Startups and Entrepreneurship
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Articles I read and like which help me run my startups better
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How to Manage Clever People

How to Manage Clever People | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Great talent is special and you should respect it. There's a popular belief that creativity is inherently childlike, that creative people are infants who need to "learn" and not be spoiled. This is wrong.

 

Trying to fit superstars into a box is counter-productive, perverse, and doomed. But don't go to the other extreme and treat these individuals as though they're made of glass. They're tough--maybe tougher than you are--and know their worth. What they most want is respect.

 

Creatives aren't interested in rules for their own sake and may be highly driven to break them. Don't let that wind you up. As long as they're delivering great work, that's all that matters. I once had an immensely talented director who didn't want to work in the open plan production office; He insisted on his own tiny room. Fighting him on this wasted time and lost trust. He knew how he worked and was better off on his own.

 

It may at first seem contradictory but I also believe true talent respects constraints. Composers work to split second timings when they write for movies or TV. Writers appreciate word counts and running times. So don't be afraid to be explicit and clear with them about budgets and schedules. Steve Jobs used to have a mantra: "Real artists ship." He was right. True professionals deliver. Only amateurs think it's clever to do otherwise.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about true artists is that they are highly driven to develop themselves and their craft. They will go to the places that let them do this and they will leave those that don't. This may come across as arrogance but it isn't; It is just a sincere desire to do fantastic work. That can work in your favor if you appreciate and recognize it.

 

 

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How Far Do You See?

How Far Do You See? | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
n the middle of the NBA playoffs, I found a great quotation from one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He’s talking about basketball players, but he is really talking to all of us.

 

Read it for yourself. Read it as a leader. Read it as a parent. Read it as a citizen. Go ahead, it’s only two sentences long.

“It’s hard for young players to see the big picture. They just see three or four years down the road.”
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hall of Fame basketball player

 

 

Questions to Ponder

 

How far ahead do I see?

 

In what part of life does this quotation have the most meaning for me?

 

How can I see a bigger picture?

 

Action Steps

 

Take time today to get out of your mental routine.

 

Think about the future – further out than you usually do – and then focus back to today, making sure that your current actions will get you to the future you desire.

 

Ask someone you trust to help you see the bigger picture of the future too. Their perspective can be useful for you.

 

If appropriate, help others see a better future - one they might not see for themselves.

 

My Thoughts

 

It seems useful to think more about the future, because that is where we are heading. Yes, we need to live in the present and choose to be happy and successful now. Yet without the perspective of the future, we won’t make the best choices or guide our present most effectively.

 

I can envision Jabbar saying these words later in his career; in a caring way. While he was never a coach of a team, he was a leader of his peers. In whichever life role you choose to think about his words, there comes an implied imperative to help others get the bigger picture so they will make better choices and decisions today. As a leader this makes sense, as a parent it makes sense. As an individual, thinking about this makes sense as well.

 

Spend a little more time thinking in the future today. Help others do the same. It will be time well spent.

 

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Google’s Low-Tech Incubator For High-Tech Startups

Google’s Low-Tech Incubator For High-Tech Startups | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

The pace of work at tech companies can be overwhelming, and in response, many employers have set up robust infrastructure that encourages a balance between work and play. For example, Google sponsors its own bike design competition, among other more fickle pleasures like its legendary cafeteria. A popular Google class on focus and mindfulness encourages employees to slow down and concentrate on themselves. This careful playfulness, essential to a creative workplace, carries over into the architecture of the workplace: slides, quirky themed rooms, and poppy supergraphics abound at many Google offices.

 

A newly opened Google London campus forgoes the twee, primary colors, and bean bag chairs of its stateside sister offices, opting instead to emphasize flexibility and functionality. 

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Entrepreneurs: think twice before taking advice from venture capitalists

A lot of advice VCs give entrepreneurs seems to me versions of “make my job easier,” like how to write a great business plan, how to pitch, etc. In this case, I see him asking entrepreneurs to improve the signal-to-noise ratio so he can have an easier time funding companies.

