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Entrepreneurship

Visit the New Carnival of Entrepreneurs

December 14, 2006 | By | No Comments

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The Carnival of Entrepreneurs The new carnival is expertly hosted by Canadian Ben Yoskovitz. Go visit and learn.

Remember that carnival hosts work only for visits and links — the only currency in the blogosphere. Go visit Ben.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Also visit Ben Yoskovitz at Instigator Blog. Read more at the jump.

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Your Business Blogger at Stern School of Business, New York University

November 29, 2006 | By | One Comment

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Your Business Blogger

at Stern School of Business

New York University Your Business Blogger was honored to lecture up and coming entrepreneurs at the Stern School of Business at New York University at the Entrepreneurial Exchange Group. The teenage Dreamer accompanied me as my intern for the day in the Big Apple.

The school sponsors this group of overachievers.

I spoke on,

1) business plans,

2) management tactics and

3) cultural challenges.

Following is the Cliff Notes version.

1) Business Plans. In any business plan the first place, the first tab investors turn to is not the numbers; not the marketing — the first section in the plan wise men look to is the team bio’s — the leaders that will run the new enterprise. The biggest variable in the success of a business is the caliber of the management team. Who is the team? What have they done?

The best indication of future performance, is past performance.

Assemble and list your board of directors and advisors soonest in your business start-up. These mentors provide the young venture with contacts, consulting and access to capital.

A seasoned board will act to minimize risk, provide talent and keep the business capitalized.

2) Management Tactics. Your Business Blogger reviewed the most common management problems and offered basic tips. We spent some time on discipline in business, not just the prompt obedience to orders, immediate compliance, but something more. I prefer using the Army’s definition of discipline which includes the initiation of appropriate action in the absence of orders.

Manage your team to always have (demand!) completed staff work. Begin by thinking of your desk as a pyramid: paper does not rest on your desk, but instead slides off — back to the staff member who brought the piece of paper or action to you the manager.

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The Dreamer at Stern Business School,

New York University

Jean Arp Seuil Configuration3) Cultural challenges. A number of students had questions about family businesses in the People’s Republic of China, East Asia and the Pacific Rim. We discussed the differences in managing across cultures and managing in the Chinese business culture. See Differing Weights and MacDonald’s in China. Search this site for East Asia.

The students were most attentive and asked pointed, assertive questions. Capitalism is safe for another generation.

But I’m not sure about art.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Management Training Tip: Find a mentor. Today. And if you can’t find one, rent one.

What Lily Tomlin Taught Me About Pilot Projects

September 12, 2006 | By | One Comment

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Your (very young) Business Blogger

and Lily Tomlin Big Shows always start small. Lily Tomlin would test her acts, not on an off-Broadway hide-a-way in New York City — not even another country, like say, New Jersey.

No, Lily would test her lines and the script in another world: Branson, Missouri.

A few decades ago, Your Business Blogger — that’s me, the dork on the left — caught up with Tomlin backstage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. During the run of her solo — one woman performance in The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe.

It was no secret that Tomlin is the consumate professional whose presentations seemed effortless. Yes, she and her team practiced with military precision.

But she knew to do a bit more. One of her secrets was to practice in front of a live crowd. To test her timing. For the laughs and special effects. Practice and pace. To hit the marks and watch the sparks.

Her testing would require stops and starts and direct interaction with her Branson audience — which was a test market for her new show; her new product her new production. She would be a wizard alchemist reformulating as she observed and assessed her focus group’s response. And the laughs.

Comedy is hard work.

The challenge of conducting the practice, the dry runs, was that the critical, cynical New Yorker would not sit still through trial run. Tomlin as magician perfected her act behind the curtain, away from the show-bizzie chattering classes. So Lily would go to ‘fly-over country’ where normal people live, to hone her act.

To Branson, Missouri, the Show Me state where over 100 shows play in over 40 theaters. Branson is called “The Live Music Show Capital of the World.”

Lily Tomlin and her crew would then take her perfected, polished performance back to the Big Apple and the rest of civilization.

