Gary Hoover On How to “Think Like an Entrepreneur” and Succeed in Your Business

This week, I had the distinct honor of hearing Gary Hoover present at the Houston Technology Center on how to “Think Like an Entrepreneur”.  Gary Hoover is a successful entrepreneur having founded companies including Bookstop and Hoovers.com and he’s spent the last year as the “Entrepreneur in Residence” at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Austin.

Gary’s presentation was described as an “intense, information and idea packed presentation… [that] will be like drinking from a fire hydrant.”  That description was spot-on.

I took over 5 pages of notes, mostly trying to type as fast as I could and catch the great and inspiring quotes of wisdom plus the recommendations for books and specific, actionable items Gary said we could do to change the way we thought and be more successful and innovative in business.  

Gary began his presentation by personally handing everyone in the audience his business card and shaking our hands.  On the back of Hoover’s card are the top 8 things he believes are keys to making great enterprises.  Download a larger photograph of his business card with the 8 tips to keep and view more photos from the evening presentation in the Tendenci Photo Album I’ve created.

If you are interested in a  full copy of my notes, leave a comment below or send me an email at sworthy@tendenci.com and I’ll gladly send them to you.

I was inspired by how much of what Gary recommended for being a more successful entrepreneur also applied to the work we do at Schipul for our clients in web development, website design, and web marketing.  In learning to think more like an entrepreneur, you also learn to see different perspectives, understand the ‘bigger picture’ of your business, and receive lifelong benefits personally and professionally.

Probably the most profound statement of the evening from Gary was when he said:

‘I define entrepreneurship as getting great personal satisfaction from serving others… you have to love it and others have to love [what you are giving them].  

The people who are most happy with their lives at my stage are the people who have spent their whole lives working to make the world a better place.”

Here are Gary’s recommendations for learning how to “Think Like an Entrepreneur”.  My goal is for you to find the same inspiration and ways to relate them to your daily life as I found.

Practice the Habit of Wisdom

‘These are people who just cannot be anything but an entrepreneur.    They may fail a lot’ because it’s hard to get them to sit still, hard to get them to focus… but ultimately they are going to succeed because they just don’t stop.”

As Gary states, some people are born fundamentally entrepreneurial and others are born to be bureaucrats, while the rest of us fall someplace in between the 2 extremes.  If you want to become more entrepreneurial, then you will need to change by developing better thinking habits.

To develop these habits, you’ll first need to master the 3 things Gary calls his working definition of wisdom :

  1. Knowing what matters and what doesn’t matter.
  2. Knowing what changes and what doesn’t change.
  3. Knowing what you can change and what you can’t change.

These are three easy concepts to understand and yet, very difficult to master. As Gary put it, “There’s no rocket science here, but you’ll spend your whole life trying to figure out what matters and what doesn’t.”

Be Curious

“Study the great entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and so on, and you’ll find an intense curiosity.”

Gary explains the importance of doing your research before starting a new business venture.  The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who ask the most questions and really understand the marketplace, the customers and competitors, and gain insight into the future of the business environment.

Ask the managers and owners of similar businesses questions like:

  • What do you like about your job, and what don’t you like?
  • What is the best day you’ve ever had… describe your worst day?
  • What do you look for in an employee and how do you hire and train new people?

By asking questions and being curious, you can begin to gain perspectives from other people and understand the why’s and the how’s and the what’s…

When you begin to understand these different perspectives beyond your own, you can make better decisions and you are more equipped to solve problems as they are thrown randomly at you.

Read Every Day

“The key question is do you see yourself in a box or not in box?”

The greatest thought leaders in the world are also the most avid readers.  Read daily, Gary recommends, books and business journals… the beauty of the internet is the availability of so much free and great reading material.

Here are 2 books Gary recommended Tuesday night:

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovators DNA describes 4 skills required for innovation:

  1. Observing
  2. Networking
  3. Experimenting
  4. Questioning

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

Mindset describes the importance of not locking your children or yourself into a set way of thinking.  Gary recommended this book and said “It’s not about being smart or being stupid: people who think they’re smart are locking themselves in a box just like people who think they’re stupid.”

Entrepreneurship is not About the Technology

“Entrepreneurship is a lifelong process of self-understanding: learning about yourself .”

As I listened to Gary’s presentation, I found myself mentally replacing the word “entrepreneurship” with “Marketer” and “Schipulite”. We’re passionate about providing great service to our clients.  We’re constantly asking questions and inviting our clients to come hang out with us so we can get to know you.  We never stop trying to innovate and find better ways to help your business increase online and offline revenues through your website and web marketing.

These quotes from Gary’s presentation were my favorite because they gave me new perspectives on creating a better user experience through our Tendenci CMS for you, your staff, and your website visitors:

‘When I use the word technology, I mean any way of doing better things…  Technology is only relevant to the extent that it makes people’s lives better!”

“Step back and look at the big pattern’ and the big pattern here is that ALL MEDIA has been digitalized, it’s all been turned into 0’s and 1’s.”

