Angel Investment Journal – Angel Investing and Entrepreneur Blog

“If we trained the Horses like we did the people, we’d kill them.”

Posted in General by angel on the August 18th, 2008

This was a quote by Michael Phelps coach, Bob Bowman when talking about Phelps’ (and his fellow swimmer’s) training regime. Bowman not only trains Olympic swimmers but he also trains thoroughbred racehorses.

I liked that quote because it shows that the people at the top of their sport don’t get their by genetics or luck (although both of those would help). Those people, more likely than not, train much harder than the rest of the field.

Dignity and Professionalism are Overrated

Posted in General by angel on the January 16th, 2008

Paul Graham argues that Dignity and Professionalism are not only overrated, but they are actually deadly. Kathy from Creating Passionate Users summarizes a speech given by Paul Graham discussing this concept.

When you evolve out of start-up mode and start worrying about being professional and dignified, you only lose capabilities. You don’t add anything… you only take away. Dignity is deadly.

Fortunately, within our companies, we have been able to avoid a focus on being dignified and being perceived as professional. We have very modest offices, we don’t require ties or even business casual. Hats, sandals, and graphic tees are commonplace in the offices and no one was to worry about being especially cordial to one another (although respecting fellow employees is demanded). Passion is what is important. Being passionate about making sure every customer is taken care of and happy is valued. Making sure employees are happy and comfortable in their work environment is also important.

If am employee does something considered unprofessional such as telling a client about how they went out and got drunk this past weekend, it is not a cause to worry. But if they ever did anything that was not in the best interest of the client, that would result in a deserved ass-chewing or worse.

Passion creates action. Professionalism leads to timid people. Passion makes people do what they know is right. Professionalism makes people do what they think will be perceived as being right, regardless of whether or not it actually is.

Amex SWAG – Free iPhone

Posted in General by angel on the September 10th, 2007

I go to a lot of search engine marketing conferences and the exhibitors always have various swag. Some of them are neat, creative, or useful, but most are pretty worthless. Bloggers usually do a recap of the swag given away at the conferences and I have never really found much worth talking about. However, I attended the Inc 500 conference this past weekend and Amex gave away something that is deserving of a mention. They gave everyone a free iPhone. They didn’t even require you to go through much. It took me less than 3 minutes in total to give them my info and get my free iPhone. They even asked if I would like to get additional info from Amex and allowed you to decline.

This was done to help promote their new card – the Plum Card. Not only did they give away free iPhones, but they had a kick-ass party at the House of Blues. All I can say is “Well done, Amex. Well done.”

Business Lessons from Harry Houdini

Posted in General,Marketing by angel on the August 27th, 2007

Having read quite a bit about Harry Houdini while growing up I enjoyed 37 Signal’s post today discussing 5 Business Lessons from Harry Houdini. They include:

– Focus on the killer bit
When he started out, he was doing a bunch of tricks and escaping from handcuffs was just one in the batch. A vaudeville bigwig saw him do his act and told him that no one cared about any of the tricks except the handcuff escape. Houdini dropped the rest of the tricks, did a show that focused exclusively on escapes, and flew to stardom.

– Give ‘em a story
Houdini knew the aura of escape was just as important as the actual escape. So he always gave people something to talk about. He’d often stretch easy escapes into lengthy affairs in order to build tension. When he finally broke free, the crowd would erupt in cheers.

Management 2.0

Posted in General by angel on the July 20th, 2007

My buddy Rafe has a great post talking about “Management 2.0”. The post discusses concepts related to it and brings up the growing idea that management innovation, not technological innovation, may be the key driver of economic value.

His list includes some great ideas such as taking advantage of crowdsourcing and user-generated content and implementing emerging concepts such as a Results Oriented Work Environment, which Best Buy has helped make famous. He encourages people to add their own Management 2.0 concepts to the list.

Entrepreneurs and Criminals

Posted in General by angel on the July 11th, 2007

Psychology Today had an article discussing Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature. It poses some interesting ideas and brings up an an idea that could show a possible relation between entrepreneurs and criminals.

