Monthly Archives: December 2011

Insight on Insight

Have you ever noticed that Entrepreneurs never put an “Out of Office Message” on their email? John Stokes said this to me whilst we were having lunch at the soon to be demolished Rosati’s in Flinders Lane. John is a British Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist based in Montreal, Canada, where he runs a US$50M fund called Real Ventures. He had spoken the night before at the Churchill Club on his thoughts on globally successful entrepreneurs, whilst on a tour of Australia sponsored by the Global Entrepreneurs Program.

John indicated during his speech that he felt that successful entrepreneurs tend to display four traits, a major one of which was insight. This was fascinating to me as I had been thinking a lot about insight all week, as I had just seen the movie Moneyball. In it Brad Pitt’s character has an insight that dramatically changed the way baseball operated. It was apparently a true story.

For seventy years, baseball talent scouts had been recruiting players, based on their assessment of whether the person would be a future star. Brad Pitt’s character, who was forced to think differently because of a lack of money in the club – realised that perhaps they should be buying home runs, not future stars. The Oakland A’s then picked up a series of cheap but high scoring players that the scouts didn’t like, and won a record 20 games in a row.

But John’s key insight with his Real Venture fund, was that Continue reading Insight on Insight

Can you have a partnership of entrepreneurs?

A group of Scandinavian entrepreneurs caught my eye this year, so when I was in London the other week, I decided to look them up.  They had a local office above a shop in the fashionable shopping district around the Bond Street tube station and were a fascinating group, who seem to have built a working partnership model for entrepreneurial endeavours.

The mechanics were described to me as:

  1. Its all in, you don’t have activities on the side. Which means the partners are aligned on putting energy into the best projects.
  2. For each year you work, you accrue around 2,080 partnership points (52 weeks x 40 hours). So if you take 6 months off, you only accrue 1,040 points that year.
  3. Distributions of profits are based on the percentage of the total partnership points you have accrued.
  4. Every time there is a distribution to the partners, your partnership points are reduced by the same ratio ( e.g. 50% of NTA distributed, means a 50% reduction in your partnership points).
  5. Once you leave, your partnership points stop increasing (i.e. you have a smaller ratio) and get reduced with each distribution. When your points drop below a set amount, you are automatically bought out for a pre agreed amount (because you can’t get to zero when you are getting reduced by fractions).

The group then Continue reading Can you have a partnership of entrepreneurs?

how to moderate an event

I have probably moderated around 100+ events for the Churchill Club over the last couple of years, and have realised that I now have a bit of experience moderating panels, which can be hard to come by. Although I believe I have nothing on Narelle Kennedy of the Australian Business Foundation, who is by far the best moderator I have ever seen because of her ability to run a panel at a break neck pace and keep the panellists honest, I have some thoughts I wanted to share on how to be a successful moderator.

Before the event. Do some research on the panellists and the topic so you don’t look like a fool on stage. Have enough questions prepared to move things along if the audience Q&A is a bit slow. Have either an agenda for the event to travel along, or a list of points that you feel you need to have covered. Also, make sure that the panellists are fully briefed on the mechanics and the objective of the event. I have also found, after suffering some considerable pain, that its an excellent idea to have the panellists reconfirm their attendance the week of the event.

At the start of the event. Initially you need to have a mechanism to gain the audience’s attention, then introduce yourself. You need to outline the rules of play – How long the event will go for, when/how to ask questions, whether the bar is still open, as well as some simple mechanics like “turn our mobiles to silent”, or twitter feed hash tags. Finally, introduce your topic and panel without stealing their thunder. Continue reading how to moderate an event