Is it urgency or homework that will make your start-up a success?

September 23, 2009

The most common, and seemingly most sage advice from successful entrepreneurs is to "just do it".  Launch into your venture with unquestioned urgency and commitment, without it your enterprise is doomed!  That seems right, and yet there is another side to the coin we should all say out loud.

Most startups will fail.

If you're trying to build a tech company it's a particulary dicey proposition, and you owe it to your family, friends, and any employees to read this book: High Tech StartUp.  It's a sobering book full of facts, figures, and reality that anyone hoping to succeed as a startup needs to deal with eyes wide open.

The point is not that a passionate person with an idea and a dream should not pursue it with full commitment; indeed how else to succeed?  How else to change, to better the world!  However, there are other factors every entrepreneur would benefit from looking at coldly & rationally.

Imagine you decide to be a surfer and catch a wave.  So I give you, and thousands of others like you, a boat ride out to the middle of the ocean, no land in sight.  Everyone starts paddling in various directions with great enthusiasm, hoping a wave will rise up behind them and give them a glorious ride to shore.

"Wait," you say, "which way is best to paddle?  Where is shore and which direction will the waves come from?"

"Is a wave coming soon?  Or will my arms be tired and as limp as spaghetti noodles when a wave finally arrives?"

"When a wave comes, will I be close enough to shore for it to break and carry me?"

"Will the wave be strong enough to carry me?"

"Will the wave be ridable, or will it break all at once?"

"Will it throw me on the rocks, only for others to see and learn from my mistakes and ride successfully?"

All I can say is that these seem like good questions.

Riding waves, whether in innovation or in the ocean, is hard.  This endeavor takes great fortitude, persistence, self-belief, and endurance, but it only works if you are in the right place at the right time.

Luck favors the bold and confident, but rarely the foolish.  You have a much better chance at success if you know where you are and learn to read the ocean around you.

Then, when you have made your mark, you will have your chance to tell all the hopeful paddlers in the middle of the ocean that it is about a sense of urgency.  

As your professor would say, urgency is a necessary but not sufficient condition.  Do your homework.

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

Advertisements

August 24th is Duke Kahanamoku Day

August 24, 2009

Duke who?  Yeah, I think we went to a Dukes restaurant on vacation once, right?

Duke Kahanamoku, an exceptional man and person, is worth remembering for inspiration.  Duke went confidently against the grain of the larger world in the positive manner he believed in, and he made the world a richer place in doing so.  He did what he loved, and shared what he loved with the world.
Duke Kahanamoku was born August 24, 1890, a full blooded Hawaiian, but he was a common Hawaiian by birth.  So why will you find statues of him at various places around the world?  It was the things Duke did and the way he interacted with people that made his name ring true, for he carried an inherent air of nobility.  Duke was royalty of his own making, by his character and action.
Growing up around the beaches of Waikiki, Duke spent countless hours in the ocean surfing, swimming and paddling canoe, the things he loved, and he was probably as comfortable in and under the ocean and most people are at a grassy park.
It was swimming that brought Duke to world attention, and Duke that brought Aloha and surfing to the attention of the world.
When Duke was 20, an attorney clocked the 100 yard pace of one his daily swims at Diamond Head and realized he was swimming a world class pace.  Convincing Duke and his friends to form a club and enter Hawaii's first sanctioned swim meet, Duke broke the world record for the 100 yard freestyle in Honolulu Harbor.  Mainstream swimming refused to believe it, suggesting the unconventional venue must have given him some advantage.  Duke proved them wrong in the following year at the Stockholm Olympics where he won the gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle and set a new world record.  An unknown, Duke developed his swimming style out in the ocean, learning from any visiting swimmers he met at Waikiki.
Competitive swimming provided a avenue to connect the world outside Hawai'i with Hawai'i, and Duke became an unofficial ambassador for Hawai'i, surfing, and aloha for decades.

For the millions around the world who surf, it's because Duke led the way.

Duke's creed

Try meeting or leaving people with aloha, you’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it and it is my creed. Aloha to you.

— Duke Paoa Kahanamoku

A few things about Duke

  • Participated in the Olympics from age 22 through 42, winning 3 gold medals, 2 silver, and a bronze over 20 years
  • Rode a monster wave at Waikiki for over a mile on a 16' finless board, a legendary ride never equaled
  • An incomparable ocean waterman, he rescued drowning men, fought a 10' eel, and filled his life with many more heroics now lost in time
  • Introduced the world to surfing, swimming, and Aloha 
Learn more about Duke

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

When a simple tools fail…

August 21, 2009

…fixing things is harder than if a more sophisticated tool was started with.

