$1 Billion in Sales? Here's How to Do It

"1. Create and sustain a breakthrough value proposition...create an entirely new market...redefine an existing market...underprice the competition...

2. Exploit a high-growth market...

3. Focus relentlessly on cash flow...be profitable from a very early stage...finance growth at less cost than competitors...

4. Leverage big-brother alliances...

5. Pack your board with industry experts...

6. Use marquee customers to build credibility..."

7. Build an inside-outside leadership team...one leader concentrates on internal operations while the other leader represents the company for clients and investors..."

Read more in this article from cnn.com.

Top Ten List of Top Ten Lies Lists

1. The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs

2. The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists

3. Top Ten Blogger Lies

4. The Top Ten Lies Of Business Gurus

5. Top Ten Lies Told by Graduate Students

6. The Top Ten Lies of Engineers

7. The Top Ten Lies of Blogging Consultants

8. The Top 10 Lies Happy Husbands Tell Their Wives

9. Top Ten Lies Wives Tell Their Husbands

10. Top Ten Truths about Lying and Deception


Great Article about Young People Making a Difference in the World

I have written before about my daughter, Deirdre (on left) leading her second Habitat Bicycle Challenge bike ride across the country this summer to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity. At the risk of parading a bit of parental pride, I have reprinted an article that appeared in Deirdre's high school alumni magazine Sewickley Speaking about what she and her friends did last summer.

“Returning to Sewickley Academy to teach at Summerbridge Pittsburgh was an invaluable experience for me. I learned what it means to be a leader in and outside of the classroom and about how difficult and rewarding leadership can be. I learned the value of optimism, energy, and dedication, and to apply these values to everything that I do. Perhaps most of all, I learned about the value of education and the feeling of making a difference in someone else’s life — a difference that can potentially affect their future in a substantial and positive way.”
Deirdre Cerminaro ‘02, Summerbridge Pittsburgh 2005 Teacher

Where does a Yale undergraduate who has biked across the nation in support of Habitat for Humanity, researched the brain functions of primates, and been named an All-American lacrosse player in high school go to seek her next challenge? For Deirdre Cerminaro’02, the answer was easy: return to her alma mater to work as a teacher for Summerbridge Pittsburgh.

This past summer, Cerminaro decided to join the Summerbridge faculty to get a first-hand look at the “invaluable” impact of the Summerbridge experience. Summerbridge, which was established at Sewickley Academy in 1994 by then Headmaster Ham Clark, works to empower Pittsburgh’s at-risk youth and inspire exceptional high school and college-aged students to pursue careers in education.

Cerminaro joined twenty-three other college students from across the nation in their mission to provide Summerbridge students with the theoretical and practical skills they need to manage the journey through adolescence and, ultimately, to lead healthy, productive lives. Cerminaro’s role as an eighth-grade Wellness teacher was a vital part of reaching that goal. Drawing on her experiences as an athlete and peer counselor at Yale, Cerminaro taught her students the importance of a healthy lifestyle through lessons on stress management, diet, and conflict resolution.

From curriculum design and student assessment to acting in skits and counseling students, Cerminaro dedicated her energy and passion to help students
improve their academic skills and learn how to make healthy choices.

“The middle school years are a turning point for young people,” observes Cerminaro. “As young teachers we can still relate to the issues facing our students, and the lessons I taught in Wellness helped our students make good choices.”

Not only did Cerminaro teach every day, she also honed her leadership skills as a team leader. Team leaders are the most accomplished members of the Summerbridge staff and are responsible for overseeing the academic, behavioral, and extracurricular activities on each “team” of twenty students. As a team leader, Cerminaro hosted All School Meeting, the daily, spirit-fi lled gathering of all Summerbridge students, staff, and faculty and planned Eighth-Grade Field Day, a day of athletic and intellectual games that culminates in a pizza and dance party. Cerminaro also served as the Head of the Wellness Department.

If that sounds like a lot of responsibility for any college student to take on, that’s because it is. Indeed, the Summerbridge experience requires such dedication, passion, and intellectual energy that the Princeton Review has recognized it as one of the top ten internships in the nation, a ranking that places it in good company alongside the White House and The Supreme Court.

Reflecting on her experience as a teacher in the program, Cerminaro expressed a sentiment echoed by many other Summerbridge teachers: the knowledge and life perspective she took away from the program must have been as great, if not greater, than that which she passed on to her students.

She explains: “I learned very quickly this summer that my students were depending on me, which required me to equally give my all to every lesson and event that I planned in order not to let them down. I learned about what my students faced every day, which in some ways exactly paralleled my middle school life but in other ways were obstacles that I couldn’t have imagined facing as an eighth-grade student.”

Cerminaro’s observations certainly ring true. As Summerbridge Director Kevin Brezler reports, “We work with students facing a number of significant life challenges. Many of our students live in single-parent households, grow up in neighborhoods plagued by violence and drug abuse, and lack college-educated mentors to help them navigate the path to academic success.” The impact that such circumstances can have on a child’s life is significant. Recent studies indicate that only 59% of young people with backgrounds similar to Summerbridge students graduate high school. Less than half of those same students enroll in college.

Summerbridge, however, has experienced far greater success in helping students with limited opportunities reach their academic goals. Ninetytwo percent of Summerbridge students graduate from high school and 80% of them go on to college. Summerbridge has been successful in reversing this trend because of the contributions of highly motivated and passionate high school and college students. “The unique students-teaching-students model of Summerbridge Pittsburgh is truly the key to our success,” explains Assistant Director and former Summerbridge teacher Greg Laski. “The students remember their Summerbridge teachers and the positive example they set for years to come.”

Sewickley Academy alumni like Cerminaro also benefit from the Summerbridge experience by reconnecting with their former classmates on the Summerbridge staff as well as getting to know current SA senior school students who serve as Apprentice Teachers.

