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LEADERS: FIND PITFALLS BEFORE THEY FIND YOU

May 12th, 2017

Does it always take an extraordinary life changing event for leaders to make fundamental changes that result in better lives for them, their families, their employees and the community? The narrative of transformation and finding new purpose is as old as time. The biblical accounts of Moses, St. Paul and stories of the path to […]

FAKE NEWS GETS A HOLLYWOOD FILM ROLE: WILL IT BECOME A NATIONAL STAR?

March 4th, 2017

Are you upset by fake news that deceives consumers and occasionally puts people at physical risk?  If only the bad actors were not online phantoms but established companies, entities with a well-known public face, that you could launch a product boycott against and hurt them in their pocketbooks.  Now, you have the chance. 20th Century […]

Fake New Hurts: Ways To Ease The Pain

February 10th, 2017

What did the brutal and divisive 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, the Russian hacking of the Democratic Party and the erosion of public trust in the media have in common?  In all, fake news was a factor. Fake news has emerged as a hot topic in the national dialogue in the post-2016 U.S. Presidential race.  And […]

A ray of hope in a time of political gridlock

July 20th, 2016

The day that the 114th U.S. Congress departed for their summer break, they left behind pending bills to fight the Zika virus, restrict firearms to anyone on the terrorist watch list and a toxic legislative atmosphere worse than one year ago, if that could even be possible.

The day that the 114th U.S. Congress departed for their summer break, they left behind pending bills to fight the Zika virus, restrict firearms to anyone on the terrorist watch list and a toxic legislative atmosphere worse than one year ago, if that could even be possible.

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee held a hearing to “examine current trends and strategies in the venture capital ecosystem…options that startup companies have to raise capital throughout different stages of business development” and steps that could be taken by government and the business community to make more investment capital available to startup businesses. Witnesses from leading venture capital firms that finance digital giants like Uber, Airbnb and biotech startups were invited to testify.

Corporate governance decisions that can’t wait

July 6th, 2016

I was reminded of how important corporate governance is for start-up founders and small business owners after listening to a friend’s woes about the conflict between him and his grown siblings over their deceased parent’s estate.

They were the picture perfect family that you could imagine being invited to the U.S. White House for tea with the President and the First Family. All of the children were great students, superb athletes and had supportive parents who ran a very successful family business and were deeply involved in local community affairs. The parents and children were devoted to each other and had a large circle of friends.

The crack in the foundation was the lack of an updated will and estate plan that would provide a governance structure for the children to follow after the deaths of their parents. Their parent’s will had been drawn up when they were children and didn’t reflect any changes in their family’s asset. To further complicate matters, the parents didn’t speak with them about the will and estate planning before they died. The siblings assumed that their parents had updated both documents. This perfect family had a perfect mess on their hands.

Out-of-the-box thinking propels healthcare solutions

April 15th, 2016

The quest to eradicate the world’s most deadly diseases recently received big boosts from two billionaire tech industry giants. On Thursday, April 13th, Sean Parker, Napster’s co-founder and the first president of Facebook, announced a $250 million bequest to accelerate cancer research. Last month, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen gave $100 million.

Parker and Allen want to disrupt the medical research community’s way of searching for cures to major diseases. Entrepreneurs are by nature impatient. They break away from the status quo to create something new that can change the world.

Allen said his initiative targets “research areas that may be too early, too radical or too high risk to make it though the government’s often conservative grant-making process” (Washington Post, March 24, 2016).

When you meet misfortune on the road to success

April 10th, 2016

How steep of a price are we willing to pay for success? Startup founders or anyone trying to climb a corporate ladder know that sacrifices will have to be made. Long hours, missed family events, and close friendships that become distant are common.

We have all seen or personally experienced the signs of dysfunction when these sacrifices become too great, such as substance abuse, extramarital affairs and health problems. Sometimes family, friends and coworkers will thankfully intervene before or at the point when there is a crisis. They could see the signals that something was wrong. Fortunately, that is often the moment at which the striver, who is oblivious to the emotional and physical toll that his or her ambitions are taking, can be helped before it leads to a tragedy.

The outliers are the dramatic falls of the seemingly impervious high achievers. They are frequently the picture of perfect health, great family, large network of friends and brimming with ideas, projects and unbridled ambition. You know the type. Business challenges, economic uncertainties and controversies only fuel their ambitions while it would unnerve others.

What david bowie can teach corporate america

January 17th, 2016

David Bowie’s extraordinary ability to reinvent himself at different stages of his legendary five-decade career is a lesson in market savvy and branding. Known for his chameleon like behavior, this artistic and cultural icon was able to sift through the cultural chaff of the time to find original gems to create new images and music that would repeatedly propel him to stardom for multiple generations of fans.

The artist/performer who started life as David Jones and transformed himself into David Bowie, and added well-known monikers like Ziggy Stardust and Starman during his long career, could be a business case study on how to create products and brand loyalty in a world with notoriously fickle consumers.

In today’s disruptive digital age and highly competitive global economy, this is a challenge for companies large and small. But for large legacy companies that started in the 20th Century, it is an especially difficult challenge with a lot at stake.

Startup branding begins on day one

September 28th, 2015

I asked a promising entrepreneur if she had started thinking about how to brand the new high tech product her company was planning to introduce later this year. She answered: “Well kind of. I have been preoccupied with product development, raising funds and hundreds of other details.”

She like so many other startup founders are juggling multiple responsibilities and pressing deadlines to develop their products or services, and to get their companies up and running.

In reality, though, the discussion on branding should start in the early stages of product development. All new products or services are designed to meet a unique consumer need or desire. If the targeted customer audiences think this new product/service fulfills this requirement, product sales and the probability of success for this startup will rise. To realize this, brand recognition will be critical.

How not to let people problems kill your startup

August 24th, 2015

Will your leadership style give your startup a better than 50-50 chance of success?

While startup businesses may have highly innovative products, services and funding, the success or failure of the business will rest primarily on the ability of the founder/CEO to hire, lead, and inspire the right people.

According to Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman people problems, such as bad leadership and hiring the wrong people, were the main reasons for the majority of business failures among 10,000 startup companies surveyed for his book, The Founder’s Dilemma (Princeton University Press, 2012).

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