State of the Entrepreneurship Union

Steve Blank, the father of Lean Lauch, the modern and better way to plan a startup business was interviewed recently by Philip Bouchard of TrustPeer Entrepreneurship Advisory, and together they created a wonderful State of the  Entrepreneurship Union.

Q. You’ve started teaching at Berkeley since 2002, Columbia in 2003 and at Stanford since 2011. How is the way that universities teach entrepreneurship evolving? What changes have you seen in the last 15 years?

A. Steve Blank: When I first starting teaching, the capstone entrepreneurship class was how to write a business plan. Other classes were on how to prep for VC pitches or develop the five year income statements, balance sheets and cash flows or read case studies. Today, people laugh if somebody says that’s a capstone entrepreneurship class. But years ago, we had no alternative – how to write a business plan was it.

My contribution has been, “Why don’t we design classes more closely modeled to what innovators and entrepreneurs actually do.” Today the capstone class is most often experiential, team-based, hands on, focused around the search for a repeatable and scalable business model. And the Lean LaunchPad class I developed at Stanford was the first such class. It was adopted by the National Science Foundation for commercializing science in the United States. It’s called NSF I-Corps.

The other change is that universities, instead of being passive, have become active in building an entrepreneurial community. In addition to Stanford I also teach at Columbia, and at these research universities – Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, and others – they all now have an internal incubator, they have maker spaces, they have their own venture funds, they connect to the community, they connect to venture capital. They’ve become outward-facing universities. It’s a big idea.

Years ago, entrepreneurship was taught like everything else, inward-facing, which was a mindset of, “I focus on what I know as an academic and I will teach you that,” which was mostly theory and/or consulting experience with large corporations. And the odds of learning from faculty who actually had experienced the chaos and uncertainty of building a startup was low. It wasn’t really part of the job as an educator. Today, if you’re building an entrepreneurship program, the teaching team most often includes adjuncts with entrepreneurial experience as complements to the tenured faculty, classes are experiential and the community you’re building is a set of additional components that never existed before.

Q. The trend is to add majors, minors and certificates in entrepreneurship. Not just in the business schools. For example, you can minor in entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado College of Music. In terms of teaching basic entrepreneurial appreciation, how saturated should entrepreneurship become? Is it one or two courses? Where do you see this trend going?

SB: Teaching basic entrepreneurial appreciation in the 21st century is literally the equivalent to liberal arts of the 20th. Forward thinking schools will start offering a series of classes that are core curriculum like liberal arts were in schools in the ’50s through the ’80s that said “for a liberal arts education you need to understand literature and you need to understand art.” In the 21st century we’re going to add some additional core skills.

That said, entrepreneurship education needs to be a combination of theory and practice. It’s pretty easy to offer classroom entrepreneurship lectures and forget that it’s the hands-on application that makes the theory relevant. Think if medical schools just taught doctors the textbooks, but never had them touch a patient.

The other direction where teaching is going – and what we’ve been pioneering – is Mission-Driven Entrepreneurship. Instead of students or faculty coming in with their own ideas — we now have them working on societal problems, whether they’re problems for the State Department or the military or non-profits/NGOs, or for the City of Oakland or for energy or the environment, or for anything they’re passionate about. And the trick is we use the same Lean LaunchPad / I-Corps curriculum — and kept the same class structure – experiential, hands-on, driven this time by a mission-model not a business model.

Mission-driven entrepreneurship is the answer to students who say, “I want to give back. I want to make my community, country or world a better place, while solving some of the toughest problems.” These classes include Hacking for Defense, Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Energy, Hacking for Impact, or Hacking for Oceans, etc., but the umbrella term is “mission-driven entrepreneurship.” The class syllabus uses exactly the same pedagogy as the Lean LaunchPad and I-Corps classes.

PB: How has your Lean LaunchPad course, ENGR 245, evolved?

SB: I’ve always believed that great classes continue to thrive after the original teachers have moved on. To be honest, as I watch other instructors now run these classes, I feel a proud “passing of the torch” though touched by moments of King Lear and Kurosawa’s Ran. Way past my ad hoc activities, the Stanford teaching team has thoroughly professionalized the class.

After eight years the class is still taught to students working on their own problems. It’s taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and probably another hundred universities and colleges because I open-sourced the class and trained educators on how to teach it. 98 universities teach it through the National Science Foundation.

As I mentioned, the Mission-Driven Entrepreneurship classes are a new variant that’s taught in ~30 universities. The nice part is that we have educators who are already trained on teaching Lean LaunchPad or I-Corps, so for the educators there’s nothing particularly new. The only hard part about it, is to get well-defined problems from sponsors in the local city or government agency that you offer to students.

