Earning vs. Learning

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On this first day of a new decade I was going through some old papers and I saw the original shareholder documents from a company I co-founded 20 years ago. I gave 6 years of my life to that startup and yet the value of my shares today would barely pay for a dinner on the town. Was it worth it? Wouldn’t it have been better to have had a normal 9-5 job, stable income and a regular contribution to a retirement fund?

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What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Last week I was so fortunate as to preside as the President of the Selection Jury for the 2009 Eurecan European Venture Awards. I sat-in on many of the presentations as 25 of the finalists pitched their business plans to investors and industry experts. I was struck by how good so many of these entrepreneurs really are. I was impressed with their passion, their commitment and their dedication to a dream of creating a successful business.

If you are an entrepreneur, then be bold. Don’t settle for a safe and easy startup. They usually die. Don’t be afraid to tackle the impossible and attempt to change the world. We need more people like you.

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The perfect ski run

skierI watched the crazy downhill guys on TV yesterday. As these skiers were getting ready to plunge down the icy slopes of a mountain at speeds of up to 140 km per hour, they prepared themselves by closing their eyes and envisioning skiing the course, turn for turn, in an absolutely perfect ski run. With eyes closed, they leaned left, then right, going down, up and through the entire course. I guess that they also saw themselves winning the gold medal and standing on the podium with a shiny trophy raised overhead in victory.

So why do they bother to do this? Does mental practice really affect performance? Is this just silly “positive thinking” jargon or does this really have a measurable impact?

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Starting at the End

the_endI often get everything backwards… ass backwards. Whether it is in my life or with my business, I often get things turned around the wrong way… and this causes me to struggle and flounder. While running a small business I am continually confronted with problems and challenges that are complex and difficult to navigate. That’s part of the game, but as I stand knee-deep in a big problem it is really tough to figure out how to lift myself out and to find a good solution. When I am standing in a hole, I have no perspective or overview. I often see only the problems and I get stuck there. Stuck in the mud.

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“How much to buy your baby?”

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All mothers think that their babies are beautiful. OK, if not really beautiful, then certainly much more special than all the others… There is something primal in humans that makes us seek to find endearing qualities in our offspring. How much would you be willing to sell your baby for?

I have had 3 different calls this week from entrepreneurs asking about how to value their startup companies with early investors. How do you put a “fair” value on your startup company?

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When Life Leaks In

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I had an email exchange with a business associate last night. What started as a work discussion, emerged into a dialog about life and death, values and meaning. She wrote that she had received some bad news lately. I inquired what it was. She told me that she has recently learned that her father has cancer with no chance for a cure.

Silence… reflection… then empathy arose.

When we are obsessively involved with our businesses – as we must sometimes do in order to achieve peak performance – we erect barriers around us that insulate us from life… real life.  Only now and again, life leaks in.

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Rick Salmon appointed President of Selection Jury for 2009 European Venture Contest

barcelona 081(Oslo, Nov. 12, 2009)
Europe Unlimited has appointed Rick Salmon as President of the Selection Jury for 2009 European Venture Contest Finals which will be held on December 14th and 15th, 2009 in Barcelona. The Jury will consist of 30 distinguished members representing the Venture Capital community in Europe.  The mission of this annual venture contest is to find, evaluate and award world-class innovative companies with the potential to dramatically impact their industry and contribute to increasing European competitiveness and growth. This year over 700 startup companies have competed in the contest this year and the top 25 have been chosen to go to the finals in Barcelona.

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Worshiping Genius

RS_Photo94“Italy worships Genius, but has not yet figured out how to create a culture of entrepreneurship”. This was an interesting statement made by the Executive Director of the Italian Angels for Growth, Lorenzo Fanchini at last week’s semi-final of the European Venture Contest (EEVC) held in Turin. Italy is a country filled with brilliant scientists and engineers. There is a huge supply of new technology, brilliant engineering and mechanical precision but unfortunately a shortage of businessmen – those boring guys in business suits that focus on cash flow instead of electron flow. Don’t get me wrong. There are good businessmen in Italy, but as an outsider, I am struck by the inequality in the number of engineers.

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