When Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act (“JOBS Act”) last year, the rationale sounded right: some “good ideas” don’t come to market because entrepreneurs often lack the necessary connections to privately raise significant amounts of capital. If they could get such funding, the argument went, jobs would be created. And that’s a good thing.
So part of the JOBS Act now permits private firms, including start-ups, to seek equity investments without registering shares for sale, though only from accredited investors. But if implemented, other provisions of the law would allow entrepreneurs and others to use crowd sourcing or social media to troll for money from virtually any would-be private investor. And that’s not such a good thing.
No matter what business we’re in, most of us are swamped by emails, not to mention texts and instant messages. We’re always fighting to stay afloat against the rising flood waters. Yet it often seems that the more messages we answer, or the faster we reply,– the worse it gets.
I’ve been analyzing email use since the 1980s. Our increased accessibility from technology was first seen as a tremendous advantage, but it’s now a daily deluge. Through my research and the research of others, I’ve found that there are some things we all can do to handle all those messages more efficiently.
Entrepreneurs are serious players in today’s innovation economy, leaders who can generate wealth, create jobs, and transform the lives of customers and employees alike. And yet only a few women can be found among the entrepreneurial elite. When you examine the venture-capital money going to fund the Biogens and Akamais of tomorrow, only 7 percent is won by female entrepreneurs. Although it is true that fewer women overall found businesses — and those they create tend to be in industries that don’t appeal to venture capitalists (VCs) — research shows that other factors are at play.
Each time I organize panels for my students at the MIT Sloan School of Management, I listen as VCs list their investment criteria: market size, competitive advantage, customer need. But when pressed about the uncertainties inherent in their evaluation, the VCs inevitably fall back on their assessment of the company’s leaders. “I ask myself: Is this a person I want to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with,” one man told the class. “Are they the first person I think about when I get up in the morning?” asked another. This approach struck me more like a search for a soul mate than for a financial investment. In this process, female entrepreneurs fair poorly. Read More »
As a devoted Red Sox fan, I have a lot to celebrate today, and perhaps the nation has a lot to learn. The team’s worst to first transformation in a trying time might give us clues on how to rebuild our economy and democracy into something that again makes us stand tall and proud as one.
Here’s what I take away from this turnaround.
1. Distributed Leadership
The Red Sox owners and general manager reflected on and learned the right lesson from their failed effort to build a team around expensive stars and a flamboyant manager. Shedding and replacing them with talented players and a manager willing to and capable of building a team culture of mutual respect, shared leadership, and accountability paid off. David Ortiz said it well: “We probably don’t have the talent that we had in ’07 and ’04, but we have guys that are capable, stay focused, and do the little things. And when you win with a ball club like that, that’s special.” America’s CEOs might take note: Hire and invest in talented people who are also team players and leaders; pay them fairly and equitably. Don’t squander all your dollars on a few stars (including yourselves).
Wow. Imagine being invited to moderate a free-form discussion with the people who lived out the book “Bringing Down the House” and the movie “21.” It doesn’t get any better than this.
At Xconomy’s XSITE conference, I had the honor of moderating a reunion panel of the MIT Blackjack Team with two of the original members (Bill Kaplan and Jon Hirschtick) and two (Neelan Choksi and Semyon Dukach) who reconstituted the team in 1992. The team is known for its sophisticated card-counting techniques that outsmarted many casinos during the 1980s and 1990s.