“I would absolutely recommend Summerbridge to other SA alum, regardless of whether or not their future plans include teaching or education,” reflects Cerminaro. “I do not think there’s any replacement for fully committing yourself to a group of students and spending your time and energy reaching out to them.”

As for her own future plans, Cerminaro is, as always, seeking new challenges and opportunities for personal and professional growth. She is currently mapping out a new course for a second cross-country biking trip and hopes to teach English in France next fall. But regardless of how far her travels take her, Cerminaro will always keep her experiences at Summerbridge close to her heart.

“Teaching at Summerbridge made me reflect on the value of education and the privileged education that I received at SA,” notes Cerminaro. “I think teaching at Summerbridge is an invaluable experience for other alums from SA and plays a vital role in raising awareness that incredible things are happening at Summerbridge Pittsburgh.”

To learn more about Summerbridge Pittsburgh and how you can support its mission, visit http://summerbridge.sewickley.org, orcontact the Sewickley Academy Development Office. If you would like to make a contribution to support Deirdre's Habitat Bicycle Challenge please visit Habitat Bike Challenge


Pennsylvania Latest to Adopt Data Security Breach Law

"As new reports of lost data continue to heighten American fears of identity theft, Pennsylvania has become the latest state to enact security breach legislation, joining a similar initiative in New Jersey. On December 22, 2005, Pennsylvania’s Governor signed the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act (the "PA Breach Act")1. Scheduled to become effective on June 20, 2006, the PA Breach Act establishes standards for assessing and disclosing security breaches affecting the personal information of Pennsylvania residents.

Preceding the PA Breach Act by half a year, the New Jersey Identity Theft Protection Act (the "NJ Breach Act")2 became fully effective on January 1, 2006 (a provision dealing with police reports became effective on June 25, 2005). Enabling individuals to place a "freeze" on their credit reports and limiting disclosure of Social Security numbers, the NJ Breach Act appears to be the more expansive legislation, although the two laws differ in a number of other respects, as well.

Although privacy law observers across the country have been waiting for Congress to enact a federal law addressing data security breaches, the legislative process has stalled in Washington, adding momentum to the trend that has now swept more than 20 states into the breach arena. In practical terms, this trend is forcing companies that maintain computerized personal data to take urgent action to assure that their information security procedures comply with the burgeoning and often inconsistent mosaic of state law requirements."

Read more in this Reed Smith article from Mondaq.

Wharton Private Equity Review

In private equity, opportunity can come in the form of distressed companies, wind farms, rapidly developing regions like Asia, or even an artificial stone manufacturer. In this special report from the Wharton School, Wharton faculty and experts from private equity and venture capital firms comment on the investment trends that are shaping the industry. The table of contents from the report is reproduced below:

China or India: Which Is the Better Long-term Investment for Private Equity Firms?

The prospects for investment are strong in both China and India, according to Wharton faculty and industry experts. But the debate over which country is the better venue for investing is less important than knowing how the strengths and weaknesses of each nation would impact a specific investment.

The End of Oil? Venture Capital Firms Raise the Profile of Alternative Energy

Clean technology companies are hoping for blockbuster returns in the capital markets, and venture capital firms are fattening them up with equity infusions in preparation. Will the sector live up to its promise?

‘Early Matters’: Creating Value through Operations at Portfolio Companies

According to speakers at the 2006 Wharton Private Equity Conference, the most important elements of operational performance are selecting the right management team and driving returns through management incentives, tight monitoring and forward-focused strategies.

Bad News Is Good News: Distressed for Control Investing

2005 was a record year for distressed for control transactions, and Wharton faculty and private equity experts say “a growing wave” of bankruptcies is on the horizon, leading to what one fund co-founder calls “an extraordinary market” for distressed for control investors.

Limited Partner Roundtable: Outlook for Private Equity

Four leading limited partners discuss the convergence of private equity and hedge funds, distressed debt, changes in venture capital, and the outlook for general partners.

Case Study in Operations: Eldorado Stone

Graham Partner’s investment in Eldorado Stone is just the kind of situation in which operationsoriented firms can thrive, but not without certain risks, say industry experts. One key consideration: timing the exit.

Transactions With Palestinian Authority Prohibited

"On April 12, 2006, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had determined that Hamas has a property interest in the transactions of the Palestinian Authority. Because Hamas previously has been designated a terrorist entity whose property and interests are blocked under OFAC sanctions programs, OFAC’s determination means that, unless authorized, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any new transactions and activities with the Palestinian Authority and must conclude any ongoing contracts or programs with the Palestinian Authority by May 12, 2006."

Read more in this Pillsbury Winthrop article from Mondaq.


Preparing for Entrepreneurship

"Here are the top ten things I either did, or wish I had done, before I started my first business.

1. Become an IntraPreneur...Some entrepreneurial skills can be learned in a corporation (when the failure is on their dime instead of yours). Make it known that you want to lead a new effort, organize a team, do market research etc. Take it on even if it is extra work that you don't get paid for. The experience will be invaluable.

2. Save money...

3. Network...wisely...

4. Learn the Industry. If you already have your idea, learn as much as you can about the relevant industry. If not, just pick a few interesting ones to target...Start a blog following industry topics. Even if no one reads it, writing will help you remember facts and clarify your ideas.

5. Learn About Entrepreneurship. Dr. Jeff Cornwall claims that studying entrepreneurship will greatly increase your chances of success. Learn why people fail. Learn what challenges you will face. Learn what is most important for new companies.

6. Read...

7. Test the Waters...if you can run small scale experiments that validate your idea, you will learn a lot of things that will help you when you really launch...

8. Learn To Sell...Take a part-time job, help a friend who has a business, whatever it takes to get some selling experience.

