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In the Western movie The Magnificent Seven, the protagonists are escorted out of the town they were hired to defend, unarmed and under gunpoint. Once...

Humble Pride –Steadfast Resolve Is Vital To A Startup’s Success

In the Western movie The Magnificent Seven, the protagonists are escorted out of the town they were hired to defend, unarmed and under gunpoint. Once they are a few miles out of town, their gun belts are tossed on the ground and the banditos who defeated them ride away. The group’s leader, Chris, played by Yul Brynner, surveys his defeated men, trying to assess his team’s morale. With no preamble, James Coburn’s character, Honest Britt, jumps from his horse and straps on his gun belt while saying, “Nobody throws me my own guns and says, ‘Run.’ Nobody.” Honest makes it clear that he is going back to town, with or without the rest of the group. Several of the other riders dismount and silently strap on their gun belts as well, indicating their intention to join Honest. However, Harry, the Magnificent Seven gunslinger with the most overtly mercenary intentions, derides the group for their willingness to ride to their deaths. He attempts to enlist the support of his friend, Lee, by trying to convince him to abandon the team’s objective. Harry (angrily): “You’re crazy, all of you.” Chris (calmly): “Ride on Harry, it’s alright.” Harry: “Come on Lee.” Chris to Lee: “You don’t owe anything to anybody.” Lee (after a long pause): “Except to myself.” Harry then rides off alone. The remaining riders turn their mounts toward town, despite the risks they face.
One evening, early in 1972, a young itinerant truck driver living in a small Pennsylvania farmhouse was told by his wife that she was pregnant....

Pressure – The Mother Of An Entrepreneur’s Motivation

One evening, early in 1972, a young itinerant truck driver living in a small Pennsylvania farmhouse was told by his wife that she was pregnant. That evening, in a fit of desperation, he wrote one of the best selling songs of the 1970s. By the end of the week, he had written several new songs, which were included on the two Top Ten albums he released the following year. Pressure is good. Every system needs it to properly perform; airplanes, bloodstreams and the earth’s atmosphere. Just as it spurred the young musician, it is also a vital ingredient in a startup’s success.
Frederick Schiller Faust is a nobody. His face evokes no recognition; his name conjures no associations, nor do eighteen of his nineteen pseudonyms. However, one...

Max Brand – Entrepreneurs’ Branding Maxims

Frederick Schiller Faust is a nobody. His face evokes no recognition; his name conjures no associations, nor do eighteen of his nineteen pseudonyms. However, one of his aliases elicits widespread recognition. Nearly 65 years after Frederick’s death on the front lines during World War II, his celebrated penname remains an enduring brand that invokes a spirit of adventure and escape. Frederick and his publishers fostered his renowned nom de plume into a vibrant and meaningful brand. Many of the maxims utilized to create that lasting brand can be applied to your startup.
Standing on the courthouse steps, moments after receiving his permanent residency Green Card, John Lennon was asked if he harbored a grudge against the Nixon...

Time Wounds All Heels – The Importance Of Honesty To Successful Serial Entrepreneurs

Standing on the courthouse steps, moments after receiving his permanent residency Green Card, John Lennon was asked if he harbored a grudge against the Nixon Administration for tapping his phone, putting him under surveillance and mounting a multi-year attempt to deport him. Without missing a beat, John smiled and said, “Time wounds all heels.” Given the manner in which history has depicted Nixon and his Administration, truer words were never spoken.
You have been planning to ask your long-time girlfriend to marry you for months and the big day has finally arrived. In order to reduce...

PR Passion – Why Startups Should Never Outsource Public Relations

You have been planning to ask your long-time girlfriend to marry you for months and the big day has finally arrived. In order to reduce your risk of failure, you ask your roommate, who has proposed to several women previously, to pop the question on your behalf. Sound crazy? This is the approach many startups take when they communicate their story to the market. Rather than directly explaining their value proposition with all the passion and heartfelt stridency that only an entrepreneur can deliver, they outsource this communication to a Public Relations (PR) firm. PR agencies are expensive versions of Cyrano de Bergerac. Their best attempts to woo the media will never equal your ability to sing your own praises. Startup PR does not stand for “Public Relations.” Rather, it translates into “Passionate Relationships” and passion cannot be outsourced.
No doubt about it, most Hollywood screenwriters disdain entrepreneurs. The negative depiction of entrepreneurs arguably reached its nadir in the film Wall Street. In one...

Corporate Creed – Values, Desires, Purpose and Talents Are the Basis of a Startup’s Corporate Culture

No doubt about it, most Hollywood screenwriters disdain entrepreneurs. The negative depiction of entrepreneurs arguably reached its nadir in the film Wall Street. In one scene, Michael Douglas’s character proclaims, “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” He goes on to rationalize why it is OK to screw everyone on your way to the top. The Hollywood screenwriters were close. The words they should have put in Michael Douglas’s mouth are, “Creed is good. Creed is right. Creed works.” The best antidote to greed is a strong Corporate Creed. Your adVenture’s Corporate Creed should be established early and be well understood by all of your employees, as it is the foundation of your corporate culture and ultimately your success.
"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...

Conventional Wisdom Isn’t –Why Going Against The Grain Is Often To An Entrepreneur’s Advantage

"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 Entrepreneurs often must take counter-intuitive, contrarian positions in order to succeed. One of the first steps required to move out of The Herd is to see the world from a slightly different vantage point. This often requires rejecting what is conveniently termed: "Conventional Wisdom."
Investors are way overrated. Who needs them?As a proud dropout from the Founderitis Ten-Step Recovery Program, you realize that you are far better off without...

How To Give A Horrendous Investor Pitch

Investors are way overrated. Who needs them?As a proud dropout from the Founderitis Ten-Step Recovery Program, you realize that you are far better off without investors meddling in your business. However, other members of your Core Team are pressuring you to seek outside funding. No problem. If you follow the tips outlined in this entry, you will be guaranteed to suffer absolutely no dilution, as there is zero chance that any reasonable investor will be compelled to purchase any of your equity. With a bit of effort, your pitch will cause the audience to walk away with no empathy for you, a vague, disinterested understanding of your adVenture's value proposition and absolutely no desire to fork over their dough into your sweaty hands. Bootstrapping may limit your adVenture's ultimate chance of success, but at least you will never have to deal with pesky institutional investors. Pop Quiz: What are the top five phobias?
The joys of competition. Let's face it. Life would be pretty boring without the Darwinian struggle for survival. Without external forces pushing organisms to adapt...

Competing From the Fringe

The joys of competition. Let's face it. Life would be pretty boring without the Darwinian struggle for survival. Without external forces pushing organisms to adapt in order to ensure their continued survival, you would be swimming in a primordial goop, along with the other single-cell creatures, rather than reading this enlightening article.
On April 14th, 1865, while hanging around Ford's Theatre reading his mail, Booth learned that Lincoln would be attending that evening's performance of Our American...

Ready, Fire, Aim – Entrepreneurs Must Plan To Build Upon Their Initial Success

On April 14th, 1865, while hanging around Ford's Theatre reading his mail, Booth learned that Lincoln would be attending that evening's performance of Our American Cousin. At that moment, Booth decided to carry out his assignation plot.Once the exhilaration of successfully executing the initial phase of his plan passed, Booth quickly realized that his script had no Second Act. Much like an entrepreneur who orchestrates a successful product launch or pivotal partnership which subsequently fails due to poor execution, Booth had not planned how he would capitalize on his initial success.
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