Leaders Lead; Managers Deliver

"Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate." - Warren Bennis

So what makes a person excel as a leader or manager? The personal belief of Will Herman, serial CEO, is that:

"Management is a science and, for the most part, can be learned. Leadership, however, is an art. While some of the capabilities necessary to being a great leader can be acquired over time, much of what makes terrific leaders great is instinctive or, at the very least, was learned much earlier in life.

Natural leaders have the ability to think in an unbounded way, without limitations or having their thoughts overly restricted by the practicalities associated with implementation. This is not to say that great leaders don't understand what it takes to make things happen. They simply don't let such knowledge stand in the way of seeing what's ahead and choosing a path to take...

Great managers, on the other hand, are excellent planners and are, generally, very well organized. They, too, need to be good communicators, but with a much more focused, hands-on approach. The fundamental tools that a manager has include their ability to teach, guide, cajole, listen and and constantly refine...

A successful organization can’t exist without both strong leadership and great management. Over time, an organization will need to expand its team of managers to keep up with its increasing number of deliverables. The leadership team, however, will grow at a much slower rate or, perhaps, not at all. Too many leaders, like too many chefs, will really foul things things up. Too few managers will leave a huge implementation void. One type of person is unlikely to successfully fill in for the other. Keep this in mind the next time you're building a team to start a new enterprise or making changes to a team already in place."

Read more in this Will Herman post.

An Area Accurate Map

"Which is bigger, Greenland or China? With the traditional Mercator map (circa 1569, and still in use in many schoolrooms and boardrooms today), Greenland and China look the same size. But in reality China is almost 4 times larger! In response to such discrepancies, Dr. Arno Peters created a new world map that dramatically improves the accuracy of how we see the Earth.

The Peters Projection World Map is one of the most stimulating, and controversial, images of the world. When this map was first introduced by historian and cartographer Dr. Arno Peters at a Press Conference in Germany in 1974 it generated a firestorm of debate. The first English-version of the map was published in 1983, and it continues to have passionate fans as well as staunch detractors.

The earth is round. The challenge of any world map is to represent a round earth on a flat surface. There are literally thousands of map projections. Each has certain strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Choosing among them is an exercise in values clarification: you have to decide what's important to you. That is generally determined by the way you intend to use the map. The Peters Projection is an area acurate map."

Read more at Peters Map


Tips for Employers for a Litigation-Free Holiday Season

See this Vedder Price article for a good summary of measures employers may take to avoid the legal pitfalls and potential litigation that can frequently arise during the holidays. Found via the newsletter from Employment Law Information Network.


CMU receives $3M from Kauffman Foundation

"Carnegie Mellon University is one of several colleges and universities to receive grants from the Kauffman Foundation to help grow programs that encourage entrepreneurship among students and faculty.

Pittsburgh-based CMU received $3 million to help create a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and a master's degree in engineering and technology innovation."

Read more in this Pittsburgh Business Times article.


Apple Over the Fence

A little girl saved the life of Hermann Rosenblatt during the holocaust. Fate brought her back into his life. Later, he had heart bypass surgery and his mother came to him in a dream, saying "You've got to tell your story, so that your grandchildren will know who their grandfather was." And what a story. So we will never forget, read about it in this aish.com article.


Would Any Other Brand Smell as Sweet?

Understanding brands and brand management is important for everyone. Even if you never have to write marketing copy or develop a logo, you should understand the basics of branding as it reaches into all areas of a company.

These BNet resources cover many aspects of branding from strategy to repositioning.


12 Days of Christmas Price Index Rises

Since 1984, PNC Bank has been tabulating the PNC Christmas Price Index, a tongue-in-cheek analysis of the cost of goods and services given in the holiday classic The Twelve Days of Christmas. This year to buy all of the 12 gifts on the holiday carol's shopping list - from the partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming and all the gifts in between - it would cost $18,920.

To enjoy this year's flash presentation, visit The True Cost of the 12 Days of Christmas and click on the presentation link. The PNC Christmas Price Index provides an interesting perspective on the events and news that helped shape the economy during the year.

The Defining Dozen Business Plan Questions

"To write a good business plan, you have to know the answers to the “Defining Dozen” questions...

1. What’s your business idea?
2. How does your idea address a need?
3. What model suits you best?
4. What’s so different about what you offer?
5. How big is the market and how big will you grow?
6. What’s your role going to be?
7. Who's on your team?
8. How will customers buy from you, and how much will they pay?
9. How much money do you need, and how much will you make?
10. Where's the startup money coming from?
11. How will you measure success?
12. What are your key milestones?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should be prepared to write the actual business plan document."

Read more in this article from StartupNation.


Resources on Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships in which entrepreneurial companies team up with larger companies can be a tremendous growth opportunity – if they’re set up carefully, with plenty of research to identify the right partner, clear communications about goals and values, and a formal agreement that details the rights and duties of each partner in the relationship.

A new collection of articles on strategic partnerships has been posted on the Kauffman eVenturing™ (www.eVenturing.org) site for growth-oriented entrepreneurs. Particular emphasis is on the needs of technology-based businesses.

The collection, authored by entrepreneurs and legal experts, covers product/technology development alliances, distribution/reseller arrangements and co-marketing programs. The collection also includes sample strategic partnership agreements and worksheets.


Martin Luther King

Accurate information should be a goal for a search on Google for Martin Luther King. 

So... let's do a little Google-bombing:

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King

If you want to know why we are doing this, have a look here.  Even better - join in the project and do some good.

Thanks to Scoble for raising the profile of this project.

As suggested in this Rethink(IP) post.

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Primer on Choice of Business Entity

Attorney Imke Ratschko writes: "Articles on choice of business entity are a dime a dozen. Here is one that stands out from the crowd." Please see her post for an active link to an excellent resource.

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Domestic Violence Legal Landmine

"A legal landmine awaits unsuspecting employers with regard to domestic violence in the workplace. A misstep could expose an employer to possible claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, failure to accommodate and tort claims...

Assisting domestic violence victims requires a multidisciplinary approach from many resources including law enforcement, health care, social services and the community. Employers can be a proactive partner in this process by working with domestic violence organizations and legal counsel to create a domestic violence workplace program, which includes the following steps:

...Develop a written domestic violence policy...
Provide regular ongoing training...
Provide access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that is experienced in providing services to victims of domestic violence....
Know...[and]establish relationships with domestic violence resource organizations..."

Read more in this San Diego Source article found via the Employment Law Information Network newsletter.


Tutorial Guide to Financial Statements

Do you think a balance sheet is a parlor trick involving bed linens? Do your eyes glaze over when your accountant hands you the financial statements? Are you curious about what all those numbers mean?

Then, check out Baruch College's Guide to Financial Statements - Online Tutorial for a step by step, easy to follow, informative overview of the basics.

You need never fear an annual report again.


The Transformative Power of Thanksgiving

"Gratitude can be a powerfully transformative practice...Practicing gratitude can actually improve our emotional and physical well-being...

Here are daily practices anyone can try.

1. See the giver behind the gift...

2. Ask yourself three questions every day... 'What have I received today? What have I given? What trouble have I caused?'...'As we become aware that we've received so much more than we've given, not only does that cultivate gratitude, it also cultivates often a sense of wanting to give something back to the world.'

3. Practice even when you don't feel like it. 'One of the mistakes people often make in our culture is thinking you have to feel grateful to practice gratitude...You can practice anytime'...

4. Make thank-you your mantra...

5. Create a simple family ritual. 'In our family, every evening when we have dinner, we say our thank you's...I's not a formal prayer of any kind, but just what we're grateful for in the moment, and that's all. It brings us back, it's a touchstone to the miracles of life that we may have been overlooking.'

6. Bow to life. 'I do three bows in the morning...The first bow is to my self as part of the universe. The second bow is to my family, children, and friends to acknowledge and appreciate them. The third is bowing to the universal life force and what is. Doing this helps me let go of controlling, and instead open to the flow of life...'

Read more in this article from Beliefnet.com.

Happy Thanksgiving to All


Establishing Outsourcing Contract Service Level Measures

"Properly identifying and developing service level metrics is a major factor in building a successful outsourcing contract. The development and governance of these metrics involves tasks that must occur while the contract is being negotiated (pre-contract) and tasks that occur after the contract has been signed (post-contract).

Far too often, the customer and the provider agree to incorporate service level "place holders" into the contract. Their intent is to revisit the assignment of service level measures at some point after the commencement of the engagement. However, once the contract is signed, it is very difficult to bring everyone back to the table to negotiate additional terms and conditions. The lesson learned is obvious: establish your service levels prior to contract negotiation."

Read more in this article from BNET.com.


Ten Schools of Strategic Management Thought

"The Ten Schools of Thought model from Mintzberg is a framework that can be used to categorize the field of Strategic Management.

1. The Design School...sees strategy formation as process of conception
2. The Planning School...sees strategy formation formal process...
3. The Positioning School...sees strategy formation as an analytical process...
4. The Entrepreneurial School...sees strategy formation as a visionary process...
5. The Cognitive School...sees strategy formation as a mental process...
6. The Learning School...sees strategy formation as an emergent process...
7. The Power School...sees strategy formation as process of negotiation...
8. The Cultural School...sees strategy formation as a collective process...
9. The Environmental School...sees strategy formation as a reactive process...
10. The Configuration School...sees strategy formation as a process of transformation..."

Read much more in this article from 12manage.com.


How To Build an Effective Board of Directors

Fred Wilson has been sitting on early stage company boards for over 15 years. He shares ten keys to establishing and working with an effective startup board of directors.


To Patent or Not to Patent, that is the Question

Guy Kawasaki recently posted:

"The most valuable outcomes of a patent are often impressing your parents and filling up space in your MySpace profile. (The exception to this rule is biotech, chip design, and medical devices where a patent really means something.)

As a startup, it’s highly unlikely that patents will make your company defensible because you won’t have the time or money to do battle with a Microsoft-esque competitor. Sure, every few years you hear that Microsoft has to pay a company tens of millions of dollars, but 'suing Microsoft' isn’t a viable (or attractive) business strategy."

Guy Kawasaki then asked the intellectual property attorneys at Rethink(IP) to respond to his comments. They did, noting that:

"Sometimes, you've got to realize that 'patent everything' is not the best strategy...and then develop a big-picture intellectual property strategy that is custom-tailored to the startup and its industry. Be brave and accept the fact that patents just might not be the whole enchilada in that picture."

Read the complete Rethinker's response here.


Honor the Fallen in Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

"The poem 'In Flanders Fields' by the Canadian army physician John McCrae remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.

The most asked question is: why poppies?

Wild poppies flower when other plants in their direct neighbourhood are dead. Their seeds can lie on the ground for years and years, but only when there are no more competing flowers or shrubs in the vicinity (for instance when someone firmly roots up the ground), these seeds will sprout.

There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front; in fact the whole front consisted of churned up soil. So in May 1915, when McCrae wrote his poem, around him bloodred poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before."

Find much more on this poem and its author here.

"When You Come Home" Honors Troops

Beliefnet honors the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with this presentation featuring photos from Beliefnet readers.

You may also with to visit WhenYouComeHome.com to share your pictures, video, audio, and messages. You may find yourself or your loved one in one of Beliefnet's upcoming tributes.


Must Be 77 Ways To Motivate Your Workers

This NebGuide by John E. Barbuto, Jr.
identifies five sources of motivation and suggests 77 (yes, seventy seven) strategies leaders can use to get the best performance from their people, stating:

"What separates exceptional leaders from ordinary leaders is the ability to inspire and motivate employees. In recent studies, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln examined sources of motivation of Nebraska workers in urban and rural settings. The results have demonstrated that five unique sources of motivation exist:

Intrinsic process - motivated by FUN
Instrumental - motivated by REWARDS
Self-Concept-External - motivated by REPUTATION
Self-Concept-Internal - motivated by CHALLENGE
Goal Internalization - motivated by the cause or PURPOSE

Each of the five sources requires different organizational and leadership characteristics to tap into them.

Exceptional leaders will find ways to tap into each source. Those who tap into just one or two will motivate only a small percentage of their workers and be less effective. However, leaders who understand the different ways that individuals are motivated will be able to effectively motivate their workers."


Transition Services Agreements Often Key to Carve-Out Success

"In a carve-out a company will sell a small stake (usually less than 20%) of a division in an initial public offering, while keeping the rest. The division will then become an independent company with management and a board of directors, but will, in effect, be controlled by the parent. Generally, the company will eventually sell the remaining shares in the open market or otherwise divest itself of the remaining stake at some later date. This is what occurred in the...spin-off of Palm by 3Com.

Carve-outs sound easy in theory; in practice, they can present incredible transition wrinkles...These can range from payroll to employee benefits, IT, procurement, marketing, branding...the list goes on. And then there are legal matters, like taxation, shared intellectual property and whatever else you can think of. The result is it is not always easy, and it can be extremely time-consuming, painstaking and costly (which can lower profits) to separate out the various functions, especially in a computer era, where everything is in one electronic database or another...

The solution to these problems is the "transition service agreement" (TSA). These agreements make the seller responsible for whatever functions the parties deem necessary. Then, during the transitional period, the buyer has to "get its act together," so to speak, in order to be ready to assume these functions when the TSA expires."

Read more in this article from PLI's The Pocket MBA.

Working with Word Tables

"The basics of using Microsoft Word are easy; everyone can bold and italicize text and print documents. But there are many more functions that you [and I] never use and never take time to explore.

These BNET downloads will help you master new Word skills with a focus on using tables. Pick one file to read right now or download them all for future reference. The next time you're wondering how to do something within Word, you'll know where to go to find out."


