Category Archives: business

Woody Allen was right

Woody Allen used to say 90% of success in business was just showing up.

He’s right. Now more than ever.

In the social web, showing up is 90%. The other 10% is knowing what to do when you show up.

It doesn’t mean tweeting about your latest product or service or why someone should do business with you.

It means listening and engaging.

It means reacting quickly to negativity.

It means being generous. To a fault.

It means being transparent and building trust.

It means being a Connector.

It means being there before the sale.

It means being consistent and reliable.

Showing up isn’t hard but it’s critical. It means more than it ever has.

Your new competition

Quick. Take 30 seconds and list your main competitors.

(don’t worry, I’ll wait)

Done?

Good.

Sorry, but your list is wrong.

Unless of course, you listed Zappos, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Netflix, The Container Store and Apple.

Your customers are doing business with these companies, who are constantly raising the bar on engagement and customer delight.

Every time your customer’s online order arrives earlier than expected from Zappos…

Every time your customer chuckles at a Southwest flight attendant who weaves humor into the emergency exit script…

Every time your customer feels a human connection with a checker in line at Trader Joe’s…

Every time your customer is glad that there are so many helpful colored shirts at the Apple Store…

It’s happening right now. Your customers are experiencing this kind of interaction (notice I didn’t say transaction) today.

The bar has been raised.

What are you going to do?

Those who can, teach

I can see

This is often how I feel.

When I work with clients, I try hard to teach them about marketing, about customer engagement and how to listen and participate in the social web.

Some consultants prefer to do instead of teach. They are worried that if the client learns how to run everything on their own, they wouldn’t need the consultant anymore.

I would welcome that.

If I can teach my way out of a job, that means the clients are engaging with their customers and running a more successful, more social, more human business.

How can that be a bad thing?

Fried Green Insight

Jason Fried_compressed

Full disclosure…

I’m a huge fan of the team over at 37 Signals. They bleed simple brilliance. David Heinemeier Hansson gave one of my favorite talks ever at Startup School 08 and in May, Jason Fried delivered another gem at Big Omaha 2009.

Everyone should make time to watch Jason’s video, but if you can’t carve out 20 minutes my summary is below.

Jason Fried @ Big Omaha 2009 from Big Omaha on Vimeo.

Failure is not cool
The phrase “fail early, fail often” is overused. Failure is actually not necessary. Failure is not a character-building thing and it’s not a prerequisite to success. Focus on the things that are going right and parlay that.

Planning is overrated.
Business plans are just guesses. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. What matters is what you’re doing right now. You know more about something after you’re done with it.

Interruption is the enemy of collaboration.
A big open loft space does not necessarily mean more collaboration and higher productivity. With so many interruptions, workdays become work moments.

Try this in your company or department. Every Thursday, nobody can talk to each other. Email and IM and other tools are fine but no talking. See if it’s the most productive day that week. Or that month.

You create valuable byproducts.
When you make something, you make something else. We are all making byproducts.

When building houses, the sawdust created from all the lumber was initially thought of as waste. Then, people found multiple useful applications for it and it ended up being a valuable byproduct, sold for money.

When 37 Signals built Basecamp, the byproduct was Ruby on Rails and they didn’t even know it at the time.

Sometimes the valuable byproduct is knowledge.

Share like a chef.
Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay. They share what they do on TV. They tell you exactly what ingredients they use and show you step-by-step how to do what they do. If you want to do it at home, you can buy their cookbook for a fraction of the cost of a single meal.

This doesn’t make them less money, it makes them more. More people know about them. More people buy the cookbooks. More people eat at the restaurants.

Traditional business thinking would shut down this blatant sharing of intellectual capital.

The best thing you can do is share your knowledge.

What is your cookbook? Publish it. It helps you…

Build an audience.
Every company has customers. Great companies have fans. At the least, you need an audience.

90,000 people read the 37 Signals blog everyday. It takes time to build but it doesn’t cost them a penny to reach this large captive audience.

Focus on the things that don’t change.
What are the core, important things in your business that don’t change?

Amazon invests in distribution. Shipping. Customer service. Price. These things will be important to their business in 10 years.

37 Signals makes web-based software. They focus on making it fast, easy and usable. It may not be sexy but that is what will be important to their business in 10 years.

Ideas are immortal. Inspiration is perishable.
We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal.

Inspirations however, are like fresh fruit or milk. They are very perishable. If you’re lucky enough to be inspired, do it. Do it now. The most energy you’ll ever have about an idea is at the beginning. You can’t sustain it.

Thanks to Jason and the whole crew over at 37 Signals. Keep leading, guys.

Amazon’s New Shoez

amazon_logozappos_logo

Amazon just announced that it was acquiring Zappos, one of my favorite companies, for $807 million in Amazon stock, and about $40 million in cash and restricted stock.

Here are 5 reasons everyone wins in this deal:

1) Culture
Amazon gets to learn directly from Zappos, the company that wrote the book on culture as the DNA of success.