Criminologists have known about the “age-crime curve.” In every society at all historical times, the tendency to commit crimes and other risk-taking behavior rapidly increases in early adolescence, peaks in late adolescence and early adulthood, rapidly decreases throughout the 20s and 30s, and levels off in middle age…The relationship between age and productivity among male jazz musicians, male painters, male writers, and male scientists—which might be called the “age-genius curve”—is essentially the same as the age-crime curve. Their productivity—the expressions of their genius—quickly peaks in early adulthood, and then equally quickly declines throughout adulthood.

The likely reason that criminals, scientists, and some of the most successful entrepreneurs make their biggest mark in their younger years is a result of their risk tolerance. It may also be related to their naivety in doing things which more experienced (older) individuals would not. This doesn’t mean that age is the restricting factor, but the willingness of the individual to take these risks that can lead to great achievements.

Fear of Failure

Posted in General by angel on the May 30th, 2007

LifeHacks has a great post on the dangers of being fearful of failure. This topic has been discussed countless times and deserves discussions because the concept is so vital. Regardless of whether it relates to an Entrepreneur starting a new venture or an existing business trying new things, the fear of failure is a major thing that prevents most people from trying new things.

People say there is no better way than to learn from your mistakes. I agree that there is not much that will drive home a lesson better than a failure. However, you should also strive to learn from other’s mistakes since it is a much cheaper method. The only problem is that many times it is also less effective.

Tossing an idea out the window

Posted in General by angel on the May 11th, 2007

The GoBigNetwork had an interesting post today about bailing on at least one of your ideas. Coming up with new ideas and taking the initiative to carry them out is hugely important in whatever it is that you are doing. The post claims it is equally important to bail on certain ideas.

This could be for an idea that you feel is good, but if you actually thought about it and were able to carry it through, it would not likely result in a large rewards. I think this concept has merit, especially because you never want to get spread too thin. You should focus on the things that are the most valuable to you. If you are 100% dedicated to something compared to trying to go after 2 things at 80%, the 100% dedication will likely increase your chances for success, even though you are less diversified.

This definitely does not mean you shouldn’t go after new ideas or new concepts. Trying new ideas is of extreme importance and is required to achieve success. And even going after an idea that turns out to be bad may not necessarily be a negative because you are likely to learn something or may even find a new niche as a result. But you do need to be mindful of how you dedicate your limited resources.

What did you learn today?

Posted in General by angel on the April 25th, 2007

I student taught (in the second grade) and one day I had the class lined up and ready to leave, but we had about 2 minutes before the bell rang to let them out to the bus. As you probably know, 26 second graders standing in line is an eternity. So I asked them a simple question. “What are 5 things you learned today?”

Every hand shot up and we got to the fifth thing right before the bell rang. The interesting thing was that we had a quiz a few days later. One of the questions on the quiz was something one of the kids brought up when talking about the 5 things they learned that day (it was a coincidence, I didn’t plan it). EVERY kid got that question right. I like to think it was because I was such an awesome teacher, but in reality, it was more likely a result of the kids reflecting a little on their day and about what they learned.

As many people will tell you, experiencing something is probably the best way to learn something (and that is usually done in the form of a mistake). But one problem some people have is that they don’t learn from their experiences or mistakes. That is likely because they do not take time to reflect on it. Without reflecting, hopefully you will learn something subconsciously, but taking time to think about what it is you learned and defining it is a much more effective way to learn.

You probably have the chance to learn 50 things every day, whether they are new or just reinforcements of what you already know. The problem is that most people don’t actually get as much from the day as they could since they don’t reflect. Everyday at 4:45pm, I have a reminder that pops up reminding me to “Reflect” for the day. So I try to think about what it is I learned that day and I write these things down in a file. Some are from reading (blogs, books, magazines or something else), some are concepts I come up with as a result of something that happened that day, and others things come out by accident (maybe while driving).

But even though I take the time and effort to reflect, define what it is I learned, and write it down, I still have the challenge to get myself to go back and read what it is I have learned for some reinforcement.

I decided to do this post as a result of a post on Brad Feld’s Blog – I’ll Never Do An Investment In That Kind of Thing Again.

Berkshire Hathaway’s 2006 Chairman’s Letter

Posted in General by angel on the March 26th, 2007

If you are a Warren Buffett fan like me, you will probably be interested to know Berkshire Hathaway’s 2006 Chairman’s Letter has been released.

h/t Feld

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