Tag: Mark Twain

“Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.” – Mark Twain

God’s ultimate creation was given a great gift; the ability to choose.  Consequently, the ultimate creation is burdened with imperfection.  Our journey on the planet is in part to learn how to get past imperfection.

Companies are plagued with imperfection.  In fact, the successful startups and  large corporations I’ve been honored to work with have all managed to succeed despite some profound stupidity and bizarre decision making.

Your company will never be perfect.  You will make dumb decisions.  Your ego will be bruised.  You’ll hire deadbeats and you will have doubts.  Your competitors will lie about you and you may get sued.

Guess what? Every CEO has these same problems.

That’s why it’s important revisit your Core Ideology regularly and stay focused on delighting and solving problems for your customers.  Your Core Ideology is where your Core Values and your Purpose come together to define the enduring character of the company.  These are the things that do not change over time.

Write down your core ideology and keep it handy.  Post it in plain view.  Share it on your website.  It’s what brings you back when you lose the path.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” – Mark Twain

When you tell your story, you are selling your vision of the world as it will be when it has your product or service.  To be inspirational, the story has to present a world of delightful fantasy, while rooted in the realm of the believable.

The facts of the present must be faced honestly.  When you describe customer pain, people have to relate from personal experience.  Your market segments must reflect the true opportunity.  The competitive landscape has to be accurate without appearing hostile.  Failure to be authentic in these things will scrap your chances to sell your vision and your story loses credibility.

But if you do that well, the audience will allow you some freedom to show how things will be better once your product is available.  Your growth projections can be aggressive as long as the story is credible.  Your passion will sell your value proposition and people will want to be a part of the journey.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

If you truly have something new and different, it will cause reactions.  Those that have been waiting for your solution to their problem will sing your praises but those who stand to lose something won’t go away quietly. They will fight you because you are taking something from them; their customers, their profits, their reputation.

Expect both extremes.  In fact, if the reaction is a deafening silence, it’s really bad.  It means no one cares enough to praise or vilify your new product.

On the other hand, when you’ve won over everyone, it’s time to think about what’s next.  The copy cats will find you and you will end up competing on price.  Within two years of its introduction, the iPod took over 90 plus percent of the market share for MP3 players after a long run by Sony’s Walkman brand.  Three years after that, the iPhone showed up and nobody talks about the iPod anymore (much less the Walkman).  I believe this was not a surprise to Apple, nor was it an accident.  Shame… I really like my iPod.

When you reach the top, enjoy the accomplishment and celebrate the moment.  But remember, it’s just a moment.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

I wonder how many actually find out why…

Regardless the motivation; be it philanthropy or greed, religious inspiration or just plain good ‘ole capitalism, it’s the entrepreneurial spirt that turns ideas into the reality of availability to others.  It’s about solving problems for other people.

When you find out why you were born, then go find a way to make it happen.  Go make meaning!



BloggingGazell is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” – Mark Twain

Strategic planning, Customer Value, Business Models, Value Propositions.  These are all worthwhile pursuits in your venture.  They are the right things to do.

Focus is absolutely necessary.

But once in a while, look up.  See what’s around you.  That goop in the beaker may just be nylon.  That failure in making a strong glue may just be sticky notes.  People just may be willing to pay millions for their link to show up on your search engine.

“I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

I enjoyed my MBA experience immensely.  On reflection of that experience two thoughts emerge.  The first… I’m glad I came in with many years experience in the ‘real world”.  I was able to draw from that knowledge and think critically about what I was being taught.  Second, the theories from the great thinkers tell you what but not how.  That’s up to you.  And the theories don’t always work they way they were portrayed in the book or lecture.  The biggest take away was that I learned new frameworks to guide my thinking. But it’s the thinking that reveals truth in business situations.

School may open doors and expose you to new ideas but school won’t make you successful.  You still have to do that for yourself.

“Now then, that is the tale. Some of it is true.” – Mark Twain

This sentence is how Mark Twain chose to close his autobiography.  Twain was the consummate story teller and even his autobiography was dictated to a stenographer in order to maintain a conversational feel to the work.

CEO’s do wear a lot of hats but perhaps one of the most important things a CEO must do is communicate.  For the startup, that means telling your story over and over;  to customers, prospective staff, partners, and of course, investors.

Great story tellers get to be great because they tell a lot of stories.  As Twain’s quote seems to imply, the stories get better over time as the teller practices, getting feedback from the audience and refining the message so it resonates with the listener.

Guy Kawasaki says you need to practice your pitch 25 times before it’s ready to unleash in the world.  By that time, you have it memorized and your mind can begin to focus on the delivery of the message rather than the words of the message.  Only then can people really see the passion of your ideas.

Start pitching as early and often as you can.  Look for angels groups, tech councils, inventors clubs Rotary Groups.  Every club struggles to fill their programs.

If it’s been a few weeks, go find an opportunity.  Keep it fresh.  Make sure that some of it is true.

“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” – Mark Twain

Guy Kawasaki says in “Art Of The Start” that you have to practice your funding pitch 25 times before you are ready to pitch.  Here’s the point: until your can internalize your message so that it comes out like a good story, you are not ready.  If you don’t know what’s on the next slide, you’re not ready.  If you can’t tell the story without the slides, you’re not ready.

If you want someone to give you a million dollars, your story should be worthy of it.  Practice!