Kiva.org - Loans that change lives

I want to let you all know about a cool non-profit that is doing great things: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives

Kiva.org allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world (microfinance). By doing so, individuals like you provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty.

It's a new, direct and sustainable way to fight global poverty, and the way I see it, I get a higher return on $25 helping someone build a future than the interest my checking account pays.

Anyways, if you have a minute, please check out the site: http://kiva.org. If you need more "reputable" validation than my recommendation, know that they have received great press in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to NPR to BusinessWeek, including FRONTLINE/WORLD Uganda - A Little Goes A Long Way that will be re-broadcast on PBS stations over the next two weeks. If you missed the program, please check the schedule of your local PBS station for programming details.

Hat tip to radical congruency for the links.


Building an Open Source Business

"There are many great open source projects that have dedicated developers, users and admirers. But only a few have the possibility of becoming legitimate businesses. The trick is to figure out the market, the business context and the viability of sustained revenue...

Here is a short list of tips to consider when funding and building an open source business...

Get Your IP in Order...
Any open source company seeking backing has to be as clean as possible with its code ownership. This means knowing exactly what is in the product it distributes and who wrote it...

The intellectual property aspect is also very important in relation to an acquisition. No one wants to be negotiating terms of a buyout only to find that the code they have based their whole company on is in violation of licensing terms.

Leverage the Community...

Keep Keeping Costs Down...
Cost control can be accomplished through a variety of means, including community development and communications programs, but the underlying mission is to keep your cost of goods sold (COGS) very low. If you don't control your COGS then the whole open source model goes up in smoke.

Find the Right Price
Pricing remains one of the great mysteries of any business. Open source companies tend to look at the cost of their nearest competitor and price their offering at some percentage discount.

While this pricing method is helpful for marketing purposes, it doesn't build an effective business model. Pricing must be thought through and tested amongst friendly parties who will give honest feedback on the value of the service or software.

Get Help with the Never-Ending Legal Stuff
One aspect that continues to recur is the need for sound legal advice and contracts. Open source is still very unknown to many large and small companies. The best thing an open source business can do is find knowledgeable and trustworthy legal help..."

Read more in this excellent article from Sandhill.com by Dave Rosenberg, CEO of MuleSource, and co-author of InfoWorld's "Open Sources blog.


Tech Startup Do's and Don'ts

Here is an interesting list of 30 Lessons From an Early-Stage Startup that includes the following gems:

1. Do demonstrate passion, intelligence, and determination when talking about your ideas.
2. Don’t outsource the prototype...
10. Do be honest about your skills and abilities. If you can’t do something, hire someone that can...
13. Do develop a thick skin for facing rejection.
18. Don’t be worried that someone will steal your ideas. If your idea is great, 8 startups are working on it already.
19. Don’t be intimidated by more established competitors. They’re no more smarter than you think you are...
27. Don’t compromise your ideas based on a “proven” business model...
30. Do build something that users want.
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Seconds & Inches Measure Life & Death

My daughter teaches at an international school in Chaing Mai, Thailand. During her fall break, she participated in a Charity Bike Ride to raise funds for the relief of tsunami victims. What follows are excerpts from her account of the trip. Also featued are her photographs. If you wish to contribute to the relief effort please visit http://www.pierssimonappeal.org/v2/

Day 1 & 2:
Starting in the busy streets of Chiang Mai, we biked north along the Ping river valley and into the "land of a million rice fields." As we passed by small villages, workers and especially children frequently turned their attention to us to smile and wave in the typically warm and friendly Thai manner. "Hello! Sawadee ka!" they yelled as we cycled past or paused to take pictures. We climbed the foothills of the nearby mountains and ultimately reached spectacular views of limestone mountains.

A few of the off road trails led us past remote hill tribe villages. The hill tribes are an interesting and colorful ethnic minority in Thailand who live in rural mountain areas and have preserved many of their traditional ways. The hill tribe children were interested and mesmerized by us - our bikes, our cameras, and especially our food.

Day 3:
The purpose of our trip was to raise money for the Piers Simon Appeal. My friend Luke was vacationing on the island of Koh Phi Phi in December 2004 with his brother Piers and three friends, including one friend, Ben, who was also on the bike trip.

They were sitting in a café near the beach when a few people came running through the café and out the back door, knocking over chairs on their way. Following their instincts, they too ran out the back. They found absolute chaos in the streets, people running in all directions with no idea what was happening. The reality was beyond imagination.

They followed the crowds and ran away from the water that they could now see approaching. They ran hand in hand but the panicking crowds quickly and hopelessly separated them. Luke managed to climb onto a roof, Ben and the others found safety, but Piers went missing. One moment he was there, and the next he was gone.

It was all a matter of seconds and inches. Seconds and inches determined who managed to find something to hold onto and who was carried away, who was hit by passing debris and who was left without a scratch, who lived and who died.

Luke spent five days conducting the search for his brother and finally found Piers, his body having been taken to a Chinese Morgue in Krabi. Luke launched the Piers Simon Appeal soon after. Its mission statement is "To aid the regeneration of communities and alleviate suffering and hardship caused by disasters worldwide regardless of race, religion, or politics."

Today we were introduced to, or for Luke and Ben reminded of, the potentially destructive power of water. We traveled off our route to reach the small Chinese village of Bang Yang which was devastated by a flash flood about a week earlier. We walked through the muddy streets, past houses missing first floors and empty lots where houses used to stand. In the village of about 250 houses, almost half were destroyed or severely damaged in the flood. The villagers luckily had some warning of the oncoming flood so most reached safety, but they had no idea what a toll it would take on the village. Five people lost their lives.

It was difficult to walk around the town, faced with so much devastation, clearly sticking out as a "farang" (foreigner) in spandex, camera in hand. What made it different was that we went to the village with the purpose of finding a reliable contact so that some our own fundraising money might be used for rebuilding the village.

It's an irreplaceable experience to see this kind of destruction with your own eyes. There's a duality that invariably exists in these kind of trips that separates the long-term charity side from the daily bike riding and socializing. Today these aspects were united, and while it created a more somber tone, it reminded us of both the devastation that can occur and our ability to help.

Days 4, 5, & 6:
Today we biked 20 km and then took a long-tail boat down the Mekong River. After another 7 k of off-road biking we took a side trip to a small village where we fed elephants and held an enormous snake that weighed 120 kilograms and was about 4 ½ meters long! On the fifth and final day, we biked 100 km, again passing breathtaking scenery of mountains and rice fields along the way. We finally arrived at ourdestination- the legendary Golden Triangle, with views from Thailand of both Burma and Laos.


Pittsburgh Offers Available, Affordable Sites for New Facilities

"Expansion Management magazine just issued its list of Top 40 Real Estate Markets for 2006. The Pittsburgh Region ranks 14th, ahead of competitor areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Raleigh, and many others.

Their list was developed from the perspective of a business executive looking for a site for a major facility, who wants to find readily available properties at an affordable price."

