Tuesday, November 19, 2019

NU LAW SCHOOL NEWS: The 5 Traits Every Entrepreneur Must Have

The 5 Traits Every Entrepreneur Must Have
November 12, 2019

For an episode of Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast, Howard Tullman (JD ’70), Executive Director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and former CEO of 1871 Chicago, and Governor J.B. Pritzker (JD ’93), co-founder of the Pritzker Group, discussed what it takes to pursue innovation in business.
During the conversation, the guests shared insight into how a legal education contributes to an entrepreneurial mindset. “When we talk about entrepreneurs at law school, the law schools are still focused on the gladiator litigator model, which is ‘one person is going to triumph,’” Tullman said. “And frankly, the world is different today. The world is about collaboration and it’s about a different set of team-based skills.”
Still, having a legal background can help entrepreneurs be efficient and effective, Pritzker said. “A mindset of the law helps to drive the entrepreneurial spirit,” he explained. “There a lot of people who have a desire or a need to go create but may not be able to organize and head down a single road in order to get things done.”
For anyone who wants to pursue an entrepreneurial career, Tullman says there are five must-haves:
1. Passion. Being an entrepreneur is hard and lonely, Tullman says, so passion for the work is critical.
2. Dedication. “You have to do literally the hard work,” he says. You’ll be putting your sweat —and a lot of your time — into your endeavor
3. Preparation. Entrepreneurship isn’t just the excitement and glitz you see on shows like Shark Tank. Before any project takes off, you’ll need to take time to prepare.
4. Perseverance. “It’s a bumpy, long and hard road,” Tullman says. You’ll need to stick with it.
5. Desire to Make a Difference. “You have to want to do something that is more than making money,” Tullman says. “You have to want to make a contribution.”



The Innovation Advantage of Big Companies
Yes, it sounds like a contradiction. But large organizations are in a better position to create startups with staying power-- if they learn to stay out of the way and provide the right support.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

Launching and developing a new venture inside of a traditional organization is probably harder to do than a pure startup. But ultimately it's far more impactful, because you also create a new entrepreneurial culture, a real sense of urgency, and a bias for action and change along with that venture.  For example, there's Arity, an exciting and rapidly growing division of Allstate, which started as a tiny outpost hidden in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, far from the insurer's suburban headquarters. Arity focuses on mobility solutions, navigation, and autonomy tied to transportation, and it's a great example of a properly funded and supported internal startup "tail" that is setting the innovative curve and wagging the whole corporate dog.

These days, because innovation and disruption are clearly so in vogue, this kind of initiative should have at least a reasonable prospect of success--even in large enterprises-- as long as the people working elsewhere in the organization are at the very least indifferent to the venture's success. I realize that this is a pretty low if unfortunately realistic bar for internal support and encouragement.  And I know life would be great if everyone in the business was onboard and universally rooting for the new initiative's success - all for one and one for all.  But that never happens in the real world. Everyone's a pessimistic expert and they have a million reasons why you'll never succeed - a problem for every solution.

The passive-aggressive resistance and the overt opposition that all new ideas encounter could, in a given case, be driven by risk aversion, jealousy, ignorance or fear. Or it might be the ongoing competition for scarce resources, or a historic lack of technical skills.  But the friction is almost always - at least in part - the product of the sheer reluctance to change, as well as the comfort and reassurance of business as usual. Inertia trumps initiative and innovation in big business on a daily basis. If you're looking for real change, it's a waste of time and energy to fight the status quo and the habitual ways of doing things.  You've got to create a new model and a better way of doing things that eventually makes the old ways - "the way we've always done it" - look like yesterday's news. You can't talk a culture into changing, or simply browbeat people into getting better.  Progress begins only in the execution; then the culture starts to shift.

And, of course, it's always a bad bet to assume that the same people who brought you to the precipice are going to be the ones to save the day. You can't extract yourself from problems that you behave yourself into. Frankly, it's difficult to see the picture when you're inside the frame --even if you are so inclined-- and far too few folks are willing to take a hard look. In most cases you're more likely to confront willful blindness and a lot of looking the other way rather than any kind of supportive vision. This is sad for so many reasons and one of the main explanations for why, as a nation, we're falling further and further behind in terms of large-scale innovative solutions in so many critical areas, such as medicine and education.

