Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Iron Yard: Mentoring Startups and Entrepreneurs

Yesterday on one of my other blogs I shared the exciting news that I’ll be spending time in Greenville, SC this summer mentoring 11 startups and their leaders through The Iron Yard, a new startup accelerator and incubator, part of the Global Accelerator Network.

I honestly can’t wait to start working with them as they march bravely toward Demo Day which is their opportunity to pitch to Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists their neat products and businesses. Having pitched and raised Angel/VC myself this just tickles me to no end!

But the neatest thing that I’ll be doing is coaching them through the Action & Influence process and empowering their core team to be the best high performance team they can possibly be. No startup has much time to waste and they already have limited resources – there’s no time for any waste, especially in regards to communication within their own team as well as their mentors, equity investors, advisors, and others.

In other words, it’s absolutely essential that the spend 99% of their time building their products, their services, and their business rather than dealing with the relational challenges that are just part of being human. If I can help them shortcut those challenges and work through them faster then their organizations will be more successful, faster.

I love that challenge and that opportunity!

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Get a Lighter Grip

Lighten up a bit, will ya?

I had breakfast with one of the gentlemen on my A List and he runs a large 17 year old agency that has 3 national offices, over 80 employees, and works with companies like Chick-fil-a, Coke, American Express, Delta, and more. He launched it when he was 31 years old, married with two kids and one on the way.

Wow. It was all I could do but pay attention as I scribbled out notes in my Action Journal!

But one of the things that he said resounded with me and had enough initial impact to, at least for the time being, reflect on publicly. He told me this in terms of leadership and leading a company:

Ownership requires a lighter grip.

The context of this point was that if I were to do my greatest work and become the leader that I want to become then I need to continue to practice the fine art of “loosening” my grip on the company, it’s direction, my staff and employees, and even (perhaps) the overall vision and direction of the business.

When that happens, he said, it would allow for innovation, inspiration, and a little bit of breathing room for change to occur, naturally and organically. The tighter the grip one has the less opportunity you leave for the serendipitous to happen.

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Creating a Personal ‘A List’

My list for 2012

One of the things that a mentor of mine shared with me many years ago was how I should always keeping a running list of people that I want to really work with. He told me that he had been doing this for decades and it had helped him achieve much of his success over the years.

He suggested that I do the same and that I should create a yearly “A List” that should be curated and managed well and do so every single year. He suggested that I every time I meet someone of particular and overwhelming interest that I should write their name down and make it a point to get to know them even better to discover and explore if there are any opportunities to either work with them directly or recruit them.

As I sat down this morning to walk through my list I realize that I’ve never shared this strategy publicly as it’s one of the best and most “interesting” things that I do every single quarter. As we enter into calendar month #6 it was time to open my “2012 A List” and make a few edits.

Here’s what I do:

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The Power and Impact of the ‘First Time’

Do you remember the first time you sunk your teeth into a hot, steamy, insanely-delicious Krispy Kreme doughnut?


I remember my first time – it was back in late 2001 and I had just landed in the Atlanta area and had been told that there were a number of things that I had to try if I was to become a true native.

One of these things was heading to the Krispy Kreme shop on Ponce De Leon, especially when they were open late (or super-early morning) and grab one of the legendary sugar bombs as they came right off the conveyer.

“Sure…” I thought, “It can’t be that good… but I’ll give it a whirl.”

So I snuck over there in between studying one late night with a bunch of friends and my world changed.

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There Are No Superheroes Online

I’m a superhero fan and comic book geek just like many of you (or not many of you…) and I try to make it to all of the feature film adaptations as possible, just to be entertained and to appreciate the different perspective some screenwriters have from the original material.

I try not to judge them and simply appreciate it as it stands – there have been a few though that have been translated terribly but 100% batting average isn’t the goal (or possible), right?

And our real superheroes, unlike the fictional comic book ones, are just as flawed and imperfect as we are. We simply have to remember that, especially when we laud and put them on pedestals from the far reaches of the internet.

Sometimes it just takes a brief moment with them to remember that your own personal superhero(es) are struggling with the same things that you are and are just trying to do whatever they do with excellence; again, just like you.

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3 Thoughts on 37signals’ 2012 Redesign of

Basecamp, one of the better web-based project management solutions out there, recently updated their homepage into a version that is surprisingly different than their previous versions.

This iteration showcases vastly more copy than images and is surprisingly sparse. It’s not until you click the “Find out why” that you begin to dive into 24 varying reasons why you should sign up, try the system out, and ultimately make a purchasing decision.

The code managing this behavior is quite simple as well:
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