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Friday, December 26, 2014

Investors Seek Entrepreneurs With Fire in the Belly


Marty Zwilling Headshot

Investors Seek Entrepreneurs With Fire in the Belly

Posted: Updated:
I've noticed that some entrepreneurs seem to have no trouble attracting investors, while others with a great business plan struggle. The reality is that "angel investors" are humans, and personal traits often make or break the relationship, even before the investment is considered.

On the top line, angel investors look to invest in entrepreneurs that have an almost unwavering passion and sense of urgency. In the business, this is commonly called "fire in the belly." If you don't have it, you probably won't succeed, even with funding.
Of course, this fire has to come in concert with a variety of visible characteristics that indicate that you, as the entrepreneur, have the attitude and practical skills to make it happen. Here are some key ones they look for:
  1. Talks and writes well. Can concisely explain the unique, compelling value of the proposed venture in written terms and in oral presentations (elevator pitch), recognizing that some investors rely more on one than the other. Listens before answering questions.
  2. Networked and connected. Successful entrepreneurs already have a visible network of trusted suppliers, potential customers, partners and even investors. These are critical to any venture. A successful track record with previous investors is a home run.
  3. Full disclosure attitude. Clearly willing to provide details of weaknesses as well as strengths of the proposed venture, and the challenges ahead. You must be willing to welcome the participation of the angel investor in the company, at least at the advisory level.
  4. Values intellectual property. Convincingly presents a patent, trademark or other "secret sauce" that can create equity value, not just current cash flow for the owners. This has value now, and is critical for maximum value in a merger or acquisition.
  5. Not in a heated rush. Calm and self-assured, rather than desperate. Can show milestones achieved, as well as planned, which indicate rational expectations. Allows sufficient time to find capital, including due diligence time for investors.
  6. Realist. The best entrepreneurs recognize and accept things as they are, and react accordingly. They are quick to change their direction when they see that change will improve their prospects for achieving their goals.
  7. Domain experience and expertise. Investors realize that passion is no substitute for knowledge and experience, and every business is more complex than it might look on the surface. They will pay a premium for someone who has "been there and done that."
At the stage during which the angel is normally investing, the entrepreneur may be all the angel has to go by to decide whether the deal is worth pursuing. The technology or product may be at an embryonic stage. There may not be any customers to talk to in order to evaluate the market need.

The investor, in order to eventually be successful, has to spot not only winning technologies but winning people, and all investors have a slightly different view of what a winner looks like. So, of course, they try to guess the internal traits, like honesty, dedication, vision, intelligence and leadership based on external traits listed above.

If you think you want to be your own boss and run your own business, look in the mirror to see if you have the right traits to be an entrepreneur in your domain of interest. Better yet, ask a real friend, who won't just tell you what you want to hear. We can't change you, but you can change yourself, if the current pain level or the future reward is high enough.

Monday, December 22, 2014

3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying

3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying

Steve Jobs pointJustin Sullivan/GettySteve Jobs.
American businesses lose an estimated $37 billion a year due to meeting mistakesSteve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies. 
Here are three ways the iconic CEO made meetings super productive.

1. He kept meetings as small as possible.

In his book “Insanely Simple,” longtime Jobs collaborator Ken Segall detailed what it was like to work with him. 
In one story, Jobs was about to start a weekly meeting with Apple’s ad agency.
Then Jobs spotted someone new. 
“He stopped cold,” Segall writes. “His eyes locked on to the one thing in the room that didn’t look right. Pointing to Lorrie, he said, ‘Who are you?’”
Calmly, she explained that she was asked to the meeting because she was a part of related marketing projects. 
Jobs heard her, and then politely told her to get out. 
“I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks,” he said. 
He was similarly ruthless with himself. When Barack Obama asked him to join a small gathering of tech moguls, Jobs declined — the President invited too many people for his taste.

2. He made sure someone was responsible for each item on the agenda. 

In a 2011 feature investigating Apple’s culture, Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky detailed a few of the formal processes that Jobs used, which led Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.
At the core of Job’s mentality was the “accountability mindset” — meaning that processes were put in place so that everybody knew who was responsible for what.
As Lachinsky described
Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible. “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee. “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”
The process works. Gloria Lin moved from the iPod team at Apple to leading the product team at Flipboard — and she brought DRIs with her
They’re hugely helpful in a startup situation.
“In a fast-growing company with tons of activity, important things get left on the table not because people are irresponsible but just because they’re really busy,” she wrote on Quora. “When you feel like something is your baby, then you really, really care about how it’s doing.”

