12/17/2008

Why Not GM, Ford & Chrysler?

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher provides a section-by-section analysis of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 as passed by the Senate on October 2, 2008. Before anything else, the authors focus on the all important definition of "financial institution" and troubled assets, from which all else in EESA flows.

So what does financial institution mean? It's "any institution including, but not limited to, any bank, savings association, credit union, security broker or dealer, or insurance company which is organized and regulated under United States law or the law of the states or territories, and which has significant operations in the United States." The way it is "worded, there are technically no limits on what constitutes a 'financial institution' other than that it has to be an 'institution' and cannot be a central bank or an institution owned by a foreign government." So why not GM, Ford and Chrysler?

To download the document, visit this PLI Newsletter.

12/03/2008

Choice of Entity Comparison Chart

For many small business owners choosing a C corp, S Corp, or Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the first step in starting a small business. This
entity comparison table from themoneyalert.com was designed as a helpful reference.

Found via this Ask The VC post.

11/03/2008

LearnVC - Your guide to raising capital

These
guides from LearnVC include content from the LearnVC site and on external sites from leading experts in the startup community. Topics well covered include:

New Entrepreneurs
Experienced Entrepreneurs (refresher)
Future Investors (Angels or Venture Capitalists)
Students (Venture Capital Investment Competition participants and others)

11/01/2008

University Entrepreneurs Portal Launches

"At a time when graduates from leading universities face an increasingly challenging job market, Campus Venture Network, Inc. is launching StudentBusinesses.com, a free online platform that connects young entrepreneurs with business partners, mentors and investors who can help them launch successful startups.

Since the site’s beta launch in late 2007, thousands of aspiring university innovators have joined the network; while students from over 50 top universities have profiles on the site, the two universities with the most members are Harvard and MIT...

The website also helps investors, law firms, and other service providers identify top startups. Steven Welch, a partner at DreamIt Ventures, used the StudentBusinesses.com beta version to find members for the first class of its incubator program. Welch says: “StudentBusinesses.com is an excellent tool for aspiring entrepreneurs. It provides a mechanism to network with top-caliber people of diverse backgrounds, along with valuable resources to help guide entrepreneurs through the rough waters of starting a business. It will help many aspiring entrepreneurs, now more than ever.”

See this post from Small Business Trends, from which the foregoing was quoted, for live links.

10/24/2008

Free Business and Entrepreneurship College Courses

Through open courseware programs, you can access course materials from a wide range of top universities. Whether you decide to take these courses on your own time or just skim through the information, www.bschool.com compiled a list of 100 business and entrepreneurship courses you can take for free.

Here is a sampling of what is included in the list:

Accounting and Finance
These free courses can give you some tips on managing money and making sound investments in your business.

Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting: This course is designed to help business owners make investment decisions, access managerial performance and place a value on other firms and businesses...

Economics
Make sure you understand the larger factors that are at work in affecting your businesses profits and losses by educating yourself on economics through these classes.

Real Estate Economics: Whether you want to work directly in real estate or just need some information to help you make a better decision on purchasing office space, this course from MIT can provide instruction on real estate markets through a study of demographics, location, and government behavior....

Communication
Getting ahead in business without good communication skills can be hard, so give yours a boost with help from these top-tier courses.

No Sweat Speaking: Check out this short online seminar from Columbia University to help you overcome your fear or nervousness about public speaking. You’ll get access to a series of videos that can offer you some tips and pointers on feeling at ease in front of a group of coworkers, clients or anyone else...

Management
Management plays an essential role in keeping any business running smoothly. Ensure you and your employees are working to their full potential with some advice from these free courses.

Optimization Methods in Management Science: In this course, you’ll learn about the theory, algorithms, and applications of optimization to help you better control the logistics, manufacturing, transportation, marketing, project management, and financial issues of your business...

Leadership
These courses can help you be a better leader by teaching you important skills like working as a team, ethics, and how to work with a diverse group of people.

Cross-Cultural Leadership: This course explores what constitutes effective leadership across cultures. It can be especially valuable for business owners who are working in a global environment...

Marketing and Advertising
If you’ve got a product or service to sell, you need to get your name out there. These courses can give you some helpful ways to better market your business.

Brand Leadership/E-Seminar 1, Brand Identity and Strategy: Professor Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School explains the steps businesses must take when marketing themselves to develop a successful brand identity in this online seminar, using real companies to illustrate his points...

Product Development and Launch
These courses can give you some help on successfully developing new products and getting them out to your buyers.

Managing the Innovation Process: Get a handle on the research and development going on in your business through this course which analyzes the process through through five levels: individual, team, network, organizational, and industrial...

Technology
No business can run without technology these days, so ensure you have a handle on the IT technologies it takes to keep your business in good shape through these courses.

Practical Information Technology Management: If you feel you don’t have the background to make sound business decisions about IT, give this course a try. You’ll gain insight into how to implement, maintain and manage these systems to the benefit of your business...

Law
These courses can help you make sure you know the legal rights and regulations that apply to your business.

Law for the Entrepreneur and Manager: Through his course, you’ll gain a basic understanding of legal issues that corporations and businesses face when organizing, getting financing, protecting intellectual property, working internationally and more...

Field Specific
These courses cover a range of more specific business topics...

The Software Business: If you have an interest in starting a software company, this course can be a good place to get some introductory information...

10/14/2008

Savoring a Moment

I was among three hundred or so Pittsburgh Pirate fans that made a pilgrimage to the site of old Forbes Field yesterday afternoon.

This is a quintessential 'Burgh thing - a ritual sprung spontaneously from the act of one Saul Finkelstein who decided during his lunch hour in 1985 to sit on a bench and listen to a tape of his favorite baseball game. You know, the one on October 13, 1960 when Bill Mazeroski, a light hitting second basemen batting eighth in the order, smacked a pitch from Ralph Terry over Yogi Berra's head into history.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neil called it a "cherished rite of autumn" as he described the scene:

"It happened yesterday afternoon, as it does every Oct. 13 at almost exactly the same time. Bill Mazeroski led off the ninth inning with a home run and a raucous crowd of Pirates die-hards erupted rapturously.

"There are no turnstiles at the remnants of Forbes Field's brick center field wall, and so no accurate crowd count. Call it 300 or 400 fans. They came to listen to every pitch of the deciding seventh game of the 1960 World Series because they wanted to relive a 48-year-old memory some were too young to have even had...

"A handful of former Pirates -- Dick Groat, Elroy Face, Bob Friend, Nellie King, Frank Thomas and Dave Giusti -- were there, and old baseball stories were told well. But this was a day for fans, not players, and youthful stories passed back and forth on a day as perfectly sunny as the one back when."

I sat on low wall and swapped tales with my neighbors, while the broadcast of the game crackled clearly in the background. Some things do not change. Gillette hawked the newest innovation in razor blades - the "super blue blade" with a silicon coating. The game announcers, however, did most of the hawking with only a smattering of jingles and jangles.

