As part of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Jason Nazar, Co-Founder and CEO of Docstoc, recently shared ten lessons that emerging entrepreneurs can learn from superheroes. Jason’s inspiration for this 6 ½ minute talk was a blog entry he wrote in 2008, which went viral within the startup community. You can check out Jason’s original entry HERE.
Note: This is Part IV in the Startup Team Building series. Read Part I HERE, Part II HERE and Part III HERE. A Fortune 500 CEO once told me that I was a Bank Robber. Initially, I was offended. However, once he explained what he meant, I was flattered. Entrepreneurs are law-abiding Bank Robbers. They enjoy the hours spent plotting and scheming and pulling together a team of skilled specialists to accomplish the heist. The outcome might be jail time (i.e., failure and bankruptcy), or it might be a haul so big that they never have to rob another bank. It is not the actual amount of money in the vault that motivates them. Rather, a bank robber is inspired by the seemingly unlimited challenges associated with each bank job.
“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” Lewis Carroll, from Through The Looking Glass Entrepreneurs often must take counter-intuitive, contrarian positions in order to succeed. As noted in Entrepreneurship Is A Compulsion, entrepreneurs often view the world from a slightly different vantage point, rejecting the oxymoronic term Conventional Wisdom.
Article first published as Eleven Business Tips From Richard Branson on Technorati. Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. Last weekend, a friend gave me and my family a wonderful ride in his plane. Departing from Edwards AFB, we flew over the Mojave Air and Spaceport, home of the world’s largest private manufacturer of spacecraft, The Spaceship Company (TSC). TSC is building spacecraft for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space fleet. Despite the fact that the specific date of Virgin Galactic’s maiden voyage remains unscheduled, over 450 citizen astronauts have put down a deposit of at least $20,000 on the $200,000 per-person fare. In October of 2011, the company announced a $4.5 million deal with NASA to use Virgin Galactic spacecraft to conduct experiments, filling the void left by the retirement of America’s shuttle program. It is undoubtedly impressive that Richard Branson has motivated a government organization and hundreds of intelligent, affluent people to commit millions of dollars to secure a service that does not yet exist. Even more striking is that this super-salesman is a self-taught, high school dropout.
Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Words of startup wisdom from Jeff Bezos In the course of my recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, author and former Apple Evangelist, Guy describes Steve Jobs as: “…the world’s greatest CEO, ever. He did more for Apple’s shareholders, customers and employees than any other CEO has ever done for their shareholders, customers and employees. People should not try to emulate him, because they will be setting themselves up for failure. He is a great example of…building an enchanting company.” There are numerous reasons for Jobs’ success, not the least of which was his uncompromising pursuit of a delightful customer experience.
Richard White, author of The Entrepreneur’s Manual, surveyed a number of venture capitalists, asking them to identify the characteristics of successful, serial entrepreneurs. One of the attributes identified by all of the venture capitalists questioned was, “Frugal use of capital.” In fact, several of the venture capitalists pointed out that successful entrepreneurs often have to be encouraged to spend more aggressively. In my experience at Rincon Venture Partners, I have worked with a number of successful, serial entrepreneurs who instill an urgent sense of frugality into their adVenture’s corporate culture.
In August 2004, FastCompany published an article titled, Inside The Mind Of Jeff Bezos, written by Alan Deutschman. Although the article is informative, it is the accompanying sidebar that has remained with me over the succeeding years. Under the heading, “The Book On Bezos,” the callout lists ten actionable and impactful nuggets of startup advice. I review these tenets with my entrepreneurial students at UC Santa Barbara at the beginning of each quarter to reinforce many of the key topics we will cover in the following weeks. They are listed below augmented with quotes from Jeff Bezos taken from various points in his career.
Team Above Self - the Team’s objectives supersede those of the Individual The ninth tenet outlined in Core Values When I was an operational startup executive, I seldom lost my temper in the workplace. However, one of the few things that angered me at a base level was when an employee would place their personal interests above those of the company.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright, Co-founder, London School of Economics Entrepreneurs must be unreasonable in order to dismiss the status quo and create novel solutions. However, an irrational lack of reasonableness will sabotage an entrepreneur’s efforts. In the following video, I explain how emerging entrepreneurs can develop the confidence, courage and conviction necessary to know where and when it is appropriate to be unreasonable.
“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Roy Disney, American Entrepreneur I recently gave some advice to a software engineer who was trying to decide between two startups. My advice is was not earth shattering, but the engineer was appreciative nonetheless. He must have read my Thank You entry, as he later sent me an awesome selection of beer and wine as an expression of his gratitude. I have summarized my straightforward counsel below, in the hopes that it might help someone else who is in the advantageous position of selecting between multiple startup opportunities.