This morning Posterous, which I generally think is great! has let me down, let me count the ways:
  • Failure to properly handle linked images like
  • Lack of good options for adding or managing images after they're posted
  • General editing inconsistency from HTML or RTF to actual post
I don't like looking gift horses in the mouth, but I went from spending a couple minutes to share some thoughts inspiring me, to spending a whole lot of time trying to fix an unpalatable post, and regrets for having automatically pinged my friends to come see it.  And I never could get it right.

My apologies friends…

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

just a picture

August 21, 2009

just a picture

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

just a picture

August 21, 2009

just a picture

Posted via email from Random Eric

Overlooking Analog would be a Bad Idea

August 21, 2009

Now I'm going analog, even when I'm doing digital.  Analog is friendly, like the iVinyl app.

You see, I had it all wrong.

I thought the world was analog and digital was an imperfect representation of it.  Digital, I thought, was a human friendly approximation of reality.  I made a simple mistake.

I had it all backwards.  Probably.

The Universe is Binary

Everything, it seems, at it's fantastically lowest level is probably binary.  Everything has to choose a state, e.g. quantum particles have to "choose" a spin (right or left).  You have to decide to read on, or not.  (Hint: read on)

If we could dig deep enough, everything is in a binary state, 1 or 0.

Humans are not Equipped for Binary Reality

Everything being binary is not very helpful to you and I.

MP3's and the Internet are great, but do you really think you can make love while considering the binary state of each subatomic particle around you?

I bought a new watch this week after a decade refusing to wear a watch in stubborn resistance to the tyranny of time.  I decided not having a close enough grasp on time was holding me back from things I wanted to do.

My new watch is a digital device, very accurate, but it has the old school analog minute and hour sweep hands, which is very friendly.

While I can easily read big digits on a digital display, those digitals only provide a single data point, 10:55 AM.  When I look at the analog hands on my new watch I instantly get a graphical depiction that tells me:
  • the minute hand has moved a 1/3 pie slice since I last looked
  • the minute hands have progressed much faster than my task
  • I need a new plan
It's all instantly obvious without having to go through a quick mental calculation on how many minutes I have left and how much I can get done in them.  The hands show me; they give me a picture, a graph of the passage of time.  Very human friendly.

And whatever the nature of reality, I am human, after all.

More to read on the nature of reality, including whether it is binary:

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

Overlooking Analog would be a Bad Idea

August 21, 2009

Now I'm going analog, even when I'm doing digital.  Analog is friendly, like the iVinyl app.

You see, I had it all wrong.

I thought the world was analog and digital was an imperfect representation of it.  Digital, I thought, was a human friendly approximation of reality.  I made a simple mistake.

I had it all backwards.  Probably.

The Universe is Binary

Everything, it seems, at it's fantastically lowest level is probably binary.  Everything has to choose a state, e.g. quantum particles have to "choose" a spin (right or left).  You have to decide to read on, or not.  (Hint: read on)

The binary nature of everything seems obvious from the excellent little book Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes

If we could dig deep enough, everything is in a binary state, 1 or 0.

Humans are not Equipped for Binary Reality

Everything being binary is not very helpful to you and I.

MP3's and the Internet are great, but do you really think you can make love while considering the binary state of each subatomic particle around you?

I bought a new watch this week after a decade refusing to wear a watch in stubborn resistance to the tyranny of time.  I decided not having a close enough grasp on time was holding me back from things I wanted to do.

My new watch is a digital device, very accurate, but it has the old school analog minute and hour sweep hands, which is very friendly.

While I can easily read big digits on a digital display, those digitals only provide a single data point, 10:55 AM.  When I look at the analog hands on my new watch I instantly get a graphical depiction that tells me:
  • the minute hand has moved a 1/3 pie slice since I last looked
  • the minute hands have progressed much faster than my task
  • I need a new plan
It's all instantly obvious without having to go through a quick mental calculation on how many minutes I have left and how much I can get done in them.  The hands show me; they give me a picture, a graph of the passage of time.  Very human friendly.

And whatever the nature of reality, I am human, after all.

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GB1R5K?ie=UTF8&tag=attack90-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000GB1R5K">http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=attack90-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000GB1R5K" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143038397?ie=UTF8&tag=attack90-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0143038397">http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=attack90-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0143038397" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

More to read on the nature of reality, including whether it is binary:

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

The Black Cat is now in the East Bay?