PB: Everyone looks for a turnkey solution. “I want a low overhead, self-guided solution.” Can someone go through your Lean LaunchPad step-by-step course without a trainer? Can it be self-directed? How long does it take to train a trainer?

SB: All my class lectures are online at for free. Can you become a founder by watching videos? Perhaps, but founders are closer to artists than any other profession. So can you become an artist by reading about art? Can you learn entrepreneurship without taking an experiential hands-on class or better, actually be part of a startup? Well, you can read a lot about entrepreneurship and learn the theory, but it’s like reading about painting or sculpture or music. You need theory and practice – lots of practice.

PB: Is ethics in entrepreneurship going to be part of the broader entrepreneurship curriculum like a general liberal arts education? Is ethics something that you bring into your Lean LaunchPad course or your ENGR 245 course?

SB: I think ethics are a critical missing component of most business curriculums. At Stanford, Tom Byers, who runs the innovation and entrepreneurship program inside the engineering school, has made that a big deal and it’s now part of the curriculum. Tom has added a class on entrepreneurial ethics.

However, the problem with teaching entrepreneurial ethics is the same as with teaching corporate ethics: Everything is great in theory until the sxxt hits the fan. When you don’t have any checks and balances, that is, when the government isn’t really paying attention or there are no consequences, you tend to get people who game the system, whether they’re corporations or they’re entrepreneurs and innovators.

It’s exactly like if you’ve ever been driving on a highway and reach a merge and people are cutting into the line and you go, “What the heck am I’m doing waiting for the merge while people are cutting in?” Then everybody else starts doing it and you think “Why am I the only person who’s patiently waiting?” There’s a social component about what’s the norm for behavior.

It’s not like we need a nanny-state, but if there’s no enforcement at all, we can teach ethics all we want, but people tend to devolve to the least common denominator.

PB: How has innovation in large corporations evolved over the last 10 years? You talk about “innovation theater” in large corporations. What’s the trend in terms of corporations developing cultures of innovation and programs for intrapreneurs?

SB: If you’re a large corporation, the world has turned upside down. In hindsight the 20th century was the golden age for corporations. Today, companies face five challenges they never had to deal with:

Challenge one – As companies are discovering every day, the web has changed everything. Distribution channels, brand loyalty, etc.

Challenge two – Large companies are dealing with startups that are funded with unimaginable capital. In the past, the idea of a startup having more capital than an existing corporation was a fantasy. But today if I’m a startup and I’m raising a hundred million dollars or billions of dollars, like Uber, Airbnb or Tesla, I can take on an entire industry.

Challenge three – Today, investors willingly fund startups to do anything on day one. Anything. Including break the law. Tesla, Airbnb, Uber, all were predicated on, “Well, what if we said, ‘screw the law’. How big would that opportunity be?”

In the 20th century no venture capitalist would have funded that. In the 21st century they got out their little eyeshades and calculators and said, “Ha! If we actually succeed, there’s a $10 billion company here.”

In contrast, as much as a corporation wants to do that, the first thing that will happen is your general counsel’s in your office saying, “I want to see what you look like in a prison suit.” Because a company can’t do the things that a startup can.

Challenge four – In a startup, 100% of the company is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. In a large corporation, 99% of the company is focused on executionof the current business model by building repeatable processes and procedures. And a very small percentage are focused on innovation. I could keep going on down the list.

Challenge five – In a startup, if you win, it’s a payout of billions of dollars. In a large company, for the individual, there is no such payout.

PB: However, there are some companies that do evolve, that do pivot and make the right changes. What you’re talking about, “A large corporation is not a startup,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to go the way of the dodo. What are companies doing beyond innovation theater?

SB: I just wanted to give you the setup of why it’s harder for corporations. Not why they can’t do it. In spite of all the things that I just mentioned, there are large companies that have figured out how to build innovation ecosystems. My favorite is a private company called W.L.Gore. At their core they make products out of expanded PTFE like Gore-Tex. But they’ve taken that basic technology past fabrics into multiple markets – medical, filtration, fibers, cables, etc. They have a process of continual innovation – an innovation pipeline. But this type of innovation requires leadership who understands that is their goal. If you’re a large company’s CEO today, the problem is that you’re dealing with, well, lots of issues, not just innovation.

  • One – “How do I deal with activist investors who want to take my company apart and sell it for pieces?”
  • Two – “I’ve been hearing about this innovation stuff, but if I’m running a 10,000-person company, my skill-set is about execution, not innovation. I might give you some head nods about innovation, but I really don’t have that in my DNA.”
  • Three – Companies are driven by processes and procedure, those same processes and procedures strangle innovation in its crib. For innovation to succeed inside of a large company, you need a parallel set of processes, not to replace the existing ones, but to operate on a fast track.

