Mastermind Monday at the Epic Entrepreneur House in San Diego

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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:

My First Pool Table Now BFF's

When I moved from Philly to Chicago in 1974, one of the first things I did was buy a beat up old pool table, had it refreshed, and installed in the new family home. I loved that table. Every day after work I'd shoot a few racks to unwind. 

That lasted only a couple of years until I just couldn't handle the Chicago weather and moved to San Diego.  (Best move I ever made.) Unfortunately there was just no room for the table in the U-Haul moving truck.  My best friend since high school, Rick Feeny, came to the rescue and I sold it to him for one penny profit (see the framed check below).  

At the time of the sale, Rick and his lovely bride Chrissy also lived in the Chicago area, but subsequently moved to North Carolina and took the table with him. Since then, he has moved several times, always taking the table with him. Just recently, he moved again to South Carolina and built an addition to his new home specifically for the table.

WOW! What a beautiful room it is, and the table is spectacular. Well done, Rick. Thank you for taking such good care of "our" table. 

Rick has done some research on the nameplate (see photo detail below): 

Jaburek and Richard 

Master Tables, 

1735-37 West Lake Street           Chicago

The story he unearthed is that the table was "probably" made by Brunswick around the early 1900's, well over 100 years ago, and relabeled with the seller's name, a somewhat common practice at the time. It is unusual in that it has a 4-piece slate!

I'm really looking forward to playing on the table again. Rick has been taking some lessons from Loree Jon Jones, and been doing a lot more practicing than I have, so it should be a good challenge.

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.


Startup Success and Startup Mistakes

Sam Altman, Ycombinator, Who knows more than this guy? 

1.  A product so good, people tell friends.
2.  Easy to understand; simple to explain
3.  Market exponential growth
4.  Real trends vs. fake trends
5.  Evangelical Founder
6.  Ambitious Vision
7.  Hard Startup vs. Easy Startup
8.  Confident and Definite View of the Future
9.  Huge if it Works
10.  Team
        a.  Optimists
        b.  Idea Generators
        c.  "We'll Figure It Out"
        d.  "I've Got It"
        e.  Action Bias
        f.  The Blessing of Inexperience
11.  Momentum
12.  Competitive Advantage
13.  Sensible Business Model
14.  Distribution Strategy
15.  Frugality, Focus, Obsession, Love
16.  Why Startups Win
        a. One No vs. One Yes
        b. Fast Changing Markets
        c. Platform Shifts

 Kathryn Minshew: 7 Classic Startup Founder Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

1. Idea vs. Product - Market Fit
2. Any founders with skill will do
3. Perfect vs. Done
4. Productive or Impactful?
5. If you build it, they will not come.  Create Velocity.
6. Team building
7. Don't believe the hype 

Guy Kawasaki - Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

                 Mistake                         Solution

  1.  Big Numbers * 1%          Calculate from bottom up
  2.  Scale too fast                   Eat what you kill
  3.  Focus on partnerships      Focus on Sales,  Sales Fixes Everything
  4.  Focus on Pitch                 Focus on prototype
  5.  Too many slides              10 - 20 - 30 rule
  6.  Proceed serially               Proceed parallely
  7.  Retain Control                 Make a Bigger Pie
  8.  Patents for Defense .        Use Success for Definsibility
  9.  Hire like you                    Hire to complement you
10.  Befriend your investors    Exceed expectations

Ikigai: your reason for being

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being." The word "ikigai" is usually used to indicate the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile.

Image result for ikigai

Show up, work hard, and listen

One of my clients (first time CEO, first startup) went bust recently and I've been doing a private post-mortem on the reasons why. When I first met (name redacted), he was the very model of potential success, but things slowly devolved to the point where I could see he was going nowhere.

In our meetings, he took copious notes, and I was fascinated by how painfully detailed he was with these notes, which unfortunately interrupted the flow of our meetings. Although I suggested several times that he could simply record the audio of our meetings and take notes later if he wanted, and that it would give him more value for our time together, he ignored that advice and slowly, painfully, kept with the detailed notes on paper. I let it go, deciding to focus more on his results rather than the process. I should have seen it as a sign of things to come.

