Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
To the Faculty, Staff, and Students of Illinois Institute of Technology:
Today I’m happy to announce that Chicago entrepreneur and former 1871 chief executive officer Howard A. Tullman is the first executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship.
Tullman will officially begin as executive director on May 1 and will be responsible for leading the Kaplan Institute to achieve the following goals:
ensuring that all undergraduate students acquire superior innovation and entrepreneurship skills and experience;
building strong partnerships with external organizations and entrepreneurs;
helping recruit creative students interested in STEAM fields; and
providing the tools and skills students need to solve complex and significant challenges.
With multiple successful startups to his name, Tullman is uniquely positioned to launch another center of innovation and entrepreneurship in Chicago focused on supporting and empowering students about to enter or re-enter the working world. Over the past 50 years, he has successfully founded more than a dozen high-tech companies.
Most recently, he led Chicago-based 1871, which was just named the top university-affiliated business incubator in the world. He is also general managing partner of Chicago High Tech Investment Partners and G2T3V, LLC, both Chicago-based early-stage venture capital funds.
Before serving at 1871, Tullman most recently was the chairman and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint College, which he co-founded in 2007. The former president of Kendall College and the former chairman and CEO of Experiencia, Inc., Tullman is also a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT council, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Cultural Advisory Council, the Illinois Arts Council, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s New Media Council.
Tullman is a graduate with honors of Northwestern University (B.A., 1967) and of its School of Law (J.D., 1970), where he also graduated with honors.
He will serve as the keynote speaker for Illinois Tech’s 2017–18 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12.
Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology
President, Illinois Institute of Technology
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Former 1871 CEO Howard Tullman named first director of Illinois Tech innovation institute
If Chicago is to compete for the likes of Amazon’s second headquarters, it’s going to need to develop its technology talent.
It’s with that idea in mind that the Chicago entrepreneur Howard Tullman, former CEO of the 1871 tech hub, has been appointed to lead a new innovation center at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Tullman is the first executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, university officials announced in a news release Monday. He begins the new position May 1.
Kaplan, an Illinois Tech alumnus and board member, and his wife donated $11 million to create the center, scheduled to open this fall.
In launching an institute that focuses on teaching innovation, Tullman said the goal is to train students beyond their technical education to focus also upon ingenuity. The Kaplan Institute also would better prepare students for work at Illinois Tech’s existing tech incubator, launched in 2006, which focuses more on product design, Tullman said.
“Innovation is the process of making things better,” Tullman said. “Every company desperately needs ongoing innovation.”
The move comes as city and state leaders try to position the Chicago area as an ideal location for international corporations, including trying to woo Apple and Amazon to locate their second headquarters here.
“I want (Illinois Tech) to be a go-to place when Amazon and all these people do their calculations,” Tullman said. “They couldn’t have been clearer that talent was a major concern.”
Enduring the Perspiration Principle in Negotiation: When Money's the Hurdle but Not in the Way You Think
Don't say "Maybe" when what you really mean is "No"
I've been spending a lot of time lately talking about how fastest-growing startups should when they are trying to experienced, relatively senior talent (especially in the sales area) for their companies. Lateral hires are hard for all kinds of reasons (especially when you're bringing people in to manage and direct folks who have been with your business from the start and helped to build it). The vast majority of these hires fail for four reasons: (1) a quickly-emergent and readily apparent lack of energy (stamina) and/or little enthusiasm for the day-to-day aspects of the business; (2) a weak connection to and empathy for the rest of the employees; (3) an early tendency to criticize the way you have run the business in the past; and (4) a focus and excessive interest in and emphasis on financial and compensation issues.
But make no mistake, tough and risky or not, to grow your business beyond the grocery store, you will need to hire some grown-ups. In the process, you can evaluate, tease out, and control some of the primary failure causes, but the biggest exposure isn't what you don't learn in advance, it's what you do or don't do in the course of the negotiations that will have the most important consequences further down the line. In many negotiations, people care less about where things ultimately end up and a lot more about how you behave and the way that the parties reach the final arrangements.
So, if you're heading down this path, there's one crucial fact and one absolute rule that I tell every entrepreneur involved in these kinds of discussions to keep firmly in mind.
