7 Entrepreneurial Lessons From Tyler The Creator

A version of this article previously appeared Forbes.

In my capacity as a Professor of Practice at UC Santa Barbara, I was asked by the Student Association if I would consider interviewing rapper, fashion designer and entrepreneur Tyler The Creator.

I was flattered to be considered, but Tyler’s Manager, Christian Clancy, wisely thought better of it and requested a more hip and informed Professor to conduct the interview. This reprieve allowed me to attend the event as an observer, freeing me to get schooled by Tyler, right along with the students.

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5 Ways Poker Legend Annie Duke’s Brilliant Book Will Help You (And Your Startup) Make Better Decisions

A version of this article previously appeared Forbes.

When I saw World Series Poker Champion Annie Duke speak in 2017, I was inspired to write an article describing some of her recruiting techniques. Impressed with her wit and insights during her talk, I was excited to read her latest book, Thinking In Bets. I was not disappointed.

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An Unlikely Unicorn: Lynda.com’s Journey From Garage To $1.3B Sale

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

I recently interviewed Bruce Heavin, Co-Founder and Head of Innovation at Lynda.com, as part of UC Santa Barbara’s Innovator Stories series. Bruce, along with his wife Lynda, created a learning company from their garage, initially by holding in-person classes and later selling VHS tapes via mail order. Under Bruce’s innovative guidance, the company was an early adopter of the Internet, creating online videos long before platforms such as YouTube became ubiquitous.

Bruce and Lynda eventually grew their startup into a global powerhouse, offering 5,700 classes and 255,000 video tutorials to over 4 million users.

In 2015, LinkedIn purchased Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, making it a bonafide unicorn. The outcome was especially impressive, as the company was entirely self-funded for its first 17-years.

You can listen to our discussion in the background, while you work, run or play. If you’d rather download my talk with Bruce for free on iTunes, you can do so here.

Continue reading “An Unlikely Unicorn: Lynda.com’s Journey From Garage To $1.3B Sale”

SaaS Is Dead, Long Live Software

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

During the first half of the last century, numerous fortunes were made electrifying devices that were previously manual. Because electrification was new, the qualifying term “electric” was an important distinction when describing these newfangled gadgets. However, the adjective “electric” was eventually dropped when all the devices in a product category utilized the technology. Software terminology is stubbornly not following a similar evolution.

It’s high time we kill the term Software As A Service (SaaS) and call it what it is – software. Even Salesforce abandoned it’s silly “No Software” tagline, after the company had to explain in 2015 that it meant, “No legacy software, just cloud software.”

You’re not a SaaS company, you’re a software company. You’re not a SaaS investor, you’re a software investor. You’re not a SaaS entrepreneur, you’re a software entrepreneur.

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Make More, Work Less – Create A Veblen Brand

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

This Louis Vuitton / Supreme boxed logo t-shirt recently sold for $1,750. The shirt was produced by Supreme, which originally sold it for $485.

You may think that this item is an anomaly, but it is not. A Louis Vuitton / Supreme hoodie resold for $7,500. Other Supreme apparel sells in the aftermarket for hundreds more than their retail prices, including box logo hoodies which typically sell for between $500 – $1,000.

Supreme even sold a brick, emblazoned with its logo for $30. The logo brick now resells for $100 – $999, depending on condition, inclusion of packaging and the IQ of the buyer. The Supreme crowbar, which retailed at $32, is a much better deal, reselling for $80 – $399.

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Smart Audio – A Lucrative Platform… If You Figure Out How To Leverage It

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

My adult daughter recently visited us for a few weeks and she brought along a good friend… Alexa. My wife quickly adopted Alexa as a member of the family, relying on her for recipes, jokes, telling the time, predicting the weather and, of course, playing music.

When my daughter returned to her home, my wife joked that she felt guilty because she missed Alexa nearly as much as she missed our daughter.

According to a recent survey of smart audio users by NPR and Edison Research, my wife’s obsession is not outside the norm. America is smitten by smart audio / smart speakers (the terms are used interchangeably by industry analysts), making it the gift of the 2018 Holiday Season. The entire report is available HERE.

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The Best/Worst Movie Of All Time Is A Killer Guide To Startup Success (And Failure)

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Earlier this year, a decade and a half after the Citizen Kane of bad movies was released, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room returned to 600-theaters. Although a cult favorite for over a decade, The Room broke into the mainstream with the 2017 release of James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which tells the improbable true story of how Wiseau financed, wrote, directed, cast and starred in The Room.

The Room has the distinction of initially failing abysmally and subsequently succeeding on a global scale. Unlike typical ventures that either succeed or fail in a binary sense, The Room embodies lessons that are instructive to both entrepreneurial success and failure.

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8 Top Reasons People Want To Be An Entrepreneur

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Marketing automation company HubSpot performed a non-scientific survey of its users, asking them a variety of entrepreneurial questions. In Which Of These 7 Fears Are Keeping You From Being An Entrepreneur?, I reviewed the survey results related to why some would-be entrepreneurs never take the plunge.

Digging deeper into the data, I found that most of the reasons people cited for wanting to be an entrepreneur made sense, though several were sadly off base.

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OK, So Maybe Not ALL MBA Entrepreneurs Are Oxymorons

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

“As much as possible, avoid hiring MBA’s. MBA programs don’t teach people how to create companies … our position is that we hire someone in spite of an MBA, not because of one.” – Elon Musk, Founder Tesla Motors and SpaceX

MBA’s are an easy target for entrepreneurs’ scorn. As Peter Thiel, Co-founder of PayPal and Palantir once put it, MBA’s are “high extrovert/low conviction people.” A nice way of saying they can be arrogant mercenaries.

I too have taken shots at MBA’s, describing why they are not typically well suited for startup life in Why Entrepreneurs Hate (Most) MBAs.

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How Trying To Assassinate Hitler Led To The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

I recently enjoyed John Covach’s History Of Rock Coursera course. In an early lecture, he explains how the Nazis’ desire to protect Hitler from assassination led to the invention of recording technology that was ultimately used by musicians to create multi-track recordings, such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This story of technology diffusion is illustrative of the Hummingbird Effect, in which a technological innovation results in unintended, non-obvious outcomes. Entrepreneurs who study historical Hummingbird Effects are better positioned to anticipate the unintended, non-obvious consequences spawned by today’s technologies.

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