I enjoyed hearing the old names new again - Mantle, Maris, Berra, Skowron, Kubek, Richardson - I grew up a Yankees fan after all. But as the tension built - and amazingly, it did build, even though the outcome was foregone - I revelled with my fellow Pirate fans when the announcer excitedly sputtered "This may do it..." and erupted just as noisily as anyone else savoring the old moment of the Pirates triumph.

10/02/2008

New Orleans Business Plan Competition

Calling ENTREPRENEURS WITH IDEAS TO retain YOUNG TALENT in New Orleans! The Idea Village has announced 504ward's $100,000 Business Competition for entrepreneurs with ideas to retain young talent in New Orleans. Check out an inspired YouTube video to get your creative juices flowing.

Generously funded by local venture philanthropist Leslie Jacobs and already matched in resources and services from the local community for a growing total value of $200,000, the wining package will include services and assistance from among event sponsors
Adams and Reese,
Jones Walker,
Trumpet,
Fabre Smith & Coco,
Netcom Group,
New Orleans Magazine,
Gambit Weekly,
Human Resources Management Association of Greater New Orleans,
Lifestyle Revolution Group,
Event Producers and
Louisiana Technology Park:

If you are not ready to submit an idea but have resources to support New Orleans entrepreneurs, please contact the event sponsors about providing cash and in-kind donations. Visit Business Competition Overview for additional details, criteria, rules and regulations.

9/26/2008

Yankee Stadium Memories

I remember Grandpa – his sturdy frame silhouetted in the dusky evening light beside the grey, weathered workbench in the upper backyard. Firmly, yet gently, he struck hammer to chisel and chipped away bits of rock along a scored line in a flag destined to become a stepping stone. Grandpa loved work and he loved us.

Nowhere was his love more evident than in our epic trips to Yankee Stadium. Always a Sunday double header; usually “bat day” or “ball day.” The journeys were all-day affairs. No – they were more than that. They were all-life affairs. Overflowing with life and love and expectation and excitement. Full of agitation and calm, anxiety and serenity. Long and tedious, short and exhilarating.

“Grandpa! Grandpa! Bat Day is June 20th. Will you take us? Will you?”

Shouting and stumbling we would cross the threshold into Grandpa and Grandma’s house next door on a Sunday morning after mass as the clan was gathering for weekly cake and coffee. We had just perused the New York paper (after having completed our paper routes) and found the upcoming Yankees season schedule. Grandpa would smile and ponder a moment or two and then nod. The trip was on - Yankee Stadium – Bat Day – joy.

Anticipating the trip was excruciating. How many more months, weeks, days until we would get to see the Mick, Roger Maris, Elston Howard and the others? How many hot dogs would we eat? How many balls of cotton candy?

And much more than this, we would get bats – real, honest-to-goodness official little league bats. Bats – stamped with the signature of a Yankee player no less. We all wanted Mickey Mantle models, but not so we could put them away in cases to gather dust and appreciate in value. We were going to use the bats to play baseball – over and over until they broke. We wanted Mickey Mantles because he was our favorite player. We wanted Mickey Mantle bats – just because.

When the time for the sojourn arrived, we spent the night before in fits of nervous sleeplessness. When morning dawned, it seemed like the dreaming had just begun. We were actually going. And we would have to leave early. It was more than a three hour journey to New York from Tripp Park. Two-lane blacktop all the way. No superhighways like now.

What a journey. It took forever. To try to calm us, Grandpa and his helper (usually my father or an uncle or a friend of Grandpa’s) would tell us things like, “The Delaware Water Gap is coming up. Look for the Indian Head mountain. It’s a mountain shaped like the head of an Indian.” So, for a long time before we were anywhere near them, we would be kind of quiet, looking for the water gap (whatever that was) and a rock formation resembling an Indian Chief. And I always missed them. Still, to this day, when I pass through the Delaware Water Gap, the Indian Head mountain is a mystery to me. It just looks like a bunch of rocks jutting out of a forest. Anyway…

The next thing we were told to watch out for was Hot Dog Johnny’s, a classic American roadside stand on Route 46 in New Jersey on the banks of the Pequest River. Sometimes, we stopped there on the way and other times on the way back from the Stadium. We would swing on the swings or relax at one of the picnic tables with a frosted mug of birch beer, a hot dog or French fries, before continuing to our destination.

Usually after some debate about whether to take the tunnel or the bridge into New York, we would cross the George Washington Bridge and slowly wind our way to the Bronx. Grandpa would ride around and find a place to park on the street and we would walk several blocks to the Stadium. We would stand in line, buy tickets and then head across the street to the Jerome Cafeteria for brunch.

What a wondrous place the Jerome Cafeteria was. I remember that at least part of it was an Automat (short for an automatic restaurant). It is hard to explain how futuristic it seemed to make change, take your coins to a large bank of small glass windows behind each of which was a sandwich, piece of pie or other delight, drop in the coins, open the window, take out the food and then look through the window to see if you could spy the people behind the array who kept filling the cubby holes with more food.

On to the ballpark, to the bats, checking to see whose signature you got, hoping your seat was not behind a steel girder support beam that blocked your view, heading to the upper deck, hoping to catch a foul ball or a home run, batting practice, the first game, walking around the stadium on the inside, the next game, banging your bat on the concrete deck and brandishing your bat aloft along with 40,000 others in a ritual mass photo opportunity, hot dogs, cotton candy, peanuts, Cracker Jack, soda, back to the Jerome Cafeteria, on to Hot Dog Johnny’s, sleeping in the car, back home in Scranton, sometimes near midnight, feeling alive, being loved. It was great.

9/23/2008

Impact of Yankee Stadium Bat Day on Blunt Trauma Injuries

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of blunt trauma in northern New York City before and after the distribution of 25,000 baseball bats at Yankee Stadium.
DESIGN: Prospective multicenter study, including ten days before and ten days after Bat Day (June 3, 1990).
SETTING: Ten emergency departments in the Bronx and northern Manhattan.
TYPE OF PARTICIPANT: All patients presenting to the ED with baseball bat injuries.
INTERVENTIONS: Each hospital collected the following data for each subject: date and time of injury, patient's age and sex, extent of injury, whether a Yankee bat was used, presence of loss of consciousness, results of computed tomography scan of the brain (if performed), history source, and disposition of the patient. Average daily atmospheric temperature was recorded for each day of the study.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Seventy-seven patients sustained bat injuries, 38 (49%) before and 36 (47%) after Bat Day. There were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to age, sex, time of injury, number and distribution of fractures and lacerations, incidence of loss of consciousness, source of history, or dispostion. There was a positive association between the number of cases on a given day and the average temperature that day (r = .5; P < .01).
CONCLUSION: The distribution of 25,000 wooden baseball bats to attendees at Yankee Stadium did not increase the incidence of bat-related trauma in the Bronx and northern Manhattan. There was a positive correlation between daily temperature and the incidence of bat injury. The informal but common impressions of emergency clinicians about the cause-and-effect relationship between Bat Day and bat trauma were unfounded.

