Monthly Archives: February 2007

Why I Love Entrepreneurs

This is National Entrepreneurship Week. an artifical construct created to recognize all entrepreneurs. To me, this week will be like remembering someone you love on Valentine’s Day–you should remember them all year long.

I spend all my days with entrepreneurs. I love them. To a person, they are intelligent, interesting, talented, and fun. But more important, they are dreamers. They actually think they can get something accomplished, and in doing so, change the world.

Some of them believe they can change the world in a pretty big way, like Michelle Hanna, whose company (Ribomed) develops detection technology for anthrax or cancer. Some of them, like Mona Lou Callery, think they can help women domestic violence victims resume normal lives (SEEDs). And some of them just want to make your life a little easier by giving you a better website or a way to make your online information more secure.

Very few of them want to “make money” as a major goal, although all of them hope their ventures will be successful and they will be able to (at least) support themselves. None of them think life will be easier because they are entrepreneurs. They all expect to put in the time.

In my experience, entrepreneurs don’t “retire.” Because their work is their passion, they often sell one company and go on to build another. Or they go on to mentor younger entrepreneurs. Or like my good friend and mentor Ed Robson (Robson Communities), they continue to go to the office every day long after the economic need to do so has vanished, because they love what they do.

Entrepreneurship defines people in a way that corporate “jobs” never do. Along with all the problems of not making payroll, having to fire friends, being embezzled by your controller, having the landlord raise the rent beyond what you can afford, and watching outsourcing alter your market forever, entrepreneurship seems to give its proponents a sense of commitment, a sense of self-worth, and a sense of responsibility.

America was built on entrepreneurship, just as it was built on immigration. The Pilgrims and the Puritans didn’t find corporate jobs when they entered Plymouth Harbor. Instead, they knew they would have to create their own jobs, their own means of survival. To them, this would be both possible and preferable to religious persecution.

So they weren’t in it for the money. They were in it for the freedom. And by the way, all the entrepreneurs I know are in it for the freedom even today.

I have never been a good employee. At times in my life (once between college and grad school, again for a short stint at Intel, and for a year at an environmental technology company started by an entrepreneur friend of mine), I have been employed, but none of my employers would want me back, I’m sure.

Why was that? Because I am always in it for the freedom, too. I’m a born entrepreneur, even though I didn’t realize it until I went to Intel. I will always thank Intel for giving me this epiphany.

In the 21st century, more people will be entrepreneurs. And more people will be forced to become entrepreneurs almost against their wills. here’s why: there won’t be enough “good” jobs.

The era in which most of us grew up, 20th century America, was not the norm for the work environment. The high paying corporate jobs of the mid-20th century are but a blip on the historical screen if you look at the history of mankind. In most centuries, those who worked for others were either outright slaves, or, as in the novels of Dickens, low-paid workers who spent long hours bent over something or other making someone else rich.

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Entrepreneurship USA

This is the beginning of Entrepreneurship USA, a weeklong national partnership of over 700 organizations to turn the spotlight on entrepreneurship. At the other end of this week will be our conference on Social Media in Marketing for entrepreneurs.

But I’m really interested today in the whole subject of entrepreneurship, and why it’s important. Once again: America wasn’t made by large corporations. And neither will Iraq be, no matter how it comes out. Iraq, if it survives, will be rebuilt by its entrepreneurs, whether secular or religious. Every country succeeds in proportion to the opportunities for entrepreneurship.

That’s why I participate in all these activities and spend my time imparting knowledge about how to start and grow businesses. It’s not really because entrepreneurship is glamorous and makes you rich; very few entrepreneurs get rich. Rather, it’s because entrepreneurship, throughout history and throughout the world, has been the recipe for survival and sustainability.

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L. Pup and C. Woofka

On the right, Luckily Puppily, my New Year’s Eve rescue dog. On the left, Chauncey Woofka, my “service dog.” L. Puppily turns out to be the alpha dog, though younger. Ghetto!

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Why Companies Fail

Will Price’s VC blog has a wonderful post on how sometimes even a great team executing well can fail because the market doesn’t care about its product. One of the comments asks the question “how can you tell the difference between the first mover advantage of a disruptive technology and a market that doesn’t care?”

That is a very fine line. I think the answer is that the market does care if the first mover really hits a pain or a pleasure nerve. Look at the iPOD. Look at YouTube. We really didn’t know we needed those, but they sure became viral in a hurry. They hit a pleasure nerve.

