A Values Manifesto for the American Worker

Philosophy Values (Principles) I never complain about what I don’t have, but appreciate what I do have. sp There are three things people consistently wish on their death bed: •     I wish I had not worked so hard •     I wish I had stayed in touch with my family and friends •     I wish I had let myself be happier Here I stand; I can do no other. Luther Can nice guys finish first?  How visible are values among management and employees? in general: pro/con: smart spaces & trigger warnings | civility: Golden Rule | Public Service Announcements (PSAs): VALUES.com | corporate responsibility: Hilton | humility: Actions speak louder than words. | kindness: www.behospitable.com, hellohumankindness, suspended coffee | persuasion: nudge technology | money: money priming | fairness | Tragedy of the Commons: about books, poems, articles, reports: kids can make a difference: Hoot Hiassen > Families | essay: Life Without Principle Thoreau | justice: Go Set a Watchman Lee | beliefs: This I Believe Allison | civility: Choosing Civility Forni | cooperation over self-interest: The Penguin and the Leviathan Benkler | evolution: The Cooperation Instinct Ohlson | humility and strength: If Kipling | life: The Prophet Gibran | resilience: Bend, Not Break Fu

by Scott Pickard

The American Worker is the true and authentic engine of the U.S. economy: hard working, innovative, unafraid of risk, productive, efficient, can-do, get the job done. We go to work every day to build, repair, maintain, clean, deliver, teach, inspire, heal, protect, invent, design, create, entertain, serve, manufacture, and on and on. We are the ones who actually get things done.

And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), the 133 million American Independent Workers (non-union, “employed at will”) make up almost 90% of the U.S. workforce. But unlike our fellow union workers, American Workers are not bound together by an organizational structure with rules and dues; but rather, the resilience and power and spirit of the American Worker is guided and motivated by a set of values that we have shared for as long as there have been workers.

You might call it, A Values Manifesto for the American Worker.

We are loyal to our employers and owners

Every non-government job can be traced back to one person (entrepreneur) who had the guts and confidence to take the personal risk required to start and grow a business that created jobs. Therefore, we believe owners make the rules of their work domain because they take the personal risk and shoulder the responsibility to make our payroll every month. There is nothing stopping us from becoming owners ourselves and building our own organizations, culture, and values as we each see fit. It’s a free country, as we have always believed, so we each have the self-determination to decide and act as we choose.

We have always been willing to sacrifice and go with less for the company we work for if tough times demanded it. We generally do not file grievances or lawsuits. We work out issues with our employers face-to-face. We have always been loyal to our employers, unless of course, that loyalty is not reciprocated. We can always choose to walk out the door to a new and potentially better opportunity.

We are ready to do what needs to be done

Like most people, we do just about any task at home to take care of our families. We are prepared to do the same at work because it is, we think, the natural instinct of people to pitch in with a team, solve problems, and get things done wherever we find a need or whenever we are asked to help.

We believe arbitrary quotas and constraints that limit productivity go against the grain of the basic human impulse to continuously improve, go faster, work harder, produce more, and increase quality. We simply do as much as we can as efficiently as we can each workday while maintaining standards of quality.

We do not accept payment to not work. We generally do not need or collect unemployment. We reemploy ourselves almost immediately if we lose a job because our strong survival instincts drive us to always be prepared for adversity.

We accept the responsibility to survive on our own

We believe that in the working world, it is up to each worker to take full responsibility for their continuity of employment and to take care of their families. We believe that once a worker accepts that responsibility, they will take the actions to survive each and every day instead of waiting for someone else to take care of them. We believe that to enjoy the benefits of a free marketplace, each American Worker must own this responsibility.

Leaders (especially presidents) who politicize so-called workers’ rights and entitlements do a tremendous disservice to society by continuously promising what the nation does not have the cash to pay for without creating more debt. That kind of thinking and rhetoric is fueling a slow-burning bankruptcy in our cities, states, and nation.

We believe that we come into this world with no absolute entitlements except for what our parents can provide for us until we are capable of providing for ourselves the quality of life, safety, and happiness that we all seek and that we each earn with our own hands, minds, and hearts.

American Workers are survivors and take nothing for granted.