Impact of Yankee Stadium Bat Day on blunt trauma in northern New York City.
Bernstein SL, Rennie WP, Alagappan K.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New Hyde Park, New York.PMID: 8135433 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

from this PubMed Result

9/01/2008

Free Online Entrepreneurship Courses

"Approximately 10 million entrepreneurs think about starting a business in the U.S. every year. Only 3 million of them actually do it. Be one of the 3 million with these free online business entrepreneurship courses.

1. MIT- Sloan School of Management (mit.edu)
Global Entrepreneurship Lab
Entrepreneurial Finance
Law for the Entrepreneur and Manager
Developmental Entrepreneurship
Introduction to Marketing

2. Carnegie Mellon (cmu.edu)
Entrepreneurship and Business Planning Course
Entrepreneurship and Business Planning Course - Audio Version

3. U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov)
Staring a Business - Series of Courses

4. Trump University (trumpuniversity.com)
Write a Business Plan - Mini Course
Find Start-Up Funding - Mini Course

5. Business Week (bwcourses.com)
Fire Your Boss: Start Your Own Business
Start-Up Basics for the First-Time Entrepreneur
Raising Capital for Your Small Business

6. Kutztown University - Small Business Development Center (kutztownsbdc.org)
Accounting Courses
Business Plan Workshops
Leadership and Management Development Courses

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Kutztown University has one of the largest collections of free business entrepreneurship courses on the web. Topics range from accounting and finance to leadership and management; courses take between 30 minutes and three hours to complete.

7. My Own Business (myownbusiness.com)
How to Start Your Own Business"

For live links to the course materials, go to this educational-portal.com website.

8/25/2008

Your Inner Yinzer 'n'at

Yinz gotta learn Picksburghese, especially yinz not from aron here, like doze of ya in Ahia, other parts of Pensivania, and even yunz up 'ere on da Sahside slopes, or ov'ere in Sliberrty, Sharteers Crick, da Mon or da Yock or dahntahn or in da Strip or near da carline in da Sout hills or in Oaklan near where Jaynell used ta be.

So take off yer babushka, redd up yer room, and if ya haven’t et yet, reach into yer cubberd for yer favorite snack. Get up off yer p'toot and off yer stoop and head to da Jynt Iggle. Grab some jumbo or chipped ham for a sammich and pop it in your poke. Or get some city chicken, and a Klondike. And to worsh it down, drink yer pop, or take yer church key and snap da top off an ahrn.

If ya cuttent or dittent understand what I jus wrote, yer prolly wonderin’ what’s goin’ on. Don’t worry, y'aint lost jet. 'Specially if yer nebby, stick with it. Don’t get tangled up in your gutchies, or be a jag off 'n'at. Don’t worry 'baht da sidewalks bein’ slippy, or brown warter comin’ out da kitchen spicket or if da Stillers will win this week. Put a gum band on your wrist soze ya remember. This is yuge.

That’s it Fort Pitt. Yer first lesson is over.

Roughly translated:

You must learn the local vernacular spoken by native Pittsburghers, especially those of you who are not from Pittsburgh, like those of you in Ohio, other parts of Pennsylvania and those of you who live in the South Side Slopes or East Liberty neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, or near Chartiers Creek or the Monongahela River, or the Youghiogheny River or in downtown Pittsburgh, or in the Strip District section of Pittsburgh or near the trolley tracks in the South Hills of Pittsburgh or in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh in the vicinity of the former site of the Jones & Laughlin steel mill.

So, remove the kerchief that is folded triangularly covering your head and tied below your chin, clean your room, and if you have not eaten, reach into your cupboard for your favorite snack. Get off your behind, leave your front porch and head to the local Giant Eagle grocery store. Buy some bologna or processed ham sliced as thin as an onion skin for a sandwich and place the items in a grocery bag. Or enjoy a meal of breaded pork and veal skewered and grilled, or a Klondike brand ice cream bar. And to wash it down, drink soda, or take a bottle opener and open a bottle of Iron City Beer.

If you could not or did not understand what I just wrote, you are probably wondering what is going on. Don’t worry, you are not lost yet. Especially if you are nosey, stay with it. Don't get tangled up in your underwear or be a jerk. Don’t worry about the sidewalks being slippery, or brown water coming out of the kitchen spigot, or if the Steelers football team will win this week. Put a rubber band on your wrist as a reminder. This is huge.

That’s all. Your first lesson is over.

If'n yinz wants further info, check abaht daht com or the Car-Nay-Ghee liberry or up air or ove' air.

8/22/2008

Olympic Medals? Let Me Count the Ways

The Washington Post reports that every day since the games began, the Olympics medal chart has dominated the front page of China's main state-run newspapers. China is always ranked first based on the number of gold medals won. The U.S. media trumpets the total medals tally. Not surprisingly, the U.S. leads using that metric. The Post continues:

"Don't look to the International Olympic Committee to resolve the debate. According to the Olympic charter, medal tables don't have any meaning. The IOC says that the games are a competition between athletes, not countries."

Yeah, right.

Anyway, if only gold medals count, why award the others? Likewise, if a bronze is worth the same as a gold medal, why have the competition? If we are going to compare country medal totals, we need weights.

Give the bronze medal a numeric value - say one. Give the silver a higher value - say 1.25 or 1.5 or even 2 (although I would question whether a silver medal represents twice the value of the bronze). Give the gold a still higher value.

Based on the final medal count, the U.S. would lead 137.5 to 130.75 if the values for Gold, Silver and Bronze were 1.5, 1.25 and 1. If the values were 2, 1.5 and 1, the U.S. lead would be 165 to 161.5. China would lead 223 to 220 if the values were 3, 2 and 1.

8/21/2008

Expand the Pie Before Dividing It Up

"Many managers who view themselves as the heroic guardians of shareholder interests—the no-nonsense, tough-as-nails guys who run their businesses by the numbers, who pride themselves on their hypercompetitiveness, and who think that "organizational culture" and "shared values" are irrelevant fantasies concocted by out-of-touch academics—may be inadvertently running their companies into the ground and systematically destroying the wealth of their investors...

"The most successful organizations understand that the purpose of any business is to create value for customers, employees, and investors, and that the interests of these three groups are inextricably linked. Therefore, sustainable value cannot be created for one group unless it is created for all of them. The first focus should be on creating value for the customer, but this cannot be achieved unless the right employees are selected, developed, and rewarded, and unless investors receive consistently attractive returns...

