Session 11: SUMMARY

April 2, 2009

First, for your Virtual Quiz – blog here (on Session 11 Summary page) about  takeaways from 4/2 speaker series


Below are the assignments discussed in Session 11

Session 11 PPT LINK


1. Milestone (1pg), Harvest (1 paragraph), and Executive Summary (2 pages-draft 1)


See PPT for section guidance

2. Read:

  • Essentials Chapter 7
  • Woodie Neiss, FlavorX case
  • Other readings on blog


3. Skill Building: Emotional Intelligence and Balance. Online Survey.


4. Provide online feedback: Peer forum-Maria & Evelina


5. Mentor Interview – interviews are DUE

See right column for assignment info. Key takeaways are MUST have. Optional “hit it out of the park” items include addendum of questions asked, bio, and other detail. Maximum 3 page report (excluding addenda)









  1. The biggest thing I took away from our speakers was really all about an exit strategy. When thinking about everything I have written or need to finish writing for our Venture Concepts, the only big thing I was having problems with, was coming up with an exit strategy and a time frame for my plan. I couldn’t really get a good idea of what it would feel like when you knew ‘the time’ had come, or when enough was enough, or basically any factors that go into making the decision to exit your venture. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to talk to them so they could help me get a better idea about when they have, or why they haven’t left their ventures. The really big thing that I took away, was knowing that I should look at my personal life to help me decide on a time frame. Money isn’t everything, and I could use an idea about when I want to get married and have kids as at least a starting point to help me weigh out the options for when I’d like to do something different outside of my venture.

  2. There are three things that really stuck with me after our panel on April 2nd. The first is something Michael said with regard to hiring people. He mentioned that a younger man he is mentoring right now always gets a second and third opinion on the people he is hiring. I thought this was really great advise because having good people around you can be just as important as having a good business plan. I also tend to see the best in people, which is not always an effective tactic when making decisions about who to employ. I will definitely try and collaborate with people who have more experience with this once I am in a position to start hiring my own employees.

    My second major takeaway is something Julie said: “Do whatever you can to rev-up your self-esteem, because people will constantly try to knock you down.” I thought this was very honest of her, and probably very accurate. This made me realize that entrepreneurs need to have a lot of mental toughness. Now that I can anticipate what will happen, I am better positioned to keep moving forward instead of constantly being discouraged along the way.

    Finally, because I am interested in becoming a lawyer one day, I thought Susan J had a lot of interesting insights. She said that one of the benefits of her career path is “holistic lawyering.” The pro bono work she does for entrepreneurs, and her experience as a law professor here at GW helps her understand the bigger picture. This concept is something I was trying to get at in my business plan, and now I have a better idea of how to describe what she is talking about.

  3. I learned a lot from last week’s speakers. All mentioned about the importance of not being afraid to do hard work. They all stressed how important it was for one to not be turned away from the prospect of difficult tasks. I sometimes find myself falling into this trap. At the beginning of the process of creating the business plan for my venture, I initially did not consider turning it into a reality. To me, the prospect of really starting a business seemed as if it would take too much effort and responsibility. The speakers really spoke to me when they also said it takes patience and dedication, all traits that are connected with not being afraid of hard work. Another important takeaway was the advice to always follow your instincts. I tend to internally over-analyze things frequently, a behavior that makes it nearly impossible to ever follow my instincts. After hearing the speakers, I now know that following one’s instinct could very well be the best step.

