25 Mar 2008 @ 1:30 PM 

Just a short follow up to the email post of a couple of days ago. I found a site that has a short walkthrough on setting up other email accounts to run through Google. Rather than trying to put one together myself, I thought I’d just point you to that post. It’s on a site called googletutor and can be found here. One thing that I forgot to mention that does take some getting used to is that GMail is apparently incompatible with folders. I generally like to tuck things away and have a clean inbox, but Google’s approach seems to be more “Google”-ish, letting you search through your email by keyword instead of in folders.  I guess that is a very “Google” way of thinking about email folder organization!

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2008 @ 01:32 PM

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 21 Mar 2008 @ 11:15 AM 

OK, so my last post was a little long. In the interest of mixing it up and blogging more often, I decided to post today on something a little lighter. Making your email communication more simple and effective.

Life is complex and multi-faceted. Often, so is your email situation. As an entrepreneur, you may have a number of email accounts you need to keep track of. One for your primary communication, another for correspondence from your company website or for other ventures you are involved with, one just for orders, and so forth. Many colleges are now offering lifetime email to their alumni to help them keep track of each other.

In addition, to more easily thwart spam problems that can arise, I recently followed the advice of a friend to create separate email addresses for areas where they might be posted on the internet and risk attracting the attention of spammers. I have done this with Linked In, for example, as well as a specific address for my resume. I also create separate email addresses for church and community roles. This way, if I ever get a bad spam problem on any one address, I can just create a new address to circulate to that limited group of people (minus whoever got me on the spam lists!!) and kill the old address. The problem is the time and frustration involved in checking all of the different accounts.

Google recently made my life simpler in this regard. I don’t mean to over-favor Google, and I am sure that there are other quality competitive products out there, but I have really been impressed with Google’s GMail. I have had a gmail account and address for some time. Then, I downloaded Google Talk to chat with a couple of friends that also use it. Now, I have GMail pop my email from three non-GMail accounts into my GMail interface. It is very easy to set up, all you need is the username and password from your other email accounts. With Google Talk running, I also get an instant update when I receive a new email.  I have also set it up so that it labels each email with the account it came in on (i.e. a personal account from my blog domain), and when I reply, the reply goes out from the account it was sent to, not my GMail account. It also means that all of my accounts can have access to a single address book. 

The other nice thing about using GMail this way is that you can check it anywhere you have an internet connection, even with a mobile phone. Previously, I had been using Thunderbird for my non-work emails and Outlook for work emails. I had been using a web client provided by my hosting service to check emails when I was away from the computer with my Thunderbird and Outlook clients. However, I consistently had problems with the IMAP connection with Thundebird and the web clients just weren’t as user-friendly as GMail is, especially when I had to log into and out of each one. Now, it’s all in one place and I get a notification when new email comes in. I still use Outlook for my primary work-related emails.

Anyway, just a quick tip that some of you will hopefully find useful.

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 21 Mar 2008 @ 11:15 AM

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 19 Mar 2008 @ 10:11 PM 

When I checked out my Google Analytics page recently, I discovered that someone had found their way to the site by means of the following search: “explain how a small business owner might apply critical thinking skills to a non-legal problem.” I have no idea what particular non-legal problem that reader was wrestling with. Frankly, I was pretty amazed by the number of words that Google search contained! That reader probably didn’t find what they were looking for here (yet!), and probably won’t find their way back. However, it gives me an interesting subject on which to opine for a couple of lines, so here we go.

Now, let’s start off on the right foot. The word critic has been defined as: “one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique” and comes from the Latin criticus, or Greek kritikos, meaning “able to discern or judge.” The first step in successfully implementing critical thought in your small business is learning to think critically about it. It is important here not to fall into the trap of thinking of criticism as principally negative – it is never helpful or productive to think negatively about your business, hence the definition given above. The key is reasoning, discernment and making correct judgments – those are all positive things and best done in a positive mindset.