"Why do managers so often choose not to focus on value creation and instead make decisions that systematically decrease the long-term value of their businesses? One reason may be that their training and education lead them to define their organizations' interests too narrowly... If management defines the organization's self-interest (and consequently its goals) too narrowly—for example, to maximize this year's or this quarter's reported earnings—it will view that interest as being at odds with the interests of customers and employees...

"This approach is based on 'win/lose' or 'zero-sum' thinking: The underlying assumption is that there is a fixed pie of value to be divided up among customers, employees, and investors, so the interests of the three groups must be traded off against one another...

"Companies that act on this myopic conception of self-interest may stumble into a downward spiral of poor decision-making that is difficult to reverse. For example, as reduced employee training and compensation lead to low employee morale and poor performance, and as underfunded R&D allows a product line to age, customers can become dissatisfied and begin to defect... When customer do defect, profits shrink, tempting management to cut back even further on training, compensation, and R&D, thus accelerating the spiral of customer dissatisfaction and defection...

"Alternatively, if managers define their company's interests broadly enough to include the interests of customers and employees, an equally powerful spiral of value creation can occur. Highly motivated, well-trained, properly rewarded employees deliver outstanding service, while effective R&D investments lead to products that enjoy a significant value-adding advantage and generate higher margins. Satisfied, loyal customers (and new customers responding to word-of-mouth referrals) drive revenue growth and profitability for investors...

"An 'expanding the pie' approach to management requires that a company alter its thinking along several dimensions...."

Read more in Value Creation and Business Success by Paul O'Malley from which the foregoing was quoted.

Who's Winning in Your Workplace?

"Are competition and cooperation at play in your work environment? The Olympic Games are a great example of how dynamic forces balance and reinforce each other in large systems. At the same time that national pride pushes countries to compete aggressively from sport to sport, so too is a spirit of cooperation in evidence as individual athletes demonstrate sportsmanship and countries agree on standards regarding everything from scoring practices to drug testing.

"When you look around you at work, can you determine who's winning the medals? Can you identify who champions the importance of working together?

From Leverage Points newsletter.

8/17/2008

In The Mountain

Chilled in Old Tingri, we awake after restlessly tossing the night in the ramshackle motel ruled by a green-haired Tibetan princess. Darling daughter and I fondly recall the proprietor’s response to my earlier inquiry about the availability of showers. Her majesty had deadpanned that hot water was available 24-hours, adding that “Maybe it’s not so hot.”

Not so hot, we break from our room into the cool morning dim, roused by our driver and guide to begin the jeep ascent to the Mount Everest base camp. The “good road” has been shut down for repairs. So we bounce and bang our way up the alternate route - a twisting, winding, bumpy mess of a mountain trail - up and up and down and up and down and up and up and up. Painstakingly, we climb the harsh, rocky, marvelous terrain, above the tree line, on the roof of the world.

We cross frozen streams and deep dry washes. We bounce by scattered herds of goats, sheep and yaks tended by families of hearty nomads. Narrow stove pipes jutting from yak hair tents waft light blue smoke into the pale morning sky. I keep expecting the sparse tundra to peter out to nothing, but it never does. Bunches and bits of moss and lichen and grass endure the elevation, providing fodder for the animals and green relief from the variety of muted grays and browns that comprise the stark glacial landscape.

Hours later, we crawl past the sacred threshold, the incongruous Rongbuk Monastery. Strings of faded prayer flags drape the chorten, an enigmatic reliquary that resembles a giant marshmallow plopped on concrete steps topped by a tall, cylindrical metallic crown. Emblems of the sun and moon in the crown symbolize the light of the Buddha’s teaching. A solitary monk clad in a bold red robe trudges beneath the fluttering that connects the chorten to a complex of low-slung, chalky dwelling places.

We roll on without stopping. Our guide and driver know that the quicker we traverse the remaining distance to the North Face, the more likely we will decide not to stay overnight at the makeshift base camp tent city. They would much prefer the fuzzy motel at Old Tingri. We will not hear of it. We will spend the night stuffed under piles of yak hair blankets in a cozy, frozen tent they call the Hotel California.

The jeep trail ends at the tent city – two rows of room-sized, rectangular, chimneyed, brown hairy boxes, festooned with an assortment of faded rugs and bunting – astride either side of the built-up, packed-down dirt road.

We mount a rickety, wooden, horse-drawn cart for the final leg of the journey to the base camp, that is, to the photo opportunity tombstone that marks its official location for tourists. The weary dark steed is decorated festively and contrasts wonderfully with the sparce, rocky terrain.

Everest looms large in the near distance. All but its broad, streaked white base is surrounded by late July fog. The mountain hides. Our eyes are constantly drawn to it. We are pulled toward the peak, like souls searching.

The cart winds its way slowly up the dirt road, the clop, clop, clop of the horse’s hoofs punctuating the whistling breeze. We fix our gaze on the mountain. Pieces of Everest peak in and out of the clouds, tantalizing us.

We pose for pictures and linger, despite the clinging, insistent presence of the horse-cart driver who wants to go back for another fare. Time is money even here.

We strike up a conversation with a bicycle rider. About this time yesterday, he says, the wind cleared away the haze, revealing the precipice in all its glory.

We return to the tent city and walk into the nearby boulder-strewn expanse to wait – to wait for Everest to clear. We prop ourselves up against a couple of large rocks and sit. We are near a gentle rippling stream alone in the field with the stones, the wind, the lichens and the mountain. We stare at the clouds covering the crest. We gaze at the summit shrouded in mist. Hours pass in rapt contemplation.

I am struck.

God is in the mountain.
Mysterious, hidden, present, powerful, enduring,
drawing me near, pulling me closer,
lifting me up into the mystery.
God is in the mountain.

8/08/2008

So You Want to Take Your Company Public?

"The following are among the most important matters to be addressed by IPO candidates in the six-to-twelve months before an IPO.

"Pricing Option Grants: For a venture-backed company that grants employee stock options (as almost all do), the SEC will review during the IPO registration process the company's determination of fair market value...it is advisable for a company planning for an IPO to hire an independent valuation firm to determine the fair market value of its stock at the time the company grants options. A rigorous, contemporaneous independent valuation is strong evidence to counter any challenge by the SEC related to the compensation charges included in a company's financial statements...If the company expects an IPO in the next 12–18 months, quarterly valuation updates are generally appropriate...

"Auditor Independence:...While the SEC auditor independence rules generally do not apply to private companies, a pre-IPO company's accounting firm must be independent with respect to each fiscal period (generally three full fiscal years) covered by the financial statements in the IPO registration statement... Accordingly, a company contemplating an IPO in the future should ensure that its accounting firm satisfies the SEC auditor independence rules even prior to the IPO...

Controls and Procedures: The SEC has adopted in the last several years a variety of rules relating to both "disclosure controls and procedures" and "internal control over financial reporting." These rules require public companies to establish and maintain such controls, to evaluate them on a periodic basis and to report on such evaluations in their periodic SEC filings. In addition, a public company's annual report must include a management report on the company's internal control over financial reporting, as well as an audit report from the company's independent auditors.

