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Entrepreneurs: Spare a Prayer for Steve Jobs

My list of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet includes Steve Jobs. As co-founder and CEO of Apple, Jobs has led a revolution, and not just by one fluke product, but over the course of decades.

Regardless of whether you are Mac or PC, let’s acknowledge that iMac and OSX have helped revolutionize the world of personal computing. The iPod single-handedly turned the music industry on its head and introduced an entirely new way of doing things. The iPhone set the bar for the mobile device industry and most recently, the iPad is poised to revolutionize how we interact with media and print.

Jobs currently faces a bigger hurdle than deciding which industry to shake up next – and that is his health. As the face of Apple, the current furor over his health revolves around personal disclosure. Just how much is he expected to reveal about his well-being? There is fear that without Jobs, Apple loses direction, the stock plummets, and the empire comes crashing down.

I say give the man his privacy and trust that someone who has been able to build Apple and catapult the company to even greater heights, time and time again, was also smart and savvy enough to surround himself with people who can carry on the company in his absence. I wrote How They Did It because I disliked the idea that winning companies looked like black boxes to the outside world – that it was impossible to learn what actually caused their success, what challenges took place, and how the founders managed to do so well – but I draw the line at health and personal well being. Take a moment to put some good energy towards Steve Jobs.

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“My Father is Li Gang!”

This has become a rallying cry in China against censorship; it’s also a bitter joke about avoiding responsibility. It comes in the aftermath of a tragedy as reported in NYT. A drunk driver was speeding along and struck some bicyclists head on, killing a woman named Chen Xiaofeng. The driver attempted to get away, saying “my father is Li Gang!” The accused son’s father, Li Gang, is deputy police chief. Chinese censors quickly suppressed news of her death, but it’s the age of the Internet and news leaked out. So now most Chinese know, but the government continues to censor commentary. It is an ugly reminder of economic opportunity without political freedom…

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How They Did It Featured in Chicago Tribune

How They Did It and some of the company founders featured in the book appeared on November 18 in a Chicago Tribune article written by Melissa Harris.

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Jim Dolan in the News

In a particularly well-timed Election Day announcement, the Dolan Company revealed on Tuesday that they would be launching a joint venture with Telran, Inc to provide a 50-state, real-time Web-based legislative reporting and data service.  As the country acclimates to the new political landscape following the Midterms, LISA (Legislative Information Service of America) will “help lobbyists, corporate government affairs representatives, national associations and government agencies keep up with the action.” Jim Dolan is teaming up with Andy Fish, a veteran in providing legislative information.

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Are Smart Phones Making Phone Calls Obsolete?

Smart phones are becoming increasingly well equipped to handle the onslaught of social media activity we face daily. Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. Here are a few quick stats from the WSJ article: Y U Luv Texts, H8 Calls

  • 2/3 of adults sleep with their phones next to their bed
  • 84% of text-messaging adults say they send any receive texts “just to say hello”
  • 17% of cell-phone owning adults say they have physically bumped into a person or object while talking or texting
  • 23% of Americas have only a cellphone — and NO land line for making calls
  • The length of the average cellphone call FELL to 3.8 minutes, from just over 4 minutes a year ago.
  • Teens send and receive a total of 3,339 texts on average, per month
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Congratulations to Capella, InnerWorkings, Allscripts, & Morningstar for Making Forbes’ list of America’s 100 Best Small Companies

Forbes’ just released its list of America’s 100 Best Small Companies. Four companies stemming from founders interviewed in How They Did It made the list. The criteria for candidates include being publicly traded for at least a year, have between $5 million and $1 billion of annual revenue, and have a stock price of no lower than $5 a share. The rankings are based on sales growth, return on equity, and earnings growth in the past 12 months and over 5 years. See how the How They Did It portfolio companies measured up:

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Entrepreneur Mentoring

Talking with Kristine Kerr at Inc. magazine reminded me of attending the Inc. 500 conference in 2008 and hearing a great presentation on mentoring featuring Jay Goltz of Artist Frame Service, who acted as mentor to Rich Dennis and his company Nubian Heritage.

Inc. magazine and the Clinton Foundation’s Economic Opportunity Initiative (CEO) have joined forces in support of the Entrepreneur Mentoring Program (EMP). EMP facilitates “structured, high-impact mentoring relationships between some of the nation’s most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs running emerging growth companies in America’s inner cities.”

Over a nine month period, mentors work with entrepreneurs to help them develop a better understanding of their business and industry, become better leaders and make better decisions about the critical issues that face their company.

If there were 10,000 Jay Goltzes fueling the next generation of 10,000 entrepreneurs – I wonder what the results would be?

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Nice Little Slam on Blogging?

Kudos to the New Yorker for this cartoon:

Copyright C New Yorker 2010.

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Advanced Diamond Technologies Named One of the “Best Startups” in America

Congratulations to my friend Neil Kane of Advanced Diamond Technologies (ADT) for recently being named one of the best startups in America by Robert X. Cringely! ADT, the world leader in the development of diamond for industrial, electronics, energy and medical applications was chosen as one of 24 entrepreneurial companies out of over 400 to be showcased on Cringley’s Startup Tour – a 13-part cable television series celebrating entrepreneurship.

Cringely is currently touring the country documenting the state of tech innovation and entrepreneurship in the United States to prove that it doesn’t just happen in Silicon Valley! Catch Kane and the rest of the nominated companies when Startup Tour airs in early 2011.

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Michael Polsky Scores Big

Congratulations to Michael Polsky, founder of Invenergy Wind and featured company champion in How They Did It.

The news just came out: Detroit Energy, the utility subsidiary of DTE Energy Company (DTE) got regulatory approval for a 20-year renewable energy purchase contract. The Michigan Public Service Commission (“MPSC”) gave approval for the company to purchase 200 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from Invenergy Wind.

The project plans to use 125 wind turbines, installed across 30,000 acres, generating enough power to supply nearly 54,000 homes with renewable electricity. Using 1.6MW turbines supplied by GE, the facility is expected to begin operations in late 2011.

When we interviewed Michael for the book, he told me that “if you want to grow, you always stay ahead of your means.” With his level of drive, I surmise that this news is both a conclusion from a big bet and a new chapter for the company. He’s a rare individual in a utility-oriented industry who still owns most of the company and can finance and land a $1.1 billion deal.

Well done Michael.

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