I learn new big foundational truths every year. Yet for some reason, three trends in particular that I learned this year meaningfully shifted how I understood my country, in particular the work I do in reporting and organizing around economic development.
They’re so important and telling that I admit I’m a little embarrassed I only really understood them this year.
Continue reading 3 trends I learned this year that totally shook my understanding of the American economy
The truest goal for starting a company is to grow it to a stronger place of stability.
To battle a generational low point in business incorporation, we’ve built a solid drumbeat celebrating entrepreneurship. To complement this charge, we need a serious dialogue about transitioning founders into leaders, from the one who started a company to the one who is growing it.
As a cofounder of 25-person publishing company Technically Media who has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs along the way, I am experiencing this transition myself. To give yourself the best shot at success in business, you must know what your goals are. One of them should be looking for opportunities to make this transition from founder to leader.
That was the focus of a lecture and workshop I led at the second annual Fearless Conference, held by the precocious Melissa Alam, who has developed a wonderful community of (mostly) young women aspiring to build businesses of their own. Below I share my slides, some notes and reaction to my talk.
Continue reading Be a leader, not a founder
Policymakers and economic development strategists are startup crazy — in pursuit of a silly goal. I know. I’ve spent most of the last decade reporting on young tech companies, exactly the slice of firm creation that has led much of the attention in this post-recession fixation.
Though I’ve taken various approaches at understanding what, if anything, is really different about this era’s of business creation, I recently found myself pulling together some data that I wanted to share.
Hype around startups — newly created businesses, particularly ones that are approaching new business models — has merit. But the concept isn’t as new and their impact isn’t yet as bold as you might hope — Millennials are on pace to be one of the least entrepreneurial generations on record.
Continue reading Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context
I work at a startup. Not a tech startup or, to be honest, according to some, any kind of startup at all. I help lead a growing, young, small media business that happens to cover technology companies and startup culture, so I’m around conversations about definitions a lot.
Let me be clear: in this post, I’m using the definition I use for ‘startup,’ meaning a young company testing a business model. I’m writing here about what type of person I’m finding can work best in such an environment, which is different (but neither better, nor worse) than a large corporation or even another smaller, but more stable and more clearly defined, organization.
Continue reading What you need to know to work at a startup
Editor’s Note: I’ve given this presentation several times, so it’s been updated through the years. I’ve also written on this subject here and here — and here.
When pitching your venture or product, send a business or technology reporter a three sentence email, explaining in super simple language (a) what your project is, (b) why it matters and (b) who you are.
That was one of the better received recommendations I made while presenting for the Lean Startup seminar held at the Venturef0rth incubator in Callowhill, Philadelphia this weekend.
See my presentation slides above or find it here and past writing on the subject here and here. My colleague Sean Blanda has a post giving broad advice here, which includes a great list of questions to be prepated for, though I was a bit more specific to the 30 entrepreneurs in the room on starting the conversation. Details on my slide below.
Continue reading How to get a reporter to care about your business: a Lean Startup presenation
Social entrepreneurship is an opportunity for Philadelphia to create a regional distinction for attracting and retaining startup talent, was the central theme of my Pecha Kucha presentation Saturday night.
It was an extension of my writing on social entrepreneurship here.
The lightning talk event, in which a dozen speakers use 20 seconds for each of 20 images to give a five-minute perspective, was having its ninth iteration locally, after having been launched by graphic designers in Tokyo in 2004. See the slides from the presentation below.
Continue reading Social entrepreneurship should be Philadelphia’s regional distinction: my Pecha Kucha presentation
Philadelphia, like any other city that wants to compete in a global marketplace, needs a regional distinction that sets it apart, and in this place, nothing makes more sense than for Philadelphia to define itself as the hub for social entrepreneurship and urban renewal.
Around the world, our hubs of innovation and culture, of education and community are densest and most alive in cities. All of the truly great problems of our time — war and crime and poverty and disease and education and violence and racism and hunger and employment — are either exacerbated by or housed most primarily in our cities.
As a country, if the United States intends to continue to play some form of a major role in the future, the sense seems to be that we will need to do that by continuing to be smarter. Adaptability, industrial might and military strength have served us well, but we need to look for the next train.
Entrepreneurship and the spirit that came out of World War II federal funding (largely in Philadelphia first) helped define the last quarter century of American cultural impact. At a time of high unemployment and a sluggish economy, high technology and scale is meant to be that next train.
So cities do a lot of hand wringing about how to replace widgets with gadgets.
The trouble is that, as a friend put it, if Silicon Valley represents the overwhelming majority of investment in the country, and New York City is in second place, then just about every other city that is even trying is in third place.
How should Philadelphia (like any other big city) try to stand out?
Continue reading Social entrepreneurship: how Philadelphia could have a regional distinction for startups