Month: December 2013

“Do you want to spend the next 3 or 4 years doing this?” – Steve Blank

This is from a video of Steve Blank addressing one of his Lean Launchpad classes at the end of the course.  The question was asked, “How do we know if we should move forward with the company?”

In characteristic professor mode, Steve answered the question with a few questions.

When you start a company, it will take a few years to get it going.  What that means is up to you.  It could be profitability, break-even, funding or acquisition.  Regardless, any venture takes time and it’s a good question to ask yourself when deciding to launch a startup.

Here is a link to the video:

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“I wouldn’t change a thing, even the epic professional disasters, …” – Seth Godin

“…because every one of them is responsible for what I get to do now, and I can’t imagine a better gig.”

I just finished Seth Godin’s book, “The Icarus Deception”.  On the surface it’s about artists and the creation of art but it’s really about taking risks and how we have been indoctrinated over our lives to fear risk and in particular the opinions of other people.

Learning and perspective come through failure and failure is not usually fatal, in any sense.  Making art is about changing the status quo, and isn’t that really what entrepreneurs are all about; changing the world?

Read “The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you’re busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.” – Marie O’Conner

Urgent things have a way of crowding into our focus.  One reason is that other people will let you do their jobs for them if you let them and thy will hold you accountable.

But another reason is we gravitate toward the activities with which we are most comfortable, leaving the tedious and unpleasant things for another day.

Have system for evaluating things that are urgent and important.  Steven Covey’s “First Things First” model is a good one. Spend focused time on those Important but not urgent activities.  Those are the one that add value.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“If you want to give a man credit, do it in writing. If you want to give him hell, do it over the phone” – Lee Iacocca

This is old school advice but it’s more relevant now than ever before.  Negative comments can be replicated now exponentially and they last forever on the web.

It’s a cowardly thing to blast somebody anonymously on social networks.  And when you decide to own it and sign your name, then a decision made in a moment of heated emotion can last a long time.

When the news is bad, or the situation dire, you need to be there, own it and be discrete.  When the news is good, tell everyone!

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“I see your deck of 47 slides with twice as many words per page and closing “Thanks For Your Time” slide… ” – Jeremy Floyd

… and I know you hate your audience.”

You have a story to tell.  But it’s not about you.  It’s about your message and it’s about your audience.

Having the opportunity to pitch your story is an honor and privilege.  It means someone or a  lot of someones chose to share with you their most precious commodity, their time.

Don’t waste it by trying to prove how smart you are, how great your product is, or the intricacies about how your magic box works.

Tell them how their world is going to be different because you found a solution to their problem. Give them a reason to care.  Do it simply and elegantly.  Do it truthfully and with passion.

And then thank them for their time….


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“To acquire good judgement, you need experience. To gain experience, you need bad judgement.” – Lee Martin

You will make bad decisions.

You may try hard not to by making sure you have all the data and have analyzed all the potential outcomes.  But you can’t control all the variables and you can’t foresee all the potential outcome.

And sometimes you just screw up.

You need some failures in order to learn better.  You need some failures to avoid arrogance and hubris.  And you some some failures, if for no other reason, to know that they can;t kill you and eat you.

Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from moving forward.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“If you build fences around people, you get sheep.” – William McKnight

If you get the wrong people on board, then you spend a lot of time, energy and money managing them.  You then create rules and bureaucracy to more efficiently manage your people.

Rules and bureaucracy create limits to effort and creativity; in other words, the boundaries get defined.  You get the minimum you expect, no less; but you also lose maximum potential.

Defined boundaries are really fences.  Sheep do well in fences.  Sheep don’t care much about making the world a better place.  Highly self motivated people cannot thrive as sheep in fences.

Motivate and inspire rather than contain and control.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The past is a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” – Jim Hall

Jim Hall was a pioneer in Jazz Guitar who checked out this week after 85 years on the planet.  He quietly influenced a couple generations of guitarists.  If there was such a thing as a Level 5 musician (Good To Great), Jim would be the prototype.  He knew how to play in the spaces so other band members could stand out and when it was his turn to be out front, it was always with great respect for the listener, the instrument and the music.

The thing about Jim was that he never rested on his past success.  He was always experimenting with what came next; constantly evolving and innovating… pivoting.

Musicians are some of the best entrepreneurs I know.  A perfect combination of the pursuit of a passion with the need to share it with the world.

Thanks for the music Jim!


Blogging Gazzelle is published daily by Shawn Carson