Thursday, October 08, 2015

Howard Tullman on the 'peculiar' thing that made Steve Jobs a guru

Howard Tullman on the 'peculiar' thing that made Steve Jobs a guru

Blue Sky Innovation
Why people sometimes aren't neurotic enough for entrepreneurship
As CEO of 1871, Howard Tullman ⇒ aims not only to raise the profile of the downtown tech hub, which a Sweden-based organization last year ranked ninth in the world among university-associated business incubators.
He says he’s on a campaign to make Chicago the leading global destination for entrepreneurs.
Tullman, a serial entrepreneur and investor, also is general managing partner of investment firm G2T3V. Before joining 1871 in 2013, he founded Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy and turned around Kendall College while he was its president.
He explains why people sometimes aren’t neurotic enough for entrepreneurship.
Q. What’s the most difficult task you’ve tackled as a leader and how did you handle it?
A. Picking up Kendall College after 75 years and moving it downtown from Evanston and explaining to people that it wasn’t a question of new marketing materials, but of a new vision and approach for the whole school. That was difficult and threatening to faculty and everyone who had done things in a very traditional way for many, many years.
You need to have a series of small steps and early wins so you start to build up the momentum. We started with bringing everybody to see this new location and then explaining how our job was not to disrupt what they were doing but to create a better and more powerful platform for them to do their best work.
Q. What are your current leadership goals and challenges as you expand 1871?
A. We want to be the No. 1 incubator in the United States, in the world. We’re No. 9 as of last year. We’re about to announce a very substantial expansion again. So we have to execute on that. We need to continue to create businesses that can be sustainable and create jobs.
We want to continue to put 1871 and more importantly, the city, on the global map. So we're continuing our outreach for reciprocity arrangements. I’m going to Japan shortly. We’ll be in Cuba shortly and we're working on Brazil and Columbia.
We need to continue to create businesses that can be sustainable and create jobs. Jobs are really the bottom line of everything we do.
Q. Are these trips to build or scout 1871 satellites?
A. People ask us all the time when are we going to build more and different 1871s, and the answer is we’re never going to do that.
With these reciprocity trips, two things happen. These cities send us startups. So we just had 11 companies from Turkey come here for a month. They come here and they increasingly see Chicago as the jumping off point for their U.S. expansion.
Our part is to create the ability for our startups to have a place to land if they want to expand to some of these cities. We’re making sure that we lay the track for that.
We have a very strong relationship with Startup Mexico, which is in Mexico City. We have relationships with four or five different incubators in accelerators in London. That makes it possible for our companies to have a leg up on how they would go global.
Q. Who do you, as a prolific author on leadership and entrepreneurship yourself, consider your leadership gurus and authors and why?
A. If I had to pick one, I almost always pick Steve Jobs. And I always pick him for a very peculiar reason. The single piece of wisdom that I took away from my dealings with him and watching everything he did is that he used to say, “Whatever we did yesterday was yesterday. But the best and only thing we can focus on is what’s best for the business, the organization and the employees today.”
He never looked back. He never regarded himself as having to drag around his prior mistakes or be uncomfortable with change. That’s the world we live in today. That’s the principal message we tell everybody.
Q. Why did you call it a “peculiar” reason?
A. He was a great liar. He didn’t want to waste any time or energy debating the old news because he was done with it. He would pretend like he never said something because he didn’t want to engage with those conversations because that wasn’t a productive use of his time.
Q. What lesson did you learn the hard way about leadership?
A. The hard lesson that you learn as a leader over and over again — and it’s just as hard every time — is that people are going to disappoint you for a variety of reasons. And you just have to live with that.
We take renewals as business and terminations as personal. When somebody leaves, I always wish him or her well. But I always feel like they were sort of jumping ship. It hurts a little bit.
That’s the hardest part of being a leader, getting over this emotion of taking it personally and understanding that not everybody is a zealot. People want to have a life. Not everybody buys into the vision. Some people just want a job.
Q. What hard truths do people not want to hear about leading?
A. You have to do some very hard and unhappy things to individuals in order to make a happy company.
I once wrote this letter about a perfectly decent person who wasn’t making it within our crazy, neurotic, aggressive organization. I actually said this person was too healthy. They weren’t neurotic enough to work in a certain kind of entrepreneurial environment because they weren’t sending the message to their peers that they were taking it that seriously.
Sometimes it’s important to let people see you sweat and not have everything be calm and steady sailing.
Q&As are edited for length and clarity.
Kate MacArthur is a freelance writer.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

