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Learning from Andy Whitman and Gary Sebek of the 2x Fund: How a CPG Fund Will Evaluate Your Company: Podcast

A fascinating conversation with Andy Whitman and Gary Sebek, managing partners at 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners fund. I first got to know Andy when he invested in gDiapers, a Portland, OR based company that had invented a truly green disposable diaper. gDiapers biodegradable inserts break down in months – not eons – read for yourself here.

Andy, Gary and partners also invested in Orabrush tongue cleaners, Tasty Bite ethnic foods, Eagle brand snacks and Wellness all-natural pet foods. If you want to see an outstanding example of Internet promotion and marketing, check out Orabrush here. And then go to one of their incredibly well done YouTube videos – as I write this feisty Orabrush has crossed 25,608,144 YouTube views.

If you have a consumer products company, listen here for some fast advice on what motivates a CPG investor.

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Roy Halladay on Setting Goals

For a pitcher in the major leagues to throw a no hitter is an amazing accomplishment. That’s what Roy Halladay did on May 29, 2010 against the Florida Marlins. What beats that? Throwing a no hitter in the playoffs. In his playoff debut on October 6, 2010 Roy threw his second no hitter in the Phillies win over the Cincinnati Reds. That’s only the second time a no hitter has ever occurred in post-season play. Just a nice little reminder that we can set more ambitious goals, no matter what yesterday’s success looked like.

You Think You Got Game?

Roy reminds me of another great athlete who plays all out. This past May Chicago Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith’s sacrifice of 7 teeth in the final game leading to the Stanley Cup finals on May 24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfJx1L71DUU

Think you play tough in the corporate arena? Keith took a puck to the mouth, shattering 7 teeth. He left the ice, came back a couple minutes later to finish the game and assist in the game-tying goal. It sounds amazing, but when you think about hockey, and you think about what makes a champion, maybe its not so bizarre. It got me thinking what a comparable calamity would be in the corporate world, and how we react to adversity, under pressure, under bright lights, everyone watching. How do you recover from a shattering event?

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Cleversafe’s Chris Gladwin on How to Redefine Your Industry: Podcast

I am really pleased that Chris Gladwin, CEO and founder of Cleversafe, spent some time talking about his experience starting, growing and selling companies.

Chris is the consummate entrepreneur, from Cruise Technologies to MusicNow to Cleversafe – successfully creating, financing and growing technology companies, and not in easy circumstances. Chris tells how the music space became hypercompetitive, with 226 VC-backed companies and only 4 with successful exits (he sold MusicNow to Circuit City and then to AOL).

Cleversafe is now redefining the whole notion of how data storage occurs, and it’s taken six years to both engineer the team’s vision and to see the world come around to cloud computing.

And it turns out Cleversafe is taking in additional capital. Listen in to hear some straight talk from a champion company founder.

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How Entrepreneurs Use Coaching to Score (A Podcast with Three Master Coaches): Podcast

I have had the privilege of getting to know three outstanding executive coaches over the years, and it got me thinking about when and how entrepreneurs could make use of a good coach. Having a sounding board, especially at the early stages of a company pre-board of directors, is a good thing. So we interviewed Jim Rohrbach, Sheryl Dvorin and Jack Chapman, who, while each being a great coach, have very different practices and styles and areas of interest.  You can listen right now here.

Jim Rohrbach – Success Skills Coach

Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach is “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business.”  He coaches business owners, entrepreneurs, sales professionals and corporate executives on building their clientele. Author of the books Business Success Skills and The Social Skills Playbook, he has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. What sets Jim apart from other business coaches is his ability to improve his clients’ “inner game of success” via specific techniques not unlike great athletes use to get to the top of their game. Jim holds a BA in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Education and has completed Ph.D. course work in counseling.

Jack Chapman – Salary Negotiations

Since How to Make $1000 a Minute was first published in 1986, Jack Chapman has become a specialist in all aspects of salary and raise negotiations–from high-profile executive negotiations worth an additional $300,000, to strategies an hourly-wage worker can use to bargain for extra benefits or perks. He has personally assisted over 2,000 individuals, one-on-one, in improving their careers through the challenges of job changes, career planning, and entrepreneurship, and has influenced countless others through his many seminars, courses, lectures, TV and radio appearances, and newspaper columns. Jack’s background includes seven years of study in the Jesuit order, where he earned a B.A. The holder of a master’s degree in Vocational Guidance, he has had a wide variety of careers himself–teaching at the high school and college level, real estate management, corporate training and development, and career management consulting.

Sheryl Dvorin – Beyond Limitations Coaching

Sheryl Dvorin has been a consultant and coach for individuals and corporations for 10 years. She continues on-going training and development through seminars and her spiritual practice. She has dedicated her life to supporting people with their growth and development as well as achieving their personal & professional goals. She received her B.A. in communications from the University of South Florida.

