Food for thought(s) gleaned from HBR

A collection of thoughts, ideas, suggestions and calls to action for entrepreneurs and business managers alike.

Harvard Business Review Magazine
Harvard Business Review

After a few months of having too much to do and too little spare time, I grabbed a handful of the monthly Harvard Business Review issues that had been holding down my desk and proceeded to skim through the articles. Typically I would take the time to read each article and spend a fair bit of time reflecting on the topics that are relevant to my current situations, this time was different. Instead of diving in and soaking it up, I just skimmed through three of them and jotted down some nuggets here and there. Below are these nuggets in no particular order. Do what you will with them.

  • Turn challenges into opportunities.
  • Simplicity is power.
  • Management is NOT a profession.
  • People with international experience (travel/life) are more likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted.
  • Failure demands a response, yet the status quo is embraced and, incredibly, protected.
  • Simply stepping back to observe how you work can yield game-changing insights.
  • Good leaders protect their employees from lengthy meetings, meddlesome superiors, and a host of other roadblocks to doing real work.
  • The best leaders orchestrate constructive battles – enabling people to feel safe speaking their minds, even to their leaders.
  • The forgetting curve is sometimes more important than the learning curve.
  • You are what you measure.
  • You are what you do, not what you say. You’re not fooling anyone for long.
  • Experiment relentlessly, yet holistically.
  • A company’s value is just a sum of the decisions it makes and executes.
  • You build a culture of trust by telling the truth, even when its hard.
  • Even successful companies have to shake things up to stay ahead of the competition. Change for change’s sake.
  • High potentials always demonstrate results, master new types of expertise, and recognize that behavior counts. But it’s their intangible X factors that truly distinguish them from the pack.
  • Be clear. Be consistent. Be creative.

I can’t take credit for any of these statements, nor can I say that I do or don’t do them 100% of the time. I can say that I work hard at them 100% of the time and the status quo is NOT embraced or protected.

Free iPad for the best Entrepreneurial Idea/Plan

Win a Free iPad by using your brainYes, seriously, a free iPad for the best Entrepreneurial idea/plan! The 3G one too, not just WiFi.

There are conditions of course, it’s a contest and not a sweepstakes. The prize is a 3G iPad with 18 months of service and any business assistance I can give (within reason). If I get a good response I’ll make sure it shows up for the holidays! Who knows, if I get more than one awesome idea, there may well be more than one prize – it’s happened before.

In working with the kids and staff on starting, building and running a business, I was thinking that it would be really cool to see how many ideas we could all come up with. I spend a lot of time kicking ideas around and have found my iPad pretty useful for doing so with the various applications for project management, financial calculations, flow charting, drawings and collaboration. I have to imagine the same is true of similar minds. If you don’t participate then you lose and I’ll win my own iPad 🙂 or just save the money.

What I wanted to find out is, what are the best ideas for businesses that are conceptualized, planned, started, built and run with no other in-house technology besides iPads. This does NOT exclude cloud computing for various purposes, but the business and its offices have no other technology at the desktop besides the iPad. No desktops, no servers, no Ethernet, no fax machines or phones, copiers, printers or anything along the same lines.

Ideas are great but don’t go anywhere without a plan. The best idea wins yet must come with a plan to succeed and ideally the drive to carry forward with the idea. I’d love to help make it happen for someone who really gets it and may just need some encouragement and help.

Privacy notice: You have my word that your ideas are safe and won’t be shared nor would I run with them unless you were at the helm. I can offer a lot of assistance to the right person with the right idea. Since you probably don’t know me nor my word, feel free to ask around, I’m sure you’ll find it as you should.

If you know someone with the moxy and the need for a iPad, send them here for me please. Thanks.

You can post your response, send it through the contact page or email me directly (probably best). My email here is me@ my domain. Call me if you want, but you still have to submit it in writing.

Thanks for playing along!

Initial Entrepreneurship Questions (9945)

Some feedback after initial questions about being an entrepreneur and starting one’s own business…

I got started on this project with some discussions around entrepreneurship, some with my 11 year old and some with various people that I interacted with who have some of the spirit in them.

Starting with my oldest son, I’m discovering if he has what it takes, is it too early to explore for him individually, does he have some understanding of the task, ideas on where to do and any fundamentals that are brought out in the subtleties of the answers themselves. Without going into great detail, some of the questions are:

  1. Do you want to be an entrepreneur?
  2. Do you know what it means to be an entrepreneur?
  3. Do you want to run your own business?
  4. Do you have any ideas as to what you’d like to do with this business?
  5. Why do you want to run your own business?

