Many forms of media can become dated quite quickly. Even some of the best books, movies and music suddenly lose their luster after a few years whether due to cultural shifts or technological advances. Despite being written in 1937, How To Win Friends and Influence Peopleis not one of those cases.
Written in the middle of the Great Depression and before any of the advances in technology we all take for granted today, Dale Carnegie's book has stood the test of time. I've reviewed quite a few books on this blog and each one I strongly recommend, but if you only read one book I ever review, make it this one.
So you know you want to be an entrepreneur. You've got the bug and you know you've got the potential to build a great company. If you're recently out of school (or still a student), are you sure you're ready?
Last week marked my one-year anniversary working at oneforty, a small, venture-backed startup right here in Cambridge. During this time, I've learned an incredible amount about more than just my role (Customer Development), but also many universally applicable startup lessons. I can't put a price on the value of the experience I've gained, which is why I'd like to share my reasons why I think everyone should consider working at a startup before setting out to start a company of their own.
The journey of an entrepreneur is a long and winding road. It’s a test of endurance and one’s ability to evolve and adapt. I’ve always been one to observe processes and try to break them down. Looking at both my personal journey that is just beginning and those that are far ahead of me, I’d like to share my thoughts on what the major steps are in becoming a successful entrepreneur. And while we’re talking about the process of becoming one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, it's only appropriate to quote lyrics from one of the greatest rappers of all time, the Notorious BIG.
You hear it all the time: "Fail Fast", "Celebrate Failure" and "Learn from Failure." But is that really what matters? Does knowing what doesn't work actually help you get significantly closer to what will work? Are we predisposed to rationalize failure, because we don't want to feel like the insane work hours of a startup were a waste? I don't think we should ignore failure, but we need to do more to study, and immitate success. There is 100X more to learn and gain value from success.
In the world of startups, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind nature of your business and find yourself frantically trying to deal with problems as fast as you can. While this can often help you and your startup do more things faster, it can also cause you to miss important issues that would otherwise help you have fewer problems to solve.
When you're rushing from challenge to challenge, it's very easy to find yourself treating symptoms and never even notice the disease.
I had the opportunity to read this book over the Thanksgiving break and was blown away by how insightful this book was in highlighting what really matters in leadership. From getting started and how people align themselves with leaders to how to ensure the long term success of your company even after you have personally succeeded in leading, this book is an absolute essential for anyone who wants to lead a company.
While all 21 rules are well worth the read, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites to give you an idea of what the book is all about and share some of the strong ties to entrepreneurship that exist.
As the leader of a company you have many responsibilities, but there is nothing more important than conveying your vision effectively (especially at an early stage startup). No matter how good you are at conveying your vision to your team, your customers or the media,Made to Stick can teach you how to do so even better and understand why you may have failed in the past.
I'd like to highlight two of the core concepts from Made to Stick that are key for any startup leaders out there.
One of the hardest things as a startup founder is handling the growth of your company and your ever changing role as that growth occurs. Matt Lauzon is founder of Gemvara, a Boston based, venture backed startup that is at the cutting edge of e-commerce for jewelry. I had the opportunity to have an e-mail interview with him about the lessons he's learned as Gemvara has grown from a startup out of Babson College to a twice venture backed growing venture now with over 30 employees.
As I've been watching the world of entrepreneurship around me, I'm always looking for patterns and trends. One I particularly focus on is leadership. As I've looked at some of the greatest companies and business leaders in the world, I've noticed that most of them have exceptionally strong personalities and dominate their company. I don't have all the answers, so instead today I'd like to explore the patterns I've found and I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts on this.