Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. Begin it Now! (Goethe)

January 24, 2015

Addiction: essential to startup success

a state characterized by compulsive 
engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.

It is an addiction to change, movement, action, continuous improvement. Relentless energy for growing, testing, learning.

Without this drive, it seems unlikely that great success will come.

This addiction grows to consume the founder(s), taking over other previously important aspects of life, including relationships, health, and other interests.

Do you seriously see yourself becoming so addicted? If not, then your success, if any, will be limited.

Humans are typically wired to relax after a certain level of comfort has been achieved. The addicted few are driven beyond this point.

Once addicted, few recover. They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.  (Dorothy Parker)

Do you seriously see yourself being so addicted for at least the next 3 to 7 years? 

Sobering thoughts as the first month of 2015 draws to a close.

Startup Reading 1.25.15

Two Sides of the Seed Investment Story:
     The Seed Bubble Has Popped - TechCrunch
     Why Seed Investment Activity is Increasing!  - CB Insights

Don't Stick Beans Up Your Nose! - Medium (on the weirdness of trying to help CEOs)

A Lesson in Finding Joy and Letting Go - Medium, Dave Haynes
Hire slowly. Fire fast. - Dave Berkus

Startup Podcast (#12 Burnout) - Gimlet
How Much Work Is Too Much? - Results.com

Startups and Shit - Startup L. Jackson blog
Product Hunt podcast - ProductHunt.com

Why Most Startups Fail and What You Can Do To Beat The Odds - SuccessHarbor.com
The #1 Reason Why Salespeople Leave Money On The Table - Forbes - Stephen J. Meyer

How Much Should I Raise, how should I spend it? - Medium

Life's most persistent and urgent question is:
What are you doing for others?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your life is your message to the world.
Make it inspiring.
Lorrin L. Lee

In matters of style, swim with the current;
in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Thomas Jefferson

There's only one way to have a happy marriage
and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again.
Clint Eastwood

A man's got to know his limitations.
Clint Eastwood

The poor man is not he who is without a cent,
but he who is without a dream.
Harry Kemp

January 21, 2015

What smart people said about entrepreneurship and innovation

“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” — Simon Sinek
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it” — Steve Jobs
“Entrepreneurship is “risky” mainly because so few of the so-called entrepreneurs know what they are doing.” — Peter F. Drucker
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” — Peter Drucker
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”— Steve Jobs.
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction” — Picasso
“If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse” — Henry Ford
“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.” — Donald Trump
“Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius
“The truth is that entrepreneurship is more like a roller coaster ride than a cruise.” — Vivek Wadhwa
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't.” — Warren G. Tracy’s student
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” — Richard Branson
“Dominate in your domain; You can do it.”―Jaachynma N.E. Agu
“Example is not the main thing in influencing other people; it’s the only thing.” — Abraham Lincoln
“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.” — Thomas Edison
“Always make your future bigger than your past.” — Dan Sullivan
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” — Jim Rohn
“Many people have serious academic degrees but cannot find a job, and sadly their degrees are so limited that they cannot even think about how to create a job for themselves.” — Haki R. Madhubuti
“Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.” — Bill Gates
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don't let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs

January 18, 2015

Startup Reading 1.18.15

The man who does not read has no advantage
over the man who can not read.
Mark Twain

How to Start Your Business Strategy for 2015 - Results.com
The 30 Best Bits of Advice for Entrepreneurs - First Round

The Only Thing That Matters for Startups: Product - Market Fit - Marc Andreessen
10 Rules for Web Startups - Ev Williams

Movement vs. Momentum - Classic Startup Dilemma - Deeksha
The 9 Most Important Elements of Every Startup - Steve Blank

How to Avoid Building Products That Fail - Medium
The Best Task Management Tools for 2015 - churchmag

The difference between successful people and very successful people 
is that very successful people say ‘NO’ to almost everything.
Warren Buffett

The perfect is the enemy of the good.


The great painter has something to say.
He does not paint men, landscapes, or furniture,
but an idea.

The #1 company killer is lack of market.
Rachleff's Law of Startup Success

The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit.
Rachleff's Corollary of Startup Success

To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving.
Kahlil Gibran

January 10, 2015

Startup Reading 1.11.15

How do you get programmers to work 60-80 hours a week? - Medium

Bootstrapping Customer Support - Be careful with these 5 types of people - Gergana

The 10 Y Combinator Startups Worth over 32 Billion - CB Insights

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires.
Seek discipline and find your liberty.
Frank Herbert, Dune

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
Henry David Thoreau

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
Bertrand Russell

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock
the stream always wins
not by strength but by perseverance.
H. Jackson Brown

January 5, 2015

Help Wanted

Administrative assistant - Perform administrative duties for founder/CEO. Responsibilities may include screening calls; managing calendars; making travel, meeting and event arrangements; preparing reports and financial data; training and supervising other support staff; and customer relations. Requires strong computer and Internet research skills, flexibility, excellent interpersonal skills, project coordination experience, and the ability to work well with all levels of internal management and staff, as well as outside clients and vendors. Sensitivity to confidential matters is required.

