Monday, May 30, 2011

Many of The Best Entrepreneurs Started After 40

Picture: Shutterstock
Some myths have to be dissolved. Fast. Like „the 40+ are too old for starting their business“. New business owner age cannot be the decisive factor for predicting any business success, similarly as it should not be gender or race. Not just in the IT/Internet sphere, but overall. Ageism campaigns do not result in a good business discussion, they just widen the inter-generational gap.

Adeo Ressi (39), the founder of The Founder Institute and (who himself started first Internet business at the age of 22), has had enough of reading recent articles, proclaiming that „25 is the peak age for entrepreneurship“. He published in TechCrunch thorough data driven response, observing e.g. that: „It does not take but one minute to look around the world and prove any thesis of a peak tech founder age incorrect. There are countless entrepreneurs over the age of 30, including Reid Hoffman (age 35 in 2002), Evan Williams of Twitter (age 35 in 2007), Mark Pincus of Zynga (age 41 in 2007), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post (age 54 in 2005), among many others.“

“In some cases, older entrepreneurs paired up with the younger founders, like Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both age 25 in 1998, and Eric Schmidt was age 46 in 2001). In other cases, more successful clones were launched by older entrepreneurs, like Amazon (Jeff Bezos was age 30 in 1994). And, many young founders were pushed out or sidelined for more seasoned leaders, like with PayPal (Peter Thiel took over from younger founders when he was age 31 in 1998)."

There is no best age to start a business. Opportunity is what is needed. As we grow older, we simply trade off one set of advantages for another. There will continue to be stories of „older entrepreneurs“ who have been able to drive step change innovation while thousands of youngsters copied them. As well as „American dream“ hero stories of young undergraduates who dropped the university to become multi-billionaires (like Apple´s Steve Job did after one semester at the age of 18).  As long as we are able to identify in these real life stories the victories of great business idea, of personality traits, of perseverance and passion to change the world for the better, the age will not matter, neither for the critics, nor for the investors.

Entrepreneurship may not be actively pursued by many people. It comes with the right opportunity when a person is ready to seize it. The readiness of the market has to match entrepreneur´s visions, missions, abilities, skills, personal traits and timing.

Entrepreneurship may not be for everyone. You either have a passion and courage to drive a business of your own or you don´t. The discriminator however should not be the age. Especially when you are not yet retired.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Business Women Don´t Help Other Female Up?

Photo. Shutterstock
"We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women´s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her recent May speech to Barnard´s Graduates.

To achieve that goal, isn´t it about the highest time for business women to stop undermining each other and beginning to think of other females as allies, to build each other up instead of tear selves down?

Isn´t it the highest time to build professionally supporting women role models, people can talk positively about, unlike the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the Republican Senate candidate in California, who did not get it during a 2010 TV interview, and instead of attacking her female opponent Boxer´s political record, she went after the senator´s hair style - thinking her microphone was off.

Why on Earth are the highly educated, hard-working, intelligent women so scared of their female colleagues? Why are they sabotaging careers of each other? Why are they not supporting one another in business as much as men do?

According to Susan Shapiro Barash, teacher of gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College and author of several books - e.g. "Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth About Women and Rivalry", "It´s a dirty little secret among women that we don´t support one another." In the predominantly male society, women have the scarcity feeling, that there´s not enough to go around for them. This perception leads to jelausy and resentment among women fighting for a smaller piece of the pie. "If you´re the gender that yields the power, you don´t have to feel that way," Barash said.

Her research has revealed the age aspect as well: "I found that women would not befriend women who were eight or 10 years younger than them because of the competition. But someone who´s 28, if they were 58, they wouldn´t see that threat because they were going to be gone by the time that woman rose through the ranks."

For a start it would be enough if women stopped focusing on their gender and rather looked on the bigger picture, visualizing that there is plenty of abundance and possibilities for all. Feeling more confident in themselves and in their abilities, not minding to ask for a favor, being able to forgive and handle rejection as well as being able to offer an extended hand to other women in need.

