Thursday, September 25, 2008

You've got to read this one!

Stolen from Tim Stearns' great newsletter "E-Action" - copyright 2008 Lyles Center, Fresno State

Entrepreneurship is NOT about you. And that applies to its champions too.
(but that turns out to be what makes it work and what makes it so much fun!

So how I can help YOU today??

read on, please!

Success as an entrepreneur:

Why it’s not about you

"Looking across the living room of his expansive flat in Hong Kong’s tony Victoria Peak neighborhood, Peter Hamilton spoke in the calm, slightly world-weary voice of a man who will never again worry about earning a living.

“The ones who made it,” he said softly, “are the ones who weren’t in it for the money. The fortune-seekers couldn’t sustain their passion through the hard times—and there were hard times.”

A transplanted Brit who launched a Web production company in Hong Kong in 1995, Hamilton was one of a handful of Internet entrepreneurs in the island colony who enjoyed a multimillion dollar payday after his firm was acquired by a company that later went public on NASDAQ.

What entrepreneurship is not
Peter Hamilton is not alone. In interview after interview throughout Japan, Asia, and North America, successful entrepreneurs told me the same thing, in different words and in different languages: “It’s not about the money.”

What, then, is entrepreneurship about? Exploiting a market opportunity? Fame? Fortune? Proving yourself? First, some tips as to what entrepreneurship’s not about:

  • Entrepreneurship is not about you.

  • It’s not about you getting rich.

  • It’s not about you proving something to the world.

  • It’s not about you struggling to overcome the odds.

Rather, entrepreneurship is about you helping other people to achieve their goals. [emphasis added/nk]

This is obvious when you think about it. Business is all about satisfying customers, right? Well, to satisfy customers, you need to help them save money, solve annoying problems, experience more satisfaction or pleasure, or earn a better living.

Put simply, in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must help other people.

What entrepreneurship is
Entrepreneurship, therefore, is about helping other people achieve their goals. It’s not about you. Successful entrepreneurs focus on others. Take Derek Sivers, for example. As the leader of a successful touring band, he needed a way to make his CDs available to fans everywhere, all the time—not just at concerts.

BBut Derek and his group were unattached to a major label, and big sellers like CD. Now and Amazon required bands to have in-place agreements with large distributors. What was a hard-working, independent musician to do?

Derek decided to set up his own modest online sales channel, and soon friends from other bands were asking for help selling their music. Within a couple of years, the store, renamed CD Baby, was distributing the work of more than 90,000 artists. To date, it’s paid out more than $70 million to the 200,000 independent artists it now represents. Derek focused on helping others.

Successful entrepreneurs like Derek undertake ventures that benefit many people. My personal theory (completely lacking empirical evidence) is that ventures are successful to the degree that they generate social benefits. I’m no fan of Microsoft’s products or business practices, but who can deny that the company enabled personal computing for a billion citizens? (Too bad Apple missed its chance to make that contribution—we’d probably all be a much mellower bunch.)

Success as an entrepreneur isn’t about you—it’s about helping others achieve goals you care about."

Damn straight, Peter. My 2nd favorite Guy-Kawasaki-ism: "Make meaning." That's what real entrepreneurs do; that's how they think. That how we all should think.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A key to growing any local economy is also growing the local community... and vice-versa.

Just got back from a terrific training session as part of the WIRED* grant that Joe Herring & his crew landed for innovative workforce development on mapping community assets to build a strong basis for nurturing a more entrepreneurial local economy.

The entrepreneurship focus has motivated a delightful trend away from “OK, what's wrong, what DON'T we have” to.. “OK, what do we HAVE... and what can we do with what we've got?” [google “effectuation”] This is how entrepreneurs think... and that's how we all have to think today!

Mapping a community's assets is powerful and there are several great models for doing this. I've been to two prior train-the-trainer trainings on this, both were wonderful... but this one was the best yet.

Simple. Cheap. Fast. (OK, and maybe a wee bit scary? Wallowing in despair can have its pleasures... as I've personlly been guilty of myself, LOL!)

The semi-legendary Godfather of Rural Entrepreneurship, John Allen of USU led the training along with the Western Rural Development Center's Jim Goodwin and UNR's Tom Harris. Absolutely terrific team. Day Two of the training is October 6 & 7 (two separate WIRED committees for the One-Stop Biz Center and the cool kids, er, Entrepreneurship.) Please let me or Joe Herring know if I'm intriguing any of you – maybe your town or neighborhood would want to do this?

I thought I knew how to do great asset mapping (e.g., the tools at but today I know more... a lot more. And after next month's second day... Anyway, on Monday, this old dog learned a new trick. I'm sold. How can those of us in this training help you to grow your local communities??

For tons more info – head to and look at 'Publications' – much of this applies anywhere, not just rural and small towns.


p.s. It gets better – Randy Shroll reminds me that the state's fall workforce summit is going to get into asset mapping! (Be sure to chck out the new Commerce website, btw.)

* Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, a $5 million US Dept of Labor grant.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Free Engineering Classes from... Stanford (online)

Wow! Is that the sound of a business model changing? [@Phil R: note I did NOT say 'paradigm'! LOL]

If you think education is more about learning than a piece of paper...

It's just 10 courses so far, but... (MIT has something very similar,etc. Check the "other ways" for the sick array of what's out there for free. And there are online communities to connect with if you want to make this less solitary. [@Brian Critchfield: At some point, you gotta share your Web 2.0 Thunderbird experiences...]

It's definitely a great time to be alive!!

p.s. some of you already subscribe to Lifehacker's feed and/or if not, worth a look.


Sent to you by Norris via Google Reader:

via Lifehacker by Adam Pash on 9/18/08

The Stanford Education Everywhere program offers online access to full courses in the school's engineering program—including classes in computer science and artificial intelligence. Courses include lecture videos, reading lists, handouts, quizzes, tests, and even a social network for fellow online students. Not quite your speed? Check out other ways you can get a free college education online.