9. Study Financial Statements...you need to understand how money flows through a company...

10. Line Up Your Resources. Familiarize yourself with the different programs offered by the SBA. Check out the Kauffman Foundation. Learn about all the programs and services that can give you advice or money. You may need lots of both..."

Read more, including a bonus tip, in this Businesspundit post.

Approaches to Mediation

"Three of the most common types of mediation are called "facilitative", "transformative", and "evaluative." Regardless of the differences, 3 core concepts are the same for each of these 3 types of mediation

-The mediator is neutral (s/he does not take sides in the disagreement).
-The process is confidential.
-You and the other side determine the outcomes.

However, the role of the mediator is a bit different in each type.

Facilitative Mediation: Facilitative mediation is based on the belief that, with neutral assistance, people can work through and resolve their own conflicts. In a facilitative mediation, the mediator will take an active role in controlling the "process." Process means things like setting the ground rules for how the problem will be solved. The mediator asks questions to identify the interests of the parties and the real issues in the disagreement. The mediator helps the parties explore solutions that benefit both parties (sometimes called "win/win" solutions). In a facilitative mediation, the mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the parties' cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

Transformative Mediation: Transformative mediation is based on the belief that conflict tends to make parties feel weak and self-absorbed. Transformative mediators try to change the nature of the parties' conflict interaction by

-Helping them appreciate each others viewpoints ("recognition") and
-Strengthening their ability to handle conflict in a productive manner ("empowerment").

The mediator will intervene in the conversation between the parties in order to call attention to moments of recognition and empowerment. Ground rules for the mediation are set only if the parties set them. The mediator does not direct the parties to topics or issues. Instead, the mediator follows the parties’ conversation and assist them to talk about what they think is important. The transformative mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of the parties’ cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

Evaluative Mediation: Evaluative mediation is based on the belief that mediators with expertise in the issues in conflict can help the parties to:

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal or other positions and
Work to achieve settlements. In evaluative mediation, the mediator controls the process and suggests solutions for resolving the conflict. Individual meetings between the mediator and one party at a time (called "caucuses") are a major component of evaluative mediation. The focus of an evaluative mediation is primarily upon settlement. The mediators will make their best efforts to get the parties to compromise, if necessary, to achieve a result."

Read more in this peopleslaw.org article found via this Legal Sanity post.

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Venture Capital and Private Equity Primer

"In today's environment VCs are seeking proven managers who have already grown a company and shown their prowess. This makes it difficult for the entrepreneur with ideas but little experience to raise venture capital. VCs are looking at expansion and later stage deals with favor. In general they would rather back a more mature deal where they can exit in two to three years than a start-up with a more traditional funding cycle.15 The implications are that early stage deals are tough to get done, and this increases the need and demand for quality angel investors.

Lastly, VCs are seeking the efficient use and deployment of invested funds. This concept of capital efficiency is in the vein of returning to industry basics as seen in the early 1990s. Unlike the period during the Internet bubble, today VCs prefer to invest more traditional amounts in tranches that will cap the total investment in a company at $20 million to $30 million. This means that a company can foreseeably go from seed round through its final VC round using no more than $20 million to $30 million and be a viable ongoing business; obviously there are exceptions such as the biotechnology industry. VCs who invest in technology companies that create software are seeking offshore suppliers and partners to stretch their investment dollars."

Read much more in this article from VC Experts that provides a detailed overview and analysis of all aspects of the VC business, principally from the point of view of the entrepreneur seeking funding, but also including valuable information about how private equity funds are organized and function. Highly recommended.


International Entrepreneurship Resources

Lots of great information is available at International Entrepreneurship - Resources for Entrepreneurs, "a resource for global entrepreneurs, international business students, women's entrepreneurship, and academic entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs from around the world can access import and export information, general business data, financing sources, and entrepreneurial success stories for over 100 countries. Also, International Entrepreneurship links to domestic entrepreneur help sites are provided for each country. Women entrepreneurs will be particularly helped by the country by country links..."

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Forecasting

"The Principles of Forecasting site summarizes all useful knowledge about forecasting so that it can be used by researchers, practitioners, and educators. (Those who might want to challenge this are invited to submit missing information.) This knowledge is provided as principles (guidelines, prescriptions, rules, conditions, action statements, or advice about what to do in given situations). The evidence-based principles apply to

-operations research, and
-social sciences...

The Forecasting Principles site is provided as a public service. It was created in 1997 by Professor J. Scott Armstrong and is maintained by the Marketing Department of the Wharton School. The International Institute of Forecasters and Kluwer Academic Publishers provide partial funding."

Check it out.

Be in the Now to Succeed In China

"The following are the four most frequent mistakes I see western businesspeople making in their China business by basing their decisions on what was rather than on what is:

1. Going into China as a Joint Venture...China's laws and ways of doing business have changed markedly in the last few years and even just since January 1, 2006, when many new business laws were enacted. Joint ventures are no longer required in most instances and they seldom make sense...

2. Wanting to form a Hong Kong Company to go into China...in most cases, doing so does nothing more than increase your legal fees.

3. Being enamored with the Chinese government...If you want to do business with a hard charging, dynamic, forward thinking business in China, your chances of finding that within the private sector are better than finding it within the government...China's growth is coming from its private sector. Its state owned companies are in a state of steady decline...

4. The law in China is irrelevant...China does enforce well drafted contracts written in Chinese...[and] the best contracts with Chinese companies have an arbitration provision that makes sure your dispute will be resolved outside the Chinese court system...
China also is becoming better at enforcing intellectual property rights, particularly trademarks...

