BloggingGazelle

The Entrepreneur's Minute Blog

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax” – Abraham Lincoln

Most cases of overnight success followed years of hard work and preparation.

Embrace lifelong learning.  Be a student of whatever you are into.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Character, Experience, Lifestyle | | Leave a comment

“Good guys don’t have zombie creatures in the basement” – Dr. Who

Somewhere, sometime, someone figured out that if you want to appear on the cutting edge of hip, high energy, innovative startup leadership, you have to be a foul mouthed jerk.  In fact, jerkism seems to be celebrated in large events and a lot of media.  Perhaps it’s because Level 5 leaders are not the kind that get invited to speak at entrepreneurial conferences.  Perhaps jerks portray the type of take-no-prisoner personality some believe it takes to successfully launch and grow a company.

I paid for a webinar once.  It was branded as a great chance to meet the founder of a super successful social media startup.  The introductions were quick and soon it became a contest between the interviewer and the founder as to who could get in the most f-bombs.

No one likes to work for a jerk.  No ones want’s to be in business with a jerk.  No one really wants to invest in a jerk.

You can be determined, focused and to the point without thumping everyone’s nose with your arrogance.  Express yourself as you see fit but realize you won’t get there by yourself.  Eventually you will have more zombies than you can hide in your basement.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 11, 2014 Posted by | Character, Leadership | | Leave a comment

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” – Billy Graham

We talk of vitamins and pain killers.  If you have an idea for a new messaging app to post your selfies, that’s great.  You should go create your tribe and lead them.

But if you could come up with a way to diagnose ebola before symptoms appear, you could change lives across the planet.

We don’t lack good ideas; there are plenty of problems to solve.  What we need is awareness of the problems and innovations to eliminate them.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Innovation, Value Creation | | Leave a comment

“When it is dark enough you can see the stars.” – Charles A. Beard

This one came from the great series, “From The Earth To The Moon.”  The series showed the glories and victories of NASA’s journey to the Moon but it also shared the failures, which were numerous.

A corollary is this, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

When you are headed down a path, you have set up all your assumptions and milestones on which you’ve built your hope.  Then you hang on.  This produces all the great stories of loyalty and perseverance.

But sometimes, it takes a total meltdown in order to see new potential.  As long as you head down a certain path, you are focused on what’s in front and not so much on what’s around you.  Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  The tasks make us feel like we’re making progress.  Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society” made his students stand on their desk to get a different perspective.

Once a week or once a month, stand on your own desk (whatever that means to you) and take a look around.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Failure, Inspiration, Persistence | | Leave a comment

“Good performance is about what you take in, not what you put out.” – Livingston Taylor

Two things are relevant to this quote:

First, customer discovery – Talking to customers about their problems is about listening, not talking.  It’s tempting to share your bright idea for a new product but as soon as you do, you change the conversation and you won’t get all the information you need.

The other thing is pitching.  If you are raising money, you will pitch at least a couple dozen times.  It’s easy to memorize the slides and give the same speech every time.  But you need to be aware of how your audience responds to each point you make.  Did they laugh at the opening joke or not?  Are you getting head nods when you describe your technology?  Do they ask questions about the business model?  If you are not getting a reaction, then you need to work on the slides or the narrative or the delivery…or all three

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Customer Discovery, Elevator Pitch, Funding Pitch, Story Telling | | Leave a comment

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung

When the time comes for you invite people on the bus, you should be very deliberate about some things that may not be obvious.  Being able to get along and collaborate are important, of course, and the time to start thinking about company culture is with the first employee.

But in the startup days, time is of the essence and it’s about getting to the market as quickly as possible.  The people you bring on need to be aligned with that goal whether they are engineers, programmers, finance or marketing people.  If they are good at what they do, grab them.  They may irritate you but you need to surround yourself with smart people who are willing to disagree with the boss.  That way, you will get the information you need to make good decisions.

Draw the line at fighting and insubordination but ask yourself this, if someone who is good at what they do takes issue with you or you find them irritating, figure out why.  You may learn something about yourself.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Character, Culture, Leadership, Team | | Leave a comment

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are plenty of problems to solve with analogs other people have devised.  Dare to solve a big problem.

Following yesterday’s tome, I believe I will coax my word count average back below 200.

That is all…

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Creativity | | Leave a comment

“Don’t chew with your mouth open. Don’t live Tweet a funeral.” – Scott Dadich

Scott Dadich is the Editor-in-Chief for Wired magazine.  His editorial in the June 2014 edition was dedicated to manners in a digital world.  It’s about time!  And it’s significant for a hip if not somewhat snarky magazine like Wired to take on the topic.  The June issue even invited the venerable spokesman on etiquette, Jerry Seinfeld to weigh in on the subject.

I grew up in the south where the culture fostered respect for our elders and those in positions of authority by addressing them as “Sir” or “Ma’am”.  Later, I was amazed to find people were offended when you responded, “yes, Ma’am” or “yes, Sir” to a question.  At it’s core, politeness is a social convention that presumes we should generally show respect for each other, especially when we are in public or perhaps meeting people for the first time.  It may involve subduing certain aspects of our personalities until we get to know the other person.  But humans tend to take easy concepts and complicate them.  We have to create rules. So manners were created as a general list of behaviors that would induce politeness.  But that created divisions based on pretentiousness.

And then the Internet happened.

Now we can convey our personalities and our opinions with lightning speed to hundreds or thousands of people.  The built in anonymity of the web only amplifies the tendency to be controversial and abusive.  As Americans, we are proud to wrap ourselves in the First Amendment, for which we are truly blessed.  But as my mom said, “just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.”  I like to think people are basically good but it is clear in some cases that if you completely remove the potential for retribution and accountability, we find what we have always known, “mean people suck”.

I don’t know how to address the issue except to talk about it.  It’s time we all grew up with respect to the power of anonymous free speech provided to us by modern technology.  BloggingGazelle will participate in the conversation.

And thanks to Scott Dadich for raising the issue!

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

November 21, 2014 Posted by | Digital Etiquette | | Leave a comment

“Technology’s only human.” – Ray Hiltz

I was reading a blog this week and there at the top of the page were the obligatory social media icon links for sharing.  I believe I counted seven options: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Buffer and there may have been more.  Social media is so diverse now we need apps like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage it all.  BloggingGazelle automatically publishes to a few social sites as well.  The pros of social media hype stories of how hotel chains have people whose job is to scan all social media for hashtags and mentions of their chain as well as competitors, for the purpose of spreading good will.  This is all good stuff!

But here’s a question – when do we reach the point where we are serving our technology?  Blogs, video clips, podcasts are all great ways to communicate with your tribe but they take time to create and more time to manage.  Perhaps this cost is tiny compared to traditional marketing costs of just a few years ago but has anyone counted the cost of the time commitment?

Just wondering…

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Social Media, Technology | Leave a comment

“Nothing looks better on a human being than self acceptance.” – Livingston Taylor

People can tell when someone is talking about their job and when they are talking about their life.  This is the challenge of acting; to convince the audience that you really are the person in the story.  Another saying is you can’t sing the blues unless you’ve felt some pain.  It all goes to authenticity.

For entrepreneurs, pitching the company is an ongoing activity.  You are always selling your company to investors, to customers, to partners, to advisors.  All these people can tell if it’s your job or your life.  Don’t be afraid to let your passion show.  It reveals authenticity which is a better story to listen to than hearing a story of someone else from a script.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Funding Pitch, Story Telling | Leave a comment

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