Tag Archives: sales

Burt De Mill: When Technical People Do Business



Burt De Mill is the President of BDM Consulting, a San Diego based consulting firm that works with small and medium sized companies who are in the biotechnology tools and clinical diagnostics spaces.  Burt helps companies define their products and markets, conduct new market research, and launch products.  Burt talks about the challenges scientists encounter when they interface with the business world.

Highlights:

Q: Burt, you are a scientist by training.  How did you move into business?

“I wanted to be a doctor.  I was the kid who wanted the chemistry set and microscope for Christmas.  I was a chemistry and biology major at the University of Maryland.  Then I applied to medical school and didn’t get in.”

“While I kept trying, I worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital doing cancer research.  I was working with a very prestigious physician, Dr. Philip Burke, who said to me after I gave a presentation, ‘Burt, good job, but I noticed you had more fun doing the presentation than doing the work.’  I realized that I do like talking about the work.  I was also taking business classes there for free while I worked.  I felt that business was like a duck swimming on the lake to me.  It was simple.  It was easy.  That’s kind of how I ended up the failed scientist turned into a business guy.”

“I made that split over 25 years ago and never looked back.  I still do have a soft spot for the science, but I like it in a business context.”

Q: As the Sr. Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Genoptix Medical Labs back in 2005, how did you scale revenues from $4M to $184M in 5 years?

“It was kind of like running a marathon with your hair on fire, but it was kind of fun!  It was fun because we were building something.  There were some key points.  One was timing.  That’s something you can’t plan for, but it’s important for a business.  Is it the right business concept at the right time?  Is society ready for it?  Are customers ready for it?  A lot of good businesses are the benefactor of that.”

“There were three key things that we did.  We knew who our customers were and who they were not.  That is incredibly important for a startup….  We surrounded ourselves with a fabulous team…  The last one is we measured things.  This is really important when you scale…”  To hear the details, listen to the episode.

Q: As a leader, how does it feel it to not be the one doing it all but getting others in to do it?

“In the consulting business I’m in now, I work with some incredibly smart people—PhDs, MDs.  The talent is enormous in what I call their vertical.  They know that enzyme or they know that diagnostic test like the back of their hand.  But it’s very hard to be an expert in all areas.  One of the things I’d advise founders not to do is to get caught up in what I call ‘founder’s syndrome.’  Founder’s syndrome is: it’s my baby, I’m going to hang on to it all the way through, and I’m afraid to let anybody touch it because it’s my child.  Most of the time, it does not go to a good place.”

To hear what Burt recommends to prevent founder’s syndrome and what other leadership challenges he sees when he consults to small businesses, listen to the episode.  Burt has some great advice for technical leaders.

Words of Wisdom:

“Failure’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes you learn a lot about yourself.”

“You can’t be good at everything, so you have to rely on your team.”

“If you can’t measure it, it didn’t happen.”

“Scientists also have to sell to bankers and lawyers and business people.”

Shout Out:

To the Rady School of Management at UCSD for helping science majors get exposure to business at the undergraduate level.

Contact Burt De Mill for a free one-hour consultation:

Email: burt@bdmconsulting.org

Phone: 760-707-9519 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.


David Wallace: When the Sparks Fly



Joanie interviews David Wallace, who talks about emotionally charged situations on this entertaining and enlightening episode.  David is the president of 5th Avenue Energy where he combines two of his passions, electricity and protecting the environment.  5th Avenue Energy is a San Diego based Electrical Contracting Firm that specializes in solar and renewable energy solutions in the Commercial and Industrial space.  David is a funny guy and this interview will certainly entertain you, but you will also get some valuable insights.  David has given a lot of thought to people strategies and he’s very articulate.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us about yourself.

“As a kid, I would ask for very expensive robotic toys and I would take them apart to see how they worked.”

“I am a lover of all things technical, especially renewable energy. The largest obstacle I find, is not non-technical people, it’s engineers.  They’re used to speaking about other technical things, but not the flow of electrons.”

Q: What’s the emotion you refer to?

“There’s an emotion that comes when you’re driven by something.  Frustrations can arise when it comes between protecting the budget versus protecting the environment.”

Q: What do you do to make a pleasant environment for negotiation?

“The first thing I do is check my ego at the door.  I ask questions and try not to interrupt.”

Q: How did you learn to read body language?

“I had to hone in my focus because I’m usually thinking of the next thing I’m going to say.”

Q: How do you prepare yourself for being in the right mode for different types of situations?

“It’s literally a robotic function of mine: which button do I push to get the right version of David?  I put myself in a box and I choose which box I want to be in and I don’t let myself outside of the box.”

Words of Wisdom:

“Passion can make or break a sale.”

“As nerds and technical people, we’re competitive.  We can see a discussion as a competition and it’s not necessarily that.”

“Getting someone to understand that you want to understand disarms.”

Contact David:

(951) 285-4605

david@5thavenueenergy.com

http://www.5thavenueenergy.com