Friday, June 28, 2019




Lance Pressl Joins Kaplan Institute

The Electric Narrative with Howard Tullman and Tom Kuczmarski at Zacuto Studios


Shia Kapos' Illinois Playbook

It's Howard Tullman's birthday today, so it seems a perfect time to celebrate his new book — a compilation of the blog posts he's written over the years. If you've followed Tullman's career, you know this book is big. It's 8 ½ by 11 inches and weighs close to three pounds. That's a lot of insight from his 50-year career as an entrepreneur. Tullman is executive Director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Tech in Chicago. I got to know him when he was CEO of 1871 and through his philanthropic and political work (he was a big supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton). His book, "You Can't Win a Race With Your Mouth: And 299 Other Expert Tips From a Lifelong Entrepreneur," offers more than business insight. Tullman's lessons also apply to life. A few chapter titles: "You can't add value if you don't have values," "When you come to the fork, take it," "It takes a thick skin to win" and "Be a builder not a bully."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

New INC Magazine Blog Post by Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman

Get to the Point, or Get Out of My Way

The back story of your product or service may be genuinely interesting. But have I mentioned that I am genuinely not interested in hearing about it? No offense, but in business today, we need to hear about performance and solutions--there's little time for anything else.

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

These days, only old-school print publishers pay writers by the word.  Because they're still stuck in a 19th century model in which they buy ink by the barrel to fill up their pages, never mind the quality. Shouldn't they be paying for the impact of the words rather than the number? On the other hand, web writers must think they're getting paid by the word (they rarely are) because they feel free to bloviate.

Business has a similar problem. Why do so many of the people you encounter every day think that more conversation necessarily leads to better and more effective communication when the truth is often just the opposite. Brevity bolsters the bottom line. In our hurry-up world, time is the scarcest thing we have, and far more important than money. You can always get more money; time's a much more finite and wasting asset. So be quick or be gone.
In almost every business interaction, we simply want people to get to the point. The sooner, the better. Short and sweet. Headlines and CliffsNotes -- if we want or need more, we'll be sure to ask.  Don't call or come see us, we'll call you. This goes for publishers, parents, politicians and our peers and employees as well.
If you got something important to tell me, start there and then; if it's essential and I'm interested, you can elaborate. Otherwise, save us all a lot of time and send me a note. And make it succinct - as we used to say, "If I had more time, I'd be briefer."
And it's not just because we're busy; it's because we've all got other pressing things to do. We're all drowning in data and trying to figure out how to keep our heads above the flood. We're easily bored by minutiae and too much (or too elaborate) detail. And honestly, we don't really care about your adventures, your problems, your feelings or your journey -- we only care about the answer, the outcome and the results.
Whether you're writing or reporting, and especially if you're pitching or selling anything of substance, we don't have time to hear your life story and all the details and hardships you had to endure in order to finally get something done. Yes, we're aware that you had to go through whatever it was but frankly we don't want to re-live that with you in painful and time-consuming detail. Think tweets and texts, not torturous tales. The truth is, we're glad the project/sale/deal is going to happen, we appreciate your hard work, and we might actually say a special "thank you" even though, frankly, it is your job to go after these things and get them done. So, thanks for the info and the update -- here's your hat. What's your hurry?

The very best salespeople know these rules better than anyone - get in, make your pitch, ask for the order, get the sale, shut your mouth, and get out. But too many young entrepreneurs and young people in general haven't gotten the message. They do themselves a world of harm by falling in love with the sound of their own voices and their amazing "story" instead of focusing on the listener/customer and what's needed to close the sale and get the job done. They oversell, they gild the lily, they don't notice the client's eyes starting to glaze over, and they end up leaving without a deal.
Passion and enthusiasm are great in moderation but paying attention to the customer and tapering the conversation to directly and simply address the customer's needs, questions, and concerns are far more important to getting the right message and the critical facts across. Warren Buffett calls this "mirroring the other person" - matching your tone, voice, energy level and enthusiasm to the person sitting across the table from you so you can make an effective connection. Connection precedes effective communication. Slow your spiel down a bit. As the SEALS say: "slow is smooth, smooth is fast." Catch your breath, look the buyer in the eye, and lean into the conversation. Tone of voice and body language mean a lot more at the outset than what you're saying.
And don't speak Greek. When you're back at the shop and everyone's moving at the same speed and knows the story and gets the shorthand expressions and the slang, it's one thing. But when you're out on a sales call, you're meeting new people, they don't have the background, the acronyms, and the experience that you or your team members have, and it's all likely to be a little overwhelming for them. So, take enough time to connect, don't talk down to them, and make sure your message is getting through before you rush ahead.
It's never about what you're selling; it's always about what they're buying.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The CEC and 1871 Elects Larry Eppley As Chairman of The Board of Directors

