Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5000-1 Underdogs Leicester City Prove Pigs Can Fly: Entrepreneurs take heart!

Most entrepreneurs pride ourselves on being the UNDERDOG taking on the established order of business.

So for everyone who has always dreamed about winning against overwhelming odds, here is the Century's feel good story.

Unlike here in the United States where we have the draft to equalize our professional sports, there is no such system in Europe. In fact European soccer is a bastion of laissez-faire capitalism. No draft. No salary caps. The rich get richer. The rest try to survive. Specifically in the English Premier League, four teams have dominated for the past 20 years. Such are the challenges of overcoming those four teams that, with the exception of those four teams and four of the better financed chasing pack, the odds of one of the other teams winning the National Title...38 games played over a nine month period..,are generally fairly generous.  Its not unusual to be able to obtain odds of 100 to 1; 500 to 1 on these outsiders. Indeed for the weakest teams that round out the 20 that compete in the English Premier League, seasoned bookmakers were willing to offer 5000 -1 at the start of this season.

And so it came to pass that a team of unknowns from the Midlands of England who had finished in the lowest position in 2015, started the season with odds of 5000 - 1. One foolhardy fan of that team, Leicester City, even placed a throw-away 15 dollar bet on his team of no-hopers.  Drum-roll...

Leicester's unprecedented title triumph "made mugs of all of us", according to Premier League chief Richard Scudamore, write the BBC

The 5,000-1 outsiders beat bigger rivals Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea to land their first top-flight title.

"It's probably the biggest sporting story ever and the biggest sporting achievement ever," Scudamore said.

"Nobody saw it coming and even when it was halfway through the season nobody said it could be sustained."

Scudamore, who negotiated next season's record £5.1bn television rights deal, added in an interview with BBC Sport that "Leicester 2016" would stand as a landmark moment in British sport.

"We don't know what the future holds because we've all become completely hopeless at predicting anything, including the bookmakers and everybody else - because this one nobody saw coming," he said.

"It's made mugs of all of us and that is just the most fantastic feeling.

"If the bookmakers had it as a 5,000-1 event, you would imagine you should achieve these type of things once every 5,000 years. It gives us 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of being able to say: 'Leicester 2016. Just remember Leicester 2016.'"

So entrepreneurs next time someone tells you that pigs will fly over before your product becomes the market leader, remind them what everyone said about Leicester City in 2016. And then look up to the sky and check for a omnivorous domesticated hoofed mammal with sparse bristly hair and a flat snout

The author, Jonathan Copley, is a life-long supporter of 20-time English Champions, Manchester United. In the current absence of his team's ability to win the Premier League he is thrilled that underdogs are this year's champions. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prince Was a Great Icon of Music - an Even Greater Entrepreneurial Leader

Prince - one of world's great entrepreneurs disrupted the music industry.
To most people the word "leader" is synonymous with being the boss of a group of people. The more people that work for you, the more the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills.

Of course, many entrepreneurs understand that you don't need to have a massive payroll in order to  make a real difference to the world. Some entrepreneurs demonstrate great entrepreneurial leadership skills by disrupting entire industries for the betterment of the market.  And that's why this week's loss of the musician Prince has hit many people very hard. Not only has the world lost an iconic musician but it also lost a great entrepreneur who knew how to shake up the old way of doing things and bring about major innovation is his field.

Indeed Prince's achievements as an entrepreneur were chronicled by the Washington Post. (Jena McGregor.) Here are some of his key achievements:

As the many eulogies and remembrances of Prince rolled in last week, the towering pop star - in influence if not in physical stature - was called a "certified genius" by The Who's Pete Townshend. A "true innovator and a singular artist" by Apple CEO Tim Cook. A "creative icon" by President Obama.

He was also, in his way, a leader...  He was a leader when it came to innovations in music distribution, to the issue of musicians' rights, and to a push for artists' independent control. And his genre-defying sound had the ability to unite generations of music lovers and the musicians he influenced.
First Album Released Online
Way back in 1997, Prince was the first major artist to release an entire album online, according to a Webby Lifetime Achievement award he received in 2006, when he let his fans buy the three-CD set "Crystal Ball" directly from him over the Internet.

"Prince's leadership online has transformed the entertainment industry and reshaped the relationship between artist and fan," the group said, and noted that he predated more recent efforts to "premiere videos and new music, challenge distribution practices and connect with his fans."

Early Crowdfunding
While the 1997 release was problematic, with delayed orders and disappointment that it was not sold exclusively online, it helped carve a path for others to find new ways of distributing their music. As Prince fan and social media veteran Anil Dash tweeted last week, "Prince crowdfunded an album on the Internet, complete w/ Kickstarter-style late delivery to angry fans, 20 YEARS AGO. Your fave could never." He also gave away copies of albums with tickets to concerts and with issues of British newspapers....

Long before that, he exhibited an independence few musicians had dared, battling Warner Brothers in the early 1990s over the pace he released his albums, famously changing his name to a symbol and writing "slave" across his face in response. He returned to the label recently, with control over music rights.