The fact is that this new person is going to need your backing 110 percent of the time without any second guessing; without any interference or micro-managing; and without permitting anyone in the business to go around him or her and come to you with their problems or concerns. Once you've put that person in place, it's gotta be full speed ahead - no retreat and no surrender - and everyone in the place will be watching you to see how you are handling the situation.
And, believe me, I know how hard this "hands-off" approach can be when it's your baby and when you find yourself biting your tongue because you might have done a bunch of things in different ways. Rolling your eyes or shrugging your shoulders is just as strong a statement as anything spoken and just as unhelpful and, in fact, damaging to the new hire and to the whole onboarding effort.
So, you'll have to learn to turn a deaf ear to the complaints about how the new guy or girl doesn't "get it"; doesn't know every single thing on day one; isn't fitting into the system or the culture, etc. If you're not all in and fully supportive, then the odds against his or her eventual success move dramatically in the wrong direction. Reservations are OK in the restaurant business, but not when someone desperately needs you to have their back - rain or shine - and all the time.
But the rule is even more important. Just as you can't be a little pregnant, you can't afford to be half-hearted in these decisions or not fully convinced yourself that you made the right choice. "Almost" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The rule is that "you should never say 'maybe' when you need to say 'no.'" And that rule applies in spades when you're talking about new hires.
Don't kid yourself or try to talk yourself into these things either. When you say, "you just don't know," the truth is that you do. Doubts and concerns are rarely abated with the passage of time - trust your gut - and go on from there. Things and attitudes that you didn't like during the interview aren't going to go away - they're more likely to be intensified and amplified under the stress of real battle conditions.
Money is always a big hurdle to get over, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. The absolute dollars will matter for sure and sometimes there's just too much distance between the parties to get the deal done. The parties can part friends - no harm, no foul - and get on with their lives. But what most outsiders don't understand (along with a lot of prospective hires on the other side of the conversation) is just how personally the entrepreneur takes the compensation negotiations.
I've seen entrepreneurs work for days trying to come up with a fair offer for someone they'd love to have onboard - sweating the numbers, comparing the offer to the comp of other key players, checking with outside advisors, doing every bit of homework possible in order to get to their best proposal. They become heavily invested (financially, but even more psychologically) in the offer and the outcome because they believe it's fair to everyone and the absolute best they can do.
And then, I've seen the same entrepreneurs crushed (and/or pissed off) by some candidate who summarily rejects the proposal because (a) he read in some know-it-all book that you're supposed to always do that with initial offers and (b) he thinks it's just an opening salvo and not a first, best and last offer. These people rarely understand how much time and emotional energy a really good entrepreneur puts into these things. And they also don't understand that each counter-offer they make sucks a little more joy out of the whole deal. It's the same kind of resentment that builds up when you've borrowed money from someone and you know that you can't pay it back.
In these cases, eventually you get to a bad result - either because no deal gets done or - far worse - because the entrepreneur grudgingly and half-heartedly accepts a deal that he's unhappy with and angry about for what he thinks is the good of the business. The truth is that it's the worst thing he can do because he's just lit a fuse under the whole relationship and most likely doomed the new hire as well. Taking one for the team; bidding up and against your own best offer; sucking it up and accepting a deal that you're not sure the company can afford -- these are bad choices and consistent signals that there're bigger issues and problems coming. You may not want to admit it, but it's gonna be a lot harder to support and stick up for someone when, in your heart of hearts, you think they were a pig in the negotiations and overdid it.
The funny thing is that they probably don't even realize that there's a problem. It only recently dawned on me as to why the guys you're trying to hire from the corporate world don't get emotional about this stuff or understand that it's not simply an interesting exercise or some kind of a game of back-and-forth bargaining. The reason that they don't get it is because, in their world, it's never money. If they have to hire someone, HR gives them a number (or more likely a salary range) and their job is to get a deal done with someone. Paying a few bucks more, changing a bonus or some performance targets, adding a few vacation days - who really cares? Just get the deal done.