Be obsessed with your customer and making great products for them and you will succeed’ be passionate about it.  It is about making it good for the user!”

I would love to hear how we can make our products and services better for You and anything else you want to add!  Please tell us below in our comments or Come Hang Out With Us and get to know us.  (And I promise to ask you lots of questions!)

NetSquared Connects Techies and DoGooders in San Francisco Bay Area

While Silicon Valley and the Bay Area can at times be a whole world apart from Houston, there are still many things the two areas have in common – tech, geeks, startups, non-profits, and people passionate about changing the world through technology. If you’re in the Houston area, hopefully you’ve made it out to one of the Houston NetSquared meetings that Schipul hosts. They’re always fun and informative – a great way to bounce ideas of others working at the intersection of technology and do-gooding. Ed & Katie started the Houston group back in 2006, and have kept it going strong since.

I was excited to check out the San Francisco NetSquared group when I moved to this part of the world, but unfortunately couldn’t make the meeting that took place right after my move. And then summer hit, which those of us in the Bay Area know, is traditionally a quiet time for groups and activities. At the end of summer, the NetSquared community managers sent out word to group members that the previous organizer was no longer able to run the group, and asked if there was any interest in taking over those duties. Being a NetSquared fan girl, I threw my hat in the ring and offered to take the reins. I was lucky enough to have a very enthusiastic community that offered support, and fortunately two awesome folks – Regina Walton and Dave Theriault – stepped up to serve as co-organizers too. Together, the three of us are totally awesome. And no, I’m not biased at all!

I am super excited to get things kicked off with the November Meetup. Young Han from GoVoluntr will be speaking to the group about how he got started in the technology startup space, and what challenges non-profits have today and how technology can help solve them. Young is an amazing guy; I first met him at a Mountain View Chamber event hosted by our friends at Westminster Promotions. Bonus points went to me for immediately understanding what he was trying to go with GoVoluntr; we hit it off from there and have since had several great conversations surrounding do-gooding in technology. Young’s philosophy with GoVoluntr matched the Schipul Core Values so well; it was clear we’d be friends!

GoVoluntr has had an exciting fall, being asked to join the 500 Startups class. They’ve moved in to the group’s space in Mountain View (bonus to being just down the road from us in Sunnyvale – closer for coffee!) and Young and his team are getting their brains crammed with all sorts of amazing training and knowledge. Check out the recent post about their class from TechCrunch, and if you’re a Bay Area non-profit or do-gooder (yes, that’s totally a word) be sure to check out GoVoluntr!! Young and his team have built an amazing tool for connecting volunteers with those who need them, and giving volunteers a way to share and track their activity.

If you’re in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley area, we’d love to see you at a NetSquared event! If you can’t join us on November 8th, no worries – we’ve got speakers lined up for December and January, so join us then! And if you’d be interested in presenting to the group, or know someone who might be, please do let me know! We’re always on the look out for new ways to geek out over tech.

Drupal and WordPress at SchipulCon: One Stage, One Open Source Love

Open Source Discussion with the Founders of Drupal and WordPress from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co.

“People being told what to do and working for money are never going to match people working for passion and a community.”
~Matt Mullenweg

“With every cell in my body, I believe that Open Source is the way forward.  Especially when it comes to websites, but also beyond just websites.”
~Dries Buytaert

We were beyond honored to host Drupal founder Dries Buytaert and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg at our SchipulCon 2011 event.

Guided by David Stagg, the open source conversation survived epic microphone turmoil  years of open source competitiveness to showcase the true brilliance and passion of these open source leaders.

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg share the SchipulCon stage

Around Designers vs Developers Flocking to WordPress and Drupal (Respectively)

Matt:  “I learned a ton about code and programming and back end systems… mainly because I had sort of a vision of something that I wanted a user to realize…. and so we made certain design choices from a technical view that to me are more intuitive.

There were two big pressures early in WordPress’ life:  1) everyone wanted us to adopt a templating system because everyone at the time had one  and 2) they wanted us to go a strict object oriented model.  So you could extend everything WordPress does through classes essentially.

We took an action oriented plug-in approach… which is perhaps not as correct from a programmer’s point of view, but easier for beginner users.”

Dries:  “When I started Drupal, I was in college to get a computer science degree – almost an engineer.  So I wasn’t too concerned about user experience – more obsessed with the architecture and the right APIs and all of these things.

When I finally released Drupal as open source, it really attracted an audience of developers.  The initial community was a developer community and began to expand to more and more developers.  That emphasis on architecture was reinforced.   [We’re] trying to change that and it’s slowly starting to work – it’s very much historical.”

>>> Cool side notes:  Matt has been a Drupal member for 8 years and one week.  His interests on his profile include typography and simplicity (the only person to include this in their profile).  Years back,  Matt gave a credit to Drupal and reminded Dries that he had some code in WordPress very early on — time for Matt to contribute to Drupal!

