Life Changing Conversations for Entrepreneurs

Michael Krauss on Winning in Recessions – Pragmatic and Nimble: Podcast

Great comments from Market Strategy Group president and managing partner Michael Krauss on this podcast.  Michael has unique insights on leadership at entrepreneurial companies, and presents findings from their research, how great companies thrive during recessions. Its not theoretical work – his insights were based on studying amazing companies like Groupon, Echo Global, Innerworkings, Nanophase, Richardson Electronics, Zebra and PCTel.

Check out his comments on winners being more pragmatic and nimble. And PCTel’s strategy for attacking microniches.

Get more insights on leading entrepreneurial companies in How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (now available on Amazon).

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Congrats to Eric Lefkofsky for Groupon on the 8/30/10 Forbes Cover

Congratulations to Eric Lefkofsky: Groupon made the cover of Forbes with this headline: “Groupon is the Fastest-Growing Company…Ever: The Next Web Phenom”.

And check out this chart, copyright Forbes:

This speaks to the power of continued experimentation, trial and error. Founder Andrew Mason had an initial idea for a website that would unveil the hidden agenda behind popular stories. That morphed into a group-action site, which finally ended in the successful experiment for Groupon.

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Howard Tullman Presents on Social Media at the Ace Convention in Las Vegas

Howard Tullman is a brilliant thinker, and I knew that before we interviewed him on September 8, 2008 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America.

Recently, Howard gave a presentation on social media at the Ace Convention in Las Vegas. I’ll highlight two points he makes:

(1) We are moving from a search culture to a peer recommendation culture.

(2) People are coming to trust a friend or contact’s recommendation rather than independent third party information.

Very interesting. Does that mean that people are starting to become somewhat weary of online search engines? Even user review services such as  “yelp”? I can see how we are moving into somewhat of an information overload…even with a plethora of sites out there that provide you with peer reviews and recommendations of restaurants or beauty salons, I guess people still long for referrals from trusted friends. It just can’t be replaced, especially when there is so much out there to “weed through”. Another great point Howard makes: build a deeper experience with your current customers rather than attempting “conquest” marketing – the pursuit of new customers – or attempting to retrieve lost customers. Howard says the wasted effort on lost or new customers far surpasses gains from serving current customers.

Great presentation, Howard!

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Tom Churchwell on the State of Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Funding: Podcast

I interviewed Tom Churchwell, founder and managing partner of Midwest Venture Partners, a venture accelerator, to get his thoughts on the state of entrepreneurship and venture capital funding. Tom is a veteran corporate executive and leader who has been involved in early stage funding and advising entrepreneurs for many years. He’s as good as it gets for understanding the game thoroughly.

You can listen to Tom’s brilliant comments here –

Thanks again Tom –

Learn how successful founders got funding for their companies in How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (now available for pre-order on Amazon)

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Scott Jones and ChaCha Featured in the Washington Post

Nice to see ChaCha in the 8/13/10 Washington Post article: “ChaCha, KGB see text messages as alternative to search engines on cellphones”on 8/13/10:

The article explains how services like ChaCha view text messages as an alternative to cellphone search engines like Google.  ChaCha allows you to ask a question by text or voice message and a human provides you with an answer.  Before interviewing Scott Jones for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America, I had already heard about ChaCha and had successfully used it. My family and I were driving on I-65 from Chicago to Louisville and I called to find out where the nearest Wallgreens was. I asked my question and hung up. A couple seconds later we got a text message confirming the question, and they got the question right. Another minute passed and another text came in, right on the money.

When I had the chance to ask Scott about ChaCha during the interview, he said the combination of human plus artificial intelligence is the key thing. And that asking questions beyond basic location queries like mine, would make things very interesting. Say you’re in a rental car, a Toyota Camry, and for the life of you you can’t find the gas tank door release. What do you do? With ChaCha you can call and ask the question, “I’m in a 2009 Toyota Camry. Where is the gas tank release switch?” And get an answer! How cool is that? Scott makes the point that the world is mostly mobile with many parts of the globe having bypassed all land-based computers, so that mobile search becomes the de facto standard.

Any other ChaCha users? What have you asked?

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How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America is Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America is now available for pre-order on Amazon.


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Jim Dolan Shows Link Between Entrepreneurial Success and Air Miles…

I don’t know if there’s a correlation, maybe in the modern world it is possible to score big and not have to fly much.  But in Jim Dolan’s case there is a link!

Nice recognition for Jim in the Twin Cities Business article “Jim Dolan on Living Up in the Air”.  In the article Jim was compared to George Clooney from Up In The Air. I was disappointed to learn 10 million miles is not that big a deal. I suppose I can add ammunition to this story, because in fact I did see Jim one time completely unexpectedly …at the airport!

Jim, can I see your Concierge Key? Please.

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Recognition for a Champion: Dane Miller, co-founder of Biomet

I really enjoyed seeing Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick – a great quick video interview with Dane Miller, co-founder of Biomet:

Dane is the real deal. And I’m glad I got to interview Dane in Warsaw for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America – it was the only way to see the titanium scar and hear the story about Indiana’s perfect storm!


Eileen Gittens and Blurb: The Starting Point for How They Did It

I think the starting point for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America is to talk about Eileen Gittens, founder and CEO of Blurb. Blurb is the best example of self-publishing now available online, at The reason is that Eileen is part of the inspiration, how the book came to be.

My friend Jason Apple, formerly of Hoolihan Lokey, invited me to their early stage tech conference in San Francisco. I attended and heard Eileen, one of the presenters that day a couple years ago. Eileen’s talk was a revelation. If you’ve seen Jake and Elwood in The Blue Brothers, this was my moment:

Jake: The band? The band.
Reverend Cleophus James: DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?
Reverend Cleophus James: DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?
Elwood: What light?
Reverend Cleophus James: HAVE YOU SEEEEN THE LIGHT?

I realized I could host an event and then publish one copy of a book! So I cornered Eileen and started thinking about publishing the book. I ended up with a big print run and a design from scratch, but Eileen’s inspiration lived on! Thank you Eileen –

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Now on Amazon

How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America is a book of thoughts, ideas, and inspiration from 45 of the most successful living company founders ever to come out of the heart of America. The book is now available on Amazon,, 800CEORead, and in select book stores.

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