"Prince changed the game," read a statement from Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Prince in 2004. "He controlled the stage, he controlled the music and he controlled the media," Harris said, calling him "a driven leader who made us bend to his will, created a new path and inspired others to step up, just to keep up."

Even beyond his pioneering independence, he was a social advocate, one who wrote songs and spoke out on political issues and inspired the YesWeCode nonprofit to help open tech jobs to black youths.

And then, of course, there was his music, which crossed boundaries, defied genres and had seemingly unanimous respect among musicians and fans alike.

Few voices in our world today have that kind of reach...

So whether you make music on the synthesizer or use the keyboard to create software you have the chance to change the world for good... and in doing so really demonstrate the true meaning of entrepreneurial leadership. 

How can I change the world in this time of global uncertainty, I hear you ask.
Well if not you with your great entrepreneurial skills, then who?  And if not now, then when?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

It's Better to Get a Pie in the Face than Sit Quivering on the Sidelines

Excellent history lesson in Business Insider by Matt Weinberger about some of the biggest forecasting errors Bill Gates made in his public pronouncements.

Why am I bringing it to your attention? Too many people are missing out on the fun of being an entrepreneur.  They are frozen in place. Why? For fear their next move in business will be wrong. 

This article demonstrates that even the most successful people make big mistakes. It's how they RECOVER that separates the true champions from the wannabees!  And I think its fair to say, Mr. Gates has demonstrated that he can take a good pie to the face and get right back up! Indeed, the boy turned out real good!

Here's six of the Bill Gates' Greatest Misses!

Viva Mac
1 "The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC," said Bill Gates in a BusinessWeek article in 1984.

At the time, Gates and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs were on good terms. But once Microsoft released Windows for the IBM PC, the relationship fell apart.

Viva IBM OS/2
2 Before Windows became a hit, though, Microsoft teamed up with IBM to create a new operating system called OS/2. "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time," Gates said in 1987.

That didn't work out for IBM, either. Once Windows 3.0 became a smash hit in 1990, Microsoft didn't need IBM anymore and walked away from OS/2. IBM kept OS/2 going for decades, but it officially died in 2006.

My Customers Love Bugs!
3 "There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed," Gates said in Focus Magazine in 1995. He went on to say that nobody would ever buy software just to fix bugs.

It was true then and it was true today: There are always software bugs, and people always want them fixed. That goes double for products as popular as Windows and Office. The big change now is that, thanks to the internet, bug fixes get to people faster than ever.

The Internet is Stillborn
4 "I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years," Gates allegedly said at one Comdex trade event in 1994, as quoted in the 2005 book "Kommunikation erstatter transport."

Indeed, in his 1995 book "The Road Ahead," Gates would make one of his most well-known blunders: He wrote that the internet was a novelty that would eventually make way to something much better. "Today's Internet is not the information highway I imagine, although you can think of it as the beginning of the highway," Gates wrote.

In the mere weeks between finishing the book and it getting to bookstores, Gates realized a little too late that the internet was taking off after all. He issued Microsoft's famous "The Internet Tidal Wave" memo and reoriented the company in that direction. In 1996, he released a revised edition of the book that included more on the internet.

5 Proprietary is the way to go!

"One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities," Gates wrote in a memo to Microsoft in 1998.

Gates is a competitive guy. But in the end, Microsoft's reliance on proprietary technology ended up hamstringing the company in the long run. Current CEO Satya Nadella has gone a long way towards opening up the company's tech, to the delight of customers and developers.

6 The End of SPAM

 And in 2004, Gates gave us this doozy in a BBC interview: "[E-mail] spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time."

12 years later, that, uh, didn't happen. Security company Symantec says that spam has hovered around half of all e-mail sent for the last decade.

So entrepreneurs go forward and take a calculated risk. Its hard to imagine your idea could be any further off the mark than those of the  illustrious Mr Gates.
Despite being pied in Brussels in Feb 1998, Bill Gates did good for himself! Able to laugh at his misfortune, Gates told reporters, "The cake didn't even taste good."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dragon Lady Provides Entrepreneurs with Teachable Moment

Self-Proclaimed First Dragon Lady

There is a timeless law of market positioning which says that being first in your chosen market is a source of competitive advantage. So what should you do if you're an entrepreneur who finds his or her market niche already crowded? REDEFINE your market niche.

Take, for example, this enterprising person, Richard Hernandez of Arizona.

Former Banker Richard Hernandez

The 55 year old transgender, former banker, found his path to celebrity blocked by a growing number of people such as the former Olympian, Bruce Jenner.  So what to do?  He had a reptilian metamorphosis and became number one in the category of DRAGON LADIES. 

You've certainly got to admire her commitment to celebrity. Aside from having her ears and nose removed, the woman had to endure tooth extraction, eye coloring, adding horns to her head, getting a forked tongue and getting a face full of tattoos.

So remember today's lesson in entrepreneurship.  BE FIRST in Your Market.  And if you're second, third or 100th, "simply" redefine your market until you can say you are the first.  And just for the record, I, Jonathan Copley, claim to be the first Business Coach to blog about Dragon Ladies.

You can read more wisdom from the "Record-Holding" Business Coach at  Journal of Wisdom for Entrepreneurs