  4. I learned many things from the speakers last wee, so will make bullets of what I found the most important to me:
    * To shorten the learning curve we should have a mentor. Our have already done most of the things that we are aiming to do, so they can help us to avoid the mistakes that new entrepreneurs tend to do.
    * We should be patient with our business plans. High expectations will rarely be reached in the first few years, so we should not take that as a failure, but a learning process.
    * We should stay in touch with our lawyer. If we develop a relationship with our lawyers, they are more likely to see what our true passions are for the business, which can motivate them to help us more in our ventures.
    * Getting fired can be very difficult, but it can also be liberating. Ms. Kantor mentioned that getting fired was the hardest and the best thing that ever happened to her because she became an entrepreneur. Loosing a job is an opportunity to look for something better for us.
    * As an entrepreneur, we should build a lot of confidence and self-esteem because because we should be able to pick ourselves up when we are knocked down.
    * We should have a lawyer take a look at our business plan so that they can point out possible future problem: cut the problem from its root.
    * Entrepreneurs should build strong relationships with possible acquirers because you never know when you want to do something else in your life.

  5. I think my biggest takeaway from the speakers was to be flexible and prepared for change. Julie said that it’s always an environment of change and your exit strategy should be planned around that. I thought it was interesting that they also mentioned that it’s important not to make the business your whole identity. That is an issue that I have always worried about facing with entrepreneurship, and it has made me hesitate in the past about the toll it may take on me to start my own venture. Michael reiterated having a good mentor and using experts, and Susan Apgood made a very interesting comment about how not all business is good business. It’s okay to be picky with your customers and you may have problems with some otherwise. Lastly, they all agreed that you need to patient with your business plan, the changes you will need to make, and the time it will take to get the business off the ground.

  6. I learned a great deal from the speakers last week. One of the mail things that I learned was that relationships are the most important thing in being successful. It is important to maintain strong relationships to learn from others’ experiences, to discover new opportunities, and to help in developing a new business or idea. Michael Goldstein discussed the importance of getting other people’s input when building a management team and when hiring. THis is important because other people may see a need or skill that you miss. He also mentioned that it is important to develop a strategic relationship with likely acquirers early on.

  7. In line with our class discussions, the speakers all emphasized the importance of mentors and relationships. Michael talked out finding someone who has done exactly what you are planning to do so you can get his or her guidance, and Susan Jones mentioned the need for multiple mentors to help you think strategically as well as the potential for professors to be mentors. They each talked about maintaining relationships with lawyers, accountants, investors, and other contacts as a vital part of the entrepreneurial process; Michael specifically stressed this in the discussion of finding an acquirer for an exit strategy. Another major takeaway from the speakers for me was the need for emotional intelligence. It is essential for entrepreneurs to work well with others, understand corporate politics, and create a “likeability factor.” Women tend to be more emotional, so it seems like in this area we are already ahead of the game. Finally, each of the speakers agreed that in order to be successful and to make the hard work worthwhile, you must love what you do and be passionate about your business.

  8. My key takeaways from the speakers on 4/2 are:

    • Be Protected! – Michael Goldstein told a story about how using family for financial and legal sourced left a lot of holes in his company, leading to a lawsuit later on in his career. This really emphasized the importance of employing people who have an invested interested in the growth and success of your company and have the experience necessary to ensure that there are no legal loopholes. This often means spending the extra money to make sure the job is done right – I think this aspect of starting a business can easily be overlooked
    • Exit Strategy – Many of the speakers commented on the importance of drawing up an exit strategy at the onset of a business venture. Michael Goldstein suggested asking yourself “is this a lifestyle business or a scaleable business?” – because the answer to this will change the scope of the exit strategy. He also suggests forming partnerships with potential acquirers early on.
    • The importance of the “likeability” factor – This is probably my top takeaway from the speakers. I think it is easy for me to get caught up in my competitive nature and often overlook the importance of forming relationships with peers and colleagues. Susan Jones remarked that relationships are everything, and that all else is secondary. This will be especially important for me to keep in mind when I go to law school. It is possible to be competitive without burning bridges and jeopardizing someone else’s success.

