A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.
Before Dave Dutch was a CEO, he was a member of the US Navy Special Operations. In, Would You Risk Arrest To Reinforce Your Company’s Culture?, I recently recounted how Dave reinforced his company’s culture by not cutting his hair for over 16-months. He eventually sold that company for over $300 million.
In an email in which he thanked me for writing the company culture article, he also included an insightful vignette about George H.W. Bush and how it impacted his leadership style throughout his startup career. I was so moved by the anecdote, that I’m compelled to share it with a broader audience.
A version of this article previously appeared Forbes.
Jim Semick (left) with his Co-Founder, Greg Goodman
I have been watching ProductPlan for several years, as the founders are both friends and pillars of the Santa Barbara Startup Community. Without taking a dime of outside capital, the company has achieved impressive success in a competitive, SaaS market segment, landing companies such as Nike, Intuit, NASA, AutoDesk and PBS. What makes their story more remarkable, in the age of 20-something billionaires, is that both of the company’s founders are in their 50’s.
Curious to learn more about the pain and joys of bootstrapping a business, I sat down with Jim Semick, the company’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategist.
A version of this article first appeared in Forbes.
Steven Johnson, author of How We Got To Now, analyzes technological breakthroughs, looking for patterns that allow entrepreneurs to identify “How We’ll Get To Tomorrow.” One of the key myths that he destroys is that of the lone inventor who experiences a Eureka moment.
Make no mistake, successful entertainers are entrepreneurs. They must compete with tens of thousands of other performers who are all pursuing the same customer dollars. At the outset of their careers, they are forced to market themselves with little to no budget and differentiate their product so that they gain adequate attention without alienating too many potential customers.
It is too easy to say that an artist’s success is simply a matter of luck. Although a handful of performers achieve their goals soon after launching their careers, for most, preparation meeting opportunity is what leads to their success. In fact, many of the same precepts which lead to a startup’s success are also precursors to a performer’s stardom.
You do not have to enjoy (or even respect) the music, costumes and outlandish behavior of pop-culture divas to learn from their entrepreneurial tenacity and drive.
Although the Beatles’ phenomenal career encompasses numerous startup lessons, many of the anecdotes cited in Come Together are trivial, while others are painfully obvious. However, despite the book’s shortcomings, it contains a number of insightful lessons emerging entrepreneurs can apply to their startup careers. Continue reading “More Startup Tips From The Beatles”→
While working, I often listen to YouTube videos in the background, much like a podcast. Depending on what I am working on and the degree to which the video is compelling, my focus on the video’s content fades in and out. Occasionally a video compels me to take a break and devote all of my attention to it. This occurred while I was listening to the embedded video below.
I found this video compelling, because it provides insights into Jobs as an internal leader, rather than the externally facing, reality-distorting CEO. With that said, I realize that whenever a camera is involved, everyone’s behavior changes. Thus, if you are looking for rants, screaming tantrums or derisive putdowns, you will have to look elsewhere.
Rather than an imperious Jobs, the video shows him addressing his team’s emotional rollercoaster; from the initial euphoria, to the harsh realities of life at a startup. This process is complicated by the external reality distortion which Jobs was concurrently propagating outside of NeXT. This is an important balancing act for all startup leaders – one best learned from a master. Continue reading “At NeXT, Steve Jobs Balanced Reality Distortion With Startup Realities”→
Despite the book’s shortcomings, it contains a number of insightful lessons for budding entrepreneurs. Of the 100 business “lessons” articulated in the book, I highlight a few below that I feel are the most relevant and impactful for entrepreneurs. Continue reading “Five Startup Tips From The Beatles”→
For more than 30-years, Bill Gates has been at the pinnacle of the software industry. Like Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Larry Ellison, he is one of the few startup Founders who remained at the helm of their respective companies throughout their entire maturation process.