An Entrepreneur's Most Important Tool: Self-Delusion

It's one of the greatest inventions in human history. Right up there with the wheel, the steam engine and the waffle maker. I'm talking about self-delusion.

I don't mean damaging self-delusion (and certainly, too much can lead to disaster). I'm talking about constructive, healthy self-delusion, which is absolutely crucial to building a business.

As an author, I rely on self-delusion as much as I rely on my laptop, Wi-Fi access and excessive caffeine. For authors nowadays, each book is the equivalent of a startup company. You have to figure out your consumer, your unique approach, your budget, your marketing strategy.

And as with every startup founder, I spent some mornings during my last project battling pessimism and despair. Well, actually, most mornings. I was writing about my quest to be as healthy as possible. I'd wake up feeling the project was too big, too unwieldy. I had too many squats to do, too many diets to test. I'd never finish the manuscript.

My solution? Deception. I tricked my brain. I'd force myself to act in an optimistic way. I'd compel myself to email medical experts and request interviews. I'd coerce myself to call my publisher with elaborate plans for the book launch (A health contest for readers? A Dr. Oz appearance? A party with kale martinis?)

And after a couple of hours, it worked. My mind would catch up with my actions. I would start to feel optimistic. It's astounding how much the outer can affect the inner, how much behavior can affect your thoughts.

Millard Fuller – the founder of Habitat for Humanity – summed it up gorgeously. He said: "It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting."

This is not pseudo-scientific blather spouted bunkum-filled books like The Secret. The idea that your actions alter your thoughts is one of the foundations of cognitive-behavioral psychology and has been studied since the 19 century (both William James and Charles Darwin wrote about it).

Force your face into a smile, you will be happier. Sounds creepy, but it works.

A raft of studies have backed this up, including a recent one in the Journal of Psychological Science that showed fake smiles (or even holding a chopstick in your mouth to mimic the shape of a smile) lowered your heart rate in stressful situations. The book The As If Principle by psychologist Richard Wiseman cites plenty of other research, including how your posture affects confidence and risk-taking (a powerful, chest-out stance boosts esteem).

The idea has spawned rhymes. There's "Fake it till you make it." In Judaism, there's the aphorism "Deed before creed," meaning that if you follow the Ten Commandments, your mind will catch up.

I actually learned this trick not from rhymes, but from writing a book about six years ago. The book was called The Year of Living Biblically, and was about my quest to follow all the rules of the Bible as literally as possible.

This came about because I grew up with no religion at all. As I say in my book, I'm Jewish, but I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian. So not very. No offense. Great breadsticks.

But I had a son, and I wanted to know what to teach him about my heritage, so I decided one way to learn about the Bible would be to live it. To learn it from the inside out.

So I bought a stack of Bibles. I got a board of spiritual advisers. Rabbis, ministers, priests. And I wrote down every rule that I could find. As you may know, a very long list. Over 600 rules.

I wanted to follow all of them, without picking and choosing, to see which improved my life and which didn't. I wanted to follow the famous ones. The Ten Commandments. Love your neighbor. Be fruitful and multiply. (And I'll have you know that I was fruitful and did multiply. I had twin boys during my year. So I take my projects very seriously).

But I also wanted to follow the lesser known rules. The Bible says that you cannot shave the corners of your beard. I didn't know where the corners were, so I just let the whole thing grow. As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time at airport security.

It was a life-changing year. Mostly for the better. Not all, but mostly. But it was also the most challenging year of my life.

The Bible says you cannot gossip, or lie, or covet. I'm a journalist and I live in New York City, so that's pretty much 80 percent of my day.

So I was faced with this huge question: How do you become a better person? How do you undertake an ethical makeover. And that's when I tried self-delusion.

For instance, during the year, I had a friend in the hospital, and I really didn't want to visit him. I hate hospitals. But I said, what would a good person do? And then I acted AS IF I were a good person. And when I was at the hospital, some part of my mind said, 'I'm at the hospital. I must be compassionate." And I became a little more compassionate. I tricked my own mind.

I was blown away by this strategy. It changed me profoundly. Of course, I still covet and lie and gossip a huge amount. But after the book, I do it fifty percent less. Maybe forty. Or thirty five.

The strategy was key to actually finishing the book itself. Many days I'd wrestle with writer's block. I'd faced with that horrible blank screen with the nefarious blinking cursor.