3. He wouldn’t let people hide behind PowerPoint.

Walter Isaacson, author of the “Steve Jobs” biography, said,Jobs hated formal presentations, but he loved freewheeling face-to-face meetings.” 
Every Wednesday afternoon, he had an agenda-less meeting with his marketing and advertising team. 
Slideshows were banned because Jobs wanted his team to debate passionately and think critically, all without leaning on technology. 
“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs told Isaacson. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

The post 3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying appeared first on Business Insider.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Obama at ASU: Commencement Speech with intro by Michael Crow

Conan O'Brien's 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Address

Stephen Colbert 2011 Commencement Speech at Northwestern University

Meryl Streep: College Commencement Address (2010 Speech to College Stude...

Ellen DeGeneres University Commencement Address (2009 Speech to College ...



Published on May 10, 2013

Ellen Lee DeGeneres (pron.: /dɨˈdʒɛnərəs/; born January 26, 1958) is an American stand-up comedian, television host and actress. She has hosted the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show since 2003.
As a film actress, she starred in Mr. Wrong, appeared in EDtv and The Love Letter, and provided the voice of Dory in the Disney-Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, for which she was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the only time a voice performance has won a Saturn Award. She was a judge on American Idol in its ninth season. DeGeneres has hosted both the Academy Awards and the Primetime Emmys.
She starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Shortly afterwards, her character Ellen Morgan also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues including the coming out process. She has won thirteen Emmys and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts.

DeGeneres launched a daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2003. Amid a crop of several celebrity-hosted talk shows surfacing at the beginning of that season, such as those of Sharon Osbourne and Rita Rudner, her show has consistently risen in the Nielsen ratings and received widespread critical praise. It was nominated for 11 Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season, winning four, including Best Talk Show. The show has won 25 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons on the air. DeGeneres is known for her dancing and singing with the audience at the beginning of the show and during commercial breaks. She often gives away free prizes and trips to her studio audience with the help of her sponsors.
DeGeneres celebrated her thirty-year class reunion by flying her graduating class to California to be guests on her show in February 2006. She presented Atlanta High School with a surprise gift of a new electronic LED marquee sign.
In May 2006, DeGeneres made a surprise appearance at the Tulane University commencement in New Orleans. Following George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton to the podium, she came out in a bathrobe and furry slippers. "They told me everyone would be wearing robes," she said. Ellen then went on to make another commencement speech at Tulane in 2009.[10]
The show broadcast for a week from Universal Studios Orlando in March 2007. Skits included DeGeneres going on the Hulk Roller Coaster Ride and the Jaws Boat Ride. In May 2007, DeGeneres was placed on bed rest due to a torn ligament in her back. She continued hosting her show from a hospital bed, tended to by a nurse, explaining "the show must go on, as they say." Guests sat in hospital beds as well. On May 1, 2009, DeGeneres celebrated her 1000th episode, featuring celebrity guests such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, and Paris Hilton, among others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_De...

Image by Tulane Public Relations derivative work: Morn (Ellen_DeGeneres-2009.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...)], via Wikimedia Commons

The.Bill.Gates.Story



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Friday, December 5, 2014

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

Jeff Haden

Influencer

Ghostwriter, Speaker, Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

December 03, 2014

While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I still fall into a few word traps. (Not to mention a few cliché traps.)
Take the words "who" and "whom." I rarely use "whom" when I should -- even when spell check suggests "whom" I think it sounds pretentious. So I use "who."
And then I sound dumb.
Just like one misspelled word can get your resume tossed onto the "nope" pile, one incorrectly used word can negatively impact your entire message. Fairly or unfairly, it happens -- so let's make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Adverse and averse
Adverse means harmful or unfavorable: "Adverse market conditions caused the IPO to be poorly subscribed." Averse refers to feelings of dislike or opposition: "I was averse to paying $18 a share for a company that generates no revenue."
But hey, feel free to have an aversion to adverse conditions.

Affect and effect
Verbs first. Affect means to influence: "Impatient investors affected our roll-out date." Effect means to accomplish something: "The board effected a sweeping policy change."
How you use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, use effect if you're making it happen, and affect if you're having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.
As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: "Once he was fired he was given 20 minutes to gather his personal effects." Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you're a psychologist you probably have little reason to use it.

Bring and take
Both have to do with objects you move or carry. The difference is in the point of reference: you bring things here and you take them there. You ask people to bring something to you, and you ask people to take something to someone or somewhere else.
"Can you bring an appetizer to John's party"? Nope.

Compliment and complement
Compliment means to say something nice. Complement means to add to, enhance, improve, complete, or bring close to perfection.
I can compliment your staff and their service, but if you have no current openings you have a full complement of staff. Or your new app may complement your website.
For which I may decide to compliment you.

Criteria and criterion
"We made the decision based on one overriding criteria," sounds fairly impressive but is also wrong.
Remember: one criterion, two or more criteria. Or just use "reason" or "factors" and you won't have to worry about getting it wrong.

Discreet and discrete
Discreet means careful, cautious, showing good judgment: "We made discreet inquiries to determine whether the founder was interested in selling her company."
Discrete means individual, separate, or distinct: "We analyzed data from a number of discrete market segments to determine overall pricing levels." And if you get confused, remember you don't use "discretion" to work through sensitive issues; you exercise discretion.

