Finance’s favorite treat – the surprise freelancer invoice

“Hi, can you take care of this (massive) bill from last quarter.  Sorry, we forgot to send it to you, also, it is a little past due and we really want to keep on good terms with the freelancer so if you could pay it now it’d be great.”

Surprise! We booked freelancers and didn’t tell you!

You know it, I know it, everyone knows freelancer invoices are a huge hassle.

  • Invoices are late
  • Invoices are wrong
  • Invoices co-mingle work for different projects.
  • Freelancers hate producing them
  • Leaders hate reviewing and approving them

Simple solution: Log all bookings in a single spot

Want to eliminate this hassle?  We have a simple cloud solution you can implement in a 5 min and a policy change email announcement. is a booking tool that connects freelancer bookings to invoices.  The second someone is booked there is a draft of an invoice created.

Lay down the law; make a rule that all bookings need to be documented.  This policy will simplify life for everyone.

Everyone wins

  • Freelancers win, Golio ensures freelancer invoices line up with the booking so rates and dates we can prepopulate invoice info
  • Finance teams have visibility to all bookings which eliminates surprise invoices.
  • Project leaders win, bookings have project management features built-in, simplifying project management for your team
  • Invoice sign-off is streamlined, Golio manages approvals so leaders and finance can track everything in one spot
  • Golio talks to your current finance tools which makes posting approved invoices simple as clicking a button – love to hear from you


Commit to deliver


Commitment is an amazing thing

No one casually writes a complete novel

Theater casts don’t ‘try and make it’ to opening night

Commitment keeps you on track while life happens

– get a cold

– work an extra shift

– travel to a wedding


Most valuable new projects require coordinated efforts from a number of people. You can take a day off learning Spanish but if you skip rehearsal it impacts a lot of people.

False progress

However – we all get a lot of false satisfaction from day dreaming about all the stuff we could do.  This drives aspirational retail and training:

– we’re told buying a guitar is the first step to starting a band

– new trainers are needed to start training for a 10k

– classes for everything, cooking, drawing, running

– boot camps

DO NOT confuse activity for progress

Write down your commitments and track

You must write down specific tasks to achieve.  Track their completion.

Common mistakes:

– planning too far ahead

– not tracking completion

– not committing! Not having your team commit. Put down dates.

– focusing on output, good process trumps today’s performance (a new runner training for a long race doesn’t complete their first long-run and then take a month off)

Aligning commitments from a team

If you are leading a team send a followup note after every discussion.  As a leader when you send the note and review it at the start of the next meeting, it sends a very clear signal that commitments matter.

OR use a platform.  Golio, was specifically designed to capture tasks and to have teams actively commit to work.

Why is my LinkedIn full of this Steve Jobs quote?

Listen, Steve Jobs isn’t wrong, listening to smart people is clearly a good idea.  BUT I think the spirit I see this posted is entirely wrong. We can not simply hire smart people and give them free reign – that amounts to neglecting them.

MANAGEMENT MATTERS.  Smart people without management are totally wasted.

  • Hire great people
  • Give them clear meaningful goals
  • Break down organization barriers to help work advance
  • Give them just enough resources (too much encourages waste and castle building)
  • Keep close tabs on progress
    • ensure alignment between team and goals, each other, etc.
    • sometimes even teams of very smart people need an ‘adult’ in the room mediating
    • use their reporting to ensure they are not getting lost in weeds
  • Ruthlessly prioritize
  • “Move the chains”

Backing up to the original statement, Jobs says to hire people and let them tell you what to do.  I’m digging into semantics here but I think you hire people to figure out how to do things.  As a CEO / Leader you need to be accountable for the ‘what’.  Go ahead and collect a lot of input on options and ideas but at the end of the day, you need to decide on the direction.

In summary:

Hire smart people [Agree]

Let them decide what to do [Disagree.  How to do it – absolutely, with proper management and support.  Provide input on what – fine.]

Taika Waititi – TIFF masterclass

Taika Waititi just delivered a fantastic, engaging, funny, insightful interview at TIFF.

How did he end up at TIFF?

Taika made a name making relatively small New Zealand films.  Several of these films made noise in international markets.  However, he gained huge acclaim for breathing new humour into the Marvel Universe when he directed Thor Ragnarok.

Value of your peer network

Taika’s first feature included a fantastic performance by Jemaine Clement (pre-Flight of the Concords).  I hear they met through a comedy troop.  His co-writer Loren Taylor worked on the same show.

Write great roles for people you know

The same situation with a different cast falls flat.  Eagle vs. Shark pulls of a spectacular tone that is sweet, funny, awkward, challenging.  Without knowing and working with Loren and Jemaine already it is hard to imagine the project coming together.