 

Nothing wrong with trying to make your life easier, but he makes the article look like he’s helping the entrepreneur, when he’s writing it to help himself, discouraging some would-be entrepreneurs who might love starting a company even if it didn’t make a VC money. For an entrepreneur who makes their business their life, leading the company may be its own reward, making his advice meaningless, since he’ll call it a success only if it generates a return on investment.

 

At the very least, I’d appreciate the article more if he specified “Think twice before starting a company that might seek venture capital funding.” Most entrepreneurs I know never approach VCs. Did he forget few companies involve technology at all? His advice doesn’t apply to them. Well, except that thinking twice is obviously good advice to anyone, but his reasons for it.

 

Entrepreneurship is far greater than starting tech companies looking for VC. I’d be wary of an investor who didn’t realize he put himself in such a bubble. With all that name-dropping, you can see how social bubbles can contribute to investment bubbles.

 

If you love starting companies and you have an idea whose time is now, you’ll find a way to start your company. If you don’t need venture capital, hopefully you won’t hear his advice in the first place, or will realize it doesn’t apply to you. Even if you do want VC, if your firm eventually dies but you loved doing it and it helps you do better on your next one, it seems to me you’ve succeeded.

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Startup Founders: Don't Freak Out

Startup Founders: Don't Freak Out | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
When I was working on building my first startup, Really Bad Things(TM) happened on an alarmingly regular basis. I was in my early 20s and living in Birmingham, Alabama (where there was no startup ecosystem at the time). So, when something happened that we thought would quite possibly kill the company, one of us (I had a co-founder) would freak out. Sometimes, both of us would freak out. Sometimes, we would freak each other out. Then, we would ultimately decide to take the Scarlett O'Hara (Gone With The Wind) approach — “I'll think about that tomorrow” and get back to work. After all was said and done, things worked out quite well. But, there were so many “near fatal” events, that we lost count.

 

I've since done two more startups and spent time with many, many entrepreneurs — often in some of their darkest days. I have one piece of advice that's going to sound trite (because it is):

 

Don't Freak Out.

 

The reason I advocate not freaking out is that it doesn't help —and often hurts. What you want to focus on during these trying times is ensuring you don't go into a tailspin (often, when you panic after something bad happens, you cause more bad things to happen).

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Transparency is the New Leadership Imperative

Transparency is the New Leadership Imperative | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
What kind of leaders do we need today? Steve Jobs — mysterious, charismatic, intriguing — is often cited as one of the recent greats, and there are clearly benefits to his style. A recent study showed that leaders like him — those perceived as having an almost magical aura — are seen as visionary, with employees and customers clamoring to touch the hem of their garments. But that kind of leadership also has its limitations.

 

Succession is made harder by a towering and mysterious personality (good luck, Tim Cook). And, even more importantly, there's no formula for becoming charismatic. You could try to model others — emulating Jobs' cool reserve, exacting standards, and mercurial temper, for instance. But the nuances are subtle; you're just as likely to come off as aloof or entitled, rather than intriguing. The harder, but more rewarding, path as a leader is to make yourself known — to your employees, your customers, and the public. Here are three reasons the new leadership imperative is all about transparency.

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The One Skill All Leaders Should Work On

The One Skill All Leaders Should Work On | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
If I had to pick one skill for the majority of leaders I work with to improve, it would be assertiveness. Not because being assertive is such a wonderful trait in and of itself. Rather, because of its power to magnify so many other leadership strengths.

 

Assertiveness gets a bad rap when people equate it with being pushy and annoying. But that shouldn't stop you from learning to apply it productively (that is — in service to your strengths). More harm is done when people aren't assertive enough than by being too assertive. At least you know what pushy people think, but those who don't assert themselves can be keeping vital ideas hidden and useless when they don't speak up or speak too softly. So I'd assert that when you are able to balance this critical skill with your other leadership abilities, you greatly amplify your power and impact.

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Startups: A Hidden Lifestyle at MIT

“Sleep, friends, p-sets—choose two,” is a common mantra at the Institute. But what happens when you add your own startup into the mix?