Some companies have figured out how to do this, not just internally, but by just acquiring those that do. So, if you think about how a large company can innovate, they could build, they could buy, they could partner, they could license. All parts of their toolset where startups don’t have those opportunities. Basically, startups are just building.

PB: Large corporations have a number of tools they use for innovation. One area is innovation challenges and idea challenges to come up with a thousand new ideas. A second option is for corporations to provide accelerators where they invite startups to apply to be part of their accelerator program. A third is incubators and makers’ spaces. Do you see those as innovation programs that can work? They’re spending a lot of money on it.

SB: No. What you just described is innovation theater. These are innovation activities, not deliverables. The hard part in a company is not getting a demo or setting up an internal accelerator, it’s getting something delivered all the way through your existing sales channel. What does it take to get from that demo into your engineering group, to be delivered as a product into your existing sales channel? And that’s where the difficulties are. You run into, “Well, wait a minute, this isn’t on our budget or schedule.” “Wait a minute, this conflicts with our existing product line.” “This will put our most profitable product out of business,” or “We don’t even have a sales force that knows how to sell this thing.”

A good number of companies focus on the easy part, which is, “Let’s have an incubator/accelerator.” The hard part is, “How do we deliver something with speed and urgency?” For example, when I teach this for the government, our focus is on innovation that gets deployed and fielded, not demos. (Yes, you might need a demo to convince someone to fund your program, but the demo is not the goal – delivery is.) Companies have more demos than they’ll ever need. But really the goal of a successful innovation program is figuring out how do you deploy something by getting through the hard political wiring diagram of who owns what, and how does this differ from what we already have, and which budget is it going to come from, and “this is unscheduled” and “wait a minute, it doesn’t meet our quality standards” and “we’re going to screw up our brand”?

How do we solve those problems? And that doesn’t mean it’s not solvable. It just means the “Let’s throw a party” approach reminds me of the old Andy Hardy movies of “Let’s put on a show.” Ok, we’ve got a show, now what?

The “now what” is that we lack a corporate innovation doctrine.


Steve Case’s Latest “Rise of the Rest” Tour

AireHealth is revolutionizing care management and drug delivery for respiratory illness via a connected-portable nebulizer.  -

Atomos is building the railroad of space using high-powered electric propulsion space tugs to move satellites to any orbit beyond low Earth orbit. -

Immertec’s VR software helps medical companies train physicians faster and easier than ever before. -

Xendoo is a cloud-based, flat-rate, monthly subscription providing bookkeeping and accounting to small and medium-sized businesses with less than 20 employees. -

Abartys Health streamlines communication between insurers, doctors, and patients. -

Earlier this month, Steve Case and the Revolution team hit the road for the eighth Rise of the Rest Road Trip, bringing the bus to Orlando, Florida’s Space Coast, Tampa Bay, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the end of each tour day, we hosted a pitch competition where a local startup received a $100,000 investment from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

For the pitch competitions in Orlando, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Puerto Rico, innovative startups based within a 100-mile radius of a tour stop were invited to apply. Our pitch competition in the Space Coast featured startups from the Space Coast region and other rising cities from across the country whose core focus relates to space, drone, aviation technologies, or adjacent focus areas.

We asked the winners in each city to tell us about their companies, provide advice to fellow entrepreneurs, and share a little more about themselves.


Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

From McKinsey & Company      

 In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, new research assesses the jobs lost and jobs gained under different scenarios through 2030.                                   

The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activitieshumans currently perform—a development that has sparked much public concern.

Building on our January 2017 report on automation, McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation (PDF–5MB), assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030 and compares that to the jobs that could be lost to automation.

The results reveal a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages. Our key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.

  1. What impact will automation have on work?
  2. What are possible scenarios for employment growth?
  3. Will there be enough work in the future?
  4. What will automation mean for skills and wages?
  5. How do we manage the upcoming workforce transitions?

1. What impact will automation have on work?

We previously found that about half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using currently demonstrated technologies. Very few occupations—less than 5 percent—consist of activities that can be fully automated.

However, in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.

While technical feasibility of automation is important, it is not the only factor that will influence the pace and extent of automation adoption. Other factors include the cost of developing and deploying automation solutions for specific uses in the workplace, the labor-market dynamics (including quality and quantity of labor and associated wages), the benefits of automation beyond labor substitution, and regulatory and social acceptance.


Taking these factors into account, our new research estimates that between almost zero and 30 percent of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the speed of adoption. We mainly use the midpoint of our scenario range, which is automation of 15 percent of current activities. Results differ significantly by country, reflecting the mix of activities currently performed by workers and prevailing wage rates.

