The Impermanence of all That Exists
Jan 13 2013

mandala-tibet-jan2013This weekend I went to the Blanton Museum of Art exhibit that showcased Tibetan monks building a sand mandala.  After spending days and hours creating this mandala out of fine, colored sand, they “dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.”

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I wonder if entrepreneurs who achieve the most success, not only in dollars but also impact on the world, truly understand that everything is impermanent which results in a shift in how they perceive risk.  Steve Jobs could have floundered in his business in the early days, as most entrepreneurs do, instead of becoming a household name for founding Apple and Pixar.  I’m sure he and his team threw away many designs or product ideas that they spent countless hours on, but they kept on painstakingly placing the grains of sand on each next iteration. If a few grains of sand shifted in some of the most popular designs he had envisioned in his head, we may never have known he existed.  And now even he is gone but his company lives on…for now.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, steve jobs, success | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Founder Dating And Other Interesting Links
Apr 29 2012

I saw this hit the Bootstrap Austin list a week or so ago: Founder Dating.  If you want to start a company right now but don’t know how to find the right co-founder, then this site might be for you.  I haven’t used it so I can’t personally vouch for its efficacy, but if I did want to start a company right now (which I don’t), I’d certainly check it out.  My main start-up ventures at the moment are my two kids.  I would definitely work for a start-up/fast growing company, but my founder status is tied to my kids for a while.

Have you ever thought about forming a partnership in your business?  Then you need to read Self-Fueling Partnerships by Bob Barker in a recent Texas CEO magazine edition.  He discusses reasons why to partner and how to do it effectively.  Many partnerships go bad as we’ve seen on the front pages of too many newspapers/websites so take his advice before getting into one.

How To Be Creative in the Wall Street Journal. “The image of the ‘creative type’ is a myth. Jonah Lehrer on why anyone can innovate—and why a hot shower, a cold beer or a trip to your colleague’s desk might be the key to your next big idea.” In the article it says “Steve Jobs famously declared that “creativity is just connecting things.” Although we think of inventors as dreaming up breakthroughs out of thin air, Mr. Jobs was pointing out that even the most far-fetched concepts are usually just new combinations of stuff that already exists.Recent research confirms Mr. Jobs’s wisdom. The sociologist Martin Ruef, for instance, analyzed the social and business relationships of 766 graduates of the Stanford Business School, all of whom had gone on to start their own companies. He found that those entrepreneurs with the most diverse friendships scored three times higher on a metric of innovation. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity, they were able to translate their expansive social circle into profitable new concepts.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Management Teams, MBA Monday’s, The Crucible
Feb 20 2012

Fred Wilson has been doing a very interesting series on Management Teams for the last several weeks on his blog.  It is part of his MBA Monday series and this section was on building and maintaining the management team. They just did a wrap up post called The Management Team – Guest Post By Jerry Colonna – The Crucible of Leadership.  It’s well written and gets to the heart of the matter of what makes the difference between good and great leaders and managers.  So much easier to say than do.  I feel like I’ve been through a Crucible and I hope that I’ll get an opportunity to see what I’ve learned about the topic and practice my leadership skills.  Empowering people and getting things done are near and dear to my heart and apparently seem to align to my strengths according to Strength’s Finder 2.0.

Bottom line is that we are all different.  We aren’t Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and we shouldn’t strive to be.  We need to find that place where our passions, skills, and opportunity come together. constantly look inward and then work on it until something happens.  We need to accept and stare our demons down as we can’t fight them because the more we do, the more they stick around to haunt us.  Surrender to the demons and they will surrender to you or leave you be is what Colonna mentions in his post.

Time Is The Undeniable Constraint and if you find that rare person who has put so much into looking inward then as I said in my recent post on Leadership, Management and Unicorns, try to get a front row seat to see how they do it.

Author: | Filed under: bill gates, entrepreneurship, steve jobs, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Change The World, Make Money, Or Be Happy
Nov 13 2011

Buddha Stone Statue in China

How often can people do/experience all of the above?  There are people who have changed the world (e.g., Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, etc.) who didn’t make a lot of money and we won’t ever know if they were truly happy, healthy or content.  There are people who changed the world and made a lot of money (e.g., Oprah, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, etc.) but we don’t know how happy or content they are or were.  Oprah has been the most open about her struggles with personal satisfaction and her weight…the businessmen, not so much.