 

The spirit of entrepreneurship at MIT is alive and well; a report published in 2009 by Professor Edward Roberts ['57, SM '58, SM '60, PhD '62], founder and chair of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, estimated that if the almost 26,000 companies founded by MIT alumni that still existed in 2006 were a country, it would have the 11th highest GDP in the world. MIT founded companies like Dropbox, a Web-based file hosting service founded in 2007 by Andrew Houston ’05 and Arash Ferdowsi ’08, and Quizlet, an online education tool that helps students study using flashcards and other learning tools, created by Andrew N. Sutherland ’12 in 2005, have almost become household names. With Facebook’s multibillion-dollar initial public offering announcement in February, no one can deny that the allure of startups for MIT students is higher than ever.

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Stop Talking About Social and Do It

Stop Talking About Social and Do It | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
"Leadership" has changed when a decentralized group of people can take down a government. "The Value Chain" has changed when the customer is no longer just the "buyer" but also a co-creator.
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Return of the Editor: Why Human Filters are the Future of the Web | Sparksheet

Return of the Editor: Why Human Filters are the Future of the Web | Sparksheet | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Before news aggregators, content curators, and Google’s omnipotent algorithm, the world’s information was sorted by real human beings. In the web’s next phase, argues The IdeaLists’ Karyn Campbell, the old-fashioned editor is poised for a comeback.
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The Power of Answering Questions

The Power of Answering Questions | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

With so many “experts” clamoring to be heard above the din online, it can be hard to stand out. However, I’ve found several sites that do seem to give consultants and small business owners the leg up when it comes to establishing expertise. Each of the sites lets you answer questions in your field, which expands your reach and helps build trust with potential clients.

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The Five Disciplines of Servant Leadership | Driving Results Through Culture

The Five Disciplines of Servant Leadership | Driving Results Through Culture | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

 

In Blanchard’s work with culture clients, a key part of a successful culture initiative is the transition of the senior leader from a self-serving leader to a servant leader. Self-serving leadership is, unfortunately, a very strongly modeled approach to influencing others in Western society. Servant leadership is gaining strength – and high-performance, values-aligned cultures require it from their senior leaders.

 

Source: www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com

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Ethical Leadership Context

Ethical Leadership Context | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

The Context for Ethical Leadership is Broader Than You May Think


The context for understanding ethical leadership is evolving as we connect information from a wide variety of disciplines that have not traditionally worked together. Here are some quotes from the Leading in Context Blog that illustrate the edges of its context:

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#164 You’re an entrepreneur if… Networking isn’t all about you.

#164 You’re an entrepreneur if… Networking isn’t all about you. | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
I hate networking. Well, I should qualify my statement. I hate what networking has become in many instances. As a result, I have altogether stopped going to self-proclaimed, exclusive networking events, because they yield such poor results and waste my precious time.

 

Instead of quality experiences that facilitate exchanges and lead to business relationships, many networking events are nothing more than a mini convention of people who are extremely self-centered. You know these narcissistic types. Often they are the “professional networkers” who are dressed to draw too much attention, reek of disingenuousness, and heap their business cards on you before you can say hello. When they speak to you, the subtext of everything they say is, “I am the greatest! This is why you should buy my product or service. Now, off to the next person.” If I find myself in a conversation with such an individual, I watch his or her mouth move, but I only hear, “Me, me, me,…” Some may fool you for a second by asking about your company, but then it’s back to, “I, I, I,…” If you have the courage after ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes of their shameless monologues—time you’ll never get back—you just leave them. They may not even notice you left.

 

When done correctly and effectively, networking isn’t about you. Rather, it’s about what you can do to help others to improve their businesses. Imagine if business owners asked you the following questions at a networking event instead of talking aimlessly about themselves: “What is the best type of customer for your business?” “If I come across someone in my network, how will I know that this person is a good customer for you?” “What specifically can I do to help your business grow?” What a difference! The likelihood of you doing business directly with someone you just met is small. However, the likelihood of you being able to help this person find customers within your network is much greater. This attitude of service rather than self-service has made a huge difference in my business. In fact, I use this approach all the time. It works during networking events and other situations.

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How To Lose The Trust Of Those You Lead

How To Lose The Trust Of Those You Lead | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

When you are honest in every way, you are able to enjoy peace of mind and maintain self-respect. You build strength of character, which allows you to be of service to others. You are trustworthy in the eyes of those around you. ~Unknown Author

 

Honesty gives you strength. When you are honest you have complete knowledge that everything you said was the truth. You can have a clear mind and feel confident that nothing you said or did will come back to haunt you.


On the other hand, if you are dishonest in your words or actions, you will hurt yourself or those around you. You will lose the trust of your closest associates, and that trust will be hard if not impossible to regain. Some forms of dishonesty include lying, cheating, and stealing. Three major consequences that come as a result of dishonesty are:

 

1. Loss of Self-worth.


When you are dishonest, you will feel a loss in your sense of self-worth. When you are dishonest, you are telling yourself and the world that you are not good enough to do things the honest way. With each choice you make, you know what is honest and what is not. When you make dishonest choices, you are hurting yourself as well as others. Because you know yourself, you know the truth about everything you say and do. With each time you say something that is not true, you begin to lose your feelings of self-worth.


2. Loss of Trust.


When you are dishonest, you begin to lose trust in yourself. At the same time, others will begin to lose trust in you if you are caught. Each time you make a choice, you have to decide if you are going to be honest or dishonest and whichever road you chose will have specific consequences. When you choose the honest road, the choices may not always be easy, but they will help you to be a much stronger person. When you make honest choices, you will develop a greater trust in your ability to make honest choices.


3. Loss of Integrity.


Your integrity is the most valuable thing you own. When you are dishonest, you lose your integrity. One of my favorite old sayings is, “My word is my bond.” Even though the honest choices are not always the easiest and sometimes bring with them mockery, when you are honest you can hold your head high. Honesty allows you to maintain your integrity.

 

In this day and age, honesty is so important. Once you are dishonest, it is much easier to be dishonest again. As a leader, you must be honest at all times. When you are dishonest, you lose the trust of those you lead very quickly. As you are dishonest, you will eventually forfeit your ability to lead because your followers will have no desire to follow you.

 

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Find the Reverse Leaders in Your Midst

Find the Reverse Leaders in Your Midst | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
ou've likely seen reverse leadership in action. It happens when someone not in a formal leadership role demonstrates great leadership ability: when a field service agent steps up with a solution to a persistent problem, for example; when a customer service rep inspires her colleagues through her exemplary customer-centric behavior.

 

When someone on an account team improves dramatically after being constructively coached by a fellow team member.

 

Reverse leadership doesn't replace regular leadership. Nor is it a sign that the official leaders in an organization are doing a bad job. Quite the contrary. Rarely does strong leadership ability show up at lower levels in the hierarchy if senior leaders aren't very effective in their roles.

 

Some reverse leaders are people quite content to remain individual contributors, like the scientist who has no interest in managing a team but cares deeply about the company's mission.

 

Others are young employees just approaching or on the first rungs of the formal leadership track. Still others have some leadership abilities but lack some vital element of leadership, like the sales professional who excels in creating strategy but doesn't yet have the skills needed to manage a sales team.

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Startups: Your Customers Are Not Ignorant, Selfish, Control Freaks

Startups: Your Customers Are Not Ignorant, Selfish, Control Freaks | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
A case for trying to bring your customers into your decision making. Because they're not ignorant, selfish control-freaks.

 

Imagine you’re having some big, high falutin’ meeting. Perhaps it’s a board meeting. Or, if you don’t have a board, perhaps it’s a management team meeting. Or, if you don’t have a team, perhaps it’s just you talking to yourself at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. Whatever mechanism it is you have to talk about important issues and make decisions, imagine that meeting. Are you imagining it? Good.

 

Now, imagine that same meeting with one important change: One of your smart, savvy, customers is at the table. And, she has an actual voice. She’s a peer. She makes arguments, some of which are wrong and misguided, just like you and the rest of your team. If the customer were there, I think you’d have better meetings.