We care for those less fortunate than us

We believe that survival of the fittest does not mean that those less fit are left to struggle. We believe that if each community cares for their own family, friends, neighbors and citizens that are less fortunate, then we’ll all be okay.

We believe that we should all pitch in to support those that need some extra help as long as everyone else helps out in proportion to their means. We know that to maintain the continuity of work, a person must stay healthy, but some of us face adverse health issues and emergencies and disasters that come suddenly with no warning over which we have no control. The American Worker will be there to help. We make contributions to help the poor, chronically sick, disabled, and victimized. We do what we can to share and help out others that need our help, knowing they will do the same for us when the time comes.

However, we do believe that good health is enhanced by our attitudes and effort and determination to keep ourselves healthy. We don’t want to be sick, so generally we don’t get sick, and we don’t take sick days. When you hire the American Worker, you get 100% uptime. We live life to be healthy, to work hard and to play hard.

We always spend less than we earn

Wherever we are in our work journey and the pay we receive, we live within our means. How can an American Worker financially sustain themselves and their families any other way?

We pay all our bills. We pay our proportionate fair share of income taxes.

We generally do not file for personal bankruptcy because we do everything in our power to prevent it. We believe in resilience. We accept that the randomness of life and the axe of accountability will eventually strike us all, and when it does, we take our medicine and deal with it. We don’t believe democratic societies can or should bail out every person or organization no matter how too big to fail they are. We are skeptical of too big to fail bailouts when the loudest voices are coming from those that stand to lose the most wealth in their portfolios.  The American Worker believes in one set of rules for all, both the haves and the have-nots.

We don’t expect anything free from anybody. We want to earn what we can based on our individual ability to earn; otherwise, it has no value to us.

We know what we are worth and we speak for ourselves

We do not require third-party organizations to establish our fair market value as workers. We rely on the marketplace to be a very efficient (if not brutal) system for establishing fair market value of the American Worker. Our leverage is our experience, skill, value, and the freedom of self-determination (i.e., you can take this job and shove it.)

We do not pay money to another person to sit at the negotiation table with our employers on our behalf. We are individually responsible for that task, and we save the money to invest directly in our professional and personal development.

The American Workers’ market value over the years has been, plus or minus, fair. It has never been propped up or guaranteed by a contract, lockout, walk out, picket line, strike, sickout, blue flu, quota, restriction, injunction, entitlement, you name it. We give our employer the benefit of the doubt that our pay is what our employers can reasonably afford for the business to be financially sustainable for the long term.It’s a free country, as we have always said, so if we cannot work out a mutually-acceptable level of pay, we can always go elsewhere or start a business of our own.

We always land on our feet

We don’t assume that any job can last forever. The world is global, competitive, and volatile, and we deal with that reality by preparing ourselves and always having a backup plan. We almost always remain employed but when we do lose a job, we are prepared to drop back a rung or two on the ladder (if need be) to rebuild ourselves with more experience and education/training, most of it low-cost to free in today’s online lifetime-learning world. When it comes to providing for and protecting our families, we never rest and we never give up.

We believe “chance favors the prepared mind,” and it also favors the prepared American Worker who is relentless about lifetime learning so that she or he is always employable at any age.

We make no excuses for adversity that inevitably will come our way. We go to the library, get online, and for free we learn and train to qualify for all kinds of good jobs on this planet. We don’t wait for an organization to train us and find us another job. We go get it on our own. We make getting a job a full-time job. Our attitude is to wake up at dawn and not come home until we find a job. That’s not to say that getting a job is sometimes hard, but we wake up each day with that attitude, day after day, for as long as it takes to get that next job.

We respect Organized American Labor and are appreciative of their contributions

We respect and appreciate what union workers have done for our country and the good job that they continue to do today. We believe it is critical in this world for independent and union workers to stand side-by-side to get things done.

But the fact is, American Independent Workers comprise 90% of the U.S. workforce. We are the independent, self-sufficient, lean and mean American Workers driven by several key principles:

  • Subsidiarity: We believe in the Principle of Subsidiarity which says that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, and least centralized competent authority.
  • Trustworthiness: We are skeptical of the trustworthiness of all things BIG: Government, Corporate Business; Nonprofit Organizations, even Religions. Fundamentally, we believe that wherever wealth and power are concentrated, it inevitably becomes the breeding ground for unethical opportunistic behavior, greed, cronyism, corruption, and fraud. History driven by human behavior predictably repeats itself in this regard.
  • Self-Determination: While adhering to the Rule of Law, we never hand over our individual self-determination to any person or organization if we don’t have to.

