A recent conversation with an entrepreneur who is scaling an “Asian-Heritage” shoe brand cleared up a lot of what I think is essential for “21st Century Relevant” businesses. These thoughts were synthesized one step further this past weekend for a presentation I gave to a class of Colgate students (Alma Mater) who enrolled in an entrepreneurship course that I co-teach with two alums.
Recent Thoughts by wills
“In point of fact the three actions of perceiving, determining, and responding were sequential; but so infinitesimal were the intervals of time between them that they appeared simultaneous.” – Jack London describing Buck, “Call of the Wild”
This constant call and preparedness for action reminds me of what I see at the core of successful entrepreneurs; a hardened mindset that assumes roadblocks and obstacles ahead as a given; an attitude that wastes little time dwelling on or becoming frustrated by the size of the problem that surfaces; and a preparedness for problem-solving and adaptability that makes the development process look fluid and constantly advancing.
I have three bookmarklets currently in my Chrome browser (seen below) and I wish I had a few more.
I renamed them for my own satisfaction, but the three add-ons above are for Instapaper, Boxee and The Fancy and they are really simple to add and understand.
I’ve been using the bookmarklets for a little while, but am still in the adoption stages of trying to break my stubborn internet-behavior and increase the frequency with which I access them.
Patient capital (Acumen Fund), crowd-sourcing (Kickstarter), socially-focused businesses (TOMS), new avenues for volunteerism (Catchafire), ‘B’ Corporations, forums and message boards with volumes of free and constantly updating content making you your own expert (Hacker News, StackOverflow, Everything Longboarding), university-quality blogs and educational tools (SteveBlank, AVC, Khan Academy)… There is an undeniable evolution taking place affecting what talented people feel motivated to do.
I think it was my aunt who told me “there is no such thing as a neutral conversation”, and the comment really ticked me off.
At the time I was an overly idealistic college student from a fortunate background who believed that things happened because they were the things that needed to happen, as if by some natural order and mutual accord.
Text will continue to be a primary means of communication going forward. However, despite unbelievable progress in methods for distributing information (internet, television, cell phones, personal computers, eReaders), our ability to convey rich messages through strings of words is still extremely limited. Digital text now consumes all aspects of our daily lives with MMS, Email, Websites, Tweets, Status Updates, Blogs, Research, etc, but little has advanced in the arsenal of word-communication since Shakespeare’s day (and long before).
In the beginning, music was live. People needed to be in the physical presence of an artist to hear his/her sound, or they were charged with creating music on their own or with a group of friends. Later, radio and TV emerged and distributed music (and other forms of art) directly to the home and individuals. This one-to-many distribution allowed for tremendous scale and equally tremendous profits. On the heels grew another billion dollar industry in printing songs onto the latest-technology materials (vinyl, 8-track, cassettes, CD’s…), and picking a price at which to sell to a hungry public looking to rock-out whenever they wanted; end users could now own their own content.
Every now and then I do an overhaul of the devices and software I use for organization and communication (computer, smart phone, even moleskin, etc.). I recently went through the very high-stress task of transferring all my contacts and calendars to sync on the Google cloud and upgraded from Outlook to Thunderbird with the Zindus add-on for my address book. Despite backing everything up before making the transfer, there was still a near-paralyzing level of anxiety when it came time to delete all my contacts and appointments from the phone and start syncing with the cloud. “What if in that very second my computer crashes, hard-drive burns up, and Google dies loosing all 1,000+ names?”
I’ve been CrossFitting for a little over a month now at CrossFit Gotham. Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has created a phenomenon that truly has the ability to elevate an individual’s potential. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is mixed with an equally compelling MLM strategy (think Tupperware or Cutco) that has helped the business to break through the tipping point and go viral.
I recently sat in on an entrepreneurship course at a smaller New England college. The class was not for credit and taught on Saturday for 6 hours by a devoted alum; by design it attracted students who were energized and committed to their ventures and maturing concepts. We went around the room and each student concentrated on three points; their pitch, what they had already accomplished, and what their goals were for the following class (in three weeks).