Is Your Startup Using the STUN Method? Think Twice Before You Do.

There is a theory of agriculture and farming called STUN. It means Sheer, Total, Utter Neglect. Essentially farmers spend less time cultivating the environment and finding good candidates for the surroundings and more time just throwing out a variety of seeds and seedlings and animals and reaping what does grow and what does survive. A fully operational STUN property includes an ecosystem of plants, dairy, fowl, pig and other animals and everyone works together to nurture what IS growing.

In Mark’s video below it looks like a dog, a couple cats, some cows and a few chickens. Then they plant some trees and let the grass grow, hoping it would take off.

Mark Shepard and STUN Management

Mark Shepard explains STUN farming and even wrote a management book based on this theory:

I have spent a lot of my career thinking about whether resources are right for their environment and if they will prosper. Happy Job = Happy Bob. Sometimes when we get caught up in a corporation, we forget that we still have options inside that organization, to improve our day-to-day lives, our direct income or our state of mind.

But, as readers, I bet you can relate to many of the experiences I have had where the Ready? Fire! Aim. orders are being given and optimizing your business processes is a challenge. If you’ve been in an organization when STUN tactics are being used, say, the boss is is desperate for new ideas and he asks you to complete something in 2 days. Your project will suffer in value because you won’t have time to validate your research and theories. And after a few cycles of this, your morale will begin to suffer too, and this is hard to recover.

Instead of this, I suggest:


Dig deep into old issues and be sure nothing remains in the soil you’re building your new company in. Chips on shoulders. Underlying resentment. Keep communications open. It’s your job as a manager of a leader of a company to remove obstacles whenever possible for your team, and some of those obstacles may be emotional or political in nature…


My advice is to trust the employees you’ve hired. They see the holes in the organization at their level and they have a network of peers who have them tuned into the lastest and greatest tools and resources. Respect them and foster a relationship that encourages participation from your team. If after putting your existing team in their dream jobs, you will have skills that need filling, it’s time to hire. Fertilize with confidence building reassurance, a clear set of responsibilities and a performance review schedule.


People thrive and things grow best when they are in the most optimal environment surrounded by positivity and a bounty of resources. Individuals must cultivate their own learning and bosses must cultivate their rising stars to be stronger, happier, more adept and more valuable professionals. And a CEO must be sure that they are cultivating and that all three are happening.

There is No Steering Wheel on a Roller Coaster

coasterFor me, 2015 had the highest highs and the lowest lows on record. At times I felt like I was on a roller coaster, trying to steer it! Months of hard work into my second startup, NamePlace, we received funding from our first investor. Finally, I’ve joined the ranks of those entrepreneurs who have received funding for their startup. [fluffs feathers]

San Francisco’s Ruby Skye is a dark night club, non-conducive to meeting or pitching investors on a startup. Nonetheless, hundreds gather for an event called Shark Tank Showcase and Demo organized by Jose De Dios. The chances of finding an interested party in this crowded space with a dozen others aggressively pitching their companies is very low. But you go and you go with a smile, passion, and purpose. It was here in March that I met our angel investor, who turned out to believe in that purpose and present me with a check on stage a few days later.

The investment took our startup to the next level. We moved into Runway, a great San Francisco incubator space, with other interesting startups. No more working at Starbucks. A smiling office manager who never let the printer run out of paper. Regular meetings. A growing customer base. All of the hard work was paying off.

Oh, to share this success with my dad, who passed away in September, putting so much bitter into a sweet year. Losing him, as these things do, made me seriously evaluate my life. Am I following the right path? Am I spending my days the way I want? What would I change? Dad was a no BS kind of guy. He didn’t serve it and he didn’t have time for yours, okay? He was beautiful in this way and he would often point out, if I were to appear indecisive or victimized in any way, that I had control of the wheel. The statement could not be argued.



My maiden name is “Schoolman”, my father’s name, Fred Schoolman. Inseparable, dad and I, they nicknamed me “school girl.” He fostered and fed my interest in technology and gadgets. My dad gave me great confidence in this area. He was a self-taught electrician and took me on jobs with him as a kid. It was common for him to give me tools and equipment to toy with and take apart. He was very technical, always reading electrical code or engineering books. By the time I got to high school I was programming BASIC and Pascal. A few years later I’m managing engineering teams, building businesses and ‘schooling’ the best of ’em. I know he’d be proud.

Next year, it’s about being intentional. Here’s to taking the wheel in 2016!