Episode 3: David Meerman Scott (Part 2)

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In this packed episode with David Meerman Scott we covered such a broad list of topics that we had to cut it into two episodes. Start with the first one and then jump in here.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we discuss throughout the two episodes:

  • How and why getting fired from his corporate gig was a gift
  • How going on your own is less risky than working for a single corporate entity
  • Why job #1 is creating content assets no matter where you are in your career
  • How content marketing is largely free and gives you a huge advantage
  • Who you should hire (personnel and staff) to tell your story
  • Whether experienced business people from industry are better entrepreneurs than scrappy 20-somethings
  • Why you should say “no” to the wrong investor
  • Is a self-employed consultant a “real entrepreneur?”
  • How to setup with an advisory role at another company

How a Mentor Can Help You Scale, Not Just Start

Charley Polachi. headshot2. 09.09Every morning when an entrepreneur wakes up, he or she must embrace the fact that as their startup ramps up, each day will be fraught with bigger decisions than the day before. Part of the job description is the ability to quickly process tough decisions as they could swiftly make or break a fledgling business. Many in the tech sector thrive in this type of environment as risk taking is embedded in their DNA.

And while part of the appeal of being an entrepreneur is autonomy, there are times when the most important tool a founder can utilize is a mentor who has already navigated the road of ramping up a startup.

As an entrepreneur and executive recruiter in the tech startup ecosystem, the best piece of advice I’ve heard repeated time and time again is to “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” The onus of leadership is always on a company’s chief executive.

However, part of a savvy leadership strategy is to lead with the counsel of a trusted advisor to flatten the learning curve for ramping up. The shortest route to success is to find influencers who are willing to give you truthful advice. A capable mentor will guide you past “founderitis” (an oft-dreaded, though inevitable condition among nascent leaders) and help you scale to the next level.

Well-Known Founders Who Have Faltered

There have been many high profile cases where a founder’s ego has increased to the point where they are convinced they are infallible. Steve Jobs is an example. His conflict with then-Apple CEO John Sculley over the Apple 2 and advertising strategy led to his demotion and eventual departure from Apple. This highly public time-out allowed Jobs to reflect upon his hubris and prepared him well for his return as a humbled, but much more effective leader. He made an excellent mentor after this experience.

Next, consider Yahoo’s co-founder and former-CEO Jerry Yang. Yang over-exaggerated the value of Yahoo and snubbed Microsoft’s $44.6 billion offer. As a result, he was shown the door. The Marissa Mayer era of Yahoo is in full swing now.

These founders were rock stars in getting their respective companies to a certain point, but they were removed for a reason. They couldn’t meet their businesses needs at critical junctures of development.

If a leader allows their ego to reign supreme, they run the risk of having a false sense of ability and security. It’s the rare executive who can go from the clubhouse to the penthouse without a detailed playbook. Seeking out a mentor that has your back and will call you out for shortsighted or self-absorbed behavior is crucial for staying level headed and humble.

Learn from the Best

The hottest tech leaders have the best mentors:

• Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs, Sean Parker and Don Graham, among others, for advice. Their collaborative guidance and counsel put Facebook on the map and transformed the social media landscape.

• Square’s CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey tapped philanthropist Ray Chambers for mentorship.

• Salesforce.com CEO, Mark Benioff also looked to Steve Jobs as a mentor and has spoken fondly of their business and personal relationship.

The takeaway from these successful founders is that no man/woman is an island.

Outside influence and feedback are required for successful ramp up.

Finding a Mentor

The case has been made for the value of a mentor but it begs the question – How do you find the right people?

• Take an honest look at where your startup is now and where you want it to be.

• Seek out the key influencers and decision makers who scaled a similar path

• Directly approach each influencer and candidly ask for guidance

• Once a mentor is in place, actively engage them in key decisions only – don’t inundate them for minor details or they will disengage

• Keep the relationship strong – follow the advice and give updates or candidly explain why you are going a different direction

• Accept the tough criticism; if your skill set is no longer a fit for the enterprise, consider your next move

• Add to your mentors as the enterprise scales and enters each new phase of growth

• Give back. If you are approached to act as a mentor, graciously accept the challenge and guide the next generation of leadership

The tech ecosystem evolves at an incredible rate and can be very chaotic, therefore the best strategy for smoother navigation in uncharted waters is to tap into the seasoned traveler for clear, unbiased, and effective direction.

Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search, can provide a expert insight ion the importance of mentors, particularly for entrepreneurs in the tech industry. As an executive recruiter, he knows the importance of a mentor and their role in shaping the best executives and leaders. 

Do You Have These 4 Kinds of Mentors?


Innovation Tech Series: Corporate Connection

Finding a mentor or personal advisor can be intimidating to female founders. Women often have a Superman complex — we rarely seek advice because we believe we should be able to do everything, know everything, and be everything to everyone. But my co-founder Brittany and I have found that to truly harness success, it really does take a village. You need outside perspectives to stay balanced and develop an holistic view of your business.

incontent3In order to keep growing my own support network, I started grouping my mentors and advisors into four distinct categories. This trick helps me make sure I always get advice from individuals varying in age, gender, socioeconomic status, and other demographics — thus opening the door to new conversations and perspectives.

