A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Imagine the creativity and innovation you could unlock if you operated your company like a Grateful Dead concert. It may sound crazy, but it's possible, once you create a culture in which your employees are: collaborative yet autonomous, inspired and not managed, and motivated by a collective higher purpose. The factors which led to the formation of the Dead's culture offer a number of lessons entrepreneurs can apply to their ventures. One of the primary reasons the Grateful Dead have remained popular for over 40-years is due to the culture they nurtured among their community. Yes, the band also created an entertaining catalog of classic Americana music. However, it was not solely their music upon which they established their legacy.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. During the early part of the 20th century, New York City’s Tin Pan Alley was the epicenter of American popular music. During its heyday, Tin Pan Alley musicians devised an inexpensive yet effective method to obtain free, expert advice – they played their songs to elderly doormen. If the doormen could hum or whistle the tune after hearing it once or twice, then it was deemed suitable for release. Ultimately, this simple assessment became known as the “Old Gray Whistle Test” (OGWT), a reference to the doormen's preponderance of gray hair.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Amazon's Founder, Jeff Bezos has had an incredible entrepreneurial career. He has gone from simply selling books online to offering consumers tens of thousands of products. Not satisfied with conquering the online retail world, Amazon then productized access to its infrastructure, ushering in the era of the public cloud. This innovation has eliminated billions of dollars of annual costs previously associated with creating and maintaining web-based businesses. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of Amazon's founding. During the intervening 20-years, Jeff has offered business executives numerous valuable tips, including the following:
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Bill Grundfest, Founder of the Comedy Cellar, Golden Globe winner and three time Emmy nominee, recently spoke to an audience of entrepreneurial students as part of UC Santa Barbara's Distinguished Lecture Series. Mr. Grundfest has a nose for comedic talent, discovering and the launching the career of many notable comedians, including Steven Wright, Bill Maher, Ray Romano and Jon Stewart. He was also instrumental in Richard Pryor's comeback campaign.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Balance is one of the most important aspects of skiing. A solid foundation formed by two strong legs is key, especially at a competative level. Balance is also an extremely important factor among a founding startup team. Although it is difficult, balance can be achieved on one leg. Just ask Paralympic Champion Michael Milton, who has hurled himself down mountains at 133 miles per hour on a single ski. His time compares favorably with the two-legged world speed record of 157 miles per hour. Just like starting a company as a sole founder, it is possible to excel without a partner, it's just a lot harder.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. The broad implications of the sharing economy are only beginning to be felt. The ability for people to turn their time, residences, cars and other personal assets into viable income streams is revising the traditional definition of "employment." The sharing economy is also proving to be a significant source of bootstrap startup capital. In the past, a struggling entrepreneur's options for paying the bills were limited. Part time jobs typically generated minimal income while requiring the entrepreneur be at a specific place at a specific time, thus restricting their ability to work on their venture.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. With the 4th of July around the corner, Zack Brown had potato salad on his mind. As any enterprising entrepreneur would do, he initiated a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $10. His appeal is written in a hilarious, deadpan style. For instance, he notes in the Risks section of his campaign that, "It might not be that good. It's my first potato salad." At the time I am writing this, he has enticed nearly 6,000 backers to commit over $49,500, and counting.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Steve Benson, Founder and CEO of Bay Area Badger Maps, intends to hire so many interns this summer that he will effectively double the size of his startup. According to Steve, "Startups are, by their nature, a great place for interns, because there are more essential things that must get done than there are people to complete them. At the same time, most startups are small enough that the interns are able to interface with people that actually have expertise, so they gain real-world skills while performing meaningful work."
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Dirty Franks is a dive bar located in Philadelphia, which is also home of The Wharton School. Although only a short Uber ride away, it is seldom frequented by the business students. Too bad, as they would be well served to study Dirty Franks marketing plan, which has withstood the test of time.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It has never been easier to network with really busy thought leaders who can have a huge impact on your career. Ironically, the same tools that facilitate connecting with people beyond your current network, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora and Facebook, also make it more difficult for highly networked individuals to sort through their inbound messages and determine which are meaningful and which should be ignored.