My method: Just start typing. It didn't matter what. Just the action of clicking on the keys is the important thing. So at the start of a writing session, I'd write the most ridiculous nonsense. Whatever came to mind. I'd write about the pigeon bobbing its head outside my window." Or "Here I am drinking some decaf Indonesian coffee." Anything.

Eventually I built up enough momentum that my sentences become semi-coherent. I could just delete the first twenty minutes of babble.

One big caveat: Don't get too carried away with the self-delusion. You need a mix of self-delusion and realism. The best companies have a blend of irrationally exuberant leaders balanced by the hand-wringers. I try to find this blend in myself (mornings are for realism, afternoons for undeserved optimism).

And now, back to work on my next book. I'm acting as if it will be a huge, massive, crash-the-Amazon-server hit.

Eredità da due miliardi di lire Ma Bankitalia non cambia in euro Invece il lascito in marchi subito convertito in Germania

ROVIGO — Trova due miliardi di vecchie lire, poco più di un milione di euro, nella casa di Berlino dello zio paterno, ma non riesce a incassarli perché non più validi. Così Sara Ferrari, 43enne originaria di Rovigo da molti anni residente a Bruxelles dove lavora come funzionario in un ente pubblico, s'è rivolta alla «Federazione nazionale consumatori» per cercare di ottenere quanto ritiene le spetti. Come racconta la donna, «mio zio paterno Salvatore emigrò molti anni fa a Berlino, dove si fece valere per la sua bravura come orafo. Lo zio è morto alcuni mesi fa, celibe e senza figli. Riordinando una delle case che mi ha lasciato in eredità ho trovato alcuni documenti che facevano riferimento a una cassetta di sicurezza aperta molti anni prima dallo zio in una filiale della Deutsche Bank di Berlino». A inizio luglio Sara Ferrari è andata nella banca berlinese con i documenti della successione ereditaria e ha aperto la cassetta di sicurezza. «Al suo interno – riprende il racconto la rodigina – c'erano alcuni Bot del Tesoro italiano con tagli da 10, 50 e 100 milioni di vecchie lire oltre a denaro contante per un miliardo e 450 milioni in banconote da 500 mila lire oltre a circa un milione di marchi tedeschi».

Se per il cambio della valuta tedesca in euro ci son voluti una decina di giorni e la cifra ammonta a circa 730.000 euro, tutt'altra musica per il cambio in Italia. Sara Ferrari si è recata allo sportello Bankitalia di Milano per chiedere le modalità di cambio del denaro italiano. Qui sono iniziati i problemi. «Mi è stato risposto che in base al decreto Monti del 6 dicembre 2011 – riprende Ferrari – le vecchie lire ancora in circolazione si prescrivono a favore dell'Erario con decorrenza immediata e che il relativo controvalore è versato all'entrata del bilancio dello Stato per essere assegnato al Fondo per l'ammortamento dei titoli di Stato». Insomma, i due miliardi di vecchie lire scoperti nella casa berlinese dello zio Salvatore non possono essere incassati. «Così – afferma la donna - mi sono rivolta alla "Federazione nazionale consumatori" per avviare tutte le azioni giudiziarie contro Bankitalia e il ministero delle Finanze, con possibilità di ricorso anche alla Corte Europea, per ottenere il pagamento in euro della somma che ho trovato in lire». Ma l'amarezza di Sara Ferrari non riguarda solo l'inghippo legato al decreto Monti di fine 2011. «Da italiana che vive all'estero da molti anni – afferma la donna – non posso non far notare che in Germania ci son voluti dieci giorni per ottenere valuta corrente dai vecchi marchi, e si parla della bella somma di 730.000 euro, mentre nel mio Paese non è possibile altrettanto ». Conclude la 43enne: «Nonostante si chiami Unione Europea le leggi non sono uguali per tutti i cittadini».


Record $2 Billion Sale Of The Los Angeles Clippers Approved By Judge

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling can proceed with the record $2 billion sale of the NBA team despite her husband's objections, a judge ruled on Monday, in a likely coda to a case of lingering racism in American sports.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal struck by Shelly Sterling with former Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling, who has been banned for life from the National Basketball Association for racist remarks, chose to appeal.
Shelly Sterling
"She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team," said Levanas, who added that he found Donald Sterling's combative testimony at the emotionally charged nine-day trial "often evasive and inconsistent."

The ruling was a major victory for an embarrassed NBA and Shelly Sterling, who had asked the probate judge to confirm her as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers. She acted in May to have her 80-year-old real estate billionaire husband removed when neurologists deemed him to have early Alzheimer's disease and unable to handle business affairs.

