Prompted by all the “Mr. Market” manic-depressive excitement about Facebook, tech, and the world at large, I’m thrilled to offer an exclusive excerpt from a new 81-page book: A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers from Warren E. Buffett.
In it, author Peter Bevelin distills hundreds of pages of annual reports and Berkshire’s An Owner’s Manual into bite-sized principles and key quotes. Of this lightweight handbook, Buffett himself says, “It sums up what Charlie and I have been saying over the years in annual reports and at annual meetings.”
For this post, I’ve chosen one of my favorite chapters, which relates to Buffett’s criteria for investments (and acquisitions): Business Characteristics: The Great, the Good, and the Gruesome… Read More
- I am working with an incredible new start-up called Quarterly.co. I’ll be sending out boxes of physical products I love to subscribers every three months (details coming soon). In addition, I’ll be sending my 4x/year packages to the “Influencer 100” — 100 friends of mine who all create tipping points.
These 100 include top tech “influencers” with audiences of 1-10+ million, star professional athletes, A-list Hollywood actors, “Midas List” venture capitalists, and much more. Nowhere else can you get the captive attention of people like Kevin Rose (tech) and Chase Jarvis (photography/entertainment) at once, just to name two.
2008 blast from the past: me, Mike Wallin, and Derek Sivers, the subject of this post. (Photo: A3maven)
[Total read time: 3-5 minutes.]
Derek Sivers is one of my favorite people. He is a programmer who lost his stage fright by doing more than 1,000 gigs as a circus ring leader (!!!).
He’s also a musician who founded CD Baby in 1998. As of December 2009, CD Baby had the following stats as the world’s largest online distributor of independent music:
- 300,000 artists
- 5,339,025 CDs sold online to customers
- $200,000,000+ paid directly to the artists
Derek sold the company in 2008, and he did so in a most unusual fashion (bolding mine):
Sivers sold CD Baby to Disc Makers in 2008 for what Sivers has reported to be $22 million, bequeathing, upon Sivers’ death, the principal to a charitable trust for music education.; while alive, according to Sivers, it “pays out 5% of its value per year to me.” Wikipedia
I know this to be true.
Stranger still, at its largest, Derek spent roughly four hours on CD Baby every six months! He had systematized everything to run without him. Derek is both more successful and more fulfilled because he never hesitates to challenge the status quo, to test assumptions. The below guest post from him illustrates this beautifully.
Without further ado, the most successful e-mail he ever wrote… Read More
The following article is a guest post by Chris Guillibeau, who’s traveled to 150+ countries and studied more micro-businesses than anyone I know. I hope you love this piece as much as I did. Enjoy!
Over the past several years, I’ve been on a quest to study micro-businesses—small operations (typically one person) that make $50,000 a year or more (often a lot more). The quest took me all over the world, at first to a large group of 1,500 “unexpected entrepreneurs” who volunteered to share their stories in detail.
I wanted to hear from all kinds of businesses–both offline and online–to decipher what made them so successful. How did they get started? What helped them grow into significant, reliable sources of income? How can you increase odds of success?
After much effort, a small team and I narrowed down the case studies to a subset of 70 that I focused on for final analysis. All 70 people had created freedom for themselves: new income and a completely new way of life. There are formulas.
Here is a highly-condensed list of 17 lessons learned… Read More
I’m often asked, “What does your typical day look like?”
In an attempt to answer this difficult question, I met up with Morgan Spurlock’s film crew for an episode of “A Day In The Life.” The full Friday we shot (I reserve Fridays for in-person meetings) reiterates a point I’ve driven home before: The 4-Hour Workweek is, and always has been, about using time optimally, not being idle.
It also shows how much I love my POS VW Golf, which is having its 10th birthday soon.
To clarify the intro, here’s a mostly complete list of start-ups I advise and have invested in:
Would you like to work together? If so, watch the “Advise This!” video below and tell me about your company in the comments, ideally in 200 words or fewer. Stats are always helpful.
Look forward to checking it out. In the meantime, I have to wrap up The 4-Hour Chef!
It’s shaping up to be a fun one…
——- Odds and Ends:
WellnessFX Competition – Would you like to spend 30 minutes with me? I’d love to learn what you’re up to and see if I can help. WellnessFX, featured in the above episode, is sponsoring a giveaway for six 30-minute slots. Click here to learn more.
SXSW – “Advise This” Panel – So, what do start-up “advisors” do, exactly? How do you recruit A-listers to your cause? Or, better yet, how do you assemble and leverage the *right* team? In the below panel, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Conrad, JR Johnson, Chase Charvis, and I discuss the relationships between founders, investors, and advisors in start-ups. You’ll recognize the now familiar “14 minutes into my 15 minutes…,” which I say to keep my head from getting too damn big. It’s a Seneca thing:
Chad Mureta runs his seven-figure app business from his iPhone. (Photo: Jorge Quinteros).
I first met Chad Mureta in Napa Valley in 2011.