But for the entrepreneur, it's a completely different world. Every dollar is hard-earned. Every buck makes a big difference, and nothing is taken lightly because in the world of scarce resources you're always stealing from some Peter or Penny to pay Paul. And, as the boss, the buck stops with you and you owe it to everyone in the business to make the best and smartest decisions you can. It's not "just business," it's your business, and it's very personal. If you haven't been in this particular hot seat, this may sound a little overly dramatic, but ask anyone who has been there, and they'll tell you that there are few harder decisions that the CEO has to make.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Howard Tullman Talks About Becoming Executive Director of the new Kaplan Institute at Illinois Tech on Tasty Trade Bootstrapping in America
Despite having been "retired" for only a few weeks, Howard is back in the tastytrade studio to discuss his latest plans to make Chicago an entrepreneurial hub. Tune in as he walks through the Kaplan Institute and what it will mean for students and the city of Chicago's tech scene. Then, get his take on the hiring process in startups and the top mistakes he sees when companies begin to expand. Howard Tullman, former CEO of renowned startup hub, “1871” and visionary, lecturer, educator, writer, art collector, brings his unique view of the business world to the tastytrade audience. Watch and listen to “What I’m Thinking” and find out what’s next in today’s world.
Tullman to lead Illinois Tech's Kaplan Institute
John Pletz on Tech
April 16, 2018
You knew Howard Tullman wasn't going to sit still for long after leaving 1871. The veteran entrepreneur who has dabbled in tech and education for several decades, is heading south to Bronzeville, where he's going to launch a new innovation and entrepreneurship center at Illinois Institute of Technology.
Tullman, 72, takes over as executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship on May 1. The 70,000-square-foot center on the school's main campus will be completed in October.
"Howard is the perfect person to launch the Kaplan Institute," said Alan Cramb, president of Illinois Tech. "We've known Howard for a number of years. A number of trustees said we should hire him."
Tullman ran 1871, the city's well-known tech incubator at the Merchandise Mart, for the past four years, stepping down as CEO earlier this month. He previously launched several tech companies, including CCC Information Services, before turning around Kendall College and then launching Tribeca Flashpoint College, a for-profit digital media school. He's also a longtime investor in tech startups.
"I'm excited," Tullman said of the new job. "It's a total greenfield."
The institute, which is still under construction, is named for Ed Kaplan, founder of Zebra Technologies, one of the Chicago area's early publicly traded technology companies, who got his undergraduate degree at Illinois Tech. A member of the institute's board, he and his wife donated $11 million to get the project rolling. Kaplan went on to earn an MBA from the University of Chicago, where he also is launched the school's business-plan competition, the New Venture Challenge.
Cramb says the Kaplan Institute isn't an incubator. The university already has one of those. It will be a 24-hour facility that will house a maker lab and other services, as well as the school's Institute of Design. "We'll be happy if companies form, but it's not the primary mission," Cramb said. "We want to set up a culture that values and encourages creativity, one that leads to innovation among our students and faculty. We want to make sure undergrads understand entrepreneurship and innovation and creativity."
Illinois Tech, which has 4,600 graduate students and 2,700 undergrads, is well-known for its engineering and computer science programs, as well as its architecture school. "It's an interesting school," Tullman said in an interview. "It's left-brain, right-brain."
The aim of the Kaplan Institute is to give Illinois Tech students a place to design, build and collaborate. Universities are scrambling to give students training and opportunities in entrepreneurship, especially in fast-changing professional world in which traditional careers are less available and less desirable to many students.
It's a homecoming of sorts for Tullman. Although he got his undergraduate and law degrees from Northwestern University, Tullman took his first college class, a programming course, at IIT, as it was known then, in 1963 while he was still in high school. He'll also be a professor and commencement speaker next month. Tullman's goals extend well beyond the South Side campus.
"This school has more of these first-generation success stories than any other place. The trick is: how can you make them entrepreneurial, as well?" he told me. "If you can be a pipeline for graduates in engineering and computer science with entrepreneurial skills—and feed them into corporations here, the city will take another step forward. It's ridiculous more people don't understand that you have this resource that turns out amazing graduates. I plan to fix that."
No one ever accused Tullman of thinking small.
Howard A. Tullman Named First Executive Director of Kaplan Institute
Chicago – April 16, 2018 – Illinois Institute of Technology announced today that Chicago serial entrepreneur and former 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman will be the first executive director for the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship.
Set to open this fall, the Kaplan Institute will be a hub for discovery, innovation, and business creation, giving students the skills and experience needed to make their innovations viable for the market. The institute will be located in a new two-story, 70,000-square-foot building designed by John Ronan Architects and will be the first new academic building on Illinois Tech’s main campus in more than 40 years.