Elicit and illicit
Elicit means to draw out or coax. Think of elicit as the mildest form of extract. If one lucky survey respondent will win a trip to the Bahamas, the prize is designed to elicit responses.
Illicit means illegal or unlawful, and while I suppose you could elicit a response at gunpoint ... you probably shouldn't.

Farther and further
Farther involves a physical distance: "Florida is farther from New York than Tennessee." Further involves a figurative distance: "We can take our business plan no further."
So, as we say in the South (and that "we" has included me), "I don't trust you any farther than I can throw you," or, "I ain't gonna trust you no further."

Fewer and less
Use fewer when referring to items you can count, like "fewer hours" or "fewer dollars."
Use "less" when referring to items you can't (or haven't tried to) count, like "less time" or "less money."

Imply and infer
The speaker or writer implies, which means to suggest. The listener or reader infers, which means to deduce, whether correctly or not.
So I might imply you're going to receive a raise. And you might infer that a pay increase is imminent. (But not eminent, unless the raise will somehow be prominent and distinguished.)

Insure and ensure
This one's easy. Insure refers to insurance. Ensure means to make sure.
So if you promise an order will ship on time, ensure that it actually happens. Unless, of course, you plan to arrange for compensation if the package is damaged or lost -- then feel free to insure away.
(While there are exceptions where insure is used, the safe move is to use ensure when you will do everything possible to make sure something happens.)

Irregardless and regardless
Irregardless appears in some dictionaries because it's widely used to mean "without regard to" or "without respect to"... which is also what regardless means.
In theory the ir-, which typically means "not," joined up with regardless, which means "without regard to," makes irregardless mean "not without regard to," or more simply, "with regard to."
Which probably makes it a word that does not mean what you think it means.
So save yourself a syllable and just say regardless.

Number and amount
I goof these up all the time. Use number when you can count what you refer to: "The number of subscribers who opted out increased last month." Amount refers to a quantity of something that can't be counted: "The amount of alcohol consumed at our last company picnic was staggering."
Of course it can still be confusing: "I can't believe the number of beers I drank," is correct, but so is, "I can't believe the amount of beer I drank." The difference is you can count beers, but beer, especially if you were way too drunk to keep track, is an uncountable total and makes amount the correct usage.

Precede and proceed
Precede means to come before. Proceed means to begin or continue. Where it gets confusing is when an -ing comes into play. "The proceeding announcement was brought to you by..." sounds fine, but preceding is correct since the announcement came before.
If it helps, think precedence: anything that takes precedence is more important and therefore comes first.

Principal and principle
A principle is a fundamental: "Our culture is based on a set of shared principles." Principal means primary or of first importance: "Our startup's principal is located in NYC." (Sometimes you'll also see the plural, principals, used to refer to executives or relatively co-equals at the top of a particular food chain.)
Principal can also refer to the most important item in a particular set: "Our principal account makes up 60% of our gross revenues."
Principal can also refer to money, normally a sum that was borrowed, but can be extended to refer to the amount you owe -- hence principal and interest.
If you're referring to laws, rules, guidelines, ethics, etc., use principle. If you're referring to the CEO or the president (or an individual in charge of a high school), use principal.

Slander and libel
Don't like what people say about you? Like slander, libel refers to making a false statement that is harmful to a person's reputation.
The difference lies in how that statement is expressed. Slanderous remarks are spoken while libelous remarks are written and published (which means defamatory tweets could be considered libelous, not slanderous).
Keep in mind what makes a statement libelous or slanderous is its inaccuracy, not its harshness. No matter how nasty a tweet, as long as it's factually correct it cannot be libelous. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation; you might wish a customer hadn't said something derogatory about your business... but if what that customer said is true then you have no legal recourse.

And now for those dreaded apostrophes:

It's and its
It's is the contraction of it is. That means it's doesn't own anything. If your dog is neutered (the way we make a dog, however much against his or her will, gender neutral), you don't say, "It's collar is blue." You say, "Its collar is blue."
Here's an easy test to apply. Whenever you use an apostrophe, un-contract the word to see how it sounds. Turn it's into it is: "It's sunny," becomes, "It is sunny."
Sounds good to me.

They're and their
Same with these: They're is the contraction for they are. Again, the apostrophe doesn't own anything. We're going to their house, and I sure hope they're home.

Who's and whose
"Whose password hasn't been changed in six months?" is correct. Use the non-contracted version of who's, like, "Who is (the non-contracted version of who's) password hasn't been changed in six months?" and you sound a little silly.

You're and your
One more. You're is the contraction of you are. Your means you own it; the apostrophe in you're doesn't own anything.
For a long time a local nonprofit displayed a huge sign that said, "You're Community Place."
Hmm. "You Are Community Place"? No, probably not.

Now it's your turn: any words you'd like to add to the list?