Archive | February 2007

Don’t obsess with finding the “great idea..”

There’s a great Q&A in this month’s fortune with management guru and accomplished author Jim Collins on entrepreneurship and leadership.

I was most interested in his answer to the first question of “If you were to offer advice to a beginning entrepreneur, what would it be?” He answered:

First, don’t obsess on finding the “great idea.” In fact, our research shows a somewhat negative correlation between pioneering a great idea and building a great company. Many of the greatest started with either no great idea or even failed ideas.

Sony (Charts) started with a failed rice cooker. Marriott (Charts) started as a single root beer stand. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s great idea was simply to work together – two best friends who trusted
each other – while their first four products failed to get the company out of the garage.

They followed the “first who” approach to
entrepreneurship: First figure out your partners, then figure out what ideas to pursue. The most important thing isn’t the market you target, the product you develop or the financing, but the founding team.

Starting a company is like scaling an unclimbed face – you don’t know what the mountain will throw at you, so you must pick the right partners, who share your values, on whom you can depend, and who can adapt.

I’ll admit that I get stuck on finding the “great idea,” even though I’ve always believed what Jim said above. This idea really made sense to me after listening to a Venture Voice podcast last year about the founding of Paypal. While I think it is definitely important to have an idea or even more importantly a mission (such as Google’s “organizing the world’s information”) to bring together a team on, it is even more necessary to have a good founding team to begin with. I believe regardless of the idea, a good team will always be able to create success sooner or later.

I’m working on that team.

Did you know….

*China will soon become the number 1 english speaking country in the world
*The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004
*If myspace were a country it would be the 11th largest in the world (as of Sept 2006)
* The number of text messages sent everyday exceeds the entire population of the planet

You have to watch this video, it will simply blow you away.  Karl Fisch, the original creator of this video, is the Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School in Colorado. I think it’s an especially powerful message to our educators and education system. I agree with Ben, it’s system that is flawed in its focus and falling behind. This video is a pretty powerful wake up call. It just shows how we get so caught up in our traditions and procedures, that we forget the world is rapidly changing around us. Fascinating stuff.

More links related to this video:
Dangerously Irrelevant

Via young entrepreneur Ryan Allis

Entrepreneurship: Nature vs Nurture

After reading this post (great blog by the way) from successful entrepreneur Wil Schroter, I had to wonder…Are entrepreneurs born or made? Wil lays seems to think successful entrepreneurs are born with the ability to take on great risks, and because of this they are able to really get out there and learn all they need to know to make their venture or quest successful. Business success lessons can be taught, and learned by anyone, but the key to being a successful entrepreneur in his mind, risk-taking, can’t be taught.

If we’re asking whether or not you can take someone who does not support risk and teach them to embrace risk, I think that’s a long shot. I’ve seen lots of people try to fake their tolerance for risk while trying to be entrepreneurial and it just doesn’t work. You can’t teach someone to be OK with not sleeping at night.

Therefore, if you’re born to take risks, you can learn how to apply that risk-taking desire into the business world of entrepreneurship. Born entrepreneurs can be taught how to become better businesspeople. But businesspeople cannot be taught how to become entrepreneurs.

His posting was inspired by this Fortune Small Business article, which goes back and forth on all the entrepreneurs who say that formal education had no help in their success and the academics (and a few entrepreneurs) who say the right education can create entrepreneurs.

What do I think? I believe that Wil is right on.

The inherent natural risk taking ability is really the trait I’ve seen in all the successful entrepreneurs I’ve known (including Wil). I believe that the key to building a successful business and thus being a successful entrepreneur is the natural ability to really just go out there and do whatever it takes to make things happen. It’s never the right time, never the right situation, and never the perfect place to start a business, so one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur is just starting.  A lot of people can’t take this leap because it will probably mean leveraging themselves financially, looking like a fool a lot of times to a lot of people, screwing up a lot, getting an ear full a lot, and being completely overwhelmed…a lot. Most really can’t stomach even the thought of going through all this. But with this complete immersion you are capable of learning and absorbing massive amounts of information that is relevant to the business. This rapid “expertification,” is what ultimately makes up your skill set in building your company and enables you to become a successful entrepreneur. If you can’t handle risk, you’ll never get that far.

So the short answer is (as Wil said)… A good education can take you a long way, but only risk tolerance can take you to the top. Whether that risk tolerance comes from a passion in your mission, hard work on your personal perspective, or is something your born with, it’s what you’ll need to be successful.


I love this

I remember watching this commercial as a kid and getting goosebumps, and while randomly looking through some Jordan highlights this past weekend on Youtube, I found this commercial again.

And yes, the goosebumps are still there. Awesome.

Power of Gratitude

As I’ve poured myself further into the world of self improvement, I keep coming across the concept of gratitude. No matter where you’re getting (if any) you’re self improvement lessons from, the message is consistently the same: Being grateful for where you are will make going where you want to go possible.

I have to admit that I have sort of blown off this concept as something of little importance. Sure I tried to consistently put aside 5 or 10 minutes a day (preferably in the morning) to think about what I have in my life, and what I’m grateful for. For the most part, I just go through the motions seeing this more or less as a chore that eventually will pay off with long term practicing. But lately I’ve begun incorporating pictures (mainly of loved ones) and music into my gratitude routine…it’s simply amazing. I get it now. I feel so rich and alive following 10 minutes of just realizing how lucky I am to have all the wonderful things I have that I can’t help but get out into my day full of energy and excitement.

It’s so interesting that my thoughts are naturally drawn to things I have perceived as “bad” in my life. I realize that I’m only weighing myself down and closing out opportunities to enjoy this life by doing so. I’ve even begun to be grateful for the event surrounding my mom’s illness and death. It’s amazing once I began to realize all the wonderful lessons and gifts that her passing brought into my life, the anger and all the“it’s not fair,” claims fell by the wayside. If you look closely, you’ll find everything “bad” that happened in your life presented you a treasure trove of lessons and opportunities. I’m a better person and can contribute to the world in a far more powerful way having been through this experience. I’m grateful for that.

I’ve always said that my life (and yours) is a direct reflection of perspective. Your income is a reflection of how you truly perceive your worth in the world. There’s a reason why very few people who make over say $100k a year ever make less than that once they cross it…they’ve now accepted the perspective that they are worth at least $100k a year, and expect that every year. There’s a reason why some people can never seem to find a long term relationship despite wanting one. It’s not because they’re not good looking enough, funny enough, personable enough, or good enough. It only has to do with their perception of their ability to have a successful relationship.

I believe strongly that your life is affected directly by your perception, so if you can ensure that you’re consistently building a happier and more open perspective you will begin to fill your world with even more to be grateful for. With this, I can truly see the power of gratitude. By starting your day or taking some time to realize just how lucky you are, you can instantly feel better. You can begin to improve your perspective on the world, and your life will begin to reflect that positive approach immediately.

I know it sounds cheesy, but give it a try. You’ll be surprised how good you feel.