Wordpress and Drupal at SchipulCon

What Do you Wish you had Done that the Other Did?

Dries:  Matt did a lot of things right, he started his company sooner, WordPress.com is a tremendous asset to get more people involved and his focus on design and usability is key – a very important thing to do very early on.  In a way, Drupal is paying the penalty for not doing this early on.

Matt:  When I look at the Drupal community, the thing that I like is that the software runs the community itself.  The bug tracker is Drupal, the forum, the issues – everything is Drupal.  Also the 3rd party developer community – even though WP has more websites, we have fewer of the large consulting firms.  Drupal has a lot more large development firms building these giant websites, that’s not as common with WordPress.

How Do you Benefit from the Other Existing?

Dries:  If WordPress wins, Drupal wins.  Because that means Open Source is winning.

Matt:  Competition is good.  Anytime any firm or product does something amazing, the bar has been raised.

Want more SchipulCon brain candy and memories?

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg jumping like mad

We’ve got some great SchipulCon speaker videos going live in the next couple of weeks, just be sure to keep an eye on our SchipulCon video gallery! Matt and Dries chat photo album has lots of great photos of these great guys and be sure to find yourself in all of our albums from the event.

Thanks again for being such a special part of SchipulCon!

Let’s Talk About Spaceships Tonight with SpaceUp Houston

SpaceUp HoustonEveryone here at Schipul loves hi-tech, geeky things like robots, iphones, and rockets.  That’s why we are super excited and honored to be helping SpaceUp Houston with tonight’s Commercial Spaceflight Panel where I will be helping as a volunteer in my usual tasmanian devil fashion, (imagine the whirling dust devil everywhere at once).

SpaceUp Houston  provides an engagement platform to nuture new and radical concepts, help develop partnerships, and wants to help you create a future worth living in.

Their next event is tonight, August 18th and features a Commercial Spaceflight Panel with representatives from several aerospace companies including Virgin Galactic, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launce Alliance.  These companies will be talking about their company’s objectives and where they currently stand timeline-wise for spaceflight projects, research and employment opportunities, commercial crew and their barriers to success, and other related topics.

The panel will be held from 7PM to 9PM tonight at the Lunar Planetary Institute in Clear Lake, TX near Johnson Space Center.  Tickets for the commercial spaceflight panel are sold out and luckily, SpaceUp Houston has arranged to live stream the evening’s discussion.

After the panel, the audience will be invited to meet the panel members and mingle in the main lobby until 9:45pm.

Come join us tonight on SpaceUp Houston’s uStream  and I’ll be the one behind the uStream chat so say Hi and let me know what questions to ask our panelists!

HOWTO: Keep your cell phone safe and secure

Cell phone user thanks to Gwenflickr

Time to put the smart in smart phone!

With news updates of phone hacking scandals splashing headlines the world over, we’re hearing lots of cell phone security buzz – and for good reason too!

While a major news outlet may not be interested in your cell phone activities (or we sure hope not!), this is still a great time to make sure you are practicing some solid cell phone security practices.

Keep that cell phone close by!

You are far more likely to misplace / lose a cell phone than to get hacked, so be sure your little handheld buddy doesn’t stray too far.

  • Beware of keeping your phone on your table at busy restaurants, leaving your phone in the car (even just for a ‘second’), etc.
  • Find a ‘funky’ cover or skin to make it super easy to identify your iPhone – avoid an accidental mix up easily (I’m a big fan of the Infectious skins) when at a networking event or dinner with 7,000 other iPhone / Blackberry / Android users
  • Password protect your phone to keep your logins, contacts, email and notes safe from undesirables – also great for making sure any kiddos in your life don’t make random calls to Japan
    • For safety purposes, use an emergency app like smart-ICE to not only store your ICE info (‘In Case of Emergency’) for paramedics to be aware of medical conditions, insurance details and contact info, but add ICE info to your locked screen (in addition to your quirky-cool smart phone wall paper).
  • Install a phone location / security app on your phone, a few examples:

Beware of public Wifi + ‘Evil Twins’

Yay for public Internet access!   But boo for public Wi-Fi security.   Extra emphasis on that ‘boo’ when using a credit card or login, as not all Wi-Fi connections are as secure and innocent as they seem.   Learn more about the ‘Evil Twin’ phishing scam here.

As cumbersome and slow as it might be, opt for your 3G / 4G network connection over a public Wi-Fi connection to stay secure.   Or pick up your own piece of the Internet and invest in a MiFi card.

What’s up with hardware and software security?

Not all apps and phones are created equal.   As an iPhone user, Apple has a more stringent vetting process of apps that helps weed out *most* malicious programs.   Android’s app community is far more open and has had some security exploits in early 2011.

Use common sense when purchasing apps and accessing certain sites (like your bank account, for instance) on your smart phone.   Beware of ‘look alike’ apps that might be masquerading as a Chase banking utility and think twice about depositing checks using a phone app – and learn the safe ways to bank on your phone here..

Photo thanks to Flickr user GwenFlickr