I took Ben and Raj-Ann to NYC during the Thanksgiving of 1992. We did the town but the highlight was going to the top of the World Trade Centers. Both of them fell in love with the city. Ben chose to go NYU for his college and Raj-Ann went to Syracuse.
Ben had just graduated from NYU in the June of 2001 and moved to LA to be closer to Hollywood and Raj-Ann was still living and working in Manhattan when the tragedy stuck on 9/11/2001. I had gotten a call from Roy Prasad at 6:30am California time asking me to turn the TV. I turned it on just in time to see the second plane hit the other tower.
NYU is very close to ground zero and Raj-Ann lived on 23rd street which about 25 blocks north of the ground zero. She worked uptown, closer to Central Park at the time. I was worried about her and called her immediately. She was at work and was not immediately affected by the tragedy. Ben was very distressed as he had many friends still in the area of the tragedy. One of the close friends had gotten a job at Merrill Lynch building, just south of WTC. He was fine but had to be evacuated to NJ by a ferry.
It has been 19 years and memory is still fresh. I went to NYC as soon as I could to see the ground zero. I have been to the 9/11 memorial. I choked up and feelings were still raw when I was there last time about a year ago.
I had landed in NYC on my birthday in 1967 when I first came to America. I lived in NJ, not too far from NYC in 1969/70. I saw the towers WTC go up in early seventies. I travelled frequently and did the financial district our IPO in 1987. I love walking down the avenues for 60/70 blocks. I don’t miss to take in a Broadway show when I am in the city.
My wife Ann grew up in Connectcut, about 50 miles from the city. NYC is close to my heart and will always be!
Startups rarely get in trouble because the upside happens but they quickly do when downside happens. Entrepreneurs do not spend time worrying about potential downsides. They always worry about how to make upside happen.
It would serve entreprenurs well if they were to worry about things that may go wrong. What would happen if a key engineer left? If the expected large order failed to materialize? There is a endlist list of things that can go wrong. Some contigency planning to avert these would serve the entreprenur well if they were come to pass.
Unlike large companies, startups dont have resources to have redundancies. So they have to be extra alert to see the trouble looming a mile away. Entreprenurs should only take on the risks they have to. Any avoidable risk should be avoided.
More often than not success depends on eliminating all potetial causes of failures. They should especially ask when things are looking up, what am I missing?
Andy Grove, a former CEO of Intel, was fond of saying that. Inspite of that Intel missed the whole smart phone wave. It stayed focus on Wintel monopoly where it was able to extract high rents for its chips. ARM emerged as the leader in the space. Intel’s advantages in the Chip Fabrication were rendered useless when ARM started selling IP to be integrated on the chip along wth other functionality. Intel had become fat, dumb and happy charging hundreds of dollars for its processors when the ARM was charging a hundredth of that!
Microsoft under Steve Balmer also missed that wave for the same reasons. It tried to rectify that by buying Nokia. But both Nokia and Blackberry were too slow to respond when Apple took over the market with IPhone.
Microft was almost missing the Cloud Computing wave too under Steve balmer. Amazon came from nowhere and bacame a dominant player in that field. New CEO Satya Nadella acted forcefully in the Cloud Computing space and has almost caught up with Amazon. Incidentally, Intel was also saved by cloud computing as it moved up the performance ladder to supply chips for servers.
Companies with market dominating products often become complacent and are caught flat-footed when the market shifts, as it invetibly does. I can list a large number of players, including Novell, Lotus and Wordperfect who were not able to diversify to save their hide.
In a fast changing technogy world nothing is forever. CEOs have to fund efforts that seem to small at the time to matter but consequences of not doing could be dire.
It is not enough just to say that only paranoid survive, you have to be truly paranoid.
Always be selling is the mantra for the entreprenurs. Enterprenurs must have or acquire skills to sell very early on because entreprenurship is all about selling.
In the beginning, you have sell yourself to leave your cushy life to pursue your dream. Then comes the need to sell your parents/spouse on the idea. Then you have to sell potential investors to buy into your dream, not to mention bringing the co-founders and key employees to help you launch your venture. Then you have to start selling half baked products/services to customers.
Selling never stops as the need to raise more investments, need to hire more people, need to make more revenue never stops. Entreprenurs become a good story teller. They need to exude confidence when things are going nowhere fast. They need to sell future as if it is a sure thing.
It is hard to imaginea successful entreprenur who is not a good salesman.