These requirements make it critical for a company to establish and document robust controls and procedures prior to its IPO...

"Corporate Governance Issues:...It is never too early for a company comtemplating an IPO at some point in the future to [comply with] the corporate governance standards applicable to public companies [including those required] by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, NASDAQ or NYSE rules...[The requirements include provisions regarding] ...independent directors... audit committees...compensation and nominating committees... codes of conduct... and shareholder approval of option plans..."

Read more in this article by Patrick J. Rondeau for PLI from which the foregoing was taken.

8/01/2008

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updated March, 2011

7/30/2008

How Do You Define Success?

Today's quotation from livinglifefully.com:

"It takes courage to buck the tide, but once you start to experience the freedom that comes from actively creating your own interpretation of success, you’ll find it easy to move on from people who haven’t yet figured out that having it all or spending long hours at an unsatisfying job will never define who they truly are, no matter how high the pay."

--Elaine St. James

Today's Meditation:

"'Actively creating your own interpretation of success.' These are words that none of us should miss, and that all of us should pay close attention to. Do you define success based on what other people call 'success,' or do you know what you want to do with your life and do your best to reach your goals on your own terms? Do you consider yourself a failure if you don't reach other people's expectations, or are you happy to be doing what you know to be important in your life?...

"Doing things on our terms can be difficult, for other people can't always be expected to understand where we're coming from. But we have to define our own terms for ourselves, and we have to live our lives for ourselves, searching for our own contentment and satisfaction if we're ever to be able to help others find theirs.

"Questions to consider:

How do you define success?

How do we fall into the trap of seeing success as being what everyone else defines it to be?

What are some of the possible obstacles that we face if we define success on our own terms? What are some of the possible benefits?
For further thought:

"The logic of worldly success rests on fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other people."

--Thomas Merton

6/05/2008

Consider Garden Leave Employment Termination Clauses

"'Garden leave' has become a common tool in English employment contracts for curtailing a departing employee's ability to work for the competition. Anecdotal evidence suggests that American employers, primarily on the East Coast, have begun inserting garden leave clauses into employment agreements. The enforceability of the garden leave clauses, however, remains untested in California courts.

"As it has developed in England, 'garden leave' describes a situation where an employee must give notice of termination a significant period of time prior to the effective date of termination. The employee then is required to spend the time between the date of notice and the termination date away from the office, i.e., at home 'in the garden.' The employee receives full payment of salary and benefits, but is precluded from contact with customers or the employer's confidential information; most importantly, the employee is precluded from beginning employment with a new employer until the garden leave expires. The length of the garden leave varies, but in the reported English cases generally runs from six to eighteen months in length.

The obvious benefit to the employer from a garden leave provision is that it prevents the employee from working for a competitor until such time as his/her current technical knowledge has become less useful to a competitor, the contacts with customers have become dated, or the employee is otherwise rendered less valuable to a competitor. The cost to the employer may be significant in paying the full salary and benefits to an employee for a lengthy period of time while the employee is not engaged in any productive activity on behalf of the employer. Thus, such clauses may be appropriate only for senior executives, key technical employees or others who have access to truly confidential information and/or key clients. Read more in this pli.edu article

Zemanta Pixie

5/18/2008

5/05/2008

You Go Girl - Women Boxing in the Early 1900's

The Library of Congress posted this 1910 photo on Flickr recently of the Bennett sisters boxing. "What is this?" I wondered. I searched around and found that women's boxing is much older than I thought. The site, womenboxing.com explains:

"While women's boxing can loosely trace it beginnings to London in the 1720's, throughout the ensuing decades, there were various exhibitions and scattered bouts until the 1950's when several fighters, most notably Barbara Buttrick, JoAnn Hagen (Verhaegen), and Phyllis Kugler staged professional fights. The sport rekindled again in the 1970s thanks to the efforts of several important trailblazers. The 1970's, in particular, were highlighted by many women’s boxing "firsts" including many states lifting bans for women to box; issuing "first time" boxing licenses, sanctioning boxing matches; and the various commissions approving more than four rounds for women’s bouts."


Women's boxing was a displayed event at the third olympic games held in 1904 in St. Louis as this photo from the Olympics archives attests.

5/01/2008

Rhino Party Rah Rah Rah

The Parti Rhinocéros, AKA the Rhinoceros Party, was registered in Canada for more than 30 years. They issued “A promise to keep none of our promises.” Members of the party claimed to be the “spiritual descendants” of Cacareco, a Brazilian rhino that was elected to São Paulo’s city council in the 1950s. They claimed that the rhino was the perfect symbol for a political party, because, among other things, they are “slow-moving, dim-witted, can move fast as hell when in danger, and have large, hairy horns growing out the middle of their faces.” Promises the party made (which they had already promised not to keep) included repealing the law of gravity, paving Manitoba to make the world’s largest parking lot, ending crime by abolishing all laws and that they would enforce higher education by building taller schools.

one of several, shall we say, different, political parties described in this neatorama post.

4/27/2008

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Want to start a business or make some other personal change? Something holding you back?

Perhaps you will recognize yourself in this list from How to Save the World. It is a top ten list of obstacles to making changes and ideas for how to overcome them:

"1. Procrastination. Fight it like the addiction it is. Separate the urgent from the Important. Have a list of the Important things and keep it in front of you. Break the Important things into manageable steps. Do one 'next step' towards your Important things every day. Learn to say 'no' to things that aren't as important. Don't try to do too many Important things at once. Don't wait for a crisis, or until it's too late. Don't beat yourself up about it, but don't deny it either.

"2. Well-meaning naysayers and apologists. Your friends may well tell you your greatest goal, the change you most want to achieve, is foolish, impractical or impossible, and to lower your sights. Or they may reassure you that there's always time later and that it's OK to put it off. Don't listen to them. They want to make you feel better, happier with what you have and are and have done so far, but they're abetting the crime of letting you be less than what you were meant to be, what you must be to be happy, to be complete.

"3. Fear of failure (defeatism). Take it one step at a time. Get lots of help. Use the buddy system. Find a personal coach. Avoid those people (there are a lot of them) who love to talk about others' failures and failings. Learn from failures (quickly, don't let them drag on). If you never fail, you're setting your sights too low.

"4. Giving up too soon (impatience). Do your research so you are 'knowledge-powered'. That will reduce the number of surprise obstacles that arise, and will equip you to deal with them. Pace yourself. Reward yourself for progress. Enjoy the ride.

"5. Waiting for the whole plan to be in place. Just start.

"6. Lack of self-confidence or cultural intimidation. Avoid conformists and cynics -- they will suffocate you. Also avoid hero-worshipers and those infested with the cult of leadership -- they perpetuate the myth that some people are inherently better and more likely to succeed than others. Smile a lot. Hang around people with the courage to be different. It will rub off on you. We're all born knowing we can do anything, we just need to unlearn that we can't.

