Thursday, April 24, 2014

Heaven Can Wait? (humor)

While I try to talk about startups, strategy, and how to manage growth, every now and then I need to be reminded that there are some very critical things that we take as common sense, but unfortunately is not that common. Sometimes, when we start up a business, we get attached to a certain set of beliefs that as we grow and change, need to change with us. To drive home the point is a story below..about believing something too long... 

The couple were 85 years old and had been married for 60 years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade.

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.
They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favorite clothes in the closet.

They gasped in astonishment when he said, 'Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.'
The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. 'Why, nothing,' Peter replied, 'remember, this is your reward in Heaven..'

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.

'What are the greens fees?,' grumbled the old man.

'This is heaven,' St. Peter replied. 'You can play for free, every day.'

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages.

'Don't even ask,' said St. Peter to the man. This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.'

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife.
 'Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?,' he asked.

That's the best part,' St. Peter replied. 'You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!'

The old man pushed, 'No gym to work out at?'

'Not unless you want to,' was the answer.

'No testing my sugar or blood pressure or....'

'Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself.'

The old man glared at his wife and said, 'You and your Bran Flakes.. We could have been here ten years ago!'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Business Is Good (humor)

This post has to do with stereotypes and that sometimes age and cunning will always overcome hubris and arrogance... Hope you enjoy. 
Two businessmen in New York, were standing around and taking a break in their soon-to-be new store. As yet, the store wasn't ready, and didn't even have the shelves set up.

One said to the other, "I bet any minute now, some Jewish guy is going to walk by, put his face to the window, and ask what we're selling." 

No sooner were the words out of his mouth when, sure enough, a curious old Jewish man, walked to the window, had a peek, and in a soft voice asked, "Vot ya sellin' here?" 

One of the men replied sarcastically, "We're selling ass-holes." Without skipping a beat, the old Jewish man said, "Must be doing well...only two left."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'd Rather Be a Pirate

Recently, I have had to make some presentations about what it takes to be an entrepreneur or start up a company, and what type of people I would hire or be associated with.  When asked, I usually come back with this question:  If you had a choice to sail the seven seas either with the Royal Navy or as a Pirate/Privateer, what would you choose?

Incredibly, the answer to this simple question is really at the crux if you can be an entrepreneur or not.  One choice offers the prestige and power of a great power, and known and respected entity, at the price of having to conform to a certain system of rules and regulations based mostly on seniority and position not necessarily performance and merit.  The other offers a high risk lifestyle, but with some freedoms and the ability to join a group of liked minded individuals.  To sail to unchartered, risky lands; to fight for what you believe in, and to seize opportunities wherever you go. How you answer this question is the basis if you will be entrepreneur or not.

If you did not choose being a pirate, does not mean you will not be a success in your own right, it just means that you prefer a more ordered and predictable path to that destination.  Risk and the ability to go to the unknown is not in your character.  Yes, you might have great success in your endeavors, but the likelihood of being wildly successful is slim. As I like to say, you never find riches on a well trodden path.

On the other hand, choosing to be a pirate actually almost guarantees you will fail! You say what?  I thought being a pirate is what it is all about, and now you say being one almost assuredly means we will fail? Well, you have to decide if that failure, or series of failures, stops you from going forward, or if you choose to go forward, for a pirate sees failure, loss and defeat as just mile markers on the road to success.  If the goal (booty) is worth more than the fear of failure?  A pirate realizes Paulo Coelho’s saying of “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

It is precisely the ability to go beyond that fear, into unknown waters that having a pirate-like mentality is so important.  While being able to do what Churchill says, "When you are going through hell, keep going." is so vitally important.  Having a pirate mind means you just cannot give up…on the goal.

Secondly, having a pirate mind also means you choose those people you associate with, and quickly realize that the number is not so important as the quality of the individuals.  As I say, “I find my chances for success improve when I associate with a few talented people as opposed to a plethora of mediocre ones.”  And this is true in ANY startup.  Pick good, liked-mined people that help you achieve your goals, and most importantly, want to be pirates.

Lastly, having a pirate like mind means that you have the flexibility and resilience to keep going towards you goal no matter what.  It is NOT about being viscous or uncouth, but in living by a code of honor that few on the outside can ever understand. So as Steve Jobs once quipped, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

When Wars were About Ransom

This is an interesting development about how what was old is now new again...

Let me see if I have this right...

Ukraine buys almost all its energy (natural gas) from Russia.  Revenues from natural gas are a primary source of Russia's income.

Because of the recent disagreement between Ukraine and Russia, Russia is raising the price of natural gas it sells to Ukraine.

Ukraine is almost broke and cannot afford the increase in the natural gas price because it would be forced into bankruptcy.

President Obama just announced the United States is giving Ukraine $1 billion to assist in paying for the higher priced natural gas it buys from Russia. 

So, the United States is actually giving Russia $1 billion because in reality, the money is just passing through Ukraine.

The first question: Has Putin figured out a way to raise the price of his natural gas sales and make the U.S. pay for the increase? 

Next question: Was he really in the KGB or was he a actually a former commodities trader? 

If this analysis is accurate, Putin just got Obama to pay him $1 billion by holding a press conference and trucking some troops across town from the Russian Navy base in Ukraine. In the days of yore, kings were never killed, but held as ransom to extort money... Well done Putin!