Archive for September, 2011

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–September 2011

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get them hot off the mojo wire or wait until the end of the month when these quotes for entrepreneurs are collected on the blog. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

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“When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.”

Hat tip to RumiQuotes

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“Get creative. Creativity is the parachute an entrepreneur steers with.”
Griffin Caprio in “How To Find a Developer In Chicago

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“I think that a lot of individual productivity comes from problems avoided by a high level of trust, cooperation, and teamwork.”
Sean Murphy

from “Highly Effective Software Development Teams

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“Successful entrepreneurship is an ongoing self-improvement process.”
Sean Murphy

I have use several slight variations of this same quote, the all begin with “successful entrepreneurship is an ongoing self-improvement…” and end slightly differently see “Successful Entrepreneurship Is Ongoing Self-Improvement.

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“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Japanese Proverb “Nana-Korobi, Ya-Oki”

I mentioned this in the May 2009 Quotes for Entrepreneurs in connection with a quote by Roxanne Quimby

In the early years, I had some midnight-of-your-soul type of times.
Once, I came home from a fair and found the window in my cabin blown in. Snow was all over. It was 20 below and 3 in the morning. I hadn’t made any money and the car had just barely made it there. I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall. It doesn’t come from one brilliant idea, but from a bunch of small decisions that accumulate over the years. And you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that’s involved, the amount of fear that’s involved.
Roxanne Quimby in “How I Did It: Roxanne Quimby” from Inc. Magazine.

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“Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.”
Soren Kierkegaard

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“Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.”
Mignon McLaughlin

I used this to open my blog post of 2008 “Hello 2008

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“The long tail is a dead zone for each individual contributor, but a goldmine for the ones who can provide the platform.”
Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) “The Myth of the 99 Cent Book


“We can always find isolated examples of people or companies making millions selling something at a very low price. It is the age-old problem with the Long tail.

The long tail looks like this. At the top you have a few big successes, followed by a herd of people who are not making a profit. The long tail is a dead zone for each individual contributor, but a goldmine for the ones who can provide the platform.”

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“The path of least resistance is what makes rivers run crooked.”
Elbert Hubbard

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“Do something different or expect the same results.”
Susannah BreslinTen Things I’ve Learned About Work

A clever riff on

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
Rita Mae BrownSudden Death

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“The moment somebody says to me, ‘This is very risky,’ is the moment it becomes attractive to me. ”
Kate Capshaw

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“The only surprises are the history you don’t know.”
Harry Truman

I used this as the opening quote in my review of Steve Blank’s “Secret History of Silicon Valley”

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“Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.”
Ambrose Bierce “The Devil’s Dictionary”

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“Some people never learn anything because they understand everything too soon.”
Alexander Pope

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“Advanced technology is indistinguishable from a sufficiently rigged demo.”
Andy Finkel

a riff on Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws from his essay collection “Profiles of the Future

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

other variations on “sufficiently advanced”

“Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.”
Gehm’s Corollary to Clarke’s Third Law

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature.”
Karl Schroeder in “I am the very model of a Singularitarian

Not too late to register for the October 12 Great Demo Workshop in San Jose if you want to make some magic of your own–or embrace Nature if that’s your preference.

Entrepreneurs Are Nonconformists

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb

“In high school, popularity is more important than anywhere else, but popularity is not a measure of likability.

Popularity is composed of three elements: visibility, recognizability and influence.

The people in school who have those three qualities are often that way because they conform to a standard. Meanwhile, the kids who won’t or can’t conform are the ones who are left out. Nonconformity is a wonderful trait, and it’s going to be valued in adulthood.

If you’re different in school, that makes you an outsider. If you’re different as an adult, that makes you interesting, fun and often successful.”

Alexandra Robbins interviewed in Salon

Food for thought as budding entrepreneurs aspire to social network celebrity in our “please retweet this” world. Entrepreneurs are nonconformists.

“Do something different or expect the same results.”
Susannah Breslin

Book Club: Seth Godin’s “Texting While Working” Wed-Sep-27

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events

We are trying an experiment tomorrow, instead of a book we will be talking about a short (200 words) but insightful blog post by Seth Godin “Texting While Working” that addresses several challenges many bootstrappers wrestle judging by the breakfast conversations I take part in.