In a previous post, I summarized a presentation I gave to some law students at BYU. One piece of advice I gave them was that a Juris Doctor degree is very versatile because in addition to the valuable subject matter, law students more importantly learn to think critically about actions and transactions. In first year law classes this takes the shape of learning to interpret the law from court decisions. Ultimately, people expect lawyers to be able to anticipate what the likely outcome will be of a dispute under the law and given their particular circumstances. To begin to do this, law students have to learn to identify the key principles in a published legal decision so that, when faced with a similar but different fact scenario, they can reliably determine how the judge is likely to apply the law. A deep familiarity with the published text of the law is helpful, but unless a lawyer has a strong ability to think critically about that text and relate it to the facts, he or she is not going to be able to discern what the outcome of the case should be, which is the lawyer’s role.

I think a neat little summary for effective critical thinking is the following: think broadly, think deeply, but don’t forget to act. 

Think broadly 

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of thinking critically about a problem, legal or non-legal, is being aware of one’s surroundings, or thinking broadly. Much like players on a sports team need to be aware of the location and actions of their fellow players, lawyers and managers need to be sure to actively account for peripheral issues when thinking about a challenge their business is facing. A common temptation for law students, especially in this age of digital search tools, is to go right to the sought-after word or reference in a decision, read the text there, and base their assumptions on that excerpt. The danger in this approach is that, although it saves time and will often give you some reliable direction, there are often many other factors that may affect the importance or interpretation of that principle in the final decision.

By the same token, successful managers and critical thinkers keep their eyes open for peripheral issues that may affect the outcome of what they are trying to achieve, even though the relationship between the two may not be readily apparent at the outset. Many times, significant opportunities and threats for an organization lurk in this periphery. The tech giants have certainly shown that they know how to do this as they seem to have expanded in every direction along the value chain. Thomas Friedman, in The World is Flat, describes how UPS has thought broadly about its business opportunities and has gotten involved much more deeply in its clients’ operations than merely delivering packages. It has developed facilities where it repairs electronics; stores, selects and ships warehoused goods; and operates branded delivery trucks for its clients. Even when successful businesses do not engage in activities from the periphery of their industry, their broad perspectives make them acutely aware of what is going on around them and how they will be affected.

So, how can you widen your perspective? Look through trade magazines from related industries (start with your suppliers, customers and competitors) keeping an eye out for synergies and conflicts. Join a trade association for your industry. Go out for lunch for a change, and take someone with you, such as your primary outside lawyer, accountant, business consultant, or a client or supplier. For the price of a meal and with a few appropriately inquisitive questions, you can often get valuable insights into what issues are on the minds of others in your field (for more on this, check out this post).

Critical thinking does not preclude the ability to act on on intangible evidence, such as a “gut feeling” about a decision. Such intuitive impulses may be instinctual or may in fact be the result of alot of “behind the scenes” analysis your subconscious has conducted based on your perceptions. In fact, such intangibles are very valuable and such innate skills are often possessed by great managers. However, good critical thinkers know how to put that intuition in its proper perspective, consider it in light of the other facts they have gathered and make a reasoned decision – resisting the temptation to simply always follow one’s gut feeling because it is easier. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of effective critical thought is the ability to properly gauge the importance and relevance of each factor affecting a decision.

Think deeply

Chess, at least with the rules one typically plays with in the US and Western Europe, has been around since the 1500s, and some others have been around much longer. One reason this pastime is so persistent is that it helps teach and train the mind in thinking deeply. In chess, success depends on much more than your familiarity with the rules of the game and the ability to perceive what your opponents are doing with their current actions. Players will very quickly and consistently end up in check and mate if they only focus on the present state of the game. The essence of chess is to play the game out in your mind far in advance, looking for trends in your opponent’s movements that will give you the chance to think many moves ahead, which is the key to winning. Chess master Garry Kasparov is reported to have said that chess champions generally think 5 or more moves ahead in the game, and are capable of much deeper thought than that.

Thinking deeply about business problems should be approached in much the same way. We ought to pause just a second before making decisions in our business relationships. Leaning on the wider perspective you have developed by thinking broadly, think through your action. How will your clients perceive this action? Your suppliers and competitors? How are they likely to react? What impact will their reaction have on you, your industry, or other you do business with? You also need to look at such questions over the short, medium and long term. What will be the short vs. long term effects of your decision? If the short term is positive, but the long term potentially negative, are there additional actions you can take to minimize the negative impact so that you can preserve the benefit you get in the short term?