The potential impact of automation on employment varies by occupation and sector (see interactive above). Activities most susceptible to automation include physical ones in predictable environments, such as operating machinery and preparing fast food. Collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines. This could displace large amounts of labor—for instance, in mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.

It is important to note, however, that even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline but rather workers may perform new tasks.

Automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions, where machines are unable to match human performance for now.

Jobs in unpredictable environments—occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare—will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.

2. What are possible scenarios for employment growth?

Workers displaced by automation are easily identified, while new jobs that are created indirectly from technology are less visible and spread across different sectors and geographies. We model some potential sources of new labor demand that may spur job creation to 2030, even net of automation.

For the first three trends, we model only a trendline scenario based on current spending and investment trends observed across countries.

Rising incomes and consumption, especially in emerging economies

We have previously estimated that global consumption could grow by $23 trillion between 2015 and 2030, and most of this will come from the consuming classes in emerging economies. The effects of these new consumers will be felt not just in the countries where the income is generated but also in economies that export to these countries. Globally, we estimate that 250 million to 280 million new jobs could be created from the impact of rising incomes on consumer goods alone, with up to an additional 50 million to 85 million jobs generated from higher health and education spending.

Aging populations

By 2030, there will be at least 300 million more people aged 65 years and olderthan there were in 2014. As people age, their spending patterns shift, with a pronounced increase in spending on healthcare and other personal services. This will create significant new demand for a range of occupations, including doctors, nurses, and health technicians but also home-health aides, personal-care aides, and nursing assistants in many countries. Globally, we estimate that healthcare and related jobs from aging could grow by 50 million to 85 million by 2030.

Development and deployment of technology

Jobs related to developing and deploying new technologies may also grow. Overall spending on technology could increase by more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030. About half would be on information-technology services. The number of people employed in these occupations is small compared to those in healthcare or construction, but they are high-wage occupations. By 2030, we estimate that this trend could create 20 million to 50 million jobs globally.

For the next three trends, we model both a trendline scenario and a step-up scenario that assumes additional investments in some areas, based on explicit choices by governments, business leaders, and individuals to create additional jobs.

Investments in infrastructure and buildings

Infrastructure and buildings are two areas of historic underspending that may create significant additional labor demand if action is taken to bridge infrastructure gaps and overcome housing shortages. New demand could be created for up to 80 million jobs in the trendline scenario and, in the event of accelerated investment, up to 200 million more in the step-up scenario. These jobs include architects, engineers, electricians, carpenters, and other skilled tradespeople, as well as construction workers.

Investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation

Investments in renewable energy, such as wind and solar; energy-efficiency technologies; and adaptation and mitigation of climate change may create new demand for workers in a range of occupations, including manufacturing, construction, and installation. These investments could create up to ten million new jobs in the trendline scenario and up to ten million additional jobs globally in the step-up scenario.

‘Marketization’ of previously unpaid domestic work

The last trend we consider is the potential to pay for services that substitute for currently unpaid and primarily domestic work. This so-called marketization of previously unpaid work is already prevalent in advanced economies, and rising female workforce participation worldwide could accelerate the trend. We estimate that this could create 50 million to 90 million jobs globally, mainly in occupations such as childcare, early-childhood education, cleaning, cooking, and gardening.

When we look at the net changes in job growth across all countries, the categories with the highest percentage job growth net of automation include the following:

  • healthcare providers
  • professionals such as engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts
  • IT professionals and other technology specialists
  • managers and executives, whose work cannot easily be replaced by machines
  • educators, especially in emerging economies with young populations
  • “creatives,” a small but growing category of artists, performers, and entertainers who will be in demand as rising incomes create more demand for leisure and recreation
  • builders and related professions, particularly in the scenario that involves higher investments in infrastructure and buildings
  • manual and service jobs in unpredictable environments, such as home-health aides and gardeners


Entrepreneurs Make the Gig Economy Work

Page 4B, USA Today Thurs.,      May16, 2019

By Steve Straus, USA Today Columnist, Attorney, Author

Danny Brewer knew that the entrepreneurial life was for him when he saw that the address of one of his bosses after college was , literally, “No. 1, Easy Street.  This was about a decade ago and soon thereafter Danny starts his first business: he became a mobile D.J.  While that was a good gig (and still is, see below), everything changed when Brewer went to a trade show and saw an opportunity in the photo-booth business.  You know hat photo booths are -you see them ad weddings and other events, where guests can dress up and get their pictures taken.  Before long, Danny Brewer had five photo booths running, giving us the first insight into how to rock the gig economy:

Rule No. 1: Replicate yourself.  One common mistake I see poplin the “gig economy” make is that they think too small.  they create on gig and stick with it, driving for Uber or water.  What Danny did right is that he didn’t fall into that trap.  By  hiring other gig workers, or even hiring a staff, you ensure that you will not just be creating a job for yourself, but also a business that can scale.  One of the problems with the photo booth business is that people at the event have to come to the booth and the fun of the booth is limited to that space in the back.  So Danny had an idea for a light-weight, mobile photo system that could move around the party and the Ring roamer was born.

