2 Aug 2008
In today’s mail I received a tantalizing offer from Bell Canada Long Distance. It promised the ability to “Call the world without limits” by delivering “Unlimited World Long Distance Plan $29.95/mo.” With calls to over 50 countries plus Canada and USA included, on the face of it, that’s a pretty attractive offer.
But, I’ve learned that, when dealing with the telecoms industry whether landline or wireless, it pays to read the fine print. And, sure enough, in very small type at that bottom it says “excludes calls to mobile phones and wireless devices.” Sadly, when I call overseas, where mobile penetration is generally at or even above 100 mobiles for 100 population, over 95% of my calls are to mobile phones. So, far from being unlimited, this plan is really a bit of a “bait and switch” which might well increase my calling costs. In the monthly billing cycle, the arrival of the first bill post sign up would almost certainly make any customer’s blood boil. At a macro level, I’m really curious as to what such deceptive marketing campaigns say …
30 Jul 2008
A little over 4 months ago we first wrote about an astonishing social enterprise, Jonathan Howard (see photo) and his Run The Dream (RTD).
To refresh your memory, take a look at our 22 March, 2008 post by clicking here: With amazing youthful enthusiasm, having Just turned 25 today, Jonathan Howard ran into Elora to a welcome by a Michael Chong, MP, Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj, a number of parents who live daily with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and a good contingent of local supporters. It goes without saying people were inspired and he was very warmly greeted.
It’s really interesting how things that start slowly eventually snowball. There are always challenges and false starts in any truly entrepreneurial enterprise. The snowballing of viral propagation is famous in the world of web startups. Jonathan has witnessed a similar effect with Run The Dream. One shining example of that is Terry Robinson (see photo). Terry, a co-worker at Ontario Public Service and an accomplished two-time Para-Olympian (Seoul and Barcelona), was so inspired by Jonathan’s social vision to commit to a leave of absence from …
10 Jul 2008
New York Times on Sunday contained an article which immediately caught my attention, as it appears to provide the missing piece pulling together all of my recent postings outlining an “Entrepreneurial Toolkit”, so far consisting of these five core skill sets:“Fearless Passion” “Don’t Drink Your Own Bathwater” “Embrace Change” “Taste the Cash Burn” “The Power of Two (or Three)” (coming soon)
The article, “If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow”, New York Times, 6 July, 2008, in extolling an individual’s openness to change and personal growth, really provides a common thread, weaving together the above skills.
To quote Carol Dweck of Stanford University,
“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”
The notion that nurture trumps talent, is an interesting one. It underscores why defining some great attributes for an entrepreneur in my Entrepreneurial Toolkit is such a good idea. For the right people, if …
10 Jul 2008
Yesterday’s climbdown by Rogers on 3G iPhone (in fact, quicly extended to all smart phones) data pricing was nothing short of spectacular. Since the weekend, I’ve watched as many of my colleagues in the Blogosphere have pushed a campaign of long term customer lobbying over the goal line. Clearly, in addition to influential bloggers, Apple is the industry titan that has been able to unclog an uncompetitive wireless market in Canada unlike any other company (or government) so far.
The story has been well covered, with a good selection of the chronology, below:Daniel Smith/Smithereens Blog: “Apple Flips Rogers a Bird A Week Before Canadian iPhone Launch? (Plausible Rumor)” Mark Evans: “Is the iPhone a PR Fiasco for Rogers” and “Who at Rogers Blew the iPhone”? Jim Courtney in Skype Journal: “Score One for the Blogosphere – Immense PR Turmoil – Rogers Caves” IT In Canada: “Did Rogers Try the Patience of Jobs?”
However, apart from the obvious power that an internet-engaged base of consumers now has over even the largest companies and apart from a major victory for grassroots campaigning, there is an even bigger …
8 Jul 2008
Whether you run a startup (pre-revenue and running on fumes), a larger, later stage company (with actual revenues and earnings) or even a public technology company, the topic of cash should never be far from your consciousness. And, it goes without saying that keeping tabs on cash is generally even more germane in social enterprises.
For many early stage entrepreneurs, skilled in technology, marketing and strategy, the notion of vigilance around cash burn might seem mundane, something to be avoided or delegated. There is no question that companies endowed with more cash on their balance sheets can act more strategically. Conversely, It is the rare company indeed that isn’t significantly cash constrained at some part of its life cycle. As a result, you need to be on top of cash burn and not let cash crises catch you off guard.
