Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I read a very interesting blog post the other day about "survivor bias," an important statistical principle that could greatly affect your future success.
In brief, survivor bias occurs when an analysis excludes information since that information no longer exists.
Let me give you an example...
The English forces, during World War II, sent planes each day to bomb the Germans. As you might expect, several of these planes were shot down. And, the ones that did come back typically returned with multiple bullet holes.
Now, the English obviously wanted to maximize the chances of its planes and soldiers returning home. So English engineers studied the planes that returned. In doing so, they found patterns among the bullet holes. Specifically they found lots of holes on the wings and tail of the plan, but few in the cockpit or fuel tanks.
As a result, the English added armored plating to the wings and tail.
As you might have already concluded, this was the wrong thing to do. The better decision would have been to add armored plating to the cockpit and fuel tanks. For, the planes that were shot in those places were the planes that were shot down and never returned.
The English engineers' analysis missed this data because these were the planes that they were unable to examine. This is "survivor bias"-- their inability to include this critical data in their analysis since it was unavailable or didn't "survive."
So why does this matter to you?
It matters because as you start and/or grow your businesses, you will have to hire service providers and staff. And naturally, you will want to hire those with a track record of success.
But, when you hire staff who have only worked at successful companies, you may fall victim to survivor bias. That is, they have not learned many of the lessons that individuals and companies learn when they fail.
Likewise, when you hire a service provider that claims that every one of their clients has been successful, maybe they haven't learned from client failures.
They say that you learn more from failure than from success.
While that can be debated, from personal experience I can say that I've learned a ton from both failure and success. From successes, I have learned principles and formulas that worked. The ones I strive to replicate on a daily basis.
And from failures, I have learned things to avoid. I have learned flaws in my thinking. But importantly, many of my successes have come out of failure. From tinkering ideas and plans that weren't quite working. And making them work. And, these new ideas would never have come to me had I not failed first.
Now, clearly my advice is not to hire failures or those with a habit of failure. But, likewise, it's not to hire staff or service providers who claim to always succeed. Since a balance between success and failure often provides that winning combination of wisdom.
So, the next time you are interviewing a key hire or service provider, make sure to ask about their failures. Ask about tasks and jobs that they or their companies failed at. And find out what they learned from that failure.
Ideally they are the types of candidates that learned a lot from their failures and were able to overcome them. This is because the vast majority of growing companies fail at things over and over again. It is their ability to constantly modify and improve their businesses that enables them to excel. Surround yourself with people that have this ability.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, August 31, 2009
As readers of the Growthink blog know, I LOVE Kiva (Please read my past blog post on it here). For those not familiar with it, Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending site –allowing individuals, primarily from developed countries, to lenddirectly to entrepreneurs in the developing world. The borrowers arein places like Cambodia, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Peru, andTanzania – and primarily borrow to allow their very small businesses toexpand and hire.
Kiva was created in 2005 and originally funded 7 loans for a total of$3,500 which were all paid in full.
Since then, it has grown incredibly. Try these stats on for size:
Growthink's first Kiva loan (first of many we hope), was made to Ms. Tamalii Iopu, owner of a fishing business in Luatuanuu, Somoa. Ms. Iopu, a single mother of two, borrowed money last year to buy new fishing gear, and repaid it in full last month.
I would like to say that we had a particularly scientifically methodology for selecting Ms. Iopu from among the literally THOUSANDS of very deserving entrepreneurs on Kiva. The reality is, like most Kiva lenders, we simply connected to her story as presented on the site. And the very pure repayment histories of all of the borrowers is beyond inspiring.
Growthink hopes to do a LOT more with Kiva in the months and years to come. As I noted in my previous post, we love it because:
Written by Jay Turo on Sunday, August 30, 2009
Did you know that in the last 10 years, every major stock market index has LOST investors money?
And up until recently, access to quality early-stage private equity return vehicles has been a) cost and time prohibitive for most institutional investors and b) simply inaccessible to the smaller, individual investor.
1. The ability to source, research, and monitor deals via the Internet
2. The ability to take a data - versus a personality - driven approach to deal diligence
3. The ability to better price deals utilizing regression analysis
4. The ability to exit deals faster - both via alternative investment trading platforms like Second Market - and also simply because of the increasing velocity of business, especially technology business.
5. The ability and opportunity to properly apply "black swan," or "randomness" modeling to deal diligence
Best regards, and look forward to connecting.