    I decided to try on being “comfortable with ambiguity- discerning and accomplishing unclearly stated goals.” Many times at my current job my many bosses will want me to do a task- yet they don’t explain how they would like it done, or when they would like it done by. Also, my role as an intern is often pushed to the limit having a massive work load as well as responsibility in the organization. Although I appreciate being given these opportunities, I think sometimes my colleagues need to remember that sadly, I don’t work a full work week like they do, and I’m also not a salaried employee. Yet dealing with the ambiguity in my role and my tasks has become extremely frustrating which is why I’m taking the challenge to try this on.

    Although nothing has changed around my work, I am responding to the ambiguity better and getting jobs done to the best of my ability. I think common sense plays a huge role in the workplace and although my employers don’t spell what I need to do out for me, I can usually use my instincts to discern what they’re ultimate goal is. If I run into major problems, I can always ask them to clarify what exactly they mean.

  10. The speakers were fantastic last week. My biggest takeaways were from Prof. Jones and Julie. Prof Jones answered the question: What is the number one thing you would do differently? She stated that she would probably have gotten a JD/MBA not “just” her JD. That reaffirmed to me that I am doing the right thing by getting my MBA. She also mentioned that we should all find a way to distinguish ourselves from others. She stressed that we need to show what we are bringing to the table that no one else can provide. As I am looking for a full-time career, I feel that is a great piece of advice to take with me. In addition, she also said that relationships are everything…I am also working on that through networking and informational interviews. Julie also mentioned that she sees everyone she works with as entrepreneurs. I think that is also a good piece of advice because as a manager it gives your employees ownership of their work. She stressed it is important to let people take their tasks and roll with them, let them become the entrepreneur of their position.

  11. My main takeaway from the panelists in class was something said by Susan A. I was shocked to hear her say that she would (and has) actually turned clients away and said no. I have always believed in a naive way that all business is good business. To me, any chance to make more money and be more successful would be opportunities to jump at. Susan proved my ideas wrong and helped me realize that all potential business may not be productive for your own business.

  12. The panel gave excellent advice and were very wise. I am soo glad that I can actually see real entrepreneurs rather than reading online information or hearing it from other people. I have a few takeaways:

    “Do not focus on the money”..Up until now, that has been my secondary focus because I want to be able to work for myself and have a decent living too, but Ms. Susuan’s advice knocked me back to reality..She did not pay herself for the first 14th months rather she invested in good people and a solid business plan which will go a long way.

    Always seek professional advice and have the numbers to back you up…Mr. Micheal story scared me!! I never want to be in a situation where I am being sued but he was able to see it though to the end and was victorious.

    Have a mentor..As stated by the panel, Mentors shorten the learning curve and allows you to have “free mistakes” because they already made them and you learn from them without a price to pay.

  13. The panel gave excellent advice and were very wise. I am soo glad that I can actually see real entrepreneurs and hear their mistakes, rather than reading online information or hearing it from other people. I have a few takeaways:

    “Do not focus on the money”..Up until now, that has been my secondary focus because I want to be able to work for myself and have a decent living too, but Ms. Susuan’s advice knocked me back to reality..She did not pay herself for the first 14th months rather she invested in good people and a solid business plan which will go a long way.

    Always seek professional advice and have the numbers to back you up…Mr. Micheal story scared me!! I never want to be in a situation where I am being sued but he was able to see it though to the end and was victorious.

    Have a mentor..As stated by the panel, Mentors shorten the learning curve and allows you to have “free mistakes” because they already made them and you learn from them without a price to pay.

  14. Book Club Project

    For the Book Club Project Christina and I chose to read: Personal Publicity Planner: A Guide to Marketing You by Marion E. Gold.

    The book first identifies what personal publicity is:
    A broad spectrum of communications designed to shape your image—to present you and your accomplishments in a positive manner
    – Who are you?
    – What you can do for others

    The book is an excellent guide to learning how to present and promote yourself. My key takeaways from the guide were as follows:
    1. No one is going to get the word out for you. Even if you do good work, you must let others know who you are and what your expertise is (within and outside of your organization)
    2. PIE: Performance, Image, Exposure
    – Success is not just a matter of performance—need exposure too
    – Seek out high-visibility assignments
    3. You can market yourself to craft and maintain your professional image
    4. Seek ways to portray yourself as an expert
    – Editorials
    – Articles
    – Speaking engagements

    If you follow the suggestions of the guide, you will be able to maintain your own image and present yourself as an expert to others.