PRESS RELEASE: The CEC and 1871 Elects Larry Eppley As Chairman of The Board of Directors

The CEC and 1871 is pleased to announce that Larry Eppley, CEC Board Member and Sheppard Mullin Chicago Office Managing Partner, will begin his term as Chairman of The Board of Directors on July 1st. He will succeed Jim O’Connor Jr., who has served as Chairman since January of 2003, and is currently global head of Venture Capital at William Blair.
 Eppley_Larry_4x5 (1)
CHICAGO (June 20, 2019) -- The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) and 1871 announced Thursday that board member Larry Eppley has been elected Chairman of the Board of Directors, effective July 1. Eppley is the Managing Partner of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s Chicago office, a global law firm, where he also leads the firm’s Hospitality Team.
Eppley will succeed Jim O’Connor Jr., who has served as Chairman since January of 2003, and is currently global head of Venture Capital at William Blair. Mr. O’Connor Jr., who has been vital to the development of the CEC and 1871, will be named Chairman Emeritus.
“I’m honored to serve as Chairman,” said Larry Eppley, Incoming CEC Board Chairman. “Having been part of this organization since its pre-1871 days and watching startup after startup grow and flourish under 1871’s support and guidance, I am excited for this next chapter. I look forward to leading the Board and working closely with senior leadership to continue our mission of supporting entrepreneurs on their path to building high-growth, sustainable businesses, creating jobs, and fostering Chicago’s tech ecosystem. Jim’s hard work and legacy has really paved the way for our future.”
“One sign of the success of 1871 is that many people in Chicago already see it as an institution,” said Jim O’Connor Jr., Outgoing CEC Board Chairman. “But for Larry and many of us, getting 1871 to where it is today has been a journey. The entrepreneurship community in Chicago is something we can all be proud of, and Larry’s appointment signals that there’s another phase of work ready to be launched. It will require a leader who knows our history, and the vision to see what’s possible in this new era of momentum and support for building an inclusive tech community in our great city.”
Eppley has more than three decades’ experience helping entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies through his law practice at Sheppard Mullin and his various board positions. Prior to being tapped to open, lead, and grow the Sheppard Mullin Chicago office, Eppley served as General Counsel at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, helping the company through its earliest growth stages. Eppley is the former Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, where he played a crucial role in spearheading the creation of IllinoisVENTURES LLC, a seed and early-stage technology firm that was designed to assist, start and build businesses based on the innovations and ideas from local research institutions. Since its inception, companies assisted by IllinoisVENTURES have raised more than $1 billion in funding.
Eppley also serves on the Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust Board of Directors, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Leadership Board.
“I am delighted to welcome Larry Eppley as Board Chairman during this period of exciting growth for both 1871 and the Chicago tech community,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “It’s been a privilege and honor to work with Jim O’Connor, Jr., and I am certain that Larry will carry on Jim’s tradition of remarkable leadership. As a leader at one of the world’s most prestigious law firms and his extensive background representing entrepreneurs and organizations in all phases of growth, Larry brings extensive boardroom experience and extraordinary vision to our organization. His history on the board promises a seamless transition. I look forward to working with him in his new role as we continue to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses.”
About CEC
Founded in 1999, the CEC is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs on their path to building high-growth, sustainable businesses that serve as platforms for economic development and civic leadership. Its flagship project, 1871, fulfills CEC’s vision of a central address for entrepreneurs in Chicago. The CEC runs and operates the workspace, develops programming, organizes events, and ensures that the culture of 1871 allows entrepreneurs the greatest opportunity for success
About 1871
1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New INC Magazine Blog Post by Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman

Listen to What the Music is Telling Us
It's astonishing how American rock can spread a positive message on foreign shores. And distressing that music is now being used by political lowlifes to divide us.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology
Music has been an important part of almost everyone's life from our earliest days. From soothing parental lullabies and sing-song nursery school rhymes, to painful music lessons and suffering the strains of the high school band; through graduations, weddings and funerals, music has provided the "soundtrack" of our lives and accompanied virtually every important and memorable passage and touchpoint as we've grown up.

For me, music has not only been a constant social companion and an important emotional support, it has also provided a series of exciting and challenging business experiences as well. From my early days as an owner of Rainbow Records, the neighborhood record store, to building and launching some of the most important music content sites, including and, and then on to The Concert of the Century at the White House, I've had a chance to be a small part of every aspect of the music business. And believe me when I say it's been mainly a business, one that's all about making money, which just incidentally happens to create a little great music in the process. Or, as one old timer used to remind me, "we sell records, not music".   