This kind of thought, practiced regularly, leads to the development of a master plan for your small business. It will become less of a “I wonder what will happen today” and more of a “I’m on schedule to realize my goals and desires” type of venture. Of course, you cannot predict every twist and turn in the development of your business, but thinking deeply about it and charting its course out several steps ahead gives you a map to follow. Much as a ship on the sea can be blown off course by strong winds and find its way again with the aid of a map and navigational tools, you will be better prepared to re-orient your business processes in the facing of a changing, industry, economy or regulatory environment if you have thought through a path to where you want to go. On a smaller scale, you will also be able to more easily handle more limited issues, such as simple conversations that could become confrontations, if you think through the conversation beforehand for a few minutes, try to anticipate the reaction of the other person, and plan your questions and comments accordingly. Much of the most painful regret felt in this world could have certainly have been avoided if one or more of the persons involved would have thought things through more thoroughly.

Don’t forget to act 

But won’t all this thought and analysis paralyze my business decision making? Aren’t complicated decision-making processes one of the factors that tend to slow down big organizations and make them less nimble? And won’t that tend to keep an enterprise from being able to effectively seize the advantage of being a first-mover in an industry? These are all valid concerns, and my final thought on critical thinking is to remember that it is but one part of your business process. As too much of any good thing can be unhealthy when it precludes you from taking part in other good things, it is often very easy to fall in the trap of over-analyzing issues. This over-concentration leads to paralysis and indecision. As with all parts of our lives, we have to learn to find the approprate balance for our organizations between analysis and action.

The first key is to remember that we generally cannot and will not uncover all relevant factors to our business decisions. This is a limitation in such wonderful and time-tested concepts as the scientific method. It is impossible for us to anticipate or perceive all relevant factors, and the law of diminishing returns teaches us that, at any rate, after a certain point it becomes less worthwhile to continue looking for hidden factors and risks. So, we have to develop a sense of when we have sufficiently “done our homework” so that we can feel confident that we are getting the big picture. Experience will help you develop a sense for this, as a function of your industry, your company’s culture and your own skill set. You may also continue your analysis while taking primary steps in the direction you think is right to test the waters.

Another reason to remember to act is that things can change, and quickly, especially with today’s technology and global economy. If you try to analyze until you are certain you have examined every possible new development, you may find yourself mapping sand dunes in the desert, with the landscape constantly shifting as the wind blows. In such situations, you may need to select the issues you think are most important, take some probing steps to test your initial reactions, or a combination of these or some other actions and then just roll with the punches that still com through as best you can. What is certain is that you will nonetheless be better off than if you had not made a full effort to analyze the situation in the first place. By the same token, being human, we can also misperceive threats and opportunities. Some of our fears or envisioned roadblocks may never materialize.

Mostly, acting engenders energy, passion and impetus which can often help compensate in overcoming inevitable or unforeseeable obstacles. With the combination of broad perspective and deep analysis, and balancing planning with the need to act, you will soon find greater comfort in your decisions and greater success in your ventures.

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 19 Mar 2008 @ 10:13 PM

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 01 Mar 2008 @ 11:49 PM 

You may have heard the remark on occasion, “Oh I would love to have been a fly on the wall in that room.” Well, back in my college days I spent some time considering that idea, and ended up writing the following poem about it. I ran across it the other day while going through some old papers in the basement and thought I’d put it up here. Hope you enjoy it.

