Be a pig not a chicken

Every startup, project, party, meeting, they all involve pigs and chickens – people fully committed and willing to do whatever it takes, and people who just want to be involved.

Here’s a great fable that I read this week: 

A pig and a chicken are walking down the road. The chicken turns to the pig and says, “We should open a restaurant.”

“Good idea. What should we call it?” the pig replies.

“Ham and Eggs!” says the chicken.

The pig thinks for a second and replies, “In that case, never mind. It sounds like I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”

Here’s the deal, if you’re having a hard time distinguishing the pigs from the chickens, then you have no pigs. And, without any pigs, you’re done for.

Never get involved in anything without at least one pig. For me, I go for all pigs and until everyone is fully committed and on board, we don’t move forward.

A project needs everyone to be all in or it’s just not worth pursing.

When the going gets tough, the pigs keep on going. And, the chickens, they turn around like “chickens” and run the other way.

———

What are you? A pig or a chicken?

 

 

What’s up with all the LA Incubators and Accelerators?

Are they legit? Why so many? How much money are they putting up? What kind of deals are they looking to invest in? Do they do follow on capital? How are they going to scale with talent?

These were some of my questions going into last nights Lean LA event titled “Learn About LA Incubators/accelerators” – really glad they put this event on.

If your curious about what Lean LA is, it’s a non-profit organization that is all about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. The organization is run by Pete Mauro, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Joe Zulli. I haven’t had the chance to officially meet Patrick or Joe, but my coffee meetup with Pete was very positive.

By the size of the crowd last night (350 people), I wasn’t the only one with questions. The event was packed with people waiting outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hoping someone wouldn’t show and they could score a ticket to come in.

Another good call was the meal ticket that came with the admission price. How awesome is that? You could redeem at any one of the food trucks outside. Well done with this one!

So, let’s get to the meat of this thing. Why in the world would you want to move to Los Angeles for a startup? I wouldn’t, just being honest here. Not that I don’t think that everyone is doing a great job building the infrastructure and figuring it out, I just prefer to be in a place that already has it figured out.

Essentially all the incubators/accelerators said the same thing: they are working their tail off to create the infrastructure that will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into and build great companies. I think this is important and overtime will happen. Do I think it will happen quickly? No. As with any startup infrastructure, you have to work your nuts off, take a ton of risks, put your ass on the line, be willing to lose some serious dough, f some stuff up, and then, after all that, make the decision to keep going. If LA can do this, they will, overtime, have something great!

And, the other thing is talent. I think there is talent as there is talent everywhere, you just have to find it, organize it, and put it to good use. If you can’t get talent involved in the community that is your own fault – this really means you suck at selling.

The panel was fantastic – mainly because it was moderated by Dave McClure who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and put people in their place – not in a negative way – I think he was just trying to challenge everyone to really think about what it is going to take to build this kind of community.

After Dave got everyone loosened up – it didn’t work for everybody, the event started with a representative giving a quick intro, history, and what their interest was in supporting the LA startup scene.

Some of the people who were on the panel were:

Start Engine (Howard Marks), Idealab (Allen Morgan), upStart.LA (Dan Dato), K5 Launch (Amir Banifatemi), Originate (Jeff Scheinrock), Amplify (Jeff Solomon), Muckerlab (Jeff Rannala), and Launchpad LA (Sam Teller).
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Here is a list of all the incubators/accelerators and how they are structured as it sits today.

LeanLA.com Los Angeles Area Incubator & Accelerator Cheatsheet.

(Courtesy of Patrick Vlaskovits, more details here.)

Start Engine: 120 Startups @ $20,000 per year
Idealab: 4-6 Startups @ $50k – $500K a year
upStart.LA: 5-10 Startups @ $18,000 each class (1-2 classes per year)
K5 Launch: 10-50 Startups @ 25K-$200k
Originate: 10-15 Startups @ $100K-$1.5 million per investment
Amplify: 20 Startups @ $50,000
MuckerLab: 20 Startups @ $21k a year
Launchpad LA: 20 Startups @ $50k a year
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Here’s the good news – at least from what I could see, people are fired up about entrepreneurship and they’re willing to step up to build the community, shape the culture, and pour cash into companies. And, for me, I don’t care where it is, if this is happening and people are trying, I am excited and fully supportive of it.