Read more in this post from Pittsburgh's Future.


What Holds You Back? Examine Your Core Beliefs

"Brenda has always wanted to have her own business. She's had numerous innovative ideas for new ventures, so many that her friends have dubbed her 'the idea lady'. Trouble is, each time she considers putting one of her ideas into action, her mind automatically goes to either 'Most small businesses fail in the first few years' or 'I don't have enough business education to manage it correctly' or 'I don't have enough capital to make it happen, and what bank is going to give me a loan?'

Brenda stops herself from acting before she even begins. Her heart is telling her that having her own business would express her potential and be a joyous, fulfilling experience, but she pulls back every time.

She can't even consider taking a business course to bone up on her skills, or doing some market testing, or having someone help her write a business plan so she can present it to a potential investor. She can't get this far, because her erroneous core beliefs arrest any further consideration...

No matter how long these erroneous core belief have been with us, no matter how deeply implanted they are in our subconscious, they can be uprooted. The process of uprooting begins with identifying the erroneous core beliefs as mere perceptions, then discovering the truth which is hidden behind them...

We live in a world that repeatedly tells us...life is a crap shoot, and most businesses and marriages fail. It tells us that only a few individuals have the power and it's those who will ultimately determine our fate. It tells us we need to aggressively compete with each other in order to win in the game of life. It tells us to grab for what we can, because there's not enough to go around. This world tells us to fear our neighbors and to be suspicious of everyone we meet.

No wonder we're terrified of trying anything new, be it a relationship or career change... We have accepted these pernicious lies for so long they have become our reality...

[A]way of discovering our core beliefs is to examine the attitudes or feelings we have about certain situations. Often, this is where our core beliefs are reflected. The following are examples of some common human attitudes and the limiting core beliefs which may be reflected in them. After the core belief is revealed, a statement of Authentic Truth is

Attitude: 'Look at the rude guy driving that expensive car. Does he think he owns the entire road? Who does he think he is? Why can't I have a cool car like that? I'll bet he cheats people to make his money.'

Possible Core Beliefs: The Universe isn't fair because it makes it easy for some to get what they want and tough for me. Rich people are rude. You have to be ruthless to make money. Therefore, I'll never get what I want unless I compromise my values.

Authentic Truth:...If this individual can manifest a beautiful car, then so can I. The same principle that brought it to him will bring it to me. Therefore, I can be happy for this person. Also, I know that many people make money doing worthwhile things. If they can do it, so can I...

Attitude: 'I hate this job. They don't appreciate me. I work too hard -- and for what? I'm too talented/smart for this. I'm bored, but I can't leave because I need the insurance, got to pay my bills, need the steady paycheck, etc. Also, the economy is so bad right now, no one is hiring.'

Possible Core Belief: The Universe is limited. I'm not being taken care of. There's too much competition. Doing what I love doesn't pay the bills. I'm too old, didn't get the right education, didn't follow the correct career path, am not smart enough, not motivated enough, etc., etc. I don't have what it takes to succeed.

Authentic Truth:...I was created as a magnificent, intelligent, and talented individual with a unique gift to give this world. It is natural for me to be fulfilled, satisfied, successful and happy...I am open, and am being guided, to new opportunities which are unfolding in my life right now...

Remember you have dominion over the core beliefs that occupy your mind and you have the power to change them!"

Quoted from the book Mastering Your Desires ©1998, by Victoria Loveland-Coen, founder of Self Mastery Press. For more information visit Journey Toward Selfmastery.

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Useful Startup Questions...and Documents

Jeffrey Stewart provides 180 Useful Questions for Launching a Business that also includes this:

"List of Useful Documents, Charts and Models for Launching Businesses

• Business Plan
• Business PowerPoint
• Branding Standards
• Projected Balance Sheet
• Break-even Analysis
• Projected Income Statements
• Cash Flow Projections
• Team and Advisor resumes
• Customer Sponsor bio
• Open Job descriptions
• Sales PowerPoint
• Letters of Intent
• Projected Organizational Chart (by quarter)
• New Hire Orientation Packet/Presentation
• Intellectual Property Protection Plan
• Press Kit
• Product Specifications
• Product Road Map
• Competitive Analysis
• Related Reading list
• Funding Plan"

Stand Out in a Crowd

"How do you set yourself apart from the competition?...The key to making your mark is to:

Acquire powerful allies – people in high places that believe in you and your product...
Create an angle – whether it’s a David and Goliath story or a ‘first’...
Know your customers...
Have a plan – have goals set out, long and short term, where you can gauge your success...
Always talk about it...In every conversation at every chance talk about your business and your goals..."

Read more in the post from Mind Petals: Young Entrepreneur Network.


Employers Must Battle Identity Theft Threat

"Identity theft is not only a growing problem for consumers across the country, but it is clearly a growing danger for the unwary employer as well."

So states John Emerson in this excellent article from Nexsen Pruet. Attorney Emerson offers these suggestions for reducing the risk of liability related to the theft of employee personal information:

"First, employers should carefully consider how much information is actually required for each employee...

Second, employers should ensure that sensitive information is stored in well-secured files with limited access...Files containing personal data should not be stored on a central network accessible by all employees.

Third, employers should take simple though often overlooked steps such as locking file cabinets, deleting social security numbers from personal files...and ensuring that fax machines and mail depositories are in secure locations.

Fourth, employers should conduct training sessions...

Finally, in addition to the selfimposed changes employers can implement to improve information security, employers should know that, under Federal Trade Commission Regulation, consumer information that is contained in or derived from a consumer report must be disposed of in a very specific manner..."

Found via the Employment Law Information Network newsletter.


Take Risks But Don’t Cut Corners

"Entrepreneurs take risks all the time. It’s just part of running a business. There’s almost no such thing as a business that runs with no risk. So entrepreneurs are aware of, and often comfortable with taking risks.

But cutting corners is a different story.

Cutting corners is doing things less than your best to achieve some end goal. It’s usually not a good idea. It may feel like you’re making progress by cutting corners, but at the end of the day you’re not. You’re not building up enough value in your business, for the long haul, when you start to cut corners.

It’s important to recognize the differences between legitimate risks and cutting corners. Risks need to be assessed on a number of factors: probability, impact, reward. Risks need to be clearly identified so that they can be managed and treated. Cutting a corner is a form of risk, but it’s a silly one to take. More often than not if you really assess the significance of the risk and reward of cutting a corner, you’d realize it’s not worth it."

Read more in this post from Instigator Blog.


Podcasts for Technology Entrepreneurs

"Northeastern University has a collection of podcasts on entrepreneurship. The focus is more on technology entrepreneurs than non-tech. I'm not a podcast person, but if you are into them, check it out."

See this Businesspundit post, from which the foregoing was quoted, for a link to the podcasts.


Naming Your Business

"There's a lot of room for personal and professional creativity when choosing a business name, but there are three main considerations to keep in mind:

Will your business name receive trademark protection?

