A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Stop complaining about how difficult it is to encourage well-mannered, highly educated, civilized professionals to work together. Instead, consider how difficult it would be to transform twelve convicted felons, with an affinity for violence and no desire to work together, into a cohesive, effective team. That is exactly what Major Reisman is forced to do in E.M. Nathanson’s World War II novel and subsequent film entitled, The Dirty Dozen. The steps Major Reisman takes to create this unlikely team are enlightening to entrepreneurs seeking to unite far more willing teammates.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In the Fall of 1990, H. Jackson Brown sat at his kitchen table, pulled out a pad of paper and began writing advice to his son, who had just entered college. Mr. Brown's aphorisms eventually evolve into twenty one books, including four New York Times bestsellers. With Life's Little Instruction Book, Mr. Brown became the first author to simultaneously hold the number one positions on both of the NYT's hardback and paperback lists. Many of Mr. Brown's quotes have become so well known that they are often mis-attributed to historical figures, including the following, which is widely credited to Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Ms. August Scott began her Zappos career in their customer support call center. Her positive attitude and willingness to take chances rapidly propelled her to the coveted and influential position of Coach. I met Augusta when I toured Zappos' headquarters as part of the Downtown Project's Catalyst Creative Speaker series (you can view my talk here). Several Zappos employees had mentioned "Coach" and the impact she has had on the corporation during our tour. When we passed her in the hall, her face lit up and she gave us a joyous greeting. Despite our brief encounter, it was clear to me that Augusta Scott has charisma and charm at a level few people possess.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Craig Harris, Co-Founder and CEO of HG Data, knows first-hand that it is possible to recruit top talent, without the benefit of a lot of cash or equity. Early in his career, Craig spent nearly 4 years with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, creating an agro-forestry farm that remains in operation over 20-years later. Entrepreneurs can learn much from successful, yet cash-strapped organizations, such as the Peace Corps and the Marines, especially when it comes to attracting, retaining and motivating employees.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Software as a service (SaaS) is a popular business model because it facilitates the delivery of incremental value to customers, while allowing the vendor to adjust their prices over time. However, such price increases generally occur after new utility has been provided to the customers.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Companies typically rebrand themselves for two distinct reasons. Those that are floundering do so in a desperate attempt to stave off failure. Such attempts are seldom successful, as rebranding typically does not address the systemic issues causing the company to fail. In contrast, companies that are rapidly growing often rebrand in order to more accurately reflect the expanded scope of their target market and product set.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Brandon Martinez, Co-Founder and CEO of INDMusic, is helping to the change the face of online music. INDMusic has over 300 partners, and has generated over 2.5 billion views on YouTube. By their own estimation, INDMusic is the largest music network on YouTube, with over 100 million monthly views and 2 million subscribers.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Entrepreneurs typically embrace celebrity investments, while most sophisticated investors prefer to avoid famous entertainment or sports personalities on the cap table. What’s the cause of this incongruence?
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. How much will social media fame cost you in 2014? At $6,800, it is probably cheaper than you thought. This money will buy you a million Twitter followers, get you a million YouTube views and 20,000 Likes on your Facebook page. As a bonus, you'll also enjoy a robust number of Pinterest, Tumbler and Instagram followers and you'll still have room in your budget for 250 comments on your blog and about 100,000 views on Vimeo. What a bargain.
Tracy DiNunzio, Founder and CEO of Tradesy, recently shared her insights as part of UC Santa Barbara's Distinguished Lecture Series. Her story is especially inspiring, as she was told as a child that she would never walk, due to a birth defect. (Note: I am an investor in Tradesy via Rincon Venture Partners.)