Ode to a Fly

Secrets told by little girls

Dreams of love and gifted pearls

Men combine and plans create

Designs to rule, their passions hate


The discoveries that shape our lives

Forgotten pacts of old

The artist creates his masterpiece

An embrace two lovers hold


These things take place behind closed doors

No secrets to reveal

Yet watchful eyes these acts do see

And secrets quietly steal


Oh, omniscient eyes, pervading all

How dearly I long to learn

The wonders of your vigilance

The truths you can discern


Absolutely inconspicuous

Such advantage do you know

The world so carelessly to view

Yet never yourself to show


Yet as I look into those eyes

There is something more I see

A frustration I can’t comprehend

 A longing to be free


I ask the eyes to please explain

Whence comes their agony

My lot, dear friend, the eyes reply

Is one of great irony


The world is mine to view, ‘tis true

And no wall can block my sight

But for all the ways I know to win

I must always sit out the fight


The world, with the knowledge I possess

Would know its ills no more

The wisdom is mine, but not to share

I am rich, but I am also poor


I left the eyes in flurried though

As my envy lost its sting

And a thought, as though from trumpets blast

Started in my ears to ring


‘Tis better to live with ignorance

And change that which I might

Than the answer for all wrongs to know

And hold no power to make it right.

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2008 @ 11:40 AM

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Categories: Poems, Random thoughts

 16 Feb 2008 @ 2:51 PM 

I recently gave a lecture at BYU law school to a group of students who are interested in pursuing careers in international law. The presentation was intended to give them advice on successfully planning and getting into their legal careers. I’ll summarize it here for future reference.

Personal Preparation 

  • Aim High – Doors can close quickly in the development of a legal career. Key among these are grades and journal participation in law school. It takes a lot of effort and time, but it keeps the door open in case you decide to pursue an opportunity that requires them.
  • Have a 10 year plan – Looking long term at your career helps you make sense of the daily decisions. If you only consider the short term implications, you may make decisions that will lead you away from your long term objectives. 
  • Develop a specialty – People want to pay lawyers because they know their area of law, not to do the research into a new area of law. Figure out what subjects interest you and develop a specialty you will stay on top of.
  • Lay a foundation – Take chances. If you want to have an international practice, seek out and take opportunities to work abroad. It will differentiate your resume and will give you real insights into working with clients and attorneys from different cultures.

Career Development

  • Know the business – Get to know your industry so that you can help anticipate needs. Better yet, get into an industry that you are personally interested in so that when you pick up a trade magazine that interests you personaly, it will also be professionally relevant.
  • Take ownership – In-house, constantly look for ways to improve your processes and legal strategy. In a firm, think about your clients and their needs off the clock. Communicate to them ideas that will help protect them or refine their legal strategy.
  • Understand your role – Remember that your clients and corporate executives are considering yoru advice as one element of the multiple factors they are weighing in making their decisions. Don’t take offense or get upset if your ideas are not always implemented in the manner you have presented them, even if they seem primarily legal in nature.
  • Grow your influence – Over time, consistently giving good legal advice to your clients or corporate team will help them have confidence in you and will likely lead to more of your ideas being implemented as you have presented them. In addition, legal analysis skills are useful in non-legal applications, and you may be asked for your opinion on a broader spectrum of issues.
Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2008 @ 11:59 AM

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Categories: International, Legal

 07 Feb 2008 @ 11:15 AM 

I have been thinking about putting a post together on IP for the last few days. Having an effective IP strategy is more and more important for small businesses, but all too often entrepreneurs put off protecting their brands or ideas because of the expense involved. This can be a fatal mistake to your business. While, on one hand, there is expense involved in protecting intellectual property, much of this expense can be managed by educating oneself on IP. There are a number of helpful resources available to small businesses that will help you get up to speed.

First, one from the US Patent and Trademark Office (IP central in the United States’ government) geared toward small businesses: http://www.uspto.gov/smallbusiness/. This site has very introductory information that will help entrepreneurs and small business owners understand the different types of IP and help them identify how and what to protect. The site includes links to tools, documents and online forms that will educate you on IP and, in some cases, begin or complete some registration activities online.

A second government site that has some useful information on IP strategy development is http://www.sba.gov/tools/resourcelibrary/publications/serv_pub_prods.html. This page has links to documents that, although not written recently, cover some good general principles of IP protection and exploitation.

You can read those resources on your own, but let’s summarize quickly some of the different types of intellectual property you may need to protect. 