Knowledge of Chinese history and culture is an asset for doing business in China. However, because circumstances in China change so quickly, staying abreast of China's current situation is far more important than knowing its past. The most successful businesses in China usually emphasize knowing their own businesses inside and out first, understanding China today second, and China's history and culture third..."

Read more in this China Law Blog post.


The Fine Art Of Motivation

"Nucor gained renown in the late 1980s for its radical pay practices, which base the vast majority of most workers' income on their performance. An upstart nipping at the heels of the integrated steel giants, Nucor had a close-knit culture that was the natural outgrowth of its underdog identity. Legendary leader F. Kenneth Iverson's radical insight: that employees, even hourly clock-punchers, will make an extraordinary effort if you reward them richly, treat them with respect, and give them real power.

Nucor is an upstart no more, and the untold story of how it has clung to that core philosophy even as it has grown into the largest steel company in the U.S. is in many ways as compelling as the celebrated tale of its brash youth. Iverson retired in 1999. Under CEO Daniel R. DiMicco, a 23-year veteran, Nucor has snapped up 13 plants over the past five years while managing to instill its unique culture in all of the facilities it has bought, an achievement that makes him a more than worthy successor to Iverson.

Nucor's performance, propelled by a red-hot steel market, has been nothing less than sensational..."

Read how they do it in this Business Week article.

Positions vs Interests in Bargaining

"A position is….

A demand, or
A proposal, or
A preferred course of action

Key features:

It is specific
It involves doing, action
A position is the “What to do”

An interest is….

The reason(s) for a position, or
A goal or objective

Key features:

An interest is more general than a position, and open to interpretation
It is not an action

An interest is the “Why” behind the “What”

Read more in this article from the UNC School of Government.


This I Believe

"This I Believe is an exciting national project that invites you to write about the core beliefs that guide your daily life. NPR airs these personal statements from listeners each Monday on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. By inviting Americans from all walks of life to participate, series producers Dan Gediman and Jay Allison hope to create a picture of the American spirit in all its rich complexity.

This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. In creating This I Believe, Murrow said the program sought 'to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.'"

Check it out.

George Washington on Alternative Dispute Resolution

The last will and testament of George Washington included an ADR provision...as follows:

But having endeavoured to be plain, and explicit in all Devises--even at the expence of prolixity, perhaps of tautology, I hope, and trust, that no disputes will arise concerning them; but if, contrary to expectation, the case should be otherwise from the want of legal expression, or the usual technical terms, or because too much or too little has been said on any of the Devises to be consonant with law, My Will and direction expressly is, that all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men, known for their probity and good understanding; two to be chosen by the disputants--each having the choice of one--and the third by those two. Which three men thus chosen, shall, unfettered by Law, or legal constructions, declare their sense of the Testators intention; and such decision is, to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the Parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read more in this post from Death and Taxes - The Blog:


Read This Tomorrow

"Procrastination is a complex psychological behavior that affects everyone to some degree or another. With some it can be a minor problem; with others it is a source of considerable stress and anxiety. Procrastination is only remotely related to time management, (procrastinators often know exactly what they should be doing, even if they cannot do it), which is why very detailed schedules usually are no help...

The procrastinator is often remarkably optimistic about his ability to complete a task on a tight deadline...The procrastinator may struggle with feelings of low self-confidence and low self-esteem...Procrastination may be used to call attention to how busy he is...Procrastination may be used as an expression of stubbornness or pride...Procrastination may be used to control or manipulate the behavior of others...Procrastination is often truly difficult to eradicate since the delay behavior has become a method of coping with day-to-day pressures and experiences...The procrastinator often feels like a victim...The reasons for his behavior are hidden from him...

Steps to the Cure

1. Realize you are delaying something unnecessarily.
2. Discover the real reasons for your delay. List them.
3. Dispute those real reasons and overcome them. Be vigorous.
4. Begin the task..."

Read more in this excellent summary from Cal Poly.

My Other Blogs

Deal Attorney -- focused on domestic and international commercial and financial transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, intellectual property licensing, product distribution, strategic partnerships and joint ventures

Mediation Mindset -- Negotiation and alternative dispute resolution blog

a Soul Searching -- on Spirituality, Love, Loving, Kindness, Compassion, Inspiration, Motivation, Meaning, Meditation, Prayer, Life and Living


The Art of Using Prior Art

"Prior art is typically a printed publication, patent, or patent application that has a publication or filing date prior to the filing date of the target patent. There are a variety of mechanisms/legal regimes that can be used to apply this prior art to invalidate a target patent. These mechanisms include: Protest, Third-Party Submission, Litigation, Reexam, and Citation to Prior Art. In addition to these existing mechanism, various projects and initiative relating to the use of prior art are under way. The purpose of these mechanisms, projects and initiatives is to ensure that true innovation is protected.

The question of what constitutes prior art can be confusing, to say the least. Moreover, the issue of when one can and cannot use a particular type of prior art in attacking the patentability of a particular invention is equally confusing...[This GROKLAW post] is a high-level outline of the some of the key concepts regarding what constitutes prior art, and how to apply it to address the patentability of an invention. The purpose of this primer is not to serve as formal legal advice, nor should it be considered as such. Rather, the purpose of this primer is to assist the general public, including those in the Open Source Community, with helping to improve patent quality."

Concept to Company Report

VLAB and Hummer Winblad hosted a panel at Stanford Business School titled Concept to Company: Strategies for Swimming with the Sharks. This
report from Will Price provides an excellent summary of the event and good advice for entreprenuers. Among the nuggets are the following:

"When To Raise VC Money...the "just add water approach;" walk in to meetings having validated a big market, shipped a solid product, sold paying customers, operated a well managed business, and hired a good team...validate the following five hypotheses:

Demand - select a large, established market to operate in and prove the innovation
Product - develop a complete and working product
Customers - referenceable accounts, good logos, and revenues
Profitability - prove efficiency, discipline, and frugality
Team - key players in place to grow..