2) Leadership
Amazon gets Tony Hsieh, Fred Mossler, and Alfred Lin, three leaders who understand the new business paradigm as well as anyone.

3) Vision
See #2. Imagine sitting in “future of the company” brainstorms with Jeff, Tony, Fred and Alfred.

4) (Repeat) Customers
Here is Zappos’ repeat customer data from March 2001 – March 2007. (click to see larger)
Zappos_Repeat

5) Transparency
From living his life publicly on Twitter to the heartfelt letter Tony Hsieh wrote to Zappos employees, Zappos bleeds honesty and transparency. I love Amazon but I’ve always felt like I’m dealing with a website. With Zappos, I know there are humans behind the curtain.

The transparency seems to be rubbing off already. Here is Jeff’s video:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some AMZN.

I, Pencil

Pencil5

My friend Dan passes along the great essay “I, Pencil”, originally published in 1958 by Leonard E. Read (the founder and president of the Federation for Economic Education).

(Compared to my typical posts, this is a longer read but an important one.)

I agree with Dan’s assessments:

1) it is quite simply one of the greatest things ever written on any subject.

2) It highlights my faith in the natural tendency of individuals to unknowingly self-organize for mutual benefit.

3) It makes it completely apparent that central planning could never hold a candle to the organizational power of millions of individuals acting solely for their self betterment.

In the words of a subsequent president of the FEE Donald Boudreaux:

“No newcomer to economics who reads “I, Pencil” can fail to have a simplistic belief in the superiority of central planning or regulation deeply shaken. If I could choose one essay or book that everyone in the world would read, I would unhesitatingly choose “I, Pencil.” Among these readers, simplistic notions about the economy would be permanently transformed into a new and vastly more subtle—and correct—understanding.”

Some comments on the piece from Milton Friedman included at the end.

I, Pencil
My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that’s too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill’s power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation.

Once in the pencil factory—$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine—each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop—a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood-clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself—it contains no lead at all—is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth—and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow—animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions—as from a sausage grinder-cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal—the ferrule—is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there’s my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives “the plug” its color is cadmium sulfide.

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “master-minding.”

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it’s all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the
world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) founded FEE in 1946 and served as its president until his death.

From Milton Friedman:

Leonard Read’s delightful story, “I, Pencil,” has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”

We used Leonard’s story in our television show, “Free to Choose,” and in the accompanying book of the same title to illustrate “the power of the market” (the title of both the first segment of the TV show and of chapter one of the book). We summarized the story and then went on to say:

“None of the thousands of persons involved in producing the pencil performed his task because he wanted a pencil. Some among them never saw a pencil and would not know what it is for. Each saw his work as a way to get the goods and services he wanted—goods and services we produced in order to get the pencil we wanted. Every time we go to the store and buy a pencil, we are exchanging a little bit of our services for the infinitesimal amount of services that each of the thousands contributed toward producing the pencil.

“It is even more astounding that the pencil was ever produced. No one sitting in a central office gave orders to these thousands of people. No military police enforced the orders that were not given. These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, may even hate one another—yet none of these differences prevented them from cooperating to produce a pencil. How did it happen? Adam Smith gave us the answer two hundred years ago.”

“I, Pencil” is a typical Leonard Read product: imaginative, simple yet subtle, breathing the love of freedom that imbued everything Leonard wrote or did. As in the rest of his work, he was not trying to tell people what to do or how to conduct themselves. He was simply trying to enhance individuals’ understanding of themselves and of the system they live in.

That was his basic credo and one that he stuck to consistently during his long period of service to the public—not public service in the sense of government service. Whatever the pressure, he stuck to his guns, refusing to compromise his principles. That was why he was so effective in keeping alive, in the early days, and then spreading the basic idea that human freedom required private property, free competition, and severely limited government.

Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist, statistician and public intellectual, and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

surf company

Surfing_BW

Last week, I wrote an email to a friend who is visiting Costa Rica and is going to try surfing. As I crafted the email, I noticed some key similarities between surfing and starting a new business.

Conditions are critical
SURFING:
Even excellent surfers can’t surf when the water is flat. On a day with perfect waves, even amateur surfers catch a few good rides. (On rough days, you can spend 80% of your effort just paddling to get into position.)

BUSINESS:
When market conditions are perfect, even average businesses can succeed. When conditions get worse, only the very best can thrive.

Experience trumps tools
SURFING:
Experienced surfers can make do with average equipment, whereas rookies aren’t helped by a brand new surfboard.

BUSINESS:
A spreadsheet does not make someone a financial analyst. Keynote does not make someone a good speaker. A twitter account does not make someone a social media expert. Good tools reward experience.

Timing is everything
SURFING:
Paddle too early and you’ll burn out when the wave comes. Paddle too late and the wave will pass you by.

BUSINESS:
Burn through your cash too early and you won’t be around to sustain the tough periods. Wait to long to change your business due to an industry paradigm shift (like the end of traditional publishing) and you’ll be left underwater.

An outsider’s perspective

Conversation

The closer we get to a situation, the less clear we see it.

Next time you want advice on a new product or service or an honest evaluation of your current business, ask an expert…

…outside your industry.

We’re often too close to the situation, the nuances, the terminology and our perceived needs of our customers to evaluate an idea completely objectively.

Get advice from someone you trust who works in a completely separate industry. Buy them lunch and explain the idea. They will ask you questions that matter without the cloud of bias that you bring to the table.

Wise perspectives are all around you. Welcome a more naive one. Let an outsider hold your business at arm’s length and give you honest feedback.

Then listen. You’ll be surprised what you learn.

(repeat as necessary)

What’s your weakness?

Chain Link

When is the last time you held a meeting to discuss your biggest weakness?

If a competing firm wanted to steal (or even market to) your customers, where would they focus?

Could they treat your customers better?

Ship faster?

Provide better technical support?

How easy would it be for them to make your customers feel better than you do?

Identify your biggest weakness and eliminate it before your competitors exploit it.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

build-a-bear

1997: Maxine Clark opened the first Build-a-Bear workshop in a mall in St. Louis.
1999: Raised investor money and opened 10 new stores.
2001: The National Retail Federation names Build-A-Bear the Retail Innovator of the Year.
2002: Build-A-Bear Workshop celebrates the 100th anniversary of the teddy bear along with the opening of its 100th store.
2008: 346 stores and $470M in revenue – a huge success.

Maxine did a lot of things right.

She sold an experience, not a product. (The bears are free. Parents and grandparents (happily) pay for the experience of creating them with their child.)

She built a Purple Cow, a remarkable product that people would passionately tell their friends about.

She made it extremely easy for the idea to spread. The concept is perfect for groups (i.e. birthday parties). In recent years, she has expanded the empire with smart licensing deals.

But Maxine did another thing right. She built an advisory board for feedback and decision input. The board members? High paid MBAs or marketing consultants? Surely they would know the market trends and forecasts better than anyone, right?

Wrong. The Cubs are a group of 20 boys and girls 8-14 years old who review new products and suggest additional ones. It meets with Clark and her team 3-4 times per year. Clark takes the board’s opinions seriously–if the board does not approve a product idea, the company doesn’t use it.

If Maxine Clark is smart enough enough to listen to 5th graders, are you smart enough to listen to your customers?

Baked in magic

Disney
Walt Disney didn’t build an amusement park and then decide later to make it magical.

Tony Hsieh didn’t start Zappos and then, in year three, decide to deliver the best service the industry has ever seen.

Herb Kelleher didn’t build and operate Southwest Airlines and then decide to turn the airline industry on its head. (The original flight attendants were chosen by a committee that included the same person who had selected hostesses for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy jet.)

Delivering true magic isn’t something that can be fixed with a half-day training class. Because everyone works in marketing, ‘wow’ has to be baked in to the company’s culture. The larger the company, the harder it is to change the culture.

Frank Eliason and his team are doing great work trying to improve Comcast’s customer service and image using Twitter, but that’s customer support, not magic.

Magic has to be baked in.

Board stiff

yoda

There are big and important differences between Boards of Directors, Boards of Advisors and Mentors.

Board of Directors
A Board of Directors is a legal construct with a fiduciary responsibility to represent shareholders. If your board is doing its job, it is not to do what you want, it’s doing what shareholders want. Effective boards focus on maximizing shareholder value.

Great CEOs get paid so much because they have seduced the board into thinking they’re worth it and they are on the side of the board (and therefore the shareholders).

Board of Advisors
A Board of Advisors provides branding, introductions and influence. It is a signal. It enables the founders to truthfully claim, “My company is funded by (insert firm) and (insert relevant industry titan) is on my board.”

It is important to pick the right people and clarify what is in it for them. Often the board members are interested in connecting with each other and serving together affords them that opportunity.

Think about who has enough history with you or has enough to gain by being on the board of advisors.

Mentors
Mentors are exactly that. Individuals that provide mentoring and guidance. Again, you have to consider, what is in it for them? Do they owe you a favor? Are they so proud to be involved in the project that serving as a mentor is an honor? A symbiotic relationship is critical.

Before you decide you need a board, determine what you need, what is in it for you and what is in it for them.For public companies, boards are legally required. For smaller, non-public companies, boards often do more harm than good.

The little extras

We recently ate a late night dinner at the Nob Hill Cafe in San Francisco. It’s a cozy, bustling little cafe with the aroma of fresh food and spices emanating from the kitchen.

As we waited to order, our waitress brought us the usual pre-meal basket of bread, except there was nothing usual about this bread. A warm, pillowy soft foccaccia, the dense chewy interior contrasted with the firm, crunchy rosemary crust. We all silently looked at each other in amazement as we slowly chewed this heavenly bread.