Shelly Sterling, 79, cried after the ruling and told reporters outside the courtroom: "Either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do."

Donald Sterling's attorneys said they would file an appeal of the decision.

"He doesn't see this as the final battleground," said Sterling's attorney, Bobby Samini. "This is one stage of a long war."

In an unprecedented move, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling and fined him $2.5 million three months ago after his taped private comments imploring a girlfriend not to associate with black people, including NBA Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, were published.

The majority of NBA players are black, and Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons testified that team sponsors were ready to leave, head coach Doc Rivers could quit and players would refuse to play if Sterling was able to keep the franchise he has owned for 33 years.

Under Sterling, the Clippers for decades languished as a league doormat and afterthought to the marquee Los Angeles Lakers, but in recent years they have added enough talent to compete in the NBA playoffs.

Sterling had vowed to block the sale he initially blessed because he said his wife improperly removed him as a trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.

Shelly Sterling also said she believed her husband's ban from the NBA would be lifted. During the trial, Sterling had treated her with both love and contempt, calling her a pig and liar at one stage.


The NBA, looking to close a chapter that brought shame to the basketball league and outraged fans, said it was "pleased" with the court's decision.

"We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

The tentative ruling will take formal effect when Levanas issues it in writing in coming weeks after he considers objections.

Ballmer, known for his enthusiasm for pick-up basketball while at Microsoft, is ready to get to work, his attorney, Adam Streisand, said.

"He is very excited ... about bringing dignity back to the Clippers," Streisand said.

Legal experts said the ruling was so strongly in favor of Shelly Sterling that any challenge from Donald Sterling was unlikely to derail the sale.

"He can appeal as much as he likes, but the Clippers are going to be sold to Ballmer," said Ed McCaffery, a professor of law at University of Southern California.

Sterling has also sued the NBA, the league commissioner and his wife in state and federal courts, contending the team was illegally taken from him.

"We expect that we'll continue to get grenades from all directions," Streisand said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Reid; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Grant McCool and Mohammad Zargham)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-judge-clears-way-for-2-billion-sale-of-los-angeles-clippers-2014-28#ixzz38qPcXLxy

Top Five Startup Tips From Spanx Billionaire Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely, Spanx inventor and youngest woman on the Forbes Billionaires list.

For the cover of our recent World's Billionaires issue, I profiled Sara Blakely, who took a simple idea — footless pantyhose — and turned it into a $1 billion business. At 41, the inventor of Spanx is now the youngest self-made woman on the Forbes rich list.

Since our first meeting last summer, I've logged hours of interview time with theFlorida-born billionaire. As always with these sorts of profiles, some of her words of wisdom didn't make it through the editing process. Here are Blakely's top five lessons for would-be entrepreneurs, culled from the cutting room floor:

1. Don't let the first "no" (or five) stop you.

Before Blakely hit it big, she worked a handful of unglamorous jobs — all of which, she says, contributed to her eventual success with Spanx.

After scoring miserably on the LSAT exam twice and deciding to forgo law school, she spent a nightmarish three months on a moving walkway at Disney World, wearing Mickey Mouse ears and guiding customers onto an Epcot Center ride. When she couldn't take it anymore, she started working for office equipment company Danka. She was responsible for selling $20,000 worth of fax machines each month door-to-door. It was 1993, before fax machines were a staple of every small business.

"I was the delivery department too, and the biggest fax machine was like a copier — I was 22 and tiny," she says. "It was very high stress, with [the bosses] always asking what you're going to bring in each month."

Blakely remembers almost begging business owners — like the proprietor of a Clearwater, Fla. fruit and vegetable shop — to buy her products. "The produce stand man's objection was that he didn't have an electrical outlet," she says. "I said, 'If I can overcome that, would you buy my fax machine?' Do you know what I did? I went to the business on the corner and asked if I could run an extension cord to the produce stand. That was my first sale. I did this for seven years."

Blakely credits Danka with teaching her how to cold-call, how to handle customers' objections, and how to get her foot in the door — all crucial skills when she decided to give Spanx a go. "My training of cold-calling and everyone under the sun telling me no, and my keeping going, was a huge part of the first two years of Spanx," she says.

