Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art of the Start

I just watched the video of Guy Kawasaki's presentation on entrepreneurship: The Art of the Start. It is so energizing; I ought to watch it every morning; I take something new from it every time I watch it. I recently met an entrepreneur, Angela Maiers, who is trying to change the world of education. A good buddy and blog meister, Mike Sansone, introduced us. I am meeting with Angela soon to explore ways that we can collaborate. When I first met her I actually scoffed when she said her target was kindergarten to adult ed. But, upon reflection and after I finally shut up, it occurred to me: "Why not?" We all know we can do a better job in educating our children; I have learned through going back to school at age 48 and as an adjunct instructor that we can do a better job promoting and facilitating life-long learning. Guy's blog is titled "How to Change the World." And I say to you: "Why not?"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Force (and Halle Berry) can set you free

Just returned from five days skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb, an amazing ski resort in British Columbia, a couple hours north of Vancouver and site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Stayed at the wonderful home of a generous friend from Vancouver (he and his family went south). Ski in/ski out; it snowed every day, and this is a big set of mountains...really BIG. Biggest challenge for me was the March Pacific early spring weather which created cloud cover over much of the mountains every day and little real sunshine resulting in Zen-skiing conditions: one must feel the force and become one with the fall line because one cannot see ten feet in front of one. Hard for me and I struggled mightily for the first few days...after replacing my helmet (recommended after a hard crash), I followed the advice of a new friend, Howard from Montreal, and took a Super-Group lesson: one other student, Mycka from London-40 yrs old, Alberto, the Veronese wonder instructor, 20 something, and me, 50 something. Alberto politely and with no rolling of his eyes explained that he wanted us to weight the outside ski, keep our skis together and then release them only when we finished a turn. No rrrush; smooooth; he was calm, he skied like Halle Berry slinking out of her gown in Swordfish, and he was patient. It worked. Took a few tries, but after following him a couple times (he was so good and smooth and fluid, really, think Halle Berry) it started to sink in--I was able to feel the force, he actually used that term, and go with it. My control and confidence returned; skiing was fun (and safe) again. So, sometimes we all need a tune-up or a refresher course and sometimes we need some expert help. They're out there, don't be afraid to ask or to invest something in learning or relearning a skill. And whether it's gravity or customer feedback, trust the Force.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Emperor's New Clothes

Virtually lost in the hubbub over Elliot "My lips say 'Yes,' but my body says 'No'" Spitzer was the announcement by Admiral Willam Fallon of his retirement form the Navy and as Commander of CENTCOM. He was a Big Dog (still is in my book). Spoke truth to authority. Differed with his boss, the Commander-in-Chief (funny thing that Constitution requiring civilian control of the military). As a manager I often hoped somebody, anybody, would disagree with me. I needed the check; I wanted the other points of view; I did not want to roam down the street naked for all to see, but none to say. He may have gone too far In talking to an Esquire journalist, but nothing reported there was unreasonable or wrong to my eye. I'm glad he is on our side. I'm glad he noticed the Emperor's new clothes were a tad scanty.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Emperor's Club

Two lessons come to mind in light of recent news of Elliot Spitzer (soon-to-be former governor of NY) and Adm. William Fallon (soon-to-be former Commander of CENTCOM).

First, planning is essential:

For business people,especially entrepreneurs, the Spitzer tragedy makes clear the necessity of planning for the unthinkable. As I told my management class this morning, when people are involved, and they always are, unthinkable stuff happens. That is not to say that the plan will be perfect (as Guy Kawasaki, Dwight Eisenhower, the USMC, and Herman Count von Moltke have all pointed out, while planning is essential, plans may be worthless). Be sure to spend some time and energy (not too much , but some) thinking about how you will respond if one of your people (or you) do the unthinkable. In my career, I have encountered addicts and drunks, embezzlers, bosses who impregnated secretaries, and suicides. All part of the human condition; none anticipated, but all foreseeable. So think, plan, and be prepared for the stuff to hit the fan.

The Emperor's New Clothes (to be cont.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Client 9

So I'm at lunch with my bride (of 21 years) yesterday; she having just returned from a Florida visit with our college freshman daughter who was visiting my father, and the phone rings (loudly). It's our daughter checking to make sure Mom had gotten home okay and to alert us to the breaking news that Elliot "Mr. Clean" Spitzer was about to address the press in the face of late-breaking allegations of involvement in a prostitution ring.

Like Rudy G, another New York prosecutor, Sptitzer, aka Client 9, was particularly aggressive in the way he handled accusing and prosecuting alleged wrongdoers. Some of them were actually doers of wrong, but some, especially under Rudy were not; many of his attempts to prosecute people on Wall St. were thrown out, but not until after he had ruined people's lives. So what?
So, I asked my Dad how my 18 year-old daughter was reacting. She asked why Spitzer would do something like that. Dear Dad responded "Because he was horny!...Sheesh, it's been going on since Antony and Cleopatra, Clinton and Monica, Adam and Eve. And Eve started it."

Some blog recently asked if readers could name the two presidents who had not had affairs or divorces or something like that. Two!? We should hold them to a higher standard.

I haven't had a chance to follow up with my daughter, but I will always remember that she sent then Pres. Clinton a handwritten note at the beginning of his tribulations saying: "Dear President Clinton, I believe you." I can never forgive him for letting her down. After seeing the undisguisable look of anguish on Silda Spitzer's face, will the people of New York forgive Spitzer? Would you?

Monday, March 10, 2008

What I know

I paid a dollar for this piece of advice:
You don't know what you know until you articulate it.
So here I go:
I know that I know how to do deals.
I know that I can help others do deals.
I know what it takes to raise money.
I have raised money.
I can help others raise money.
I know that others want help raising money.
I know that others need help doing deals and raising money.
I have been told I'd be a good teacher.
I have been told I am a good teacher.
I'm a teacher, a lawyer, an investment banker, a mentor.
So what?
So I believe one should play to one's strengths.