Successful in-house ventures, truth be told, are far more likely to have a greater and more consistent overall impact (if they're sustained) than the random, under-funded and stand-alone startups that are on the outside looking in and mainly making all the noise in the media. Incremental improvement isn't much of a story these days and certainly doesn't drive views or clicks. Clearly, startups can provide the sparks, concrete examples and the inspiration. But it's the steadfast stalwarts and the aggressive advocates inside the enterprises who have the heft, momentum, assets and clout to make the kinds of changes that will have long-term effects at scale as well as the kinds of impact that will move the economic needle in a meaningful fashion. They're the ones who can take the new concepts, strategies and approaches that innovative thinking and new disruptive technologies create and ultimately turn them into major improvements in our businesses, communities and lives. That's what Arity is trying to do. But only if they're given the time, space and opportunity to do so and not constrained or crushed by the actions of others before they can even get out of the gate.

Ovid said it best a zillion years ago: "A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow." The best leaders understand this fragility and make it their business to run interference for and forcefully protect their pioneers. They don't sit back and let the folks "work things out" among themselves. They actively intervene when things are going sideways and send a consistent message that immediate and continual change is essential, unavoidable, and inevitable.  That there's no place in the business for the people who can't get with the program. They also set and enforce a tone of tolerance and, even more critically, they give their people permission to experiment and fail, without ever accepting the idea that failure is ultimately acceptable.

And they work continuously to identify, root out, and expunge the typical behaviors that will otherwise create barriers to success. These include the noxious naysayers, the "gotcha" guys just standing in the wings waiting for slip ups, the "by the book" bozos who spend their days looking backwards and longing for the ways things used to be done, the "management by committee" clods who'd rather delay everything than decide anything, the stewards of the concrete layer of middle management who are intent on making sure that nothing positive or productive ever gets past them, and the pure paranoids who think it's all a pernicious plan to get rid of them.

But the most important thing that any leader can do in these circumstances is to make clear to those people who are always ready to presume the worst that it's no longer a matter of giving the new plans and ideas "enough rope to hang themselves" or the "benefit of the doubt" because that won't get the job done.  Empty gestures, cheap talk, lip service and hoping that ignoring things (or simply trying to stall and wait them out) so that they will eventually disappear are all failed strategies.   

To succeed today, everyone in the organization needs to assume the best of people and of the new opportunities rather than holding their breath, wishing for the worst, or fearing the future. They'll need to lean into these new ideas and give them a little extra edge - a presumption and a push in favor of helping to make things happen - instead of dragging their feet and getting in the way. And, they'll need to join in actively celebrating signs of progress along with the early successes and, at the same time, quickly forget and forgive the initial missteps - of which there will most assuredly be plenty. Or, if they can't get with the program, they can always leave. We had a saying for this: "Our average employees now work somewhere else."

Monday, November 18, 2019

Amazon is getting tangled in the trust economy while Airbnb embraces it

Howard Tullman
Amazon is getting tangled in the trust economy while Airbnb embraces it

If customers stop believing you, they’ll stop buying. While Amazon struggles with fake products, Airbnb is raising the bar to give guests, hosts, and even neighbors more confidence in its service.

18-Nov-19 – The most critical enabler of e-commerce and so many other tech-centric businesses today is the emergence and continued growth of the trust economy. We’re surprisingly comfortable putting ourselves – and often our offspring – in cars with drivers whose training, credentials, and even honesty are mainly a mystery. Their principal qualification is showing up – usually on time and hopefully sober.

We buy products and services from sellers worldwide without a moment’s hesitation, in the good-faith belief that they are what they’re represented to be and that they will be delivered on time and as promised.

While sites like The RealReal aggressively stress the authenticity of their used luxury goods and the extent to which they go to verify that fact, most e-commerce sites – and most of us – just take largely for granted the fact that what you see is what you’ll eventually get.

Adobe StockOf course, with the dramatic growth of third-party sellers on Amazon and the frightening rise of knockoffs and counterfeit goods on the site, our uncritical reliance may be increasingly misplaced. The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered 4,152 unsafe items for sale on Amazon.

Given what we’re finding out, how much longer can Amazon hang on to the title as the most trusted brand in America?