This is the person I count on to keep me smiling because of their attitude and results. This person will be Quiet, supremely capable, poised, unruffled, calm, Organized (notice the uppercase O), Quick-witted, slow to talk, Pleasant, Genuine, Caring, and Committed. Must have references. Huge opportunity for the right person.

Please send resume and salary requirements to: MM@BeginItNow.com

Co-founder/CTO/Programmer for iPhone rapid prototyping, UX and design skills.

All team members will earn stock options as part of their compensation package.
For more info regarding compensation, check out the page at SeaSweetSoftware.com

We are in startup mode, so we need to earn the cash for big salaries by building, selling and supporting products our customers need. We expect rapid growth, so we are looking for people who want to help make that happen.

We need people who want to trade a bit of salary right now for the opportunity of much larger rewards in the not too distant future. The bonus is that you will get stock options and an extraordinary education in what it's like to build a business from the ground up, and that is priceless.

Startin' a business (thoughts from a hillbilly guru)

"... startin’ a business. You make a commitment, learn everything you can on the subject, surround yourself with the best like-minded people you can find, burn your bridges behind you, and stop at nothing short of evil to get there."

August Turak

Startup Reading 1.4.2015

A few Christmas books!

Most Cap Tables are Wrong: How and Why - Medium

The Cybersecurity Tipping Point - TechCrunch

The Most Important Skill for Science or Self-Improvement - Slate

You must take personal responsibility.
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind,
but you can change yourself.
Jim Rohn

As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words, but to live by them.

What is written without effort
is in general read without pleasure.
Samuel Johnson

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "Thank You"
that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart

Men go abroad to wonder
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
and they pass by themselves without wondering.
St. Augustine

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority.
The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority.
The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
A.A. Milne

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness,
it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Aldous Huxley

No important problem is ever solved, it is transcended.

January 1, 2015

New Year, New Adventures

Another trip around the sun starts again...
What a privilege!

5 Ideas for an Awesome 2015   http://zenhabits.net/amazing-2015/
If you follow these ideas for the next year, I think you’ll create something truly amazing:
Create habits, not goals or resolutions. Resolutions are like wishful thinking, that fade away inevitably as the year’s newness wears off. Goals are great, but it’s hard to juggle 5-10 new goals when you have a lot of other things always going on. Instead, focus on one new habit at a time, and give it your full attention, until it becomes automatic. Then do another new habit. After a year, you could have 12 new habits, and you’ll be a lot closer to any goals you might have wanted to reach.
Be all in. Most people fail at their resolutions because they write them down, start taking action, and then let themselves quit when things get hard. But what if you committed to doing the habit of meditation in January, or you’d have to give up your favorite food for a year? What if you had to pay $10,000 if you missed two straight days of meditation? Would you stick to the habit then? Of course you would — because you’d be fully committed. Find a way to be all in, and you’ll make your habits stick.
Focus on weekly adaptations. Most people try to focus on something that will take a year to achieve, but you lose motivation, and what if things change during that year? Instead, focus on one week at a time. That’s a doable chunk of time — you can do a week at a time, but you can’t really do a year at a time. And each week, see how you can adapt what you’re doing so that your method gets better and better over time. Review how you did, find the obstacles, and plan around them for the next week.
Find your crew. You can do great things on your own, but you’re much more likely to get them done if you have a group of friends who are holding you accountable, and who you’re holding accountable too. Hold each others’ feet to the fire. Root each other on. Hold regular meetings to make sure everyone is staying on track, and don’t let your crew fall off track.
Fill your year with curiosity and a learning stance. Many people get discouraged if they fall off their goals or habits, but that’s because they have an all-or-nothing mindset. They see failure as evidence that they can’t do it. Far from it: failure is evidence that things need adjusting. It’s a way to learn, so that you can get better. Be curious about what will work for you, about what this new habit will be like (instead of having a preconceived idea), and about what happens when you make adjustments. See all your successes and failures as learning, not a sign that you are good or not good. With this flexible mindset, you’ll be able to weather out any kinds of disruptions, missteps, obstacles or changes.

December 28, 2014

Startup Reading List 12.28.2014

On testing business models and value propositions: 

people don’t always do what they say! 
To test, get them to do something!

Happiness is not a station you arrive at,
but a manner of traveling.
Margaret Lee Runbeck.

