Snake oil and other choices

Super Bowl Sunday, 2015: We’ve all heard variations of the aphorism “fast, good or cheap – pick any two.” If you are in the business of providing a professional service to consumers or to other businesses, this generally holds true. Customers who absolutely must have something done right and done quickly are in no position to quibble over price. Those who have no sense of urgency can stay at the back of the line and save some money by letting work get completed whenever.  And, obviously if you don’t really care about quality, you can go to Jack’s for fast and cheap.

medicine bottle with gibberish

January 25, 2015: Last month I was sitting with a friend who was judging her assigned category of the SXSW Accelerator applications. In the midst of other work myself, I heard her read aloud a paragraph that I thought was on an application, and I immediately said “that’s just gibberish.” She then pointed out she was reading the official category definition, to which I said: “Oops, I wrote that myself.” Guilty.

Augusta National postcard

January 17, 2015: If you read the NYT on your iPad, you see every day the “Most Emailed” page, which is a good barometer of the articles that have captured the interest of readers. One that was prominent on that list this past week referred to a study by psychologist Arthur Aron, who tested the utility of a 36-question survey to determine if two people could intentionally select each other as partners and not leave their futures in the hands of Cupid.

Ada Lovelace painting

January 11, 2015: After giving my usual founder’s story lecture to the Longhorn Startup class last semester, it was suggested that I had told the story of the birth of an industry as much as a personal story.

January 4, 2015: Welcome back from what I hope for you was either a pleasant break from the Holidays and/or the time when you reached all your revenue goals for the year. Now comes the time for most of us whose businesses are on a calendar year to tote up the financial results and memorialize them for our shareholders and our friends at the IRS.

Sydney Harbour New Years Eve

December 21, 2014: There are mixed feelings at this moment of the year for any of us in entrepreneurial endeavors. We’ve wrapped up the presents and the Holiday parties, we’ve planned our travels, and, for many of us, family matters have taken their rightful precedence over business. One can’t help but reflect on the year past and what will be different about the next.

Venus Receiving Gifts

December 14, 2014:  Your writer is reporting from Atlanta this week. It’s a board meeting cycle for the GA Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) and the GA Tech Foundation.

Reverse Engineering diagram

December 7, 2014: Many sessions of “Office Hours” in recent days with students, faculty, and other aspiring entrepreneurs motivate me to emphasize one particular theme that is applicable in almost all of these instances. It’s the notion of making startup decisions in the context of at least a 3-year view of the concept. It’s what I label “reverse engineering” in this essay, not in the usual sense of that term but in the sense of peering some distance into the future and working backward.

Delacroix painting

November 23, 2014: This essay perhaps should have been posted for Halloween, but, regardless of the timing, it’s a fair recap of the experiences of the week past. Just when you think you’re sailing on a steady course, events unexpected and beyond your control can blow you in a very different direction. Here are some examples:

Ronald Reagan pardons turkey 1983

November 16, 2014: TechDrawl is distributed every Monday to my core list and republished on Friday by Texas Entrepreneur Networks; so, this week’s edition serves as my Thanksgiving essay. I hope you and yours enjoy your Turkey Day and that Texas beats the stuffing out of TCU that evening. It will also be darn nice if GA Tech can grab one of its all too rare victories over UGA the following Saturday.


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