Chris Richardson is a marketing and operations business leader who delivers sustainable, multi-million dollar, global results for technology companies. He designs and implements strategies which seek to leverage market or technical discontinuities to create compelling advantage, and then manages organizational structure to facilitate both top and bottom line growth.

Jan 272014

An image of a call center

Let’s face it, if you’re running a business, you’re busy. And if it’s a small business, you’re probably really busy. The best advice for any business, anywhere, anytime, of any size, is to focus on your core competencies. What this really means is stop spending time on things that aren’t directly key to your business. Some of those things you should probably just stop entirely. But some of them must be done. That doesn’t mean they must be done by you. Here are my top 3 recommendations for things you should outsource immediately.

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Jan 232014

Spanish_Morocco_1p_telegraph_stamp_1935 U.S. tech companies are urging the OECD to urge the G20 to not close “tax loopholes”.

The G20 tax reform project was announced last summer, billed as the “once in a century” opportunity to overhaul the global tax system. While the work has the backing of all G20 nations, it has been most enthusiastically championed by France, with strong backing from Britain and Germany. America’s support has been conspicuously lukewarm.

To be honest, I straddle the fence on this. As a global citizen and entrepreneur, I generally am in favour of any moves toward global unification. On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, global or otherwise, taxes are already difficult enough and I don’t necessarily want governments coordinating to make it more expensive and difficult to run a business.

Jan 212014
Map of The World Rescaled According to Public Debt

Each year the World Economic Forum releases their Global Risks Report. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Risks for 2014.

Since 2006, the Global Risks report has been calling attention to global risks that can be systemic in nature, causing breakdowns of entire systems and not only their component parts … to provide a basis for dialogue on how governments, business and civil society can work together effectively to build resilience and mitigate any negative effects accruing from them.

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Oct 192013

Sometimes, things which seem like they shouldn’t be that hard actually aren’t that hard, but it’s hard to figure out how easy they are. Configuring Subversion to run over Apache on a MediaTemple dv 4.0 server is one of those things. It’s actually pretty easy, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, then finding out the simple steps is shockingly hard even with strong google-fu. So, we thought we’d write down the steps for you in this one, handy how-to guide.

First, the requisite basics — if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to

  1. Install developer tools
  2. Enable root access
  3. Enable ssh
  4. Disable ssh for root

Now you’re ready to go, so just ssh into your server and

$ sudo mkdir -p /var/svn/
$ svnadmin create –fs-type fsfs /var/svn/myreponame
$ chown -R user:group /var/svn/myreponame
$ chmod -R 771 /var/svn/myreponame

where user and group are the system user and group which own your httpdocs tree.

That’s it for getting subversion running. You should be able to do things like

$ svn import /my/src file:///var/svn/myreponame/myproject 

But note the file:/// semantic. You can’t yet access the repository from anywhere other than directly on the local machine. And of course what we’re trying to do here is make the repository accessible over http. So next,

$ sudo yum install mod_dav_svn

Amongst other things, this will have created the file /etc/httpd/conf.d/subversion.conf. Uncomment the <Location /repos> block of code. NB: by default, this will set SVNParentPath, which is probably not what you want. Instead, change that to SVNPath and point it at the repository you created above: SVNPath /var/svn/myreponame.

To keep the contents of your repository (i.e., your source code) from transiting the Internet in clear text, you’ll want to force your repository connections to be over SSL. On MediaTemple, you do this by creating a custom vhost.conf file. That file goes in the conf directory for your site (<mysite>): /var/www/vhosts/<mysite>/conf. Add the following line to vhost.conf:

Redirect permanent /repos

Obviously, use your correct domain, and instead of “/repos” use whatever you put in apache’s <Location> directive. Normally, that Redirect statement goes inside of a <VirtualHost> block, but from here it’s just being included in another file, so doing so will generate an error message.

Finally, change the file permissions so it’s accessible by apache, and update Plesk so it knows about the file:

$ chown root:apache vhost.conf
$ chmod 640 vhost.conf
$ /usr/local/psa/admin/sbin/httpdmng --reconfigure-all

Now your source code isn’t transiting in the clear, but it’s still accessible to everyone. To fix that, you need to go back to your subversion.conf file and add or uncomment the AuthName, AuthType, AuthUserFile, and Require directives. AuthName can be anything, but it needs to be the same here and when you create users, below. We set AuthType to Digest, which will mean we’ll need to use htdigest to create our user:password combinations. The AuthUserFile is where these user:password combinations are stored. We recommend putting it in /usr/local/etc. And finally, the Require setting lets us specify authorization in addition to authentication. When you’re done, your subversion.conf file should look something like this:

LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/
LoadModule authz_svn_module   modules/

<Location /repos>
   DAV svn
   SVNPath /var/svn/myreponame

   # Authentication: Digest
   AuthName "My Authentication Realm"
   AuthType Digest
   AuthUserFile /usr/local/etc/svn-auth.htdigest

   # Authorization: Authenticated users only
   Require valid-user

Then you create your users and passwords, just as the manual instructs:

$ ### First time: use -c to create the file
$ htdigest -c /usr/local/etc/svn-auth.htdigest "My Authentication Realm" harry
Adding password for harry in realm Subversion repository.
New password: *****
Re-type new password: *****
$ htdigest /usr/local/etc/svn-auth.htdigest "My Authentication Realm" sally
Adding user sally in realm Subversion repository
New password: *******
Re-type new password: *******

Et voila! That’s all it took. Like I said — very easy — and now, hopefully easier to find.