“Howard’s extraordinary success in business and at 1871 makes him the perfect person to launch the Kaplan Institute,” said Illinois Tech President Alan Cramb. “The goal of the institute is clear: to bring the promise of entrepreneurship and innovation to every student at Illinois Tech. Howard will spearhead that effort and make sure our students have the resources and support needed to invent, create, and launch new companies.”
Tullman will begin as executive director on May 1 and will be responsible for leading the Kaplan Institute to achieve the following goals: ensuring all undergraduate students acquire superior innovation and entrepreneurship skills and experience; building strong partnerships with external organizations and entrepreneurs; helping recruit creative students interested in STEAM fields; and providing the tools and skills students need to solve complex and significant challenges.
“For more than 120 years, Illinois Tech has been an engine of opportunity here in Chicago and around the world,” Tullman said. “I took my first computer class at the university in 1963—more than half a century ago. It’s an honor to join Illinois Tech as a university professor and as the executive director of the institute as it sets out to make innovation and entrepreneurial creativity an essential part of every student’s education. I look forward to building an institute that will be the first of its kind: an innovation hub that channels the technical training and the creativity of thousands of Illinois Tech students into the development of new products, services, and businesses that can change the world.”
With multiple successful startups to his name, Tullman is uniquely positioned to launch another center of innovation and entrepreneurship in Chicago focused on supporting and empowering students about to enter or re-enter the working world. Over the last 50 years, he has successfully founded more than a dozen high-tech companies. Most recently, he led Chicago-based 1871, which was just named the top university-affiliated business incubator in the world. He is also general managing partner of Chicago High Tech Investment Partners and G2T3V, LLC, both Chicago-based early-stage venture capital funds.
“Howard Tullman has dedicated his career to fueling Chicago’s tech sector and supporting start-ups across our city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “In his new role at the Kaplan Institute, Howard will work with the next generation of entrepreneurs, sharing the skills he has learned throughout his life and preparing them to take Chicago’s economy to new heights.”
Before serving at 1871, he most recently was the chairman and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint College, which he co-founded in 2007. Tullman is the former president of Kendall College and the former chairman and CEO of Experiencia, Inc. Tullman is also a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT council, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Cultural Advisory Council, the Illinois Arts Council and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s New Media Council.
Tullman is a graduate with honors of Northwestern University (B.A., 1967) and of its School of Law (J.D., 1970), where he also graduated with honors. He will serve as the commencement speaker for Illinois Tech’s 2017–18 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12, 2018.
ABOUT ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Visit www.iit.edu.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Tom Alexander: What I Learned From Howard Tullman
When the inimitable Jasmine Slivka left our team at 1871 in the summer of 2014 (Jasmine had been Howard Tullman’s executive assistant and was a wonderful member of our team and our community) she sent Howard a note that included her list of ten things she learned from working with Howard. I thought to myself, “good list, smart lady.”
For those who don’t know Howard, he’s been the CEO of 1871 for the past four years, and I’ve worked directly for him for all but one month of that time. He is a serial entrepreneur with a wealth of experience, and has over his career taken on a strong role as a teacher of business and entrepreneurship in every fashion (he has written over 250 columns for Inc. magazine and he has launched a course/curriculum at Dyett High School in Chicago, just to name two examples).
So as I take my leave of 1871, and as I come to the end of my four year tenure working for Howard, I thought it would make sense to share six lessons that I’ve learned from Howard over the past four years that I think are applicable to everyone in the community. Some of them come from his writings and columns, some of them are things he’s said, and some are reflections on watching him day in and day out for four years.
You Don’t Stay up Until Midnight Working on Someone Else’s Idea
I’ve told this story a lot from various stages, but my first meeting with Howard about 1871 was at the Panera on Elston, on the day after Thanksgiving in 2013 (I left my son’s birthday party early to make it on time and Howard beat me there by a half hour). During that meeting, he said to me that “you don’t stay up until midnight working on someone else’s idea,” which stuck with me. In context, we were talking not about entrepreneurship and the passion associated with it, but about building an ecosystem, a community -- our team, the members and mentors and visitors to 1871, our corporate partners, and the broader Chicagoland community -- where everyone felt ownership and buy-in and had the confidence to pursue their own part of the idea. We’ve done this at 1871 -- if you walk around that place, it’s full of people who, regardless of their role or their place in life, have found their own idea that they are pursuing with every ounce of their body.