The American Worker is the Economy

The American Worker is the true engine of OUR ECONOMY which is not a politician’s or a government’s or a corporation’s or a party’s economy. It has always been and will always be, OUR ECONOMY, and the politicians are hired by and report to the American Worker. No one person (or President) has all the answers and the power and the money and the time to unilaterally lift our country’s economy up and forward in the face of increasing global competition.

Only each individual American Worker can make an impact starting at 8:00 am tomorrow morning, magnified by the strength and power and resilience of values shared among 133 million American Workers. We need not wait another 4-8 years for the federal government to come to the rescue. We, the American Workers, know what to do and together we can change the world for the better, right now.

Nose to the grindstone, let’s go get it done, just as we always have.

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cash

cash

by scott pickard

Cash is king, as the old saying goes. It is the one resource a company cannot survive without for any length of time until the doors are closed, voluntarily or involuntarily, which is why the CEO must find or develop a method to reliably understand and predict the company’s current and future ability to generate the cash it needs to pay all of its bills.

Forecasting cash flow is much easier than it used to be, thanks to the convenient number-crunching power of PCs and spreadsheet software which allows one to build an Integrated Spreadsheet which links a projected balance sheet and income statement for the business. The Integrated Spreadsheet is a tool that will give any CEO the positive direct control they must have over the financial rudder of the business.

A wise time investment for CEO’s
A company’s cash flow at any point in time is a juxtaposition of payables, receivables, debt service, capital expenditures, sales/repurchases of stock, and other factors. An Integrated Spreadsheet handles this complex financial interaction with electronic precision. Using this tool, a CEO can more carefully predict where the company is heading. That’s powerful planning and peace of mind for the executive/owner that shoulders the burden of consistently meeting payroll and staying current with suppliers on all bills.

  • The Integrated Spreadsheet gives the CEO a rational way to appropriately pace capital expenditures, quarterly (or even monthly) bonus payments, and sweeps of excess cash into less liquid but higher-returning financial instruments at the earliest possible time.
  • The Integrated Spreadsheet allows the CEO to look at the effect on cash from big-picture business initiatives such as acquiring a new business, selling off a division, developing and staffing a new department, or launching a new product line.
  • Using an Integrated Spreadsheet helps the CEO disclose mistakes that are sometimes made in monthly financial statements from either miscoding or a faulty accounting interpretation of a particular transaction.
  • With an Integrated Spreadsheet the company always has a three-year plan that is built on actual operating numbers, but fine-tuned to reflect management’s best judgment of future revenues and expenses.
  • The Integrated Spreadsheet can easily generate an unlimited number of graphs to analyze past performance and predict future performance which is often the most effective way to communicate financial data to employees, directors, shareholders, and the bank.
  • An Integrated Spreadsheet will demonstrate to the bank, board, and investors that the financial management and budgeting of the company is under control which promotes confidence in the officers and the business by its internal and external constituents.

DIY

Assuming the user knows their way around a spreadsheet and double- entry accrual accounting, the structure of an Integrated Spreadsheet can be set up in a few hours. It will take a day or so to input the previous twelve months of operating data; a day to input informed estimates of revenues, expenses, and capital expenditures for the next twelve months and to fine-tune those estimates; and a day to train all users who will have access to the Integrated Spreadsheet.

If the CEO cannot spare the time, this task can be delegated to inside accounting staff or subcontracted to an outside accountant or consultant. If this project is delegated, it is still important that the CEO be trained in the use of the Integrated Spreadsheet so that he or she can perform what-if analyses and generally watch over the constantly revising forecast of the financials of the business, a function that should be owned by the CEO. Financial forecasting involves hundreds of experience-based estimates of highest-probable outcomes of revenues, expenses, capital expenditures, debt service, equity inflows and outflows, extraordinary gains and losses, and other income and expenses, by someone that has the overview of the business. The CEO has this overview as it is part of the responsibility of the position.

Basic structure of the integrated spreadsheet
It is important for the user to have a general understanding of how the spreadsheet is laid out and functions. The integrated spreadsheet has three major components:

  • Balance Sheet
  • Income Statement
  • Cash flow adjustment

These three components are linked or integrated so that they balance or tie out in accrual accounting terms. These integrated accounts are highlighted in various colors as shown on the diagram below:

cashflow

The major points of integration are identified by the matching colors. For example, the link between “depreciation” on the balance sheet and “depreciation expense” on the income statement is shown in brown, since these two entries must be identical in double-entry accrual accounting. There are in fact numerous links between the income statement and the balance sheet as a result of the double-entry methodology. The beauty of the spreadsheet is it affords the user the flexibility to add/subtract/modify at will and build increasing sophistication into the integrated spreadsheet enabling a more realistic modeling of the financial dynamics of the business.

I’ve posted a power point presentation on prezi that leads you through the basic construction of the integrated spreadsheet. The secret sauce in this process is the synching of a cash flow adjustment (plug) at the bottom of the spreadsheet below the income statement as shown in the diagram below:

2slides

By wiring together these key accounts to calculate the actual cash flow for each month, this will cause what’s known as a circular calculation in the spreadsheet which is normally a no-no, but in this case it is a good thing! The user simply needs to go into “settings” and set the automatic calculation to 100 iterations and the spreadsheet will automatically recalculate and balance the statements after each new value entry to a cell.

Using the tool

Once the integrated spreadsheet is set up, using it effectively involves inputting the actuals from each monthly financial statement as they occur and reforecasting the numbers going forward from the most recent actuals. This process repeats itself every month — inputting the most recent actuals and reforecasting ahead — and as each month goes by and the user gains experience in using the spreadsheet and making experience-based judgments of how the numbers will track, the integrated spreadsheet becomes an expert system that does a better job over time of forecasting the financial fortunes (or misfortunes) of the company. The key point is that all of this boils down to one most important account: cash flow.

Once the process of updating actuals and forecasting ahead is complete,
the CEO looks at the impact on cash and then develops a financing plan
that optimizes the uses of working capital in the next six months and beyond.
If the projected cash flow shows surpluses being generated, the CEO can
decide how that excess cash could be used today and in the coming months
to:

  • Reduce payables
  • Reduce long-term debt
  • Make capital expenditures
  • Make other long-term investments

If the projected cash flow is negative, the CEO must plan for how the
minimum working capital requirements for the business will be generated to
carry the company through tight cash periods by a combination of:

  • Drawing down cash surpluses
  • Deferring certain operating and capital expenditures
  • Extending the payables cycle for a brief period within acceptable bounds
  • Making a draw on an operating line of credit
  • Securing additional long-term financing
  • Raising equity capital through the sale of common or preferred shares

Summary

If the CEO can build the integrated spreadsheet for the business and start using it each month ( if not each day), learning by doing is the most efficient user’s manual. The CEO will quickly discover the many dimensions of value that are derived from the integrated spreadsheet aside from the very tangible value of forecasting cash flow. The integrated spreadsheet causes the user to think about every aspect of the business, across all accounts, across time, across strategies, by looking back to look forward. And at the end of the exercise instead of saying, “I hope we’ll have the money in the bank when we need it,” the CEO can say, “We expect to have the cash we need, and here’s how.”

That’s powerful business confidence!

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Seven Excuses CEOs Cite for Not Creating a Board of Directors

board

by scott pickard

No company is too small to create a board of directors, and no company is too large and sophisticated that it cannot improve upon its board because directors have the potential to add significant value to management and the company in countless ways.

Here’s how:

  • Directors can give good advice insiders might not hear otherwise.
  • Directors can be frank in a way employees won’t or can’t.
  • Directors ask, “Why would you do that?”
  • Directors help management network into important strategic resources such as partners, talent, capital, and markets.
  • Directors bring new ideas.
  • Directors double-check management’s plans and make them accountable.
  • Directors check for compliance to ethics, laws, regulations, and just plain common sense and good judgment.
  • Directors bring experience – they’ve been there, done that, and there’s no sense reinventing the wheel because that consumes time and money; and, there’s no sense in making mistakes because that’s painful.
  • Directors pitch in and help during periods of rapid growth or crisis.

That said…excuses, excuses

There is no good argument (generally) against using a board of directors, yet owners and CEOs continue to cite the following excuses:

1. I don’t have enough time

There are certain high-leverage activities for CEOs and owners that they must put at the top of their priority list because even though these tasks do take valuable time to plan, prepare, and execute (e.g., financial audits; a strategic planning retreat; a performance review with a key employee; a board of directors meeting), these activities hold the potential to make a substantial positive impact for the business. Executing these high-leverage tasks as a business leader is simply something you have to do, so you make the time.

2. I can’t afford it

The cost and complexity of a board of directors scales to the size of the company. In a large or public company you can expect to attract sophisticated directors and they will expect a compensation package commensurate with company size and the commitment required.

But if you are a start-up company and only a few people are involved, you most likely won’t be attracting public company directors that expect big fees. But you can attract successful local people that were once in your shoes and know what it’s like to start and build a company and they’d be pleased to serve on your board as a way to give back – sometimes only for the price of a dinner and a few beers.

3. I don’t know anyone to ask

Many people say this initially but if they take a few minutes to reflect, they can always think of someone to invite to be a director. Also, they usually know someone who could be an intermediary to a director candidate. Good intermediaries can be a friend; a relative; a business colleague; your accountant, attorney, or banker; a professor; the Chamber of Commerce; a valued and trusted key supplier or client.

There are also organizations that foster better corporate governance and directorship that can match directors looking for board assignments with companies looking for good directors. For larger companies there are search firms that specialize in recruiting directors to large and public boards.

4. I don’t know what value they would bring – I know what to do

An executive with this kind of attitude most likely feels this way about many things, not just a board of directors. This kind of insulated, ivory-tower attitude only limits new opportunities for management and the company.

The objective evidence indicates that boards do provide real value to management and shareholders. However, it is true that boards also hold the potential to screw up royally and there are many examples of that from both for-profit and nonprofit boards, big to small. But that is not because the value proposition of a board is not valid, only that those particular boards were dysfunctional and acted irresponsibly. The overwhelming majority of boards do great work for their constituents.

5. I don’t want anybody to know what we’re doing

It’s a valid concern for many companies, but you cannot operate inside a top-security box forever. You need a few select trusted advisers that you can lean on and use as sounding boards so that your thinking and decision making does not become inbred and myopic. Directors can give you fresh and unbiased insights and they will respect and maintain the confidentiality of your plans and intellectual property.

6. I don’t know how to set up and manage a board

If you can create, manage, and grow a company, you can create and manage a board. Most attorneys are very helpful in making sure you cover the legal basics. Experienced directors themselves will be very helpful and patient as you proceed and learn on the job.

There’s a wealth of good books and training programs at your disposal. In essence, a board meeting is just like any other meeting where you set a prioritized agenda, meet, discuss, and get things done.

7. I don’t want any outsiders involved – this is a family business

It is a truism that there is family, and then there is everyone else. Experienced directors understand this as it relates to the dynamics of a family business board, and still you would be surprised how effective (and refreshing!) an outside director can be inside a tight-knit family business and board.

Family members are constrained in so many ways from being totally honest with each other. The outside director is unconstrained and sometimes the only one to tell it like it is. This can be an invaluable resource for a family business.

Just do it

If you’ve been dragging your feet to develop a board, just get on with it.

At the outset of building a board you will find that you can learn quickly with the help of the directors themselves. In a year’s time you will be the expert. You will find that your directors may refer you to other non-competitor CEOs who are looking for good board members. This is one of the primary ways the community of directors populate their ranks.

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LinkedIn posts (writing)

