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Life Changing Conversations for Entrepreneurs

Affirmations Count! And Now There’s Proof

I am a big believer that you first declare your intention and then you live into it. I am of course not the first person to say this, and for some folks it’s a given and for others its an eye-rolling experience (include my children in that category).

I can picture – even though I wasn’t alive at the time – seeing Babe Ruth step up to the plate, loosen up and point his bat at the stands, at the exact spot where he would hit the ball out of the park for a home run. That’s an affirmation too.

And now there’s proof about affirmations. Sasha Issenberg, writing in the The New York Times Magazine, reported on voter appeal direct mail results that show the old message “More Americans should exercise their right to vote” didn’t work. The results of that rousing statement? Lower voter turnout.

The new message? “Turnout is going to be high today.” This statement resulted in higher voter turnout. And there’s proof from direct mail before and after campaigns to back it up.

This may sound abstract, but it’s not. Our own internal dialogue, or the dialogue we have with customers, employees, friends and family – when put in the form of the desired outcome –  helps to produce exactly that desired outcome.  Pretty cool.

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Are Leaders Today Really Leaders?

I thought this was funny, so I’m asking your opinion. As blogged by ExecuNet on LinkedIn, Lauryn Franzoni, ExecuNet vice-president and executive director of membership, recently attended the World Business Forum in New York City where she had the pleasure of interviewing Nando Parrado about his experiences as a plane crash survivor and entrepreneur. I thought that Nando’s story was inspirational and worth sharing with you.

After you view the video, read this comment from ExecuNet member Matt Jackson:

Jackson posted this:

A touching and pointless story. Corporate executives should look at Parrado and the Chilean survivors as the EXACT OPPOSITE of everything they represent. A bunch of pampered and pretentous B-school pr**ks sitting in offices trying to glom onto any example of courage and leadership because they have neither. What “commitment” does the audience have? Commitment to make money at any cost? Commitment to work 15 hour days and suffer all manner of abuses and beurocratic indiference in the constant fear that their livlihood will be taken away on some vice presidents whim?

What’s the message here? Through someone else’s staggering neglect and incompetance your life could become a total disaster? That to survive you will need to eat your fellows? That you have no choice but to put up with a bunch of crap or die?

Every corporate executive fancies himself to be a modern reincarnation of Ernest Shackleton, Neil Armstrong or Douglas MacArthur or… whoever. The fact that they typically have NONE of the qualities of great people who accomplish great things is the reason most of them are sitting in an office somewhere.

So: what do you think about leadership today? Gutsy, or gutless?

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What’s Your Number?

The Great Lakes Entrepreneur Bash on November 16 had a great turnout. Photos of the event are now posted on Facebook and the HTDI website. Feel free to tag yourself and your friends/colleagues.

The panel provided us with great insights — Mark Tebbe, founder/chairman of Answers.com, spoke eloquently, advising everyone to “know your number,” while Jim Dolan, founder/CEO of The Dolan Company, said “I don’t have a number.” Do you have a number? What would be a successful exit for you? Share your thoughts and be a part of the ongoing conversation.

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A Painless Way to Pay Forward

How fast does technology obsolesce itself? Speedy quick. But of course not everyone’s on the leading edge, and there are many school systems and children who have zero or very limited access to computers. And we all know how far you’ll get in the world if you are not tech savvy.

Luckily there’s a charity called Technology for Humanity that helps solve the problem. Donate computer equipment that you are no longer using and the rest is taken care of. My friend Andy Vass is the champion behind this initiative.

So to make a difference this Thanksgiving season, contact Andy via the Technology for Humanity website. Thank you.

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Great Lakes Entrepreneur Bash Recap Video

November 16, 2010 marked the launch of  How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America and the first ever Great Lakes Entrepreneur Bash. The evening was a HUGE success — with almost 350 people joining us in Chicago to celebrate entrepreneurship. Here is a short video recapping the event.

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How They Did It Featured in Chicago Tribune

How They Did It and some of the company founders featured in the book appeared on November 18 in a Chicago Tribune article written by Melissa Harris.

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Liftoff!

Tuesday marked the launch of How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America and the first ever Great Lakes Entrepreneur Bash! The evening was a HUGE success – with almost 350 people joining us in celebration of entrepreneurship and for the panel discussion with seven of the HTDI founders: Bill DeVille, Jim Dolan, Tim Krauskopf, Mark Tebbe, Vince Pettinelli, Chris Moffitt and Michael Polsky.

We couldn’t have done this on our own. Kudos to all of our sponsors, presenting organizations and co-hosts for their support and for the amazing job they did helping us spread the word and pack the room.