Accuracy is Everything -- and Leaders are Responsible More Than Anyone
Anyone who has worked with Howard for five minutes knows about his hatred of typos and inaccuracies. I have never witnessed anyone -- much less a CEO or a leader -- who is so focused on the details and the accuracy of everything. His position, which I have come to realize, is that it matters on every level -- what you say, what you write, whether or not you pick up that piece of trash on the floor, all of that is a reflection of you. And you are a reflection of your organization and its values and its hopes. Howard has asked the team at 1871 to try and model the behavior for the membership that we want them to model in their own businesses, and we’ve really been able to do that. And it requires the leaders of the organizations to be as committed, or more, than anyone else. This is an ongoing lesson of learning for everyone. Will we ever achieve total accuracy? Probably not. Can we wake up every day in the pursuit of it? Absolutely.
Fence It Off
This came from an Inc. column that Howard wrote called “Fence it and forget it,” which was an end-of-the-year / beginning-of-the-new-year sort of piece (https://www.builtinchicago.org/blog/fence-it-and-forget-it). The piece deals with moving forward and dealing with things that may or may not have worked out exactly as planned. While the majority of the article deals with the finances of a company, which not all of us are necessarily involved with, there are valuable lessons in here for how we marshal our time, energy, emotions and attitudes. This has been and will continue to be an extremely important lesson for me. You’ve got only a certain amount of energy and a certain number of hours in a day -- how much of it are you spending trying to fix something that already happened? This is a lesson that can apply to every aspect of your business, and every aspect of your life.
Pics or It Didn’t Happen
At 1871, we take pictures of everything. EVERYTHING. I loved pictures even before I came to 1871 but working with Howard has given me a new appreciation for their role in modern business and society. Pictures are more important than they’ve ever been. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. They are an amazing tool for not just documenting and chronicling what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, but they are also useful in understanding what is going on. Watching Howard’s approach to taking photos and using them to explore and understand our business has had a profound impact on me and the whole team at 1871, and really the whole environment. To wit: we launched a photo wall last year and we have updated it four times. That photo wall contains over 400 pictures of people in our community. This is not an exercise in vanity -- this is an exercise in inclusion. These photos, and the rest of our approach to visual imagery at 1871, come directly from Howard’s viewpoints on this topic and has had a huge effect on everyone who walks through our doors. We don’t have to tell people that 1871 is about, for, and by the community, and always has been and always will be -- they see it.
Never Stop Swimming
Many of you all have probably gone up the stairway at 1871 and visited our 13th floor facility, which houses hundreds of people. Dozens of businesses and thousands of businesspeople have come through the 13th floor since we opened it in February of 2016. What you probably don’t know is that this deal was dead in the water at one point -- literally the space had been given to a different tenant and it was over -- except for Howard, who basically made every phone call and had every conversation and called in every favor until the deal was back on. I can think of at least a dozen things -- big things -- over the past four years that would not have happened but for one person who refused to stop swimming. Good things happen when you don’t give up.
You Never Know Who is Going to Bring You Your Future
Finally, Howard says all the time, “you never know who is going to be your future,” and encourages everyone to consider the possibility that at all times, something may come across the transom that will change your business or your life. The culture here is one of openness to possibility and saying yes -- looking at everything as a chance for a game changer or a break or a new direction. It’s a big part of Howard’s relentlessness around work and his willingness to answer every email, take every phone call, speak at every event, etc. -- because at the end of the day we just really don’t know. A new contact, a new opportunity, a new technology or idea -- all of these things are floating around us at all times. It’s up to us to grab them.
One of the great things about work, especially modern work, is that we all get to take with us everything that we learn. It’s a true opportunity -- as we do good in our jobs and good for our communities and good for others, we can gain a lot of insight, knowledge and wisdom ourselves. It’s been an amazing four years here at 1871, and these lessons are a few of the ones that I’ll take with me, that have benefitted Howard and our team and our community already, and that I think will benefit all of you in the future.
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- 1871 - Where Digital Startups Get Their Start
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- On to Greener Pastures
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