Rule No. 2: Diversify or die.  This Danny’s motto.  These days he has four businesses, four ways of bringing in money -mobile DJ business, photo booths, Ring Roamer, Corporate team-building events.  Creating multiple profit centers key.  Danny’s story also illustrates another lesson…

Rule No. 3:  Don’t compete on price.  Many bad things happen when you try to be cheaper than everyone else.  First, you shrink your margins.  It becomes increasingly difficult to make a profit when you make your product or service cheaper and cheaper.  Second, you have to work harder.  Because you make less on each sale when you reduce your prices, you need toward that much harder to make what you used to make.  By competing on price, you are -wittingly or unwittingly- creating a brand on price and not quality or service or creativity or smarts or whatever.

There is lots of good that can be said about the gig economy, but lots bad too.  The trick is to not for the the gig economy but make it work for you.


6 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Trademarks.

   Before we can discuss what you should know about Trademarks, let’s first define them. Trademarks are any names, marks or any device used to identify a brand. Trademarks are not just limited to names and logos, they can also include slogans, colors, smells, sounds, product packaging or any identifying feature of a brand that would help a consumer identify it in commerce. A trademark is an asset to your business as it is a type of intellectual property that holds monetary value.


If you come up with a name that is already in use by another brand that’s in your same relevant market, you will not be able to register the mark as your own. The sad part is that the name doesn’t even have to be the exact same. Any “likelihood of confusion” with another trademark in the same market can mean years in litigation. This is a legal analysis, not what you think causes a “likelihood of confusion.” Only rely on an attorney for this analysis.


You can have the same name as another business without causing a “likelihood of confusion” if the names represent brands in two different consumer markets. There are 45 relevant markets within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under which a trademark can be registered. The markets are identified by “international class” numbers, so it is important to identify under which markets your trademarks could fall. This is heavy stuff, so you would need to enlist some legal help to conduct a legal analysis.


You can only register one Trademark at a time in a single application. For example, if you have a name, a logo and a combination of name and logo together, then those are actually 3 separate Trademarks. So, you will need 3 separate applications to fully protect your brand.


Before you start, know that you can protect your trademark before you start using it. There is a separate application for trademarks that are not used in commerce. Check with your lawyer to see if this is an option you should exercise.


If a designer is creating logos and materials pertaining to your trademark, make sure they warrant the originality of them in writing. If they use already used content as a base, you may have issues when you try to protect it with a Trademark registration. If they are “similarly confusing” to another Trademark in commerce in your market, then you will not be able to register it and/or worse, find yourself defending a possible infringement.


Get in the habit of having a contract with everyone you do business with, particularly designers. Better yet, get an attorney to draft contracts for you. An attorney will take the time to understand your goals in order to properly protect your rights. Also, stay away from contract templates online. A contract is only as good as its content, and if a contract doesn’t have the right language, you can lose the protection you were seeking in the first place.

I know this is a lot to digest, so I created some easy to read e-books to explain some of the concepts highlighted in this article. Also, check out this downloadable guide . It’s free and gives you a broad overview of the trademark process.

Salma is The Millennial Business Lawyer™ and lead legal strategist at The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC. She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina, New Jersey (since 2013) and in Florida (since 2014). She helps entrepreneurs with business formation, contracts, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets and all ancillary legal matters that pertain to starting, running and scaling a business. Trademarks and Copyrights are federal matters so they do not vary from state to state so she helps clients with them nationwide.

The information provided here is the copyright of The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC written for this Current in Entrepreneurship blog.  Do not sell, reproduce or do anything without consent from The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC.

How Are You Creating Your Legacy?

How Are You Creating Your Legacy?

By Kevin Bonfield, founder and managing partner at Concentre and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Dallas, Texas.

Many of us have never considered what we want our legacies to be. And yet our legacies alone define the ways in which we’ll be remembered.

Recently, I joined a group of 100 world changers for The Conversation, an event designed by author Tammy Kling. Throughout the evening, I engaged with four different groups on the topic of legacy.