Seems to me that even a golden reputation based primarily on execution and cost considerations is more than a little vulnerable when the goods that are promptly and economically provided turn out to suck or are actually harmful. Cost is what you pay, but true value is ultimately what we’re looking for. As I used to tell my car dealer clients, customers don’t care how fast you fix their cars if you don’t get the job done right. They’d rather wait a while longer than have to bring the beast back to be repaired again.

Amazon needs to clean up its Fulfillment by Amazon business, which continues to grow explosively, because shoddy quality control is killing a lot of legitimate players who can’t compete with all the fakes, while slowly impairing our faith in the company as well.

Airbnb promises to verify lodging listings, uninvite party houses
Airbnb just raised the bar in the trust economy, and it will be interesting to see how soon all the others step up their game as well. They will probably have a much heavier lift than did Airbnb and, in some cases, not much interest or appetite to open that particular Pandora’s box. I can understand why.

Brian Chesky, an Airbnb co-founder and its CEO, announced last week at the DealBook Conference in New York that Airbnb will roll out four service enhancements to provide far greater comfort to all stakeholders. Not just to the guests and the landlords, but also to the residents and regulators in the communities where the business operates as well. The four changes include...

  • All seven million Airbnb listings will eventually be verified.

  • Unsatisfied guests will be rebooked or refunded.

  • There will be a 24/7 hotline for unhappy neighbors.

  • High-risk reservations will be screened to eliminate potentially disruptive “party” houses.

When Chesky (right) wrote in a company-wide email that “trust on the internet begins with verifying the accuracy of the information on internet platforms,” it was especially telling in the context of today’s conflicting approaches by the major tech players.U.S. Department of State

Twitter has opted for veracity, banning blatantly false political advertising, while Facebook sticks to its controversial hands-off position. Google is on the sideline, trying to figure out how to play the issue.

Even more importantly, the changes and the challenges that so many of the other tech companies are going to face in upping their “honesty” will be much greater than those faced by Airbnb because basic trust was a critical component of the Airbnb business and a central part of its culture from the beginning.

Not that Chesky and his fellow founders, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, are exceptionally honorable and sincere guys – although maybe they are. But they really had no choice, because delivering the right experience was the whole essence of their business, so they made accuracy, honesty, and integrity all key components of their corporate culture. When you invite someone into your home to sleep in your bed, you’d better get a lot of things right from the get-go including, but not limited to, the breakfast.

Where you start the startup journey has a lot to do with where you ultimately end up and what kind of business you build. If you don’t care where you end up, any road will take you there. And, if your North Star is “breaking things” or “asking forgiveness rather than permission” or selling a “raised state of consciousness” instead of speculative real estate space, you can end up building a morally bankrupt business that no one trusts or ultimately believes in.

The examples of how to do it wrong are just about everywhere today. There aren’t any real shortcuts to sustainable success and there never have been. The miracle workers and people selling any other story are just shipping snake oil.

Photo by Daniel KrasonAirbnb is biting off a big chunk, betting a bunch of its own credibility and taking on a set of tasks that will require not simply its own efforts, but a great deal of support and participation by their community and stakeholders as well.

This is a leap of faith to be sure, but in listening to the guy who has led the charge for over a decade and done about as well as anyone could – especially in dealing with the occasional serious bumps in the road – you have to believe that he may have the right stuff and the strength and character to get the job done because he’s coming from the right place.

If it’s you against the world, it makes a lot of sense to bet on the world. All these guys want to be appreciated and admired – a key part of what drives every entrepreneur. Who doesn’t want to be loved? But trust is a much bigger challenge. Being trusted is a lot harder to achieve than being loved.

Howard TullmanHoward Tullman is General Managing Partner for G2T3V, LLC – Investors in Disruptive Innovators, and for Chicago High Tech Investors, LLC. He is also executive director of Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Institute of Technology. And the author of You Can’t Win a Race With Your Mouth: And 299 Other Expert Tips from a Lifelong Entrepreneur.
By Howard Tullman | Loop North News | h@g2t3v.com
Published 18-Nov-19 1:10 AM

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Neil Steinberg Column

The Daily Northwestern’s unfortunate apology
Badgered by classmates, NU’s student newspaper staff apologizes for reporting a news story as Medill dean defends journalistic integrity.