Not All VCs are Created Equal...select VC firms that match the following criteria:

Domain expertise...
Everyone rows - access to all members of the investing firm...
BOD - work hard to ensure a productive BOD dynamic and use VC BOD members to recruit value-added independents..."

Personalities Affect Negotiation Styles

"Not everyone negotiates from the same point of view. People have different stakes in a negotiation. Determine what issues concern the other party the most. Also, know what your style is like so you can best prepare to negotiate a win-win situation.

The following are the four major personality styles, and how to recognize these types:

1. Connecters: This type is down to earth, friendly and very people oriented...When dealing with this type, be open, honest, and start with some small talk...

2. Networkers:...The more they like and trust you, the more flexible they will be...They want to see the big picture-so hit on your key points first, and then bundle your small points together...

3. Producers:...These people tend to shoot straight and not mince words...Producers look for the best possible deal and pride themselves on their ability to get what they want...These people love the thrill of the negotiation, and you will disappoint them if you cannot present a compromise.

4. Analyzers: This type may...may remain more non-emotional during a negotiation....The best way to handle analyzers? Give them the facts... Analyzers require space in order to make a decision, and accuracy is most important to them."

Read more in this article from lifeintheusa.com.


Software Piracy In China Not Going Away

"Producing counterfeit software in China is easy and lucrative, but as the price of doing so continues to rise due to China's increasing {intellectual property rights] enforcement and as the wealth of the Chinese consumer continues to grow, we can expect to see sales of counterfeit software decrease. To the extent foreign software producers are willing to charge less for their software in China than they charge in wealthier countries, they will speed up the rate of decline in counterfeit software sales."

Read more in this post from China Law Blog.


To Patent or Not to Patent...What is the Answer?

"Let's evaluate exactly what a patent can do--and can't do--for you as an aspiring entrepreneur...

Before you decide to move forward with a patent, it's critical to first evaluate your idea as a viable business opportunity. This means understanding your product, your target market and your competition as best you can...based on solid market research and attention to product development...Thoroughly consider the following factors:

Patent research...
Prototype. You should develop a basic prototype to determine your product's functionality...
Market research...
Cost to manufacture...

Benefits of patent protection:

If you're planning to manufacture and sell your product yourself...a patent can help you better justify your investment in design, production and marketing...If you're planning to license your product to another company, a patent can be a valuable asset during negotiations...In fact, many companies you might want to sell your invention to are only willing to consider licensing patented or patent-pending inventions.)

Drawbacks of patent protection:

There are no 'patent police'...If someone infringes on your patent, you'll need to spend even more time and money on legal fees to rectify the situation. In addition, patent claims are very specific--meaning it's typically not very difficult to legally design a similar product...

Next Steps
So you've evaluated your business opportunity, you've weighed the costs vs. benefits of securing a patent, and you've decided to go for it. What now?..."

Read more in this article from entrepreneur.com.

Ten Tips for Positional Bargaining

"1..Make sure that you have real, viable options that don't require an agreement...
2. Do not disclose your walk-away alternatives...
3. Figure out the walk-away alternatives of the other parties...
4...Any offer is valid provided you can present objective criteria that prove...the offer fills to some extent the underlying needs of all parties.
5. Don't react emotionally...Draw attention back to substantive interests and options...
6. Remember that all the needs presented are not of equal importance...
7. Listen...
8. Know the authority of each person in the room...
9. Analyze concessions...
10. Never be bludgeoned into splitting the difference..."

Read more in this article from batna.com.

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Guide to Raising Start-Up Capital

This Guide from Inc.com provides links to articles and information on raising money to fund your startup enterprise, stating:

"Gone are the days of pitching investors with hot new technology ideas. Today, entrepreneurs are much more likely to dive into their own pockets and hunker down for a battle to start up and stay alive. But if you don't have the cash in your wallet, what do you do? Luckily, there are still options for funding new companies, but finding and securing the cash will take careful research, good negotiating skills, and, above all, an unflagging commitment to launching your new business.

Start your capital search with a good business plan that shows investors and lenders your company's potential. Follow that up with a thorough knowledge of the resources available and a determination to make your business a reality, and you should be on your way to uncovering a source that fits your new business's cash needs."

The Web 2.0 List

From this VentureBlog post:

"About a month ago, Baris Karadogan, a Venture Capitalist at USVP, posted this incredible list of Web 2.0 Companies on his blog From Istanbul to Sand Hill Road. While the list is massive, I doubt the list was comprehensive the day it was posted and it certainly is no longer complete seeing as a whole month has passed since the creation of the list. Web 2.0 months are a little bit like dog years. Companies have formed, companies have gotten funded, companies have merged, and that was just yesterday. Imagine what tomorrow will bring.

To give you a sense of the interesting challenge venture capitalists face when investing in new media companies today, one need look no further than this list itself. At August Capital, we have funded 4 of the companies on the list: LiveJournal, Technorati, Trumba, and VideoEgg. Considering only those companies that made the list, on average, our four portfolio companies face 33 -- yes, that's right, 33 -- competitors in their respective verticals. That is mind blowing. And this list does not even include Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, IAC, Fox, Vivendi, Ebay and Amazon, all of which are likely competitors of each and every company on the Web 2.0 list. As the venture community continues to look at Web 2.0 companies in the coming months and years, this list is an invaluable piece of perspective .

For an eye opening experience, take a gander at Baris's Web 2.0 list..."


