Month: September 2014

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do…” – Bill Bryson

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but—and here is the absolutely salient point—once would be enough.” ― A Walk in the Woods

There are always good reasons not to go for a walk in the woods.  Bears may be the least of them.  Still, there’s only one way to see a sunset from remote mountaintop.   Adventurers know the risks and take the appropriate measures to hike safely.

There are always good reasons not to follow through with your startup idea.  There are bears in these woods too True entrepreneurs know the risks and take appropriate measures to realize their dream.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

You culture is important which means your people are important.  A good leader spends a lot of time communicating vision and strategy.  Alignment with the vision is important.  One person in a small company can hijack the vision, strategy and the culture.

Jim Collins says get the right people on the bus before you decide where the bus is going.  This means getting the wrong people off the bus, as soon as possible.

Skill vs. cultural fit.  It’s hard to put one over the other.  Both are vital. Perhaps they are equal.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson

Entrepreneurs need advisors.  In the world of accelerator programs, we call them mentors.

You don’t know everything and you need critical feedback.  Find people who are good at things you are not, like finance or sales; whatever it is.

Find people who will tell you the truth; people who will help you confront the brutal facts.

Find people who know other people.  You may need an engineer or programmer or venture capitalist.

Meet with them regularly and share your progress.  Listen carefully.  Buy their lunch.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

Listen to your customers.  They will tell you what they like and don’t like.  Sometimes you will be tempted to tell them they are wrong.  They may very well be but listen to them anyway.  You will most certainly learn something.  If it’s a bad comment, you may have a new hypothesis to test with other customers and you may find an opportunity for a new feature or product.

The best customers are those who care enough to interact with the product and the company that makes it.  Listening to them either dote or rant provides that opportunity.

By the way, don’t listen to the media critics.  They say they represent the customers but they really want to see you fail.  Stick with the customers.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you….” – William Bernbach

The quote goes on, almost like a poem really:

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you,

and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying,

and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you,

and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting,

and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”


Whatever you do, learn to tell a good story.  The truth depends on it!


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“There’s no culture if there’s no money” – Shawn Carson

I love talking about company culture.  It’s important and deserves its due attention.  Culture tends to happen on it’s own because companies are made of people who have personalities, which they tend to bring to work with them.  But it is worth the effort to define culture so that the people with the personalities have a chance to decide if they want to fit in; (blue jeans vs. suits and all that…)

Here’s the thing about culture in a startup:  if there is no revenue or profit, you have a club, not a company.  Whether you have 2 employees or 2,000, everyone should be aligned with the idea that generating revenue and making a profit is society’s way of giving your company permission to suck in air.  Everyone should know specifically how their part fits into that equation.

Tee shirts, free pizza and ping pong tables are great so long as it helps generate a profit.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Why do we value leadership, connection and grace? Because it’s scarce, and that scacity creates value.” – Seth Godin

True leadership is proven during crisis.  That’s the time when blame is assigned.  That’s the time when the faint of heart bail out.  And that’s time supporters decide what’s in their interest rather than the interest of the organization.

This is why leadership is scarce even if the requisite skills are there.  Few want to deal with the risk and the disappointment.

Our thirst for blame and our fear of risk lead us to sack the one responsible in the short term rather than doing the hard work.  Grace is an unknown virtue in the real time updates of our modern social construct.  The hard work is figuring out the complexity of the problem and discovering a better path.  It’s the failure that brings the learning.

A good leader that gets sacked can always take the learning to the next opportunity.  Those that remain are left to repeat history because the learning was rejected in favor of ego.

Read Grace by Seth Godin


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson