Good Enough to Win?

 

 

Read this last week in the “The Hard Things About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I’ve heard about this book for a while, read a lot of other books by people close to Ben Horowitz, but for some reason never felt moved to read this one. Thinking about it – it was probably because on the surface his story seemed to be an easy one. Got hired at Netscape, Great (Best) friends with Marc Andreessen, CEO at Loudcloud, Sell to HP, Partner at Andreessen-Horowitz. Easy life.

So wrong. And that assumption violated something I know deeply. In life, business, sports, war – whatever… it never does us any good to compare our insides with other people’s outsides. We don’t know their struggles or challenges – we only see what we see. Never enough information.

It reminds me of a greeting card I have been carrying in my bag for almost 20 years. It’s a photo group of people underneath a sign that reads “never touched by the human hand” and the quote by Mark Twain below says… “there was net yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is a dram, a comedy and a tragedy.”

 

I carry that card to remind me that whoever I’m dealing with – we all have our story.

Ben Horowitz’ journey was a lot harder than I thought – and this week, that made the fight a little bit easier in my world.

Turn Around CEO’s Advice… Winners focus, losers spray

Jim Norrod, Executive Chairman of Liquid Pistol and former CEO of BigBelly Solar, addressed the Smaller Business Association of New England at the group’s monthly meeting on January 15, 2013. He presents a 3 part strategy which he has used to perform turnarounds resulting in liquidity events totaling over $1 billion to investors.

It takes a cooperative Board, a committed management team, and the correct plan. Jim’s theme in these difficult assignments: Winners focus, losers spray.

 

Jim Norrod, The Road to Liquidity from SBANE.org on Vimeo.

 

This presentation, like all of SBANE’s Massachusetts Breakfast Series presentations, was recorded and edited by Davideo Company, of Framingham, MA.

Seth Godin is my Zig Ziglar

For me, over the last 5 years… Seth Godin has been my Zig Ziglar. He hasn’t taught me how to sell, but how to over come the fear and or resistance of what it takes to be or try to be great.

From this interview…

No for now

  • The people you are calling on….
    • do not owe you a meeting,
    • they do not owe you an answer,
    • they do not owe you one minute of their time.
  • Crafting a perfect pitch letter to get their attention? Not a lot of faith in that approach
  • Rejection from people that care about you isn’t a bad thing
    • It is a message
    • not a message message of giving up,
    • but a message that you just told them a story that didn’t resonate (I like that word) with them that today.
  • They are saying…
    • do not bother me tomorrow with the same story,
    • you will not be able to badger me into doing business with you
    • but what you could do is
      • tell me a different story
      • about a different problem
      • on a different day….
      • because if you treated me ethically the first time, why wouldn’t I want to listen to you a second time.
  • AND… don’t try and get best customer first. Get them last!! start with the ones that are more likely to listen to the story carefully.
  • Because in the end, the best customers just want to know that all the other people have already said yes.

zig ziglar…

…do not become a wandering generality… instead figure out how to be a meaningful specific.

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sushi, comedy, baseball…. and practice.

Great read by Jeff Weiner on what practice, patience, making sushi,  Jerry Seinfeld and New York Yankee’s Ichiro Suzuki all have to do with each other.

Jeff Weiner article… From Seinfeld to Sushi: How to Master Your Doman

New York Times article on Jerry Seinfeld… Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up.

From the Wiener read…  Jiro Ono, the 86-year old master sushi chef and subject of the highly acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi has been preparing sushi for over 70 years; Seinfeld has been a stand-up comic for over 35 years. Both are widely considered to be among the best in the world at what they do, and yet listening to them, one comes away with the impression they will never be satisfied. They are constantly practicing, honing their work, and seeking to improve.

As Jiro describes it: “All I want to do is make better sushi. I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb to reach the top but no one knows where the top is.”

From the Seinfeld read…..

“Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. “It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,” he says. “I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.”

and on Ichiro Suzuki, the lean Yankees outfielder… “This is the guy I relate to more than any athlete,” Seinfeld said. “His precision, incredible precision. Look at his body type — he’s made the most of what he has. He’s the hardest guy to get out. He’s fast. And he’s old.”

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Wanna Know More About Tim Ferris? Watch This

Kevin Rose interviews Tim Ferris – talking about everything from 4Hour Workweek to 4Hour Body and even his new book 4Hour Chef.

To me, Tim is a fascinating and for sure crazy guy with a lot of great answers and tricks for life.

Some of his stuff….

He picked the title of his first book 4Hour Workweek by doing analytics on google ad words

He went in to Borders Book stores and taped different versions of his cover to other author’s books to see how many people would pick up the different versions in an hour.

For more interviews like this check out Kevin Rose’s The Foundation 

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Why Warren Buffett Should Keep His Money

Because he would have never given a company like Solyndra $1/2 Billion.  Why wouldn’t he?  Because it is HIS money.

The government has an inherent problem with managing other people’s money, and that is it is other people’s money – or more importantly NOT THEIR MONEY.

The is nothing wrong with what many in Washington want to accomplish.  Nothing at all.  The only issue most have, is that their methods aren’t very effective – or effective at all in some cases.

Warren Buffett may have an interest in “green jobs” too.  The difference is that Warren Buffett is going to insist that the company that wants to create good green jobs and wants his money to do it – has a pretty good chance of success.  Because it isn’t going to matter what good intention or story the company may have had to begin with.  The only thing that will matter in creating real jobs and real green energy will be success.

For sure, Buffett would have passed on Solyndra.  But, would we he have kept that money for himself?  NO!  That isn’t what he does.  Buffett would have found another Solyndra.  One that had a better business model and one that in the end – would have created real jobs around a real business.

That is the tragedy in all of this – Buffett wanting to send his money to Washington and have it go to more Solyndra’s.  Most people with common sense would see money in Buffett’s hands is just way more productive.

Who knows if Buffett is smarter than the guys in Washington – probably.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is that it doesn’t matter.  Some in Washington were actually very smart with regards to Solyndra.  They pin pointed the exact month that Solyndra would fail.  They did their due diligence just like any private sector Venture Capitalist would have done.  The problem was that the guy or guys at the top had other (political) reasons for throwing $1/2 Billion at a company like Solyndra.  Politics has never been able to pick winners and losers in the private sector and has never been able to create real jobs.  Never has – Never will.

The guys at the top in the private sector, for the most part, only win when they are right.  That is how they make money – long lasting money.  The truth is that it is hard to create long lasting money without creating long lasting jobs.  We’re not talking about the crooks and those that are making money by beating the system.  We are talking about 95% of the private sector that just shows up each day, puts in a hard days work and wins slowly over a long period of time.  Those are the ones (the businesses) that get Buffett’s money.

While the private sector only wins when it is right – politicians have the luxury of wining when they can convince people they are right.  They don’t have to actually BE RIGHT, they just have to SOUND RIGHT.

In nobody’s world is that a good system.

So we should hope that when the next Facebook or Amazon is out there looking for money to start their new idea, the money they need is in Buffettt’s hands and not Washington’s.

If creating real meaningful jobs and a growing economy is really the goal – let’s keep the money with the guys that know what to do with it.  On this one – the smart money has to be on Buffett.

Sorry Warren – you’re right, even when you are wrong.

 

 

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Best Press Release Ever!!: Woot Gets Acquired by Amazon

Nice job Woot. On getting acquired and making the best press release. This is the way to not take yourself too seriously and let your customers know – you are going to be the same company, even after you get bought by the man.

Kind of funny though how time flies. When did amazon become the man? Zappos and Woot in the same house – that’s kind a awesome.

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