Eric Kraus


5 Tips on How to Give Feedback (That People Actually Want to Receive)

Let me just go ahead and say, you are terrible at giving feedback. And… if you want to be successful in this world (which you probably aren’t if you’re reading this)…you have to read this post.

Stop…wait…don’t leave just yet.

Ask yourself: how did that intro make you feel? Maybe sad or disappointed, but more likely offended! We don’t know each other, and I’ve just imposed a baseless opinion on you. The chances of you listening to anything else I say are probably blown.

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17 Inspirational Quotes from Unicorn CEOs

Unicorn companies are those that have reached $1B or more in valuation based on fundraising activities. Many popular names make this list, including Uber, Pinterest and Snapchat. Below are a few inspirational quotes from some these unicorn CEOs and founders.

Quotes from Unicorn CEOs

The bigger a company gets, the more people are involved in decisions, the slower decisions get made. Look, the whole theory of startups is that three motivated people can go and do something that every company can’t.

Garrett Camp, Uber

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Leading a Grassroots Initiative

For the last year, I’ve been working on a project to increase efficiency and communication across my team. Sounds easy enough, but it wasn’t. It involved fundamentally changing how my team and teams that work with us behave. I’ve recently started reflecting on patterns that I have been using to lead this effort and finding a core set of principles that have led to its success.

Make sure your project doesn’t interfere with your day job

It certainly won’t do you any good to work on something while your “day job” suffers.  Making sure you are exceeding in what you are supposed to be doing first will ensure you continue to have a job to come to.

Tackle a real problem that is specific and benefits the whole organization

True to the first point, finding a problem that is specific and benefits the whole organization, and being able to articulate it, will help get stay aligned to the responsibilities of your job. It can also help you get support down the road. If you can find a problem that is meaningful to you or your team, it will make things a lot easier.

So, if you’re in an exploration/ideation phase, look no further than your own team or processes. Things here might be related to inefficiency, wasted expense/cost, poor team morale, etc. Just ask yourself:

“What’s the most frustrating part of doing my job?”

The answer should give you a good idea of something that deserves further thought. Also, instead of existing challenges, you can also look for opportunities to drive new revenue, productivity or employee satisfaction.

Have manager awareness and support

One way to get support from your manager is to know what is important to him/her. It’s also important to know how your skip level manager is evaluated and ultimately compensated. If your effort aligns to those measures, management will have an easier time understanding and supporting your effort…

Build a campaign

In order to build a movement, you need people joining with a clear message. Initially, you’ll probably do the evangelism. But eventually, you won’t scale. Having a place where your campaign can be discovered and referenced (like a blog or website) will help people share the right message. Many times with large cultural changes, it’s helpful to track success stories as well. Some tips I’ve found helpful:

  • Use a #hashtag on your company’s enterprise social network
  • Post updates on an internal blog
  • Track mission/charter and other important info on a Wiki

Solicit Feedback, look for champions/evangelists

If your intentions are good, you’ll want as much honest feedback on the effort possible. If your effort is just a political, ladder climbing exercise…you may have to do it alone.

Find out what others are thinking and incorporate that feedback into your plan.

Ask those who have been successful in similar activities to review your plan/progress and offer advice. Also be perceptive to people who may fear your project could replace their job. Gather their direct feedback (and ultimately their buy-in) so your plan can account for that earlier in the process.

Plan to experiment, learn and adjust

Run mini-experiments and trials to test your theories out.  Don’t spend too much time planning, just go do and learn.

There is no sense building some grand vision only to find out there is a kink that prevents it from actually happening. The entire process should be iterative when possible.

Share with Executives

Once you have some good material and successful supporting stories…start sharing it with executives. I have not talked with an executive who wasn’t very *intrigued* with the outcome I am seeking. Not only will this help your career, but it’ll give you a good indication of the likelihood your project can go mainstream.

Be persistent

If you believe in your cause, don’t listen to nay-sayers.  Enough said.


Being Helpful

I’m re-branding my definition of an Enterprise Social Network (ESN). The term ‘social network’ all-too-often implies something like Facebook — which people use as a platform to connect with friends/family and share stories, pictures and coordinate events. With that as a definition, the term ‘social’ itself can have a negative connotation with some people.Often, I hear co-workers say:

I’m not a social person…

The reality is that most of us are social by definition. We prefer to interact with others and exist in a community, rather than be alone. Even in the modern digital world of email, instant and text messaging, people still hang out by the breakroom and share stories and insights, ask questions and naturally collaborate on work.

