From the November 6, 2011 New York Times profile of Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and one of Silicon Valley's current golden gods of community building…
"Most people waste their time, so the question is, can a work-oriented site [LinkedIn] become extremely popular, when many people are not as invested in productivity?” --Joichi Ito, the director of M.I.T. Media Lab, who has known Mr. Hoffman for many years.
Great question Mr. Ito. It may surprise people to learn that most working Americans still put in a 40-hour workweek while successful entrepreneurs--those net worths between $1 million and $10 million--tend to work 70 hours a week. Productivity is most important to those who need to find greater efficiencies in their day. If that was what most Americans struggled with, there wouldn't be millions of people Tweeting about what they had for breakfast and Facebooking funny street signs.
What do you think? Do most people have too much time on their hands and is the proliferation of social media proof positive of this?
Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, Phat Farm, Argyle Culture, The Hip Hop Summit Action Network, Unirush Financial Services and much more, led 150 members of the Greater New York business owners community in a silent 5-minute meditation exercise at The Lighthouse International Theater on East 59th Street in Manhattan yesterday.
Known for his practice of transcendental meditation, Simmons discussed its role in creating his success as an entrepreneur during an hour-long conversation yesterday. For more than 25 years, Simmons has worked at the intersection of urban and mainstream culture but more recently, he's received attention for his spiritual practices as well as some of his controversial opinions about politics and the economy.
During our time together, Simmons discussed everything from his mantra to his latest business ideas, all as part of a rollicking discussion around the introduction of his book, Super Rich. I consider Simmons to be a real friend to entrepreneurs and I admire his openness and the generosity he showed with his time.
But, while I appreciate Russell Simmons as a great defender of the arts, artists and self-expression, I still think he can get his point across without cursing so much, dammit! Sorry Uncle Rush! Much love, Schiff. Peace. Out.
Russell Simmons--rap impresario and founder of Def Jams Records, Phat Farm and author of "Do You" has a life and career outlook that's made him one of the most successful entertainment moguls in history. His family is famous, too, with reality TV shows covering both Russell's family and his brother's family's (The Reverend Run) every move.
Now, with his new book, "Super Rich," Simmons opens up the kimono to share the outlook and philosophies that have guided his rise to the top. As his publisher says, Simmons offers a "stimulus package of consciousness that will never run dry."
Entrepreneurs think of themselves as "rule-breakers" but even seasoned business owners can find themselves falling under the spell of conventional wisdom. "It's not done that way" or "it's never been done that way" can be common fallbacks for anyone who comes up through an industry.
On October 19th, we invited two Inc. 5000 CEOs who have found great success by breaking rules in their own respective fields to share their experiences. We begin with a word of warning: the easiest thing to say about a rule-breaker in any industry is "that won't work in my industry." Maybe so, but be aware that our two presenters heard that plenty of times along the way as well.
Eric Albee of Bensalem, PA-based Aromatic Fusion, had a simple, but profound idea. What if he sold products to the clients of his clients? Albee was aware of opportunities to create, manufacture and sell products to his clients' clients that were, for a variety of reasons, not valued by his biggest customers. During our session, Albee walked through the process of introducing the idea to his large clients and the rules he set in place to sell products to his clients as well as his clients' clients.
The following challenge was put to the attendees: who are your clients' clients? How can you serve them? And how can you navigate the obstacles that such a strategy creates?
Our second presenter was George Bresler of B2B collections firm, GB Collects. Bresler's industry is known for its hard edge. "Most collections companies are in the revenge business," says Bresler. "At GB Collects, we pride ourselves on two things: great customer service for both clients and our clients debtors and helping our clients maintain good relations with their debtors so our clients can choose for themselves if they want to do business with them again"
At the core, Bresler made the decision to become a collections business that specialized in "customer intimacy," something that's not common to his industry. But it wasn't just lip service. His firm spends a lot more on customer service than his peers and he charges his clients more, too.
Our challenge to attendees: where can you move your business in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors, one for which you will be able to charge a premium?
When an entrepreneur is trying to flout conventional wisdom, there are no shortage of critics and naysayers. But that didn't stop our Inc. 5000 CEO panelists from re-writing the rules to fit their business model instead of the other way around. On October 19, 2011, we've invited the owners of two fast-growing companies to Inc. Magazine HQ to share with us their thought process for doing what's best for their companies, even when it's never been done before.
- How a decision to compete with his best clients created even greater partnerships and a whole new source of revenue for Eric Albee
- How George Bresler tossed out the rule book for compensating his sales-driven staff and got industry-shattering results.
This panel discussion is sponsored by Rothstein Kass and is for business owners and decision-makers. To register for our "How I Did It" series in New York City, click here.
All week, impromptu memorials have been popping up at Apple stores throughout America to commemorate the man who gave Apple life, Steve Jobs. Yesterday afternoon I witnessed one of these makeshift monuments at the location on Prince Street in Manhattan's SoHo. Post-it notes were lined up along the windows and apples with one symbolic bite taken out of them crowded the sidewalk.
Only a few blocks later, I bumped into streams of people from the much-talked-about “Occupy Wall Street” movement making their way up West Broadway from their weeks-long perch in lower Manhattan towards Washington Square Park.
While scenes like these are common in New York City, I was struck by the contradictions in these two very emotional expressions of loss and anxiety taking place just a few blocks away from each other: one memorializes a great entrepreneur who received billions in compensation for his successes and the other vilifies wealth creators, calling them the “1%” while launching a rhetorical class war.
It reminded me of those thought-provoking posters that popped up all over New York when I was in college which had the provocative headline, “How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?”. Designed, printed and tacked up by a graphic designer named Peter Cohen, the posters directed viewers to call a local homeless agency in order to help address conflicts regarding wealth and poverty in society.
Steve Jobs was notoriously hard-headed, obsessive and demanding of his employees but his methods led to the development of products that millions of people loved and turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company. This same drive and grit can be found in most of the entrepreneurs who run much smaller enterprises, from restaurants to small factories. And while not every successful entrepreneur is a billionaire, many of these individuals have created financial security for themselves and their families in spite of growing economic headwinds.
It’s true that wealth stratification is a problem in the U.S. It’s also true that this condition is corrosive to the social fabric of our country. But I don’t agree that it's all Washington or Wall Street’s fault. There are things we can do as individuals to create greater financial security for ourselves. For example, each of us can study great entrepreneurs and emulate the habits that made them successful.
In our book, The Influence of Affluence, my co-author and I identified consistent behaviors that could be found in the seven million “self-made” millionaire households we studied. Two of them were:
- Persevere through setbacks: the self-made millionaires we studied had a demonstrable habit of continuing on in the face of adversity. This habit was hardly evident in the middle-class households we studied.
- Work harder than every one else: the average self-made millionaire logged 75% more work hours in a week than the rest of the middle-class.
Steve Jobs believed deeply in the potential of the individual and he echoed our findings in his parting words played on the air countless times since his death: “stay hungry” and “your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”
If you find yourself standing outside of an Apple Store in the next few days, you may also discover some of the answers to the questions raised by “Occupy Wall Street.” Just look where Peter Cohen’s poster told us to look twenty years earlier. Those apples underfoot on the sidewalk—left in Steve Jobs’ memory—remind us that there’s no greater force for social change than the individual who pursues success on his or her own terms.
At this year's Inc. 5000 Conference, I had the distinct pleasure of running a debate between two great entrepreneurs: Phil Patrick of PharmaStrat and Jay Goltz of The Goltz Group. Our topic was "Are Entrepreneurs Too Crazy To Make Good CEOs" and both took their positions up with passion and great insight. Jay Goltz ("Yes, entreprenuers are too crazy") won the debate--which was decided by popular voting using SMS text voting--but Phil Patrick ("No, they're not") fought the good fight. Phil sent me this great snapshot of him (on the left with his pre-event boxing gloves on) and me (with my referee's bow tie) as I hosted the pre-event trash-talking conference tour.
Then, one of our newest Council Members, Terrence Kelleman of DynoMighty, sent me this cool YouTube video that he posted about the night of his big win. I think it does a great job of capturing the spirit of the Conference and the attendees. Way to go Dynomighty!
The party continues all year long here at Inc. Magazine's Business Owners Council...
Reflections on this year's Inc. 5000 Conference for The Council: Building a community, one winner at a time
This was my fourth year attending Inc. Magazine's Inc. 5000 Conference and I believe it was the best one yet. Not only were the speakers top-notch but the mood and the energy among the attendees were at their peak. Granted the first three took place between 2008 and 2010--not exactly the go-go years for the economy--but 2011 has been a difficult year as well and I was swept away by the optimism and excitement of the honorees.
What I enjoyed particularly about the conference was the chance to spend time with great business owners from the New York area, including the members of Inc. Business Owners Council--Greater New York chapter. Between our opening dinner at Rosa Mexicano--courtesy of Inc. Magazine--to the closing black-tie event where we enjoyed watching the members and a thousand of their peers be feted for their fantastic accomplishments over the past three years, I feel confident in saying that the ties among the NY-NJ-CT-PA Inc. community have never been stronger.
Congratulations, again, to Inc. Business Owners Council Members who joined us in Washington, D.C.
George Bresler, GB Collects
Peter Figueredo, NetX.com
Naomi Glaser, Valera Global
Rick Haig, Haig Service Corp.
Jodi and David Harouche, Multimedia Plus
Terrence Kelleman, Dynomighty.com
Chris Kramer, NetX.com
A.J. Lawrence, The JAR Group
Joseph Macaluso, The Macaluso Group
Colleen Molter, QED National Corp.
Seth Newman, Envelopes.com
Trent Oliver, Blue Telescope
Phil Patrick, PharmaStrat
Jason Slosberg, Legacy Converting, Inc.
Nick Uresin, Tuccini.com
- LinkedIn's Big Problem: Most People Waste Their Time
- Russell Simmons Silences 150 Entrepreneurs
- Hip-Hop Impresario Russell Simmons Visiting Inc. in Big Apple on Nov. 1
- Rule-Breaking CEOs
- How I Did It: Inc. 5000 CEOs Share Their Lessons in Live Panel in NYC
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