The results were never there. It was truly frustrating to watch him take no action on the items we discussed, but even worse was his penchant for taking action on major shifts in his strategy without ever discussing these things with his advisor. 

The results were predictable. He spent way more money than he should have, and he spent it on the wrong things. This put him into cash crunch mode all too often, taking focus away from executing. He never developed his story, value proposition, or product/market fit, didn't expand his fundraising efforts beyond one source who eventually, as predicted, dried up when there was no progress. He lost focus on his main product and spent valuable time developing a only slightly related business line that was completely undifferentiated, pivoted his main product into something much less unique in the urgent search for sales, and completely missed what the market was saying to his sales efforts (crickets: not a compelling business model), then pivoted again into a business model that would take much, much more capital to execute at a time when he had no capital left. All of this without discussing these moves with his advisor. These are just a few of his mis-steps. Too many to list here. Seriously, WTF? 

I took pains to repeat key suggestions, but it was if he was completely deaf. 

I kept holding out hope that he would turn it around. Eventually, he decided to make the ultimate pivot: pull the plug.

The bottom line is that he just didn't take action on the basics of what he needed to do. Success happens in the startup world only by taking action, quickly. If the action proves to be wrong, then take action again, fast.

"Fear is the disease, Action is the antidote."  His problem was that his actions were the wrong ones, and he didn't take action on the most basic of recommendations. He built no foundation for success.

This morning's email from James Clear seemed to speak to the issue. He discusses a famous coach's essential elements of success, albeit for athletes rather than CEOs, but the concept is the same. See if you agree:

Tim Grover was the athletic trainer used by Michael Jordan (and many elite NBA players). Here he is describing the three things he asks of every player:

"I don't care how much you can lift, how fast you can run, how many pull-ups you can do, or whether you can hit a three while blindfolded. There are only three things I ask of every client... Show up, work hard, and listen. That's it. It requires no talent, no special genetics, or any skill whatsoever to show up, work hard, and listen."

He adds:

"When I train my athletes, it's a dictatorship with three rules: show up, work hard, and listen. If you can do those three things, I can help you. If you can't we have no use for each other. I will bust my ass for you every way possible, but I expect you to do the same for yourself. I'm not going to work harder than you do for your benefit. Show me you want it, and I'll give it to you.”   Source: Relentless by Tim Grover

My ex-client continues in his delusions while he is going through the pain of dealing with the devolution of his startup. We all learn in different ways. Some can learn from the experience of others (advisors), and some have to learn the hard way, from their own experiences. 

I'm reminded of that old saying "There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know."  This is the dreaded "Knowing - Doing Gap" that has been discussed. Hopefully, he will learn how to learn in his next adventure. That is the only silver lining in this dark cloud.   

What could I have done differently? I should have given him fair warning, earlier, that he was going to fail, and that he would be fired as a client if he continued on his path of inaction on key points, and for making major strategy shifts without discussion and planning. My learning experience here is that I was too optimistic and supportive. I hate to give up and fire a client. It won't happen again. I must realize that if I can not inspire taking the right actions, then they should find another advisor whose advice they will follow. Life is too short to spend on those who do not "Show up, work hard, and listen."

The good news is that now there's a spot in my calendar for a client who will show up, sincerely wants to learn, and is absolutely dedicated to taking action. 


Focus is, quite possibly, the most essential trait a startup entrepreneur can have.

a sculpture by Dale Evers

The successful warrior is the average man, with laser like focus.
Bruce Lee

Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.
Carl von Clausewitz

Focus on your customers and lead your people
as though their lives depend on your success.
Warren Buffett

These are just a few of the 56 excellent quotations on the subject of Focus that you'll discover in the app called "ToBeWise" that is available Free for Android and Apple devices.  

This extraordinary app contains a collection of 2000+ of the smartest things ever said by the smartest people who ever lived, from Socrates to Warren Buffett, with a special collection for Entrepreneurs.
Check it out at

Private Unicorns: the List

Here are the 346 Private Unicorns (valued at $1B+) according to data gathered by, with permission. Improved to Google sheets format, totals added, and many other much needed improvements by Michael McCafferty at DBLM