Three Themes You Can Take Forward
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on November 22nd, 2011
Last Friday, I went to the University of Chicago and talked to EMBA students. I was once in their shoes. The purpose of my being there was to talk about what people did after graduating. In my case, I co-founded Hyde Park Angels.
I didn’t want to give a lecture. Those are boring. I also didn’t want to do a powerpoint. I find grad school and a lot of meetings these days are death by powerpoint. I just wanted to engage them and talk with them-not at them.
Even if you attempt to do this, you have to have a couple of themes. I had a few.
3. Entrepreneurship has never been easier
First, I talked briefly about honesty. For me, it’s a lot harder to tell if someone is being honest in the real world than it ever was in a trading pit. In addition, if someone wasn’t being straight with you in a pit there were repercussions. In the real world, that is less apparent. After the talk, I continued to read the book “Do More Faster” by Brad Feld. He has a chapter devoted to honesty and playing straight. In it, he says, screw me once and we talk about it. You can be forgiven. Screw me twice and you are done.
I am curious how Brad broadcasts who he is done with. You don’t own your own reputation. It’s what people say about you. Signaling is extremely important. Are there deals he walked away from simply because of the people involved? I would love to see him opine more on that given the breach of public trust the trading industry has just lived through with MF Global, and the insider trading spectacle in Congress.
How do you figure out if someone is playing straight, and if they aren’t what do you do about it?
So the first task is to be honest. Sometimes it’s really tough to do because in the short term it makes you really really uncomfortable.
Everyone talks about networking. I love to network, not because of what it can get me. I truly enjoy meeting people and listening to what they have done to further their career or business. An amazing story to me is the one where a person takes me through their decision process and why they did what they did. Scratch almost every person’s surface and there is an interesting story behind them. Since posting this blog awhile ago I have met some really cool people virtually that have amazing insight and stories. I love to hear them.
Many people are machine like when it comes to networking. The stiffly walk up, extend their hand and then ask you a couple of questions-then move on. That’s not networking, that’s campaigning. Networking is deeper. It is more about listening to them and trying to use your network to connect them to opportunity than about you.
It pays to be honest when you network. If someone requests something that you can’t do, tell them. But be honest as to why. It better be a really valid reason, especially if you have done them a favor before.
Starting a business has never been easier. Everything can be rented. All you need is an idea, then work like hell on the execution. If it’s a good idea, the market will validate it. If it’s a bad idea, you need to rework it so the market validates it. If you can’t figure anything out that the market likes, you quit and move to the next one. Not every idea is great. But some pretty fantastic businesses have been created with just good ideas.
All in all, I had fun. I hope they did too. I learned a few things from them, and that’s important.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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