Her business lesson from show business was to quietly introduce a pilot show, a pilot project. Gauge reaction and launch a high percentage deal. And practice to a small sample size.

Because you will screw it up. And it is best to screw up on the farm team than before the big league crowd.

Do you have a pitch to practice? Find a small group who loves you.

Practice your sales pitch to a live audience. And ask for feedback.

Looking to flog your product on national television, the cables and network? Start with small radio wattage. Then take your show on the road.

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Getting Business Done On 9.11.01

September 9, 2006 | By | No Comments

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Dad & The Dude

prepared for war

September 11, 2001

photo credit:

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D. Just after 9am on 9.11, I was doing what all business owners were doing: selling something. I was on the phone with a client. Making a pitch to attend a series of seminars, with CNN on in the background. I was a bit distracted by the live feed of a burning building.

While making ‘the ask,’ it was clear that my customer was not aware that we had just been attacked. I wanted to say something, like, Turn on your TV and stare at real pain. It just didn’t look real. I continued instead with the conversation. Your Business Blogger is not normally so focused. In denial, perhaps. Disasters are not normally good for business.

There was work to be done. My next class was on September 19.

And I didn’t want the customer on the other end of the phone distracted until the sale was closed. Then we could go to war.

The deal done, I noticed my boy, The Dude, was concerned that the attacks would continue down to us in Charlottesville, Virginia. “We got to get ready!” he shouts and scampers around digging up my old uniform, boots, saber and his grandfather’s bayonet. (Old soldiers never die, they just file away. Apologies to MacArthur.)

The Dude spent the rest of the morning marching outside our front door. Looking out for terrorists. It must have worked.

Charlottesville was not attacked.

But we were affected. Everyone was. But I wasn’t sure that the bank was going to delay getting their money over a pesky act of war. I still had to earn a living.

How would the war affect business? Not the macro, but mine? I had a seminar and clients coming into town in little over a week and the world was on fire. Would anyone show up? Would anyone care?

We North Americans do business like we do war. We win. Donald Trump becomes Victor Davis Hanson. At 8 am on 19 September 2001, 86 professionals showed up and got down to business. A packed room.

The free lunch helped.

Even my business partner, Faisal Alam, came down from New York City to join us. He is Muslim.

The country was mourning, but on the move.

I started with a minute of silence in remembrance of those lost in the World Trade Towers.

Then we all got back to work. Each making the world a better place. Even with a war on.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

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Basil’s Blog has open trackbacks.

California Conservative has Open Post 9.11.

17 Aug

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Hiring Super Stars vs Tolerating Turkeys

August 17, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

Microsoft has one real point measurement for hiring.

IQ

Your Business Blogger has hired (computer) coders, sales reps…and government bureaucrats.

When given the option of head count and budget flexibility, I always recommended to my managers to hire the most expensive talent possible — the Super Stars.

Even when hiring government workers.

Into Good and Evil reminds us that when talent really counts, when talent determines life and death, who would get hired? He points us to Professor Kingsley Browne in The Ace and the Turkeys,

“Given the cognitive and temperamental patterns required, it is not surprising to find that the ability to fly aircraft successfully in combat is an ability that not many have. Indeed, it is not an ability that even all combat pilots have. Aviation analysts recognize that the majority of combat kills are scored by a small minority of pilots. Mike Spick has observed: “The gulf between the average fighter pilot and the successful one is very wide. In fact it is arguable that there are almost no average fighter pilots; just aces and turkeys; killers and victims.”

Fighter pilots, like sales guys in a role playing exercise, can practice and give a passable presentation, but,

As one Air Force pilot stated, “Most guys can master the mechanics of the systems, but it’s instinctive to be able to assimilate all the data, get a big picture, and react offensively. Not a lot of guys can do that.”