Since I work with technology leaders on a daily basis, the term “legacy” has a specific meaning related to old or outdated hardware or software. And when I looked through several dictionaries, I noticed that most alternative definitions focused on the past—something that’s been left to us. But during my discussions with each group, we talked more about the future—and about defining our own legacies.

Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.
– Shannon L. Adler

Each of us has the power to create a legacy. In fact, we make our legacies every day—whether we think about it or not. Even if we do think about our legacies, we don’t completely control them. Legacies live in the minds of those who know us—or in the ideas and values we leave behind.

So, while we may not get to see them come to fruition, I believe there is a formula for creating lasting legacies: L=PHxP

1. Legacy Defined (L)

“L” is what we want our legacy to be. A legacy can be intentional or unintentional. Spiro Agnew, the vice president to Richard Nixon, did not intend to be the first (and only) vice president to resign the office in disgrace. Still, when he died 23 years later, that was the first line of his obituary. What will your obituary say about you? I recently sat down and wrote a draft of my own. I was fascinated to see what was truly important to me—and also by what was missing.

2. Legacy Potential (P)

“P” indicates who you are today. It’s a reflection of your natural traits and talents. Those talents can leave a legacy of entrepreneurial drive, deep architectural excellence, or inspiring others to unlock their own legacies. I could decide that I want my legacy to be that of a world-class violinist. But I lack the raw skill or patience to make that happen. So, the legacy you want to leave must be founded on your authentic traits, talents, and passions.

3. Legacy Lived (H)

Every day, your habits define the legacy you live and create. If traits define the potential, then day-to-day actions unlock that potential to make legacy real. I can possess the potential to leave my children a legacy of love and curiosity. But if I do not actively and regularly nurture those ideas in them, then my legacy to them will be different.

4. Legacy Perceived (P)

This is the one element that we cannot control. That means it’s the most challenging one because we don’t get to decide how others will describe our legacies. Instead, it’s a matter of perception. My friend Michael Peticolas provides a great example. In Dallas, Texas, the name “Peticolas” is building a legacy of award-winning craft beer. But miles away in El Paso, the Peticolas name has already cemented a legacy of legal excellence across five generations. So, even if folks in El Paso can one day enjoy a Peticolas Velvet Hammer beer, they may still equate the Peticolas name with the renowned law firm.

We may never know exactly how others perceive us. They may have a different interpretation of the legacies we leave—or they may not share how they perceive what we have left. Either way, that doesn’t prevent us from trying to define and create our legacies.

As I reflect on those three hours of The Conversation and other discussions I’ve had with friends, I think the clearest description of a legacy comes from Steven Neuner of Alkali Insurance: Remember, you leave what you live.

What does your legacy look like? What are you doing to define and craft the legacy you wish to leave? How will you anticipate the perceptions of others?

Kevin Bonfield has more than 20 years of diverse management consulting, business development and operations expertise. He was an EO Accelerator participant in 2012  and is currently an EO Dallas member.  EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.

Why Startups Fail and How to Avoid It

Founding a startup in the modern world is becoming increasingly difficult. Between fierce competition for venture capital, market share and new challenges presented by an ever-changing business environment, entrepreneurs are regularly stepping headfirst into unclear waters when they decide to create their startup and naturally quite a lot of them fail. In this post, we will be exploring some of the reasons why.

Despite these challenges, we have statistics to show that the startup market is still going strong. For example, according to Fortune, the number of people who are self-employed in the United States has increased by around 150,000 to 8,602,000 in 2017. This shows that even with the unforgiving environment, an increasing number of people are founding their own startups.

Furthermore, the worldwide outlook for startups is equally hopeful, with a GEM Global Report showing that over 100 Million startups are being launched worldwide, every year. This is a staggering 3 new businesses being founded every second. This shows that even with the intense climate for newly founded businesses, there is no shortage of people willing to take the plunge and try their hand at running a startup.

One popularly cited and particularly damning statistic about the startup climate suggests that over 90% of startups actually fail, with only 10% actually experiencing long-term success. This statistic comes from a report by Startup Genome. The reason for this? According to Startup Genome, over 70% of startups experience premature scaling, which could provide some insight as to a big reason why a lot of startups are failing. Hackernoon have also been exploring why startups have been failing, publishing a chart which shows that when startups fail, the following reasons are the most common.

The 10% of startups that do succeed, seem to have a lot in common, even if they don’t share the same industry. Firstly, they’ve managed to create a product or service that perfectly fits in with the objective of solving a major problem for their chosen market. Secondly, their team will have the adaptability and the presence of mind to change things in the event of a crisis, to prevent their startup from failing, in the business world, stagnation ultimately leads to failure. Finally, members of their team will all work together and there will not be a strict protocol on sticking to your roles, everybody will chime in with their own take on an idea to achieve group consensus, two heads are better than one after all.

