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.

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Eleven Startup Tips From Mark Cuban

Article first published as Eleven Startup Tips From Mark Cuban on Technorati.

Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

Mark CubanMark Cuban is a lifelong serial entrepreneur, launching his startup career with a variety of teenage schemes, including buying and selling collectable stamps to pay for college.

In 1983 he founded MicroSolutions, a personal computer software reseller and system integrator, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. He steadily grew MicroSolutions over the next seven years and eventually sold it to CompuServe in 1990. Continue reading “Eleven Startup Tips From Mark Cuban”

Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part II)

Note: This is part II of a five part series. Access the first installment HERE, part III HERE, part IV HERE, and part V HERE.

In part I of this series, I discussed how you can teach your children to make something from nothing by sharing with them Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup. There are a number of other children’s books that also serve as good platforms from which you can impart entrepreneurial values and lessons.

Sam I AmOne such book comes from a surprising source, the notoriously left-leaning Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. He inadvertently drafted the salesman’s manifesto in the form of Green Eggs and Ham, utilizing 50-different words, 48-of which are one syllable. Not only will your children understand it, it is even accessible by the average salesperson.
Continue reading “Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part II)”

Interview: Clark Benson, Founder & CEO of

Value Prop Twitter Style: “Ranker is a social site/platform for ranking anything, powered by semantic technology that aggregates opinions into ‘wisdom of crowds’ rankings”

Clark Benson is the Founder and CEO of Prior to Ranker, Clark founded four other successful companies, including eCrush, which he sold to the Hearst Corporation in 2007.

Ranker helps Internet users find the most appropriate answers to questions that benefit from the wisdom of crowds. It does this by providing simple tools which facilitate crowed sourced lists. Such lists are constantly evaluated and refined by the millions of users who visit each month, resulting in a repository of objective, unbiased consumer rankings.

Ranker Quote

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Startup 360-Performance Review Result – Improved Time Management

Note: This is part II of a two part series. Click HERE for part I.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” George S. Patton, US Army General

PattonPart I of this series describes the 360-review that I conducted at a growing, dynamic SaaS business which has recently graduated from the startup stage and entered the early-growth phase. One of the most compelling conclusions I drew from the reviews is that both Founders need to delegate more of their day-to-day tasks.

The Founders are in the midst of a classic shift from a bottle-washer mentality in which they oversee every initiative, to one in which they only focus their efforts on tasks that have the biggest impact, while delegating urgent but less important duties.

Fortunately, the Founders are comfortable delegating tasks to their highly talented Core Team. The challenge was to identify which tasks to retain and which were best suited for delegation.

Following the 360-review, we devised an effective way to help the Founders expand their strategic effectiveness while ensuring that all of their prior responsibilities are appropriately fulfilled.

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How To Maximize Your Value At A Startup: Your Greatest Ability Is Often Your Availability

Dagoberto CampanerisOn September 8, 1965, baseball player Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco became the first major leaguer to play all nine positions in a nine-inning game. Technically, he filled ten roles, as he pitched left handed when facing right-handed batters and right handed with lefties at the plate.

Despite his status as an all-star shortstop, Bert proved himself to be a selfless utility player. Over his career, he played all three outfield positions, as well as second and third base. His willingness to add value wherever his coach needed him most, not only helped his teams win three consecutive World Championships, but it also allowed Bert to extend his career by making himself Indispensible.

Entrepreneurs should likewise endeavor to maximize their utility by playing as many positions on their startup team as they can effectively master.

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Create An Industry Alliance: Entrepreneurs Need Friends On The Startup Playground

In early December of 1818, Jose de la Guerra devised a brilliant plan to thwart the French pirate Hippolyte de Bouchard who was lurking off the coast of Santa Barbara, contemplating an attack. Even though the Santa Barbara garrison was outmanned nearly six to one, Commandant de la Guerra tricked de Bouchard into believing that his force was formidable by repeatedly marching his small cavalry over a ridge that could be readily seen from the pirate’s ship.

Each time the men crossed the hill and descended out of view, they changed clothing, mounted different horses and then paraded again before the pirates. This ruse caused the pirates to assume that each corps of horsemen was a different contingent of soldiers streaming into the Presidio. Believing he was outnumbered, Hippolyte aborted his plan to sack Santa Barbara and proceeded south where he subsequently pillaged San Juan Capistrano.

Entrepreneurs can emulate de la Guerra’s strategy and make their adVenture appear far larger than reality and thus increasing its influence and market reach while discouraging competitive threats by creating an industry alliance.

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Conforming To Your Customers’ Realities: Your Stakeholders’ Perceptions Matter

Gary KilldallThe man at left built the first personal computer. He also spearheaded a number of fundamental software breakthroughs, including creating the basic hardware / software architecture which resulted in the creation of the third-party personal computer (PC) software industry.

If this gentleman was such a pivotal player in the early days of the PC revolution, why is he essentially unknown to most entrepreneurs under forty years old?

The short answer is that he failed to conform to his Stakeholders’ realities. Few mistakes would have such wide-ranging implications in the business world over the next two decades.

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Fast Followers I: Beat The Market Leaders At Their Own Game

Note: This is Part I in a three-part series on Fast Followers. Click here for Part II and Part III

Lou Pearlman, owner of Trans Continental Airlines, watched five teenagers crowd into one of his private planes. He asked himself, “How the hell can these kids afford to charter a private plane?” The answer surprised him.

The “kids” were the pop singing group “New Kids on the Block” (New Kids or NKOTB), which at the time was one of the most successful musical acts in the world.

Pearlman was unimpressed with the group, but his chance meeting with them sparked an entrepreneurial adVenture. He wondered, “How hard can it be? Get some cute kids who can sing, teach them to dance and unleash them on the public.”

With no experience in the music industry, no musical talent and no fear, he developed musical groups and solo artists that collectively sold over 160 million records, twice as many as NKOTB. Pearlman’s most successful artists include The Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, Aaron Carter and Jordan Knight.

Whether or not you like or even respect the music created by Pearlman’s performers, the manner in which he conquered the music industry offers relevant lessons for any entrepreneur attempting a fast-follower market-entry strategy.

Continue reading “Fast Followers I: Beat The Market Leaders At Their Own Game”

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