Thor Ragnarok worked so well because it leveraged Chris Hemsworth’s humor.


I was just thrilled to hear Taika use the word ‘specificity’, I love this term.  He was asked a question from the audience about who should be telling indigenous stories and his response is great

“I think it’s vital that we [Indigenous filmmakers] put these films in the hands of the people who own those stories.” — Taika Waititi

Make things you want to see

Apparently Jemaine Clement advised, “Dude, the world needs stupid shit.”  They both enjoy dumb shit and the passion translates to the screen.

Don’t create unnecessary barriers

Don’t wait for funding to write. Nothing is stopping you.

Great interview!  Here is the full link –

Prove it!

I’m testing out some messaging on my network.  I’ve been telling people that Golio saves a ton of time and risk staffing projects.  But it does more, it is also a track-record for leaders.  Golio is a great way to show off planning skills.
You tell your clients
– ‘it’s handled’ 
– ‘we have a great team lined up’
– ‘we’re using your money efficiently’ 
– ‘we can do more will less’
– ‘our teams have the experience to execute this work on-time, drama free’
– ‘we’ve got years of experience, we know how to plan this work’
Prove it! Talk is cheap.
Show off your project planning with Golio.  We make it easy to show off your execution prowess. is a platform for creative projects.  Plan, book talent, manage freelancer payments, exchange reviews. Golio can save hours of overhead for every person booked.
Golio is a public tool designed so you can show off your project experience and expertise. 

Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton

I was talking with a professional musician a little while back.  I mentioned The Mountain Goats song The Best Ever Death Metal band out of Denton and I was surprised by two ideas.  First, I was surprised he didn’t know the song – why did I assume everyone did?  Second, I’d never examined how strongly I identified with the song’s characters.  The ideas in this song keep coming back to me.  It is a tragic song and a bittersweet fuck-you to naysayers (Hail Satan!)

Ideas I keep coming returning to:
Band & startups need support, moral and commercial –
I was reading Antonio Garcia Martinez startup memoir and he said NYC was a terrible place launch a startup. (Few Angels, 2nd tier VC, competing with Wall Street for talent)  Immediately I was struck by the idea Denton is a bad place to launch a death metal band.

A small team sharing a dream –
Cyrus and Jeff’s band is just the two of them practicing in a bedroom.  Isn’t this where all amazing ventures start?

The tragedy of dashed hope –
The song’s tragic note is Cyrus gets sent to a school where they tell him he’ll never be famous.  This is an allusion to a true story about a kid Darnielle knew.  I’m reminded of Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips, literally one of the worst singers on earth but he beloved by millions.  This band is from Norman Oklahoma, certainly not LES NYC. They hustled for 20+ years before any mainstream attention.  I’ve heard tails they lent gear to more famous bands touring through town in exchange for being allowed to open.

Dreaming & working on crazy plans is healthy –
We should all work & dream more. “when you punish a person for dreaming his dream, don’t expect him to thank or forgive you. the best ever death metal band out of Denton will in time both outpace and outlive you.”

Hail Satan!
Hearing a clean-cut crowd listening to a guy playing an acoustic guitar all singing along and shouting ‘Hail Satan’ is surprisingly super uplifting and hopeful.

Here is a link to a live recording:

the best ever death metal band out of Denton
were a couple of guys, who’d been friends since grade school.
one was named Cyrus, and the other was Jeff.
and they practiced twice a week in Jeff’s bedroom.

the best ever death metal band out of Denton
never settled on a name.
but the top three contenders, after weeks of debate,
were Satan’s Fingers, and the Killers, and the Hospital Bombers.

Jeff and Cyrus believed in their hearts they were headed
for stage lights and Learjets, and fortune and fame.
so in script that made prominent use of a pentagram,
they stenciled their drumheads and guitars with their names.

this was how Cyrus got sent to the school
where they told him he’d never be famous.
and this was why Jeff,
in the letters he’d write to his friend,
helped develop a plan to get even.
when you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don’t expect him to thank or forgive you.
the best ever death metal band out of Denton
will in time both outpace and outlive you.
hail Satan!
hail Satan tonight!
hail Satan!
hail hail!

Golio was built for Cyrus and Jeff.  These guys practiced twice a week and for me that’s huge.  To some people, they are dreamers in their childhood bedrooms but I say they were putting the time in and making real steps forward.  My aim is to strip away barriers & incentivize the behaviors that lead to success. My ultimate goal is to connect the next Cyrus and Jeff with a graphic artist to draw killer pentagrams and an engineer to help them record.  Hail Hail.

