Sunday, September 25, 2005

Entrepreneurs over 50

Red Herring recently did a story about entrepreneurs under 35. Now this is not very original. Stories about young entrepreneurs have been appearing for the past thirty years. Note that 50 years ago, this was rare. Business publications focused on older executives. Yet from Colonel Sanders to James Dyson, there have been quite a few very successful older entrepreneurs. So why is it that the press does not cover them? Perhaps for the same reasons the press did not cover the inadequacy of the New Orleans storm preparations until it had become obvious. Journalists and business writers cover stories which are most visible to them. Occasiinally, one will break from the pack. So one day, perhapd, the business press will rediscover older entrepreneurs.

In the meantime, for older entrepreneurs everywhere, take inspiration from those who have gone before.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Why do people lie?

Managers will often say that they want their subordinates to tell them the truth all the time. However, they usually do not mean it. The subordinates soon learn that bad news angers the boss and avoid sharing it. This happens in other aspects of life. The friend will not tell you something you need to know for fear of damaging the friendship. The wife will not tell the husband what she really thinks because she does not want to hurt his feelings. In business, usually, warnings which might enrage are only warnings and never come true. However, sometimes they come true and the manager never ahd any warning. Often lies of omission or even of commission seem to be the lubricant which makes society function, but at other times they can be very harmful.

The reason many people withhold news which the other person will not like are legitimate if the other person gets angry or refuses to accept it. It is up to each of us to learn to take bad news with equanimity, and to reward, not punish people for telling the truth.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Information explosion

The amount of information on the Internet was brought home to me recently when I reread a book in which I was mentioned as a highly successful top executive with almost 50 mentions on Google. Curious I checked again - two years after the book was published, and was surprised to find around 350 mentions.

With the powwer of computers growing, the cost of storage dropping, this is going to continue. We are still far from any kind of slowing down. Information and accessing it will be a mark of the 21st century.

Global business

Over the past two months I have been traveling extensively around the world. Covering a lot of ground in a short time is an educational, if tiring, experience. It is interesting to see that on the one hand many consumer tastes are becoming similar. Young people wear the same clothes, use the same cellphones, and drink the same Starbucks. However, many cultural differences persist. We will make a big mistake if we assume that because so much behavior is the same, that people think in the same way. Cultural sensitivity is key to enjoying and being successful in a new country.