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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Radio Ga Ga

Check out BlogTalkRadio’s Frugal Friday. It’s a great show that focuses on “all things Linux and Open Source”. I have the honor of speaking on this week’s show. It is hosted by Ken Hess and Jason Perlow (Linux superstar who I’ve worked with in the past), and airs from 6:30-7:30 pm (eastern) on Friday evenings.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sign of the times?

I receive unsolicited resumes all the time, and I’ve yet to see one that really impressed me. As a matter of fact, not even a single email has yet lured me to open the attached resume.

Why is that?

It certainly isn’t through lack of purported “hard skills”

  • Generated 107% of $7.4 million quota in my first year with XXX
  • Closed many high-profile customers
  • One of the world’s best rainmakers
Nor is it lack of “schmooze tact”
  • Dear esteemed colleague
  • Anthony, you won’t be disappointed by what you read below
  • I’m the strategic sales ace you are looking for

I think I’ve seen and heard it all. Unfortunately, it misses the point.

Do I want rainmakers or sales aces? You bet. But, if you can’t blow me away with your first entree into me, then you really aren’t either of those.

What do employers really care about? Themselves and their businesses. So, while you may have generated a gazillion dollars in revenue for company XXX, tell me how that is relevant to me and my business. Show that you understand my challenges and directly correlate that to what you’ve done.

And, in this incredibly interconnected world in which we live, you have no excuse for not getting an introduction from someone who knows the employer. Who are they connected to in LinkedIn? What organizations do they belong to or what interests to they have? Find the overlap with your network and take it from there.

Are you following them on Twitter and working your way into that “circle”? When is that employer presenting their next webinar, and how can you ask the right questions there to get “noticed”?

Everyone I know is so inundated by email. There is no way you are going to cut through the clutter without it being extremely relevant to the reader.

So, to Mr. Strategic Sales Ace and Ms. Rainmaker, while you’ve succeeded in leading me to write this post, I doubt that was the outcome you were seeking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blood and Entrepreneurs

Ever heard of the Entrepreneurs Forum or the American Society of Inventors? I hadn’t until last night, when I spoke on a panel session at their monthly meeting held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Both are great organizations that I plan to get more involved with.

Our panel’s topic: Commercializing Your Intellectual Property. The session was moderated by Frank Taney of Buchanan Ingersoll (friend, and now famous lawyer for his unusual Second Life prosecution case) and I was joined on the panel by Adam Rosen (CEO of k-Technology Corp) and Marilyn Montross (VP at QVC).

So, how do you commercialize your IP, and what are some of the “tips of the trade”, so-to-speak? Below are a few of my talking points from last night’s engaging session.

Important factors to consider:

  • Understand what your core strengths are and find others who can help you with the other important pieces. Don’t try to do it all yourself – you’ll likely drive yourself crazy. There are plenty of online resources that can help.
  • Find good legal counsel. You don’t have to spend a lot to get basic guidance, and the best lawyers are very well connected.
  • Regarding patents, start the provisional route. It is far cheaper, and gives you time to really get your business going. BUT (and this is a big but), it’s probably best to have legal counsel help write your provisional. Why? Because if you improperly write a provisional application, it may be worthless. And, it is not too expensive having legal help with a provisional. I know a few firms that will do one for under $500.

Lessons learned (the hard way):
  • Don’t be too over-protective nor under-protective of your intellectual property. There’s a fine-line you need to walk there.
  • Just because you can patent something doesn’t mean you can make money from it – and not just because of market limitations, but because of legal issues.
  • If you have a “great” idea for which there is absolutely no competition, then be wary, be very wary.

Resources that might help:
  • uspto.gov is a must to learn who is doing what related to your (potential) invention. While reading patents can be incredibly boring, there are some great nuggets to be gleaned. I’ve yet to read someone else’s patent application that didn’t lead me to think of a potential “spin off” ideas.
  • Innocentive.com – great for people who want to create solutions for challenges that others pose – and make some money from it.
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) can be great resources. Lots of noise? Yes. Value of cutting through the noise and reaching lots of people very inexpensively? Priceless.
  • Great books: The Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki); The Adweek Copyrighting Handbook (Joe Sugarman); The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss – please note that I’m not a fan of the author or his self-aggrandizing methods, but there are some really good nuggets in that particular book).

Closing thoughts:
  • Good marketing trumps even great products.
  • Pay no attention to the “naysayers” – and there are plenty of them. Yes, you want to be sensitive to market trends, product viability, barriers to entry, and all those sorts of things. But at the end of the day, it will be your passion/drive coupled with your network that will get your through.
  • Baron Rothschild: “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” Well, there’s plenty of blood out there. Use this opportunity to make your mark.