Monday, September 24, 2007

Brand You 50

Tom Peters has written many great books and hosts an especially valuable web site and blog that I recommend you visit often for information and inspiration.

I noted with great interest that Tom has initiated a seminar series based on one of my favorite books of his called Brand You 50. This is the one business book I insist my startup clients and students read.

I call Brand You 50 'the book that can not be excerpted'. If you took out all the valuable stuff, you'd be left with the blank pages and copyright stuff.

This book was first published in 1999 during the precipitous rise in the economy, yet Tom used this work to focus not on big picture, meta stuff, but on the role individuals can and should play in their own commercial lives. If you haven't followed or read Tom before, you'll need to adjust to his writing style. Tom's free flow of street level wisdom will hook you.

The substance here is clear and demanding: you'd better matter. Quickly.

I believe the book was initially written for people working to advance their careers within organizations,. However, I make every one of my startup clients get this book and absorb it as early as possible in their emerging lives as entrepreneurs.

What's so valuable to me about this lesson in entrepreneurship is that you not only matter, you have to change the world. It will likely be in small incremental ways (or perhaps Ghandi-esque proportions), but you need to participate. We need you. You need to get in the game and help the world grow better.

Here's several pieces that I really think are clarion calls to entrepreneurship...

(On vanishing job security)... "My answer: Return to Job Security! (Not the answer you expected, I bet.) But it's New Job Security. Or, actually, Very Old New Job Security. It's what job security was all about before - long before -! Big Corp. Before Social Security. And unemployment insurance. Before there was a big so-called safety net that had the unintended consequence of sucking the initiative, drive, and moxie out of millions of white collar workers."

"I'm talking about job security in the Colonies and in the first century after our country was founded. Which was: Craft. Distinction. Networking skills."

"Craft = Marketable skill.
Distinction = Memorable.
Networking skills = Word of mouth collegial support."

"It's as old as the colonial blacksmith. (And his modern counterpart, the housepainter, or local CPA) As new as Hollywood. Or the peripatetic web programmer in San Francisco, or Austin, or Raleigh-Durham... or Tahiti."

"It's about being so damn good and meticulous and responsible about what you do (and making sure what you do is work that needs to be done) that the world taps a T1 speed path to you."

Bingo! Be responsible and authoritative about what you do and make sure what you do solves a real problem. There's an elevator pitch for entrepreneurship if I've ever heard one.

Let me take one more piece from Brand You 50 and hoist it up the flag as a shout out to everyone (and a flat out demand of my boomer peers!) to embrace and honor the entrepreneurial instincts within all of us...

"Master bootstrapping. From UPS to Marriott, most of the companies we most admire were founded on a shoestring. Literally: Less than a coupla thousand bucks."

"You don't need a silver (corporate or personal) spoon to sally forth. You do need passion, commitment, a few pals... and a Consuming Desire to take the next, usually wee step"


- you do have 'space'.

- You don't need 'permission'.

- You don't need 'power'.

- You don't need a 'big' task.

- You don't need money."

"Money kills (or at least it can). With big bucks, you're too soon beholden to the funder... which can prevent us from taking the truly WOW leaps. But mostly, history is on your (poverty stricken) side. Most cool stuff - products, and companies and revolutions - was started in basements and garages, for (literal) pennies. Sony, UPS, Marriott, Apple, HP, Pizza Hut, Microsoft, FedEx, etc."

"Consider: Imagine Ghandi's budget. He merely created Earth's Largest Democracy."

When I train or mentor new entrepreneurs virtually all have the desire to launch, but many are too ready to back away from barriers they have only assumed were there. These barriers are of our own making. In fact, as Tom Peters indicates, most barriers are resources to build on, seen from the right perspective.

Get this book by Tom Peters, then read all the rest he's written. Visit Tom's web site often. Go to the Brand You seminar if it lands near you.

If you need a book to inspire your entrepreneurship goals, Brand You 50 is it.

This is the renaissance age of entrepreneurship, and it's just beginning.

You are important to all of us. You are vital to all our futures. You belong in the world and you can make an entrepreneurial contribution that is compelling and valuable. Don't wait for a time when things are just right. Take your "WOW leap".

We need your contribution as an entrepreneur. Your time is NOW, friend.

Tom Peters web site

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