First, you’ll want to protect ideas that are embodied in inventions or significant improvements to existing products. This type of protection is called a patent and requires that the inventor have come up with some truly remarkable differentiation from industry and product practices of the past (prior art). Patents also generally require a level of innovation and insight that would not be readily evident to your average industry participant. Getting effective patent protection for your innovation really requires the assistance of a good IP attorney. He or she will help you make sure that your work is not infringing on (i.e., resembles too closely in form or function) the work of someone else who has registered a patent application. The patent attorney will then help you craft statements on your patent application that will be specific enough to help your patent withstand future scrutiny yet broad enough to give you effective protection against copycats.

You protect your brands through trademark protection. There are online resources from the USPTO that will allow you to search for use or registration of your desired name by others. Protection is limited to the class of products you will work in. Once you have ensured that the mark is clear, you can even register the mark yourself through the USPTO website, if you feel comfortable doing so. This will save money in many circumstances, but you should still obtain legal advice when developing your overall US and international trademark strategy. In the US, common law provides trademark protection for some use of unregistered trademarks as well, though reliance on common law only can be risky in some cases or limit the breadth of your protection. If you are going to rely on your brand and build value in it, you should consult with an attorney about your options. 

You protect your “written” ideas through copyright. Under US law, copyrighted works are generally protected from the moment of creation for a period of the life of the author plus 70 years. For works made “for hire” (made by one person on behalf of another for some kind of pay or other consideration) the protection lasts 95 years from the date of publication, or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter. “Written” ideas include not only text, but also images, music, motion pictures and other artistic works that are fixed in a tangible form. Copyrights are enforceable without any kind of government registration, though registration can also be beneficial. For more information, see http://www.copyright.gov/.

Finally, you can also protect your processes and inside knowledge just by keeping it secret. Trade secrets are a defensible form of IP protection. The key is to take adequate precautions to make sure that no one can readily discover your secret process without going to considerable lengths to circumvent your protection. Often, these protections take the form of tight physical security and Non-Disclosure Agreements (“NDAs”) Think Coca-Cola’s formula. It is kept in a bank vault, known only to a few people, and those people are bound by NDAs and their actions have some tight controls. In the information age, the use of a well-drafted NDA and strong discretion in the disclosure of mission critical information are keys to an effective Trade Secret protection strategy. If you have taken adequate precautions and an individual or competitor circumvents your efforts, you may be able to stop their infringing activities or be awarded compensatory damages by a court. 

Once you have an idea of what kind of IP you are trying to protect, you can find additional information readily available on the internet, though always do what you can to make sure your internet sources are reliable before relying on them too heavily.

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 11 Feb 2008 @ 11:30 AM

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Categories: Entrepreneurism, Legal

 22 Jan 2008 @ 10:00 PM 

In an effort to try and put up some content that might be useful to small businesses, I thought I’d write today about something close to home. Lawyers.

Are they really necessary? Do we really need them? The answer, I would say perhaps unfortunately, is yes. Lawyers help us anticipate and plan for problems in the future, and also help us sort out the messes we sometimes find ourselves mixed up with in the present. I have advised many friends and clients who found themselves on the receiving end of a legal matter without even quite being sure how they ended up there. And once someone has threatened or initiated legal action against you, justly or unjustly, you have to be prepared to take action to defend yourself, and that may end up costing you money out of pocket for attorney fees and expenses, even if you end up winning the legal battle!

What’s that, you say? I can end up being in the right and win in court and still have to end up paying some lousy lawyer out of pocket? Now I REALLY hate lawyers! And you wouldn’t be alone. Many lawyers are dissatisfied with our system of justice. For all its strength and effectiveness, it has weaknesses, and one of those weaknesses is its complexity. In order to be able to account for as many variables as possible, it has to be complex, but that also means that it requires an expert to help navigate it. And that expert, like an expert in any other field, needs to make a living. However, there are ways to manage that expense.