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Now This is The Way to do a Book Tour

This past Friday, September 3rd, I had the opportunity to hear Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo’s, speak at EO Chicago’s Learning Event. Tony has been traveling the country on a tour bus with a dozen Zappo’s acolytes in support of his first book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

This is one smart dude. What most impressed me is that he appears to walk the talk. Zappo’s recruits employees not only for competence and skills but equally for fit with culture and personality. He said that either upfront or after a person’s on board, if their skills were superior but personality was difficult, they’d be given the boot. And this is the same company that has famously had a $2,000 cash offer for trainees to leave following their training.

Now if they would just add a tour of the bus, that would’ve been even better.

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Jim Camp, America’s #1 Negotiation Coach to Host Webinar Sept. 16

I had the good fortune to meet Jim Camp years ago at the annual Inc. 500 conference.  I saw one of the seminars listed in the attendee program – just one word – Negotiation. I figured, what the heck – even though I thought I knew everything there was to know about negotiating, maybe it would be interesting. But I didn’t hold out much hope, after all, my ability to be persuasive had got me pretty far – so far.  Then I heard Jim talk – and question about 100 of us in the audience – for just one hour, mind you. And that hour literally changed my life, my entire view of how I perceived business and specifically and practically how I decided to negotiate in all aspects of my life.

With the benefit of hindsight I can now see scores of deals we successfully completed over the past 10+ years, that would not have been possible without Jim Camp’s coaching. He presents a whole new way of thinking. People are so used to hearing about win-win that they have lost sight of everything but the urgent need to compromise, and cut price, and just get along in any way possible. If you are ready to get out of those traps, listen in and feel free to challenge Jim with your questions, thoughts and dilemmas in real time.

Jim Camp, the best-selling author of Start With No, will be speaking on this webinar on September 16 hosted by interimCEOinterimCFO, the worldwide network of interim, contract, and project executives. Jim will show you a way to play a much more sophisticated game than you ever thought possible. I guarantee it will be well worth an hour of your time to attend.

Date: September 16, 2010

Time: 10am Central Time

Sign up at www.interimceo.com (visit the upcoming events page)

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Rich Meeusen Helping Solve the World’s Water Supply Shortage

While I was working on How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America, I was asked, why focus on entrepreneurs and why the heartland?

Entrepreneurs are the engine that fuels the world’s progress. Progress does not come from bureaucracy. I wanted to learn from the 45 founders I interviewed and present their advice, insights, and inspiration in their own words, because great ideas and great effort never stop – regardless of economic conditions.

After speaking with the founders, is was clear that some of the most remarkable companies now in existence were launched and grown in the American heartland.

And the need for great entrepreneurs has not diminished. Take the issue of the world’s supply of potable water, for example. Research shows the existing water supply is insufficient to quench the thirst of the current population of the planet. According to The Netherlands’ recent 2030 Project, the world’s supply of potable water is 4.3 trillion cubic meters (TCM), whereas the world’s need at present is 4.5 TCM. Due to this shortage, five million children die every year. By 2030, the world’s need will total 6.9 TCM yet the supply will still be 4.3 TCM. Entrepreneurs, I predict, are going to solve this problem. And there is one location worldwide that has a clear lead, supply of talent, and expertise in water technology. Where is it—Palo Alto? London? Boston? Moscow?

According to Rich Meeusen, chairman and CEO of public company Badger Meter, Inc. (BMI), and co-founder of the Water Council, the answer is Milwaukee. Born from a 100-year history of industry on the Great Lakes, manufacturing in Milwaukee revolved around “wet” industries like tanning and breweries. Of the 11 largest water-related manufacturing companies in the world, five are headquartered or have significant presence in Milwaukee. More than 100 of the leading water technology companies are located in Milwaukee, working on all aspects of quality, desalination, access and use.

The world isn’t making any more water – what we have is what we have. Big issues like these can only be solved through creative new technologies, ideas and processes. Companies being launched and grown right now are our best hope to solve these challenges.

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Precise Path Robotics Inc. Secures Private Funding

When I interviewed Scott Jones at his home in Indiana for How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America, I had the pleasure of seeing first-hand the simulated Mojave Desert that had been built in his back yard to test the robotic car that the Indiana team (Purdue University, Rose-Hulman, Indiana University) designed for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency competition. That robotic car research eventually led to Precise Path Robotics Inc. – an Indiana based maker of robotic lawn mowers. Last week it was announced that Precise Path Robotics Inc. has secured $4.5 million in private funding. Congratulations Scott, we wish you continued success!

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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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