Do we have to deal with having one or two out of three?  I think I can count on one hand the people who appeared to have all three but if you dig a little further…  Check out a recent post on TechCrunch called 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College.  All very true, the second being “How To Be Betrayed,” which happens all of the time in business (and politics) whether you are a man, woman, or a duck.  I clicked over to the authors (James Altucher) post on how to be lucky and it made me wonder if he had kids because he advises getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day and to bed by 9:30 pm with exercising and eating right in between.  Maybe I’ll figure out how to do that when I’m 50 and the kids are gone.  I guess that’s why some are more monetary successful than others…early bird gets the worm!

The saying “you can have it all, but just not all at the same time” must be true.  So it seems the thing we have the most control over is how we feel: happy, sad, content, angry, etc.  We can try to change the world but there’s no telling what numerous things will be thrown in our path.  We can try to make tons of money, but a lot of shit happens (e.g., kids, health issues, the economy, marriage, divorce, love, hate, indifference, parents) trying to do that.  But we will usually find ways to make enough to get by or we become comfortable with a lot of debt.

I was reminded during my recent trip to China that Buddha, who was born and originally spread his philosophy in India before his teachings were embraced by the Chinese, taught that at the root of all suffering was desire (for a person, place, thing, success, money, etc.).  As I understand it, he said that if you gave up the desire for earthly things or status that would be the only way you could eventually achieve enlightenment.  He certainly changed the world and was arguably content/enlightened but was not rich by American standards.

I guess it depends on what age you are, your genetic disposition, and what cards life has dealt you as to whether you believe you can achieve all three at the same time for a substantial length of time…

Author: | Filed under: bill gates, entrepreneurship, mother, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

When In China…
Oct 15 2011

Great Wall of China - October 2011

I recently got back from a fabulous trip to China.  I signed up for a 9 day tour coordinated by the Austin Chamber of Commerce.  We had an aggressive itinerary and hit most of the major highlights in Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.  While I was there Steve Jobs passed away and pretty much everyone in China was talking about it too.  I’m not sure why I was a little surprised, but there were iPhones and iPads in China despite access to Google and facebook not being allowed.  What a profound affect Mr. Jobs had on the entire world, but in the end we still cannot avoid death.  In his life, he accomplished more and touched more lives than probably any before him.

His death with the background of ancient China was sort of appropriate in some ways.  The people who built The Great Wall, one of the 7 man made wonders of the world and visible from the moon, are not remembered but the Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who directed it’s construction is remembered.  Although 99.99% of us won’t be remembered much past our life times, hopefully we will have a positive impact on those around us so they continue to spread our wisdom to future generations.

Today I ordered an iPhone 4S at a nearby AT&T store. Rest in peace Steve and may your entrepreneurial stardust land on a few of us left here on earth.

I am going to try to find time over the next few weeks to blog about my trip  and include some photos.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, steve jobs, success, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Hate Is Not The Opposite of Love
Aug 3 2010

Most people think the opposite of love is hate, but really it isn’t, and I think most people know this if they take the time to think about it.  If people love your products, you do great.  If you have a group of people who hate your products, you are still likely to do OK.  Take for example the iPhone.  People love it because Apple somehow convinced many of us of its greatness.  Then there are those who hate it (see iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo YouTube video) and it still does great and its main competitor the Android phone is doing well because people love it.  They just spread the word in a less visible/audible way.  Another example is twitter or facebook.  Some people love them and others think they are a complete waste of freaking time, but they are both doing well from an adoption if not a profitability standpoint.

The same is true of people.  Some people love Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) and some hate him for his megalomaniac ways.  More often than not people apparently hate Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle) but they still keep buying Oracle products.  Some people love president Barack Obama but some hate him for the change he represents and for his sometimes questionable political decisions.  The same goes for Rush Limbaugh and former president Bill Clinton for his promiscuous way.  Everyone seemed to love Lady Diana and despise Prince Charles because he loved another woman not nearly as beautiful and sweet as Lady Di.  The vast majority of people adored Mother Theresa and Gandhi.  Some people love hard rock or country music and some can’t stand either.  So the products, people, and genre’s that people don’t care about are the one’s that no one gets emotionally charged about either way, and they disappear or have a very small niche.

