Art of the Start

What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m sure that you’ve noticed by now that I am a big fan of Guy Kawasaki. I really like his practical, let’s get it done attitude. His Art of the Start book is one of the best business books around.Read it!The last chapter of Guy’s book is on being a Mensch or “What do you want to be remembered for?” You can find a Guy’s post on this here and Joe McCarthy’s counter point here. Guy also contributes to Entrepreneur Magazine and in the March 2008 edition he writes about the same topic.Here are his 5 ways:

    • Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favor. He doesn’t care if the recipient is rich, famous, or powerful. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help rich, famous, or powerful people (indeed, they may need the most help), but you shouldn’t help only rich, famous, and powerful people.
    • Help without the expectation of return. A mensch helps people without the expectation of return–at least in this life. What’s the payoff? Not that there has to be a payoff, but the payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. Nothing more, nothing less.
    • Help many people. Menschdom is a numbers game: you should help many people, so you don’t hide your generosity under a bushel. (Of course, not even a mensch can help everyone. To try to do so would mean failing to help anyone.)
    • Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always does the right thing the right way. She would never cop an attitude like, “We’re not as bad as Enron.” There is a bright, clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
    • Pay back society. A mensch realizes that he’s blessed. For example, entrepreneurs are blessed with vision and passion plus the ability to recruit, raise money, and change the world. These blessings come with the obligation to pay back society. The baseline is that we owe something to society–we’re not a doing a favor by paying back society.

      It’s the end of your life…what do you want to be remembered for?[amtap book:isbn=1591840562]

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      IT Matters and my top 10 list

      Georgia Southern UniversityOn October 26, 2006 I had the privilege of presenting a guest lecture to the students at the College of IT at Georgia Southern University (GSU). I would like to thank Dr. Sonny Butler for inviting me. Below are the 10 main points I presented. My purpose was not to promote any specific technology or company, but to give the students a couple of life lessons based on my IT background and business experience.#1. Never stop learningNo, you don’t know everything after you earned your IT (or any other) degree. Never stop reading. Read IT books, business books and blogs. I recommend that you also read outside your field. For example I’m currently subscribed to The Futurist magazine.Futurist Magazine It’s a great way to expand your horizons. Tip: Every year randomly pick up a magazine or book from the business section at your local bookstore.Attend conferences, and again sometimes attend conferences outside your field.Join a mentor group or a technology peer group. I belong to Vistage. It’s the largest CEO group in the world and I’ve learned a bunch from my peers, including CEOs from a flooring company, a cosmetic dentistry, a not-for-profit organization and a chicken feed additive company. All non-IT focussed organizations — go figure…Lastly, visit other countries. You will definitely gain new insights, broaden your experience and come back to the US with a new appreciation for how privileged we are in this country.#2. Be pragmaticI was very much in love with the technical betty of both OS/2 and Smalltalk. Very soon after leaving university I realized that a technically superior product doesn’t always win in the marketplace. For example: I still think Smalltalk is the best programming language, but so what. Most of my career I programmed in other languages, e.g., C++ and ABAP (SAP’s programming language). Don’t forget your principles, however when it comes to technology be pragmatic. Fortunately Smalltalk influenced Java and also influenced programming paradigms like SAP’s Webdynpro methodology and Ruby/Ruby on Rails.#3. IT is still relevantIT is still relevant and will continue to be relevant during our lifetimes. Most productivity gains still come from improvements in technology. I think that we are only at the beginning of the impact that cheap, high bandwidth, allways-on Internet access will have on consumers and the global economy. Think about the impact of Skype, Jajah, mobile devices and soon WiMax. Btw, cool technology like iPod is great hardware, however software (iPod’s software and iTunes) continues to be the secret One laptop per Childsauce. IT is also making a big difference in uplifting the third world, e.g., MIT’s one laptop per child initiative. See my previous post on (RED).#4. India and China…and Eastern Europe, Russian, Bulgaria and Estonia… The world is flat and IT jobs (and lots of other jobs) will go off-shore. If you haven’t read “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman then you should read it now.I also recommend “Commanding Heights” by Yergin and Stanislaw. It chronicles the raise of free markets over the last 100 years. Fascinating stuff, really!I told the students that the best way to deal with the off-shore phenomenon is to make sure you remain relevant and learn new skills, e.g., project management, presentation skills, and writing skills.#5. Where will my IT degree take me — a technical or business career?You can take a technical track or move into a business career. For example, I have a Masters in Computer Science and started my career as a programmer. After a couple of years I became a consultant and eventually moved into a management position. I recently completed a 8 year tenure as the CEO of an IT consulting company. I think you can earn good money pursuing a technical career as well as a business/management career.IT Consulting is another very lucrative option, however it involves a lot of air travel and it will impact your family life. I recommend you consult while you’re not married and use the opportunity to see the world!

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      Reading list update incl Guy Kawasaki

      I started reading “Now, discover your strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and so far I’m really enjoying this book. I also look forward to seeing Marcus at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta this week.Art of the Start – Guy KawasakiI finished reading/studying Art of the Start — Wow! what a read. I highly recommend this book — even if you don’t intend starting anything soon. It’s a great guide to evaluate your current business practices.C.S. LewisI also finished a couple of C.S. Lewis books. Mere Christianity is a great logical approach to understanding Christianity. The Great Divorce is an allegory of the Afterlife — very thought provoking.Choosing to CheatInteresting read… This book by Andy Stanley is a must read for all overworked, stressed, and “overtravelled” businesspeople. I hope that after you read this that you make your family priority one.[amtap book:isbn=1591840562] [amtap book:isbn=0060652888] [amtap book:isbn=1590523296] [amtap book:isbn=0743201140]I would love to hear your comments about these books — or others like these…

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      Art of the Start, Part 1

      Art of the Start, Book cover

      I am studying The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki instead of just reading it and it is taking me much longer than usual to finish this book. I can HIGHLY recommend this book.

      Let me give you a couple of teasers to get you interested. If you plan on starting anything you should think about creating meaning. Meaning is:

      • Make the world a better place,
      • Increase the quality of life,
      • Right a terrible wrong, and
      • Prevent the end of something good…

      You should also create an internal mantra for your organization. A mantra is for your employees; it’s a guideline for what they do in their jobs. A tag line is for customers; it’s a promise of the service they can expect from you.For example: Starbucks’ mantra is: “Rewarding everyday moments”.I enjoyed the following quote from Oscar Wilde: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”I say: Let’s gain some experience starting something and creating meaning!Additional info: This is also a good overview of Guy’s work @ How to change the world is Guy’s blog and his new company is Truemors.[amtap book:isbn=1591840562]

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      How to start a business

      I started by reading the “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki. I am a bit of an Apple fanatic, and this 2005 Stanford commencement speech by Steve Jobs is very inspiring — it is short. Take the time to read it.[amtap book:isbn=1591840562]

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