 

Practically speaking, you probably can't actually put a customer in all your meetings. If that’s the case, you should act as if she’s there. Pretend like she’s sitting in the room. In the past, I’ve actually designated an empty chair in the meeting as being where the customer is, and looking in that direction while asking “what does the customer have to say?” (yes, I’m weird). When you’re trying to make an important decision, and you’re sort of divided on the issue, ask yourself: If the customer were here, what would she say? You don’t actually have to do everything she says, but it’s useful to at least factor in her point of view.

 

Now, you might argue that you’re already factoring in customers in all of your decision-making. And, I’m going to argue that you’re wrong. You’re making decisions all the time where the customer’s voice is either absent or too weak. Just think back on the last five debates you had, and the decisions you made. Perhaps it was a pricing decision. Or a funding decision. Or an office space decision. Did the customer really have a voice? Was it as loud as everyone else’s? Probably not.

 

You might then further argue that you have someone “representing” the customer (your head of customer support, perhaps). I’d argue that that’s different. Yes, your head of customer support is solving for your customers’ well-being, but that’s not the same thing. Imagine if you were running a hospital.

 

You’d have operations, and finance and marketing and all sorts of other groups. In your big hospital meeting, you might think that the doctors represented the patient’s interest (because they are looking to solve the patient’s problem), but if you’ve ever been a patient, you know that’s not the same thing. Your hospital management meetings would be very different if there was a patient in the room. Your startup is no different. The decisions would be better if there was a customer in the room.

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How to Boost Employee Engagement With Two Simple Words

How to Boost Employee Engagement With Two Simple Words | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
I did a post a few weeks ago on “thinking outside the motivational box,” and a number of readers wrote to me saying essentially that while creative extrinsic rewards are all well and good, in the end nothing is more effective than “a sincere thank you for a job well done.”

 

This is a great point – just because something should be obvious doesn’t mean it always is. Two observations after decades of management

 

1) Recognition (or lack thereof) is always a key element of employee engagement.


2) In a business environment where people are extraordinarily busy and routinely asked to do more with less, all too often successful tasks and projects are completed without recognition for those involved.

 

The pace is frantic so when one job is done, it’s on to the next. Taking the exceptionally small amount of time it requires – by email, vmail, text, tweet, FaceBook, phone… or best yet (a novel idea) in person – to stop what you’re doing and say a simple thank you is one of the easiest, cheapest and best investments an executive can make.

 

Appreciation can be a difference maker, just as silence can. A brief story from my own career…

Back in another millennium I once wrote a speech for a chief operating officer addressing a major sales conference. The COO, a man of around 60, had made a habit of running three miles a day every day, literally never missing a day for over 700 days, even in the coldest months of a New England winter.

 

The speech focused on his running and what it meant to him, but more importantly it was a metaphor for the day-in, day-out discipline that a top salesperson needs, and ultimately the satisfaction derived from such focused efforts. It was a personal, heartfelt message.

 

I didn’t attend the conference, which was thousands of miles away, but the day after it ended I received at my home a large fruit basket. With it was a short note from the COO telling me simply how he appreciated my help with the speech and how well it had been received.

 

That was many years ago. I never forgot the gesture, and you can be sure it forever shaped my opinion of the man and the lengths I would go to do my utmost best for him.

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Instagram Aftermath: It’s Time For Entrepreneurs To Go All In

Instagram Aftermath: It’s Time For Entrepreneurs To Go All In | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Q: What does the Instagram acquisition mean for startups?

A: A LOT.

At the close of 2011, there was a lot of uncertainty for startups. Stock market fluctuations, underwhelming talent acquisitions (“acqui-hires”), and structural investment problems threatened the prospects for startups.

 

But what a difference a few weeks can make. The passage of crowdfunding legislation in the US coupled with the $1 billion acquisition offer of Instragram, signals the beginning of a full startup boom. In preparation for the good times, venture capitalists have started to raise new fund money at their pre-crash highs.

 

Two and a half years ago, Mint.com was acquired for $170 million, and everyone thought that was an amazing deal following the great recession. Now, a fledgling company with a small team gets acquired for $1 billion.

