that it will be found that the EO ratio is an important metric as any, and I plan on using it going forward to help build a superstar cast for my companies, now and in the future.

0 notes &

Management Consulting. What’s it all about?

Coming from a business school education, I had learned quite a bit about the career path of management consulting.  In the end, it was not a path that I took, an as an outsider looking in I often wondered “What’s it all about?”, and why are companies paying top dollar for consultants to come in?  

So why are these consultants getting hired?  Of course there are a number of logical reasons.  The consultants may actually be providing ideas that improve businesses.  Well, we can be quite sure of that.  But, there are probably quite a few more reasons.  One reason that I recently heard from a fortune 500 COO was that these management consultant firms also gave the c-level execs a bit of a CYA.  If the new direction failed, they always had something to point to!  ”Hey, Bain told us it was a good idea!”.  There are also other reasons to be sure.

Freakonomics radio recently did an excellent job of covering the topic on their podcast, I Consult, Therefore I Am.  I recommend a listen.  They talk over the topic in full and also try to evaluate whether consultants are worth their pay grade.

0 notes &

Disconnect. Turning off the Wifi

Another day in a startup started with me jammed into the back of an Acura TL with my laptop opened in front of me.  We were on the way to meet with investors, and I had to grab some statistics from our database in order to improve the presentation.  Being the programmer, I took the time to write a PHP script to do the task, because I knew these statistics would be important metrics for evaluating the progress of our company on an ongoing basis.

So there I was, jammed into the back seat of a sedan on a 6 hour trip to Nashville with my laptop open and no WIFI.  Luckily, I had some foresight, and I had downloaded the PHP documentation to my laptop.  I had thought this would definitely help, since I would be disconnected on the trip, and because I can’t remember a damn thing about any programming language.  I was worried that being disconnected would slow me down, but instead it had the opposite effect. I was free from the distractions of email, messaging, my friends and my girlfriend. I couldn’t kill time by going to hackernews, or by looking at my fantasy football matchup.  The net effect of all of this was that I was able to concentrate on the task at hand, and the results were a beautiful script written in a short amount of time.

This got me thinking, though.  Why don’t we disconnect?  Set your daily goals, download the tools that you need and DISCONNECT.  Remove the distractions, and focus on the task at hand.  I believe this approach is not only possible, but desirable.

I’d love to hear others thoughts on the subject as well.  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section if you have stories about disconnecting.