"7. Inflexibility or lack of adaptability. Have a vision, a story, of where you want to go, but don't get locked into one way to get there. Plan, but don't overplan. Learn to improvise (it's more fun).

"8. Trying to do it all yourself. Ah, that cowboy culture. Total myth. Discover how many people love to help others succeed. Use them shamelessly, but spread the help you ask for around. Say 'thank you' a lot. Give stuff away free. Reciprocate in ways that don't distract you, and in ways that draw on what you do best. Learn the art of collaboration.

"9. Lack of forethought or concentration. Have lots of conversations with a diversity of others. Listen to constructive ideas, suggestions and criticisms. Set aside the time to think things through: You can listen too much to others, to the point you stop listening to yourself, or even stop thinking. Take up meditation or whatever works for you to silence the 'noise in your head' that keeps you from focusing. Trust your instincts.

"10. Lack of necessary skills or talents. Learn how to learn (they didn't teach that in school). Work with others who overcame the same lack of skills or talents. Even creativity and imagination can be learned. If you can imagine it, you can do it. Oh, and practice, practice, practice."

Where Does Creativity Come From?

Novelist Amy Tan digs deep into the creative process, journeying through her childhood and family history and into the worlds of physics and chance, looking for hints of where her own creativity comes from. It's a wild ride with a surprise ending.

4/25/2008

an Entrepreneur State of Mind

Being an entrepreneur is more than just starting a business, says Shutterfly CEO and dot-com veteran Jeff Housenbold. Entrepreneurial thinking involves an innovative mindset to create new products, new markets, and new ideas within any set of circumstances - from an existing Fortune 500 to a mom-and-pop shop.

4/04/2008

Checklist for Forming a Partnership

From Findlaw:

If you are thinking of starting a partnership, below is a checklist of steps to take before you open for business. Keep in mind that your partnership's startup requirements might vary from the list below, depending on the specific type of business you are in, and where your business is located.

Decide on a business name for your partnership. (Learn more: Pick a Winning Name for Your Business)
Search availability of your partnership's chosen business name, and for similarity to existing names. (Learn more: Make Sure Your Proposed Business Name is Available)
Register your partnership name (including as a "fictitious business name"). (Learn more: Registering Your Business Name)
Create and sign a written partnership agreement. (Learn more: Creating a Partnership Agreement)
Register your partnership by filing a "certificate" or "registration" of partnership with the Secretary of State office. This step is required most often for limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and limited partnerships, as opposed to general partnerships. (Learn more about Types of Partnerships)
Obtain business licenses and permits for your partnership from:
The federal government. (Learn more: Federal Start-Up Requirements)
Your state government. (Learn more: State Start-Up Requirements)
Your local government. (Learn more: Local Start-Up Requirements)

Forming a partnership can be a long-term benefit to your new business in the long run, but the process -- most notably drafting a comprehensive partnership agreement -- can be complicated. To ensure that your new partnership covers all legal bases and has the best chance for success before opening for business, you may wish to consult an experienced business attorney.

4/02/2008

Systems Thinking Applies to Software Development

"The Systems Thinking Laws from Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” applied to Software Development.

1. Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions...
2. The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back...
3. Behavior grows better before it grows worse...
4. The easy way out usually leads back in...
5. The cure can be worse than the disease...
6. Faster is slower...
7. Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space...
8. Small changes can produce big results-but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious...
9. You can have your cake and eat it too - but not at once...
10. Dividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants...
11. There is no blame...

"So what?

"These 11 laws of The Systems Thinking show that all our solutions have consequences, sometimes bad and unexpected. Systems around us are what they are, and we shouldn’t blame, but learn them. To master Systems Thinking and control these systems we should understand what are the systems we are dealing with, either human or software, consciously learn relations, cause and effect chains, perceive the systems as a whole and as the part of other systems..."

Read more in this article from eioba.com from which the foregoing is quoted.

3/28/2008

Sharpen Your Skills

Sharpening Your Skills (from HBS Working Knowledge) brings together articles on ways to improve your business skills.

Questions to be answered:
Should I keep control of my company?
How do I turn potential into profit?
How can a resource-challenged start-up grow?
What legal mistakes should I watch out for in starting a new company?
Should I keep control of my company?

Rich or Royal: What Do Founders Want? It's a fundamental tension many entrepreneurs face, the conflict between wanting to become rich and wanting to keep control of their new company. Few can have both. Professor Noam Wasserman discusses his research into the motivations of entrepreneurs and the people who invest in them.

Key concepts include:

Entrepreneurs are often motivated by the potential of money and control, but very few ever achieve both.

A fundamental tension between "rich and regal" starts to develop as entrepreneurs look to attract resources to grow their ventures.

Investors need to understand the motivations of the entrepreneurs they back to make sure their goals are aligned.

How do I turn potential into profit?
Turning High Potential into Real Reward Transforming high-potential ventures into high-performance ventures, says professor Joseph Lassiter, depends on combining what, how, and who you know.

Key concepts include:

Successful entrepreneurs look ahead and say, "Two or three years from now, this is exactly the customer and exactly the product, and this is exactly why they're going to be compelled to buy."

A key issue is who do you do business with initially who lets the venture start moving down the "right" product road map?

Turning high-potential ventures into high-performance ventures is always an elegant combination of know what, know-how, and know who!

How can a resource-challenged start-up grow?
How Can Start-Ups Grow? For new ventures a lack of resources makes growth difficult to come by—just ask those nine out of ten fledgling firms that fail. Professor Mukti Khaire says the key may be in acquiring intangible resources such as legitimacy, status, and reputation.

Key concepts include:

Small companies can grow by developing intangible social resources such as legitimacy, status, and reputation.

In some cases the location of a new venture is a critical facilitator of success because of the symbolic benefits offered by an office address that is legitimate in the minds of stakeholders.

Firms have to work at maintaining their status in the hierarchy, while legitimacy is a critical issue only in the early stages of firms' lives.

For new firms in established industries, there is value to doing some nontechnical, symbolic things in the manner that is widely accepted and to adhering to industry norms and culture.

What legal mistakes should I watch out for in starting a new company?
Top Ten Legal Mistakes Made by Entrepreneurs The life of a startup can be precarious, a wrong turn disastrous. Harvard Business School professor Constance Bagley discusses the most frequent legal flops made by entrepreneurs, everything from hiring the wrong lawyer to puffing up the business plan.

Key concepts include:

Entrepreneurs tend to delegate too much to the lawyers.

Lawyers are risk averse; delegating to them can often compromise business objectives.

3/24/2008

St. Francis Hospital Implosion

To make say for the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena, old St. Francis Hospital bit the dust on Saturday. Here is a video of the implosion from StartPoint Media

3/05/2008

Overconfidence in Sheep's Clothing

"What else can psychology tell us about running a business?