After we ordered our entrees, we sheepishly asked our waitress for another basket. She didn’t look surprised in the least and with a wink, promised to check if there was any more in the back. She said that people often come early just for the bread and they often run out by then (we were seated around 10pm). We were in luck and she scored us the final basket before our entrees came.

I failed in my attempt to acquire the recipe for this miraculous rosemary foccaccia but next time I’m anywhere near San Francisco, I know I’ll be back. The rest of the food was very good, but the bread was clearly the star.

The basket of bread didn’t cost us a dime (and only cost the restaurant a few dimes), but it was the most memorable part of the meal. It not only brings the same diners back night after night and month after month but the bread is so good, people tell their friends.

It’s the little things.

What little things are you offering your customers to bring them back?

What little things are you doing to help them tell your story?

$10,000 for waffles

Radiohead, U2 and Trent Reznor have publicly embraced some innovative new ways to sell more than their music. They sell an experience.

Josh Freese, former NIN drummer has a new album (titled ‘Since 1972′) and he has decided to take the whole “souvenir / experience” model a little further. OK, a LOT further.

This is brilliant. I for one, hope he sells out all the packages.

From Idolator.

$7
* Digital download of Since 1972, including 3 videos

$15
* CD/DVD double-disc set
* Digital download

$50
* CD/DVD double-disc set
* T-shirt
* “Thank you” phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked. Ask whatever you want, like “Is Maynard really THAT weird?” or “Which one of Sting’s mansions has the comfiest beds?” or “Are Devo really suburban robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of dads from Ohio?” or “Why don’t the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?” It’s your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.

$250 (limited edition of 25)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed drum head and drumsticks
* Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you’re into)

$500 (limited edition of 15)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed cymbal and sticks
* Meet Josh in Venice, Calif., and go floating together in a sensory-deprivation tank (to be filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 steak and “all you can eat” shrimp on)

$1,000 (limited edition of 10)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed cymbal, drum head and drumsticks
* Josh washes your car OR does your laundry … or you can wash his car
* Have dinner with Josh aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.
* Get drunk and cut each other’s hair in the parking lot of the Long Beach courthouse (filmed and posted on YouTube, of course)

$2,500 (limited edition of 5)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* Get a private drum lesson with Josh, or for all you non-drummers, have him give you a back and foot massage (couples welcome)
* Pick any 1 member of the Vandals or Devo (subject to availability) to accompany you and Josh to either the Hollywood Wax Museum or the lunch buffet at the Spearmint Rhino
* Signed DW snare drum
* Take 3 items of your choice out of his closet (first come, first serve)
* Change diapers and make bottles with him for an afternoon (after hitting the strip club)

$5,000 (limited edition of 3)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Josh writes a song about you and makes it available on iTunes
* Co-direct a video with him for the song about you and throw it up on the YouTubes
* Josh gives you and a friend a private tour of Disneyland
* Get drunk together. If you don’t drink, we can go to my dad’s place and hang out under the “Tuba tree”
* Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam will send you a letter telling you about his favorite song on Since 1972

$10,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed DW snare drum from A Perfect Circle’s 2003 tour
* Josh gives you a private drum lesson OR his and hers foot/back massage (couples welcome, discreet parking)
* Twiggy from Marilyn Manson’s band and Josh take you and a guest to Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles in Long Beach for dinner
* Josh takes you and a guest to Club 33 (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above Pirates of the Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterward (preferably the Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror)
* At the end of the day at Disneyland, drive away in Josh’s Volvo station wagon. It’s all yours … take it. Just drop him off on your way home, though, please.

$20,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour
* Maynard James Keenan, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Josh take you miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the coffee shop on 2nd Street where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up tile just weeks before joining Nirvana. See the old Vandals rehearsal spot, the liquor store he got busted at using a Fake ID when he was 17 (it was Dave from the Vandals’ old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg’s high school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt live. For another $25 he’ll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
* Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the “Ghosts and Legends” tour. (Separate rooms … no spooning.)
* Josh writes 2 songs about you and both are made available on iTunes and appear on his next record (you can sing back up on ‘em, clap, play the drums, triangle, whatever)
* Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again … couples welcome and discreet parking available)
* Pick any 3 items out of Josh’s closet

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Go on tour with Josh for a few days
* Have Josh write, record and release a 5-song EP about you and your life story
* Take home any of his drum sets (only one, but you can choose which one)
* Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while
* Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.
* If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
* Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)
* If you don’t live in Southern California (but are a U.S. resident) he’ll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks
* Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robins place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna

Everyone is an entrepreneur

lemonade-standWhen you were 4 years old, you were an artist (until someone said you weren’t).

When you were 7 years old, you were a poet (until someone said you weren’t).

When you were 12 years old, you were an entrepreneur with your lemonade stand (until someone said you weren’t).

When you got your first job and your second and your third, you were a salesman. You sold yourself.

So we’ve established that you’re an artist, a poet, an entrepreneur and a successful salesman. The world needs you! What are you waiting for?