  15. Susan R. Jones mentiones the importance of utilizing your professors for academic and professional advice. Most of us shy away from this since our role is to prove our knowledge to our teachers. However, our professors have the experience, expertise, and passion towards educating others who are eager to learn. Similarly, Jones advises entrepreneurs to keep in continuous contact with their lawyers.

    Susan Matthews Apgood pointed out the importance of having a network group of peers. Her monthly meetings with Vistage helped her step out of her everyday environment to give her another perspective on her business.

    Michael A. Goldstein made me realize the characteristics and spirit of an entrepreneur. It didn’t seem like he was at all altered by the unfortunate lawsuit that ended his first business. Instead of giving up, he fought through a legal battle and proceeded to start up his new business venture. It seems like he will always design his new business as opposed to working for someone else.

  16. Last week’s speaker panel was an excellent way to see entrepreneurship from a few different perspectives. During the panel, I took note of some common themes between this speaker series with the previous one like hard work and distinguishing yourself as an entrepreneur. My main takeaway this week was based on Julie’s advice to be an entrepreneur of your own life by seeing opportunities and following your instincts. I thought this was an interesting point that she brought up, something I’ve never heard anyone say before. I think this relates to a person’s ability to take advantage of an opportunity based on a sense of confidence and a strong belief in yourself. I have a hard time “following my instincts” and making decisions without anyone’s input. Being an entrepreneur of your own life can mean a number of things: taking risks, seizing opportunities, being responsible, and being thick-skinned when life doesn’t go according to plan.

  17. I had several takeaways from the speaker series. These points include:
    1) Get a mentor that has done what you want to do. I’ve consistently heard this advice from numerous speakers. The reason for getting a mentor is it will shorten your learning curve and increase your network or contacts.
    2) Likeability factor is important. I need to be able to work with a team, build and maintain relationships, and work with clients.
    3) Document everything. It is very important to make sure employees and consultants (attorney, accountant, etc) are very detailed oriented and will find/cover any holes in the business. It is worth the cost to get an expert and be protected from potential lawsuits.

  18. My main takeaway came from a statement that Michael made when he was talking about finding employees to work for him. He said he usually doesn’t post available positions at his company and instead, looks for people on LinkedIn. Most of the people he recruits already have full time jobs and are not seeking employment! As someone desperate for a job offer*, this was very interesting to me. I immediately went home and updated a few things on my profile. While this would certainly not be an efficient practice for a large firm, it’s good to know that smaller employers are looking for workers on social media sites–I always kind of thought that was a myth!

    *I finally got a job offer, which makes this revelation a little less powerful than it was on Thursday of last week.

  19. Takeaways from the speaker panel:
    -Exit Strategies: ultimately you want to be acquired by a larger company that you respect; crucial to put together potential partnerships and strategic alliances that will want to acquire you later on; don’t wholly invest yourself in the business (Amos cookies example) because you need to have an exit strategy you’re comfortable with.
    -Money can’t be your motivator, you have to be passionate — I think a lot of people get in to business for the wrong reasons of wanting to just make money and the panel’s discussion of how they didn’t even pay themselves for the first few years after starting companies was a good reminder that it’s more about doing what you love than looking for that next pay check when you’re an entrepreneur.
    -Being an intrapreneur– you don’t always have to look at totally branching off from where you work and becoming independent to see the actualization of your business ideas. I liked this idea that you can be entrepreneurial at your place of work and still have that make you happy.
    Overall the speakers were really great and gave a lot of wonderful advice that put the entire entrepreneurial process in to perspective.

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