2. Don't quit your day job just yet.

Blakely was 27 years old when she decided she needed a product that didn't exist, namely slimming shapewear than wasn't, in her words, "a hardcore girdle" or old-fashioned control-top pantyhose with an unsightly seam along her toes. She stayed at Danka, working 9 to 5 , but spent her evenings and weekends meticulously researching pantyhose design and existing patents. When the time came to try and get her prototype made, she'd drive back and forth from her home in Atlanta to North Carolina, where she got used to hearing "no" once more, this time from the owners of hosiery mills.

Blakely didn't resign from her role at Danka until the age of 29, two years after she first conceived of the idea for Spanx. She learned to subsist on minimal sleep and kept her sideline gig from her colleagues, having early batches of her footless pantyhose delivered to her home while she was at her day job.

"There were days that I'd be at Danka all day and the semi trucks would drop boxes of Spanx outside my apartment," she says. She didn't turn in her resignation letter until she was absolutely sure her start-up was on the right track.

"I resigned on October 14, 2000," she says. "I quit Danka and two and a half weeks later I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show."

3. Don't seek validation from others.

While Blakely was busy working on her big idea, she made a decision not to tell her friends and family — her then-roommate and boyfriend aside — what exactly she was doing. She knew that, out of love and concern, her nearest and dearest would try to talk her out of dedicating every non-work waking hour to a product that admittedly sounded a little crazy.

"My family knew that 'Sara's working on some idea' but I never told them what it was," she says. "Don't solicit feedback on your product, idea or your business just for validation purposes. You want to tell the people who can help move your idea forward, but if you're just looking to your friend, co-worker, husband or wife for validation, be careful. It can stop a lot of multimillion-dollar ideas in their tracks in the beginning."

By the time she came clean, Spanx was in production and there was no talking Blakely down.

4. Hire your weaknesses.

After Spanx was named one of Oprah Winfrey's Favorite Things in 2000, the floodgates opened. Shops like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's couldn't keep the footless pantyhose in stock. Blakely was out on the road, shilling Spanx in the foyers of department stores and, from 2001, on QVC for hours at a time. But there was no adult supervision, to borrow the phrase made famous by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Enter Laurie Ann Goldman, a longtime Coca-Cola executive who'd worked on the soft drink giant's branding for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics among other big projects. She'd just had a baby and headed to Atlanta's Saks store seeking some Spanx control-top fishnets. They'd sold out of most sizes.

"I started thinking about supply chain management and why they were all sold out," Goldman says. "I went to the sales associate and said, 'you know, you really need to talk to your vendor about a replenishment plan.'"

Blakely was a charismatic salesperson and a great face for Spanx, but she'd never worked in fashion, nor had she taken a single business school class, Goldman remembers. The two met for lunch after the Saks episode. Goldman first came on board as a consultant, then, in 2002, as CEO.

"She brought much more formality, more structure," Blakely says. "We had formal business planning which we'd never had before. We had one-year and three-year targets. Laurie Ann knew right away it could be huge. We're very different people but we think very much aligned. We usually come out at the same place and if we don't there's a healthy debate that goes on. Ninety percent of the time she executes the same way I would, but better."

5. Never stop evolving.

Blakely could've stopped with footless pantyhose, her first product. After all, by 2000 she'd come a long way from her first salary at Danka, age 22: $11,000 plus commission. "My revenue was $4 million my first year in business, off of one $20 item," she says. The second year, revenues hit $10 million. But as competitors and copycats started flooding the market, she and her growing team knew they couldn't rest on their laurels.

In a decade, Spanx's catalog has grown from that initial pair of pantyhose to 200 products. However, Blakely only okays a new category (bras, for instance, or men's undershirts) if it makes sense for the company and if she thinks it's fulfilling a customer need. Now, with the help of Goldman and her team of 125 at Spanx's Atlanta HQ, Blakely's taking the brand international. While Spanx has been a hit in English-speaking Commonwealth countries, Asia is a huge target, followed by the Middle East.

"In the next decade, I see Spanx going worldwide," Blakely says. "Everywhere. No butt left behind. It's going to be all over the world and it's going to be an aspirational brand that transcends categories. There's so many things we can improve upon and make better.

What are the books that influenced Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates?

The following books shaped tech's most influential people and helped them become the CEOs and global leaders they are today.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos enjoys business book "Built to Last" and a fictional novel, "The Remains of the Day."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos enjoys business book "Built to Last" and a fictional novel, "The Remains of the Day."

REUTERS/Richard Brian

Given that Jeff Bezos founded Amazon as a marketplace for books, it's not surprising he reads a lot. He once told told Fast Company he buys 10 books per month.