Our panel:

We plan to address these questions that the blog post raised, as well as any that the audience wants to ask:

  1. How do you resist the temptation to multi-task or  do “busy work” instead of working on “The Hard Stuff” that differentiates your offering?
  2. How To Determine The “The Hard Stuff”?
    • How do you benchmark yourself against the competition without growing complacent and without psyching yourself out?
    • What low value task are you prone to: E-Mail, desk/office cleanup, LinkedIn/Facebook, Hacker News,…?
      • What is second?
    • What are you now working on to improve?
    • How do you “raise the stakes?”

    When: Wednesday September 28, Noon PDT
    (9:00 a.m. Hawaii, 1:00 p.m. Mountain, 2:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Eastern)
    Cost: $15 Join the call-in discussion
    More Info: “Book Club Discussion: Seth Godin’s ‘Texting While Working’

    Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop

    Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Demos, Events

    On October 12, we are hosting Peter Cohan’s Great Demo! Workshop. It is open to the public and often participates travel from afar. The all day workshop held at the Moorpark Hotel, which several past attendees have stayed at and enjoyed. Here are some additional hotels that are nearby listed in increasing distance from the from Moorpark Hotel.

    5415 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95050 (408) 446-9636

    Hilton Garden
    10741 North Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014 -(408) 777-8787

    Cypress Hotel
    10050 S. De Anza Blvd. Cupertino, CA 95014 (408) 253-8900

    Refine and Curate Your Thoughts as FAQs, Articles, and Talks

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Blogging, Consulting Business, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

    Prospects gain an appreciation for your expertise and ability to understand and to solve their problems through what you write, what you say, and what your customers’ say about you. You should have a plan for developing referrals and testimonials, but I want to focus writing and public speaking as opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and give prospects a reason to believe that you can assist them. These outbound messaging strategies will complement your referral program and are essential to attracting new customers and cultivating valuable long-term business relationships.

    Here are some suggestions for practices that will help you routinely refine and curate your thoughts.

    Written content:

    1. Collect Good Questions & Your Good Answers: When you get a good question from a prospect or a customer take the time to write up a succinct answer in a follow up e-mail (even if you have answered it in a phone call or face to face meeting).
    2. Refine & Generalize Your Good Answers: save your e-mail in a special folder for “good answers” and set aside time every week or month to reviewing and refining it so that it becomes a more general answer that’s applicable to more than just the person you initially answered it for.
    3. Start a FAQ on your website: If you don’t have one it’s worth considering starting a “Frequently Asked Questions” list. If a particular question indicates you have a defect in our standard presentation or marketing materials it’s more appropriate to fix the source of the question instead.
    4. Reformat Your Generalized Good Answers: Convert good answers into articles or blog posts.


    1. Make the Time to Rehearse: Always leave time to rehearse in front of at least one other person before you give the live talk.
    2. Record Your Talks: Record at least the audio for your talks and listen to both your presentation and any Q&A. Listen to it again a few days later and a month or two later.
    3. Consider Writing an Article: either as a leave behind instead of your slides or as another blog post.
    4. Never Give a Talk Only Once:  Considering the cost in time to develop and rehearse a good talk, you want to find at least three opportunities to give a talk or variations on it.
    5. Videotape A Good Talk In Front Of An Audience: Once you have given a talk two or three times live either do a video recording of it or arrange to have later versions videotaped. You will look and sound much better in front of a live audience with a talk you are comfortable giving and this will come through on the video. Consider editing it into a couple of 5-10 minute chunks if you can to use as teasers,  summaries, or good stand-alone content.

    The Risk of General Purpose Toolkits as a First Product

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, skmurphy

    I will sometimes encounter an entrepreneur or team who is developing “a general purpose toolkit for X.” This may be at a Bootstrapper Breakfast or other networking event. They have often developed a core of a promising technology and see applications for it everywhere.

    Here is what I normally suggest:

    • Write up a few examples or use cases that are extremely specific as to need and benefit.
    • It’s OK if these examples only apply to a very narrow population or niche market. The most important thing is that they bring the prospect a lot of improvement–preferably that they can quantify–to their current situation.
    • You have to be careful that you can envision all of these possibilities but they come with “some assembly required.”  It’s the fate of an entrepreneur with a new product to see broad applicability, and you may ultimately achieve that, but focus on where you would bring the most value rapidly.
    • Think about offering a new Perl compiler and saying “you can do anything you want with it.” If you have paying customers look at what they have done with it. Specifically. What benefits have they gained?

    Highly Effective Software Development Teams

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

    The highly effective teams I have been a member of used a rapid prototyping approach to help bound uncertainties/risks in the project and delayed making decisions when more information would improve the situation, unless any further delay was effectively a decision. I think that a lot of individual productivity comes from problems avoided by a high level of trust, cooperation, and teamwork.