Props to Ingrid Alongi

for a clear intro to setting up basic subversion on MediaTemple.

May 122013

E pluribus unum
Annuit cœptis
Novus ordo seclorum

Those words — out of many, one; our undertakings have been approved; a new order of the ages — connoted an unprecedented national optimism, and foretold what has unquestionably turned out to be a new order of the ages.

Fifteen years of literal blood, sweat, and tears — from when Jefferson summarized the two hundred years of philosophy that was the Enlightenment by penning the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and 56 brave men signed it; to when Washington led the Continental Army to the first successful war of independence against the European colonial empires; to the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 — led to two centuries of mankind’s betterment.

The Great Experiment, enacting what were previously mere theoretical levels of individual liberty — both personal and economic — not only created the world’s wealthiest nation, but the world’s wealthiest individuals (not just the rich, but the average). Emigrants from around the world flocked to America’s shores for their chance to succeed in a world which was genuinely free. And around the world, citizens fought for and achieved those same freedoms in their own countries.

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Apr 062013
Le Corbeau Tag Cloud

I know I haven’t written anything in a while, and I hate to come back with something less than substantive, but this is a fun tool I’ve just discovered. If you’re tired of boring old tag clouds and want to see more like the above, then it’s time to check out wordle (in the above case, with a little help from Project Gutenberg and Photoshop).

Enjoy your new, improved tag clouds!

Aug 282012

With the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the ensuing uproar around the dangers of a “new type of tax”, I’ve been thinking a bit recently about the maximum sustainable tax rate for a given country. So I started to do some digging, and what I found was (at least to me) very surprising.

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Jun 232012

OK. This is more of a rant than a proper blog post. But it’s too long for twitter, so you get it here. What on Earth is wrong with all of these companies using game dynamics in the context of social media. Specifically, why can’t they tell what gender their users are, and why have they decided to make everyone a plurality?
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Apr 302012

A while ago, I wrote on some key things to keep in mind when looking at opening an additional location. I was recently talking to a colleague of mine, and he said that if he were starting a new business, it wouldn’t be in Prague (for the record, at the time, I was based in Prague and our company headquarters was there). When I asked him why, the answer instantly made sense to me, and made me realise I left one very important item out of that previous post: size.

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Mar 152012

Recently, I took the responsibility for developing a sales-operations department. Naturally, I started with the question, “what, exactly, is ‘sales operations’”?

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Oct 302011

Recently, I was speaking with a manager in my organization. He said something which I hand’t heard in a while, but was once a common refrain in my own early managerial career. “Sometimes it gets to the point where it’s just easier to do it myself.”

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Sep 142011

As a company grows to a certain size, inevitably it becomes impractical to know everyone in the organization. And when you join a company that’s already big, it’s entirely possible for you to not know about certain divisions or practices. It was exactly this lack of knowledge that caused me to be immeasurably excited by the discovery last week at IBC that we have metallurgists and cabinet makers working for us!

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Aug 142011

Back at the beginning of Summer, I put together a back-to-the-basics reading list. But as I’ve progressed through this particular summer, I’ve had more time to think about personal and collective motivation. How do you get your employees goals aligned with your goals? And I thought back to one book that has shaped my thinking on getting front-line employees to understand financial metrics and business decisions more than any other. Since Summer isn’t quite over, I thought I’d add it to the list:

Sadly, it’s currently unavailable for Kindle or iPad, but it’s well worth the old fashioned read.

Go forth and motivate!

Jun 102011

As we move through our careers, if we’re successful (and maybe even if we’re not) we will continue to encounter unique situations and problems which we haven’t encountered before. Whether that’s managing a difficult individual, or navigating organizational change, or engaging in M&A for the first time, or managing across cultural boundaries for the first time, ultimately, we run into something that hasn’t been covered in school, or in the books we’ve read, or in our personal experience.

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May 092011

As we head into summer here, I thought it might be useful to put together a quick summer reading list. If you haven’t already read these three books, go get them now:

If you have read them, go read them again.

True, they’re not as popular for business reading as they once were. Also true, if you were to actually follow them literally, you’d be violating dozens of moral and legal covenants. But the fact remains, collectively they provide an insight to power dynamics that is critical for any leader.

Apr 102011

Everything from web-site design, to search-engine marketing (SEM/SEO), to trade shows, to television commercials, classic outbound marketing, also known as marketing communications (MarCom) is the nuts and bolts of any marketing campaign. It can also include branding, publicity, and public relations, which I already discussed under brand.

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Mar 092011

There are only two reasons to start a business: either you’ve spotted a technical discontinuity, or you’ve spotted a market discontinuity, and you’re looking to leverage that observation. But the reality is, this line of thinking and and should be extended to cover your entire organisation and operations — and failing to do so is one of the most common causes of lost profit, time, and opportunity that I’ve seen.

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Feb 202011

A while ago I wrote a quick post on what I suppose has become my core economic theory: that Money Is Time. As I’ve recently moved to Central Europe, I’m taking a new look at the world around me, and thinking about the problem of unemployment — particularly the unemployment of the youth.

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