But the Air Force has a challenge most sales managers don’t: Separating the Aces from the Turkeys,

Ideally, one would have only “aces” or “killers,” leaving the “turkeys” and “victims” to another career path. The difficulty lies, however, in the fact that there is no known way to separate the aces and the turkeys prior to combat. Unfortunately, many of those who will end up being turkeys often do not know what they are getting into. These pilots may have the ability, intelligence, and know-how to fly the plane well, but they ultimately lack the “fighting spirit” that they will need in combat. ”

(Buffalo Law Review,Winter, 2001, 49 Buffalo L. Rev. 51,Women at War: An Evolutionary Perspective By Kingsley R. Browne)

But the hiring manager does have an advantage over an Air Force Wing Commander, the civilian Ace has a track record of Kills.

The best indication of future performance is past performance. Our armed forces are hampered by looking only to recent combat or aerial engagements — and there aren’t that many of those dogfights. The hiring manager has different metrics of combat measures for top business talent. Eat what you kill. Who had produced the best numbers?

In this human resource practice and strategy, there are down-sides as Anita Campbell, my editrix at Small Business Trends citing the Trizoko Biz Journal mentions. She and others make the valid point that Super Star and Aces are nearly impossible to manage. And, indeed, can only be managed by Super Star managers.

But if these crazy iconoclasts can be harnessed, a big ‘if’ to be sure, big numbers are sure to follow. For example, when I had a modest software company, I learned the hard way that a one genius coder was worth a half dozen coders. And not because he (and he was usually a ‘he’) was faster, but that his work was nearly bug-free. Which saved me from hiring three coders just to patch.

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With my sales teams, Pareto’s 80/20 Principle always played out. But the top guy, usually a deviant was always a standard deviation above the norm. My #1 sales guy was sometimes double the sales of #2, the rest of the sales team on the long tail. That #1 guy drove me nuts. But I loved his numbers.

And government bureaucrats? Goodness. I once had an agency head ‘lose’ a $100 million department. It was necessary to find it for obvious political reasons, but we only became aware of the lost unit because I was working the Y2K rollover and really needed to find all the laptops. We finally found it. Hidden away, quietly working away. And there were lots of good excuses why it was floating alone off on its own org chart, in its own universe. How they got paid is outside the scope of this post. I was assured that it was not illegal.

So Anita and Trizoko Biz are right, Super Stars are a pain.

But I wonder how many $100 million business units are lost. And could be found with a few dozen more IQ points.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Your Business Blogger’s columns appear in Small Business Trends on Tuesdays and Small Business Trends Radio on Fridays. Please tune in.

The Modern Working Woman in Business, at Home

July 14, 2006 | By | No Comments

So here’s the typical mom in America today: baby on knee, small business down the street, with rifle in Pakistan.

This week’s column in Small Business Trends has highlights — and I’m not talking hair — of a typical mom. Yes, women have always been producers — breeding babies and businesses since Eden, but this is something each generation has to discover for itself. See Women’s Future in the Small Business Labor Force.

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Helen, second from left

with rifle “consulting” in Pakistan

“How do you it all?” Accomplished women with kids constantly get this question.

Helen Philbrook, married and mother of three, from Raleigh, NC, has the answer.

Your Business Blogger recently sat down with Helen and her husband David to learn the secret.

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She’s a former Vice President of an environmental testing firm, and perhaps the world’s first female “Smoke Stack Sniffer.” She’s run a number of start-ups.

But Helen says she’s now “followed her passion to gardening.” Her company Tiger Lily’s is an award-winning firm that gives her what she needs most:

Flexibility.

She was well-prepared. Helen has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science, studied Garden Design in London, and completed a series of international consulting assignments. In a male-dominated business. Where she learned:

Negotiation.

The greatest challenge women face in business is learning to negotiate.

But she also negotiates with her clients. Hard. She establishes upfront contracts with the explicit understanding that her family will come first.

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Helen, Vice President

She is an advocate of “sequencing” for women — marriage, children, work. Helen says a woman can always have an “ambitious career.” After the kids are in school. She knows she will anger feminists.

She has advice to young women starting out. Where the fear is that they will get behind the power curve. “Not so.”

Helen says, “Your career is still waiting for you.”

After your children.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Full Disclosure: Helen is my sister.

No Speed Bumps has Women in Engineering.