Enterprise social networks were designed to harness that existing ‘social’ conversation and share it with people outside of the breakroom — across the whole enterprise.

You can use an ESN to be social –BUT– their value is in connecting people and their knowledge, across the company, to get work done.

So, to re-brand the enterprise social network definition, I had to first breakdown the major activities/benefits the network provides.

Connect With Others

For medium/large enterprises, chances are you’ll never meet a fraction of the people doing great work across your company.

ESNs help organizations be a community. Members of the network contribute-to and draw-from the network for the better of the company. The network gives people the ability to lean-in and take interest in helping others succeed.

The ah-ha moment came to our team a few months ago when Larry Kuhn, a colleague of mine from another team (and different geography), helped us on a customer issue we had been struggling with for several months. My team was one of several supporting the issue. After exhausting all of our local resources and escalation paths, I encouraged the issue owner to post the problem to Yammer. Proactively, Larry found our conversation, jumped in and made connections to new resources in the organization, whom we didn’t know. Those resources engaged with us and the customer and the issue was resolved in a matter of days. The customer later came back and said:

These are the types of results that set you apart from your competitors. Impressive.

These moments are no longer ‘ah-ha’ for our team — connecting with people from across the organization, in various roles and geographies, is our new way of working.

Be Interested, Not Interesting

I heard a great quote the other day from Noah Sparks

…Social is not so much an effort to be “interesting” but to be “interested” — that is when the MAGIC happens.

Ironically, to share in a network, you can think intrinsically. Whatmotivates you? What knowledge do you have? What can you SHARE? Then join related groups and subscribe to interesting people and topics. When you can add value, do so. But remember, it’s not about you…it’s about the solution.

A colleague of mine starts out every week by saying:

“I’d like to lean in for a moment. Is there anything I can do to help you this week?”

Our enterprise social network gives him the ability to lean in to people anywhere in the world and help them be successful.

Pieces of a Puzzle

Think of your work as a puzzle. Chances are you don’t have all the pieces when you start. You are immediately limited by what you know, who you know and where you are.

Everybody seems to have part of the answers that someone else needs

Enterprise social networks allow you to work openly and bring together the knowledge and perspective of others you may not have realized to ask. They empower other people to lean in and share, so you get all the pieces to the answer.

Being Helpful

So, to my colleagues that claim they are not ‘social’, I reply:

Being ‘social’ is about being ‘helpful’. It’s expanding the size of our team to include everyone across the company. It’s about being interested (not interesting), leaning in and sharing your piece to the puzzle.


Special thanks to Steve NguyenUrsula Llabres, and Matt Ontell for proofreading and supplying incredibly valuable feedback to this post.

Microsoft + Yammer: Transforming by Working Social —


~ cross posting with Medium ~

Tackle Initiatives like a Developer

As a follow up to a recent post I made on Leading a Grassroots Initiative, I wanted to share a strategy I’m following to the “Experimentation” phase of my initiative.

Software development has changed dramatically in the last few years.  No longer can companies afford to do long requirement-gathering sessions.  The needs of the business change too quickly.  Scrum/Agile development isn’t anything new, but it is becoming more critical for projects that need to show value faster.

Leading an initiative can follow many of the same methodology practices as software development.


Learn from developers

Building for Businesses and Users.


  • Scrum Master = Project Manager/Champion (no decision making authority)
  • Product Owner = Program Manager/Strategy Consultant
  • Development Team = Cross-functional team, empowered to agree upon and execute toward sprint commitments



  • Planning Meeting – Maximum time for planning a 30-day sprint is 8 hours.
  • Daily scrum Meeting – 15 minutes total (what was done previous day, what will work on current day)
  • Sprint Review Meeting – Demonstration of what was built/learned from the experiment
  • Sprint Retrospective Meeting – self reflection on the team process, modify team/process for improvement during next spring


As you can see, a lot of parallels can be drawn to application development roles and process, even if the project does not directly involve development.  This is something our team is practicing with success.  It’s not universal, but helps a disparate team come together with a framework for working more effectively.