Is your proposed business name available?

If your business will have a website, is a similar domain name available?"

So states this article from nolo.com that offers these additional guidelines:

"Make your name memorable. A creative, distinctive name will not only be entitled to a high level of trademark protection, but it will also stick in the minds of your customers...

Your name should be appealing and easy to use. Choose a name that's easy to spell and pronounce, and that is appealing to both eye and ear...

Avoid geographical names...especially if you plan to sell products on the Internet...

Don't...choose a name that might not be representative of future product or service lines...

Get feedback. Before you settle on a name, get some feedback from potential customers, suppliers and others in your support network..."


The CEO as Startup Coach

"You cannot just be a CEO, focused on executing your business plan and keeping your investors happy. You must also be a coach for your team.

Think about it. Coaches motivate their teams before, during and after games. You are now the coach of your team and you need to be sure your team is correctly motivated through both the good and bad times. To do this, you, like any other coach will need a game plan..."

Read more in this post from A VC in Vacationland.

Negotiating a Technology Executive Employment Contract

"There are 10 critical areas that executive candidates and software companies should consider negotiable. During negotiations, issues in these areas need to be raised, discussed, and resolved to assure that both parties are being treated fairly...The resulting employment contract should reflect the above-board style and approach of both parties and lay a foundation conducive to getting the best for all concerned."

So states this article by Robert Adelman that offers valuable insights into the executive's perspective versus typical company realities regarding the following topics of negotiation:

1. Signing bonus
2. Meaningful Equity
3. Tax-favored Equity
4. Relocation Assistance
5. Position, Duties, Support
6. Expense Payments
7. Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreements
8. Term/Termination
9. Reasonable Severance
10. Good Vibrations


Intellectual Property Nuts and Bolts

Here are links to resources that provide basic information about patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets that I am sharing with the students in the entrepreneurship class I am teaching this semester. I thought I would share them with you as well.

Intellectual Property Primer from Sitepoint.com

Trademarks 101 from About.com

Guide To Patents from About.com

Copyright Basics from the U.S. Copyright Office

Trade Secret Basics FAQ from Nolo.com


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Questions Founders Should Ask Each Other

"The following are some of the most important questions that should be resolved as early in the [startup] process as possible. In most cases, these issues only get more difficult over time...

1... Who gets what percentage of the company?...(and the right answer is rarely “divide them equally amongst the co-founders”).

2. How will decisions get made?...Common areas to address are decisions around capitalization, executive hiring/firing, share issuance (dilution) and M&A...

3. What happens if one of us leaves the company?...The last thing the company needs is a co-founder that is no longer engaged but is hanging around out of guilt or ambiguity.

4. Can any of us be fired? By whom? For what reasons?...

5. What are our personal goals for the startup?...

6. Will this be the primary activity for each of us?...

7. What part of our plan are we each unwilling to change?...

8. What contractual terms will each of us sign with the company?...

9. Will any of us be investing cash in the company? If so, how is this treated?...

10. What will we pay ourselves? Who gets to change this in the future?..."

Read more in this excellent post from onstartups.com.

Competitive Advantage Interactive Workshop

SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" offers this fun and informative interactive workshop on Creating a Competitive Advantage that is well worth a look.

Included in the presentations are a series of competitive advantage worksheets that provide useful questions and suggestions including the following:

"The following questions are designed to help you determine whether you have an identifiable competitive edge and whether you are currently capitalizing on it:

1. Have I clearly defined my company and my target market?

2. Who are my competitors?

3. What is my company's specific strategy for success?

4. Do I regularly track my competitors' moves?...?

9. Does my company possess a uniqueness that easily separates it from my competitors? What, specifically, is it?...

16. What trends do I see for my industry in the future? Is my company – and my product mix – aligned with those trends?...

Ask yourself the following questions about your product or service:

1. Does my product perform?

2. Is it durable?

3. Is it reliable?

4. Is it fairly priced?

5. Does it consistently live up to its reputation?

6. Am I known in my industry for producing quality goods/services?

7. Does my product have brand recognition?

8. Can I create ways to ensure that my product/service is in demand?

9. Is my product a trendsetter?

10. Can I think of innovative ways to encourage more people to buy my product?

11. Can I market companion products/services?

Marketing Strategies

In devising your plan, keep in mind the following:

Ask yourself what the primary goal of your marketing strategy will be: Increased sales? Better brand-name recognition? A public relations effort?

Remember to whom you are selling and keep your message targeted

Focus on your product's or service's benefits rather than features

Don't be afraid to tout your successes

Be sure your plan is attainable

Perform a detailed market analysis (obtain pertinent demographic facts, figures and other relevant data) before you put your plan into action

Have a back-up strategy in mind, especially if your primary one is risky..."

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Exporting Tips

"A smart organization...will invest time and money building the proper administrative and sales structure before they begin [export] operations...

how to avoid major problems with your export business...

2. Create an export strategy before you begin to export. Don’t get sucked into exporting by “accident”...

4. Make everything perfectly clear with customers. Don’t assume anything, don’t work with suppositions.

5. Learn and understand the business culture of your export market and customers before you begin...

10. Use caution about exclusivity agreements. Everyone wants exclusivity, will that exclusivity support your entire export production? Will it limit your ability to grow?...

14. Create an export price strategy. Know where you are going, and how you want to get there, your costs and required profit margins before you begin to quote prices...

20. Discipline, planning and order. Production planning, raw material purchasing decisions, financing, infrastructure investment, human resources, sales and marketing all must be planned and coordinated, at all times.

Added Oct. 1, 2006 - Bonus legal reminder: Know the law of the country to which you are exporting concerning: retention of documents for litigation, product quality and manufacturing and product safety before you begin sales and shipping. Understand your responsibility and liability for recalls, retrofitting, refunds or destruction of the product. Learn about your legal responsibility and relationship with brokers, agents and distributors and your products."

Just a few of the useful pointers found in this Lee Iwan post that is well worth reading in its entirety.

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What to Do When You are Sued

This post from NFIB offers good advice on what to do when the process server enters your business, hands you some papers and declares, "You've been served."

"There are several acts that can bring advantageous results in responding to a lawsuit.

Do not ignore the lawsuit
The most important point is to never ignore the claim, no matter who makes it or where it comes from...If you fail to defend against a lawsuit in the time mandated by the law...you lose the lawsuit, even if good defenses to the claim exist.

Contact an attorney
Despite any fears toward lawyers, do not hesitate to get legal advice. Call your attorney, or if you don't have one, find one quickly...

Organize information
Generally, an attorney will ask a client to collect information for litigation. Gather all documents together in a logical order that the attorney can easily access. Don't destroy any documents, including e-mails or other electronic records, related to the case...Coordinate any investigation and data collection with your attorney...

Work with your attorney
Don't just turn the matter completely over to your attorney. Stay on top of the case and work closely with your attorney to make decisions on how to proceed...

