Sunday, February 25, 2007

Should I attend the Entrepreneurial Connections 2007 conference (EntConnect)?

For many years I have attended a small conference for technical entrepreneurs held in later winter/early spring in Colorado. The first conference was named ME/Ski, then became ENTCON, and more recently Entrepreneurial Connections or EntConnect. I've always enjoyed attending these conferences, but after last year I decided that my entreprenurial efforts were simply not being successful enough to continue down that path and I decided no stop attending the conferences. Yes, they were fun and I enjoyed them, but I simply wasn't getting enough professional value from them. I decided that I needed to place a higher value on my own time.

The day that I sent an email about my intentions (Monday after the weekend conference), coincidentally my consulting client informed my that they no longer needed my services. I looked around for some replacement work, but the pickings were quite slim at the time and having only recently gone through bankruptcy, my finances were not sufficient for me to wait a few months until I found some consulting work.

I decided to go ahead and seek a full-time job, knowing that would be the end of my entrepreneurial efforts for at least the next five years or more. Within a month I go gotten and accepted an offer to work at The Evil Empire, where I remain employed today. Needless to say, I am not pursuing any entrepreneurial efforts at this time, nor even considering any, nor would I pursue them if they became apparent to me. That's my intention for the next five years. Five years from now, I will reevaluate by career and decide again whether to stay "corporate" or maybe take another shot at the entrepreneurial thing.

Technically, I have little to gain professionally by attending the EntConnect conference, but there is always some residual value even if from an entrepreneurial angle my interests are no longer "aligned" with those of most of the attendees to the conference. Simply getting a "view" of the interests of this sub-community gives me some context.

So, I am in fact entertaining the thought of possibly attending the conference, but am still undecided.

My finances are much, much better than a year ago, but dropping $750 for travel and hotels and expenses is still somewhat of an issue.

In any case, the conference may in fact be of interest to you the reader or somebody you know.

There is an "official" conference web page, but it isn't well maintained and not up to date, but at least it provides some background and contact info. The dates of the conference are Thursday, March 29, 2007 through Sunday, April 1, 2007. Actually the first two days are skiiing and other recreational activitys and the conference doesn't kick-off until dinner on Friday, March 30, 2007. The bulk of the conference is all day Saturday, and a bit more on Sunday morning. Late-night and breakfast discussions are part of the tradition and value even though not a formal part of the agenda. The conference has a very loose and enrepreneurial structure, so don't expect a formal binder of instructional materials. Mostly the conference is about attendees sharing their entrepreneurial experiences, with only a few formal presentations.

Maybe I'll see you there.

-- Jack Krupansky

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Saturday, February 24, 2007



-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 18, 2007

You have to really want to lead

As I think back on all of my efforts to be entrepreneurial, one of the missing pieces that pops up all too frequency is leadership, or lack thereof. It simply is not enough to have a great idea, a clearly identified market, a great plan, and intense effort at executing that plan, if you don't have a strong leadership bent. You have to really want to lead.

I have to admit that a huge motivation for my own entrepreneurial efforts was so that I would no longer have to work under mediocre managers or work in stifling bureaucracies. Wanting to sell and wanting to lead were simply not high on my list of either requirements or desires.

It's not that I had not recognized these essential qualities, but simply that I was presuming, or at least hoping, that I could focus on developing a stream of technology innovations and then focus on strategically licensing those technologies to businesses who would then package them and market them as they saw fit. I think that strategy could have worked, and in a handful of situations it almost did, but I neglected to recognize that even in such a hard-core technology development and licensing approach, selling and leading are just as critical despite the fact that the target markets have a somewhat different profile. Selling is still selling and leading is still leading.

Another problem is that one of my core beliefs is that flat, collaborative efforts are inherently superior to deep, top-down, hierarchical organizations. Whether that is true or not, my own experiences are certainly evidence that deep, top-down hierarchies are certainly easier to put together and achieve short-term results, assuming that you are passionately committed to the concepts of a "general", "lieutenants", and "foot soldiers", which I passionately am not. That structure is something that I can and have been tolerant of, but it is definitely not something that I am passionately in favor of.

If I do ever try to head down the entrepreneurial track again, it will be because my top two desires and requirements are salesmanship and leadership.

If at age 52 I still haven't shown any hint of passionately wanting to sell and passionately wanting to lead, it is an open question whether it is likely that I would ever develop those skills.

I do question whether the desire to sell and the desire to lead is a native ability that yo are born with, or is a learned skill that can be mastered by reading a few books and taking a few seminars. I remain unconvinced either way.

Do I have "an inner general" waiting to lead, or is that a fiction that simply doesn't apply to me?