August 11, 2009

I am not the only one seeing black cougars in the Bay Area this Summer.

Last week there were two different, believable reports of a big black cat in the East Bay hills, about two weeks after my sighting below Lexington Reservoir.  Two weeks is plenty of time for a cat to travel 40 miles, Los Gatos to San Ramon; perhaps this Gato Negro is on a walk about.  The shortest walking route between the two cites would be right through San Jose.  

<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="
View Larger Map"></iframe><br /><small><a href="
View Larger Map" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

As much as we would want to believe the big cat would go around the city, we've all heard reports of mountain lions in suburban neighborhoods, and a mountain lion was hit by cars on the 85 freeway by the 17 this year, right along this direction of travel.

There are much better options for a mountain lion than taking the freeway.  If you look at the map you will see narrow green corridors leading from the South West of San Jose to the North side of town: natural streams where a big cat could walk unnoticed, especially at night.

There is another possibility, I suppose.

If this is something like a black jaguar that someone has released from captivity, then surely it is the same, single animal in both locations.  However if we imagine this is actually a black mountain lion, a genetic mutation, then might there be more than one?  A liter, perhaps, who have come of age?

Keep your eyes peeled.  As the hills get drier at the end of Summer, the deer need to come lower out of the hills to find sufficient water, and likely mountain lions are following the deer.  Report any sightings straight here!

Posted via email from Cougars You Can’t Buy a Drink

More than a Poker Face

July 30, 2009

Cialdini's Six Universal Principles of Influence

One of the few people I listen to about the dynamics of deal making and negotiation is Robert Cialdini.  Cialdini is a professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.  

One thing that makes Cialdini's work stand out is that it is not just based on anecdotal experience, but instead on detailed studies of behavior.  Sometimes of what he reports is counter-intuitive, which is the most valuable find of all.

Here are 6 keys to influence in Cialdini's own words as reported by SmartPlanet (emphasis is mine):

Reciprocation. People give back to you the kind of treatment that they’ve received from you. If you do something first by giving something of value—be it more information or a positive attitude—it will all come back to you.

Scarcity. People will try to seize those opportunities that you offer them that are rare or dwindling in availability. This is an important reminder that we need to differentiate what we have to offer that is different from our rivals and competitors. That way, we can tell people honestly “You can only get this aspect or this feature by moving in our direction.”

Authority. People will be most persuaded by you when they see you as having knowledge and credibility on the topic. You’d be surprised how many fail to properly inform their audience of their genuine credentials before launching into an influence attempt. That’s a big mistake.

Commitment. People will feel a need to comply with your request if they see that it’s consistent with what they’ve publicly committed themselves to in your presence. The implication there is to ask people to state their true priorities, commitments and features of the situation that they think are most important. Then align your requests or proposals with those things. The rule for consistency will cause them to want to say yes to what they’ve already told you they value.

Liking. People prefer to say yes to your request to the degree that they know and like you. No surprise there but a simple way to make that happen is to uncover genuine similarities or parallels that exist between you and the person you want to influence. That person is going to like you more and be more willing to move in your direction.

Consensus. People will be likely to say yes to your request if you give them evidence that people just like them have been saying yes to it too. I saw recent study that showed if a restaurant owner puts on the menu “This is our most popular item” than it immediately becomes more popular.

I suspect readers in Sales or  one of the negotiation discipline have observed and practice at least one or more of these, I am highlighting them here because I think it's quite useful to see these six factors laid out in one place.  Like a plan.  🙂

Comments?  Have these worked for you?

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas

Top 10 Reasons to Stop Surfing in the Ocean

July 22, 2009

Whether you have been tempted to take up surfing, or already have been surfing and have not been able to quit yet, here are 10 reasons to strengthen your resolve to stay out of the ocean:
  1. Surfers Knee is real, ugly and very painful
  2. Surfers on average earn much less money than their non-surfing peers
  3. Surfing in the sun gives you wrinkles and ages you prematurely
  4. More girls/guys will date a non-surfer than will date a surfer
  5. Surfers Ear requires someone drill into your ear to restore your hearing
  6. Surfboards increase your carbon footprint.  Very uncool.
  7. Surfing annoys the Great White Sharks of Jaws fame
  8. Where do you think sewer water drains?
  9. Giant Killer Squid have moved into the coastal waters of California
  10. I'm already in the lineup
If you do go in the water, vaya con dios my friend.  We (your girlfriend & I) will remember you well.

Posted via email from Really Bad Ideas