Andrew W.K. followed me on Twitter!

Andrew W.K. is a rock musician who has morphed into a bit of a ‘party guru’.  He records and has a new album and tour.  He also does speaking engagements about his party philosophy.

I saw his last show in Toronto and it was amazing. The crowd was happy, the bouncers and bartenders were happy, the band was happy.  There was a ton of dancing and crowd surfing.  Every song drove home the message – ‘let’s party!’

The Onion’s AV Club recently recommended his new single and I forwarded the link to his Twitter profile.  New Andrew W.K. video

Andrew W.K. followed me and sent me this reply “Thank you, Ian! Party single, party double, party triple, party infinity.”

Honestly, my day was kind of a drag and this was a great reminder that I’m chasing something I absolutely love.  Andrew’s gospel is you can turn any moment into a party if you have the outlook, so I decided to have my own party right there in my office (I got a fresh cup of coffee but truly focused on savoring it.).

Andrew’s Twitter feed is brilliant, @AndrewWK.  Look out for his PARTY TIPs.
PARTY TIP: If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called partying hard.
PARTY TIP: Get in a car. Pick up your friends. Play music you love. Open the windows and drive. Be glad you’re alive.
PARTY TIP: Imagine your dreams coming true. Now go work your ass off.
PARTY TIP: On a good day, we party. On a bad day, we party until it becomes a good day.

Further thoughts on Andrew W.K.

  • He didn’t have a full band when he started but through the sheer force of his party spirit he carved out his own space
  • He is incredibly good at keeping on message (party)
  • Positivity draws people

I’m chasing my dream, building an online space where people like Andrew can connect with great people and pursue their dreams (writing songs, recording, performing, making a killer video, throwing a good party :), … whatever they want.)  Some days are a little tough but he’s right, that’s why it is called ‘partying hard’.

Ray Dalio’s Principles

Ray Dalio is one of the most successful investors in history.  He built his hedge fund around a simple set of guiding ‘Principles’ and he has publically shared these, first in a PDF and now in a more expansive book. , wiki/Ray_Dalio

My message to Ray

“Hi Ray,

I see a lot of similarities between my venture and your goals. My platform shares features with your Dot Collector, Baseball Cards and 5-step improvement process. I’m building a marketplace / project tool that connects tasks to public profiles and structures collaborator feedback (

My Goals:

  • Scale a platform that has a massive positive impact on creative project teams
  • Build into the framework tools that support and develop the smaller group that has the raw talent to synthesize amazing new assets

Do you have 30 min. for a call?

Best, Ian”

Why am I reaching out to Ray?

Ray’s looking to build tools and apps

Ray built some tools for his company Bridgewater. He posted on Twitter they are looking for developers to build apps for the wider market.  Golio may be aligned with his existing projects.

Dot Collector – Inside Bridgewater they use a tool to collect instantaneous feedback on individual’s meeting performance.  This collects insights into what people are really like.  These insights help people identify their own blind spots and help others around them understand their approach.

Pain Button – This app will help people identify the path to resolve a problem, guiding them to the ‘Principles’ that best relate.

Ray knows adopting a set of principles requires practice

In order to internalize Ray’s Principles or your own, Ray estimates it takes 18 months practice.  This is a long time, but well worth it if you buy-in to the massive benefits.

How do you get this practice? This is a big question.  For example, the dot-collector requires a group of people to all use the tool.

I believe Golio’s marketplace approach gives people the practice they need.  Data point – There are +500k Americans making their full-time income as Ebay sellers.  These people will all have very high seller ratings.  The feedback loops inside Ebay train people how to be good sellers!  If we are smart with our design and roll-out, Golio can do the same for contractor space, starting with the creatives.  We can train people to follow some key principles.

I have the sense Ray wants massive reach

Ray is worth billions, he isn’t tweeting to sell books for the additional income.  Promoting the book aligns with his goals.  Does Golio also align with his goals?  I hope so.

It would take 12-18 months for a consulting team to reach 100 employees at another hedge fund.  Without help, I expect this is a difficult transition for any organization.  My best friend works for a hedge fund and first read the Principles 4 years ago.  “In theory” he and several leaders are on board but this firm hasn’t made any progress yet.   So the question remains, “how do we get millions of people enjoying the benefits of Ray’s hard-won learnings?”

We need a viral component to this.  I believe Golio gives Ray’s Principles ‘network effects’.

Principles – markup

In all important decisions, Ray seeks out ‘credible’ feedback.  I went through Ray’s Principles PDF and made +500 notes that I’m circulating back to him.  I’ll leave it to him to decide if I’m credible but I have a strong feeling we share a similar worldview.