But whatever you want to say about how awful and exploitive the music business has been, (and no one ever said it better than Hunter S. Thompson), the music that eventually does get made has a consistent power and a seductive sway over our minds and our hearts that no other form of media can claim. You may vaguely remember a classic movie scene or two or an old episode of some TV show; but deeply embedded in your brain are the melodies and lyrical phrases to hundreds of songs, which leap from your subconscious memory the moment that you hear a familiar riff or a certain chord. We can't help it even if we were so inclined. You can't start it with a switch, and you can't kill it with a gun. And we also can't predict it, duplicate it, or determine what piece of magic will do the trick. There's a world of difference between a jingle and a hit single, but nobody (since the days of the Brill Building and the Beatles) has been able to figure out what exactly it is or how to recreate it on a consistent basis.   

But I think that music doesn't really get anywhere near the credit that it should for a much greater and more important contribution to all of our lives. The truth is that music (and not Coca-Cola) is how we taught the entire world to sing and, more importantly, to sing in English. And, even in an increasingly globalized world (and with the possible recent exception of the K-Pop kids), it's been almost exclusively a one-way street. Sure, we had Danke Schoen, which wasn't really a U.S. hit until it was recorded with English lyrics by Wayne Newton (and then reborn 20+ years later in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). But basically - much like the Internet and computer coding - music has mainly been about English.

One of the most interesting things about attending a Springsteen or Eagles concert in a place where English isn't the first language is watching what happens during the audience participation parts. Tens of thousands of, say, Swedish fans sing whole choruses verbatim and never miss a beat, a key line or a special phrase. Not only are they singing in unison and singing about things they've typically never seen or imagined, they're bound together in a very interesting and almost spiritual way as a single organism composed of thousands of individual and highly diverse parts. Everyone is a part of the same and special moment. And they're all connected at the same time to worlds far away from them and yet made by the music a part of their shared experience as well.

And, in these moments, there's a common feeling and warmth among the participants that is palpable and also reflected back to the performers on stage. If you haven't been in the crowd or, better yet, stood on one of those stages as the whole structure pulses and shakes with the soaring sounds and the pounding feet of the crowd, the feeling is impossible to describe and unlike any other experience except maybe those at a few major sporting events-- although the singular sense of unity is usually missing there. And in that crush of hot, sweaty and often drunk bodies, everyone is also remarkably forgiving and patient because no one really wants to kill the good vibrations or the buzz. It's hard to be angry when you've gotta "peaceful, easy feeling" or a "hungry heart."

But not all crowds or moments are the same. I guess you could call it different strokes for different folks. I was struck by this distinction when I witnessed a recent political rally where the noise levels and the size of the crowd may have been similar to a small arena show, but the ambient feelings were painfully different. The music was cranked up, the crowd screamed and chanted from time to time, and there was a certain frenzy, but there was no soul at the heart of the event.

It wasn't a single, united crowd -- it wasn't a celebration of anything good and right - it was a bunch of angry individuals being egged on by an asshole who wasn't focused on bringing anyone together for even a brief respite. Instead, the speaker worked to highlight the differences (even among those present) as well as the real and imagined grievances that they all brought with them to the rally. It was heartless and ugly, and mostly, it was sad for them and especially sad for all of us. 

Too many rallies today may try to play the same music, but they lose all the meaning if the ultimate message is one of hate. We can do better, and the whole world is listening.


Saturday, June 15, 2019


TECH-X Dinner

Later this month, leaders of Chicago’s tech industry will gather at Illinois Tech’s second TECH-X Awards event to honor one of our city’s leading corporate citizens, a visionary for electronic trading, and the longest serving director in CME’s history, Jack Sandner. We thought it important to share details regarding this evening’s festivities, and invite you to participate.

Chicago’s only tech-focused university, Illinois Tech, is positioned to become a nationally recognized leader in computing and computing technology within the next five years, which includes building a workforce skilled in computational science and problem solving. Our Active Computational Thinking (ACT) Center is one way that we will accomplish this goal. The ACT Center will provide critical aid to partners in Chicago and beyond who seek to apply computational thinking in new ways. The ACT Center will also be a conduit for partners whose interests match core research areas of Illinois Tech’s Department of Computer Science: big data, cloud computing, cyber security, and computational science. TECH-X will benefit the ACT Center.

TECH-X takes place Monday, June 24 at the Skylight Board of Trade and will benefit Illinois Tech’s ACT Center. Jack is a true technology pioneer and will be honored alongside Illinois Tech alumnus Hazem Dawani, CEO of Predata, who will receive the TECH-X Emerging Leader Award. Kristi Ross, co-CEO and president of tastytrade will lead a conversation with Jack and Hazem focusing on the direction of the financial tech industry.

Below you will find the event details; reservations are available at: Please join us.

Alan Cramb
Michael Galvin
Board Chairman
Peter Kilpatrick

Monday, June 24, 2019
6:00 p.m. — Reception
7:00 p.m. — Dinner
Skylight Board of Trade
141 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
312.553.2000 |

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