Monday, June 28, 2004

Art of the Start

Brendon Wilson puts up the Art of the Start Guy Kawasaki conf online.

I struggled (this is the introduction chapter of the book) to come up with a Top Ten the things you really need to do to start your company off correctly. And there are not ten things - the most that I could come up with (that are crucially important) is five. So this is a top five for you - I'd like to go through these top five things and discuss them in rather great detail from The Art of the Start.

Lesson 1: Make Meaning

The first thing I learned that, you know as Bill alluded to, is that we have seen literally thousands of companies over the past six or seven years, and we have met tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur teams. And with hindsight, although we were honestly swept up in it as much as they were, I think the thing that we learned the top level thing you must have. If you're going to create company and that company's going to be successful, it is because the founders of the company want to make meaning. Not money. Not prestige. Not power. Not status. It is about making meaning.

I would encourage you entrepreneurs as you're contemplating your companies or forming your companies to think about what is the meaning going to be? Not the money. Money is the outcome of successful meaning-making, if you will.

Let's analyze the types of meaning - I think there are principally four types:

* One is to make the world a better place by a product or a service.
* The second is to increase the quality of life of people.
* The third is to right something that is wrong, to fix something.
* The fourth is to prevent the end of something good.

Lesson 2: Make A Mantra

Lesson number two is a passionate request from me for you to focus on making an organization mantra. Now a mantra is very different from a mission statement. A mantra is typically shorter - arguable the shortest mantra ever is "om" (the Hindu mantra) - it is a sacred verbal formula. It is thing where if you could ask any employee "what do you do?", they would understand it immediately and be able to consistently communicate the purpose and meaning of the company.

A mantra is short and sweet. Let me give you some examples.

Nike's mantra is "authentic athletic experience". If you were to ask a Nike employee "what do you do?", it is about "authentic athletic experience'. Disney is about "fun family entertainment". The Green Bay Packers football - "winning is everything". Those are mantras, they are not mission statements.

By contrast, let me give you a mission statement. Starbuck's mantra is "rewarding everyday moments". Starbuck's mission statement is: "established Starbucks as the premier provider in the world of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow". Which one do you think is easier to remember?

Lesson 3: Get Going be continued


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