First, since you have to have a lawyer, get a good one, appropriate for your size and industry. Your primary counsel will likely be a transactional attorney. This attorney will help you make sure that you are organized correctly and performing all necessary corporate maintenance activities for your entity type. He or she will also help you review contracts, figure out how to hire and fire people, and act as a resource for finding specialist attorneys as necessary. If your industry relies heavily on intellectual property, you will also want to develop a strong personal repationship with an IP attorney. Both of these attorneys should know your organization and operations very well so that they can help anticipate your legal needs. A good attorney will usually be willing to invest some amount of his or her own time in getting to know your company at the outset, and your relationship will deepen over time.

Take some time and interview a number of different attorneys to make sure you find one that you feel comfortable working with, and that has the right experience for your industry. It is also important to resist the urge to automatically select the attorney with the lowest per-hour billable rate. Often, low per-hour rates translate into larger bills because of extra time spent making up for a lack of expertise, or even worse, a poorly (but inexpensively) written contract exposes your organization to considerable liability. Some attorneys are also willing to offer flat fees for some services with long-term clients, or even enter into a retainer agreement where a certain suite of services are provided, some months more, some months less, for a set monthly fee. Feel free to explore creative options with the attorneys you are interviewing and set yourself up in a position you feel comfortable with.

Second, budget for legal expenses. I know nobody likes to pay the lawyers, but as you grow, so will your need for legal services. Getting this into your budget early on will help you keep legal concerns in your strategy, and that will ultimately help you keep legal costs to a minimum in the long run. Exploring some of the alternatives I’ve described above will help to put a relatively constant face to that figure.

Third, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It gets annoying paying five hundred dollars to review a contract that may only be bringing in to your company twenty or thirty thousand dollars worth of revenue. On the other hand, that five hundred dollar review will seem like a bargain when you are facing a lawsuit or regulatory agency action whose expense may outweigh the value of the contract itself. Contract reviews are definitely an investment worth making. The good news is that there are ways to reduce this expense as well. You can do much of the legwork yourself. You know the deal you want to make better than anyone. Start with a template agreement of the type you are entering into (e.g., product sales, trademark licensing, employment, etc.). You can get such templates from your attorney, or if he or she does not have any available, on internet sites (such as www.findlaw.com). Try filling in the blanks and putting in minor modifications to describe the arrangement you want. Try not to change sections that do not seem to deal directly with the terms of the deal you are making. These are usually “lawyerly” provisions, are necessary, and are best left to be amended by the lawyer who authored them. Once you have put in the terms you want, have your attorney review it and explain any changes he or she wants to make with you. This will let the attorney shore up any problems, and will make sure you are both on the same page. You will also have saved the expense of the attorney filling in the terms of the contract on billable time.   

Finally, and this hearkens back to a comment above, keep legal in your strategy. There are many ways to do this all along your path. The cheapest way to do this in the beginning is to have a lawyer friend. I know the risks that may run to your reputation, but they are generally considered more entertaining than accountants, and there is an inexhaustible supply of jokes to be told about them behind their backs, or even to their face! I often answer basic legal questions for friends and acquaintances. Short of having a lawyer “friend”, small businesses can develop relationships with attorneys interested in their industry through participation in industry associations. Lawyers often join these associations and attend their functions in order to further their industry knowledge and to network. This networking is an opportunity to develop a relationship with them and to get general advice and answers to basic questions. If you are a startup that is short on cash but long on value, you may consider asking an attorney to join your board and/or provide legal services in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company. And finally, once the number of legal concerns your company is addressing accumulates to the point of becoming a real distraction from running the company, it may be time to consider hiring an attorney to work in-house. If you are still small but feel like you are on the edge, try finding one that can wear a couple of hats and perform additional functions for the company, or see if you can get a practicing attorney to dedicate a certain amount of his or her time to you for a flat fee. 

Most importantly, put your innovative spirit to work in establishing your relationship with legal counsel. Lawyers stand behind us and make sure that we can at least feel like we are doing business on a handshake and a smile in the boardroom, while they are tightening everything up behind the scenes. Legal counsel is a necessary, but minimizable, expense that will put a small business ahead of those who do not pay attention to it. Following these guidelines will help to ensure that you are always using the lawyers, and not the other way around…

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 23 Feb 2008 @ 07:44 AM

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 16 Jan 2008 @ 11:54 PM 

“What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life?”

