Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'd like to point out that many early entrepreneurs may not be adept at starting companies. (Ya think?) There are a lot of resources available (books, blogs, and communities). However, I think the best resource is to actually work for a start-up. If entrepreneurship is your chosen path, you would do well to join an existing early-stage company and observe what works, and what doesn't.
I'm not saying there aren't plenty of examples of young first-time founders out there. Certainly the media likes to feature the successful young entrepreneur, but they are the exception, not the rule.
So, if you're strong enough to admit that your idea isn't marketable or that you're not ready to go out on your own, be a student of entrepreneurship at an existing venture.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Board of Advisors - Accountability is the Driving Force
Established, credible, intelligent, and well connected professionals within an entrepreneur's target market sector can indeed accelerate the development of a business. And getting suitable professionals on board is a must if an entrepreneur's idea is going to sprout legs. If an entrepreneur can't attract an impressive set of advisors, then one should ask whether there's really a business there at all.
A big trap that entrepreneurs fall into is that they "acquire" a set of advisors, post their bios to the company's website, and then they move on to another task - having achieved a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" through association with their advisors. It seems silly to have to say this, but advisors WANT to advise. That's why they agreed to be on the BoA. Too often, however, they're ignored or under-utilized. A truly wasted resource.
A bigger issue is that many entrepreneurs - some out on their own for the first time in their careers - have no one to hold them accountable for their actions. They may not even have a Board of Directors yet. Entrepreneurs love independence - being their own boss, on their own time, running the show, and doing it their way. This is a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs need to have someone there to tell them that they're not progressing quick enough or that they're making mistakes.
So, my advise to entrepreneurs is to document your goals with a timeline of projected milestones - and then send these goals to an advisor. This advisor might be a trusted friend or an established professional on your BoA. The point is that by having them come back to you in 30, 60, 90 days and asking you how you've done against those goals, will make you more compelled and responsible with regard to achieving your dream.
In summary, a Board of Advisors accomplishes 4 things: 1) credibility by association, 2) a source of advice, 3) a network of connections, and 4) accountability for your actions. Leverage them all.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Have You Been Warned About the Meaning of Ads?
In any event, I noticed something very telling about the French and Spanish words for "warning". In French it's "avertissement" and in Spanish it's "advertencia". Whoa! These words look and sound a lot like the English word "advertisement". How interesting is that?
It's as if we've been given a clue to be forewarned that ads are coming. See an ad? Watch out. "Be careful, there's an ad in front of you". "These are the ads, avoid them".
So I got to thinking, what words do the French and Spanish use when they mean "advertisement"? The French use either "annonce" or "publicité" while the Spanish use "anuncio". Hmm, sounds a lot like "enunciate", "announce", and "publicize". Makes sense. A lot more sense than the roots of our English word.
Authentic and effective advertising (there's that word again..."Danger, danger Will Robinson") are good at enunciating. Not just announcing, but articulating well. Which brings me to what I think is THE most effective form of advertising: teaching.
Now, I don't mean rote learning or studying for the SATs. What I mean is that the most effective ads - the ones that I will pay attention to are the ones that teach me something I'm interested in. Educate me on why the iPhone is better, and maybe I'll buy it (So far, failing grade). Give me some free information on your product or service (white paper, top 10 tips, etc.) that really helps me solve a personal or professional problem, and I'll pay attention and buy (Thank you Tim Ferriss for the free chapters...I bought the book. And kudos to Flip Video guys for letting test drive their product at SXSW...I bought one.)
Paul Graham on the YCombinator Blog points out that advertising is broken (see item #12) and that's what got me thinking. Advertising, particularly online, has done a good job living up to its semantic roots; we're tuning it out because we've been programmed to be warned.
Monday, July 7, 2008
George Carlin's Theory of Relativity
I've coined this the George Carlin Theory of Relativity. We proceed through life at different speeds, whether measured in intellect, career advancement, or the pursuit of happiness. And I've observed that we judge ourselves against others who are traveling at different speeds even if we don't have all of the facts.
Those that appear to be traveling slower in career advancement, may in fact be maniacs with regard to the quality of life they have with their families. And the speed demons of intellect, may in fact be idiots when it comes to handling their careers. But figuring out who the idiots and manics are isn't the point.
We shouldn't compare ourselves relative to others. We should compare ourselves to ourselves. And therefore ask yourself, "am I traveling in the right direction?"
Idiot? Maniac? Who knows. Not important. Just make sure you Have a Nice Day.
Monday, June 23, 2008
“Fierce competition is usually better news than no competition. At least you know there’s something worth fighting over.”
“Don’t start a venture if the only thing protecting your idea from being copied is staying in stealth mode.”
“The only people you should worry about getting your idea are the ones you’re trying to sell it to.”
“Always assume someone is working on the exact same thing you are, that they started a month earlier and sleep an hour less every night.”
“When you’re trying to raise an investment for your venture, every ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes’ only if you know why you’ve been rejected.”
Love these - I think they capture what I've long believed about starting a company. It's hard for so many founders to follow these recommendations - a few are counterintuitive. I had to post them here to share them and to return to often as mindset reinforcement.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Nicholas Carr & Crashed Cars
Another article in the same edition of The Atlantic hit on a similar point. In Distracting Miss Daisy, John Staddon postulates that we're bad drivers in America (as compared with the UK) because there are so many street signs (not in our line of vision, but off to the side) and inconsistent road rules mixing us up. Again, attention is a core point of this article. He points out that if there were fewer signs and uniform rules (e.g. speed limits standardized based on the kind of road or highway you were on) we wouldn't crash our cars so much, and then say, "I didn't see him coming".
I found both articles fascinating and agree with much of what was said. It reminds me that overcoming short attention spans and distractions are probably a marketeers biggest challenge. Interestingly enough, The Atlantic got my attention with their choice of cover, highlighting the fact that using Google's logo and colors combined with a controversial supposition will always make me look: Image of The Atlantic's July Cover
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Captivated by Twitter
Monday, April 14, 2008
Student Loan P2P Space
Night by Elie Wiesel
Monday, March 10, 2008
Great Sessions - Great Vibe in Austin
Saturday, March 8, 2008
At South By Southwest in Austin
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Is Facebook Making Our Brains Bigger?
Scientists have long puzzled over the enormous size of the human brain. It is seven times larger than one would predict for an average mammal of our size. Many of our extra neurons are in a region called the frontal cortex, where much of the most sophisticated thought takes place.
So by studying 4 different species of hyennas, scientists have discovered that the larger the pack (i.e. more social the species) the larger the brain. So, in essence, our brains are this big because of our social networking over time.
Brain imaging studies have revealed that when people think about other people, parts of the frontal cortex become active. Advocates of the social brain hypothesis say the frontal cortex expanded in our ancestors because natural selection favored social intelligence.
Add to that the coverage of another study that showed that blogging makes us happy...
A new study has found blogging regularly tends to make a person feel less isolated, more satisfied with their existing friendships and more part of a community.- ostebsibly because socializing gives us a high - you can see why Facebook and other social networking sites are so popular and addictive. And why hyennas are always laughing.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Simple Private Exchange - drop.io
Drop.io was nominated for an award as one of 5 companies in the South By Southwest Tech Achievement category. They're also a featured speaker at the Facebook "conference within a conference" at SXSW.