Privacy Rights Fact Sheets

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website contains tons of useful information on privacy matters including Fact Sheets on the following topics:

1. Privacy Survival Guide
1(a). Privacy Basics and Opt-Out Strategies
2. Wireless Communications: Voice and Data Privacy
2(a). Hang Up on Harassment: Dealing with Cellular Phone Abuse
2(b). When a Cell Phone Is More than a Phone: Protecting Your Privacy in the Age of the Super-Phone
3. How to Put an End to Harassing Phone Calls
4. Junk Mail: How Did They All Get My Address?
4a. "Shine the Light" on Marketers: Find Out How They Know Your Name
5. Telemarketing: How to Have a Quiet Evening at Home

6. How Private Is My Credit Report?
6a. FACTA, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Consumers Win Some, Lose Some
6b. The “Other” Consumer Reports: What You Should Know about “Specialty” Reports
6c. Your Credit Score: How It All Adds Up
7. Employee Monitoring: Is There Privacy in the Workplace?
8. How Private Is My Medical Information?
8a. HIPAA Basics: Medical Privacy in the Electronic Age
9. Wiretapping and Eavesdropping: Is There Cause for Concern?
10. My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It?

11. From Cradle to Grave: Government Records and Your Privacy
12. A Checklist of Responsible Information-Handling Practices
14. Are You Being Stalked? Tips For Protection
14(a). Security Recommendation for Stalking Victims
15. Paying By Credit Card or Check: What Can Merchants Ask? (California Only)
15(a). Merchant Wallet Card (California Only)

16. Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide
16(a). Employment Background Checks in California: New Focus on Accuracy
16(b). Employment Background Checks: A Guide for Small Business Owners
16(c). Background Checks for Volunteers: What are the Rules? (Coming Soon)
17. Coping with Identity Theft: Reducing the Risk of Fraud
17(a). Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You
17(b). How to Deal with a Security Breach
17(g). Criminal Identity Theft
18. Privacy in Cyberspace: Rules of the Road for the Information Superhighway
19. Caller ID and My Privacy: What Do I Need to Know?
20. Anti-Spam Resources: Halting the Junk E-Mail Juggernaut

21. Children's Privacy and Safety on the Internet: A Resource Guide for Parents
22. Electricity and Your Privacy: Deregulation in California
23. Online Shopping Tips:E-Commerce and You
24. Protecting Financial Privacy in the New Millennium: The Burden Is on You
24(a). Financial Privacy
24(b). Take the Cloze Test: Readability of a Financial Privacy Policy
24(c). How to Shop for Financial Privacy
24(d). Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Privacy
24(e). Is Your Financial Information Safe?
25. Online Job Seeker Web Sites: Tips to Safeguard Your Privacy
25(a). Avoiding Online Job Scams: Critical Tips for Job Seekers

26. CLUE and You: How Insurers Size You Up
27. Debt Collection Practices: When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far
28. Online Privacy for Nonprofits: How to Protect Members' Privacy and Personal Information
29. Privacy in Education: Guide for Parents and Adult-Age Students
30. Check 21: Paperless Banking
31. Customer Identification Programs for Financial Transactions: Getting to Know You

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Google now Gu Ge in China

"Google Inc. has given itself a Chinese name, 'Gu Ge', which means 'song of the harvest of grain', to capture more users. The name was unveiled when the Internet search giant based in the United States opened its engineering centre in Beijing on Wednesday." Read more in this Xinhua article.

Incorrect Assumptions Lead to False Conclusions

Regarding negotiations, "the best defense against a poor assumption is good preparation. Thorough knowledge of your topic, your goal, your strategies and objectives, your company, yourself, your opponent, his company, and the issues relating to the task at hand is the best way to insure your assumptions are reliable...

During your preparation separate what you know and what you assume to be the case. Then focus your conversation on validating your assumptions. In addition to using the preliminary casual discussion period to build a good working relationship or to create a healthy environment within which to negotiate, do not miss the opportunity to uncover false assumptions."

Read more in this how-to-negotiate post.

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Sarbanes-Oxley Act - IT Links

This blog post from TechRepublic provides a good collection of links that provide information on SOX regulations and their impact on IT and security reporting concerns. As you may know, the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act was signed into law on 30th July 2002, and introduced highly significant legislative changes to financial practice and corporate governance regulation. It introduced stringent new rules with the stated objective: 'to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant to the securities laws.'"


Litany Against Fear

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune Book Series
copyright 1965 and 1984 Frank Herbert Published by Putnam Pub Group"

From this alcoman post.

The ABCs of ABLs

"Asset-based lenders encompass a broad category of firms that provide debt financing by lending against the assets of a company... Typically, ABLs are unregulated nonbank lenders (though they may be owned by a bank) that have the flexibility to make more highly leveraged loans based on the situation and collateral specific to their client's business. A true asset-based loan will be repaid from the liquidation of the collateral regardless of the state of the business. It is more important for the collateral to perform than for the company to perform. An ABL's key concerns are the liquidation value of its loan's underlying assets and potential management fraud. These concerns lead to control and close monitoring of their collateral...four benefits of asset-based financing:

1. The entire cost of an asset-based loan is paid with pretax dollars, unlike most equity costs.
2. ABLs do not seek a seat on the board or any control of the company, just a risk-adjusted and fair return on their money.
3. ABL relationships can usually be terminated by paying off the balance of outstanding debt to the ABL and any accrued interest and fees. Equity and other sources can be much more difficult to exit.
4. Asset-based loans are evergreen in nature, with no set amortization or payment schedule. They can grow as the business grows, unlike many other forms of financing. "

Read more in this VCExperts.com - Buzz of the Week.

The Tank Man Documentary Online

In case you missed the fascinating PBS Frontline documentary, "The Tank Man" that I caught last night, you can catch up at this PBS website that "includes sections called "Memories of Tiananmen," and "The Struggle to Control Information," as well as analysis of the legacy of June 4th, a discussion with the film makers, transcripts of interviews in the film (including one with CDT's Xiao Qiang) and a round table discussion on "Democracy, Sooner or Later?". The full film will be available to view online after Friday."