He had some good answers, the best was the answer to #5. We talked about writing content to help others understand a particular product from the vantage of an 11 year old and how he could monetize that service, expand on that type of service and where it could go from there. His answer(s) were as you’d expect with the addition of the value side of it whereas the service (business) would be helping others and solving some of their problems with a greater understanding. Centering the mindset of running a business around helping others and solving problems is a huge step in the right direction. Making financial reward (non-value) the focal point of starting a business and/or running a business is a recipe for failure.

Then on to some general discussions with various others during the week.

I received this from a business student finishing up at university. I’ll leave out the specific answers, they are as you might expect.

  1. Do you have any specialty in study as a business student?
  2. What sort of business do you want to run?
  3. Why do you want to run your own business?

While it is completely hypocritical of me, please don’t start your business to revolt against years of others that “don’t get it” or can’t do it as well as you can (think you can). The business was a good one but the motivation was wrong in my opinion. The idea of starting the company because my boss sucked and because starting my own business will allow me to make my own schedule is a rational one, just not particularly realistic. Maybe my boss does suck or maybe he thought the same thing and is now overwhelmed with the realities of running a business. Making your own hours… I suppose this works it if is a lifestyle business, but as they say, if it’s not growing it’s dying. To build and grow a business allows you to set your own hours alright, you get to set them between 6 am and 2 am with a few hours to sleep or maybe eat. It is a lot harder than it looks, takes a lot more time than you think and can often pay a whole lot less than you’d hope. The rewards though far outweigh the negatives if you truly want to fulfill a need, solve a problem and provide value.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Project-9945 – Introduction

What the heck is Project-9945?

Excellent question. Project-9945 is an experiment revolving around efforts to cultivate/grow the entrepreneurial spirit in others within close circles.

Detailing what is observed from those nearby with and without the spirit within.

Highlighting what can be transferred, taught, inspired and mobilized – by me anyway.

Can the path be carved out several steps ahead of yourself?

Will my children follow my path or can I slingshot them forward to ensure they outdo anything I’ll ever accomplish?

If encouraged one way will they walk the other way or are the already heading that way anyhow?

Those around me are well aware of the spirit and if it were embraced would have all of the support I can possibly give. Opinions on why  some do and some don’t.

Like so many things in life and experiments in general, the answers are not known and frankly, neither is the path to the answers.

I try some things and update accordingly, read and comment if you care to. I’ll put the posts in the category (Project-9945).

Preparing Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur

Who’s going to build the businesses of the future?

The economy is built and grown through the efforts of new businesses, small business and entrepreneurs. Are we preparing today’s youth to be successful as tomorrow’s entrepreneurs?

Reflecting back on the tools I had when I started my first business, those that made it successful and the very same that were required to build my current companies, I’m not sure that our kids are going to have what it takes. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.

So what’s it take? In my opinion, to be successful in starting on your own and building without a bankroll, you need a broad range of skills, aptitude to learn anything, desire to learn as much as possible and a work ethic rarely seen these days.

I have to go back to my youth and remember what it was like, count my blessings now, counting the very things I cursed and hated when I was a kid. Tough love and physical labor, difficult financial times yet the support to earn what I need so that I may get what I want.

Growing up in an area surrounded by rural communities where most made their living off of the land and to gain was to work harder, maybe our future entrepreneurs aren’t coming from the communities where today’s entrepreneurs reside, rather from areas of the country where the tools are still ingrained at an early age.

I’ve often thought of where and how I could share some of my experiences to both help those that want to start their own company and to ward off those that think they do but won’t be able to cut it. While I could go to he “best” school systems or work with a business college, I have to think that my time and effort would be best spent at the grade school and high school level in an area of the state/country where hard work is still a part of life and instilled by the parents.

Words of advice to myself and others that want their kids to be something special in their future careers would be:

  • Put your kids to work (even for no reason other than to make them work hard). Do this consistently and with very little reward, if any, other than the thanks for pulling their weight.
  • Give them the tools and encouragement to learn a variety skills from accounting to technology, from listening to being accountable and an understanding that failure is required on the road to success.
  • Teach them the upside of personal sacrifice in pursuing a greater goal rather than just today’s wants.
  • Provide the means and/or encouragement for them to earn “it” on their own rather than getting for them as a reward for something they should be doing anyway.
  • Reinforce independence, common sense, decision making and self-awareness by teaching, noticing and acknowledging success in these areas.

It’s going to take a lot more than your experiences and financial resources for your kids (or mine) to be successful in business and in life without the right tools in the toolbox.