Starting a Business

Kid's lemonade stand is a classic business.
The perfect business. Photo credit “The Citrus Report.”

Anyone can start a retail business.  Two words . . . Lemonade Stand!  Am I right?  All retail business is pretty simple, it’s exactly like your childhood project, just scaled up.  Open up for business with a popular product, in a location with some traffic and charge a fair price, badda-bing-badda-boom.  Let’s analyse a bit, let’s see, rent – zero, wages – zero, input costs – zero, advertising costs – zero, taxes – zero, profit margin – woohoo!!!

Wayne Huizenga made several fortunes consolidating businesses.  He first did it in garbage building Waste Management inc., he then did it in video rental building Blockbuster and then did it with Auto Nation.  Let’s take Huizenga’s template and consolidate the lemonade stand business . . . then we’ll do an IPO and be rich.

David Beckham’s Favorite

David Beckham former Manchester United star now with L.A.Galaxy,

I begin today by sharing a passage from David Beckham’s autobiography “Both Feet on the Ground.”  I first read this  book shortly after it was released.  I was taken by Beckham’s description of a particular goal and this passage has stayed with me.  He describes this as his favorite goal in a Manchester United shirt:

“We got a free-kick on the edge of the Real (Madrid) penalty area.  If I’d been picking and choosing, I might have wanted to be a yard or two further out.  The closer you are to goal, the quicker you need to get the ball up and then down again to beat both the wall and the keeper.  I’d practiced it tens of thousands of times on my own on a training field after everyone else had gone home.  Teaching my foot, my leg, the rest of my body how it felt when I got it right.  And learning how to make it right more and more often.”

It is accepted that Beckham is a talented soccer player but it’s interesting to understand what he has done to develop his skill to an elite level.  He talks about his training and practicing.  He likes practice as much as he likes games.  And a particular free-kick he has practiced “tens of thousand of times on my own on a training field after everyone else has gone home.”  He mentions others like Eric Cantona who was the super star of Manchester United when David came into the team.  He talks of the way Cantona’s practices.  Talent is not enough to lift you to the top.

Lance Armstrong in his books “It’s not About the Bike:My Journey Back to Life” and the follow up “Every Second Counts” you read about the incredible drive he has as he pushes himself to be absolutely certain in his own mind that he has endured more than any other rider and because he has endured beyond what any of them have he will prevail.  Hills the others have climbed once to know the hill, Armstrong does twice.  In weather conditions that would cause others to quit training he soldiers on.

I recently read about Dr. K. Anders Ericsson’s 10,000-Hour Rule.  Ericsson is a professor of Psychology at Florida State University and one of the world’s leading researchers on expertise.  He asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve extraordinary performance in almost anything.  This is based on 20 hours per week for 50 weeks per year for 10 years.  This rule is examined in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers:The Story of Success.”  When reading about this I thought back to this passage from Beckham’s book.  The learning from this concept is that talent alone will not get one there.  What are you doing after everyone else has gone home?

Guy Kawasaki’s Intrinsic Giving


Guy Kawasaki.

I just finished reading Guy Kawasaki’s book “Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.”  I my first encounter with Kawasaki was when I read “Ten Ways to use LinkedIn” on his blog How to Change the World.  He is an author, venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and former chief evangelist at Apple Computers.

This isn’t a review of the book, although it is a very good book and one I would recommend, rather a brief discussion about his thoughts on giving.  Guy talks about about building trust through giving.  In his discussion of giving he links the concept of reciprocity.  There are three forms reciprocity associated with the giving.  In the first form there is an expectation of receiving something in return.  In the second form it’s a case of “paying it forward.”  There is hope of receiving something in return but it is not explicit.  With the third form the giving is  for intrinsic reason with no expectation of receiving something in return.  Kawasaki says this is the purest form of reciprocity and this form “increases your trustworthiness the most and causes the most enchantment.”

In my experience with intrinsic giving, sometimes the recipient is uncomfortable, thinking that they are then expected to reciprocate.  I tell them they don’t need to do anything for me, if they wish to they can give to someone else.  This takes the tension and from the exchange and allows the recipient to receive and enjoy the gift.

I discover the effectiveness of this technique a number of years ago.  My wife and I were vacationing and spending a day at the Grand Canyon.  We met two women and started a conversation.  We learned they too were from from Canada.  They gave us tips of viewing spots.  This was challenging with low clouds blocking our view for large parts of the day.  At lunch time we got a table in a pub in the village.  As we enjoyed our lunch the two women entered in search of a table.  No tables were available so we invited them to join us.  We picked up the conversation and enjoyed our time together.  When the bills came my wife and I paid for the four of us.  Noticing their discomfort I used the technique which put us all at ease.  Some time later they contacted us and shared with us what they had done for someone else.  We were able to share in another gifting exchange.

I learned from my wife that giving can be beneficial for the giver.  Numerous studies have shown that giving benefits you emotionally and it’s good for your health.  A 2006 study by the American National Institute of Health showed that when you give to charities causes your brain to release endorphins producing a positive feeling called a “helper’s high.”  In the book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” by Stephen Post a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University giving shows health benefits in people with chronic illness.  Perhaps we should all practice a little intrinsic giving.