Monday, January 31, 2011

The Technology Entrepreneur's Creed

1.     Never say die. Never give up on your vision -- there's always a way to make it reality. Tenacity is the single most fundamental requirement for any aspiring entrepreneur.  
2.     Play to win; don't play not to lose.  Successful entrepreneurs play to win, while big, entrenched, innovation-unfriendly companies play not to lose. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - as any investor worth his capital will tell you, we learn more from failure than we do from success.
3.     Subscribe to the hourglass theory. Start out wide, with a number of possible go-to-market strategies. Then focus and execute. You can expand again when you have built up momentum with your customer base and established your credibility in the marketplace.  
4.     Expect to tack your way across the water. The path to success isn't always linear. Tack your way to goals by moving forward, feeling the marketplace, soliciting customer feedback, refining your offering, reacting to new competitors, and making course-corrections as needed. Many a large company stays in the harbor with its spit-shined yacht. Your boat may not look as pretty leaving the port, but at least you'll sail. 
5.     Always define the room as round. In any discussion, any negotiation, there's always a solution. Regardless of your relationship with the party on the other side of the table and the topic of conversation, as long as the room is round, you'll never get boxed into a corner, and neither will your partner. 
6.     People, people, people. In real estate, they say, only three things matter: "location, location, and location." When you're building a business, it's all about people. Find people who always show up ready to drive the business. You might have a grade-A idea, but try to execute with a B team and your idea will get demoted. On the other hand, match a B idea with an A team and you'll get grade-A results every time.  
7.     Hire people smarter than yourself. Recruit and retain a team of people who know more about what they do than you know. Business is like basketball: Every team member has must play well individually and together in order for the team to win. This applies to investors, board members, and advisors, too.
8.     Use the R-U-N strategy to develop a customer-focused organization.  Retain customers by providing excellent service; make an effort to Upsell existing customers; and keep building the business by bringing in New customers. (Many monopolies forget this last point, and just keep taking new orders from old customers.)  
9.     Work hard and play hard, but make sure you work in order to play. No matter how much of yourself you put into your work, always make time for family, friends, and outside interests.  
10.  It's not about the destination, but the journey. Remember Odysseus on his odyssey.  He learned that hard way that while it's great to have goals, it's better to enjoy the ride. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick, what time is it???

If you use two digits to identify a year - as in "11" for 2011 - Tuesday's date is 1/11/11. Given this format, only about 13 days this century can be written with all the same digits. Four of them occur this year: 1/1/11 (New Year's Day), 1/11/11, 11/1/11 and 11/11/11 (Veteran's Day.)  Some people hope this number combination brings good luck, while others hope it will draw attention to something. Lottery players routinely use special dates to pick numbers - such as 0-3-1-7 around St. Patrick's Day or, a couple of years ago, 8-8-0-8, 1-1-1-1. And 1-1-1 are the No. 1 year-round choices for Pick 3 and Pick 4 midday and evening drawings, and routinely sell out. 
Courts saw an uptick in couples planning to get married on Saturday, Jan. 1 (1/1/11). Some local events, however, were planned with these digits in mind.  Although staffs at the local Hospitals cannot confirm that some mothers-to-be scheduled to induce labor on this date, rooms in the labor and delivery department for today were completely booked Monday afternoon (so says our local TV news).
Apple's popular iPhone could finally be coming to Verizon.  I received an email from Verizon, who sent out an invitation to a media event on Jan. 11, 2011 at 11AM. The big announcement becomes “official" at 11:11am today.  The invitation came from COO Loweell McAdams.  It didn't say what the announcement would be about, but all signs point to the iPhone.  What a great day to announce it ---1/11/11, or i/i/ii for the i-Phone.
Verizon doesn't have a lot of fancy events. And it's a little odd to be holding an invitation-only press conference a few days after the wireless carrier could have made almost any announcement it wanted - to a huge audience at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  But, Verizon saw making the announcement on 1/11/11 to be “strategic”.  Or was it just being cool, like Apple?
OK, I am up for the challenge. I am going to do something super cool at 11:11am today, and again at 1:11pm and then again at 11:11pm.  I am going to do something memorable, important and meaningful today, I guarantee it. I am going to set my alarm to remind me to do it, so that I don’t forget. I have three opportunities today (and today only) to do something remarkable, something to really make 1/11/11 a day to remember! Yes, that is exactly that I a going to do!
Sounds exciting, right?
Talk about setting oneself up for failure. I’ll bet that Verizon does just fine with selling the Apple iPhone, even if they had made the announcement during the big CES show in Las Vegas, or yesterday, or even tomorrow.  I’ll also bet that I will also be just fine if I try to do something remarkable tomorrow, and the next day and the next. And, so will you.
It is now 8:43am EST on 1/11/11. Oh, the pressure. Maybe I should just take the day off today.  Now THAT would truly be something remarkable.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Google Brad Margus

When I was around ten years old, our family moved from Cedar Grove, New Jersey to Boca Raton, Florida. I remember my first day of school in Boca like it was yesterday. Moving away from all of my friends was very traumatic. I thought that I was never going to make any new friends, and that my life was ruined. During our first day, the teacher had everyone stand up, and tell the rest of the class about themselves. I had my story all ready, about how I just moved from Cedar Grove New Jersey, and I was prepped to describe all of my favorite things – sports, TV shows, etc.

There was only one more kid to go, and then it was my turn. Brad Margus stood up, and told the entire class how he just moved to Boca Raton - from Cedar Grove, New Jersey. What did he say??? What are the odds??? This was 1,350 miles away, from a small town in New Jersey to Boca, into my class, on that day. What if the teacher never had us stand up and tell the class about ourselves? I would certainly have never asked Brad where he was from (or anyone else) for that matter.

