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Keeping my day job…

I’ve been attending the Startups 2.0 MeetUp facilitated by Kenton Johnson (http://www.meetup.com/Startups-2-0-Rocket-Your-Ready-to-Launch-Startup/ ).  Kenton’s experience is outstanding and his content is stellar.   I’ve always been fascinated by the business of business.

At Kenton’s first MeetUp, he established context for the working sessions by citing “Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for Start-Ups”:

Rule 01:  Don’t start a company unless it is an obsession and something you love.

Rule 02:  If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.

Rule 03:  Hire people you think will love working there.

Rule 04:  Sales cure all.

Rule 05:  Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.

Rule 06:  Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk.

Rule 07:  No offices.  There is nothing private in a start-up.

Rule 08:  As far as technology, go with what you know. 

Rule 09:  Keep the organization flat. 

Rule 10:  Never buy swag.

Rule 11:  Never hire a PR firm.

Rule 12:  Make the job fun for employees.

I met Kenton at Denver’s 2015 StartUp Week.  That’s where I also heard Brad Feld speak for the first time (see http://foundrygroup.com/team/brad-feld/ ).  After Brad’s presentation those in attendance received a copy of his book, Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job©.  The section, “Trust Me, Your Idea is Worthless” caught my attention.

How many people do we know who want to start their own company because (A) they have a “great idea” and (B) they want to sell their company to get rich?  In other words, they start a company with an exit strategy firmly in place – breaking Cuban’s Rule # 02.

IMHO, in the real world it doesn’t typically work that way.  I mean, if you’ve read the book by Paul Allen, Idea Man© and read about how Paul Allen and Bill Gates launched Microsoft, I bet you were as amazed as I was about their true genius.  Bill Gates didn’t become the richest man in the world by simply duping IBM with a software licensing deal.

Bill Gates became the richest man in the world by creating/coding the Disk Operating System (aka DOS) which ran PC’s – IBM’s and everyone else’s (except of course Steve Jobs at Apple, which is a story for another time).  Sounds straight forward?  Well think about how Paul Allen and Bill Gates had to figure out how to do this by writing the operating system for a machine that wouldn’t work without first having an operating system.  A classic “chicken or egg” conundrum.  Oh and by the way, Gates and Allen definitely understood Mark Cuban’s Rules # 01 and # 02, true?

Reveal Alert:  If you don’t want to read the book about the birthing of the PC era, here is the essence of their work:  (1) Paul Allen wrote a PC hardware emulator to make a DEC mini-computer act as if it were a PC, and (2) Bill Gates coded DOS to run and be debugged on that emulator.  Oh and by the way, Gates wrote his DOS code with pencil and paper; during marathon, 3 day coding sessions; in which he would collapse from exhaustion; only to resume after needed sleep and nourishment.

It seems to me that they ignored Cuban’s Rules # 06 and #12; but definitely maximized Rule #04.

What do you say – Is that the type of commitment coupled with genius seen by those today that have a “great idea”?  Maybe best to keep our day jobs – just saying.

GAP

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