What to Do if Your Startup Is Failing

A simply phenomenal article from Jason Calcanis…sage advice from an expert who has been there and back.

broke

The Jason Calacanis Weblog

What to do if your startup is about fail (or “Don’t Stop Believing”)

Location: Mahalo HQ, Santa Monica
Date/Time: February 26th 2009 6:25pm
Subscribers: 12,483
Rock out To This While Reading: Don’t Stop Believing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ip1zsUIosoA
Forward To: Startups that are hitting the wall

A lot of CEOs with less than 12 months of capital left have been
asking me for advice about what to do, given the massive economic
turmoil we’re facing. I thought I would take the time put these
various conversations into one email to help those who are “up against
it,” as we say in Brooklyn.

Now, sprinting to the startup precipice is one of the most horrible
and exhilarating experiences you can have as an entrepreneur.

The exhaustion sinks in as you slam on the brakes. You dig in your
heels and watch the dirt and pebbles fly off the cliff as your left
foot dangles down in the ravine, with your right foot desperately
trying to save you. Your momentum could–if the wind kicks in–send
you straight down to your death. Heck, even the two inches of earth
under your right foot could give way and send you to your death.  Or,
you could slip and fall on a magic carpet that will take you to the
Promised Land.

OK, that last part is made up. You’re probably screwed and you know it.

This email is intended for startup companies with less than 12 months
of cash in the bank, who know in their hearts that their VCs have lost
faith, and that Google, Yahoo or Microsoft aren’t going to pick them
up on a magic M&A carpet ride.

This is the email I’d like you to forward to your friends who are
running startups that could go under in 2009.

Some background
————————-
I’ve been to the precipice and faced the fall a couple of times. I’ve
learned a couple of things from the experience. I can tell you that
the first time it happens, you’re terrified, because everything you’ve
done–all the effort and dreams–will probably be lost (like tears in
the rain).

The second time it happens, you’re deeply concerned, but know it ain’t
over until you’re splattered on the boulders below.

The third time it happens, you smile and say “let’s get it on!”

You see, there are two types of entrepreneurs in this world: real ones
and the folks who play entrepreneurs for some portion of their lives.
From a distance, most folks can’t tell who’s who. In up times, when
the market is flush with cheap money and unexplained exits (Bebo,
anyone?), everyone looks brilliant.

It’s only when the tide goes out that you know who’s naked. (Who said
that? I hear it on CNBC every other week now).

The differences between the two types of entrepreneurs become clear
when the fan and the manure meet. The faux entrepreneurs run for cover
rather than dealing with the storm. They go back to their plush,
somewhat mindless jobs as VPs at mega-companies, while the real
entrepreneurs suit up and clean up the mess.

We’re going to find out who the real entrepreneurs are in 2009 because
they are going to spend another 12 months, on top of the last six,
cleaning up the mess. It will be two years of total pain, so before we
go any further you gotta make the decision if you’re in or you’re out.

In or out?
————————-
Here is a really easy way to figure out if you can deal with the mess
in front of you. How many of the following can you deal with:

1. Laying off half your staff.
2. Laying off half your staff again three months later.
3. Spending 20 hours a week on the phone being yelled at and
threatened while trying to renegotiate a dozen contracts–like your
T1, phone system, rent, equipment leases, etc.
4. Having an investor scream at you and tell you that they will ruin
you, your career and that “you’ll never raise money again, you mother
f-er.”
5. Laying off half your staff for a third time.
6. Getting served a half-dozen lawsuits, courtesy of the folks who you
tried to renegotiate with in point number three who wouldn’t deal.
7. Having one of the people you’re renegotiating with come to your
office every week and ask for their check in person.
8. Having the same media outlet that once claimed you were the next
Barry Diller write that you’re a fraud.
9. Not getting a good night’s sleep for six months.
10. Having dozens of paying clients default on their bills.
11. Having staffers who you really need to double down and focus walk
out the door after you helped make their careers.
12. Have the people who begged you for a meeting at the peak not even
return your emails or phone calls.

If you can’t deal with these 12 situations, then you’re out. It’s time
to refresh your resume, tell your board you resign, sublet your place
and go to Thailand. Go sit on the beach and lick your wounds for $40 a
day (all-in) like the fauxtrepreneur you are. You suck. I hate you.
You’re smart enough to cut your loses in a way I could never
understand.

If you think you can handle most of the horror above, well, then you’re in.

How do I know this?

Those 12 things–and more–happened to me for over a year when Silicon
Alley Reporter, my first business, got whipsawed by the dotcom bust.
We went from $11.6m in revenue one year to $600k the next. From 70
full-time people to 12. From a 20,000 square foot office to subletting
ten desks at a PR firm.

Personally, I went from being on top of the world, with appearances on
Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes, CNN, and Fox News, to being savaged in the
press as a fraud who got lucky and who no one would ever hear from
again.

My office used to get 100-200 phone calls a day and I had two
assistants.  Six months later, I answered my own phone–on the rare
occasions it would ring. When it did, it was either my mom calling to
check in on me or a vendor calling to yell at me.

It was the worst year of my life, but it made me who I am today. I’ve
never talked about the tailspin that my business went into, and how I
barely managed to land the plane, but I get the sense that there are a
lot of twenty-somethings about to experience the same thing, and
perhaps my lessons could help.

I’m not going to tell the story. (That would take 80,000 words, a hard
cover and the right publisher), but I’m gonna share some of the
lessons.

Let’s get to work.

The Good News
————————-
If you’re a real entrepreneur, you’re still reading. If you’re a faux
entrepreneur, you’re writing your resignation letter, considering
which beach to surf and how long to grow your beard. God bless you
fauxtrepreneurs, because you’re gonna have a much nicer 2009 than the
real entrepreneurs who are “up against it.”

Of course, a year from now, the real entrepreneurs will be
battle-scarred beasts who are capable of taking big bold risks, and
you’ll still be crying about what could have been with your last
business while attending back-to-back meetings about nothing at BigCo.
Not that I’m judgmental of fauxtrepreneurs who create noise, distract
investors from the real workhorses, suck at their jobs and take no
real risk in their lives.

No, on the contrary, I love you fauxtrepreneurs, because you create
the foundation upon which real entrepreneurs stand. At the start of my
career, it wasn’t east to stand out, but by the time I’d done two or
three businesses and become a fixture in the technology industry, I
had figured it out: Longevity is a big part of credibility. I met
Esther Dyson, Fred Wilson, John Brockman, Jerry Colonna, Mark Cuban,
Ted Leonsis, Seth Godin and countless other luminaries between 1994
and 1997.

Well, it’s a dozen years later and they still take my calls and
respond to my emails.

Longevity is credibility.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the good news: People’s reputations are made
in the bad times more than the good times.

Even if you’re 100% sure your company is going to crash in the next
six months, you’ll learn more from staying on board than you will from
running. You’ll also earn the respect of your peers and you’ll learn
exactly how people break down and lose their cool. You’ll see how
certain VCs screw entrepreneurs, you’ll see entrepreneurs screw VCS
and you’ll watch the lawyers and landlords collect their vig the
entire time.

Most of all, you’ll realize who you are and who your real friends are.

So what’s the sitch?
————————-
You need to figure out your runway immediately. This is really easy to
calculate: you look at how much cash you burn every month and divide
that into how much cash you have in the bank. Your accountant can do
this for you or you can simply look at your P&L and bank statement.

Once you know how many months you’ve got left, you’ve got to do the
hard work of trying to extend it by at least 1/4. This means cutting
staff, negotiating with your landlord and cutting any and all
recurring bills. You then need to look at your revenue streams and
figure out if you can double them. In most cases, if you do these two
simple things, you will have increased your runway by 50-100%. If you
double your runway, your chances of figuring out what your business
actually is will go up exponentially.

You also need to do a monthly P&L review with your management team.
Look at every single recurring cost you have and figure out how to cut
it. In an up market, this level of obsessiveness is often wasteful,
because you’re in a race to take market-share. In the case of MySpace
vs. Friendster vs. Facebook all having unlimited funds for a period of
time, this makes total sense. Why worry about $100,000 in server costs
if you’re racing to see who gets bought for a billion dollars first?
However, this is not that time. You have to change your style. There
are times to hit the gas and there are times to conserve your gas.

Look at it this way: Getting the most market-share and running out of
cash is the equivalent of getting to the moon first without the
ability to get back to Earth. Congratulations, you won the race… and
now you’re dead!

My primary business right now, Mahalo.com, is lucky to have raise a
large amount of capital and is going to fairly easily make it to
profitability based on our growth curve, runway, modest spend and
significant traffic (we’re at 5.6m unique visitors over the last 30
days).

We couldn’t be in a stronger position.

However, even we recently did a deep review at Mahalo and were able to
cut 30% of our costs in under 60 days. The company is still growing
just as fast, and in fact we’re actually more efficient. There is
something strange about that: 25-person companies seem to get more
done than 40-person companies in my experience (other CEOs have told
me the same thing).

Perhaps it’s because after you trim down you have the most efficient
folks left, or maybe we’re all more focused because we don’t have to
communicate what’s going on to as many people? Does anyone know if
there is any research on optimal team size for startups? I’d be
interested to hear what the studies say. Anyway, we made the hard
decisions and that extended our runway by a year. That means Mahalo
will be here in 2013 if we make every single wrong decision and we’re
asleep at the wheel. Of course, we’re focused like lasers on getting
to profitability and developing a really helpful service. If we can’t
figure this business out by 2013 or 2014 then, well, either we really
suck or there is no solution to combining search and knowledge
exchange (of course we know search and knowledge exchanges can and
have worked–so we’re bullish).

Also, when your company goes through this kind of economic boot camp,
I think you get stronger. You understand which parts of your business
are working the best and which ones are, well, not working at all. We
had one area of our business that was two percent of our spending
making 30% of our revenue. You figure these things out when you start
cutting. It’s a sick and sad process to be sure, but Darwin is your
friend at a startup.