Found via this China Digital Times article.

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Avoid Whitewashing Compliance

This post from Security Catalyst cautions against the "whitewashing" of compliance - a company "simply going through the motions to claim they have achieved compliance, when they really have done little, if anything, to truly improve their security posture." The article offers "five basic steps you can take to prevent (or stop) whitewashing in your organization and make a difference in your organization:

Take The Time To Understand The Regulations Or Compliance Directives You Need To Follow...
Understand Your Business...
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions...
Empower Those Around You To Help...
Know When And Who To Ask For Outside Assistance.."

Dispute Resolution Myths and False Truths

"7 Common Myths:

1. Arbitrators Split the Baby.
2. You Can’t Mediate Until Discovery Is Completed.
3. Asking to Mediate Is A Sign of Weakness.
4. Mediation is Simply Free Discovery.
5. Arbitrators Don’t Apply the Law.
6. Mediation is Just a Waste of Time and Money.
7. Mediation Just Delays the Ultimate Trial of the Case.

3 False Truths

1. Arbitration is Quick and Cheap. Yes, but…
2. A Mediator is a Mediator is a Mediator.
3. Arbitration Awards are Non-Appealable."

Read more in this article by Judith Meyer

ReThink the Software Industry

"Now is the time to rethink the software industry. Let’s take out a clean sheet of paper and rewrite the model...The Inter Personal Enterprise SM will call for software vendors to deliver an entirely new mix of offerings. Product, price, promotion, place – no Marketing 101 concept will be left untouched. Here are seven guiding principles.

-Serves an individual need...
-Virally adopted...
-Contextually personalized information...
-No data entry or training required...
-Delivers instantaneous value...
-Utilizes community and social relationships...
-Minimal IT footprint..."

Read more in this interesting article by Ray Lane for SandHill.com.


Finding Time to Find the Money

"The biggest challenge any entrepreneur will have in finding angel money is time to run your business and search for an angel. You can expect to spend considerable effort in networking and meeting key people along with developing a business plan to attract an angel. All this happens while you have to continue to focus on your business. Consider the 5 following tips to keep your sanity and business together:

Enlist Support...
Be Realistic: Don't expect an angel investor to appear out of thin air. It will take time...
Work with a manageable timetable...
Look for opportunities to take less urgent and non-revenue generating tasks to move them to another time frame...
Work Your Business Plan...
Keep a vigilant watch on key financial ratios, sales revenues, accounts receivables, and any other metric important to your business."

Read more in this post from About.com.


Seed Money: Convertible Notes vs Preferred Stock

This post from Redeye VC provides an excellent analysis of the factors that affect the decision of a seed round (pre-VC) investor to invest in preferred stock or convertible notes, stating:

"Over the last few years, my fund has made over 20 seed-stage investments. While we strive to be the "first money" into a company, we recognize that we typically don't provide enough capital to get a company to profitability. So we invest with the assumption that there will be another "institutional" (or venture) round after us...

In general, I have a strong preference for Preferred Equity..I believe that:

Preferred equity better aligns the interest of the Investor and the Entrepreneur...
Preferred equity prices in all of the risks facing seed-investors...
Preferred equity typically does not create liabilities for the venture round...

So what are the cases when I'm OK with a convertible note?

When a VC round is already underway or imminent...
When I'm not expecting (or expected) to be an active investor...
When the discount (or warrant) coverage increases over time...
When the note has some equity-like protections..."

For more on this topic, see this Jeff Clavier post.

Venture Capital to Triple in China

"CHINA will benefit from a huge surge of venture capital this year as the result of tax breaks and eased restrictions on investments, according to interviews with analysts. The most optimistic among the forecasters was Zhou Hongyi, former Yahoo president and now an investor who's on the lookout for hot prospects in start-up firms.

Zhou predicts China will attract US$3 billion in venture capital investment in the 12 months following the second half of this year, triple last year's total. Others said his assessment was on the high side, but all believe more venture capital will pour across the country's borders than last year or the year before.

Some 60 percent of the surge will be directed toward information technology, especially new Web 2.0 applications that include podcasts, blogs and social network services such as platforms for dating and business deals, the experts said."

Read more in this Shanghai Daily article.

China Mandates Preloading Legitimate Software

The Chinese government has ordered all computers sold in the country to have legitimate operating system software preloaded on them, in an effort to reduce piracy, according to a report Monday on the Web site of Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

The news comes on the eve of trade talks between the U.S. and China where intellectual property protection, including software piracy, is expected to be a topic of discussion.

Read more in this Infoworld article.

Landmark Chinese Trademark Ruling Favors Starbucks Brand

"Starbucks Corporation has been in a long running dispute with coffee shops in Shanghai and Qingdao over the use of the Starbucks trademark in China. Starbucks has prevailed in both actions...The message from this case to foreign companies involved with China is clear:

- Register your trademarks early.
- Register your Chinese name even if you do not plan to use it right away. This is especially important if your Chinese name is different from your company name, as was the case with Starbucks.
- Registering your trademarks in China is a necessary start towards protecting them, but it may not be enough. The Chinese government will not protect your trademark for you. You must enforce the trademark yourself.
- If you properly register your trademarks in China you will probably succeed in an enforcement action. However, you must be prepared to incur the legal costs of enforcement. China is a huge and complex country. If your product is successful, there is a good chance it will be copied. You will need to vigorously defend your rights from the very start in order to prevent this.

The good news we can take from the Starbucks case in Qingdao is that that China's legal system has developed to the point where intellectual property rights can be successfully defended through legal action."

Read more in this post from the China Law Blog which is part ii of this post.