Special thanks to our sponsors: IBM, Grant Thornton and SurePayroll. In particular, Dave Carlquist, Anthony Dudek, Michael Emerick, Kathy Watts, Mary Lyons, Laura Mumper, Jim Huisel and Ronnie Todd at IBM; Anthony Bonaguro, Steve Siemborksi, Mike Schamberger, Kristin Ehrhardt and David Heinke at Grant Thornton; and Michael Alter, Francesca Zelasko, Tracy Toth and Scott Brandt at SurePayroll.

To our presenters – TechAmerica, Illinois Technology Association and MIT Enterprise Forum – thank you for organizing the event and spreading the word! We surpassed our goal and you made that happen.  Many thanks to Fred Hoch and Sarah Habansky at ITA; Terry Flannagan, Nancy Munro and Ted Wallhaus at MIT Enterprise Forum; and Ed Longanecker at TechAmerica.

Thanks to our co-hosts:   Craig Miller at ACG; Dana Damyen at Chicago Booth Business Book Roundtable; John Roberson and Caity Moran at the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center; Raman Chadha and Stephanie Furlan at DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center; Kelly Cutler at Entrepreneurs’ Organization; Kapil Chadhary at I2A; Maura O’Hara at the Illinios Venture Capital Association; Anne Gilberg at Global Entrepreneurship Week; Mary Paskell at Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago; Brad Lehrman at MOJO Minnesota; Linda Darragh and Tracey Keller at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship; John Hanak at Purdue Technology Centers; Jim Jay at TechPoint; Maria Katris at TiE Midwest; Spencer Stern and David Guttman at Wharton Club of Chicago; and Gaye van den Hombergh at Winning Workplaces.

We got great video last night and will be sharing that with you soon – so stay tuned!

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The Deadly Phrase for an Entrepreneur – “In Order To”

We were in a meeting yesterday for one of our companies, interimCEOinterimCFO, discussing various steps in a new initiative, when I had the feeling of falling into a trap. Every so often I fall into the same trap when we are working on plans and budgets and assigning projects.  The trap is that I start thinking – and waiting – for the next great thing. What we have is good, but it will be so much better when we do just one more site redesign. And the search function on the site is good, but it will be great when we get it notched up just a bit more, so we should wait on a full rollout ‘til its even better. And we better not tell anyone yet because its not, well, perfect.

See what I mean? This is an extension of what Wayne Dyer has been writing about for years. “When I get out of high school everything will be great.” “When I get out of college life really starts.” “When I get married things will be better.” And so on.

We are goal setting and goal achieving machines by nature. All well and good. But when we put goals before goals before goals, well it can get endless and counterproductive.  The evolution of software is actually a successful example of iterations of imperfect but better efforts finally leading to good and then great products.

As entrepreneurs it’s easy to want to do a hundred and one things before we think we are ready to put our product or service out into the world. It’s easy to enter the danger zone of saying “in order to”.

-IN ORDER TO acquire a hundred more customers, we need a flashier website
-IN ORDER TO start making sales calls we need to add more product offerings
-IN ORDER TO _______ (fill in the blank)

Howard A. Tullman, founder of  Certified Collateral Corporation and about a dozen other companies said it right in How They Did It: “A lot of people wait for a perfect solution to come along and never get their businesses going. The idea of just getting going and assuming that the right tools, the right systems, and the right people will come along is crucial to the entrepreneurial process.”

Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach program, has what he calls “The 80% Approach,” which means to work to solve 80% of a problem on the first go-round. Then take another 80% out of the problem the next time (this means working on the remaining unsolved 20%) so that the second generation solution will be at 96%. And so on.

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Jim Dolan in the News

In a particularly well-timed Election Day announcement, the Dolan Company revealed on Tuesday that they would be launching a joint venture with Telran, Inc to provide a 50-state, real-time Web-based legislative reporting and data service.  As the country acclimates to the new political landscape following the Midterms, LISA (Legislative Information Service of America) will “help lobbyists, corporate government affairs representatives, national associations and government agencies keep up with the action.” Jim Dolan is teaming up with Andy Fish, a veteran in providing legislative information.

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Dharmesh Shah: Eleven Harsh Realities of Being an Entrepreneur

Great article by Dharmesh Shah, OnStartups.com called “The 11 Harsh Realities Of Being an Entrepreneur”. Here is the bullet point list, but it is definitely worth reading the entire article:

1. Your First Iteration of an Idea Will Be Wrong
2. Your Friends and Family Won’t Understand What You Do
3. You Will Make Less Than Normal Wages For A While
4. Everything Takes Twice As Long…If It Even Happens
5. Titles Mean Nothing. You Will Be a Janitor
6. There Is No Silver Bullet
7. Customers Will Frustrate You
8. You Can’t Do It All Yourself
9. There Is No Such Thing As An Overnight Success
10. Building A Team Is Hard
11. There Are Forces Outside Your Control

Any other harsh points on your list?

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