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Johnnie Cochran was an effective, albeit smarmy, defense lawyer who would say or do anything to defend his clients (anyone up for a glass of...

Roping in the Legal Eagles

Johnnie Cochran was an effective, albeit smarmy, defense lawyer who would say or do anything to defend his clients (anyone up for a glass of OJ?). He was a master at encouraging jurors to disregard facts and base their legal verdicts on emotions and conjecture. Yet, despite his exceptional courtroom theatrics, you would be foolhardy to hire good old Johnnie to review your software cross-licensing agreement. A startup-oriented lawyer may not be able to convince a jury of a guilty man’s innocence, but they can guide your adVenture through the menacing legal shoals it will no doubt face. Working with startup lawyers also minimizes the risk of losing control of your adVenture, as they can help you avoid common fundraising and investor pitfalls. Such attorneys can also add tremendous value in your negotiations with Big Dumb Companies (BDCs), as they can ensure that you focus on the deal points that are of most significance to a small entity. As such, a startup-oriented lawyer is a critical member of your extended adVenture team.
After patiently listening to a messenger deliver the Persian King Xerxes’s request for Sparta’s capitulation, the Spartan King Leonidas unceremoniously kicked the messenger down a...

Thrill The Messenger – How An Entrepreneur Can Put Words In Media Messengers’ Mouths

After patiently listening to a messenger deliver the Persian King Xerxes’s request for Sparta’s capitulation, the Spartan King Leonidas unceremoniously kicked the messenger down a well. Anger at receiving bad news is a natural human reaction. Sophocles, Shakespeare and the Bible all reference the killing of the bearer of bad news. When someone is critical of your adVenture, it is natural to dismiss the detractor and even demonize them to undercut the validity of their message. Fortunately for your competitors and detractors, you do not have a license to kill. However, as an entrepreneur, you do have a license to thrill. Every successful entrepreneur must eventually learn to delegate. An even more challenging skill is learning what to delegate. As noted in PR Passion, shaping your adVenture’s messaging is not something you should leave to others. Control your messaging by crafting it yourself and exciting your messengers to the point that they willingly deliver your company’s message on your behalf. Energize your messengers and encourage them to tell your story in a spirited, fervent and accurate manner.
As noted in Frugal Is As Frugal Does, it is unlikely you will be able to pay your startup employees market-rate compensation. So how can...

Peace & War Corps – Creating A Low-Pay / High-Reward Startup

As noted in Frugal Is As Frugal Does, it is unlikely you will be able to pay your startup employees market-rate compensation. So how can you recruit top talent while rationing your cash and equity ownership? The answer may lie within successful, yet cash-strapped organizations that lack the ability to grant their employees stock ownership, lucrative performance bonuses or other incentives often deployed by entrepreneurs. How are such organizations able to recruit and retain talented and motivated team members?
Marketers have long known that people are drawn to exclusivity. Some people pay small fortunes to attend exclusive, private colleges while others wait in line...

Excludesivity – Avoid Becoming Excluded From Future Revenue Opportunities

Marketers have long known that people are drawn to exclusivity. Some people pay small fortunes to attend exclusive, private colleges while others wait in line for hours for the opportunity to buy exorbitantly priced drinks in an exclusive nightclub. As noted in Kiss Of Death, exclusivity can kill a small company. Unfortunately, many Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) believe that the only way they can effectively compete is to skew the market in their favor by precluding you from freely working with anyone you choose. Exclusivity excludes the BDC from competing in the free market while excluding the startup from taking full advantage of future customer, partner and market opportunities. Such deals are not exclusive, they are excludesive.
Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out 15 St. Louis Browns batters in his first Major League game. Shortly...

The Book – How Rookies and Startups Can Maintain Their Unfair Advantage

Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out 15 St. Louis Browns batters in his first Major League game. Shortly thereafter, that same pitcher went on to strike out 17 Philadelphia Athletics batters, an unprecedented feat for anyone, let alone a youth with no professional sports experience. How could such a young, inexperienced athlete baffle so many major league veterans? The answer is simple: the Browns and the Athletics had the misfortune of facing Bob Feller before anyone wrote The Book on him.
Why do most business books suck? In many cases, the relevant content of business books could be summarized in fewer than five pages. In fact,...

The Author’s Dilemma – Why Most Business Books Suck

Why do most business books suck? In many cases, the relevant content of business books could be summarized in fewer than five pages. In fact, the introduction often covers all of the book’s main points and the remainder of the book is simply an arduous embellishment of the core concepts, replete with a mind-numbing litany of real-world examples and associated gratuitous commentary. The Author’s Dilemma is, “How do I write an insightful business book that is not redundant but is lengthy enough for the publisher to justify the $19.95 list price?”
Talent alone is usually not adequate for your adVenture to succeed. A tragic number of young athletes, musicians and scholars who master their sport, instrument...

(Non)Sense of Entitlement – Entrepreneurs Need The Whole Package To Succeed: Talent, Temperament and Tenacity

Talent alone is usually not adequate for your adVenture to succeed. A tragic number of young athletes, musicians and scholars who master their sport, instrument or area of study are unable to translate their natural gifts into a level of success commensurate with their abilities. In some cases, the relative ease with which they achieve their accomplishments is a handicap that precludes other aspects of their character and personality from developing in an appropriate and healthy manner. Sometimes, when winning comes relatively easy to such prodigies, they develop a poor work ethic, an inability to constructively deal with adversity and a glaring sense of entitlement. An entitlement mentality can lead to a feeling of irreplaceability. However, successful entrepreneurs realize that some people are indispensable but no one is irreplaceable.
Bilbo’s offer letter from Thorin in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit exemplifies the proper attitude that you must have when joining an adVenture. “Thorin and Company...

Joining An adVenture

Bilbo’s offer letter from Thorin in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit exemplifies the proper attitude that you must have when joining an adVenture. “Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo, Greetings! For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all traveling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.”
"To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces." Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the...

Competitive Sleuthing

"To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces." Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" Too many entrepreneurs stress about their competition without having enough information to make informed decisions. They need to move beyond the emotional aspects of competing and develop multiple, largely free, sources of competitive information. There is no need to hire an expensive consultant. As noted in, "Competing From the Fringe," dedicate a senior member of your team as your "Watson" (you cannot afford a Sherlock, after all). Watson's role is to diligently and consistently mine the readily available data sources noted below and periodically communicate the state of the competitive landscape to your Core Team.
According to Wikipedia, Backmasking is, “a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be...

Backmasking Forensics – Uncovering Hidden Messages in Agreements

According to Wikipedia, Backmasking is, “a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forward.” In some instances, seemingly random sounds take on questionable meaning when played backwards. In Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Robert Plant seems to say, “Oh here’s to sweet Satan. He’ll give those with him 666.” When the Beatles’ Revoultion 9 is played in reverse, there is a brief passage that sounds something like, “Turn me on dead man,” which heightened the “Paul is dead” rumors of the early 1970s. However, backmasking is often a deliberate process, in which artists send messages to their diehard fans who relish discovering and decoding the hidden communications. It is usually arduous to discover and decipher audio backmasked messages. However, the process of decoding the hidden messages in your partner agreements is much simpler. You can perform such agreement forensics by looking for the clues outlined below. One such clue proved to be worth $20 million to one of my adVentures.
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