Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I'm reading this week

I'm reading two books right now Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki and How The Might Fall by Jim Collins. It is like Yin and Yang, I read a chapter and switch. Both books are small, big pamphlets really. The text is big, the ideas are straight forward.

From the Amazon reviews -

Kawasaki argues that in business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want but to bring about a voluntary, enduring, and delightful change in other people. By enlisting their own goals and desires, by being likable and trustworthy, and by framing a cause that others can embrace, you can change hearts, minds, and actions.

In How the Mighty Fall, Collins confronts these questions, offering leaders the well-founded hope that they can learn how to stave off decline and, if they find themselves falling, reverse their course. Collins' research project—more than four years in duration—uncovered five step-wise stages of decline:

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

I'm thinking about Carbondale and SIU while I read. Where is SIU on Collin's 5 Stage scale? Number 4? Yes, Collins does write about what to do to claw your way back to healthy. Stage 1 - Morris expands to multi-campus system. Stage 2 - U of I has a great physics department, we should try to match them. Throw away the 4 year Voc Tech programs, we are a real university now! Stage 3 - What we worry? I may be seen as negative, but you will not see me denying the risk of doing business.

When thinking about Enchantment. Those big Halloween parties in Carbondale provided some of that. I wonder what SIU can do to get the Enchantment back? Graduating students that know something, would be a good start to enchant the business community.

I wonder if the leadership at SIU is reading Collins? If I knew them, I would send them a copy. Anyone else reading these little gems?


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Generation Y Combinator

I have been sitting around and thinking about my time in Carbondale. It was a total failure. I tried to do what I had experience and been successful doing. The tech start up, VC, Angel Investor, fast growth thing, that has been so successful, in the few population centers in the US. What a bust, nothing in invest in, nothing really started, full stop.

Now, I did work with the Dunn-Richman people and started that business plan contest. It was seen as a success and it has spread through the state. I'm not certain that it isn't a bust too? Yes, some companies/people have been helped, but nothing has really emerged in Southern Illinois that has worked.

Let me suggest that a company with a bad idea, but hard working founders, is better than a company with a great idea, but founders who don't work. I can see taking the business plan contest and economic development in a new direction. Toward seed and very early stage investment in small companies, to allow them to get an initial product, working demo, or other showpiece start up item into a form that people can see and touch. Then you have a fighting chance to get the money you need, from investors or banks.

Here is an article from Wired Magazine that has a Silicon Valley version of this idea. I don't think the ideas in the article can work in Southern Illinois, but there is a thread of truth that is worth trying.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Students not learning college?

I have written about this many times in this space over the years. The AP press article about a new book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses." Thank goodness my oldest is going to a real school and having to work hard or flunk out. Just think, only 25 years ago, SIU was rigorous enough to flunk out students.

You should read the article and send a copy to your friends in higher education, and then start talking about it. If you haven't seen the WSJ article on the Chinese Mothers, that is worth a look too.