Marketing is Key

One of the most important components to the success of your startup is marketing, there are no two ways about it. You can have the best product in the world that actually will revolutionize your industry, but, if your marketing efforts extend to a few Facebook posts here and there, you’re going to fail.

To effectively market your startup and your services, you need to appear everywhere, so that you can engage with as many potential users as possible. Thankfully, we now live in the social media world, where a mass of people can be found at the click of a button.

You can either do your own marketing by posting videos and various posts on sites like LinkedIn, Medium, Quora etc, making use of SEO and placing paid adverts on various search engines. Furthermore, if you don’t feel you have the ability to do so, you can consult an external marketing agency to handle all of this for you. Sometimes, this is actually the best option as they will be able to get your great exposure for the money that you pay, leading to a lot of potential customers and buzz surrounding your startup.

Keep Your Team Close

One of the things that quite a few startup founders seem to forget about, is the importance of their own team. The people that you hire may have been with you from the start and may have greatly contributed to the success of your startup, however, like any employee, they will begin to search for another job if they do not feel satisfied in their current role. Having high staff turnover can be extremely damaging to a startup, as you may begin to lose consistency in the areas where you are experiencing turnover, which can lead to your business performing less effectively.

To ensure that your staff want to stay, treat them like human beings! Your team will all have their own particular things that they want from you as their boss. You should explore various ways of maximizing employee engagement, this could be by investing in well-being programmes in the workplace, work socials and even by offering longer-term employees a slice of the equity in your company. If an employee feels like they have a vested interest in their work, be that friends, shares etc, they will be less likely to leave.

The last thing you want is them going to one of your competitors, or worse, run loose and drive your company into the ground.

Unfortunately, examples of ineffective teams ruining a company can be found in abundance. One such example can be found in the Russia-based, e-commerce platform Wikimart. The company was a massive success domestically and was being labelled as the eBay of Russia since they were founded in 2008. Despite this, turmoil at the boardroom level led to a string of poor decisions and the company was subject to numerous bankruptcy orders in 2017.

Create a Product that Makes You Proud

One of the most important things for you as a startup founder is to have a product which you can be proud of. If you were to have a product that was mediocre or even poor, you probably wouldn’t think too highly of it, well, your customers will also be thinking the same thing. Having a better product will naturally increase the growth potential of your business as more people are likely to be drawn in by the higher quality product. This will also be crucial when you are looking to secure outside funding from an investor.

A great way to test whether you have a product that you can be proud of is to note whether your own team are openly advocating your product without your involvement. If they are, you’re on to a winner and you most likely do have a brilliant product. If however, they are reluctant to do so, you may figure out why this may be, and you may want to have a rethink about certain elements of the product.

There are numerous examples of companies that have had to shut down because their product was not well received by customers. They did not take into consideration whether the product would create a good user-experience and definitely did not take the time to analyse the product to make sure it was something that they could be proud of.

Originally published at on February 27, 2019.

More at 

No One Knows What You Can Accomplish, Except You

I was 2 months into my first semester of graduate school. The transition had been rough, socially and emotionally. I went from a close knit on-campus community. One I had been a part of for 4 years. To an urban environment with only 6 members of my class. I was struggling to find my footing.

I was lonely and distracted. On top of that, the course load at the start of graduate school was intense. Fundamentals of Pharmacology (Fun Pharm, we called it). Genetics. Molecular biology. Neurobiology. Biochemistry. I had taken similar classes in undergrad. But at most, 2 at a time. Peppered with English Literature and Psychology. Different ways of using my brain. In grad school, all my classes went in the same direction. And it was rough.

So I tried my best to concentrate and study. To put my feelings of isolation and imbalance in a box. To absorb all the information. To show my self worthy of this Ivy League graduate school. I took my first Fun Pharm exam. And I bombed it. I got a 62 and a “see me after class.”

I think I failed one test before in my life, early in college. Likely for similar reasons. It was a real wake up call. And I ended up with a B+ in the class.

I felt mortified. And worse, I couldn’t fathom why the professor needed to see me after class. What more could he say? I already knew how awful the grade was. I beat myself up plenty. But I assumed that I would make it up on future tests.

A few days later, I sat down in the professor’s cluttered office, in the one open chair. Papers scattered the room, and journals. There was a thin row of windows lining the top of one wall of his basement office. The massive computer monitor took up most of his desk.

He looked at me through thick, smudged glasses. And told me, for 20 minutes, that I should consider another path in life. That he was seriously concerned about how badly I bombed the test. That the classes would only get harder. He told me he wanted to help me, but the school had its standards. And I had not met them.