Particular Arts / literature Writing a writer writes in general: I write to discover what I know. O’Connor | automation: Babel Generator | buy/sell: storiad | collaboration: mixedink, The Writing Squad | content-as-a-service: Structured Information | contests: write a novel in a month |diaries: Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids > Radio | editing: scribendi | freelance: contently | LinkedIn: The Power of LinkedIn Posts sp | query letters | software tools: scrivener | teaching kids to write: boomwriter, 826valencia | whitepapers: template | word/character count: Text Mechanic, Word Count Tools grammar & references: citing sources: endnote, www.noodletools.com/quickcite | Common English Errors: www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html | Guide to Grammar & Writing: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar | Presentation Tips: http://wps.ablongman.com/ab_public_speaking_2 | Press Release Guide: www.press-release-writing.com quotes: The hardest part of writing is the first word. sp |Bartlett's Quotations: www.bartleby.com/100 | Brainy Quote: www.brainyquote.com style guides: Citation Styles: www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/citex.html | Economist Style Guide: www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide | Elements of Style: www.bartleby.com/141/index.html | skills: 15 Online Resources to Upgrade Your Writing Skills Crosby  vocabulary : Can improving your vocabulary improve your life? (a) formulate your ideas better; (b) write better papers, emails and business letters; (c) speak more precisely and persuasively; (d) comprehend more of what you read; (e) read faster because you comprehend better; (f) get better grades in school; (g) score higher on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT; (h) perform better at job interviews and conferences; (i) sell yourself, your services, and your products better; (j) be more effective and successful at your job voice recognition: iPhone: siri | nuance blogs, books, movies, portals: A Moveable Feast Hemingway | On the Boulevard sp | screen writing: Barton Fink Coen | The Elements of Style Strunk | writers: Mr. Gwyn | Writer’s Digest | Writing a Winning Book Proposal

Focus like the point of a pencil

by scott pickard

Innovation Entrepreneurship in general: http://blog.gcase.org/ | bootcamp: www.nxlevel.org | CEOs: Business Rock Stars | credit card: founderscard | education: deshpandefoundation, http://edcorner.stanford.edu, www.kauffman.org | entrepreneurship 101: www.fasttrac.org | focus: Focus like the point of a pencil sp | food & restaurants | handmade: craftsvilla, elo7 brazil, etsy > DIY | kids: lemonadeday | microloans to entrepreneurs: www.kiva.org | MIT Forum: http://enterpriseforum.mit.edu | napkin entrepreneurs | necessity entrepreneurship | news: quibb | research and teaching: www.effectuation.org | social networking: Global Entrepreneurship Network, TIE | startup religion: www.moltz.com | TV: shark tank | workspace for entrepreneurs: dogpatchlabs | young entrepreneurs: extremetour, lemonadeday , livewire 16-30 elevator pitch: You've only got 3 minutes sp | pitch yourself: crushpath failure: Failure is inevitably a part of discovery. | forums: Failure:Lab | How business failure paves the way to success | mistakes in judgement: jump the shark resiliency: The best thing to do to stay calm and deal with the risk of starting a business is to think of the worst thing that can happen to you (bankruptcy, being sued, going broke, getting divorced....) and then figure out a plan to deal with it and recover from the worst-case scenario by breaking apart each problem and figuring out a solution.  Once you go through this thought process and convince yourself that you can survive this adversity, then you can move forward with resolve and not constantly fret over the risk.  This is entrepreneurial resiliency. sp self-assessment: Are you willing and able to bear great financial risk? Are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle for potentially many years? Is your significant other on board? Do you like all aspects of running a business? Are you comfortable making decisions on the fly with no playbook? What’s your track record of executing your ideas? How persuasive and well-spoken are you? Do you have a concept you’re passionate about? What is it about you and your team that gives an investor confidence that you will succeed? social entrepreneurship: avaaz | food: growingpower | funding: theimpactengine | getup | incubators: theimpactengine, unreasonableinstitute | L3C | moveon | performance management of human services: socialsolutions | prizes: The Purpose Prize | the feast | therespublica students: funding: nciia | note-taker | solar farm | under30ceo your idea: What is so badly broken in the industry that consumers are desperately seeking a solution? What is your solution? How big is the market? How do you make money? How do you plan to reach your customer? What is it about you and your team that gives an investor confidence that you will succeed? books: Entrepreneurship Kuratko | failure: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure Harford, Bounce! Moltz | The New Artisans Dupon | The One-Hour Activist Kush

focus like a pencil

One of the most dangerous traps an entrepreneur can fall into is to get unfocused and spread thin across too many things they can do. The old saying is a mile wide and an inch deep. An entrepreneur friend once told me that the venture capitalist that funded him made him see the wisdom of “focusing like the point of a pencil” to get one product to market, because entrepreneurs consistently underestimate how much energy and focus it takes to accomplish that feat.

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