I love it when...

I love it when I have a meeting with an entrepreneur who asks for help, and they actually take notes and then follow up after the meeting. Here's an example from a meeting last week:


It was great meeting with you for lunch the other day. As mentioned, one of my 2020 resolutions was to connect with people who matter, but unfortunately, I don’t get to see as many as I’d like. Having known you for almost 25 years, you are certainly one of the people who matter!  

As always, meeting with you was enjoyable and enlightening. As I embark on my new business venture, your mention of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, was timely and hit home by reminding me of the importance of creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The need to get to market quickly, learn, improve and repeat has always been a valuable lesson that you inspired in me. Even though this lesson is part of the Ten Commandments of Managing a Young, Growing Businessand a poster with it hung on my office wall for years, I was surprised at how easily I lost sight of this simple yet powerful rule.

Too often, we get caught up trying to create the perfect product for everyone and get stuck in an endless development cycle without ever getting to market. As you know, in software, it’s called "Feature Creep” and even though I’ve steered many clients away from it, I now found myself succumbing to its power. That is until you reminded me of focusing on the MVP.

“Do good NOW, make better later” are words you shared with me more than 20 years ago and they are as important now as the day you first said them. So much so, that I immediately went back to my office after our lunch and stripped down a two page list of web development tasks into less than one page! We are now on our way to having a working site up in less than one week. Its sole purpose is to enable us to engage with our target markets, learn about their needs and gain insight into their thoughts about our business.

Having achieved this, I promised myself to never let “Feature Creep” or as some would say “Paralysis by Analysis”, distract me again. To ensure this, I am implementing the technique you taught me during lunch, which is to use an existing habit as a trigger to create a new desirable habit. Being that my office window faces west, I am forced every day to close the blinds to block the sun from causing a glare on my computer screen. Each morning I open the blinds to let in the natural light. These two habits are now the triggers that prompt me to evaluate if I’m following the MVP rule in our product road map, as well as all aspects of the business.

Mike, thanks so much for your insight at lunch, it has made a huge difference. More importantly, thank you for all of the positive impacts you have made in my life, I am grateful to have you as a friend and mentor.


-------------------------  Reply below  --------------------------


πŸ™Thank you for the opportunity to be of service! πŸ™

The following quote seems to sum up our meeting:

Seneca, one of the great Roman Stoic philosophers, on friendship:

"...nothing delights the mind so much as fond and loyal friendship. What a blessing it is to have hearts that are ready and willing to receive all your secrets in safety, with whom you are less afraid to share knowledge of something than keep it to yourself, whose conversation soothes your distress, whose advice helps you make up your mind, whose cheerfulness dissolves your sorrow, whose very appearance cheers you up!"

Source: On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Best of luck with your startup, Darrin.
Please keep me updated on your progress, and count on my help anytime.
I love it when people take notes and follow up!


ToBeWise™ question

This excellent question from client GC:

... I have the app (ToBeWiseApp.com), and I've found many of the quotes fascinating, especially the ones by Carnegie. Is there a way to implement the wisdom they convey? I find myself agreeing with most if not all of what I read, but I'm at a loss about how to put them into action. For example, one of his quotes is "No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it." Truman said something similar with "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." I completely agree that being selfish is counterproductive and you should empower others, but how do you do this when it's your job to lead a project, and you need your ideas to be executed on?

Such a great question!

I think one clue to the answer is in your last sentence, especially "...how do you do this when it's your job to lead a project, and you need your ideas to be executed on? "

Notice that you phrase it as though in the first person... your job to lead, your ideas, etc. One of the more empowering changes that entrepreneur/CEOs can make is to change the word from "I" to "we". It's so much more powerful to eliminate your ego and become part of the team. Instead of focus on your ideas that need to be executed, focus on helping the team to see the vision and be open to their input on how to get there. They will be much more empowered if they feel they are part of the vision rather than blindly following orders.

This is summed up on one of my favorite quotes on this subject:

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Continuous communication of the vision is the enduring duty of the founder/CEO. It is the essential skill that must be developed in order to recruit co-founders, team members, advisors, investors, and others to support your dream. You supply the vision, and ask for help, and always continue to follow up and appreciate (give credit, say thanks) whatever comes your way.

The app is designed to be used as a method of programming your mind, a form of self hypnosis, whereby, with continuous daily use, you find quotations that speak to you and your current state of affairs, and Favorite them to be saved and repeated over and over until they become part of your being. It is then that you start to live your life that way, without thinking. You build a habit of thinking the same powerful thoughts of the great minds who you admire.

Who Should Founders Listen To For Advice

Ycombinator nails this very important question with this video:

They should know, having worked with 2,000 companies, now worth over 100 billion total.

I recommend a board of advisors, at least 2 plus the CEO, no more than 5 total.
The smaller the better.

The board meets on a regular basis, once a month is ideal.

Watch the video!

Paul Graham's Essays, Visualized

There is truth to the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words".  So here are a few infographics that illustrate some of the essays of Paul Graham (startup guru).  These are a lot more memorable and easier to put on your wall than the thousands of words in his essays, and a lot easier to communicate to your team.  Here's the link: https://blog.adioma.com/tag/paul-graham/?ref=producthunt

How to ask for help, and get a YES!

Building a successful business is a lot more difficult when you haven't done it before. But there are plenty of people who have done it, multiple times. And lots of them would be very willing to help you if you just ASK. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of intelligence.

Check out this TED talk and think about your next move:

Top 10% of Founders have these traits

Check this short video from Ycombinator.
Probably the best 5 minutes you can invest today.
Here's the link:

00:00 – What Makes The Top 10% Of Founders Different?
00:35 – Great founders execute
1:22 – Formidability
2:09 – Clear communication
3:40 – Internal motivation
4:52 – Note that “idea” is not on this list

Mastermind Monday at the Epic Entrepreneur House in San Diego

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people sitting

Mastermind Monday at the Epic Entrepreneur House.

Story in Inc. Magazine current issue and online at:

This co-living concept has legs. One of the residents of this Epic Entrepreneur House is Christine McDannell who wrote the book on it: The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life

FREE on Kindle: https://amzn.to/2qzGHok

Measure What Matters: OKRs by John Doerr, Legendary VC

Check this video, then get the book.

Get The Book!
(actually, get a copy for everyone in your company)

Geezers Rule Startup Land

Image result for old man with a lot of money

A Study of 2.7 Million Startups Found the Ideal Age to Start a Business (and It's Much Older Than You Think)

A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to found a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder--and is 1.7 times as likely to found a startup that winds up in the top 0.1 percent of all companies.

Read the full story at INC Magazine

I wonder how great the odds would be for a 70-year-old, or 80?
Where is the sweet spot where the odds of success are greatest?

In any case, if you're doing a startup in your 20s or 30s, the math indicates that having a geezer in the group is good for business. Go for the gold, get a geezer to guide you.