As I grow older I have gained a full appreciation for Laurie Anderson’s observation: “When my father died it was like a whole library had burned down.” It’s now 97 months since my father’s death from a heart attack on October 23, 2007 and I still feel the loss.
Unreasonable entrepreneur is almost redundant. By definition entrepreneurs want to change the status quo, offering better products and services as substitutes for established and successful ones. This often requires an unreasonable amount of effort and persistence, sometimes to the point of stubbornness, in the face of not only opposition but also a concentrated lack of interest. The lukewarm response initially promises adoption until we realize it was the easiest way to get us to shut up. The challenge is not to become stubborn and parochial but to continue appreciate the realities of your prospect’s situation.
In the last decade I have switched to drinking tea from coffee. I came across a neat process description for making tea by George Orwell in “A Nice Cup Of Tea” that mirrored what I do–except for adding milk or cream to my tea. I was struck by how often we think we have come up with an approach that we believe is rare or unique and discover a similar approach described that’s decades or centuries old.
Joseph Mancuso‘s “How to Start, Finance, and Manage Your Own Small Business” contains an “Entrepreneur’s Quiz” a self-assessment for entrepreneurs. His explanation for the reasons behind some of the questions includes the following nuggets:
It’s easy to mis-assess who your real competition is. We worry the most about competition that cares deeply.
“You’re competing against people in a state of flow, people who are truly committed, people who care deeply about the outcome.”
Seth Godin in “Texting While Working“
The sad reality is that a business cannot be fun, educational, and profitable all at once. Pick boring or grinding over losing money. Christopher Morley observed, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning,” but you don’t have to get all three from your business. Without earning you don’t have a business.
- Honor what is valuable about the past and what is working now.
- Assess the current situation and system.
- Ascertain who is trusted and who people turn to for advice, and weave them into your network.
- Guide the change. Consider where global principles apply, and what can evolve locally.
- Design experiments in collaboration with people who are involved in the change.
These same rules are essential to making a complex sale. What follows are my notes on her talk.
International Contact, Inc., a leader in media translation and localization, announced the appointment of Ron Fredericks to the role of chief technology officer in a recent press release. It was picked up by San Francisco Business Journal and resulted in print coverage in their “People on the Move” section. While International Contact is a global company with large multi-national clients, they believe that the local touch is important to maintain their outstanding personalized services.
What follows is the entry for August 15, 1851 by Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal where he explores how to be ready, how to focus on the essential and how to fulfill your purpose. I have added some details on my own shortcomings: procrastination, disorganization, and a rock-paper-scissors approach to picking the next task to finish.
One good way to make predictions about the future of a new technology is to examine the paths that similar technologies have taken historically and use them to draw likely trajectories. As Mark Twain observed, “History may not repeat itself but it does rhyme.” New technologies solve existing problems in in new ways, obsoleting existing solutions for the same needs. Despite some of the sensationalism a closer examination of intellectual property challenges faced by earlier technologies shows that they rhyme with 3D printing IP issues. These challenges offer a roadmap for the likely evolution of 3D printing–and related technologies like 3D scanning and 3D modeling.
My interview with Gabriel Weinberg was originally published Sep-8-2010. He was doing research for what became his fantastic book Traction. We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and I can remember he kept returning in different ways to what was needed to close your first dozen enterprise customers.
There are broadly three categories of challenges a new product must address: it has to be feasible, it has to be desirable and it has to be profitable. Below is a simple checklist to help you evaluate product ideas.
It’s often hard to see your way forward. When there are many courses of action open to you whose possible outcomes are hard to predict you can remain paralyzed by analysis. I often find myself dithering past the point where picking any reasonable option and proceeding is far better than continuing to analyze my choices.
I frequently long for a clear eyed view of the way forward. Sometimes the path becomes clear when a situation echoes with prior experience or I see a pattern match to a prior success (or failure). Other times clarity flows from recognizing that there is only one option left: the “best bad plan.” The trick is to act immediately so as not to foreclose your only remaining potentially viable option.
In new situations, keep a journal of your experiences. This helps you organize your thoughts and remember observations clearly. When exploring, keep a log. This strategy is useful if you are starting a new job, a new project, forming a startup or launching a new product in an unfamiliar market.
When I first went to work for Monolithic Memories my boss, Ivan Pesic, told me, “It will be rough for the next two months and then it will get easier.” He was still telling the team that a year later when someone else offered that advice during a problem solving session and we all broke out laughing because we realized it was never going to get easier. We kept working on harder problems. Ivan went on to found Silvaco and despite a few legal setbacks built a company that has endured more than three decades.
Simon Sinek earned a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University; he attended City University in London with the intention of becoming a barrister, but left law school to go into advertising. He was interviewed in August of 2014 by John Wall on the RoninMarketeer site in connection with the launch of his second book “Leaders Eat Last.” Here are some excerpts that highlight his insights about why leaders and advertisers should put people first.
Four excerpts on how entrepreneurs exploit errors in conventional wisdom. The first two are from a Feb-8-2001 public forum that was part of BusinessWeek’s “Captains of Industry” series, where Oracle Corp. CEO Lawrence J. Ellison sat down with Editor-in-Chief Stephen B. Shepard. The last two are from Peter Thiel’s CS183 class lecture on secrets.