His favorites? Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and  The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

He told Newsweek: "If you read The Remains of the Day, which is one of my favorite books, you can't help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret."

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is a fan of "Tribal Leadership" by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is a fan of "Tribal Leadership" by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright.

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Tony Hsieh is building up downtown Las Vegas as a hot new tech hub, and he's also the CEO of Amazon-owned shoe company, Zappos.

He enjoys the book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright. Other favorites include Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt.

"Tribal Leadership codifies a lot of what we've been doing instinctually and provides a great framework for all companies to bring company culture to the next level," he says.

Microsoft's Bill Gates recently told the Reddit community that his favorite book of the last decade is Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."

Microsoft's Bill Gates recently told the Reddit community that his favorite book of the last decade is Steven Pinker's


Bill Gates with a Microsoft tablet in 2000

In a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything, Microsoft founder Bill Gates named his favorite book of the last decade: Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

"It's a long but profound look at the reduction in violence and discrimination over time," Gates explained.

Other favorites include J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

"It's very clever. It acknowledges that young people are a little confused, but can be smart about things and see things that adults don't really see. So I've always loved it," he told the Academy of Achievement.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg only lists one book on his Facebook profile: Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game." But that's not his favorite book.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg only lists one book on his Facebook profile: Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game." But that's not his favorite book.

Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, lists a lot of interests on his Facebook profile. But the only book listed is Orson Scott Card's science fiction novel, Ender's Game.

Strangely, that's not his favorite book. He told The New Yorker in 2010 that his favorite is actually The Aeneid by Virgil. 

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg enjoys John le Carre spy novels.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg enjoys John le Carre spy novels.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P., lists John le Carre spy novels as some of his favorite literature.

He describes one in particular, The Honourable Schoolboy, as "600 pages, mostly description, [and] there is almost nothing that happens. But it's fascinating."

Oracle's Larry Ellison enjoys "Napoleon" by Vincent Cronin

Oracle's Larry Ellison enjoys "Napoleon" by Vincent Cronin


Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Ellison reads a lot of literature but one of his more recent favorites is Napoleon by Vincent Cronin.

"It's interesting to read about him for a couple of reasons: to see what one man of modest birth can do with his life, and to see how history can distort the truth entirely," he tells Achievement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook likes "Competing Against Time"

Apple CEO Tim Cook likes "Competing Against Time"


Tim Cook likes Competing Against Time by George Stalk and he's been known to hand out copies to Apple employees.

Elon Musk says he's read thousands of books, but he really likes Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

Elon Musk told NPR that he's read "thousands and thousands" of books. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder enjoys the Lord of the Rings series and he's read the work of many philosophers.

But one of his all-time favorites is Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Glaxay, which he read while growing up and trying to figure out his place in the universe.

One of the biggest takeaways Musk got from reading Adams was, "The question is harder than the answer."

"When we ask questions they come along with our biases. You should really ask, 'Is this the right question?' And that's hard to figure out," says Musk.

Jack Dorsey gives every new Square employee a welcome kit containing one of his favorite books, "The Checklist Manifesto."

Jack Dorsey gives every new Square employee a welcome kit containing one of his favorite books, "The Checklist Manifesto."

Borovsky via Instagram

A Square employee's welcome kit containing "The Checklist Manifesto."

When Jack Dorsey hires a new employee at his company Square, he gives them a welcome kit. In it is a big red book, The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

Gawande is a doctor and writer for the New Yorker. Its premise: A simple checklist can help people manage complex situations. Gawande uses a number of examples across a variety of industries, from medicine, technology and even disaster relief to illustrate his point.

"Success metric for my work @Twitter: these books disappear from my desk. (you should read it too)," Dorsey tweeted in April.

He particularly likes this passage about venture capitalists choosing which startups to invest in. He quotes it on his Tumblr:

Smart specifically studied how such people made their most difficult decision in judging whether to give money to an entrepreneur or not. You would think that this would be whether the entrepreneur's idea is actually a good one. But finding an idea is apparently not all that hard. Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is a different matter entirely. One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.

- Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto

Steve Jobs was influenced by many books, most notably "Innovator's Dilemma," Shakespeare, Plato and "Moby Dick."

Steve Jobs was influenced by many books, most notably "Innovator's Dilemma," Shakespeare, Plato and "Moby Dick."

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

In Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, he listed a number of books that influenced the co-founder of Apple.