"One example... [is] 'the illusion of validity.' This is the sense that you have that you understand somebody and you can predict how they will behave. The reason I call this the illusion of validity is that we knew from the statistics that we were actually not able to predict how people would behave...That's a very important illusion--this illusion of validity. In many different forms, it has big implications.

"Such as?

"One of the versions of it is called overconfidence: People assign much higher probability to the truth of their opinions than is warranted. It's one of the reasons people trade so much in the market, generally with bad results. [Another example is people] exaggerate their confidence in their plans--something we call the planning fallacy.... The existence of the plan tends to induce overconfidence.

"But isn't confidence a good thing?

"It's a wonderful thing to be optimistic. It keeps you healthy and it keeps you resilient. But I personally would not want my financial adviser to be optimistic; I'd like him to be as realistic as possible. There are contexts where optimism helps. Generally where it helps is in executing plans. It keeps you on track. It gives you energy to overcome obstacles....

"In many cases, what looks like risk-taking is not courage at all, it's just unrealistic optimism. Courage is willingness to take the risk once you know the odds. Optimistic overconfidence means you are taking the risk because you don't know the odds. It's a big difference."

Read more in this inteview with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.

2/27/2008

Myron Cope: Rest in Peace

"Myron Cope, the screechy-voiced announcer whose colorful catch phrases and twirling Terrible Towel became symbols of the Pittsburgh Steelers during an unrivaled 35 seasons in the broadcast booth, has died. He was 79... Cope's tenure from 1970 to 2004 as the color analyst on the Steelers' radio network is the longest in NFL history for a broadcaster with a single team. Cope was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2005.

""His memorable voice and unique broadcasting style became synonymous with Steelers football," Steelers president Art Rooney II said Wednesday. 'They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and no Pittsburgh broadcaster was impersonated more than Myron.'

Beyond Pittsburgh's three rivers, Cope is best known for the yellow cloth twirled by fans as a good-luck charm at Steelers games since the mid-1970s. The towel is arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team, has raised millions of dollars for charity and is displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame...

"Cope and a rookie quarterback named Terry Bradshaw made their Steelers debuts on Sept. 20, 1970. Just as Pirates fans once did with longtime broadcaster Bob Prince, Steelers fans began tuning in to hear what wacky stunt or colorful phrase Cope would come up with next. With a voice beyond imitation -- a falsetto so shrill it could pierce even the din of a touchdown celebration -- Cope was a man of many words, some not in any dictionary..."

Quoted from this ESPN.com article (AP Photo/Keith B. Srakocic)

video

2/26/2008

Rosie the Riveter

"Rosie the Riveter is the female icon of World War II. She is the home-front equivalent of G.I. Joe. She represents any woman defense worker. And for many women, she's an example of a strong, competent foremother...the woman in the bandanna rolling up the sleeve on her raised bent arm...

"It seems that about 1942, an artist at Westinghouse named J. Howard Miller created "We Can Do It!," probably as part of his company's war work. The federal government encouraged industries to try to get more people to go to work. "We Can Do It!" initially had no connection with someone named Rosie.

"The next step in the Rosie myth was apparently the song 'Rosie The Riveter (2.6 MB mp3 file)' by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, released in early 1943.

"Some of the lyrics go:

'All the day long,
Whether rain or shine,
She's a part of the assembly line.
She's making history,
Working for victory,
Rosie the Riveter.
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage,
Sitting up there on the fuselage.
That little girl will do more than a male will do.'

"And skipping to the end:

'There's something true about,
Red, white, and blue about,
Rosie the Riveter.'

...The big changes that brought them into war work began in 1942. Men were going to war and industries were switching to war production. When in need, industries decided they were willing to hire women: after all, they wouldn't get drafted. At first, there was lots of reluctance on the parts of managers, husbands, male workers, and many women, too...

"To motivate them, between 1942 and 1944, there was what's been called an "intense courtship of women by employers and government." The U.S. Office of War Information produced a Magazine War Guide which gave publishers of magazines ideas, information, and slogans for their publications.

"This was a government-led effort to recruit women workers, to get women out of the home. Magazines were to write articles that appealed to the desire for glamor and good pay, but even more to patriotism. 'Women, you could hasten victory by working and save your man.' Rosie's appearance on the Memorial Day cover of the Saturday Evening Post implied that her work might help save soldiers' lives...

"The women themselves tell us some of the effects:

'My mother warned me when I took the job that I would never be the same. She said, 'You will never want to go back to being a housewife.' At that time I didn't think it would change a thing. But she was right, it definitely did. . . .'

'You came out to California, put on your pants, and took your lunch pail to a man's job. This was the beginning of women's feeling that they could do something more.'"

Quoted from the transcript of this video presentation from the Library of Congress.

And from the Library of Congress 1930s - 1940s color photo collection on Flickr come a selection of color photos that vividly capture "Rosie" at work.

2/25/2008

Hope for Strummers

I still strum my guitar after all these years, mostly Beatles tunes. I never learned to play lead. Judging by the gaping hole in his worn guitar on display during last night's performance of the Oscar winning song "Falling Slowly" Glen Hansard is a strummer too, from way back.



As noted in this MP3.com article:

"Once, the little indie musical that could, provided Oscar night's most memorable moments.

"The film's stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who portray aspiring artists whose musical partnership lights a spark within both of them, took home the prize for best original song for "Falling Slowly." The track beat out music from the film Enchanted, which was the favorite with three of the five nominations.

"Hansard, who is the frontman for the Irish band the Frames but also pairs with Irglova in a group called the Swell Season, seemed stunned by the win and urged other independent artists to dream.

"'This is amazing! Hansard said. 'What are we doing here? This is mad!' He told the crowd that the film was made in three weeks with two handycams and $100,000. He exhorted the audience to 'Make art! Make art!'

"As Irglova went to say her part, the orchestra cut in to indicate that their time was up, and they were ushered off the stage. But after a commercial break, Oscar host Jon Stewart brought Irglova back out on stage to finish her speech.

"'This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all independent musicians and artists who spend so much of their time struggling," Irglova said. "No matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible...this song was written was from a perspective of hope, and at the end of the day, hope connects us all.'"

2/20/2008

Just Do It

Message to me:
"Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we’ve been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.

"Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we’re not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn't want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don’t want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.

"We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it."

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

2/19/2008

Who are You When No One is Looking?

"Any nuts-and-bolts leadership primer will explain that one of the key leadership competencies is holding others accountable...While this is an important dimension of leadership, it is easy to slip, when it comes to accountability for our own behavior...And as we all know, when there is a disparity between what you tell others to do and what you do yourself, people will believe your actions and not your words. The fallout of this scenario is an erosion of trust, one of the high prices we pay for lack of self-accountability...

"So what strategies can you adopt to be more...self-accountable...?