Alas, a blog has Homeward Bound.

Basil’s Blog has Breakfast.

The Carnival of Entrepreneurship is Up at GreatFX

May 2, 2006 | By | No Comments

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Chris Brunner And honorably hosted by Chris Brunner. Who does it right. Gets it right. Starting with his picture. Anita Campbell, at Small Business Trends, says that good blogs should identify the owners and have portraits’ on the page.

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The Entrepreneurship

Merit Badge

Our human eye is drawn to faces. To look in the eyes. To gauge sincererity. Pub shots are best. But always use your picture.

Except when a bit goofy. Your Business Blogger on The Wall.

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More on Chris at the jump.

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The Carnival of Entrepreneurship is Up at Be Excellent

April 20, 2006 | By | No Comments

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Skip Reardon Be Excellent(tm) Helping The Best Small Businesses To Achieve Lasting Excellence. has (unpaid) host duties this week. Go visit.

And while there, see David Daniels. He’s forgotten more on international business than I’ve ever learned.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

The Carnival of Entrpreneurship is the creation of Scott Allen.

01 Apr

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Should Companies Blog?

April 1, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

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The Baltimore Washington Corridor

Chamber of Commerce Your Business Blogger has a rule against Free Consulting.

Except for my friends.

And readers.

One of my favorite non-profits, the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce falls into both categories.

So. One of the Chamber committees asked for a 5 minute overview of blogs on Monday, April 3rd. Blogs for business.

The Big Question:

Should Companies Blog? In particular should the member companies of the BWCCC blog?

Answer: Yes.

In the near future, it will be the odd enterprise that does not.

Purpose of blogging.

Build a relationship with readers, customers, communities. Marketing that is Measurable.

Blog Management

Start with the Ethics as a framework. Honesty being the best policy and all.

Offer Solutions

And company size doesn’t matter. Technology is a “Force Multiplier” as our Pentagon pals would say. Making business easier to Find A Friend.

Glenn Reynolds, at InstaPundit and author of An Army of Davids writes that blogs are,

…the triumph of personal technology over mass technology.

Who should not blog?

Those unfamiliar with spell-checking. Attention to detail counts today, unlike, say, last year.

Poor writing ability. The writer must communicate thru the screen.

Poor time management skills. Writing and posting must be done frequently and predictably.

The CEO. In larger enterprises — hire a ghost who knows your voice. And can draft a draft for approval.

The Downside

For example: Blogging consequences abound for Your Business Blogger. Both Unanticipated and Unintended. The former: Found a church. The latter: Threatened with a lawsuit.

(And one never knows what strikes the fancy of the blogosphere. Your Business Blogger blogs and bloviates on: Business Sense, Military Precision, Timeless Truth. But my most popular article was borrowed from, and credited to W. Bruce Cameron: free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

My local Chamber has been a source of introductions and for blogging materiel:

Sales Persistence.

Firing Employees.

The First Lesson To Look Like A Leader.

The Customer Buying Cycle

Blogging terms defined.

Your Business Blogger has been a ghost writer for a number of confidential clients. Including former Presidential candidates.

Blogging, for companies, is not an end in itself. But it can be. Visit ProBlogger to learn how to make $100K from blogging.

Be sure to visit and bookmark The Virtual Handshake. See Scott Allen’s take on Corporate Blogs. Scott and his team have been a-blogging since March ’03.

Media Alert: Jack On Small Business Trends Radio

March 7, 2006 | By | No Comments

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Small Business Trends

Forbes Winner Your Business Blogger will be discussing Top 10 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make with Their Employees.

Hit time is Tuesday, March 7th at 1pm EST.

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Anita Campbell

Live.

Visit Small Business Trends and click through the microphone at top right.

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Small

Business

Trends

Radio

The award winning Small Business Trends is hosted by Anita Campbell. Her collaborator is Steve Rucinski at Small Business CEO.

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Small Business CEO, published since May 2004

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Small Business Trends is sponsored by Six Disciplines on www.business.voiceamerica.com. Safe for workplace listening.