All men's miseries derive from 
not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.
Blaise Pascal

The conventional view serves to protect us
from the painful job of thinking.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life
are based on the labors of other men, living and dead,
and that I must exert myself in order to 
give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
Albert Einstein

December 26, 2014

Management, by Carlos Ghosn

Top guy at 3 big car companies on 3 different continents and languages, 140 billion in sales... how do you do it? I'm guessing Delegate! How can you apply his principles in your business?

December 23, 2014

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), what"s your excuse?

92% of businesses do NOT use KPIs? That's just an amazing stat. I wonder what they do to stay in business without measuring their performance? 

It's a good thing that YOU are not in this group of 92%!

December 21, 2014

Startup CEO reading for 12.21.2014

Building a Minimum Viable Product? You’re Probably Doing it Wrong - Harvard Business Review
How To Pitch Your Minimum Viable Product To Peter Thiel - Tor Gronsund
Answering the Lean Startup Call to Adventure! - Moves The Needle, Brant Cooper

5 Tips of a Productive Developer - Quora, Jonathan Blow, video
Mind Mapping Software - MindNode
The Perfectionists Guide to Hacking Happiness - Zach Luz

TrackYourHappiness.Org - Zach Luz
Startup CEO Screwups - CB Insights
The 5 Tactical Skills of a Great Executive - Berkonomics

You’re the average 
of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Jim Rohn

The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, 

only the pursuit of it.
You have to catch up with it yourself.
Benjamin Franklin

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

December 20, 2014

MPV comes before MVP

Way before you start on your MVP (Minimum Viable Product), it's a good idea to do an MPV (Major Premise Validation).

It's rather natural for a coder to start right in on building a product quickly so it can be shown to prospective users to get their feedback. But the feedback loop should start before you build anything.

What are the Major Premises (assumptions) at the foundation of your business? These must be validated before you code anything.

The way to do this? You've heard it before: Get Out of the Building! Talk with prospective users and tell them what you have in mind. See if you can get a true meeting of the minds. Is there any interest for the users to actually Pay for what you have in mind?

If you can't get any interest at the conceptual level, you will probably have a tough time getting any interest in a Minimum Viable Product because it will be built on a fuzzy MPV. You'll need to pivot.

It is this one step, Major Premise Validation, that could save a lot of grief later.


By the way, if I may, this acronym stuff is fun, but it's just technobabble to make the babbler sound like they have some secret sauce. In fact, Common Sense existed long before MVP. The saying that "there is nothing new under the sun" comes to mind. That phrase is in itself quite old, from the bible, one of the oldest and best-selling books in history.

Sometimes the technobabble comes not as an acronym, but in the form of a word that is repurposed and repackaged and repeated so frequently that it becomes part of a specialized language.  The word "pivot" comes to mind. And "fit". And phrases like "get out of the building". All basic common sense repackaged with the jargon du jour. The emperor has no clothes.

The name for the specialized language used in StartupLand is Startupian.  You probably have not heard that term before, and that may be making you feel a bit uncomfortable that there is a secret language that you need to know in order to succeed in this business. Don't be fooled, I just invented the words MPV and Startupian.  It's all just common sense.

December 15, 2014


The outcome (of your startup) is something like 

idea x product x execution x team x Luck

where Luck is a random number 

between zero and ten thousand.

Sam Altman
(President, Y Combinator)

December 14, 2014

Startup CEO reading for 12.14.2014

If not Now, When?

The 10x Product Launch Plan - Practice Trumps Theory

3 Qualities of a Great Leader - Berkonomics
    ( Laser Focus, Consistency, Maintain Forward Progress)

Why Products Fail - Practice Trumps Theory

Self Management Group - testing to evaluate new hires

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it.  
Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. 
Begin it Now!

What a man can be,
he must be.

December 10, 2014

Startup CEO reading for 12.7.2014

A great cup of coffee is the perfect companion while reading a chapter in your favorite book.
Click the "Company Library" link above for highly recommended reading, or look below for this week's selections.

The Lost Art of Software Testing - Scripting News

Startup Help - Spark59

Low aim is the biggest crime a man can commit.
Bruce Lee

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Isaac Asimov

He who dies rich dies disgraced.
Andrew Carnegie

The true measure of a man
is how he treats someone 
who can do him absolutely no good.
Samuel Johnson

Achievement seems to be connected with action.
Successful men and women keep moving.
They make mistakes, but they don't quit.
Conrad Hilton

December 4, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 20 - Later Stage Advice

Sam ("Um") Altman, President of Y Combinator, caps off the How to Start a Startup series with things you should ignore when you start, but become important a year in.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59ZQ-rf6iIc

And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/