Two years prior, he had been in a horrible car accident. He’d lost control of his truck in at attempt to avoid a deer, hit a median, and flipped four times, nearly destroying his dominant arm in the wreckage.
While in the hospital for a lengthy recovery, a friend gave him an article about the app market. Shortly thereafter, Chad began designing and developing apps. His results?
“In just over two years, I’ve created and sold three app companies that have generated millions in revenue. Two months after launching my first company, one of my apps averaged $30,000 a month in profit. In December of 2010, the company’s monthly income had reached $120,000. In all, I’ve developed more than 40 apps and have had more than 35 million app downloads across the globe. Over 90 percent of my apps were successful and made money.”
After finishing rehab, Chad was able to leave his real estate company, where he’d been working 70 hours a week, to run his app business from his iPhone… in less than 5 hours per week.
“Apps” are the new, new thing, thanks to major successes like Draw Something (bought by Zynga for $210 million) and Instagram (bought by Facebook for $1 billion), among others. But for all the hype and promise, few people actually know how to create something that gets traction.
In this post, Chad will discuss his step-by-step formula for rapid app development and sales optimization. It covers real-world case studies and the details you usually don’t see: early prototype sketches, screenshots, how to code if you don’t know how to code, and much more.
Last but not least, don’t miss the competition at the end. If you’ve ever thought “I should make an app that…,” this one is for you… Read More
Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify. How did they turn a $100,000 prize into $12,000,000 in transactions?
In the world of magazine articles, one of my all-time favorite headlines is “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta” from the MIT Technology Review, a feature about billionaire programmer, Charles Simonyi. Charles designed Microsoft Office and is outstanding at looking at programming as different layers of abstraction.
How can we raise our perspective from 5,000 feet to 30,000 feet to learn a few things? This post will do that with competitions.
Today, Shopify, a start-up I have advised since 2009, announced the winners of their Build-a-Business Competition, featuring a grand prize of $100,000 cash. Winners were determined by combining their two highest-revenue months in an 8-month competition window.
I want this post to show two things, and the second is where meta comes in:
1) How the competition winners won and key lessons learned in taking their products from ideas to profitability. This includes manufacturing, marketing, PR, and just about everything in between. I’ve looked at these types of lessons before.
2) How Shopify has used these competitions to build their own business several-fold and cross the chasm from early-adopter to mainstream. This is something I’ve never written about… Read More
Peter Diamandis explaining X PRIZE economics. (Photo: Hubert Burda)
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, and co-Founder and Chairman of the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley based institution partnered with NASA, Google, Autodesk and Nokia. Dr. Diamandis attended MIT, where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D.
He’s no underachiever.
I’ve known Peter for several years, both as a friend and as advising faculty at Singularity University. He is known for being incredibly resourceful. And, true as this may be, it’s his ability to teach resourcefulness that impresses me most… Read More
Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).
Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.
We’ve shared many glasses of wine together. He doesn’t know what I’m about to tell you, but it’s true (Hi, Chip!). When we first met, and after reading his first book on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I wondered “Is this Chip dude for real? Implementing self-actualization in a company?!?” My curiosity drove me to visit a few of his hotels, including Hotel Vitale, where I eventually concluded: these are the happiest employees I’ve ever met.
He has figured out what makes people tick.
The following post is a guest post by Chip and based on his new book, Emotional Equations. Be sure to read to the end, as there is a chance to win an expense-paid trip to SF to spend an entire day training with him.
Deal-making? Empire building? Self-fulfillment? He’s your guy.
Happy New Year, all! I’ll be putting up a “Lessons learned in 2011″ post soon. In the meantime, here is a taste of things to come.
I can come across as anal retentive, even severely Monk-ish. One reason for the madness: with rare exceptions, I’ve come to believe that how we do anything is how we do everything.
I’m not alone.
The following is a short excerpt from The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, also reprinted by Tehelka magazine in India. In it, we learn the logic of David Lee Roth’s famous obsession with brown M&M’s:
Listening to the radio, I heard the story behind rocker David Lee Roth’s notorious insistence that Van Halen’s contracts with concert promoters contain a clause specifying that a bowl of M&M’s has to be provided backstage, but with every single brown candy removed, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation to the band. And at least once, Van Halen followed through, peremptorily cancelling a show in Colorado when Roth found some brown M&M’s in his dressing room. This turned out to be, however, not another example of the insane demands of power-mad celebrities but an ingenious ruse.
As Roth explained in his memoir, Crazy from the Heat, “Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, thirdlevel markets.
We’d pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move thegear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.” So just as a little test, buried somewhere in the middle of the rider, would be article 126, the no-brown-M&M’s clause. “When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” he wrote, “well, we’d line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error… Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.” These weren’t trifles, the radio story pointed out. The mistakes could be lifethreatening. In Colorado, the band found the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements and the staging would have fallen through the arena
Do you have any similar tests that you’ve found helpful in business, hiring, life, or love?