So the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy.  What kind of company, product, person are you or do you represent?  One that people love or hate?  Do they not care enough to pay attention?  Do they care if you throw your products into the sea or a landfill?  Do they care if you throw yourself into the sea or a landfill?  Will they notice if you walk out the door?  If they don’t care and you are feeling like furniture (song lyric alert), then maybe it’s time to build another product, start/join another company, transform yourself so people notice you/your products, change your life situation, and/or buy new furniture!  All of these things are much easier said than done except, of course, for ‘buying new furniture.’

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, marketing, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Speaking of Famous Fathers – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
Jun 3 2007

Gates_JobsFor the first time in 20 years Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and Steve Jobs (founder of Apple, NEXT, and Pixar) sat down for a joint interview on May 30, 2007 for the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital D5 Conference.   The interview is hilarious and awe inspiring!  Bill and Steve have achieved such outstanding professional success and their companies have affected many of our daily lives more profoundly than any other high technology companies to date.  Microsoft and Apple laid the groundwork and helped train individuals who have since created companies of their own that have enabled email, blogging, Internet browsing, mobile devices, and Internet search (don’t tell Google) for the masses.   Being an entrepreneur, I can appreciate how much effort, energy, and passion it takes to build even the smallest of businesses and for each of them to make it from Founder/CEO and still be heavily involved with their company’s decades later (even though Jobs had a little break during his career at Apple) is down right jaw dropping!

Bill married Melinda French in 1994 and they have 3 children born in 1996, 1999, and 2002.  Steve’s first child was born in 1978.  He later married Laurene Powell in 1991 and they have 3 children who were presumably born after 1991.  Babble Soft released its first PC/Pocket PC version of Baby Manager in 2005 (just after our second child was born) and we released Baby Manager Web and Mobile in March 2007 so it’s unlikely we will have the chance to say that two of the most famous dads in the technology world used our software when their kids were born.  Oh well, maybe some other up and coming dads in the tech world will discover us before their babies are born!

I’d like to think that if the technology behind mobile devices, the Internet, and Babble Soft had existed when the children of these well known dads were born that Bill and Steve would have enjoyed playing around with Baby Manager Web and Mobile.  I could just see them and/or their wives giving their nannies a mobile device and showing them how to easily input information with a touch of a screen or click of a button.  Later, they or their wives could log in to a web application to see how things were going at home and leave notes to their nannies, spouses, family, and friends.  Or they could use their mobile device and sync via cradle or over-the-air to Baby Manager Web and get a real time update on baby.  An entrepreneur can dream, can’t she? :D

Baby Manager was created using Microsoft technologies.  The application works with the most commonly used browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox) and the latest Microsoft OS based PDAs and Smartphones.  One of the reasons we created a web application was because expecting parents were emailing us asking when we would have a version that ran on the Mac.  In 2005, I was barely holding my head above water with 2 little ones, so we put PR on hold until recently so we could more effectively use our limited resources to reach all the interested, Internet savvy new parents in the world.  We do use our Mac to create graphics and design product literature.  However, the PCs in our office outnumber the Macs…but if Macs start running Windows then the ratio might change.

The most interesting observation I can make about these two famous dads is that they have very different personalities, followed their own paths, have different strengths & weaknesses, and achieved financial success by being true to their own visions.  As someone who also interviews people on the topic of success, this observation further affirms my belief that ‘people should follow their own path to success, not try to mimic someone else’s.’  Every second that passes the world is different, and what has worked for others in the past may not work in the present.  There’s a reason we all have different fingerprints!

Happy Father’s Day Bill and Steve! 8)

Aruni

Author: | Filed under: apple, babble soft, baby manager, bill gates, dad, entrepreneur, father, Father's Day, microsoft, mobile devices, PDA, Smartphone, steve jobs, technology | Comments Off