Wednesday, December 28, 2011

50 Cent interview with the Wall Street Journal... (10 Min Video)

A cornrow-less Curtis Jackson sits down to talk business with The Wall Street Journal. 50 Cent talks about SMS Audio, Street King, and the evolution of the music business.

Lao Tzu on control...

“Intelligent control appears as uncontrol or freedom.
      And for that reason it is generally intelligent control.
           Unintelligent control appears as external domination
                 And it is for that reason it is really unintelligent control
                     Intelligent control exerts influence without appearing to do so.
                           Unintelligent control tries to influence by making a show of force.”

You must play to win....

An excerpt from Entrepreneur turned VC, Mark Susters blog: Both Sides of the Table...

One attribute that I believe most VCs look for in entrepreneurs is competitiveness.  I know I do.  I like to work with people who hate to lose.  Anyone who has ever been around me when I’ve lost at anything I care about will tell you I’m not pleasant.  I’m not a poor loser at all.  It’s just that I stew on it.  I don’t recover easily.  I lose sleep.  If I have any angle of changing the outcome I will.  I replay things in my mind about why I lost and I try to correct my mistakes.  

I look for people who share this obsession about winning.  If you stumble on to a really good idea believe me it will get competitive really quickly.  It amazes me how quickly a modest success story gets replicated and any initial product / market advantages get narrowed.  You can’t accept simply ceding part of the market to someone else because it’s big.  You need to fight for every inch.  Every win.

The trait spills over from personal life to business and back again.  My wife finds it curious.  Family scrabble games are fun – but I still want to win.  We played against her parents and I was focused.  I wanted to take them down!  Poker night is social, but if I’m playing, it’s to take your money.   GuitarHero is seriously chilled out way to hang out with friends.  But even more so if my score is higher than yours.  I ran a marathon with my colleague in 2003 – I’m still bummed that he beat me even though he was clearly more athletic.  For me winning IS the fun.

I know that people who aren’t competitive always find competitive people slightly distasteful.  They feel that there’s something egalitarian about everybody getting a trophy.  They complain that trying to win at everything is in being over zealous and is unnecessary.  Maybe.  Anyway, I’m sure this will play out in the comments section – it won’t be the first time I’ve heard it.

It is what it is. But I want to work with people who thrive on winning.  I look for that fighting spirit in those that present to me. Entrepreneurs play to win and they take losing seriously.  Think Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have some sleepless nights about Twitter despite having more than 350 million users himself?  Think Yelp doesn’t wake up daily thinking about how to crush FourSquare?  Think Marc Benioff is content with being a billionaire?  I’m sure he seethes at any losses to Larry Ellison.

Steve Jobs is famously known for being obsessive about people not leaking Apple information prior to announcements (unless it’s intentional.)  It is rumored (and much debated) that Jobs dropped McGraw Hill (the book publisher) from any iPad announcements because their CEO went on CNBC the day before and talked about the iPad.  Certainly sounds plausible to me.  You don’t like leaks? Send a message and people will think twice next time.

leo the lipDon’t take it from me.  Take it from Leo “The Lip” – “nice guys finish last.”  Steve Jobs isn’t a “nice guy.”  Nor are Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Marc Benioff, Larry Ellison, Tom Siebel, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller or any number of people you’ll find who built empires.

I’m not looking for people to be mean and certainly not unethical.  Just people who play to win – every time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tough times are a reason to get serious...

An excerpt from The Trophy Generation by retail marketing leader Jordan Zimmerman ...

...These are extremely tough times, not only in the United States, but also in the rest of the world. Be assured that nobody asked for this, and that you are not the only ones who have been dealt some bad cards. Thank God that you are just beginning your careers, and that you have your youth and your energy as resources. If you make a point of feeling more than grateful, every single day, that you live in the Land of Opportunity (and you do!), you will have a fighting chance of making something of yourself.