By Neil Steinberg  Nov 12, 2019, 11:32am CST


Dear Northwestern:

Hi? How ya been? Thriving, I know. That new music center? Fan-tastic.

I’m good, thank you for asking. Old now. But hanging on. Still cranking out a column, just like I did for The Daily Northwestern in the early ’80s.

Sorry I haven’t written in, gee, 37 years. But I’ve been busy, working, in the real world. At a newspaper. Which isn’t easy. Readers don’t always like what I write. Barack Obama once called and yelled at me. Trump fans fill the spam filter with brutalities. Last week my son’s old kindergarten teacher wrote a nasty letter. You need a hard shell, and to focus on your goal: telling a good story.

You know what was a good story? Former Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions coming to Northwestern’s Evanston campus Nov. 5 to speak, or try to. It was difficult, with protesters pounding on doors and breaking windows, tussling with campus cops. More evidence the Left can have the same authoritarian tendencies as the Right.

The Daily covered the event, which is what newspapers do. They cover events.
Protesters caught in the act didn’t like the idea of being documented. They might get in trouble, so harried The Daily staff until it clawed back their names. Unsatisfied, they pushed for a jaw-dropping apology that instantly became notorious for its crushed capitulation.

The Daily admits covering the protests, then concedes: “We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced.”

What harm? The harm of having your public misbehavior reported?? That’s called living in a democracy.

“Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive,” the mea culpa continues. “Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed.”

Isn’t that what Counseling and Psychological Services is for?

Worse follows:
“Some of our staff members who were covering the event used Northwestern’s directory to obtain phone numbers for students beforehand and texted them to ask if they’d be willing to be interviewed. We recognize being contacted like this is an invasion of privacy.”

That isn’t an invasion of privacy any more than knocking on a door and canvasing for a candidate. It’s a cornerstone of democracy. The Daily operates independently of the school, and Medill Dean Charles Whitaker issued a strong statement supporting the paper, deftly shifting blame from The Daily to the NU activists.

“I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the ‘sin’ of doing journalism,” Whitaker wrote.
You and me both, buddy. I can’t remember an administrator’s statement being as important as Whitaker’s. Before reading it, I felt like running my Northwestern diploma through the shredder and mailing the confetti to the president’s office. His statement made sense of the disaster: The same folks who shouted down Sessions leapt to muzzle The Daily. Which is why stifling speech is always wrong, whatever that speech happens to be. Because it becomes a habit.

At first I blamed The Daily staffers; now I feel sorry for them. They didn’t join the paper to face what Whitaker called a “brutal onslaught of venom and hostility,” nor to be forced to kneel and recant in one of the most jarring blots on American journalism since last night’s Fox News. Here’s an irony. The protesters whose names The Daily dutifully erased are spared the buzzsaw of social media. While The Daily staffers who signed the confession are now open to ridicule, which Whitaker also decried.

“Give the young people a break,” he wrote.

Point taken.

The good news is that most shame fades — trust me on that — and this will certainly be part of the education.

College is a challenging time. But it’s supposed to be the challenge of toughening yourself to face the world as it is, in all its unfairness. Not the challenge of shouting down anyone you don’t like, or sealing yourself off in your own little crib of self-regard, wrapped in a soft blankie of privilege, demanding that life fluff your pillows while you practice the yowls of grievance you’ll emit whenever your delicate skin is brushed by the gnarled hand of reality.

Space dwindles. Donald Trump hates the media because it documents his criminality and lies. He labels it “fake news.” The NU protesters wanted to both squelch Sessions and avoid any risk of getting in trouble due to real reporting. The media gets flak from both sides. Which perhaps is the lesson The Daily’s staff should take away from this fiasco, assuming they still want to be reporters at all. As Abe Peck, my revered magazine writing professor at NU once taught me long ago, quoting the last line of a great Marge Piercy poem, “You have to like it better than being loved.”

That doesn’t change. Thanks for listening. Go Cats!

Neil Steinberg
Medill School of Journalism
Class of 1982

Kaplan Institute Exec Director Speaks at William Blair's Magnet 2019

Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman Speaks at EO Celebration of Entrepreneurship

Kaplan Institute Welcomes Nora Daley

Total Pageviews


Blog Archive