It’s an interesting exercise writing a blog. I started one before and, frankly, no one aside from a few business associates and employees ever read it, so far as I know. It also seems to be a little bit egotistical to think that what you have to say is going to be of that much interest to other people that they will follow your musings on a variety of topics. But then you see the success of Facebook where folks post nearly non-stop about the most trivial aspects of their daily lives apparently convinced that the world is waiting to hear about what they are having for dinner, their latest accomplishment in Farmville, or that they hate being inside when it’s so beautiful out. It’s a whole new world I guess.
But my motivation this time is different. The last time I was blogging, I was running a company and trying to communicate to the world all of the exciting new products and technologies that we were developing and commercializing. In other words, I was selling. And frankly, you can pretty quickly run out of things to say that don’t sound repetitive or highly self-serving so after a very short stint, it kind of ran out of steam. This time, it’s different. As the founder and Chairman of The InVentures Group, I have the great pleasure of working with exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, along with my own team of associates and partners, and my job isn’t to sell anything. My job is to transfer some of the knowledge, experience, insight, and lessons that I have learned after thirty-plus years of being an entrepreneur. I tell people that I have built companies from scratch, grown them to hundreds of employees with multiple locations – including international ventures – and managed all of the challenges and headaches that go with that. Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Now, I want to help the other guys who are interested in building their own companies do it as quickly and effectively as they can, retaining their own personal mark on the business’s culture and brand, and having fun in the process. If it is financially rewarding for them, even better, but I warn nearly everyone that it should never be about the money. It should be about the experience you seek and the impact you want to make.
As part of my job, I’ve begun to do a little thing called the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp. Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s clear that to succeed in a start-up environment, there’s something of a new language that you need to learn. Terms like “convertible preferred”,” incentive stock options”, “EBITDA”, “subordinated debt”, and others are part of the lexicon and what they mean and why you want to understand them is part of the curriculum that I spend time developing for my staff. But it goes beyond just the financial stuff, to be sure. I have shared war stories with my team to make sure they understand that growing a business is never a straight line. The old adage that VCs “bet the jockey, not the horse” speaks directly to that. You need to understand that there will be obstacles, there will be setbacks, there will be changes of plan, and the successful companies are the ones that can navigate these challenges, work through or around them, and continue to move forward – even if it means going sideways or even backing up for a bit.
Persistence and perseverance are critical and nothing makes that any clearer than the following story which was sent to me by one of my staff. Enjoy and, as Winston Churchill said: “Never, never, never quit” (or something to that effect)!
All of the writing greats have stories of their work being rejected. They take great pride in saving those rejection slips in a folder to pull out once they become successful. In fact, here is a list of some of our better books and the amount of times they were rejected:
Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis (15) Carrie, Stephen King (30) Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfeld and Mark Victor Hansen (140) Diary of Anne Frank (16) Dr. Seuss books (15) Dubliners, James Joyce (22) Dune, Frank Herbert (23) Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (38) Harry Potter book one, J. K. Rowling (9) Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (18) Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl (20) M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker (17) The Peter Principle, Laurence Peter (16) The Prncess Diaries, Meg Cabot (17) Watership Down, Richard Adams (26) A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, (26)
Just think of the beauty in all those rejection slips - “Sorry J.K. Rowling, we don't think this will attract an audience.”