That is the seminal thought in a great little book my brother sent me awhile back, and I thought I’d do a short review of it on the site tonight. The book is “The Monk and the Riddle” by Randy Komisar. It is, on one hand, a narrative representation of Randy’s experience with countless numbers of Silicon Valley hopefuls who came to him seeking advice and financial backing for their big ideas. Randy embodies the hopes, fears, strengths, and weaknesses of these collective entrepreneurs in the form of Lenny, an entrepreneur with a big idea to revolutionize the funeral industry. On the other hand, the book is also a statement about how to measure personal success in entrepreneurial endeavors, as Randy’s protagonist learns that entrepreneuring by doing something one really loves is much more likely to be successful at bringing one happiness than entrepreneuring in order to one day be able to do what one loves.

Randy’s personal experience and main point with the book seems to be to remind us that happiness comes not so much through the acquisition of resources, but by engaging in an endeavor to which we feel personally committed and interested. He shows the folly of sacrificing our devotion and personal passions today and spending our time and energy working only on seemingly hyper-lucrative pursuits in the hopes that we will strike it rich and then be able to spend the remainder of our lives doing nothing but pursuing our dreams. Of the myriad problems inherent in such an approach, Randy addresses a few, including the minute likelihood that any particular entrepreneur is actually going to be fortunate enough to actually find the payoff they have been looking for, and the fact that even among those who make it, they have often so deeply ingrained in themselves the notion of working for money, that they have lost the capacity to work on their dreams. Randy’s personal moment of enlightenment came as he stared down a hallway and could see his whole career and life’s ambitions, being confined to that narrow corridor and the context within which it functioned. He realized that, although that career path would bring him financial success, that success would be hollow because he could not love what he was doing.

The Monk and the Riddle is a very interesting and entertaining book, and a very quick read because of its easy, narrative style and compelling principles. I think somehow we all know instinctively that the world would be a better place if everyone dedicated themselves professionally to the things they love most and were most interested (and hence educated) in, instead of dreading their job, boss or both as they grudgingly trudge off to work every day. The Monk and the Riddle is great not just because of the insights Randy gives by sharing his life view, but also because of the way it naturally leads one to look internally and ask those same questions about one’s own professional activities. Not only do I strongly believe that we will be more likely to become leaders in our industries if we dare to do things we love, I think we also will have less risk in our professional lives in the long run, because we will be willing and able to dedicate ourselves fully to our pursuit, instead of begrudging our employer and always looking around for greener pastures. I highly recommend giving “The Monk and the Riddle” a read.   

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 20 Jan 2008 @ 07:10 AM

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 11 Jan 2008 @ 6:12 AM 

So, finally a first real post.  I know there are millions of you out there just waiting for it. Just imagine, a vehicle I can use to chronicle the jumble of thoughts rolling around my head during the day. Maybe some of them will end up being valuable. At any rate, putting them on (virtual) paper can only serve to help them coalesce into more substantive concepts, so if nothing else, this should be a useful exercise in being critical of my own thought. 

Maybe I’ll just start my blog by saying that, even as we stare down the most serious recession we’ve had in a while, I’m grateful for the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people and for a social and economic structure which allows individuals with a good idea and a bit of tenacity to pursue their dreams; to not be satisfied with sticking with a job they hate just because they were born in a less-advantaged social class. Some entrepreneurs get rich, others just get by, but all are rewarded with the opportunity to chase their dreams – even if only for a little while – and experience a measure of creative freedom that corporate minions never know. I plan to use many of the posts in this blog to explore entrepreneurism, along with its frustrations, exhilarations, success stories and lessons learned from failure. I know I’ll grow from that part of the ride, and I hope a few of you enjoy it too.

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 11 Jan 2008 @ 06:14 AM

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 09 Jan 2008 @ 7:56 PM 

I’m sitting here blogging with Curtis J. Morley. He just helped me get this up and running, so we’re off to the races.

 Starting small so you don’t get your expectations up…Under Construction

Posted By: TJ
Last Edit: 09 Jan 2008 @ 08:23 PM

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