P.S. Are you prepared to be saying in 2019 - "Darn - It has now been 20 years since I made any money with my investments?" The world has changed - time to change with it.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, August 26, 2009
According to the book "How To Be Like Mike: Life Lessons About Basketball's Best," Jordan's practice habits and conditioning regimen amounted to an "almost alarming harshness."
In fact, many experts, such as Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson, argue that practice continually trumps talent. Prominent examples of success attributed to continuous practice besides Jordan include:
These same practicing principles apply when you are selling your company and your products/services to investors, customers, partners and/or employees.
With regards to your elevator pitch, which is often your opening communications with all outside constituents, practice it over and over again until it flows from your mouth and causes prospects to nod in agreement and understanding each and every time.
With regards to your investor presentations, you should practice them over and over again. And when you practice them, you should think about the goals of your presentation and simulate the questions you might be asked.
For example, you should be thinking:
By practicing your presentation over and over, you will get better and better at it. Just hearing yourself saying the words out loud will help. You will hear what sounds good and what doesn't.
Likewise, you should practice your presentation on real people -- your advisors, friends or family members. And after these mock presentations, ask them to recite back to you the key points you made. Importantly, make sure they recall the key points that you want to convey. If not, continue to improve your presentation content and your delivery until it reaches perfection.
Written by Jay Turo on Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I am very happy to report that Growthink was named to the Inc. 5000 list for the 2nd year in a row.
Written by Jay Turo on Sunday, August 23, 2009
It is no secret that Hispanic America is exploding. As the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. population, the U.S. Hispanic population is projected to triple from its current 45.5 million, to over 150 million by 2050.
Why Should You Care?
Who Says So?
Best regards, and look forward to connecting.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I attended a great online marketing conference a few months ago and learned a lot about marketing your business via Twitter.
The key Twitter advice that was given was to treat Twitter interactions just as if they were offline in the "real world." That is, act just like you'd act as if you were meeting at a cocktail party.
For example, at a cocktail party you wouldn't go up to someone and start screaming "this is what I do" and "buy my product now." (A lot of people do this on Twitter.)
Rather, you would get to know the person, ask them some questions, and hopefully provide some valuable information and advice. This process builds rapport, shows them that you care about them, and positions them to reciprocate in the form of wanting to learn more about and support your business.
So, how does this relate to pitching investors?
Well, I recently read an interesting blog post by Nic Brisbourne, a venture capitalist based on the UK. The key message of Brisbourne's post was that entrepreneurs should pitch him as if they were pitching their best friend.
In doing so, entrepreneurs should:
Like in your Twitter conversations, it's not all about you. You need to listen to the needs of your investor audience before you pitch them. You must develop rapport. And you can't pitch, pitch, pitch. You need to slow down and deliver your pitch in a more integrated fashion (such as giving some information, allowing the investor to ask questions, and responding as appropriate).
So, before you speak with your next prospective investor, you should create a checklist in your mind. Make sure you understand the needs of the investor, make sure you ask questions and do a lot of listening, and make sure that you effectively convey your message without being overbearing.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I came across a very interesting advertisement in my Sunday paper the other day.
Start learning now to start, finance, grow, and exit your company.
2) Have a monthly income of $5,000.00
Start a business. Work hard. Make it successful. $5,000/month is nothing if you have a successful business.
3) Win enough money to never have to work again
Build a successful company. Sell it.
4) See my kids do really well in their studies
Work hard in starting and growing your successful company. Because you are the boss, you can spend more time with your kids helping them. Your hard work will also provide the funds to hire a tutor as needed.
5) Be on TV
Once you've started that successful company I've mentioned a couple of times- hire a good PR firm.
6) Attract men/women
Working hard and being successful will give you the confidence to better attract members of the opposite sex.
In fact, the majority of things on this "wish" list...
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, August 10, 2009
If you're like me, there's one thing you probably take for granted. Interestingly, this one thing is something you can't live without. At least not for long.
Best regards, and look forward to connecting.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Monday, August 10, 2009
Several months ago, I came across YouNoodle, a website which offers tools and a platform to help startup companies succeed. What I was initially drawn to was their Startup Predictor tool. The idea of a tool that could help predict the success, or lack thereof, of a new company really intrigued me.
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CCA - Art of Factoring
David Beisel - Genuine VC
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