Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Makings of a King: The Early Years of King Gillette

He had spent his entire life tinkering with ideas, most of which the rest of the world would call him crazy for. It was not until King Gillette was in his 40s that he would patent and begin to sell his disposable safety razor. It was an invention that made him a household name and revolutionized the shaving industry in the process. Today, Global Gillette continues to rank as one of the most dominant brands in the industry.

King Camp Gillette was born on January 6, 1855 in the small central Wisconsin town of Fond du Lac. He had three older brothers and two sisters. His parents, George Wolcott Gillette and Fanny Lemira Camp were both inventors in their own rights. As a result, the Gillette kids were encouraged to be inquisitive, to be hands on, and to take things apart to learn how they work.

When Gillette was four years old his family moved to Chicago, Illinois in the hopes of achieving a better life. His father opened up a hardware store, but its promise was soon destroyed. In 1871, the great Chicago fire devastated the business and forced the Gillette family to move once again.

This time, they chose New York City, where Gillette’s father became a patent agent. Conversations around the Gillette family’s dinner table always revolved around the various inventions that had come across his desk during the day. With each passing year, the young Gillette was growing more and more inspired to invent something of his own.

At 17 years old, Gillette left school and began making his living as a traveling salesman. Although it was a far cry from his dream job, it provided a steady income and also allowed him to flex his inventor’s muscle; with each product that Gillette sold door-to-door, he tried his hand at improving them in some way.

By 1890, Gillette had become increasingly disappointed with his life. He had four patents to his name but none had achieved much success. “They made money for others, but seldom for myself, for I was unfortunately situated not having much time and little money with which to promote my inventions,” he said. On top of that was the dissatisfaction of knowing his parents were much more successful than him. His mother had even published the “White House Cookbook”, a compilation of her own recipes which remains in print to this day.

Gillette’s disappointment was such that in 1894, at the age of 39, he published a book called “The Human Drift.” It was an anti-capitalist rant in which Gillette set out to criticize big business and competition as the root of all evil. As an alternative, he outlined his own ideal of a utopian, socialistic society.

By his own admission, Gillette was at rock bottom. He needed a new idea, something that would make him the success he had always dreamed of. But what, he wondered. At 40 years old, what single idea could take him to the top?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Entrepreneurs - East and the West

Entrepreneurs - East and the West

By Sheeroy Desai:

The fundamental structure of the global economy is shifting- from the West to the East. China and India are expected to lead the global recovery and as such venture capitalists are also shifting their focus to these countries. Hoping to find the next big ideas and companies.

At the heart of successful new companies lie successful entrepreneurs. And if India and China are going to produce the next Microsoft’s or Google’s of the world, do they have the entrepreneurs to create and grow such companies?

"The combination of the talent, culture and money in Silicon Valley makes it an incredible engine for fueling entrepreneurs and successful start-ups. So, coming back to the idea at the top of this blog, what will it take for China and India to produce the large volumes of entrepreneurs and start-up’s? It will come down to will the best talent in these countries turn down, the safe jobs to pursue their dreams and risk failure. Will there be enough of these entrepreneurs with large dreams and ambitions to build global giants?"

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

To Thrive In The Recession, Be A Cockroach

To Thrive In The Recession, Be A Cockroach -

Why should a recession be good for start-up leaders?

First, since a recession weeds out weaklings, it's a time for the stronger to get underway. During a boom, you don't need as much talent to succeed; the environment helps you along. Even the mediocre do well because the market is flooded with opportunity. A downturn offers particular opportunity for especially smart people willing to work harder. They're the ones who discover their full potential and find ways to solve the toughest problems.

Second, bad times, just like good times, never last forever. A recession is as much a part of the economic cycle as is a boom. Nevertheless, in tough times people tend to let their emotions and judgment be colored by the uncertainty they feel. They end up behaving as if the world will always remain the way it is right now. But good leaders don't get stuck that way. They know how to take their eyes off the short term and try to see how things will shape up in the future. And then they don't just sit there gazing; they go ahead and start the process of building that future.

Third, a recession is a time when you know the environment is hazardous, so you remain cautious and tread slowly. Good leaders and entrepreneurs run their start-ups on the thinnest budgets possible, making sure they remain agile at all times. In the words of Paul Graham, programmer and start-up guru, recession offers you a chance to be the cockroach of the corporate world. The immediate cause of death for a start-up is always running out of money. The cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it will be to kill. A recession forces you to be as thrifty as possible and that helps it thrive even in the worst of times.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Outcome Based Thinking

Imagine that you're fairly new in business - maybe even five years in business - and you haven't quite 'made it' yet. Why is this?

There are a million books that say, "Here's what this successful person did, and here's the model. You go and do this. You start a software company and you get on everybody's computer in the world. If you can just get on everybody's computer in the world and make them all give you a dollar, you'll be a billionaire."

Of course, this is true, right?

You go out there and you try to sell your product, your idea, your patent, your trademark, or your invention and you do all the things exactly like the books say. It's like you have it in your mind and you do all this stuff.

You work hard, you're up all night, you're sweating, and nothing happens. You think, "That can't be possible because I did exactly what I was supposed to."

Are you familiar with the books like Built to Last, Good to Great, and some of those titles? Do they sound familiar?

I started to read stuff like that. The good thing was that the books are actually a few years old, so I was reading these books about companies, what things these companies had in common, what made them great, and how they got there. An interesting thing happened; over the following three to four years those companies, after the books were published, turned out to actually not perform as well as the rest of the companies in the United States did.

They actually tended to under-perform. Here I had all these companies-including companies that had been great for 25 to 50 years, like GE, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, tons of companies - and all of a sudden they under-perform. They had all the attributes of being excellent and amazing. They were doing everything right, and then everything went to heck.


