Month: October 2013

“Lifestyle business live off the community they serve. Startups build the communities they live in.” – John Morris

The difference between Ray Kroc and the original McDonald’s brothers is that Ray saw a way to grow and scale the business.  In that way he created a company that now employs nearly 2 million people worldwide.

If you are creating value, see if there’s a way to multiply it.


“Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

To me this quote is about reluctance to change and looking back to the past.

The one competitor everyone has the is customer’s decision to do nothing.  If I am actively managing a problem of some kind, it means I have researched potential solutions, chosen one and I invested time and energy into implementing that solution.  That means the next solution has to outweigh the time and effort I put into my current solution; plus the time and energy to learn something new.  Hence my decision to do nothing.

This is why you need to talk to me, find out how I am currently solving the problem, and understand what would entice me to try something new.

“Attack The Problem, Not The Competition” – Dharmesh Shah

A market with no clear market leader is a free for all for a lot of competition.  It’s also a sign that no one has figured out the key value proposition.

Competition tends to lead to a comparison of features and it’s an easy stretch to begin attacking the competition for their weaknesses.

This is an arrogant behavior because it takes focus away from the most important constituent, which is the customer. Attacking competitors takes time, effort and energy.  Worse yet, it is a sign of fear.

The winner in the market will be the one who solves the customer’s problem.

“The key to a successful entrepreneur is the ability to listen and there’s no app for that” – Don Weiss

The internet makes it possible for the entrepreneur do run the business with a lot less people and a lot less money than it used to.

Unfortunately, modern technology has a side effect and that is that we have become even more isolated from direct personal contact.

Understanding your customer’s needs can’t be done by surveys, and social media.  It takes more than 140 characters to really understand another human being and build a relationship.

Your customers, potential key employees, investors and partners expect more in the relationship than Facebook likes and and blog posts.

Until we tackle telepathy, there’s only one way.

This quote came from a report on NPR:


“The best interviews are when the other party does most of the talking.” – Shawn Carson

When validating your value proposition with customers, its tempting to talk all about your product and what it will do and how great it will be.

When meeting people at a social mixer, it’s tempting to talk about your accomplishment and your new startup and how it’s going.

When giving a presentation, especially when you have the chance to receive feedback, it’s tempting to defend your ideas or try to better explain what you tried (and failed) to say.

Here’s the thing…

You are just like the rest of us on the planet.  You like to hear yourself talk.  But when you realize all the valuable information you can get by simply shutting up and letting the other person tell you things, all of the sudden your world will open up in ways you never imagined. The other person wants to talk as much as you do.  But they are giving you something you can’t get from your perspective;  their perspective.

The customer will tell you want’s important them.  You don’t have to…

The other person will tell you what they do for a living and how they might be able to help you, if you simply show interest in them and regard their business card with respect.

That “encourager” who hears your pitch for the first time, will tell you directly if you didn’t make something clear.  You’ve heard your pitch before and they haven’t.  First impressions ARE important.  If they didn’t get it, that’s your fault.

Shhhhhhh….  Listen…..



“I’d rather be ashes than dust.” – Jack London

Ashes result from entropy – the transfer of energy from one form to another.  It is the result of activity.  The consumption of resources and fuel.

Dust accumulates from inactivity.  It is attracted to things that sit still… for a long time.

Steve Blank says that startups fail because of bad business models.  This is true.  But there is another reason.

A lot of great ideas sit on a shelf and die of inactivity.  They accumulate dust.

Failure should be process of learning.  If you’re going to fail, let it be because you tried everything possible and determined there is no market for your idea.  Then pivot.