Now, go do your part…good things are happening.

 

Winning requires failure

I know that I’ve talked allot about failure lately, but it is just so real and awesome! People who are afraid to fail don’t end up doing much with their lives. God built us to fail. And God built is to fall. We just have to keep getting back up and thriving everyday to win.

If you think failure isn’t part of winning in life then you are more than a failure, you are an idiot.

Wait a minute, who is this guy saying that failure is awesome. How can failure be seen as awesome? If you honestly have to ask that question, you are not fit for what it takes to win. Winning requires failure.

If I offended you, I’m not sorry. You need to keep your job, play it safe, and do what you do best…working for someone else. There is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone is built to push the envelope to the point of literally breaking bones – back in my racing days, if you hadn’t broken a bone you got weird looks like, “You are a racer, no way, shut up!”.

If you’ve decided to keep reading this and you’re not totally pissed off, let’s be honest about something. Failure is brutal and more often than not, it hurts like hell. Some of the worst pain you’ve ever felt. Sometimes it’s even so bad that it takes you to your knees crying and weeping like a little baby – I’ve been there. Not because of physical pain, but more because of mental and emotional pain. It’s cool to man up and cry….I won’t judge you.

In my racing days we used to have a saying, “If you’re not falling down, you’re not going fast”. It’s true. This meant that if you were playing it safe and not pushing the envelope then you probably weren’t winning races. You were losing races. See, the guys and girls who gave it all they had and took changes won the races. And, the races they didn’t win, they went down hard, got back up, and kept riding.

Winning is hard, failing is hard, but it’s just what has to happen if you want to win. You can’t be afraid to push the envelope and get a little nuts. Yeah, you will fail and it will hurt like hell. Just get back up, learn from it, and move on.

In my racing days, I took some bad crashes where I broke bones, messed up organs, and busted up my face. But, it never stopped me from getting right back on the bike and having a good time.

Take some chances, push the envelope, get nuts, and do it now before you end up living some boring ass life.

Have a great week friends!

 

Writing is hard business

He dropped out of college. He was a cook, salesman, diplomatist and a farmer. The guy knew absolutely nothing about marketing, and not a lick of copy writing experience. He was unemployed at 38 when he tried to get an adverting agency to hire him.

Image Credit: Ogilvy on Advertising

No American agency would hire this guy, and then, a London agency picked him up and gave him a chance. Three years later, he became the most famous copywriter in the world, and in due course built the tenth biggest agency in the world.

Who am I talking about? One of the most respected and sought after wizards in the advertising industry, british-born David Ogilvy. In 1948 he started what would eventually be Ogilvy & Mather, a Manhattan-based advertising agency that has since been responsible for some of the worlds most recognized ad campaigns.

So, what makes a guy like this put out some of the best work in the world? It’s not what you would think. Read the letter below written by Ogilvy in 1955 to a Mr. Ray Calt to find out.

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt:

On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.

Yours sincerely,

D.O.

(Source: The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners

Face it, your idea sucks, and it’s time to move on

I have a message for you: Face it, your idea sucks, and it’s time to move on.

Stop placing ideas in the same class as relationships. Relationships are things that are built to last forever, ideas, they just come and go.

If you’re holding onto your idea to tightly, and it’s serious failing, it’s time to let it go. It’s time to move on and put it behind you – the facts are right there. Get over it. The idea probably wasn’t that cool anyways.

See, things like relationships and marriages you stick out forever. No matter what, you stick them out. Yes, the good times, the bad times, and all the time. You make a commitment and you fight to stay together – thick and thin baby.

Ideas on the other hand, you don’t stick them out. If an idea is failing, you bag it and move onto a new idea.

Don’t let your fear of moving on hold you back from pursuing a new idea. You will find another idea and it will be way sexier than the last one. If it was your first one, that’s cool, just remember it that way. Learn from  it, figure out what you can do better, and get pumped up about the next idea!

Please, for your own sake, don’t sit there any longer weeping like a damn baby. Get over it and move on.

——

How about you?

Do you have trouble moving on with new ideas?