1871 CEO Howard Tullman Keynote Presentation at FUND Conference

Fund Conference: Howard Tullman on time and the sharing economy

Blue Sky Innovation

Howard Tullman ⇒ on Wednesday predicted a long-thriving sharing economy and called time the scarcest resource for entrepreneurs.

He also called it the future of business.

“I want what I want when I want it,” said Tullman, CEO of Chicago’s 1871 tech hub, about the prevailing sentiment among consumers.

Tullman spoke on the main stage at the Fund Conference at the UIC Forum, which features investors and more than 100 startups in workshops and conversations about funding. Readers can keep up with the conference through Blue Sky Innovation's live blog.

Tullman joined other leaders from Chicago’s startup community in a day of discussion and discovery about funding, crowdfunding, diversity, customer service, consumer engagement, the sharing economy — and time.

“Whatever was yesterday’s miracle is tomorrow’s ‘So what?’” Tullman said.

Citing Amazon’s one-hour delivery service, among others, Tullman emphasized that the future of business is all about time and speed to market. The future is in streaming and sharing and in peer-to-peer business relationships, he said. He cited Uber’s delivery service as an example of the latter.

Businesses must compete for customers’ attention and ask themselves what keeps people from engaging with a product, Tullman said.

He emphasized the significance of 18- to 35-year-old consumers. They’re where the money is, he said. Yet businesses can’t overlook the newest generation.

“The kids are connected beyond your wildest imagination,” Tullman said.

As for the sharing economy, Tullman said “you can expect ‘Uber everything’ for a period of time.”

Utility today trumps ownership, said Tullman, pointing out that Uber doesn’t own cars and Airbnb doesn’t own real estate — resulting in low barriers for entrepreneurs in those areas.

At a workshop called “Getting Revenue Without Investment,” Todd Connor ⇒, CEO of The Bunker incubator at 1871, said entrepreneurs need to identify businesses interested in their products or solutions. Then they need to get bold, he said.

“The best thing you can do, and the easiest path I’ve seen to investment, is you showing up unsolicited to the CEO ... and saying I’ve got a solution that’s going to upend your industry,” Connor said.

Connor asked at his workshop: “If you had to go generate revenue next week against your business idea, what would that look like?”

Many at the workshop raised a hand to say they’re frustrated at attempts to find money. Connor asked what entrepreneurs could do to generate revenue. Answers from attendees included, “You can eat,” “Hire the right people” and “Attract more investors.”

During another discussion, Michael Sachaj of Hyde Park Angels suggested that entrepreneurs research venture capital firms and angel investor groups to discover on what areas those investors are focusing.

Jason Fried ⇒, founder and CEO of Basecamp, emphasized in a "fireside chat" that entrepreneurs shouldn't wait for funding before proceeding with their concept. He also discussed the value of prompt customer service, saying "one minute is our average response time to emails ... what matters to people is what matters to us."

Events also focused on diversity, including the perspective of female, black and LGBT entrepreneurs.
Genevieve Thiers ⇒, founder of, advised male investors to examine potential unconscious biases toward women. Joel Bosch of StartOut, a nonprofit organization that fosters LGBT entrepreneurs, said entrepreneurs who see and manage diversity better understand the diversity of their customer base. Thomas Stovall, founder of Chicago-based technology company Candid Cup, cited an advantage for black folks in tech: the ability to address a specific need for a specific group of people.

At end end of the conference, 10 companies got the opportunity to pitch on the main stage. The companies included K9 Fit Club, Amplifinity and Open Airplane.

1871 CEO Howard Tullman Speaks on Innovation and Tech Trends to Senior Abbvie Managers

Matthew Corrin CEO of Freshii Interviewed at 1871 by Advisor TV

Matthew Corrin, Founder and CEO of Freshii from MeetAdvisors Videos on Vimeo.

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