Below are the four main categories I’ve identified, and where YOU can start looking for an advisor in each:

Category 1: Inside the Industry/Knows You Personally

From in-the-trenches stories to best-practice scenarios, these are the individuals who not only know what you are going through but know how you personally handle situations. These people know your strengths and weaknesses. They can help you come up with solutions to improve your weaknesses or toss out new revenue ideas to play up your strengths. Their advice is usually very specific and is often extremely helpful for dealing with short-term goals, problems, or delicate business scenarios.

Potential Advisors: An old boss, a fellow entrepreneur/friend, or a friend at similar company.

Category 2: Inside the Industry/Acquaintance

From boardrooms to client relations, these are the individuals who know what it’s really like to work and live in your industry. While they know you, you wouldn’t call them out of the blue or invite them out for dinner. These people are great for giving you an honest look at the industry without worrying about your feelings. They give straight-to-the-point feedback, and you are often only meeting or speaking with them for around 30 minutes, so as to not clog their day. These individuals are valuable resources for bouncing new ideas off, discussing business pivots, or giving you ideas about restructuring.

Potential Advisors: A friend of an industry friend, your lawyer, or a past client you have a good rapport with.

Category 3: Outside the Industry/Knows You Personally

From fielding emotional meltdowns to trading personal workday anecdotes, these are the individuals who can lend an ear because they know you well. While they don’t work in your industry, they give a brilliant outside stance on the bigger picture. These individuals can give you personalized advice on your reactions to various situations and relationships such as clients, internal colleagues, or even overall business practices. They can also be solid sounding boards regarding a new product or service, as they have no background knowledge of your industry and likely have a consumer-based opinion.

Potential Advisors: A close friend, a relative, spouse/significant other, or a roommate. 

Category 4: Outside the Industry/Acquaintance

From business-building advice to a third-person perspective on your life and your business, this type of mentor is one of the most important. For this category, I believe having a business coach is of the utmost importance. Coaches have a background and knowledge of entrepreneurship that can spark poignant conversations and drive business decisions. At ‘ZinePak, we work with a business coach named Marla Tabaka. She knows us well, but not well enough to take sides or spoon-feed us what we want to hear, and that’s what matters. These individuals can also help you gain perspective on the bigger picture, inspire long-term goals, and provide unbiased industry and personal feedback.

Potential Advisors: A recommended and trusted business coach or consultant. Make sure he or she has a current client list, so you can check references!

Kim Kaupe is the co-founder of ZinePak, a custom publication company that creates engaging fan packages for entertainers, brands, and celebrities. She graduated with a B.A. in marketing from the University of Florida and roots loyally for her Gators. Most recently, she was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30. Previously she was named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 List and featured in The Wall Street Journal’s Start Up of the Year Documentary.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Follow Friday: 50 500Startups Mentors To Follow

500Startups, Mentors, Twitter, Follow Friday, startup500 Startups is one of the  most diverse and influential startup accelerators in the world. Although they are based in Mountain View (Silicon Valley) the 500 Startups team, including founder, Dave McClure, go out of their way to curate and vet startups from across the country and around the world to their cohort-based accelerator.

For this Follow Friday, here is a list of 50 500Startups mentors to follow on Twitter:


Deepak Gupta

Olga Khroustaleva

Sahil Jain 

Diane Loviglio

Ilya Lichenstein

Marvin Liao

Victor Belfor

Karl Dotter

Andy Johns

Bryan Sivak

Justin Smith

Patrick Vlaskovits

Shiva Rajaraman

Elliot Loh

Michal Kopec

Roger Dickey

Gagan Biyani

Aaron Lee

Ethan R Anderson

Marcus Ogawa

Prema Gupta

Missy Krasner

Sara Mauskopf

Oren Jacob

Sami Inkinen

Hong Quan

Joe Hyrkin

Benjamin Joffe

Dave Baggeroer 

Peter Rosberg 

Luke Shepard

Brian Witlin

Arjun Sethi

Paul Ford

Roy Rodenstein 

Paul Hsu

Maneesh Arora

James Hollow

Wendy White

Matt C Monahan

Roberto Lino

Anu Nigam

James Levine

Leonard Speiser

Blake Commagere

Jeffrey Kalmikoff

Rob Garcia

Victoria Ransom

Mike Greenfield

Eric Ries

Also make sure you’re following Dave McClure

Now follow these 100 Techstars mentors.





These 100 Mentors Did 1500 Hours At Techstars NY; Now Follow Them On Twitter

Techstars, Techstars New York, Mentors, Follow on Twitter, startup acceleratorTechstars released some data on their current NY session on their blog Friday.  The Techstars New York class graduates this Friday, June 28th, and they’ve been burning the midnight oil.

Nicole Glaros, the co-manager of this Techstars New York session reported they’ve had 39,000 working hours (60 hours x30 weeks x50 people), 5 pivots, 1500 mentor hours, 1 wedding, 72lbs of La Colombe Coffee, 14 missing iPhone charges and one of those 5 pivots, pivoted back.

One of the keys to success for Techstars–or any good accelerator program for that matter–is their mentor network. Techstars has one of the best mentor networks in the world. Here are 100 mentors that have taken part in this current session in New York. Now you can pick up on their nuggest of wisdom by following them on Twitter.