There is an old adage: "Lead, follow, or stay the <bleep> out of the way." I've seen no evidence to prove it wrong. For me, the result has been either that I unhappily follow for a short while, and tend to prefer to stay out of the way rather than be held hostage to the ravages of somebody's "leadership" style.

Should I go ahead and read a few books and take a few seminars is see if some of the "magic" rubs off on me or would it likely be a waste of time?

What top-three books and top-three seminars on leaderhip would you recommend? Ditto for salesmanship while we're at it. You can either comment here or on your own blog and link to this post, or both.

I am also curious what key life experiences enabled you to realize that you had a passion for leadership. What top-three life experiences really made the difference for you in developing your leadership skills?

-- Jack Krupansky


I just moved over to the new version of Blogger and am unable to email posts to this blog yet. My other Blogger blogs seem to be posting fine.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Global Neighborhoods or does geography really matter?

Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame is working on a new book entitled Global Neighborhoods, premised in large part on the precept that with the advent of the Internet, geography no longer matters. Today, I read an article in The New York Times by G. Pascal Zachary entitled "When It Comes to Innovation, Geography Is Destiny" which posits that geography does matter, saying that "Yet the inescapable lesson of the iPod, Google, eBay, Netflix and Silicon Valley in general is that where you live often trumps who you are." Grrrr... so, which is it. And don't tell me... "it all depends", even though that may in fact be the correct answer.

My own answer is that network communications technologies simply allow us to "be" in any geography we want to be. You don't need to "be" in Silicon Valley, you simply need to engage in network contacts or conversations with those who actually are in the Silicon Valley environs... or at least you think they are, since in the online world, illusions are the only reality.

I await Shel's answer. I am not communicating this question to him directly, but through the miracles of modern, Global Neighborhood technologies, he will, as if by magic, know that I just posted this query.

Incidentally, I have a cousin down in LA who has a new Internet venture called BuzzDash. Check it out... unless you are one of those dinosaurs who believe that geography really is everything. Hey, LA is in the same time zone as Silicon Valley; isn't that close enough?

-- Jack Krupansky

The Wizards of Buzz

I just checked TechMeme, and the top item was an article in the Wall Street Journal Online by Jamin Warren and John Jurgensen entitled "The Wizards of Buzz - A new kind of Web site is turning ordinary people into hidden influencers, shaping what we read, watch and buy" which highlights the emergence of a trend towards focusing on the opinions of key users, letting people express their opinions in a way that can be tallied and winners identified.

The Journal article, dated Saturday, February 10, 2007 failed to note the latest entrant to this hot phenomenon: BuzzDash. It is still in beta, but they will begin a marketing push soon. BuzzDash lets you vote on polling questions, called BuzzBites, tallying and displaying the results and letting you comment on the question and view the comments of others as well. You can even suggest your own BuzzBites or put BuzzBites on your own web site or blog.

BuzzDash is easier to use than, say, if all you want to do is express your opinion on a clearly defined question.

Virtually nobody knew about the site at the time the Journal article was published, but that could change quickly over the coming weeks and months.

My interest here... this is my cousin's latest business venture.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What's your opinion - inquiring minds really do need to know?

Do you have an opinion on any of the following questions:

  • The death of Anna Nicole Smith?
  • Whether Google will be the top search engine in 2010?
  • How many hours of TV you watch every day?
  • The best location for a vacation home?
  • Whether Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are really in love or is it just an act?
  • Did Lindsey Lohan really have an appendectomy?
  • Is Russell Crowe the biggest jerk?
  • Should Mark McGwire be elected to the Hall of Fame?
  • Will the defending champion Carolina Hurricanes make the playoffs?
  • What will happen to real estate prices over the next 2-3 years?
  • What is the greatest near-term threat to the US economy?
  • What is your overall perception of Wal-Mart?
  • Where will Google shares close on Dec. 31, 2007?
  • Is the troop surge in Iraq a good idea?
  • Is global warming proven and caused by man?
  • Is America ready for a female president?
  • Does Nancy Pelosi really need a bigger plane?
  • Who will win the Democratic presidential nomination?
  • Who will win the Republican presidential nomination?
  • Are term limits for politicians a good idea?
  • Which version of The Office is better (U.S. or UK)?
  • Which movie will win the Oscar for best picture?
  • PC or Mac?
  • What best explains the origins of life on earth?
  • Which would you rather own as a pet?
  • Coke or Pepsi?
  • Questions of your own

If so, check out the new web site called BuzzDash. It's in beta, but looks like it is fairly decent.

They have a bunch of categories of questions that you can vote on.

My interest here... this is my cousin's latest business venture.

-- Jack Krupansky