Formulate a plan...
Your strategy for defense may depend on what you are willing or able to afford. Ask your attorney for an estimate on fees and expenses, and then determine your potential liability exposure with your lawyer based on how much the case could cost, what the chances of winning the lawsuit are, and how long the case may take. Decide on settlement possibilities and legal strategies, such as whether to countersue, using sound business judgment."

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Conduct Effective Board Meetings

Pascal Levensohn makes available an excellent slide deck on conducting effective Board meetings and a link to a related post from Brad Feld on structuring board meeting agendas. The presentation is from a two hour seminar that Pascal recently moderated on Best Practices for Running a Board Meeting hosted by the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop and is well worth reviewing.

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First of All, Let's Use a Lawyer

Lena Khorshid at MindPetals.com, the network site for young entrepreneurs, observes the following about the need for startups to engage legal counsel:

"Sometimes, I am stunned at how many entrepreneurs underestimate the value of competent legal counsel. They seem to do some sort of “weird math” that justifies subtracting legal fees only to add more money to the decorating budget...

In the long run, legal fees do add up. But, having competent legal counsel will save you money. I like to think of it as an expenditure with a concrete return on your investment.

For example, your lawyer will help you to negotiate favorable terms in your contracts; draft contracts that clearly reflect the terms of your business deal; and he/she can ensure that your contracts contain provisions that safeguard your revenue stream. In addition, your lawyer can apprise you of new developments in the law that can affect the operations and profitability of your business..."

A sentiment with which I must agree.

Read more at this Mind Petals post.

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Doing Good Through Social Entrepreneurship

Ashoka.org announces a new website that reflects its culture of innovation. The new site provides:

Easily navigable fellow profiles and increased search functionality
New information on Ashoka programs
Interactive maps to locate country information
A pressroom with the latest Ashoka news highlights and archives
Improved options for donor contributions
A comprehensive resource center on social entrepreneurship

"Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected over 1,800 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries.

Ashoka Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations—demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers and make a positive difference in their communities.

By unleashing the same innovative and entrepreneurial mindset which has driven business sector growth over the last two centuries, Ashoka is leading a dramatic transformation in society, fueling the citizen sector’s unprecedented growth. With our global community of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka develops models for collaboration and designs infrastructure needed for this growth."

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Big Ideas in the Big Moo

From this Seth Godin post

"Griffin does a nice job of summarizing some of the big ideas in the Big Moo:

1. Real security comes from growth ( Page xiv ) To me this is the best statement in the book and it's right there in the preface.

2. Wanting growth and attaining growth are two different things ( Preface xv ) - Companies usually end up paralyzed by trying to focus on how they'll grow instead of actually growing.

3. Those who fit in now won't stand out later ( Page 5 ) - It's difficult to change once you get into a rhythm of mediocrity.

4. If you name something, you get power over it ( Page 18 ) - Ever try to change a bad nickname ? When a name catches on, it becomes very powerful.

5. Don't concentrate on making a standard. Once you create the standard, you've created a commodity and your customers will seek something like it, but cheaper ( Page 23 ) - *cough* Netscape *cough*

6. Being efficient is not as good as being robust ( Page 52 ) - There's such a thing as "good enough". Being flexible is better than trying to squeeze out a few extra performance cycles.

7. You can't predict the future ( Page 55 ) - ...

8. Everything is version .9, waiting for just one more upgrade before it's done ( Page 86 ) - Releasing something stable, but not complete is better than waiting it's "perfect". It will never be perfect.

9. Betting on change is always the safest bet ( Page 91 ) - You can't constrain change. People have scars from trying to.

10. Creativity is made up of iteration and juxtaposition ( Page 95 ) - Mash things together enough times, and something interesting will happen.

11. Compromise kills. Doing something half-ass is worse than doing nothing ( Page 97 ) - If you don't have enough information to implement something, ignore it and move on. It's better than trying to guess. Remember #7.

12. Novelty for the sake of novelty is risky and a recipe for irrelevance ( Page 100 ) - Solve a problem. I've written about this ...

13. The energy isn't in the idea, it's in the execution ( Page 101 ) - Everyone wants to sit around and think up cool stuff. Sooner or later, you're going to have to actually build something.

14. A product is what the customer thinks it is ( Page 131 ) - How many times have you gotten pissed at a user of your software for "using it wrong" ?

15. Don't let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon ( Page 134 ) - The world is grey. Every solution, product, feature is the result of several trade-offs.

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Be an Authentic Leader

The following articles from BNET.com (with BNET's commentary) explain how to develop a more direct, authentic style of leadership as well as the obstacles you'll face along the way.

Gaining An Edge: Authentic Leadership Lessons
Authentic leadership is leadership that can be trusted; leadership that is, in fact, as it is represented. In the business environment, authentic leadership is a fundamental requirement for generating peak performance. Some companies can make money, even in the absence of authentic leadership, but they can't come close to realizing their full potential without it. The characteristics of an authentic organization are: a guiding vision, a value-driven organization, a powerful focus for delivering work, and respecting people by expecting their best.

Lessons in Authentic Leadership
Vision, organizational thinking, and the ability to deftly act on strategic intent are the critical elements needed to sustain a competitive advantage in today's marketplace. Assumptions, operating principles and worldviews are strikingly dissimilar across the several generations in today's workforce. Leadership, going forward, is not as much about telling as it is about hearing; not as much about knowing as it is about facilitating dialogue and inquiry; not as much about being in charge as it is about enabling the necessary capabilities and outcomes. This paper explores how authentic listening serves as an indispensable tool for leaders at all levels.

Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion: A Leader's Road Map to Renewal
How does a leader quell the everyday, inner conflicts caused by the heavy responsibility, the need for constant self-control and the inevitable crises - and still remain an effective leader? Not easily. These authors have excellent suggestions for calming and resolving that turmoil and for going beyond to remain an effective, highly resonant leader.

Becoming An Authentic Leader
Authentic leaders genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership. They are more interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference than they are in power or prestige. They are as guided by qualities of the heart, by passion and compassion, as they are by qualities of the mind. The paper examines some characteristics of authentic leaders.

Rethinking Leadership Thinking: Choosing a More Authentic Path
Today, for the first time, leaders may find that authentic leadership and inspired teams are prerequisites to organizational survival. A rapidly changing world demands speed, flexibility, and responsiveness. Past systems of command and control, strict hierarchical structures, and dictated actions are inadequate to the task. To become a more effective leader of an inspired team, you have to unlearn many past practices, create a compelling value proposition for change and build a process that helps to anticipate and deal with resistance.

