A Serial Entrepreneur’s Take On Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson’s Venture Deals

Venture DealsAs an Instructor of entrepreneurship at UC Santa Barbara, I welcomed the chance to read Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson’s Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer And Venture Capitalist. As the authors make clear in the book’s preface, their goal is to create a “definitive guide to venture capital deals” and “demystify the venture capital financing process.” Their primary intended reader is a “first-time entrepreneur”, but clearly other stakeholders within the startup universe can also benefit from the book’s hands-on advice.

Even though I have raised significant venture capital as an entrepreneur and have participated in dozens of transactions as an investor, I still found the book to be informative, especially with regard to the dilutive impact of some of the more onerous deal terms that we avoid at Rincon Ventures.

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A Serial Entrepreneur’s Take On Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment

EnchantmentAs I noted in Why Most Business Books (Still) Suck, I am generally not a fan of business books. Although many are entertaining, most fail to provide entrepreneurs with a sufficient return on their time investment. If you are a leader at a startup and you are reading a business book, you are not closing customers, raising capital, improving your product, or spending time with your loved ones.

Unfortunately, most business books do not offer entrepreneurs an adequate payoff. However, Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions (Enchantment) is an exception.

The short version of my review is: “Enchanting? Yes.”

If you are curious as to why a serial entrepreneur who does not generally appreciate business books gives Enchantment a thumbs-up, read on…

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Stop Rickrolling Your Customers and Prospects

Never gonna give you upIn 1987, when Rick Astley filmed the video for his hit song Never Gonna Give You Up, he had no idea it would eventually become one of the most viewed videos of all time.

By 2011, the video had been watched over 50 million times. Never Gonna Give You Up’s resurgence began in 2007, when a user on an obscure gaming site posted a link to Rick’s video under the heading for a trailer of the not-yet-released Grand Theft Auto IV video game. One year later, the phenomenon had become commonplace and was dubbed “Rickrolling,” a term that is now ubiquitous with any Internet misdirection technique.

Although Rickrolling is a harmless, rather pedestrian prank, many companies unknowingly Rickroll their customers and prospects by improperly aligning their products’ capabilities with their respective marketing messages.

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Entrepreneuriship Is Best Learned Experientially: Why Most Business Books (Still) Suck

I recently replied to a Quora entry which asked, “What are the best business-related books?” I shared my humble opinion that entrepreneurs should spend less time reading and more time experiencing reality. I concluded by including a link to an entry I wrote entitled, The Author’s Dilemma – Why Business Books Suck.

The person asking the question subsequently replied that I was “ignorant” and missing out on a great learning opportunity by not reading. Although the response was somewhat rude, it was valuable, as it caused me to think a bit more deeply about this issue.

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Headlines Are Written By The Hopeless – Successful Entrepreneurs Work More And Hope Less

Avg TempUnder the headline “The Cooling World,” a 1975 Newsweek article cited National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research that showed a drop in North America ground temperatures of one-half of one degree between 1945 and 1968 and satellite photos that revealed a “sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover.”  The article went on to propose that the world was entering a “little ice age.”

My intent in referencing this egregious article is not to debate “global cooling” – I mean “global warming” – I mean “climate change.” Rather, it is to highlight that journalists often have a very hopeless world view. Irrespective of the facts at hand, they often relish in proclaiming mankind’s imminent demise. Let’s face it, sex sells and so do doom and gloom.

Fortunately for mankind, entrepreneurs do not hope they can make an impact. They act. Improvements in mankind’s lot arise from entrepreneurs who ignore the headlines, hope less and act more to improve their lives as well as the well being of those around them.

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A Nice Guy Who Finished First – Words Of Wisdom From Barrie Bergman

Leo DurocherMost historians agree that professional baseball player and manager Leo Durocher never uttered the infamous words, “Nice guys finish last.” The closest documentation supporting the quote is a statement Durocher made on July 7, 1946, during his tenure as the New York Giants’ coach. Pointing to the opposing team, he said, "The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place, not in this dugout." It was the accompanying headline of the article that boiled down his thoughts to the oft-repeated phrase.

After years of denying the phantom quote, Durocher eventually embraced it, using it as the title of his 1975 autobiography. However, as he mellowed with age, Durocher attempted to rewrite his place in history by claiming that he was not implying that nice guys could not win. Rather, he argued that being “nice” and “winning” simply have no correlation.

Most historians do not subscribe to Mr. Durocher’s revisionist history. The hot-tempered, foul-mouthed, heavy-drinking ballplayer earned the nickname “The Lip” because of his caustic tongue. He is not politely pointing out a soup stain on the umpire’s tie in the above photo. Leo “The Lip” was anything but “nice.” 

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Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream. He promises to never Tweet about sunsets, kittens or awesome burritos.

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