Put your VCs to the test
————————-
If you’re running out of money, you’ve got three choices: cut costs,
make money or raise capital. We’re going to get into cutting costs and
making money below in a minute, but I’m a big fan of testing your
investors. When the market is crushed, most VCs get realistic, greedy
or paralyzed. You’ve got to figure out where you stand with your
current investors as quickly as possible, and the quickest way to do
that is to ask them for more money.

Let’s say you’re burning $200k a month and you have a million dollars
in the bank. Go to your VCs and say something like the following:

“John, we’re going to run out of cash in five months. I’ve developed a
cost-cutting and revenue-generating plan that I believe will extend
our runway to 10 months. I’d like to present it to you and your
partners tomorrow for a half-hour with the goal of doing an ‘A+ round’
of one million dollars. I truly believe in this business and I’m
willing to do a flat-round, bust my ass for the next two years and
come out of this recession on top.”

Now your VC is probably going to start asking questions–as they
should. They may try and push off the discussion of the “A+ round.”
Your job is to stand firm and say something to the effect of:

“Well, we’re both vested in this business and I’d like to take the
time to present to you guys this week and get a response from you
either way within five days. I know it’s a compressed time frame, but
we’re living in extraordinary times, and if you guys don’t believe in
the business the way I do, I can accept that and make other
arrangements.”

At that point, you say nothing. Silence is the greatest negotiating
tactic ever created–use it. Your VC right now will be thinking the
following:

a) “This guy/gal’s a real killer and I wish all my CEOs were this
focused. At the very least, I should hear them out.”
b) “This guy/gal has another opportunity, so I’m gonna have to deal
with this train wreck myself–that will suck.”
c) “This business is a dog and I shouldn’t have invested in it. Since
they’re asking for the truth, I might as well give it to them.”
d) “I’m an idiot and I can’t make decisions. Let me push this out a
couple of weeks and make this person’s life hell while I
procrastinate.”

That last part is not what the person would actually say, but that’s
basically the translation of “let me think about it.”

Now, in cases a, b, and c you’re in good shape. You’re gonna either
get your meeting and money or you’re gonna get told you’re not getting
any more funding. Situation D is what you don’t want. If you’re
running out of provisions in the middle of the Atlantic, your best bet
is to go either East or West–not in a circle.

VCs and investors will sometimes send entrepreneurs in circles, either
inadvertently or as leverage. Sometimes VCs are juggling a lot of
balls and can’t focus. Sometimes they’re inexperienced and/or they
have issues that don’t concern your business, like their limited
partners, their partners or their divorce settlements. Sometimes
they’re cutthroat and know that, when you’re down to your last two or
three payrolls, they can extract a 2-3x liquidation preference out of
you.

It’s your job to force the issue now–don’t wait.

Heck, even if you have a year’s worth of runway, you should probably
do this kind of thing so your VCs know you’re the real deal and so you
know where you stand with them.

Put your staff to the test
————————-
If you’re down to six months of cash, you’re gonna have to cut the
bottom 1/3rd of your staff, if not half. This sucks, but there is no
choice. You’re gonna also have to cut salaries. So, here are some
suggestions on how to do this:

1. Get rid of the non-core staff. Look in places like PR, marketing,
and admin to cut. See if you can put some of these folks on part-time.

2. Look at the salaries of your current staff vs. market and look for
ways to cut the high-priced ones who you can get cheaper at the
current market. I know this sounds cutthroat, but remember, this is
advice for folks going out of business in six months. Another way to
run this test is to ask yourself “Would I hire this person for this
amount today?”

3. Go to each member of the team who is over-paid by today’s market
rate and tell them that you’re probably going to be cutting their
salary and that you’re increasing their options. Ask them how they
feel about it. Some people can take a pay cut, others can’t–you don’t
know until you ask.

I’m really against cutting people’s pay above cutting position because
you want the people remaining in your organization to be happy. Of
course, sometimes that’s just not realistic. Many CEOs overpay in a
hot market because they feel they have to, and those folks are the
ones who really need to take this hard action now.

Put your landlord to the test
————————-
Call your landlord and ask them to get a cup of coffee. Do this in
person. Let them know that it’s 50-50 you’re going out of business and
that you need their help in the form of four months free rent,
starting today, the ability to sublet some space (if you don’t have
that right already) and to keep the rent at the same rate you already
have. Tell them you feel horrible about this, and you wouldn’t ask
them to do this if it wasn’t urgent, but you didn’t want to drop the
bomb on them five months from now when there were no more options.

Remember, silence is your friend. Tell your story and see what they
say. I did this at one point and not only got free rent, I got 50% of
our letter of credit freed up. It was a win-win. Trust me, your
landlord is probably facing a LOT of fallout right now… better to
get half than nothing.