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FAQ on Starting a Solo Business

While there are hundreds of questions running through the mind of a solo entrepreneur at any given time, this this article from workingsolo.com does a good job of addressing these:

1. How can I tell if I've got what it takes to be a solo entrepreneur?
2. What are the most important things to do before a would-be entrepreneur he or she quits a day job?
3. What are the biggest challenges to starting a business?
4. How do you determine what kind of business is best for you?
5. What are the biggest mistakes new business owners make?
6. How much start-up capital does a typical small business need?
7. Are there any financial or tax advantages to starting a small business?
8. What are the best ways for a small business to obtain start-up capital?
9. What's the best way for someone to price their product or service?
10. What are the most important things entrepreneurs need to do to turn their small business into a success?

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Resources on Business Models

This Wikipedia entry explains that:

"A business model describes a company's:

value propositions: The company's offers which bundle products and services into value for the customer. A value proposition creates utility for the customer.

target customer segments: The customer segments a company wants to offer value to. This describes the groups of people with common characteristics for which the company creates value. The process of defining customer segments is referred to as market segmentation.

distribution channels: The various means of the company to get in touch with its customers. This describes how a company goes to market. It refers to the company's marketing and distribution strategy.

customer relationships: The links a company establishes between itself and its different customer segments. The process of managing customer relationships is referred to as customer relationship management.

value configurations: The configuration of activities and resources.

core capabilities: The capabilities and competencies necessary to execute the company's business model.

partner network: The network of cooperative agreements with other companies necessary to efficiently offer and commercialize value. This describes the company's range of business alliances.

cost structure: The monetary consequences of the means employed in the business model.

revenue model: The way a company makes money through a variety of revenue flows.

The process of business model design is part of business strategy. The implementation of a company's business model into organizational structures (e.g. organigrams, workflows, human resources) and systems (e.g. Information Technology architecture, production lines) is part of a company's business operations."

This Particletree post provides links to additional resources on business models, including:

"the “Freemium” Plan - Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc, then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.

Business Models on the Web - A thorough review of potential business models including brokerage, advertising, Infomediary, merchant, manufacturer, affiliate, community, subscription, and utility.

Beyond Adsense: A Business Model – A checklist of the various business models available to the developers of live web applications and services.

Business Models – This essay is dedicated to Web2.0 and has a section dedicated to business models and how they suffer from a lack of defined revenue opportunities..."

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Selling a Business Tax Checklist

"1.Get good tax and legal counsel when you establish the initial form of your business – C Corp, S Corp, or LLC etc.

2.If you establish a C Corp, retain ownership of all appreciating assets outside of the corporation (land and buildings, patents, trademarks, franchise rights). Note: in a C Corp sale, there are no long-term capital gains tax rates only income tax rates. Long-term capital gains can only offset long-term capital losses. Personal assets sales can have favorable long-term capital gains treatment and you avoid double taxation for these assets with big gains.

3.Look first at the economics of the sales transaction and secondly at the tax structure.

4.Make sure your professional support team has deal making experience.

5.Before you take your business to the market, work with your professionals to understand your tax characteristics and how various deal structures will impact the after-tax sale proceeds

6.Before you complete your sales transaction work with a financial planning or tax planning professional to determine if there are strategies you can employ to defer or eliminate the payment of taxes.

7.Recognize that as a general rule your desire to “cash out” and receive all proceeds from your sale immediately will increase your tax liability.

8.Get your professionals involved early and keep them involved in analyzing various bids to determine your best offer."

Read more in this article from selfemployedweb.com

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Pittsburgh Angel Fund Launches

Innovation Works, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development released today a request for proposals seeking a professional manager for the Pittsburgh Angel Fund. These organizations have committed a combined total of $2 million to create the Pittsburgh Angel Fund and to attract a qualified fund manager.

The fund is expected to pool at least several million dollars in additional investment from individual investors to be deployed in high- potential, early-stage technology companies including those being created in the region. Though a number of nonprofit organizations are providing seed capital and support to the Pittsburgh Angel Fund, the fund itself will be an independent, for-profit entity with the goal of delivering a strong financial return to its limited partners, the majority of which will be individual angel investors.

Proposals are being sought from potential fund managers, including individuals and firms with a strong track record in evaluating, financing and assisting early-stage technology companies. In addition, applicants will be evaluated partly on their ability to raise additional investments to increase the size of the angel fund. The sponsoring organizations have issued a request for proposals ("RFP") outlining the information that must be addressed by potential fund managers, as well as the selection process. To receive a copy of the RFP, interested applicants should contact Matt Harbaugh, Chief Investment Officer of Innovation Works at 412-894-9507 or via email at mharbaugh@innovationworks.org. Proposals from potential fund managers must be submitted by Friday, October 27, 2006.

From this press release

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Elevator Pitch Basics

"When you deliver an elevator pitch, you have to clearly and succinctly address the following points:

1. What’s the idea?
2. What’s the status of the idea or business?
3. What market or markets does the business address and are there any testimonials or customer feedback?
4. Why do you believe you have the advantage in the marketplace relative to the market needs?
5. What’s the competition in the marketplace?
6. What’s the revenue model (such as “e-commerce,” or “wholesale”)?
7. Who’s the team that’s going to make the business succeed?
8. What’s the longer term vision, the “end-game,” for the business and the projected return on investment for investors? (some examples are: “the business will distribute big profits to investors from cash flow by year X”, or “the business will be acquired by another company for $XYZ”)
9. What’s the total funding required to execute the business plan?
10. What amount of financing are you seeking initially and what are the terms of investment?"

Read more in this Cultivate Greatness post

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Resigning

Before you quit your job to open the business that you have been dreaming of since who knows when, stop by The Complete Guide to Resigning. The guide from i-resign.com provides you with "everything you ever needed to know about quitting your job, from writing a magnanimous letter to exiting with style."

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What Budding Entrepreneurs Should Really Learn in School

Guy Kawasaki notes the following as some of the things he wished he had learned before he left graduate school:

"1. How to talk to your boss. In college, you’re supposed to bring problems to your teachers during office hours...[but in the real world] your role is to provide answers, not questions...

2. How to survive a meeting that’s poorly run...vow to yourself that someday you’ll start a company, and your meetings won’t work like this.

3. How to run a meeting...understand that the primary purpose of a business meeting is to make a decision...

4. How to figure out anything on your own...

5. How to negotiate...

6. How to have a conversation. Generally, 'Whassup?' doesn’t work in the real world...

7. How to explain something in thirty seconds...

8. How to write a one-page report...

9. How to write a five-sentence email...

10. How to get along with co-workers...

11. How to use PowerPoint...

12. How to leave a voicemail... Two power tips: First, slowly say your telephone number once at the beginning of your message and again at the end...Second (and this applies to email too), always make progress...

One last thing: the purpose of going to school is not to prepare for working but to prepare for living...there is much more to life than work, so study what you love."

Read more in this post from Signum sine tinnitu--by Guy Kawasaki

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Marketing Mistakes Made by Entrepreneurs

"The top five mistakes entrepreneurs make when they market

by Seth Godin

1. Expecting gratitude in exchange for having done something that was hard...I'm not going to buy your brownie/consulting/services just because you worked hard on it.