 

My best guess is that it is about to get crazy. And, only fools sit on the sidelines. Many strong and older entrepreneurs that I know are wealthy today because they made intelligent decisions during the dot-com bubble of the late ’90s. Success was not easy then, and it will not be easy now, either. But, the likelihood of a great outcome is much higher in a boom.

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Choosing Between Making Money and Doing What You Love

Choosing Between Making Money and Doing What You Love | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
"If you're really passionate about what you do, but it's not going to make you a lot of money, should you still do it?" What a great question!

 

What a great question! It seems like just about everyone who has ever addressed a graduating class of high school or college seniors has said "Do what you love, the money will follow."

 

Inspiring. But it is true? Couldn't you do what you truly care about and very well go broke, as the question above (recently sent from one of our readers) implies?

 

Based on the research we did for our book, we're convinced that when you're heading into the unknown, desire is all-important. You simply want to be doing something that you love, or something that is logically going to lead to something you love, in order to do your best work. That desire will make you more creative and more resourceful, and will help you get further faster.

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Become a Connector: the importance of building your network

Become a Connector: the importance of building your network | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
A powerful network is the key to success in most marketing strategies.

 

Your network is your most powerful tool when it comes to spreading messages. If you didn’t read it yet, I invite you to read my article “The basics of network marketing” explaining the involvement of a personal network in any business strategy.

But to go further, to create real powerful network that you can use in a real business situation, you must change yourself into a Connector.

 

Connectors rule the world

Connectors have a power most people will never have: they always know someone.

 

In this article I will teach you how to become a Connector and make the best use of this new ability to develop your business.

 

If you do not know what a Connector is or if you would like to learn more about how to integrate Connectors in a global Viral strategy, please refer to my article “The art of starting an epidemic”.

 

To summarize, Connectors are people who naturally have tons of friends.


Recognizing a Connector is pretty easy: if you have around you someone who goes out almost every day to meet some friends, this person is most probably a Connector.

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Things Entrepreneurs Never Confess To Their VCs

Things Entrepreneurs Never Confess To Their VCs | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Note: This is intended be a light-hearted piece that hits just close enough on some counts to (hopefully) be funny.

 

Things Entrepreneurs Never Confess To Their Investors

1. You know that candidate you introduced me to? Well, he was kind of a schmuck.

2. We had our management team meeting yesterday and we've concluded that we're kind of screwed.

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Startup Opportunities in Health IT

Startup Opportunities in Health IT | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Health care, long ignored by VCs who didn’t understand it, is now so obviously broken that it can’t be ignored, Rock Health, the crusading seed incubator in San Francisco where I’m a mentor , has done a study of VC-funded healthcare startups. According to Rock Health’s survey, which is admittedly incomplete, 35 companies have received $2 million or more in funding in 2011 alone. But that’s only 2% of the startups. The rest, we can assume, are bootstrapping in one way or another. And although 2011 shapes up to be a record year in venture funding for the segment, surpassing the previous record year 2010, much remains to be done.

 

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The Name of the Integrated Talent Management Game - i4cp

The Name of the Integrated Talent Management Game - i4cp | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

You may have missed this when it happened - that's okay, I'm sure most people reading this did. There's now a human capital software company called "Lumesse." I have no idea how to pronounce it (and I searched hard on their website), but I think it rhymes with "new mess." The point is, it's not a new company. Lumesse, formerly known as StepStone Solutions, said in their press release that "...the new brand is the first step in making Lumesse an increasingly high-profile, global player in the fast-growth talent management sector."

 

I can't wait to hear what the second step will be.

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Not More Of That

Not More Of That | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Significant organizational development efforts generally bring some resistance. This is especially the case when the effort is in the people skills area. The raised eyebrows, folded arms, stiff half smile or other skeptical body language of a participating manager or leader say the following: Not more of this touchy-feely stuff! Resistance and skepticism come with the territory, however. Savvy consultants and trainers have to use their skills and knowledge to address the resistance. They must make the business case for the importance of the “touchy-feely stuff” as follows:

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