On balance, if you have to educate the market too much, it’s best left to a large company with deep pockets to do so. If the pain is obviously cured by your solution, you won’t have to educate the market at all. Quicken didn’t. TurboTax didn’t. Each of them hit a pain nerve. TurboTax especially, because it keeps your old information for you, tells you the new tax rules, and helps you avoid an audit. There’s a market for that 🙂

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Join me on March 1

Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation blog has a post about her appearance at our Revolution in Marketing Conference on March 1. What a lineup we’re going to have! There are plenty of social media types in Arizona, as I always knew.

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I’ve Turned my Blog into a Widget

Get this widget from Widgetbox

I’ve made my blog into a widget, so why don’t you try it? I don’t know how it works either! It’s a grand experiment. I’ve never experimented with creating widgets before, just with using them.

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A primer on vlogging

I learned from Beth’s Blog, via Robert’s link blog, that the New Media Lab at MIT has an entire curriculum for how to teach social media skills in school. Look at the great tutorial on vlogging. I have been following the New Media Lab for many years, and I think this kind of curriculum is what we need in our schools.


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Social Media 101

I’ve written about social media so often that I’m sure some of you are sick of reading about it. And yet, I went to a dinner party last night where a very intelligent man (who has a teenage son that spends all day on the computer) asked me what a blog was. I often forget what a fortunate person I am to have gotten interested in technology and its advances. I may not know much, but I know enough to be useful to my friends and dangerous to the social media community.

So here it is, Social Media 101.

Whatever you do for a living, you need to know about this. It will influence the marketing, the customer service, and the human capital aspects of your business, and it probably also already influences your personal life — although you don’t know it. For a more thorough understanding of the business case for social media, come to the “Revolution in Marketing” conference on March 1st and listen to a couple of hours of expert testimony on how social media is used in business (yes, you Arizona real estate types, even your business).

The defining characteristic of social media is that it is user-driven. This means YOU can create it, share it, and interact with it. A few notable examples:

1) Photosharing. This is probably the most common use of social media. You go on a trip, and you post your photos on Flickr, or Shutterfly. You send an email to your friend, telling him he can go see your pictures on that site. He joins in order to see your photos, and then he posts his own (or not). It goes on from there. More can happen. You can “tag” your photos when you post them; let’s say you went to India, and you tag all your photos Taj Mahal. Someone else can then go to Flickr and search for the tag “Taj Mahal” and find your photos, and the photos of everyone else who went to the Taj Mahal. If you are student doing a research project, or a person contemplating a trip, seeing the photos can be very helpful even if you don’t know the photographer.

2) Blogging. Blogging gets all the publicity. There are about 55 million blogs out there, tracked by many blog search engines — the big ones being Technorati and Google Blog Search. Although many of them are journals or diaries, increasingly blogs are being used by businesses to dialogue and interact with customers. A glaring example is the blog at One Angry Customer. There’s a customer-driven blog for almost every major brand, which has driven many corporate executives (led by Microsoft, a brand that was hated until it began to talk to its customers in blogs) to blog in an attempt to get their “messages” out.

3) Wikis. Wikis operate mostly in the background of social media. They are web pages anyone can edit, in the hopes of improving them, and they are used by corporations to form collaborate product design teams, and by the most famous wiki of all, Wikipedia to build an encyclopedia considered more authoritative and more widely used than the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

4) Vlogs and Videosharing. While YouTube is thought to contain mostly amateurish videos of kids dancing, it also contains movie trailers, videos of Sony laptop batteries exploding in meetings (which forced a worldwide recall), product launches, and political candidates.

And then there are mashups, which are combinations of social media. And then there are social networks. And then, and then, and then… along came Jones (you have to be old to remember that). to learn more.


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Sean Tierney has made up the idea that we post our goals on our blogs and follow each other’s chain. So here come my goals:

1) Grow the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation to where it stands alone and can train people in underpaid jobs to become entrepreneurial.
2) Lose ten pounds
3) Preserve my health
4) Put $2 million in the bank in the next five years
5) Get back to yoga
6) Grow the Entrepreneurship Conferences to stand on their own
7) Buy a house in Phoenix (again)
8) Train Luckily to come on command and walk on a leash
9) Go to Russia, Brazil, and Eastern Europe

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Merrill Goozner

Merrill Goozner is practically a relative of mine. (Actually, he’s the husband of the sister of my late husband’s first wife.) Which is no reason not to admire the relentless investigative reporting he has done on the pharmaceutical industry, its conflicts of interest and its pricing.

Now, Cary Byrd of eDrugSearch has posted an interview with Merrill that talks about his feelings about Canadian drugs and other salient issues.

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