2. Spending [on marketing] as a substitute for...making your product better...

3. Not realizing that...your marketing better be as good as everything else...

4. Listening to other people...

5. Failure to measure..."

Read more about this advice from Seth Godin at this WorkHappy.net post

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Questions Potential Investors Ask

"The Market
* How large is the specific market for your product?
* What growth is expected in this market?

The Product/Production
* What, specifically, are the company's products/Services?
* How are they better than other products or alternative solutions?
* Are there patents? What, specifically, do they protect?

Competitive Positioning
* Overcoming Inertia - What will it take to get customers to change what they are using/doing today?
* Where will you fit into the industry?

Product Development
* What work remains?
* Identify major development risks or challenges.

Marketing and Sales
* Briefly explain the selling cycle.
* How will you raise customers' awareness of your product and stimulate buying?
* What channels of distribution will you use to deliver your products?

* What is your background and previous experience?
* Where did the idea for the company come from?
* How did you get involved with the company?
* Who is presently managing the company? What are their credentials especially regarding ….
o Financial management
o Marketing
o Product development and production

Business Strategy
* Identify the steps needed to reach positive cash flow.
* How has the company been funded to date?
* What is the business model? (i.e. how will the company make money?)
* Do you have any corporate partnerships in place?

* What kind of revenues can the business produce over the next five years? Profits?
* How will the investor get his money back? Through an IPO? Acquisition? When?

Requested Funding
* How much capital is required to carry the company to the next stage?
* What is your current "burn-rate."
* How much hard-money (cash) have the founders put in?
* What are your startup or development costs?
* What is your projected three-year revenue stream?
* How much are you planning on investing?
* What do your projected expenses look like for three years?
* What are your three-year sales forecasts?

If you anticipate being acquired
* Identify the two or three most likely buyers
* Explain why they would be interested"

Read more in this excellent post from EntrepreneurBlog

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IPO Alternatives: Reverse Merger and DPO

"Reverse Merger
Take your private company public the easy way by purchasing a dormant, public company.

Direct Public Offerings
Take your business--and your quest for funding--directly to the public by selling shares in your company."

Read more in this series of articles from Entrepreneur.com.

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Criminal Justice Flowchart

"This flowchart of the events in the criminal justice system updates the original chart prepared by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice in 1967. Accompanied by a clarifying text description, the chart summarizes the most common events in the criminal and juvenile justice systems including entry into the criminal justice system, prosecution and pretrial services, adjudication, sentencing and sanctions, and corrections.

Electronic files of both full color and black and white versions of the chart available for downloading [from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.]"


When Squirrels Attack

"Several people attacked by a squirrel at Central Park said they had one word for the animal:


Read more in thisLiveScience.com article

Risk is a Gift You Give Yourself

"'When in your life did you feel most alive?'...

I have asked hundreds of people the same question and have been struck by the similarity of their answers. In particular I've noticed 3 themes. (1) Nearly everyone describes a scenario in which they pushed themselves out of their comfort zone and took risks. (2) The OUTCOME of taking the risk is rarely the main thrust of the story - it's usually the process of taking them that they remember most fondly. (3) When people finish their story, they've often got a big smile on their face.

Consider This:

The gift of risk-taking doesn't lie in what you achieve by risking - it lies in who you become as a result of the process. Confident. Engaged. Alive..."

Read more in this Doug Sundheim post found via an Arnie Herz item.

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Sounds of Silence

This struck me kinda funny, even though I recognize the value of quietude in meditation practice:

"These audio files consist of various lengths of silence..."


Yiddish People

I am fascinated by the Yiddish language, particularly the way some words seem to actually embody what they describe. Consider the following list of Yiddish people. I am sure there are many more.

Baleboost - boss

Bulvan - cement head

Bubba-Myse - liar

Bubbe - grandmother

Bubeleh - (little grandmother) term of endearment

Gonif - thief, crook, swindler

Kaker - old fart

Kibbitzer - wise guy

Macher - a big wheel, the real deal, celebrity

Mamala - baby

Maven - expert

Mensch - a decent, upright, honorable person of good character

Meshuggeneh - crazy, obsessive person

Nebbish - a wimp, nerd, dork

Nudj - little pest

Nudnick - a pest and a bore

Putz - schmuck

Rabbi, Rebbe - teacher, spiritual leader

Shmuck - idiot

Shnook - unassertive patsy; gullible dummy

Shnorrer - a moocher, freeloader, cheapskate

Shmegegge - a no talent, someone who brings nothing to the party

Shlemiel - foolish person, hard-luck type, clumsy person

Shlimazl - unlucky person; born loser

Shlump - drip; party pooper

Shmo - jerk

Yenta - a meddlesome gossip

Zayde - grandfather

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Life is More

I recently rediscovered notes I took from an article I read in 1997. These ideas still resonate with me and I thought I would share them. If you know the article where I originally found these words, please let me know so I may make proper attribution.

Life is more than a striving for money, power and position. There will never be enough money. Money does not bring satisfaction. Power is fleeting. Position is even less permanent.

Many lawyers are engaged in a frantic chase for the brass ring just out of reach, responding to the siren call of billable hours, revenues origination, selling their lives for money, one hour at a time.

The quality of a lawyer's life is an important element of law practice.

A complaint echoes throughout the land, "The practice of law is no longer a profession. It is a business."

The focus of our practice must be on service to our clients, with monetary reward a by-product of that service. We can not let money become the main goal with service the by-product.

Take responsibility for your present situation and your future. Do not blame others. Focus your efforts on those areas you can truly influence.

Double the time on the job you use your strengths and talents.

Develop a plan to solve a challenge or creating something of value that will be both beyond expectations and of major value to your organization. Clarify with the person to whom you report your mutual expectations of each other.

Double the time you spend listening to others.

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Dream the Possible Dream

"The secret to breaking out of the box is to dream. Don’t be afraid to dream. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be held back by your own doubts. Don’t be held back by others’. Dream big and dream real. And then keep trying different methods to fulfill your dream."

So concludes this wonderful post by J. Timothy King citing the following passage from The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart by Maxine Clark, the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop®:

People often ask how I was able to take the rough idea for Build-A-Bear Workshop and turn it into such a successful business. Above all, it started when I simply allowed myself to dream. And I’m a true believer in dreaming big.

Since the very beginning, I didn’t put restrictions on my vision, nor did I let the way others made or sold stuffed animals stand in my way. Instead, I allowed myself to dream of this unique business going from one store at the Saint Louis Galleria to something that could be as huge as I thought it could be. My dream eventually came true, and continues to evolve even beyond my wildest imagination. But you must start by believing you can truly achieve whatever you set your mind to, no matter how monumental it might seem.

Most people don’t do that. They stymie themselves and their ideas with negative thoughts. They’re so caught up in what they can’t do that they don’t think about how much they can accomplish. As Marianne Williamson wrote in Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us."

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