Identity Theft Protection Tips

"There are many different definitions of what constitutes 'Identity Theft.' Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act), the definition is broad: 'a fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority.' Whatever definition is used, identity theft is a growing crime that can threaten the confidence we share in our open and robust financial system if we don't take action. We all have a role to play in combating identity theft.

This page [from the U.S. Treasury Department] contains information on what identity theft is, simple steps individuals can take to prevent it, and what they can do if they become victims. There is also information on what industry and law enforcement are doing to fight the crime and a report on various technologies used to combat identity theft. The Treasury Department also developed 'Identity Theft: Outsmarting the Crooks,' a DVD that includes a Resource Library of supporting materials" which may be ordered or excerpts of which may be viewed on the website.


What is Mediation?

"Mediation is a voluntary collaborative process where individuals who have a conflict with one another identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and develop a consenual agreement. Trained mediators facilitate open communication to resolve differences in a non-adversarial, confidential manner... "

Read more on this webpage from the Global Resource Development Center that also explains some of the advantages of mediation when prior attempts to resolve a dispute have failed.

The Call to Peace Making

Some experience the desire to mediate disputes as a calling. This poem by Mary Oliver expresses the idea:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice----
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do----
determined to save
the only life you could save.

From Callings Poetry found via this rss feed of Evelyn Rodriguez delicious tags.


Overview of Personal Information Security Law

"The year 2005 involved unprecedented disclosures of information security breaches of consumer information, with risk of fraud and identity theft. There were approximately 130 reported incidents of data breaches of consumer information during 2005, exposing information concerning over 55 million individuals.

Inquiries showed that there had been many data breaches in the past. They were often not disclosed because there were no laws which required disclosure. A new California law, which required disclosure, was the major driver for many of the 2005 disclosures.

A number of state legislatures have already responded with new information security laws, covering such areas as requiring reasonable security, requiring notice of breaches and providing for credit freezes. Many more are under consideration. At the federal level, Congress is considering a number of data protective laws and action is expected in 2006. Courts have started to address the legal outfall from these breaches.

These high profile breaches are already leading to expanded requirements and greater potential liability in the area of consumer data. They are likely to accelerate the expansion of information security obligations and potential liability in other areas. It is critical for businesses and organizations of all sizes to understand the information security legal obligations which apply to them and to implement effective information security programs to address them, as well as other relevant information security considerations."

Read more in this outline from acca.com.

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E-Mail Security White Paper

This white paper [from TechRepublic] examines the impact of key industry regulations on e-mail security stating:

"E-mail security & compliance is an issue that can no longer be ignored. Regardless of whether a company is large or small, the impact of regulations in both the U.S. and abroad is being felt by IT professionals in every corner of the world. This white paper examines the impact of key industry regulations including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act on e-mail security. Download the paper to learn what you need to do today to ensure your e-mail infrastructure is ready for the compliance challenges of tomorrow."


Lessons from a Technology Entrepreneur

"Hiring: Every lesson in entrepreneurship has to start with Hiring. The biggest reason for any business to fail is the lack of smart and dedicated people. And, if you are a startup and looking to be more than a boutique shop, you have to think about hiring people who can grow as middle-level managers very soon....

Hedge your bets: When you are starting something, you are basically betting on your ideas and execution plan. At the same time, we all hate to admit that however sound our idea is, there is always a chance of failing...Either you choose to ignore the risk or try to minimize the risk by diversification...

Get a partner to start with: Get a partner that you can trust to start the business. There are more downs than ups in the business and you need somebody to pull each other up in the rough times...

Don’t build for acquisition:...if you know that you can’t sustain yourself without being acquired, there is a problem. In fact, you might land up in a situation where you are not even worthy of being acquired in that case...

Try to create IP, even if you are a services company...

Social circle outside work...People stop being productive when they stop having fun..."

Read more in this reflective post from Ashish Kumar, founder of Tekriti Software.

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E-Commerce Tutorial

"In just five easy lessons, this tutorial [from webmonkey.com] will show you how to generate a realistic e-business plan; create a site design that caters to your online customers; deal with things like credit cards, tax, shipping, and security; and decide whether you should build, buy, or rent an e-commerce solution to manage your site's transactions. You'll also learn how to attract new customers by refining your marketing programs."


Negotiation Tutorial

This Negotiation Tutorial from Professor Ross of the University of Wisconsin - Lacrosse provides information that may help you become a more effective negotiator. By "effective" Dr. Ross means "someone who (a) achieves highly satisfactory outcomes, (b) helps the other side achieve what appear to be satisfactory outcomes, while (c) maintaining the relationship between the two sides."

The tutorial into the following topics:

Concession Curves
Persuasion Techniques
Integrative Bargaining


Listen to Secret White House Tapes

This is fascinating:

"Between 1940 and 1973, six American presidents from both political parties secretly recorded just under 5,000 hours of conversations. This site [WhiteHouseTapes.org] is designed as a service to the research community by making freely available all of the presidential recordings, along with relevant research materials, so that scholars, teachers, students, and the public can hear and use these remarkable tapes for themselves. The site is hosted and maintained by the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs."


Be in the Now on a Presence Walk

An exercise recommended by Steve Pavilina that he has found helpful to practice living in the present moment is to go for what he calls a "presence walk." Here’s how it works:

"1. Go for a walk alone — anywhere you like, as long as you want.

2. As you walk keep your conscious attention focused fully and completely on the present moment. Do not allow any thoughts of past or future to enter your mind. Do not imagine anything. Do not subvocalize any of your thoughts (i.e. don’t think in words). Focus your complete attention on perceiving the present moment as fully as possible. See what you see. Hear what you hear. Smell what you smell. Feel what you feel.

That’s it. It sounds simple, but it’s very difficult to master..."

Read more in this Pavlina article.