Category Archives: Press

What I Said at the Entrepreneurship Conference

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference organized by UNO which took place at the Kaneko.

Great crowd, and great programming.  A good mix of old and young, with a standup comic in the middle. (Major points to the committee for booking him, and major points to Austin Anderson for working a very tough room.  After lunch, no drinks is a suboptimal booking for any comic.  He had a great set, persevered and earned my respect.)

My presentation was not so much about how to do a startup as much as what the personal and psychological cost of entrepreneurship can be.  It’s a great ride, but if you’re not prepared– personally, emotionally, even psychologically– a lot can go wrong.  Mark Suster described this very well in his post about Entrepreneurshit.   Startups are hard.  The rewards can be high, but they take a lot out of the people in them.  We’re finally starting to have an honest conversation about this subject, and like everything else around mental health AND startups, it’s hard for people to be candid.   Everyone wants to say it’s going great all the time, but there’s always something going wrong.  And if you lie to yourself about that, you will have a much harder time.  As Viktor Frankl taught, we all have to be very clear why we are doing what we’re doing, be brutally honest with ourselves, and be able to improvise.  For entrepreneurs, even more so.  A lot of people depend on you keeping it together.  Don’t neglect yourself.

The slides are below, but are pretty minimal.  (I’m learning from the great Idea Transplant that less really is more.)

I also was lucky enough to be interviewed by Dr. Jeremy Harris Lipschultz for his Spreecast videoblog.  The video is here, and I opine on the world of social media.


A great day, and I’m sorry I couldn’t stay for the second day– great speakers, including Blake Lawrence from Opendorse, who is doing some appealingly disruptive things to the athletic endorsement industry.

Entrepreneurship is seductive, transformative, and grueling.  The more honest we are about it, the more likely we are to have healthier companies and happier people.  Take care of your customers, your investors, and your team.  But don’t neglect yourself.

Two Speaking Gigs

I will be appearing at two events in Omaha in the next couple of weeks.

On April 4, I will be telling Startup Stories at the Midwestern Entrepreneurship Conference at Kaneko.  My speaking slot is at 3:05, and should run 40 minutes.  MWEC is “a two day conference that is for college students, young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs to learn from highly successful young entrepreneurs and a few seasoned professionals.”  As my friend Dave Ball pointed out, by process of elimination, I must be a seasoned professional.

MWEC registration info is here.

On April 15-16, I will be speaking at Infotec, the biggest tech conference in the Midwest.  It’s a great opportunity, and should be a ton of fun, as I’m facilitating What’s Your Problem, an interactive problem-solving session.

WYP is a fast-paced, interactive problem-solving exercise, where we take the smart talented people of Infotec and set them loose on real-world tech problems offered by the attendees. The unusual mix of talents and perspectives at Infotec make for a unique collaborative problem-solving team. Ask the community about a difficult issue you’re working on. Or just participate and lend your perspective to another community member’s problem. This convention is full of smart people. Here’s your chance to work with them in real time.

I’m particularly looking forward to working with Dan Zarrella, Chief Data Scientist at Hubspot, and the smartest man in social media.  (Really.)  We will have a WYP session for each track– Business Intelligence, Mobile, Marketing Technology (where Dan will participate), and Security.  Infotec has a great mix of tech experts, and tapping into the collective knowledge to solve real problems should be a great experience.

Registration info is here.

Wish me luck.

Hello, New York

In the second of our Alec Baldwin series, a tweet of mine about Mr. Baldwin’s noisy exit from public life was picked up yesterday by the New York Times.

It’s nice to be picked up by the elite’s hometown paper, and it was nice to have old friends reach out to me to tell me about it.  But it doesn’t necessarily convey professional benefits.  Do I need to add “plugged into pop culture” to my brand?  Not really– I have that one pretty well covered.  It would have been a lot better for me if the Times had passed along something I said that was insightful about the changing strategy of brands in the social media era.  (Note to self:  Tweet more about things that are professionally valuable.)

The Baldwin tweet is a data point that will be seen by many people, but it doesn’t do a lot for my brand.  On the other hand, if I can start getting quoted in the press regularly, it will convey real authority as those data points accrete.  (NPR, IBA, New York Times…. hey, I might actually know what I’m talking about.)

Wide exposure to a slightly off-target data point isn’t bad.  I reemphasize brand values which are secondary but relevant (funny, plugged in) and I potentially pick up new followers.  (Yesterday I did pick up quite a few Twitter followers, but it’s hard to tell what made them follow me.)  It may help for SEO, but it’s too early to tell.

(Incidentally, yesterday I was teaching an Entrepreneurship class at Creighton University when I got the news about the Times.  The slides are here.)

Having the right creative matters, but having the right distribution matters too.  That tweet might have been trivial, but it was well-distributed, and something may come of that.  But where the rubber meets the road, someone subscribing to this blog is a lot more valuable to me than someone seeing one witty tweet on paper.  Attention is nice, but it doesn’t always create value.

Your brand is a sponge and mine is too.  And now I get a little of Alec Baldwin’s and The New York Times‘ brand mojo rubbing off on me for a short time.  That tweet is a nice thing for my brand, but this game is about building up lots of data points, not just one, and specifically data points that show that I’m valuable, not just that I’m amusing.

Hello Tel Aviv

Here’s the clip of my first appearance on Israeli television. (I’m just after Reed Hastings at 23:55.)

I’ve been on TV a few times, and the first booking is the hardest. Toughest part about this was getting Skype to work, and squeezing the interview in between school runs. As you can tell, I always look my best at 7:30 AM.

It’s a nice metaphor– commenting on Israeli television from Omaha via Skype about someone who’s disrupting the television market via online delivery. This is what disrupted markets look like. A little blurry, and in need of a little hair and makeup help, but fast and good enough to get the job done.

Thanks to everyone at IBA for making it so easy.