Let me give you some perspective here. People who are bone-tired, who had the best intentions and who worked really hard for a very long time, have woken up to learn that everything, and I mean absolutely everything, that they had built up in terms of financial security was gone. People have lost homes. People have lost their jobs. They have lost their marriages. And they’ve lost their children. That’s the world you’re walking into. That’s reality. And yes, you’re right, that’s not fair.

Now, for some people, tough times are a reason to give up and just scream for help. These people are waiting for their uncle to arrange a job interview, or for the government to write a check, or for Mom and Dad to swoop in and fix everything, or for the winning lottery number to come up, or for their big break in reality TV. I hope and pray you’re not in that group.

For other people, tough times are a reason to get serious, to pay closer attention, to bring your game up a notch or three, to finally feel restless and dissatisfied enough with your surroundings to take MASSIVE ACTION and change your own world, because no one else is going to change it for you. I do hope you choose to be in that group.

And by the way, if you really do admire people like Mark Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, you should know that none of them were wait-to-see-what-happens kind of guys. During tough times, they all took their spot in that second group. They all got kicked in the balls. They all responded to adversity by taking action. So the word to write down in big letters here, and look at every day, is: PERSEVERE. You have dream again. You have to try again. You have to have a never-quit attitude.

One thing is certain. At some point, you are going to get sucker-punched, and it is going to hurt. It doesn’t matter whether or not the hit you took was “fair” – no one promised that it would be – but whether you get up off the floor. Even if you get knocked down 10 times, make damn sure you get up 11 times. Take action!

Once you learn to do that, once you start dusting yourself off and decide to start creating newer and better ways to win the next time around, do me a favor … don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the money. Focus on the relationships. Focus on who you can help. Focus on delivering value, and you will be on the right track. Remember that your self-worth should never, ever be tied to your net worth. They are two very different things … although if you want to survive and thrive in this world, you will need to build both...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Strategy 101 - The indirect over the direct approach...

“When, in the course of studying a long series of military campaigns, I first came to perceive the superiority of the indirect over the direct approach, I was looking  merely for light upon strategy.  With deepened reflection, however, I began to realize that the indirect approach had a much wider application- that it was a low of life in all spheres: a truth of philosophy.  Its fulfillment was seen to be the key to practical achievement in dealing with any problem where the human factor dominates and a conflict of will tends to spring from an underlying concern for all interests.  In all such cases, the direct assault of new ideas provokes a stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of producing  a change of outlook.  Conversation is achieved more easily and rapidly by unsuspected infiltration of a different idea or by an argument that turns the flank of instinctive opposition.  The indirect approach is as fundamental to the realm of politics as to the realm of sex.  In commerce, the suggestion that there is a bargain to be secured is far more important than any direct appeal to buy.  And in any sphere, it is proverbial that the surest way of gaining a superior’s acceptance of a new idea is to weaken resistance before attempting to overcome it; and the effect is best attained by drawing the other party out of his defenses.” – B. H. Liddell Hart  (Strategy)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pulling the trigger....

Eminem posed the question – “If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything that you have always wanted, one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?"

An excerpt from Mind of a Hustler (Source) 

...Now this post isn't about rap or rappers. It just goes to show that everyone recognizes that there are times in life where you make a decision to move and make moves or stay where you are and let the moment slip.

The challenge to this scenario, in grabbing this opportunity when it presents itself is that we don't usually see the opportunity until it has passed.

How many times have you been driving and look back just in time to see you have missed your freeway exit? Happens to me all the time (usually because I am on the phone or singing). I have my mind on other shit and I end up wasting time heading to the next exit to flip around to head back to the right exit. Once this happened to me driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I missed the 99/I-5 split. I had to double back. That minor mistake cost me an hour of lost time or 1/6th of the total trip time.

Instead of being on the freeway you are bumping through life. You are sweating the husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, parents or whoever. You have your head up your bosses ass to get a raise or your own trying to figure out how you are going to spend your weekend. You have your eyes crossed while trying to take a U-turn – whatever. You have so much going on that you forget where you are going. Sometimes you are so focused on where you are going that you miss the detour signs telling you that you are heading for a dead-end.

You have to be focused, but not too focused. You have to concentrate, but not so much that you block everything else out. You have to move quickly, but not so fast that you can’t make a turn if a dog runs out in front of you.

Your brain is powerful enough to take in a lot of information if you teach it to filter out the bullshit.

There are people around you who want you to fail. I have touched on this before. These are people who have their own motives. Sometimes their motives are even hidden from them. They don’t know they are sabotaging you. They tell you things like:

    * Hey, slow down and smell the roses.
    * All work and no play…
    * You are going to work yourself to death!

Are they right? Only you know for sure. You have made the decision to get on that road, put the keys in the ignition, and start the car and go. It is your foot on the accelerator. You determine how fast you want to go. The question is – how soon do you want to get there?

I like driving at night. People are out of my way. Roads are clear. I can go faster. But then I hear

    * But that’s when the drunk drivers are out!
    * But no one is on the road; you are more likely to get pulled over.
    * What if you fall asleep, crash or have an accident? No one will see you!

But for me, those are minor risks that I can prepare for. I can drive without speeding (too much). I can keep an eye on traffic – fewer people on the road allow me to be more maneuverable in avoiding accidents. I can take a nap before I drive away. I can have all my fluids and tires checked for safety. All those things that they say to stop me from going are relatively preventable. The gain is that I get to my destination 2 to 4 hours faster (depending on L.A. traffic).

The benefit outweighs the manageable risks.

So, I’m going to keep this one short. Here is my point. If you have something you want to do or somewhere you want to go then pull the trigger. Make sure you have extra gas in the tank. Make sure you check the tire pressure and fluids. Make sure you are rested and ready. Make sure you have your course plotted and planned and an alternate route in case there is trouble along the way. When you have done all that – smash on the accelerator.

It is the only way you are going to get where you want to go before everyone else, with time to spare....

Keep Hustling

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The four letters: JFDI... (Just F#%*^* Do It)...

An excerpt from Entrepreneur turned VC, Mark Susters blog: Both Sides of the Table...

...I had a picture in the office of my first company with the logo above and the capital letters JFDI.  (In case it’s not obvious it’s a play on the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.”)  I believe that being successful as an entrepreneur requires you to get lots of things done.  You are constantly faced with decisions and there is always incomplete information.  This paralyzes most people.  Not you.

Entrepreneurs make fast decisions and move forward knowing that at best 70% of their decisions are going to be right.  They move the ball forward every day.  They are quick to spot their mistakes and correct.  Good entrepreneurs can admit when their course of action was wrong and learn from it.  Good entrepreneurs are wrong often.  If you’re not then you’re not trying hard enough.  Good entrepreneurs have a penchant for doing vs. over-analyzing.  (obviously don’t read this as zero analysis)...

...Sometimes you need to break some eggs to get things done so if that’s what it takes I wanted my team to go for it and I wanted to symbolize that it was OK with me.  I would far rather have some messes to clean up than to never have them cross the line trying.

So I took on the motto JFDI to symbolize this.  And I think my team did a great job and rose to the occasion.  Maybe it helps that I love controversy and pushing the boundaries so people felt it was OK for them to do it as well.

Another side of JFDI is finding ways to get stuff done that seem impossible.  Entrepreneurs have a way of doing that. Getting suppliers to accept terms that they said they never normally agree, getting accepted to speak on a panel when the conference organizer initially said “no,” getting people to moonlight for you until you have the cash to bring them on board..

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Venture Capital for Dummies...

An excerpt from (Source)

When an investor buys a part of a company this is known as venture capital. Someone who invests money into a company that has high risk and a high growth rate is known as a venture capitalist. The investment time period usually ranges from 5 to 7 years. In order for the venture capitalists to receive a cash profit from the company he or she will publicly sell shares of the company or will receive a return on his or money when the company is sold.

Some venture capitalists ask to be seated on the director’s board rf may ask to be given a certain percentage of the equity that the company has. All venture capitalists expect to make a hefty return on any money he or she invests. A venture capitalist can demand a payment of owed money by demanding the company be sold, or by asking that his or her venture be returned, or by changing the terms of the original deal.


A type of capital venture investment that includes seed financing, start up financing and first stage financing is known as early stage financing. An inventor who wants to start up a new business is given a minute quantity of venture capital, which is known as seed financing. A venture capitalist will use this financing to develop a business plan, to construct a management team, and/or to implement market research strategies.

When a business is operated for less than a year and receives venture capital they are known to be receiving start up financing. This usually entails that their product has not been sold commercially, but with this type of venture capital they will become prepared to do so. When a business wants to carry on and enter into the public business area they receive first stage financing; they also receive this type of financing when they are wishing to increase their capital.

Expansion financing is also another type of venture capital investment. Within this type of venture capital investment are second and third stage financing. When a company is already up and going they receive the investment called second stage financing. Third stage financing is used when a business is planning to break even or become profitable in the near future. Bridge financing is also included in expansion financing. This type of financing is short term and an interest only investment.

Michael Jordan's Wisdom... (7 Min Compiled Video)

"Limits, like fears, are often an illusion." - Michael Jordan

Monday, December 12, 2011

The honest truth, 5 Questions with young self-made mogul Andrew Fashion...

Andrew Thompson (aka. Andrew Fashion) speaks with Hugo D. Aviles, in depth, on what it takes to be a young entrepreneur.

                                                         5 Question Interview

Would you ever settle for a nine to five?  or is the hustle of being self made the way to go?

As bad as it sounds, I would probably do illegal shit before I would do a nine to five.  I would rather become homeless than to go to a nine to five.  I have never had a nine to five or a regular job. Actually, I once worked at a computer shop when I was sixteen years old for about six months, that’s when I realized that it just wasn’t for me.  

Ambition and stubbornness are two traits that go hand and hand, as a innovator yourself, what mindset do you feel you need to have in this day of age to get past all the bullshit, and make it to the top?

I would say it’s definitely my persistence and stubbornness. I am not much of an astrological person but you know some of the girls that I have dated always pull up the astrological signs and bring up mine.  Sometimes I feel that shit is right on point, it’s crazy because it says that I’m stubborn and persistent and those are two traits that I see I have over everyone in my house, my friends, and mostly everyone I have ever met.   When I want to do something, no matter how long it takes, I will get it done, always.  If I want to get a company done, if I want to build a website, if I want to launch a new product, I am very very annoyingly persistent.  I will always get it done, and I will always get it done my way.

When it comes to raising venture capital from investors, friends, or family, to start a dream…What tricks of the trade would you advise today’s young Entrepreneurs coming up?

Raising venture capital is really tough. It took me..hmmmm…from the time I almost declared bankruptcy it took me a good solid, I said early a couple months, but honestly it took about 6 good months.  And that’s not a lot of time considering that I didn’t have a job and I had to hustle and do freelance work on the side in order to get help here and there.  It was really difficult, and I have seen this lot. With friends and partners I have met.  Seeking venture capital, a lot of people think you need a business plan and honestly, you do not need a business plan. You only really need a business plan if it’s some complicated complex project where you need to raise millions and millions of dollars.  I have seen this over and over again with successful entrepreneurs and friends. You need to hustle and go through every connection you have to seek investors.  I hit up my mom, my mother’s ex husband, my friends, my friends friends, I hit up everybody and at the end of the day I only found about five people.  So I decided to hit the Internet and do research.  I kept networking, and to tell you the truth. It was actually facebook that got me my investors.  I had about 1500 friends at the time, and it was through that, that it reached some investors attention.  Then I wrote a business summary, a bio, projections, how much money is needed, where the money is going. When I was going to pay them back, I still have all the documents still. But basically you need to write the guts, start networking, hustle, and you have to believe in the plan, and believe in the company, and most importantly…believe in yourself! You have to sell yourself, I might not seem like I’m a good salesman, but when your pitching your idea to raise money, you have to hustle.  You have to believe in yourself and be a salesman.  That’s all I did, and boom $150,000.00 six months later!

The key to success is simple…one needs Motivation (Hunger) and a Hustle (Plan of Action)..  What next?

I guess that’s the problem I see with a lot of people, is that a significant amount of them would come up with an idea, and they just want to do it. A lot of people come up to me with an idea telling me that they want to do this and they want to do that. But no one does there full due diligence, they never ever do their research. They never educate themselves; they just come up with an idea and try to work it. They don’t know if there is a market, if there is even money to be made in the business, how they’re going to get clients, they just start without any plan at all.  When I come up with an idea, I do all my research to see if its profitable, how I’m going to market it, what I’m going to name it.  You have to do your full due diligence.  I think that’s the problem with young entrepreneurs, is that they just jump in. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that you have to do your homework. You will save yourself a lot of time if you just do your research.

We once heard of a great quote that stated, “You have to make a million, than you have to lose a million, in order to keep a million.”  Do you believe this parable holds some truth?

Absolutely, not because I have lived it, but because I have seen it time and time again. It happened with my mother’s ex husband, and many famous millionaires.  I think everybody who has made a lot of money, has lost it.  I guess because it comes so fast or they just weren’t expecting it.  I’m not sure if it’s just destiny or that’s just how the whole world works, you know I think it’s just some type of test to see if you are supposed to be a person with that kind of money. To see if you were a person that even deserved it in the first place.  So I think it’s just a test.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The warrior and the statesman...

“The warrior and the statesman, like the skillful gambler, do not make their luck but prepare for it, attract it, and seem almost to determine their luck.  Not only are they unlike the fool and the coward, adept at making use of opportunities when these occur; they know furthermore how to take advantage, by means of precautions and wise measures, of such and such an opportunity of several at once.  If one thing happens, they win; if another, they are still the winners; the same circumstance often makes them win in a variety of ways.  These prudent men may be praised for their good fortune as well as their good management, and rewarded for their luck as well as for their merits. “ –  Jean Del La Bruyere

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners...

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through." - Ira Glass

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bruce Lee Wisdom and Philosophy...... (7Min Video)

Although Bruce Lee is best known as a martial artist, he also studied drama and philosophy. He was well-read and had an extensive library. His own books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are known for their philosophical assertions both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His eclectic philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge, and said that his chosen method of self-expression was martial arts.  (Source)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are you a "A" player?...

An excerpt from Anythings Possible: Thoughts on Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital by Eric Paley...

“The large company corporate world is filled with C players.  The term “Peter Principle” was coined to describe this phenomenon in which people in large companies are promoted exactly one pay grade beyond what they can competently do and then stay in that role for the rest of their careers.  Large companies thrive on inertia and the core job description of a large company employee is to keep that inertia going and do nothing to screw it up.  If last year’s top line grew 8%, the job is to grow it 8% again, not to figure out how to make a step function change and grow it 20%. In attempting to achieve that 20% step function change, there is high risk of a misstep that could lead to a decline in sales.  That’s simply unacceptable.

Large companies fire those who get F grades, because they are not at all productive.  They accept C players, because they are somewhat productive with guidance and B players are hard to find. It is very easy for a C player to seem moderately successful when progress is largely based on inertia.   Large corporations celebrate B players who can competently complete their job with minimum coaching and maintain inertia.  These are the heroes of large corporations. Innovation within a function is risky and can threaten inertia.

Large companies have very few A players.  A players don’t want to be at large companies because, more often than not, corporate bureaucracy and process not only fail to reward, but actually punish A players.  By putting the objectives ahead of process and politics, A players step on bureaucratic toes and don’t retreat based on false territorial claims.  Though there are exceptions, few large corporations create cultures that give A players room to win.  It’s not fun trying to innovate at a large company when co-workers feel that you’re threatening the core inertia on which the business is based.  They’ll say things like “that’s just not the way things work around here.”