Month: October 2014

“Can you imagine Steve Jobs showing up for a paycheck? It’s nice to get paid. It’s essential to believe.” – Seth Godin

Sooner or later you will face a crisis of belief.  It seems to happen more often these days and it shows up everywhere.  A revered leader is dismissed over hubris and egotism.  A venerable church splits over a contemporary moral issue.  A veteran teacher struggles with a new job evaluation process.  A loyal employee is laid off due to a decision made in another city over numbers on a spreadsheet and shareholder value.

Crisis reveals hidden truth.  You learn what people really believe when their credibility is at stake and it’s surprising to learn how indifferent and selfish we tend to be.

Adjust your lifestyle to accommodate mobility and flexibility.  Save money in the good times.  When it all goes to hell, then go make your own meaning.  In fact, just go make your own meaning, period.

Read Tribes by Seth Godin

BloggingGazelle is publish daily by Shawn Carson




“The best way to build cohesiveness is to suffer,…” – Guy Kawasaki

“…and you can’t suffer if your butt is sitting in a $700 Herman Mller Chair in a beautiful building.”

It takes every penny you can muster to build your company and get your product in the hands of your customer.  The money your investors gave you is meant for that; not for supporting a nice office and a lavish lifestyle.

The best work your people will ever do for you is the work they choose to donate.  You want them thinking about your mission on the weekends and in the middle of the night and here’s the thing: You can never pay enough for that.  It only comes to you when they choose to give it. If they ever feel like their efforts are supporting your hubris, then you will get less than you pay for and the best will find someone else to donate their time to.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“We’re always on the lookout for enormous boons” – Dr. Who

The GoPro action camera seems to have come out of nowhere.  But it didn’t.

Nick Woodman’s recent interview on Charlie Rose shed some light on the innovator’s process of discovery.  Mr. Woodman was on a surfing pilgrimage and wanted to capture his experiences first hand.  So he crafted a small camera and put it on a wrist band he could wear while on his surfboard.  Before long, other surfers wanted cameras and a company idea was born.  But it didn’t take off at that point.  Woodman went on to drive race cars and the same problem presented itself.  So he took his wrist camera and strapped it to the frame of the roll cage in the car.  Other drivers wanted one.

Stellar success comes from diligent hard work over time.  We tend to hear about it all at once when the media discovers a “new” idea but it usually takes years of slow but steady progress.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson



“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, US Commisioner of Patents, 1899

There are a few more patents than there were in 1899.  I’m not sure what the sentiment was that led to this comment but there is a point to be made for the innovator and the entrepreneur.

There’s a good chance that the solution to the problem you are trying to solve has been applied in some other context.  One of the more interesting examples is an athletic shoe designer who applied an idea from a suspension bridge to solve a structure to weight problem.

Shoe Bridge Design

Innovation is not necessarily about invention.  Look around you.  Look above, below and around the problem. Get a different perspective.  Ask people outside the problem. You may find someone has probably already done the work for you.

Standing on Desk


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Ideas without commitment are worthless” – Adam McCall

Adam McCall is an incredible serial entrepreneur who has been involved with startups from wilderness outfitters and wakeboard boats to alternative fuels and specialty plastic resins.  He recently offered his thoughts where this quote was shared.  It’s context was a discussion about generating ideas for a business.

There is no end to good ideas but rarely do these ideas come with a level of commitment to see them through.  Starting a company is hard work.  Some of the challenges can be foreseen but most will slap you in the back of the head at random, and sometimes all at once.  It’s just the way it is.  Entrepreneurs have the kind of thick skin that overcomes these challenges, one by one, as they come along.

This same reality goes for those who you choose to be a part of your company.  A good idea can attract a lot of well intentioned people but they need to be of the sort that are able to solve a lot of problems as they come; without regard to title, position or ego.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Economic Development is like hearding cats but some of the felines are our own creation” – Phillip Singerman

Economic Development is a bit of a stretch for entrepreneurs except that there are a lot of programs in the community that offer support for fledgling startups.  These folks get funding from grants and sponsors and the way they track progress is through measuring things like jobs created, revenue generated, investments awarded, etc.

In that world, there are a lot of stakeholders each after the same results and often in competition for resources.  In other words, COMPETITION!

The point for the entrepreneur is this:  being part of a community requires relationships of all sorts.  Many of these relationships will pull you along in directions that suit their incentives.  Here’s a good example: in order to win the cash prize for the pitch competition, you have to attend the 13 week accelerator program.  There’s nothing wrong at all with this model until you get to the point where you are going around trying to win competitions.

When the time come to go raise your funding, focus on that rather than the noise that goes on around you.

Phillip Singerman spoke at the SSTI Annual Conference in 2013


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“More than 65% of new products fail. If we switch over to startups, the failure rate takes huge leap to 90%.” – Rob Adams

Even the pros bat less than .500.  And the pros have marketing departments that conduct research and focus groups.  They can afford advertising.

Niche markets are a great strategy for startups.  They tend to have unique needs that are not being met by the big companies.  They are more accessible, generally more forgiving and usually very loyal; all things that favor the startup.

Read “If You Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“You can do and endless amount of analysis… And you still have to make a decision.” – Jim Collins

There is no amount of strategic planning that will eliminate all risk.  There is no magic spreadsheet.  Planning is meant to identify risk so you know about it.

If you wait for the perfect plan with zero risk, someone else will beat you to the market; someone who was able to take action.  You can’t do everything everyone wants you to do. You have to make a decision and then go to there.

Read Beyond Entrepreneurship by Jim Collins.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson