What is a “real” CEO? WashPo Perspective – Trump wasn’t a real CEO.


The author of the piece argues that Trump’s experience running a family enterprise is not equivalent to running a publicly traded company and, thus, did not equip him with the skills to lead our country.

Is it the size of the company? the type of company? or, is it the type of person?

Artificial Intelligence and the Entrepreneur

I found this article fascinating because artificial intelligence has always been associated with large, expensive super computers and Fortune 500 companies. IBM’s Watson comes to mind, or learning networks we vaguely know exist at Google, Microsoft, and Adobe that replace human programmers.
But artificial intelligence, just like other innovations, have gotten cheaper and more widely available. That means the entrepreneur is affected. It’s become almost a cliche to say artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword, and that metaphor is accurate here.
Increasingly available artificial intelligence means that entrepreneurs can incorporate the technology into their business with ease, denying large institutional commercial enterprises an advantage they have long held due to economies of scale.
It also means that an entrepreneur’s work can be rendered obsolete.
I believe one thing is certain – entrepreneurs cannot ignore artificial intelligence as being something that affects only large enterprises any longer.  Entrepreneurship does not exist in a vacuum.

The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Start With ‘Noble Causes,’ John Sculley Says

In this article, John Sculley highlights the fact that many of the largest and most successful companies begin as noble causes that are shaped by huge customer problems. This article also mentions that companies that were standardly industrial companies such as GE, Intel and Cisco are looking to reshape their companies around smart cities, etc. in order to keep up with these “noble cause” companies that have been hugely successful. I thought this article provided an interesting look at how corporations may be shifting their focus in the near future.


Making Health and Wellness a Priority

Throughout law school, we’ve been hit with reminders of the importance to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle to boost success and productivity. I found this article and appreciated the various entrepreneurs’ take on striking their own balance.

Early in the semester, we discussed how many entrepreneurs can wind up spending more time to develop their ideas and businesses than those who decided to join the “traditional workforce.” To achieve entrepreneurial success, these individuals must endure. I appreciated this article’s emphasis on the importance of maintaining a balanced life style in the midst of said challenges (it emphasizes traditional routes to boost health and wellness (exercise, sleep), as well as other methods.)


3 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Lawyer

I thought that this article helps to see why entrepreneurs can put up with what they do not like about lawyers and why it is still of value to hire a lawyer.




3 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Lawyer

Kallen Diggs

Entrepreneurship has many paths. My entrepreneurial path may differ from yours. However, there are some factors that apply to all forms of entrepreneurship.

In most places around the world, a standard has been set for entrepreneurs. Most of us know the obvious things like having a website, social media presence and an email list. Any entrepreneur who tries to run a business without these things will not be taken seriously and will face problems building and maintaining a customer base.

Moreover, there are some “not so obvious things” like having a lawyer.

Many new entrepreneurs forgo the services of a lawyer because of their desire to run a lean business and optimize their small budget. Lawyers are often not cheap. So, many people believe that they can do just fine without one.

A lifestyle entrepreneur may argue that it would be a wasted expense to have a lawyer when their business is nothing more than a podcast that is monetized with promotional sponsor advertisements.

A serial entrepreneur may argue that it would be a wasted expense to have a lawyer when their business is nothing more than a portfolio of niche blogs that are monetized with affiliate marketing links.

Those are just a few of many examples, where entrepreneurs may argue that it may not be cost effective to hire a lawyer.

No one’s business is bulletproof. It only takes one unhappy customer to file a lawsuit against your company.

Surely, you can mitigate your chances of subjugating your business to a lawsuit. However, no company is immune. This is why it is pertinent to spend some time to search and interview lawyers before picking one to be your source of legal counsel.

Do not be the entrepreneur who is trying to look for a lawyer after their business has been sued. Not carefully selecting the right lawyer can increase your chances of losing the lawsuit.

If you are not still convinced that you need a lawyer, here are three reasons why every entrepreneur should have one.

1. What if your product contains a defect that makes it hazardous?

As an entrepreneur, it is a great feeling to create and sell a product in the most ethical manner. Moreover, it is expected that entrepreneurs go a step further and stand by their product in the event of a defect.

If you are a food manufacturer, it is your job to recall any products that could have been at risk of being contaminated with E. Coli or Salmonella. Failing to do so will endanger your customers to falling ill and bring on a lawsuit.

However, there are isolated incidents, where a customer will sue your business for a perfectly legitimate reason. Do you already have a lawyer standing by? Or will you be scrambling in trying to find a good lawyer to handle the case?

2. What if your employee becomes a victim of medical malpractice and sues your business?

As an entrepreneur, nothing more is satisfying than having a team of happy employees. Their happiness is contingent on the work experience that you provide them as their employer. Work benefits play a significant role in maintaining employee satisfaction.

You cannot control every tidbit, but you can mitigate problems by giving your employees the best that you can offer them. As an employer, you can opt to give your employees the best healthcare plan. Alternatively, you can try to cut costs by giving your employees a lackluster healthcare plan.

Cutting costs on your employees’ healthcare benefits could be one of the worst decisions for your business.

Employees expect their health to improve when they seek medical treatment. In some cases, the very opposite can happen. Did you mitigate your chances by offering your employees a healthcare plan from one of the best healthcare providers? Or were you so fixated on trying to save money?

If your employee feels that your thriftiness is more important than their well-being, they might not only sue the hospital for medical malpractice but also sue your business for subjugating them to a lackluster healthcare provider.

Do you already have a lawyer standing by? Or will you be scrambling in trying to find a good lawyer to handle the case?

3. What if your customer sues you for giving them bad professional advice?

As an entrepreneur, it is wise to have business insurance. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs run their business without obtaining an insurance plan.

Like product based businesses, it is just as important as a service based business to have a lawyer on standby.

Let’s say that you are a health coach. What if one of your clients implements your health advice and feels much worse before consulting with you? If their condition is severe enough, they may feel justified to file a lawsuit against you.

Do you already have a lawyer standing by? Or will you be scrambling in trying to find a good lawyer to handle the case?

In Conclusion

As an entrepreneur, it is in your best interest to spend some time searching to interview lawyers before picking one to be your source of legal counsel.

Contrary to popular belief, hiring a lawyer is quite affordable. You can choose to look for lawyers that work on no-win, no-fee arrangement. Henry Carus Associates is one of many law firms that offer no-win, no-fee arrangements, which means you do not pay anything unless some form of compensation has been delivered to you from the court case.

Do not be the entrepreneur who is trying to look for a lawyer after their business has been sued. Start looking for one now!


Snapchat Goes Public

I find the story of the entrepreneurs behind Snapchat extremely interesting, and given that Snapchat, Inc. is currently in the waiting period of their IPO (they’re expected to go effective tomorrow with sales of shares starting Thursday) I thought I’d draw some attention to the company. I’ll give a brief summary of how Snapchat got started but link to a more detailed article.

Snapchat was started by three friends at Stanford: Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy. Although Snapchat wasn’t their first idea and dive into entrepreneurialism (Spiegel and Murphy had previously started Future Freshman, LLC, which never caught on), it did begin with a eureka moment. Apparently, sometime in early 2011 Brown said “I wish these photos I am sending this girl would disappear,” and Snapchat was born.

The three of them began working on the project, originally called Picaboo, immediately that summer, with Spiegel as the CEO, Murphy as the CTO (and also in charge of programming the app), and Brown as the CMO. Picaboo didn’t exactly take off and Brown was eventually booted from young company over disagreements about equity splits and what order their names would appear on the technology patent. Sheesh.

Upon Brown’s removal, the two remaining entrepreneurs changed the name to Snapchat and soon users were flocking to the app. By April of 2012 they had grown to around 100,000 users. Since this influx Snapchat hasn’t looked back. I’ve taken the following graphic from their S-1 filing with the SEC to illustrate the evolution of Snapchat over the years.

I think it’s easy for Snapchat’s current users to forget how barebones the original app was. The things that seem so obvious and basic to us now, like stories and filters, started as huge innovations. Apparent in this timeline is also the company’s desire to slowly monetize its widely used app.

It’s really interesting to me that Snapchat still has an original founder, Evan Spiegel, at the helm. I’ve heard (perhaps in class) that the original founders of a company are rarely the ones to help it reach its full potential (thinking size and profitability). I imagine Spiegel, like any passionate entrepreneur, sees Snapchat as his baby, and that’s why he has been able to resist selling for huge amounts of cash (Facebook offered to buy Snapchat a few years ago for about $3 billion).

I’m interested to see how the IPO will affect Snapchat’s ability to grow and innovate as it has for many years.


Story of Snapchat’s roots: https://techcrunch.com/gallery/a-brief-history-of-snapchat/

Snapchat’s S—1 filing/initial prospectus:

Focus on the Purpose, not the Product

Here is a link to an interesting video on “how great leaders inspire action:”

In this TedTalk, Simon Sinek argues that most companies operate by thinking about “what” they sell, to “how” they sell it, to “why” it matters to the customer. Sinek references law firms as operating in this traditional manner: First, a law firm says what they do (law), how they do it (with the best lawyers), and why they do it (to perform for clients).

Sinek argues, however, that companies that follow this traditional path of operations do not reach their full potential. Instead, the most successful companies operate to the inverse of this “Golden Circle,” and first plan the broader “why” purpose of the company, then the “how,” then the “what.”

To demonstrate this path in action, Sinek cites to Apple. Stepping into Apple’s shoes, he states: “We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

By reversing the order of information, and starting with the “why” rather than the “what,” companies are able to reach more success by solidifying its overarching purpose. When the “how” and the “why” are set in stone, the “what”—the product—comes easily. For example, because Apple has solidified its mission, it can make a range of technological products successfully. It doesn’t matter whether Apple wants to sell computers, iPods, or headphones; all of their products are rooted in a broader purpose of simplicity and innovation, which appeals to the masses.

The overall theme can perhaps be summed up in one of Sinek’s lines: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy how you do it.”

His 18-minute TedTalk represents only a sliver of his work as a motivational speaker and marketing consultant. He launched a “Start With Why” leadership campaign specifically centered around the idea that people can inspire action if they focus on the “why.” Interestingly, these types of talks and leadership programs suggest that there are some entrepreneurial traits that can be learned, which ties into our previous class discussions.

Balancing Rebellion And Collaboration In Social Entrepreneurship

This article focuses on the need for rebellion in social entrepreneurship. The author is careful to clarify that “entrepreneurial rebellion should be done only when something about the current process or outcome needs to be improved.” The article also mentions that an entrepreneur can be rebellious while still working well with others, which includes: 1. Meaningful collaboration; 2. The ability to share failures; and 3. A network of support. I thought it was an interesting article that forced me to think of “rebellion” as not just a negative term, but also a positive that can be helpful in business.



Crowdfunding legal battles?


The suggested discussion post for this week included a question about how the law should treat crowdfunding opportunities. I found this article interesting because it lays out how one start-up,  “CrowdJustice” is using crowdfunding to give the public an opportunity to fund litigation for people and organizations pursuing different kinds of social legal battles.

Most interestingly, the article noted how “CrowdJustice” could change the landscape of how non-profits and public interest firms raise money. Often, these groups take out bank loans and most of them spend a significant amount of time fundraising.  The article made the point that  “CrowdJustice” could provide an alternative to people with limited resources but who want to pursue their varied causes. Turning to crowdfunding may be the answer.

Would the Repeal or Rollback of the ACA Mean an End to Some Entrepreneurial Ventures?

I found this article interesting as it talks about the ACA’s effect on a bunch of startups. Some startups mentioned, including Uber and Lyft, did not seem to me to be connected in anyway to the ACA but the article points out that anytime you have a fundamental change in policy based on fiscal principles, entrepreneurial opportunities are created. I think it would be interesting to see how the impending rollbacks affect, or not, these companies.