Put your vendors to the test
————————-
Since you’ve probably got webhosting, CDNs, equipment leases, and
other recurring charges on your credit cards, cancel those cards
immediately. Call up each vendor and tell them you need six months
free while you figure out your status, and if they can’t do it, ask
for suggestions. Then call each of their competitors and let them know
that you are willing to switch over for the first six months free.  If
you get one of four vendors to do this you just saved 25%–I bet you
can get two or three.

Vendors would rather eat some profits for six months than lose your
business. If they can’t support you in your time of need, then you
should find someone who will. There is a LOT of competition out there
and you can negotiate harder than you probably think you can. Tell
vendors you’re willing to switch if they give you six months free and
see what they say. We’ve had folks offer us a *year* of free service
to switch (of course, that’s an exception, not the rule).

Put yourself to the test
————————-
If you’re going to ask so much of your staff, investors and vendors,
you obviously have to take a hit yourself. Go to your VCs and ask them
to participate in the next round–the A+ round. Tell them you know
it’s not a lot but you want to put in $5 or $10k in the round as a
show of support. This will result in them saying it’s not necessary.
After that, tell them you’ll sell your car and take a bike to work and
put $20k into the business if you can get that for your car. Make sure
your staff doesn’t take a bigger cut than you do in salary if you’re
doing salary cuts.

Even if it’s just ceremonial, it means a lot to make cuts. I’ve
stopped traveling as much to conferences even though they cost me
little to nothing (normally people pay me to speak or at least pay for
my travel). Of course, don’t cut traveling if you’re going to
conferences where you might find clients or investors (which is why I
travel half the time!)

Put your product to the test
————————-
As Mark Cuban told me over and over again, “Sales solves everything.”
If you can’t sell your product, it’s not a product–it’s a hobby. Take
your consumer service and sell it as a software package to someone. Go
on the sales calls yourself. During the final year of Silicon Alley
Reporter I made cold calls and set up lunches to sell folks on our new
product, Venture Reporter (the rebranded Silicon Alley Reporter). It
works. When people see the CEO making sales calls, they respect the
company and take it seriously. When the VCs and staffers see you doing
this, they get inspired.

Put a whiteboard up and count any stat you can: sales calls made,
meetings scheduled, contracts sent and sales closed. Give your team
something to think about other than just the bottom line, because you
might have to celebrate the little victories before getting the check
in the door. Celebrate getting the meeting. Celebrate sending a pitch
out.

What to do if it’s over
————————-
If you’re going to hit the wall, you should do so with three or four
months of capital left in the bank. You should cut down to your core
staff and tell them “we have 120 days of cash left and we’re going to
try to land the plane safely. If you want to leave at any point during
the 120 days you’ll get the reference of a lifetime from me. If you
help us land the plane safely I think we’ll all be better off because
of it.”

Then make a plan to do one of the following:

a) sell the business
b) close the business
c) sell the assets of the business

There’s a little bit of overlap up there, since sometimes you close
the business and sell the assets, or you sell the assets and leave a
shell behind. The point is, don’t wait until you have a month left. Do
it when you have 120 days left. If you signal to everyone it’s over,
you’ll have done the honorable thing for your employees, by giving
them the maximum time to have a safe landing, and for your investors,
by allowing them to roll the business or its assets into another
company.

The worst thing to do is to delay this process. I’ve gotten down to
this point exactly, but when I was at break-even at my first business,
we looked for a buyer, because I didn’t think we had much chance of
making it on our own in the 2001-2002 market. I could have been wrong
about that in retrospect, but either way, I’m glad I got out because
it set me up for Weblogs, Inc.

And that is the final lesson: when one door closes, three more open
up. When you shut down your business properly, you will have a clean
slate and renewed energy to take on your next project. You might even
get the investors to give you the company with the 90 days worth of
capital left to start your next project with a recapitalized
structure.

Remember that there is no shame in failure but there are honorable and
dishonorable failures. If you’re going to lose the game, remember that
it’s just that: a game. There will be another and another and another
yet to play. Don’t lose your cool and don’t get depressed. Just get
yourself back up, dust yourself off and get back in the game. The
precursor to success is almost always failure.

[ To the 17 folks who made it to the bottom: If you’re struggling with
failure right now, if your business is failing and you don’t think you
can go on, remember that at the very least you’ve been lucky enough to
take your shot. That’s more than most people get. You’re going to be
much stronger for getting through the heartbreak of a failed business.
Also, you’ve always got me–your pal Jason–if you need a shoulder to
cry on. I’m only an email, tweet or IM away jason@calacanis or
jasoncalacanis on skype/twitter/AIM. ]

There are three types of meetings

There are three distinct types of meetings. Only three.

meeting

1) Information – “Unfortunately, we had to let Ziggy go today. He was stealing the coffee pods.”

2) Approval – “We need all of the VP’s to sign off on the Zorca, Inc. acquisition.”

3) Feedback – “What do you all think of the new logo?”

Know what type of meeting you’re having and prepare for it accordingly.