Brad was really cool. His father had a great job, and Brad traveled all over the world. He told stories of how he played tennis with the son of The Emperor of Japan, and how he met all of these celebrities and famous people. I was never Brad’s best friend, but through grade school and high school, he definitely was a good person to be seen hanging with. Everyone liked Brad Margus.

After high school, I lost touch with Brad, as well as losing touch with most of my friends from Florida. I went to college in the Midwest, and I never returned to Florida. When I was in my thirties, I saw a Barbara Walter’s Special on Brad and his family. I tried to locate Brad, but I could not connect with him. His story is amazing, and he is an amazing person. Google Brad Margus. You will be blown away.

Today, I found this message on Facebook:

Dear friends,

I really hate to hit on you this way, and I know that many of you already support the A-T Children's Project, the non-profit organization I started that funds research on my two sons' serious disease. But this weekend, my son Quinn is participating in a 5K race (I'm pushing him in his wheelchair) to benefit the foundation, and he's hoping that doing so will bring in many donations for research, especially from new donors.

If you have the chance, please consider making a small donation by going to Quinn's webpage:

Quinn's Webpage

He'll be so thrilled to see new donations coming in. Thanks so much.

All the best,


Because of Google, you can learn about Brad and his struggle, instantly, from the comfort of your home. If it were not for Facebook, I would have never reconnected with my old friend from Boca Raton, Florida. I have since emailed back and forth with Brad, and I have committed to helping his cause, when and where I can, especially in the world of telecom and technology. After all, it was technology that reconnected me with my friend.

It has been over thirty five years since I last saw Brad Margus. But now, because of all of the technology that we sometimes take for granted, I now feel like I never left Boca. I have two sons and a wonderful wife, and I will ask them to Google “Brad Margus” to learn what it really means to be a father, a good husband and a great human being.

When I was young, one of my father’s favorite sayings was “show me your friends, and I’ll show you who you are”. Well, my “Facebook friend” Brad Margus is indeed my friend, but I have a long way to go before I could ever hope to match my father’s quote.

PS. If you can find it in your heart to donate to Quinn’s webpage, that would be very cool indeed.

Here is Brad's Message from his foundation.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Handsel Day

Handsel Monday is the first Monday of the year, particularly as used to be celebrated in Scotland and northern England.

The “handsel” refers to small tips and gifts of money that it was customary to give at the beginning of the first working week of a new year. In this respect it is somewhat similar to Boxing Day. If the handsel was a physical object rather than money, tradition said that the object could not be sharp, or it would "cut" the relationship between the giver and the recipient.

I started eating on Thanksgiving and I don’t think that I have stopped since. So that is around 40 days and 40 nights of holiday cheer. Thanksgiving is the official “kick off” to the holiday season, and we don’t miss a beat in our household. Football, food and family, for almost 40 straight days. Then, all of the holiday parties. Even when we are at work, we really don’t get much work done the few days before Thanksgiving. Then the “starter’s pistol” goes off on Black Friday – and the official manic shopping begins. My two sons went to the mall at 4:00am this year, to grab the bargains. I went along in spirit only, as they had my credit card.

December always seems to fly by. It always feels like there will be more time. You really can’t get any new projects started in December, because even if you are working, your (clients, vendors, partners, suppliers, etc.) are not “really” working, right? The closer it gets to Christmas, the easier it is to say “see me next year”.

Christmas Day is always the best day. Even in a bad economy, regardless of the number of presents under the tree, Christmas morning produces the best feeling in the world. The entire month of December’s TV shows and movies tries to remind us of the true spirit of Christmas, but we are always thinking about the gifts – and spending money - especially when you put off your shopping until the last minute.

New Year’s is the weirdest holiday, don’t you think? Should we go out? Should we stay home? Going to Times Square in NYC is always discussed with great enthusiasm in our house – and then we never do it. And the news on TV always runs through the long list of big stories of the past year, and they go through the list of all of the celebrities that passed away during the year. I always see someone that I thought was already long gone – and now, they really are.
OK, so we are all done, tomorrow is Monday, 1/3/2011. The 40 days and 40 nights of the holiday season have now officially passed. It is time to get back to normal. Back to work, and send the kids back to school.

Not so fast! Remember, tomorrow is Handsel Monday! What if everyone at your office is going to celebrate Handsel Monday, and you almost forgot? What if everyone at work has gifts, and cards, and balloons? What if they have cake – Handsel Monday Cake!!!

I am not sure, but I think that you are supposed to wear polka dots on Handsel Monday, like wearing green on St. Patty’s day. Party City might still be open, and you need to get your Happy Handsel Day banners and napkins. Get moving!

Now I know what you are thinking. Thank God that I “blogged” the night before Handsel Monday, otherwise you would have totally forgot all about it, and boy would you have been embarrassed.

Well, here is one more thing that you should remember. The first Monday of the New Year is your chance to start fresh. It is your chance to do all of the things that you wanted to do. It is your chance to start all of the projects, and pursue all of the tasks and the opportunities that you were told “see me next year”.

The first Monday of the New Year – it is up to you how you want to celebrate this special day. I hope that you make 1/3/2011 the best day ever. It is up to you – but when you really stop and think about it, it is always up to you.

So, now you can call all of your prospects and clients tomorrow, and wish them a “Happy Handsel Day”. And, while they are scratching their heads, you can ask them for the order.

Have a great 2011.