Even though there are now already few dosens of women who actively promote, support and develop other female, we still have a long way to go in general. There is a chance for us all to do something more than we do at present. Leadership starts with each of us.

And if you look for role models in supporting others women up - read my blog about Sheryl Sandberg: Google Made Her Rich, Facebook Made Her A legend.

P.S. Note: Evolution of women through ages is well explained in Terry Prone´s book   "What Every Working Women Should Know .. .And Do  "  in which she - among other topics - also investigates the history of lost trust among women. She has made an interesting link between women rivalry and the 15th - 16th century´s movement against witchcraft during which approximately one million women across Europe were executed based on the testimony of other women who were under the Church´s grace. And because the characteristics of so-called witches i.e. infidelity, ambition and lust (exceptional beauty was dangerous.) were vague and hard to prove, they were fatal to many women, even though perfectly acceptable in a man. The Prone´s learning is that  "A man may kill you, but a woman may betray you to him. "

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jaromir Jagr Gets The Point More Than Politicians

Jaromir Jagr / Foto: CTK
„I am very happy  that we could - thanks to our achievements - give away great delight to all people. Only few of us can in their lifetime experience the feeling that they are able within two weeks to shift people´s opinions, that they are able to help others to forget their problems. Our fans have vice versa helped us. It is an exchange of energies from success,“ said Jagr in an interview with after the official end of the Worldwide Ice-hockey Championship.

Jaromir Jagr (39) has definitely gone a long way since the beginning of his career to understand key principles of success, of giving and receiving, of influencing and inspiring masses as well as of a need for a vision and personal humbleness in its implementation.

George Sheenan statement that „Success means having the courage, the determination and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be“, needs to be enriched for the link between the individual success and its benefits for others, be it the sports´s team, the fans, the nation or the society as a whole.

The winning itself will not bring long lasting personal satisfaction, if it is not linked to helping other people as well. If it is not in the interest of a wider majority, who can in the end magnify this victory as well.

We cannot be selfish if we want to shift people´s opinions for a good cause. We cannot be selfish if we want to achieve true success - build a better world for our children and grandchildren, if we want to know that even one life has breathed easier because of us.

We cannot miss the great opportunity to define what is the world we want to create for others and to start to act now to take control of our future instead of letting the future to control us.

 „Success is doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, the way it ought to be done, whether you want to do it or not.“ (anonymous).

Unless we act, we become vulnerable. Now we have a choice, but will we have it also in future?

P.S. I would wish these thoughts resonated with majority of our Czech politicians, with the Czech business leaders and entrepreneurs. I would also wish the people who decided to pursue life philosophy of „I want to do in my life what I enjoy myself. Whenever I achieve this state of mind I will consider myself successful“ would add the social dimension to their thoughts as well, or there will be nobody left wanting to fight for the better future of the Czech nation as such.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meet the Ex F-1 David Coulthard, the Brand Ambassador

Feeling still young and sexy David Coulthard (40) did not want to leave the lime-light. Quitting the Formula One racing he refused to be placed into the box of "sport´s pensioner", not as much desired role for somebody who loved high doses of adrenalin every day.

David Coulthard decided to capitalize on the relationships he had with brand owners from his Formula One times. Besides his work as a commentator for BBC, adviser for Red Bull and as a DTM racer, David travels the World to spread the passion for brands he loves. David´s work is similar to the brand evangelists. He wants to see his favorites to succeed. He is not ressuring customers to buy a product, he stands up there on the stage to share with his fellow customers passion for his life style as well as for his favorite brands. He is empowered to spread the message about the brand, within his space.

Using Brand Ambassadors for word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new. Endorsement from a celebrity has been long-time the foundation of marketing. What is new, however, is that the bar for what customers expect from the communication with the celebrity and service obtained during the V.I.P. treatment is higher today. Customers are spoiled to purchase a brand just because a celebrity likes it. To create a customer WOW nowadays demands significantly more creativity and efforts.