--Go through a formal 360 Leadership Assessment process or simply get hold of a leadership assessment form and use it to reflect on how others in your team would rate you on each dimension...

--At the end of each day, when you clear your desk before you head home, take a few short minutes to mentally go over your day. Think about significant conversations you held, meetings you attended, emails you sent and other actions you undertook.

Are you proud? Could you have done better? This will inspire you to plan your next day around your highest purpose. Getting into this habit of introspection will pay dividends in the long run.

--Decide to hold yourself accountable for developing other leaders. By mentoring a protégé to enhance their personal and professional growth, you strengthen your own leadership skills and reinforce your determination to be self-accountable as you become the model.

--When something goes wrong, look inwardly for solutions...When a mistake is made, do you ask: "Whose fault is it?" or do you say: "What can we learn from this?" or "What can I do to improve this situation?"...

--Write out your personal and professional goals with clear targets. Read them once a week. Are your day-to-day actions aligned with your values, your standards, your philosophy of leading?...If your answers to these questions are negative, what is causing this? What insights does this give you? Use this information as a means to spur you to action rather than guilt.

"Moliere, 17th century French dramatist, said: 'It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.' Is there anything that you are avoiding doing that needs to be done? For example, are you putting off a difficult conversation? Are you delaying any important decisions? Are you delegating away responsibilities that should stay in your court?

"Self-accountability, then, is staying true to ourselves despite difficult circumstances. It's doing the right thing even when we are tempted to bend a few rules for expediency's sake. Perhaps Deborah Lee put it best: "Self-accountability is who you are when no one is looking". It's also the best antidote to feeling victimized by circumstances and in so doing, frees up precious creative energy for us to accomplish what matters to us. Above all, it entails owning up to the consequences of our decisions and choices, because there is no choice without accountability."

Quotedfrom this article from mindtools.com by Bruna Martinuzzi that is worth reading in its entirety.

2/13/2008

What Investors Want

From Educators Corner come new podcasts well worth a listen:

Podcast: Angel Investing Revealed Ron Conway, Angel Investors LP Mike Maples Jr., Maples Investments 60 min. 13 sec. Experienced angel investors, Ron Conway, Founder of Angel Investors LP, and Mike Maples, Founder of Maples Investments, provide a rare look into the ins and outs of angel investing. Conway and Maples discuss how angel investors assess opportunities, provide assistance to entrepreneurs and transition start-ups to larger venture investments or exit. In addition, Conway and Maples provide advice to entrepreneurs about finding one's passion and developing that passion into new ventures, including insight into how much money to raise and how to manage that money after it is in the bank.

Podcast: How to Build a Successful Company Mitch Kapor, Foxmarks 55 min. 24 sec. Serial entrepreneur Mitch Kapor speaks about the fundamental principles of building successful companies by drawing on his experience as creator of Lotus 1-2-3, Chairman of Second Life, Founder of Foxmarks and a wealth of technical and social entrepreneurship knowledge. Kapor emphasizes the elements of company building that technology has changed, such as faster feedback cycles and lower barriers to entry, as well as the elements that remain the same, such as how to establish culture and trust. Kapor illuminates his observations with contemporary and historical examples that create a context-rich primer on building vibrant companies.

2/06/2008

So Want to Be Acquired by Google?

This article from Fenwick & West is written for the directors and executives of emerging technology companies (referred to as TechCos) who are considering selling their company to a larger, more sophisticated company (referred to as LargeCo).

TechCos are privately held companies that exploit something new (technology, products or niche markets), experience rapid change (growth, market, profitability or cash flow) and typically are short on infrastructure and capital resources. These TechCo characteristics create special issues when TechCo decides to be acquired by LargeCo.

The article summarizes TechCo’s key issues when it prepares for and negotiates a successful sale of its business to LargeCo. Before they begin acquisition negotiations, the article can help TechCo’s executives frame the issues of importance to them. During negotiations, it can be a useful resource to TechCo’s executives for evaluating and responding to LargeCo’s proposals.

The article is divided into five sections. The “Introduction” explains why companies merge or are acquired and what factors lead to successful and unsuccessful acquisitions. “Deciding To Be Acquired” explains why companies may decide it is preferable to be acquired instead of going public, and when TechCo should consider being acquired. “Key Deal Issues” outlines the key deal issues from both LargeCo’s and TechCo’s perspectives.

“Troubled Company M&A Issues” highlights employee retention issues when TechCo is valued at less than its liquidation preference as well as special issues when TechCo is near insolvency. “Implementing The Deal” outlines the mechanics necessary to close a typical acquisition. The article concludes with two appendices. Appendix A is a sample Letter of Intent for a merger, illustrating typical provisions requested by LargeCo. Appendix B is a sample Time and Responsibility Schedule for a merger being accomplished pursuant to a Form S-4 Registration Statement."

(the text of this post is based on a booklet form of the article available on the Fenwick and West website)

2/04/2008

My Favorite SuperBowl Ad

The screaming grasshopper rocks even though you can barely hear it.

Tyree-fic Catch of the Century

2/01/2008

the Fine Art of Schmoozing

This article by Bruce L. Katcher offers valuable tips for making the most of your networking meeting opportunities, including the following:

"Your professional network is one of your most valuable assets. Professional networking meetings are one of the best ways to continually revitalize and grow your network. But if you attend meetings without a clear strategy for maximizing their value, you may end up as a wall-flower, merely watching other people network and wondering why you gave up the time in the first place...

Here are seven ways to maximize the value of professional networking meetings.

1. Be Strategic about Which Meetings You Attend...Three types of professional networking groups offer different benefits:

Join a group that will enable you to keep abreast of the latest developments in your field.
Join a career networking group that will enable you to learn more about self-marketing, interviewing, and making a successful transition.
Join a group that will allow you to interact with prospective employers and clients.
2. Become Active...Once you become active, people in the association get to know who you are and what you do...Try to get involved in activities that will enable you to interact with others...Get to know the movers and shakers. Each association has a few key people who know everybody else and can make things happen.

3. Come to networking meetings with the mindset of, "how can I help others at the meeting," or "I would like to meet at least one person tonight who I can meet with one-on-one," or "I am really curious about what others at this meeting do for a living." There are many ways you can help others. You can provide introductions; recommend books or web sites; provide information about people, companies, or trends; or simply listen and offer emotional support.

4. Ask Questions...Simple open-ended questions are best such as, "Tell me what you do for a living," or "What challenges is your business facing these days?" This can be a great way to start and maintain meaningful conversations. Come to the meeting with an inquisitive attitude.

5. Come Early and Stay Late...

6. Follow-up Immediately...

7. Don’t Try to Sell...Selling at professional meetings is usually inappropriate. Instead, use the meeting as an opportunity to develop a relationship and schedule a meeting for a later date."

Much more on business networking is available at Networking Advice: The Riley Guide and this About.com webpage.