Why is it that these companies are now actually showing losses on their statements? What is going on here?

Importance of Random Events

You can actually go to the dice table in Vegas, throw seven passes in a row, and "believe" you're doing really well, that you're amazing all by yourself.

The fact is that the eighth roll could just as easily be a loser as it is a winner.

The incredibly important question to ask is,

"Do you have all your money on that bet, or did you have a small percentage?"

Realize there's some randomness in life. That's a really good thing to know. Here, I'll recommend somebody else's book because I want you to learn about the things that go wrong in life. It's a really important thing to know. There is The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb.

Pick up that book; that's a really cool book. It sort of gives you cause to understand that you aren't in total control of everything. When you do everything right, there's still stuff that can go wrong. That's number one.

Number two is that just because you have somebody's success formula doesn't mean you've got their recipe for success. I don't know if you've had this experience, but my mom made a couple of great dishes when I was a kid.

She used to make this great carrot cake; it had this right flavor and all that. It was perfect. It was the perfect food. She would tell other people how to make it. It's not like mom held anything back, but it didn't taste the same when anybody else made it.

The fact is that it tasted downright bad sometimes with almost the same exact recipe, if not the what APPEARS TO BE THE exact same recipe. How can that be?

The short and first answer is that food tastes different cooked in a microwave vs. in the oven vs. on the grill. Same exact recipe, very, very different taste, and perhaps very different nutritional value as well.

We leave the metaphor...

What Don't You Want?

The deal is that we always talk about the things that we want in life, "I want to be successful,"; "I want to be earning $100,000 a year,"; and "I want to be helping 500 people a month." If you're in relationships, "I want a gal, and I want her to be really pretty, sweet, nice, and not yell at me," and all those good things.

We have all these things, but we don't specifically itemize the things that we don't want to happen.

Seems kind of silly.

Except it's not.

What the books all miss and what the gurus miss when they're communicating is they're telling stories from their perspective of what they did to succeed, all of which are legitimately cool and valuable things. They're neglecting to say the things that you should not do, the mistakes that they avoided or overcame and those kinds of things.

In other words, what things don't you want to have happen in your business? Those are actually some of the things that cause you to be really successful.

Imagine, that you're saying, "I want the perfect wife. I want somebody who's funny and happy and somebody who's strong and good looking."

Great! There's your model. Now that same girl could be a terrible mother. She could be completely unkind in many other ways to your children or maybe your relatives.

You didn't say you wanted her to be kind to your relatives; you only said you wanted her to be nice, seemingly to you as if that would generalize to the world.

There are all kinds of other terrible things that this person will do in life, and this is what happens in everyday life. We don't itemize the things that we don't want to happen.

We don't create ways to get over the obstacles that are going to come up in life, so what happens is people accidentally get out of a success path.

It's very easy to do this in any business: real estate, investing, anything. They fall apart and they don't succeed because they don't know what they don't want.

If you live in coastal Kolkotta or Orrisa, you don't want a hurricane to come by and destroy your home, so you buy hurricane or some kind catastrophe insurance. If you don't, you have recognized what you don't want, but have failed to act upon that driver, either by insuring against it financially or leaving the physical area.

So the next question becomes, how do you know what you don't want? We'll go back to the relationship for just a second. The woman doesn't want somebody who's going to hit her, right? Does that make sense?

Yet we know that with one out of 20 that happens. The woman doesn't want somebody who's going to hit her children, let's say. Let's go there. All of a sudden a door opens in your mind, "...didn't think of that..."

She would like somebody who actually has proven income potential, not like he just got out of college and he could get a really good job; he's really smart.

That's nice, but does he have proven income potential? Does this person have a track record of bringing in $50,000 or $100,000 a year?

This would've saved a lot of problems along the way, too. As people look at the downside, the drawbacks, and things that can go wrong in life and they find out ways to solve those problems ahead of time, then it's much easier to build wealth and cause success in whatever area you choose.

Discouragement Leads to Failure

Otherwise, what happens is we get discouraged.

I talk to people all over the world, and they say, "I started this business, and I read Think and Grow Rich," as an example.

And, I'm not picking on Napoleon Hill. That book was so huge. I must have read that thing I can't even tell you how many times, maybe 50 to 100 times that it went in my mind.

Then The Law of Success, that other beautiful book that he wrote. Without that, I don't know if I would've had the motivation early on to go through those discouraging things.

The fact is that most people, when they get discouraged, inertia sets in and they tend to not continue to work as hard, to do as much, to achieve the goal, to go for the goal.

Expect Discouragement and Push On to Success.

You want people to know that a lot of stuff can and will go wrong, and we call this Outcome-based Thinking. This turned out to be one of the core factors of success.

Outcome-based thinking works like this:

What is it that you want?

Oh, write this down.
  • What is it that you want, specifically?
  • What are the things you don't want in this business? What don't you want to happen?
  • What are the obstacles that are going to happen along the way?
What else? You just list all of the possible things that can go wrong in this business.

Feel free to get fantastic and wild in what can go wrong.

These are the 'black swans'. Earthquakes happen. Weird things happen in people's lives. Write down all of those things. Now you think, "I'm prepared now."

Now you have to create the map, and a real map has obstacles that are overcome.

How specifically would you go about overcoming each of these obstacles?

Make Your Motto "Be Prepared"

How Do We Learn to Succeed?

kids get bigger and we get more efficient at learning what people need is because we watched other people fail.

Really, when you watch people fail, you learn a lot more than when you watch people succeed. Everybody watches people who succeed. We watch the Olympians who are going to be in the Olympics coming up here. I know people will be listening to this probably forever, but think about your Olympians; they're great stories. They're very focused and single minded; that is their life.

I'll promise you one thing; that won't be your life in business. If it is, you'll probably fail miserably.


I'll tell you next week.

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