Celebrity monologues are being replaced by dialogues. "Celebrity advices" are being based on attentive customer listening and offered round the clock - stimulating communication on all the key social media networks. "Soft sell" for luxury brand image building outweighs "hard sell" connected with special offers.
Values and attitudes of a celebrity are being carried over to the brand, thus contributing to building the high profile image and being more important than the goods itself.

Customers trust an outstanding V.I.P. treatment only if it is consistent over time and through the line at each single point of contact with the brand. Only when we continuously exceed expectations, customers become "raving fans", enthusiastically referring about our brands to their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. These devoted fans themselves have the desire to be of service and influence others. Meeting a celebrity is for them an impulse to start to act as brand evangelists themselves.

It is hard to debate which of F1 pilots will be remembered even after the official ending of their career. The World champions or those who are charismatic and representing an idea? Those who win at all costs or those who make us feel that we, too, can become great?

Final Note:
David Marshall Coulthard, born in 1971 in Scotland, was a former British Formula One racing driver. David made his Formula One debut in 1994 and won 13 Grands Prix in a career spanning 15 seasons. For his successes he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2010. Currently he lives in Monaco with his Belgian wife and a 3 years old son. He is also supporting the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, that was established in 2004 by Red Bull CEO Mateschitz and motocross World champion Kinigadner. David´s autobiography was released in 2007 entitled "It Is What It Is".

During his visit of Hugo Boss Store in Prague, David Coulthard handed over his F1 helmet to the Czech Top model Tereza Maxova, for her Charity. The event was organized to celebrate 30 years of co-operation between Hugo Boss and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Founded in Germany in 1924, Hugo Boss has grown to become one of the world´s most recognizable fashion brands, specializing in high-end clothing and fragrances.David Coulthard´s involvement with the Hugo Boss brand goes far beyond officially opening high-profile new stores or going yacht racing, it goes beyond simply modeling the clothes and attending the fashion shows

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Victory of Love And Common Sense Over Prejudice

Many stories have been written about the equal rights of people. Comparing history and present gives the mankind hope. Regardless of country of origin, race, sex or age or aristocratic roots, being it at work or in private life, we are putting back on the table discussion about personality traits, rather than personal origin. We are becoming more liberal than our ancestors were. We are giving more value to the vision of living fulfilled life vs. blindly following the historical rules.
In the case of Kate Middleton and Prince William the victory of love is known to everybody by now. We can only wish them, that their fellowship will be long-lasting as a confirmation that the cause was worth fighting. As we never know what the future brings. 

As in the case of my grandfather, a son of a countess, who belonged to the group of "pre-chosen" men who were supposed to merry a girl from the same class. But my grandpa was living ahead of his time. He has rather followed - regardless of the objection of his whole family - his heart and passion. He has married my not so "classy", but beautiful and clever grandma. He has chosen to live under his own terms and fully - the short life the destiny has given to him.

Maybe because of his "blue blood" origin or because of his high influence on many people thanks to his leadership role in the regional "Sokol" sports union, or just because of his work as a Professor, as an Artist (cubist painter) and a man who could play seven instruments and having rich social life, he was escorted during the second World war directly from the school, where he was teaching, into the concentration camp. He has died there at the age of 32 in physical pain but with mental strength that he is supported by a beloved women who is expecting his son to be born - born from a true love.

He has left behind himself many warm feelings as well as a wide collection of paintings, that will remind us and generations to come about his work and passion for living. Nevertheless one painting is more precious than others. The not finished one of my grandma ...

You cannot take full control over your life, but you can always give your best. And when you give your best, there are no regrets, just a sense that you would not like to return the clock and redo your life differently.

P.S. The municipality of the town Mlada Boleslav granted - after the velvet revolution in 1989 - a street name to honor my grandpa Vladimir Regner. In memory of his 100 year´s birth anniversary this year a public exhibition of his paintings is being organized in the Mlada Boleslav castle starting with a grand opening on August 6th, 2011.