I spent that afternoon bawling.  And then I was furious. He didn’t ask me anything about myself.

He didn’t ask how I did in undergrad. He didn’t ask how I was doing in my other classes. He didn’t ask me if something was going on that would cause me to get that one grade. He had never graded any other work of mine to that point.

He took one data point and extrapolated it out to form an opinion about my entire life. Not a good scientist, at the very least. And wrong about me.

If you see the three letters after my last name, you know that I went on to pass Fun Pharm and all my other classes. I spent another several years in graduate school. They were not fun, but I did it. I defended my thesis. And got my PhD.

He was right about one thing, though. I needed to go down another path in life. One that involved Wall Street and C-Suites and consulting and writing. And love and laughter and marriage and children and hard times and great times.

My life has had nothing to do with one bad grade on one test.

And your path in life has nothing to do with one person who does not understand who you are and what you can do.

I have had many doubts about myself in life. But I never doubted that I was smart enough or capable enough to do what I want to do. The question for me is about figuring out what it is that I want. Instead of giving in to what other people want.

You know your own strengths. You know what you are capable of. Don’t listen to the idiots. They see one data point about you. About your life. And decide what you can or should or will do.  They are wrong.  Your heart is always right.

With the right framework plus the right mindset, anything is possible.

From Daily Medium on The Startup by Deb Knobelman, PhD, Sept. 2018.

Warren Buffett Says AI Will Lead to Fewer Jobs

OMAHA — Nearly two decades ago, a 10-year-old shareholder stood in front of a microphone here and asked Warren Buffett how the Internet would reshape companies.

It was 2000. Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said fairly little. He saw a threat in the Internet, but said he was unsure how it would ultimately affect his investments, according to a report at the time.

On Saturday, that same shareholder, Thomas Kamei, now a 27-year-old investor based in New York, submitted an updated version of his question at Berkshire’s annual meeting. This time, Kamei focused on artificial intelligence, a technology that threatens to upend the economy just as the Internet did years before. What did Buffett make of it?

Buffett said that AI could be “enormously disruptive,” yet beneficial in making the economy more efficient.

“I would certainly think [AI] would result in significantly less employment in certain areas,” he said. “It would be a good thing that would require enormous transformation in how people relate to each other, what they expect of government, all kinds of things.”

The comments came during a more than six-hour Q&A session in which Buffett and his investing partner, Charlie Munger, repeatedly praised efforts to make businesses more productive, despite job losses. They pointed to past advancements in farming and auto manufacturing, industries able to do more with fewer workers.

The duo also defended their work with 3G Capital, the controversial Brazilian private equity firm known for aggressive cost cutting and layoffs. Kraft Heinz, backed by Berkshire and 3G, laid off 1,000 workers in 2016 and plans to cut thousands of additional positions, a strategy seen at odds with Berkshire’s folksy image.

The fear, though, is that AI may cause even more losses. A recent study by PwC found that about 40 percent of jobs could be automated with current technology by 2030.

Buffett laid out a theoretical scenario at one of Berkshire’s best-known companies, Geico. The insurer employs about 36,000 people, yet the financial services industry is seen as vulnerable to automation. Buffett asked: What if all of Geico’s current functions, aided by AI, could be done by 10,000 people, or a third of the staff?

“I don’t think we’ve ever experienced anything quite like that,” he said.

Munger, known for his brevity, told Buffett not to worry. “It’s not going to come that quickly,” he responded.

When a shareholder later asked Buffett if he would push back on a Berkshire subsidiary that wanted to move a factory overseas, Buffett gave examples of previous Berkshire companies like Dexter Shoes that had already been forced to do so.

Global trade, he said, benefited the U.S. by providing consumers with lower prices and more places to sell goods. But he also said that it could create “roadkill” of people, one reason he wants more government programs for displaced workers. He did not outline specific proposals, but said the U.S. needed an “educator-in-chief” who could explain the benefits of trade and come up with solutions.

Unemployment insurance already existed and provided help to those in need, Munger said.

“I’m afraid a capitalist system is going to hurt some people as it modifies and improves,” Munger said. “There’s no way to avoid it.”

By  Chip Cutter, Wall Street Journal Reporter

Types of Enterprises by Bill Aulet.

Bill Aulet, Director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT, distinguishes between two types of enterprises when discussing entrepreneurship, SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises)  and the IDEs (innovation-driven enterprises).  Each requires a different approach.  The former are small companies that will stay mall while the latter are global and have exponential growth, lots of capital, and a competitive advantage over SMEs.  Here he is describing both:

For more on the thinking behind this distinction please see this PDF: