Great Video on the meaning of Entreprenuership. If you need a little inspiration to keep going, sometimes a good video helps. This was made by the good people at Entrepreneur Week.
Don’t ever let your family or friends tell you that watching television is a waste of time. Often I have tried to explain to my family that watching sports on TV was part of my professional development. As a couch potato, I try to study trends and understand how consumers will behave along with the products and services they will demand. For me, Seinfeld consistently provided thoughtful analysis and a demonstration of how important it is to understand how the same action or behavior can be viewed in two distinct ways. The Seinfeld episode where George is attending a wake and he “double dips” is a great example. At the wake George takes puts his chip into the dip and takes a bite. After finishing half of the chip, George “double dips” the same chip back in the dip to the horror of Timmy. It is Timmy’s interpretation that George might as well put his whole mouth on the bowl of dip. When looking at the example of Double Dipping I like how clear it is that a single behavior can be socially acceptable to one person and completely offensive to someone else. Likewise in business, your strategic decisions have impacts on multiple levels. Use your analytic ability to parse out the right decision for you personally, professionally and financially. Finally don’t be afraid to look in mirror and realize that you may not know everything. Accepting constructive criticism from others who see your venture in a different light can be equally as valuable.
Here is a link to a clip of George double dipping.
I once learned from a man who fired me that evaluating facts while understanding history and context was the key to making an accurate assessment and sound decisions. So I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and think back to January 2003. The landscape as we know it was far different. As a nation we were trying to spend our way out of the World Trade Center Attacks. Homes were flipping more frequently then Mitt Romney’s political stances. Our President encouraged us to keep shopping as a way to battle the enemy. E-commerce was a dirty experimental word dominated by Ebay. Social Media was just a twinkle in my eye, yet to be conceived. Personally I was out of work (laid off in June of 2001) and was responsible for earning income for my household. Being considerably more youthful at the time I was also sure that my command of the consumer market place was accurate. Essentially I knew everything and was ready to create, manufacture, distribute and sell my own product. To this point my wife and I had been prudent with our money as we saved for retirement and created a “college fund” for our young son. During a restless night of sleep in January 2003 it came to me, clear as a biblical dream. The world would soon see a collectible product that was revered by the three major religions. I had the answer and was on the fast track to the American dream. A Moses rubber ducky was what the American consumer wanted. In retrospect the lessons learned were valuable, my passion for business runs deep and most importantly I have evolved as person and entrepreneur. If given a Mulligan the three concepts I overlooked were:
A: Clearly articulating my vision
This is where a short 25 word business concept statement telling others and myself the purpose of my product or service would have alerted me that maybe this product was more of whimsical idea rather than a solid business proposal.
B: I did not do any market research or an Environmental Scan. Checking on competition, getting feed back from focus groups or even friends and family. This would have been a great opportunity for me to reach out to 10 acquaintances and get their feedback. An acquaintance or a more one who offers more objective instruction is a great way to see if your idea passes the “smell test”.
C: I did not build a recognizable and desirable brand. I must have just watched the movie Field of Dreams. “If you build it they will come” does not apply to Moses Ducks nor most business ideas. Consumers and potential buyers need a reason to buy your product. A Moses Duck had no practical purpose other than a collectible. When creating a product based on brand appeal your item needs support from influencers of popular culture.
As a post script to this story, many ducks remain sitting in my basement and serve to ground and humble me everyday. However wasn’t just yesterday when I was listent to Casey Casum’s top 40 and he said “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”.
Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.
Everyone has a vision on how to make the world a better place. Whether it is unconditional peace between all people or a high-tech innovation, we all have dreams. However moving from a dream through execution to reality always proves more difficult. Our most respected and effective visionaries, whether it be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs or your favorite community leader all are able to create a loyal group of supporters. How do they do it and more importantly what key elements can we learn about communicating our vision?
1. If you build they will come. What James Earl Jones forget to tell Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams is that there are just a few other elements needed to get people to care about a baseball field in Iowa.
A. Articulate in five minutes or less what you intend to create in the future–expressing your idea in a compelling, concise and confident manner is essential.
B. How do you intend to get people marching with you and why should they care? Integrity and Optimism are key leadership traits you must display. Even on the darkest days of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would state “What a great time it is to be alive”.
Finally Dwight D. Eisenhower had a particularly telling statement on the importance of integrity in a leader:
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”– Dwight David Eisenhower
With these thoughts in mind–dream it, do it and report back.
Until next time-be good and cultiviate your community of friends.