Ray’s value-add

I need advisors who are 100% behind the vision of Golio.  Golio aligns with Ray’s goals and Ray has faced many execution issues inside Bridgewater already.  A 30 min debrief every 2 weeks would accelerate Golio’s adoption!

Thoughts on ‘Agile’

Today’s economic shifts favor teams using agile approaches

The incremental cost of the digital sale of a song, web-series, e-book, or software, is zero. Small teams can produce billion-dollar intellectual property with very little overhead or working capital. Similarly, most business improvement ideas in traditional businesses require effort but little capital. However, aligning a team to the market is not a simple exercise. Pulling the best work and ideas out of each of your team members is neither easy nor intuitive. It is not a matter of hiring ‘top talent’, rather, structuring the work and daily interactions to ensure each team member delivers their best contribution. Studying why agile software development teams beat waterfall approaches in terms of speed, cost, and quality, gives some insight into the elements that drive improved performance.

The Mass Manufacturing Paradigm

Mass Manufacturing represented a paradigm shift from small owner-operators with few to no staff to large organizations with potentially hundreds of people contributing labor to a single item produced. When Henry Ford put assembly workers on a line he produced cars more quickly, but he also completely changed how other companies approached manufacturing, design, quality, engineering, and management. Forward-looking business owners outside of the auto industry took note of Ford’s methods and recognized how they could apply standardized work to their industries. These leaders quickly outclassed their competitors on unit costs and product quality.

Mass Manufacturing Management

I believe Mass Manufacturing was fundamentally a management innovation. A production line aligns the efforts of a huge group of people, all with different micro-perspectives, skills, and duties. However, assembly lines are not the only way to achieve alignment, agile software development teams extract a lot more skills, creativity, and innovation.

Is agile the manufacturing revolution of 2017?

Adopting agile approaches allows skilled teams to out-compete completion on cost, quality and speed. If you aren’t the first to go agile then you might not survive long enough to catch up. Remember, there were many cobblers, blacksmiths, etc. who looked at Ford and said ‘that’s fine for cars but my business is fundamentally different so I don’t need to worry.’

Drawing a line between ‘agile’ and ‘Agile’

Like many other management strategies before it, ‘agile’ has spawned an offshoot consulting industry offering to sell the secrets of the ‘Agile’ method. Training consultants have difficulty selling general theory & principles so they opt for rigid processes and recipes they can spell out in jargon-filled workbooks.

‘Agile’ Jargon: Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD), Backlogs (Product and Sprint), Behavior-driven development (BDD), Business analyst designer method (BADM), Continuous integration (CI), Domain-driven design (DDD) …

Here is the lower-case agile manifesto, agile approaches started life jargon-free:

· Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools

· Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

· Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation, and

· Responding to Change over Following a Plan

The manifesto is a little abstract and software focused, here is my view of agile:

· Work with customers to prioritize and translate needs into SPECIFIC deliverables

· Team members volunteer to own individual deliverables creating COMMITMENT

· Publicly post individual deadlines to create ACCOUNTABILITY

Let’s look at what happens when you remove Specificity, Commitment or Accountability

S x C x (0)A = Agree on what & who BUT without Accountability deadlines slip

S x A x (0)C = Defined plan BUT without Commitment there is no ownership

C x A x (0)S = Who & when BUT the Specific work doesn’t meet the project’s needs

DNA for all recent management movements

This formula, Performance = SPECIFICITY x COMMITMENT x ACCOUNTABILITY, is actually embedded in a lot of other management movements. For example:

Case example: A consulting practice applying this abstract ‘agile’ formula around the world – Partners in Performance

Partners in Performance (PIP) is a consulting company that uses team alignment tools to improve their client’s operations. Its founder, Skipp Williamson is world leading expert Organisational Behaviour and is laser focused on extracting performance out of teams.

PIP does not do anything branded ‘Agile’ where the buzz words are more important than the delivery of results day in and day out. But they do rescue a lot of Agile projects and bring a performance edge to them. The key in everything they do, operations, sales, capital projects, etc. is helping teams focus intensely on Specificity x Commitment x Accountability.

PIP has delivered $10bn in EBIT uplift, and $40bn of capital reductions over the last 4 years. (results)

Some quick highlights from their founder’s individual work

– US$300m per year EBITDA uplift for a global nickel producer, US$100m per year improvement for a major back-office processing company across 20 countries in 15 months, US$20bn in capital design improvements, … 100m annual improvement… 100m cost reduction… 75m cost saving…

Partners in Performance publishes a lot of very insightful material on how they deliver these incredible results. Essentially every engagement comes down to creating Specificity x Commitment x Accountability in critical client roles.