    I think that there are broadly three classes of skills  needed to develop software that customers pay for and use:

    • Customer Development: figuring out what the customer really needs, and will use and pay for,
    • Design: architecting a solution,
    • Deployment/Operations: getting it debugged and into operation.

    I have seen folks that were excellent in one of the three areas  and good in the others, but the best teams seem to have different people taking the lead on these three aspects of defining and delivering a system.

    Inspired by Steve McConnell’s Productivity Variations Among Software Developers and Teams: The Origin of “10x”

    Book Club: Origin and Evolution of New Business

    Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

    Live Call-in Discussion on Wednesday, October 26, 2011Dave Stubenvoll, CEO & Co-Founder Wowza Media, Inc., Francis Adanza, Dir. Professional Services, Zephyr, Inc. and Sean Murphy, CEO SKMurphy, Inc. share insights from the book about how they explore uncertain and ambiguous opportunities. View recorded session

    Origin and Evolution of New Business

    by Amar V. Bhide’

    The book examines the nature of the opportunities that entrepreneurs pursue, problems and tasks they face, traits and skills they require, and the social and economic contributions they make; and then compares those realities with features of large, established companies. Entrepreneurs pursue opportunities with different levels of uncertainty, investment requirements, and likely profit. They survive and prosper because of an ongoing ability to adapt to opportunities and problems, are subjected to many detours, and stumble often along the way.


    View recorded session
    Complete SKMurphy’s book club list
    Remind me of upcoming events

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    Additional Book Reviews

    Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
    Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin You Need To Be A Little Crazy
    The Lean Startup

    Seth Godin Blog

    Remembering What Happened

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

    At first we didn’t know what to call it, so we called it what happened. “Do you believe what happened?” “They think he died in what happened.” It was weeks before we called it 9/11. Sometimes tragedy takes time to find a name.
    Peggy Noonan in “We’ll Never Get Over It, Nor Should We

    I apologize for this detour from my usual exploration of entrepreneurial issues, but this anniversary of my complete confusion on 9/11/2001 is one that I continue to observe: still attempting a decade later to make sense of it.

    One thing I was certain of was that we would be attacked again, and more than once.

    “The first mission of the war that followed 9/11 was to prevent any further attacks. That mission was accomplished. That is a fact often forgotten.”
    George Friedman “9/11 and the Successful War

    Some very serious people, many of them no doubt quite young, must have been working hard to forestall further attacks.

    “Ultimately, there are three lessons of the last decade that I think are important. The first is the tremendous success the United States has had in achieving its primary goal — blocking attacks on the homeland. The second is that campaigns of dubious worth are inevitable in war, and particularly in one as ambiguous as this war has been. Finally, all wars end, and the idea of an interminable war dominating American foreign policy and pushing all other considerations to the side is not what is going to happen.”
    George Friedman “9/11 and the Successful War

    That’s something I will reflect on today as I give thanks for things turning out much better than I would have ever anticipated. And I will take time to remember the sacrifices of so many on that day.

    “Three hundred forty-three firemen gave their lives that day. Three hundred forty-three! It was impossible, like everything else.

    Many heartbreaking things happened after 9/11 and maybe the worst is that there’s no heroic statue to them, no big marking of what they were and what they gave, at the new World Trade Center memorial.

    But New York will never get over what they did. They live in a lot of hearts.

    They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can’t bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: “America You Are Not Alone.” To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.

    You’ve got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.”
    Peggy Noonan in “We’ll Never Get Over It, Nor Should We

    Outstanding Panel for Wed-Sep-14 Book Club on “Great Demo”

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, skmurphy

    We have an outstanding panel lined up for next Wednesday’s Business Impact Book Club:

    We will discuss lessons learned applying Peter Cohan‘s methodology from his “Great Demo” book. If you are interested in improving your sales presentation you can use this registration link to join us Noon PDT Wed September 14:

    See our earlier “Book Club: Peter Cohan’s Great Demo” blog post for more info.

    Startup Fantasy Camp

    Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Rules of Thumb

    “Startup Fantasy Camp: throw a group of strangers together for 48-72 hours and have them pretend to be a startup.”
    Sean Murphy

    Good ideas can be fleshed out and explored and an accelerated product prototyping experience can be had in a 48-72 hour camp. But I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that you can bring strangers together and have them leave as co-founders of a viable startup.

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