An entreprenuer's readings.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Brand You

In his article, "The Brand Called You," Tom Peters makes fundamental points about what you need to do to create a brand around your name. Specifically, he challenges readers to think of branding as large companies do: basically, 1) be clear about what makes you different 2) market your brand through community leadership, writing, or speaking 3) network well to create a loyal band of customers. Check out the article:

Friday, May 05, 2006

Richard Fairbank, CEO Capital One

Richard Fairbank described his simple strategy of spotting mega trends and working backward at a recent award dinner. Now the CEO of Capital One, Fairbank revolutionized the credit card industry by "smashing the price of credit" using technology.

Check out the summary at:

Hindsight speech

Guy Kawasaki is a frequent speaker to high school and college audiences. I enjoyed reading his baccalaureate speech at Palo Alto High School. The speech is still very relevant to recent college graduates like myself. Kawasaki lays out ten hindsight lessons to live by, shedding light onto what he has learned about life as a Silicon Valley employee/ entreprepreneur.

Download the speech at:

Innovation is King

The McKinsey Quarterly recently surveyed executives about future business trends. The sample of world executives reports that innovation of products and services will continue to drive the global business environment.

The sign-up is free and the remainder of the article is fairly interesting:


I recently read an article called "Pre-entrepreneurship: what to do when you are waiting." It is one of the best, most concise articles I have read on the subject of entrepreneurship in a while. The premise is that not we all don't have the right idea quite yet, but there are things that we can do in the mean time to prepare to start a business. Check it out at:

Silicon Valley Flops

Due to my recent arrival in the Silicon Valley, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the area. The Wall Street Journal's "Start Up Journal" recently featured an article about some of the worst internet boom companies. They include relics that are laughable in today's economic climate but in the late 90's were raising tens of millions of dollars. Check out the article at:

Top Entrepreneurial Colleges recently put out a ranking of the top 100 entrepreneurial colleges. You can view the list at:,6454,,00.

Some of the early choices are a bit surprising because it exposes programs that aren't often in the limelight. So if you are an entrepreneur and looking at colleges, it might be wise to heed the list and go to a place where your ambitions will be well nourished.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Cash for Starting Green

The California Clean Tech Open is offering $50,000 in cash for the winning business model related to green transport, renewable energy, water management, energy efficiency, or smart power. The competition is an opportunity for green entrepreneurs to develop a winning business plan in return for a 'start-up in a box.' The package includes more than just cash. The winner will receive office space, accounting services, PR services, legal services and mentorship.

Check out the competition website:

Here again, make the world a better place for people and money will take care of itself. Just ask the Google guys.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


After meeting with several entrepreneurs and leaders, I have found one common thread. Each has their different management styles and ways of growing business, but each of them works exceptionally hard. This may seem like a given, but over and over their stories included how they outworked their peers consistently and take pride in outworking people.

The first key to working exceptionally hard is finding something that motivates you to work that all the time. For an entrepreneur starting and growing a business, you should ask yourself "am I working exceptionally hard today?" That is to say, are you consistently working harder and smarter than your peers and your competition? If you are, then most likely you have the results to prove it.

I found this very interesting article in Ramit Sethi's blog, It explains how seven top executives and leaders work.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bill Gates

In Bill Gates book, Business at the Speed of Thought, he sends a clear message.

"How you gather, manage, and use information [in business] will determine if you win or lose."

Gates gives numerous examples to validate the fact that in today's competitive markets it is vital to have a steady and efficient flow of information. Firms need this information in order to deliver constant learning and feedback to their teams. For many firms information is channeled to the executive team then percipitates down the chain. But Gates argues that while middle managers are often given less information they are the ones that require the most.

Gates asks the following question to diagnose your firm's information flow:

"Do you have the information flow that enables you to answer the hard questions about what your customers and partners think about your products and services, what markets you are losing and why, and what your real competitive advantage is?"

Overall the book is an insightful read and the ideas are easily applicable to your firm.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Customer

Consider this way of doing business:

After becoming the president of Scandanavian Airlines Systems, Jan Carlzon led the firm from a loss of $17 million to a profit of $54 million in one year. How? He turned the organization chart upside down. He put people who dealt with the customers in charge of the company. The rest of the employees on the upside-down organization chart worked for those who dealt with the customers.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jack Welch thought

I have adapted the following thought from an interview with Jack Welch, retired CEO of General Electric.

As an entrepreneur, early on the majority of your job function might be technical. At this point it is about you creating and serving different roles to make things work. But as soon as you hire a team and are a manager of people, it is imperative to recognize that your work is about the people you manage. In a growing start-up, you must smoothly transition yourself from a technical or do-it-all role, to focusing significant energy on building the people in your team, rewarding the performers and creating / maintaing candor in your firm's culture.

The interview with Welch is phenomenal, go to and find it towards the bottom of the page.

Rebel for a Day

I read the following in Worthwhile magazine, about successful entrepreneur Chip Conley who built a hotel empire. The subject is creating cool companies with diversity. One idea mentioned by Anita Sharpe is;

"Once a month, create a 'rebel for a day' program. Choose your more offbeat staffers during the first few months to get this program off on the right foot. The only rule of this program is that the rebel is charged with spending all day breaking the rules. The rebel is vested with the responsibility of coming up with at least a dozen radical changes she thinks ought to be implemented in the company"