Personal Experience

I used SxCxA to lead teams to deliver hugely profitable projects across legal teams, maintenance operations, procurement and chemical systems control. This formula helped extract great ideas and efforts from experts because they gained personal satisfaction from their ownership stake. I am a huge believer because I have witnessed the compelling results and happy team members who are reinvigorated and invested in their organization’s success.

Marketplace solution designed to encourage projects to follow the formula Specificity x Commitment x Accountability

Golio,, was designed to create a virtuous cycle where people following the agile work philosophy quickly advance to the top of the rankings. This platform connects task or story-driven project management to individuals’ public profiles and layers in a feedback system.

Individuals all self-optimize, this is human nature. Good incentive systems are designed so individual goals and overall goals are aligned, i.e. we bonus sales people on sales numbers and everyone wins. The system was designed so that through self-optimizing the overall project performance will improve. Golio is designed to

– reward leaders for creating Specificity through feedback scores

– contributors volunteer to complete tasks creating Commitment

– public deadlines & deliverables generate Accountability for leaders and teams

If you would like to try using the public or an in-house white-labeled version please contact the founder Ian Nichol,


Mass manufacturing started by putting a few people in a line which aligned everyone around a common goal. Today, teams applying agile approaches align their efforts to develop new solutions to open-ended problems. This alignment is driven by Specificity, Commitment, and Accountability rather than using a paced moving assembly line.

If you look around and you cannot put your hands on specific deliverables, if individuals are not committed to finding solutions, and there are no public highly-visible deadlines then there is definitely room for your team to improve. Someone following SxCxA may already be competing with you and beating you on quality, cost and speed.

Are you naturally agreeable?

I was on my way to a meeting today when my wife reminded me to try to project a sunny disposition. I like people, generally think good things about them but for many years my role was to spot problems. This is okay sometimes but not for example when you are talking to the host of a dinner party 😉  My goal today was to make a friendly first impression and sometimes it is important to be mindful of the situation.

Are you agreeable?
There are many different ways to describe people’s personalities, many different dimensions, for example introvert vs. extrovert. Recently I have been thinking about my own ‘agreeableness’.

Big Five personality traits

Spectrum of agreeableness
Researchers have developed some techniques for measuring agreeableness. One interesting but unsurprising finding is people in prison are very disagreeable. The world says the sky is blue and they will say ‘not really, it is more grey’. These people pathologically rail against everything and everyone.

At the other end of the spectrum is the person who seeks to make peace always. They mold their behavior and even their beliefs to the people around them; some will virtually agree 2+2=5 if everyone else does.

We need a spectrum
If we had only disagreeable people we would never settle on anything, language, social norms, everything would be in a constant state of debate.

If we only had agreeable people there would be no progress, no scientific advancement, no business innovation, no civil rights movement.

I expect Oprah tests as pretty agreeable.  This makes sense for a talk-show host.  Letterman might be a bit more disagreeable.  Most of the time Dave balanced his disagreeableness with zany humor but in some interviews he let the guest look pretty bad.  This ‘edginess’ suited his late-night slot.

Where do you fall?
If the team thinks things are going well but you see problems do you speak up?
Are you the last to give up your point when the team clearly wants to go in another direction?

Here is a lecture from UofT’s Prof Peterson (if you know who he is you know he has sparked some controversy)

Most exciting projects were a little uncomfortable.  I imagine some agreeable people really find themselves challenged when they are working on something that might go against what they think the crowd wants to hear.

Based on your Agreeableness – what should you watch out for?

Agreeable People

  • People letting you down because you “won’t mind” (apparently agreeable people often find themselves feeling neglected and ignored.)
  • Pursuing something that is familiar & comfortable but not particularly effective
  • Trying to recreate earlier successes (a lot of very talented artist end up rehashing things they think the audience likes and end up dated & irrelevant)
  • Seeking consensus and watering down their own vision
  • Let collaborators do whatever they want rather than what is right for the project

Disagreeable people

  • Battle over everything and exhaust their collaborators
  • Avoid and ignore input from others
  • Buck social conventions that may signal to others rudeness or arrogance

MyGolio’s Kudos system
We vouch for each other’s attitude on MyGolio. I personally think this is pretty important. For example, there aren’t any excuses for put-downs. I know many quite disagreeable people who can function very well working with collaborators. We don’t all need to agree to get along.

There are 6 hrs left today to get start an exciting project. This is a great time of year to do your planning and pre-production. Come NYE there will be a huge number of people who made resolutions that this year they will finally start pursing their creative dreams and out looking for new projects. Pull together your plan and post it, this world needs leaders (agreeable and disagreeable ones are both valued!)