Reader Mail: July/August 2010
The feature about Bob Moore [How I Did It, May] was an incredibly inspired story of classic American entrepreneurship. There was nothing about VC money or fancy Ivy League degrees -- just hard work, focus, a customer-centric attitude, and a wonderful outcome for the founder and his team. Thanks for sharing this one.
CEO, Axial Market
New York City
I Heart Tim O'Reilly
I've always respected Tim O'Reilly, but after reading the article about him in Inc. ["The Oracle," May], he got elevated to "guy crush" status. He is an icon and leading voice in technology, but what really struck me was his way of thinking. His life philosophy is one that I mirror, though we came to similar approaches from different angles. From his statements, I would say he believes in good karma and good business and has demonstrated an internal drive to make the world a better place. Though he has a $100 million company, his original mission was not to make money but "interesting work for interesting people." Profit was a side effect, not the primary goal.
Zen executive officer, ZenCEO.com
Thanks so much to the people who make me proud of my wonderful city ["Semper Youngstown," May]. After graduating from Ohio State University in March 2006, I came home to run my father's specialty butcher shop. I was pleased to realize I returned to a new Youngstown, one that was recognizing its mistakes. Instead of regrets, we are looking toward the future. Following in Tyler Clark and John Slanina's footsteps is a new batch of hopeful residents who are here to make this city great again.
Owner and president, Catullo Prime Meats
Mom and Me
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Johnny Cupcakes story [The Way I Work, May] and recalled fond memories of my mom unfailingly helping me out at 2 o'clock in the morning on early projects for my parking-lot maintenance company. She even helped me snap chalk lines before I painted the parking spaces. A mother's love is an incredible thing.
President, Vanguard ADA Systems
Hold the Jargon
I'm a longtime subscriber to Inc. Although 99 percent of the articles are way beyond the scope of my two small businesses, I still get a few tidbits of useful information out of each issue. Jason Fried's column about business writing [Get Real, May] is the first article I've ever cut out and pinned to my bulletin board. Thanks for making such a strong, clear argument for not running with the crowd and blathering on about full-service solutions and value-added services. I suspect that in many companies, there is a writer who tries be a little edgy and not follow the status quo. But, inevitably, when the rest of the team assembles, that writer is quickly pulled back into line. Thanks for giving me -- and a lot of other business writers, I bet -- the confidence to get out there and liven things up. Got to go now; I have lots of rewriting to do.
CEO, Birdhouse Spy Cam/S.M.A.R.T.S.
West Linn, Oregon
I loved Jason Fried's article about business writing. As a former copywriter for a Fortune 500 company, I praise Mr. Fried's optimism (and his business philosophy in general), and I stand with him in solidarity. The corporate approval process for words and design is long and arduous, and it has a more complicated chain of command than the U.S. military. Remember those great ads we all completed for our final projects in college? Ain't gonna fly in corporate America. But small companies can write interesting, clever, and fun copy precisely because they are small. The writer is most likely a man or woman of many hats. In many cases, it's one guy or gal sitting in a chair, writing some copy, proofreading it, then posting it on the business's webpage. With one click, off it goes into the world to take its place among fabulous copy from other small companies. When I was a copywriter, I dreamed of this kind of writerly freedom.
My husband, with whom I run a collection of sports websites, brought me Meg Hirshberg's article about maintaining hobbies outside of work [Balancing Acts, May] and asked me to read it. Later, we talked about it. He said something that floored me: Sometimes he feels like he is Meg and resents me if he has not done something that he wanted to do for himself. That was a lesson for me. Because Meg is a woman writing a "relationships" column, I assumed incorrectly that she was writing for other women. But her writing captures what's true for people whether they are male or female. My husband's response to the column gave me a new layer of understanding about how we experience relationships.
Tamara M. Wilson
COO, Braveheart Sports Network
Pelham, New Hampshire
Like Meg Hirshberg, I am married to an entrepreneur. I respect and appreciate her candor about the less pretty side of spousal-preneurship. Marriage is not as simple as storybooks lead us to believe. When you compound the usual marital challenges by pursuing big dreams, taking big risks, and figuring out how to build a global business while raising kids and running a household, it truly feels like you are "living the full catastrophe," as Meg wrote in her column. I would like to thank her for being courageous enough to speak the truth and share her thoughts.
Gilford, New Hampshire
Please Sign Here
As a former legal secretary and notary public, I must take exception to the negative critique of Jane Berentson's signature in a recent edition of Inc. [Mail, May]. If Ms. Berentson's printed name did not also appear on the document, the complaint might have merit; since it does, there is no ambiguity as to the name and, accordingly, the signature is entirely acceptable as it is. Regardless, there is no requirement, even on legal documents, that a signature be legible.
Palm Springs, California
When we wrote about Dave Hirschkop of Dave's Gourmet in January 2007, we asked if he was insane to reject all six rebranding recommendations made by the creative masterminds at Deskey, the product and packaging design experts who "brandnapped" his namesake hot sauce and offered a free marketing makeover for his products. It seems not. From 2007 to 2009, the company's sales increased from $2.5 million to $4 million, and Hirschkop expects revenue to reach $6 million this year. Leading the way: an expanded line of pasta sauces, notably a new butternut squash flavor. During the 2008 campaign for the White House, sales also got a boost from a line of presidential hot sauces.
Hirschkop did, however, take to heart one key Deskey criticism -- that he had become a "product junkie," adding new lines and products willy-nilly. Since then, Hirschkop has eliminated his Chile Today and Palette Fine Foods offerings. "I didn't see them going anywhere," he says. Come fall, Hirschkop will try to create buzz with a new pasta sauce. For now, he will say only this: "It's a sauce that you may not believe -- or even be able to afford." -- John Grossmann
iYogi, the remote tech-support service mentioned in "A Virtual IT Department" in the May issue, charges $140 a year for unlimited support on one computer.
The Innovation Depot, a Birmingham, Alabama, business incubator featured in "Where Great Ideas Are Born" in the May issue, is a partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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