Of course your need, or even better should virtualize, solid financial and accounting management skills. Notwithstanding this, as CEO, cash needs to figure as a constant item in your personal mental checklist. In the New Venture 2.0 Playbook, discussed in much more …
28 Jun 2008
Successful entrepreneurs must push themselves to develop a set of, often seemingly contradictory, business and life skills. We’ve already talked about fearless passion and not drinking your own bathwater.
Today, we’ll expand on a skill that is becoming ever more important in these times of rapid technological, social and business evolution — the need to embrace change. In my own life, it has been a personal hallmark, so much so that without major new challenges and course corrections, my life satisfaction drops precipitously. Therefore, seeing Guy Kawasaki’s recent interview with Ariane de Bonvoisin called Change is Good reminded me to add change into my personal Entrepeurial Toolkit as skill #3.
For me personally, it is wonderfully affirming that, what I used to consider a pathological need for change, is in fact highly adaptive for the future world. Ariane’s book defines ideal entrepreneurs as “chance optimists”, who believe change is mostly good. Furthermore, those who have a strong believe in the positive power of change can flex their “change muscle” to overcome adverse emotions, or “change demons.” I think you get the picture, …
11 Jun 2008
In the tech heyday of the mid-1990’s, my favourite US investment banker, Mark Slater (formerly of Hambrecht & Quist) had a strategy to avoid CEOs that, as he so eloquently put it, “Drank their own bathwater”. Mark had identified the tendency amongst CEOs, even entire executive teams, to become so satiated with the power and glitz of riding the waves of technology/media hype, that the corporate adulation goes straight to their head.
Ego and ambition, never faults in themselves, taken to extremes tend to cloud better judgment. Anyone who has visited their capital city, like Washington, London or Ottawa, has witnessed the same effect that all that marble and walnut lining the corridors of power have on newly elected Members of Parliament or Congress.
I’m sure all of us entrepreneurs have been seduced by the siren call of their own PR. I know I have. But long ago I learned that, no matter how big the entrepreneur’s ego, it is critical to be self analytical and have enough inner humility and judgement to resist the corrupting force of power and spin. Every …
10 Jun 2008
Published by Hyperion WorldCat • Read Online • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
Chris Anderson, a former editor at my favourite magazine, The Economist, and now editor at Wired, presents an in depth analysis of how digital technologies have transformed the means of distribution and hence many business models. Coming from the perspective of an economist and filled with loads of great examples, including some non-web examples like low cost airlines, this book should be read by anyone who hasn’t figured out that the digital age has expunged the scarcity upon which many traditional businesses relied on as a barrier to entry.
5 Jun 2008
“I believe ‘fearless passion’ is a secret sauce of future success.” – Jeff Pulver
This morning, fearless entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, published an truly inspirational blog post that all entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs) should read and take to heart. Read “Fearless Passion Knows no Boundaries” and consider, as one comment suggested, printing it out and putting it on the wall of your office or cubicle.
Jeff, a co-investor in our portfolio company iotum, is a prolifically tireless entrepreneur who, among other things, co-founded Vonage and continues to be a visionary innovator in the VoIP community and Internet Video.
Why do we put this as the first item in our Essential Entrepreneurial Toolkit?
In the uncertain world that entrepreneurs must navigate, both in startups and the social sector, Jeff’s advice is right on the money. To outsiders, the sheer bloodymindedness and chutzpah exhibited by many entrepreneurs comes off as arrogance, or even worse, naïveté. In truth, when balanced with other qualities in the toolkit we’ll discuss at a future date, such fearlessness allows them to navigate those inevitable troughs of despair.
And, it’s a good thing. Without …
27 May 2008
Last weekend, I attended Asphalt Jungle Shorts IV, a truly innovative and engaging theatre experience — one that you definitely shouldn’t miss. And, even better, AJS is performed right here in Waterloo Region. Downtown Kitchener, having weathered a down cycle and now in a major resurgence, has evolved an urban, hip, almost Manhattanesque kind of feel.
Multitalented Artistic Director Paddy Gillard-Bentley‘s innovative use of site specific theatre builds on our unique urban environment in bold new ways. In her previous three installments, she allowed us to experience drama in such real world settings as a parking garage, a bar, City Hall, a store window, back alley, small parks and even a book store. Without giving too much away, I can say that Paddy has pulled out all the stops and presented a play in the most unlikely and crazy place I’ve ever seen. I’m sworn to secrecy, so you will have to attend to find out where.
Couple the intrigue of great locations with a globally selected talent pool and you’ll start to see what the AJS magic is all about. Although …