Start Up Blog

Bill vs Gerry

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 17, 2011

With great wealth comes great responsibility. The key word I’d use to describe this is ‘legacy’. When entrepreneurs become successful financially, then I think it makes sense to leave a legacy which creates pride beyond money. Often this comes in the form of the business that has been built. A footprint of good stuff the business created – which is the source of the original monetary rewards. Great entrepreneurs go beyond their business and create value for society.

What successful people do after they are financially rewarded is more important than what they did in order to arrive.

So let’s consider the tale of two billionaires. One from Australia and one from the USA. Granted the USA version is much wealthier, but when we are talking billions, I think it matters not.

Billionaire 1 from the USA: Bill Gates. No introduction needed. Gates has made The Giving Pledge to donate over half of his wealth to charity. He has given more than $28 billion to charity and focuses the majority of his efforts fighting poverty and disease in 3rd world countries.

Billionaire 2 from Australia: Gerry Harvey. Retailing magnate known for having strong opinions and doing his own voice overs for his radio and TV advertising. Sure his industry is changing (Just like Microsoft is under siege from web based software platforms) but rather than being happy he’s a billionaire and doing some good, he’s investing his wealth and energy into lobbying the government to change GST tax law thwart his competitive threats.

Despite the fact the GST is not the reason people are taking their shopping on line, Gerry has really lacked the decorum and perspective that should accompany a billionaire. Sure, Bill has had his fair share of questionable tactics in business, but he has never cried poor. In some ways, it makes me embarrassed to be Australian when our business stalwarts are showing such a lack of leadership in society.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, but I can’t help but think that it comes down to responsible leadership and legacy. If I’m ever fortunate enough to make one….(a fortune that is)… please remind me of this blog post.

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Obey your hunch – Leo Burnett

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 5, 2011

I happened upon a great quote today from revered Ad Man Leo Burnett which is probably more appropriate for entrepreneurs than advertisers:

“Steep yourself in your subject, work like hell, and above all, love honor and obey your hunches.”

Hunches matter. In startup land we are not in the business of research or satisfying a majority. Rather, we are in the business of sensing a shift and inspiring a minority.

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How to decide

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 19, 2010

A colleague sent me this quote that I just had to share right here on startup blog. Henri Federic Albert said:

“The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.”

And that is what we must learn to deal with in growth businesses – uncertainty. Our ability to decide based on a intuition and our personal world view is becoming a rare asset. It’s what we must move towards in a world full of data, but very little meaning. The other benefit decisions give us is real world feedback. If we get it wrong we can cross it off the list and move onto the next idea.

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Worldometers are great

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 14, 2010

I’m really loving the worldometers website. It’s a list of global statistics which are updated in real time

Not only is it a very interesting, but it is a terrific resource for entrepreneurs and marketers alike. No matter what your business you could grab some statistics from it to open the mind of your audience in a presentation. For example:

If in the distribution, health, food business we could present this statistic:

Undernourished people in the world = 1,026,904,563

Overweight people in the world = 1,153,103,026

Which shows that there ‘is’ enough food int he world, it’s just in the wrong places. It’s a distribution issue.

If in the eco energy, or environment industry we could share the following:

Energy used worldwide today = 422,173,999 (MWh)

Solor energy striking the earth today = 39,886,999,999 (MWh)

Showing that we have the 40x the natural resources needed, we just need to harness it.

In fact, the way we could use these statistics is limited only to our imagination. And when we are presenting to audiences, it’s their imagination that we should really be trying to inspire.

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When we get big

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 1, 2010

There are many things we’ll implement when we get big enough. When our footprint is big enough to deserve the investment of the bigger, game changing idea. When we achieve X, we’ll implement Y.

Maybe we ought implement Y now and skip X altogether?

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Seagull Management

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 8, 2010

I heard a great new (old?) terminology the other day called “Seagull Management”

Fly in, shit over everything, steal any hot chips or good food and fly away.


Of course all the other seagulls fight over the food that was stolen in the first instance. It’s an intersting idea we see in many corporate scenarios, less often in start ups.

Here’s an alternative idea “Koala Management”

Give birth to new things, put them on your back while you teach them to navigate the world, nurture them until they are strong enough to stand on their own two feet (four claws?).

No wonder seagulls have such a bad name, where Koalas are so loveable.

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Kevin Rudd & getting stuff done

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 24, 2010

As most of you will know former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was ousted this morning by his deputy Ms Julia Gillard.

It was a whirlwind event that seemed to start and finish within 24 hours. Though, upon deeper consideration the evidence of such an event was mounting. During the media frenzy last night I made a tweet which is full of relevance for this blog and every entrepreneur. I thought I’d share it below.

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The paradox of leadership

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 18, 2009

In large companies there is a paradox of leadership. The paradox is closely related to the fact that

‘The skills that help someone get to a leadership position, are the opposite of the skills required once the person arrives.’

Most often employees and decision makers are stooged by the person self promoting, than the person who does the real leadership stuff. In large corporates the sycophants usually win, not the leaders.

In startup land we have the opportunity to lead others because management isn’t holding us back from leading. What we must do is remember all the bad managers we had because of the ‘Paradox of Leadership’ and not be like them.

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Traffic Directors

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 14, 2009

There is nothing less valuable in startup world than people telling you what to do, while they are doing very little themselves.

Traffic Directors I call them.

These days information and ideas are cheap. The thing of great value is when people start and finish projects. It’s so valuable simply because it’s so rare. In fact that’s true leadership.

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Chief Mojo Officer

Chatting with Chris Mander from docolo.com and he came up with an awesome idea – which every business should have.

The Chief Mojo Officer, or the CMO.

Sure, I asked him what they did and here’s what he told me: (with some embellishment)

“Firstly you have to believe in mojo. If you don’t believe in mojo, then forget it. If you do, the CMO is in charge of general “Vibe Strategy”. The CMO has to make sure that the ‘vibe’ is right. There are no real quantitative measurements for mojo – you can just feel it. The CMO is the type of dude who can just feel it. They’ll know when it’s out of whack. The CMO is in charge of things which are nebulous, but actually matter. When the CMO has the general vibe grooving, the mojo is right, and revenue happens.”

Good news for startups with small staff is that we don’t have to wait for the employee head count to justify a new CMO. We can  and should be doing it anyway. It’s our job!

But when you make it, I reckon it would be the best investment any company could ever make. 

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