Among them: William Shakespeare's King Lear, Plato, Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma, Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, and Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

One article particularly influenced him to collaborate with Steve Wozniak, "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" by Ron Rosenbaum and published in a 1971 issue of Esquire.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-books-that-influenced-techs-most-influencial-ceos-2013-6?op=1#ixzz38qO8ZyrD


Mette all'asta la sua verginità per pagare la retta dell'università, ecco il suo volto

Mette all'asta la sua verginità per pagare la retta dell'università, ecco il suo volto

PER APPROFONDIRE tagastaverginitàsessousadollari
Due mesi fa le foto del suo corpo sexy e seminudo hanno fatto il giro del mondo; oggi Elizabeth Raine, nome di fantasia di una studentessa di medicina di 27 anni, ha deciso di svelare ai suoi ''potenziali acquirenti'' il suo volto. Una strategia volta ad alzare la posta di una sua personale asta tutta particolare: Elizabeth infatti ha deciso di vendere la sua verginità.

Vende la sua verginit per 250mila dollari, ecco il suo volto

E' visibile online il viso di questa ragazza che ha ideato l'asta per pagare la retta e le tasse universitarie. Niente più mistero, dunque. Inizialmente aveva pubblicato le foto del suo corpo sexy a volto coperto per paura di essere identificata e cacciata dal college, ma adesso ha deciso di svelarsi sperando di ottenere un'offerta di 250mila dollari.

6 Ways to Improve Your Conversations

The solution to the age-old problem of understanding others may be as simple as taking the time to improve your active listening skills. Active listening is all about building rapport, understanding and trust.

Your "likability" factor is largely determined by your ability to effectively listen to client and customer suggestions and successfully respond to their needs, requests and concerns. But you don't have to be born with the gift of gab to become an expert communicator. Here are six tips to help you become a better listener and actually hear what others are saying, not just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear.

Related: 5 Ways to Be a Better Listener

1. Show a real interest. When you speak to someone, especially in a busy or loud environment, give6 Ways to Improve Your Conversations him or her your full attention. If you find yourself distracted or can't hear them well, ask to move to a quieter area. Practice empathetic listening. Put yourself in his or her shoes and try to see the situation through his or her eyes. Ask questions and encourage the other person to elaborate. Even if you haven't experienced the same situation, try sharing a personal story about a time when you felt similarly.

2. Use the magic words: "Tell me." Most people will cherish the opportunity to share their stories and experiences. To start a conversation, use the two most powerful words in conversation: "Tell me." Successful conversationalists avoid questions that may be answered with a simple yes or no. Ask open-ended questions and then listen. For example, you may say, "Tell me, Joe, what prompted you to start your own business?" Or ask for their input, "I'd like to take my family on a vacation this summer. Tell me, do you have a favorite vacation spot?" When you choose a topic of conversation that demonstrates interest in the other person, the discussion will flow more smoothly.

Related: For Better Conversations, Replace 'How Are You?' With This One Phrase

3. Say the other person's name. Dale Carnegie once said, "A person's name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language." Any business acquaintance will be flattered and impressed if you remember his or her name. If you have difficulty remembering names, set out to practice as frequently as possible. When you meet someone for the first time, say the person's name immediately. Respond with something like, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Frank." Then use their name a couple of times throughout your conversation. When the conversation ends, say their name one last time: "I really enjoyed meeting you, Jim."

4. Agree heartily; disagree softly. When someone agrees with you, it establishes an instant bond. Suddenly, you both have something in common. However, the strongest professional relationships exhibit mutual respect and admiration, even in disagreements. Tolerance and respect for others, especially when they disagree with you, is vital to successful networking. If you strongly disagree with someone's opinion, softly communicate that you don't see it the same way. Ask questions and allow the person to fully express his or her reasoning.

Related: The 3 Qualities of Likable People

5. Talk less; listen more. When someone speaks to you, listen with your whole body. Nod, make eye contact, and be fully engaged in what they have to say. Attentive listening will build trust and help you establish a professional relationship. When given the opportunity, ask pertinent questions, which will help demonstrate your sincere interest. If you don't understand, ask for specifics. You could ask a clarifying question such as, "If I hear you correctly, you're saying…Is that right?" It's best to confirm your assumptions rather than risk a miscommunication.

6. Don't interrupt or change the subject. Many assertive professionals finish others' sentences out of habit. If you jump in and interrupt someone's sentence, you prevent him or her from fully expressing his or her thoughts. Though your intentions may be good, the other person may perceive you to be a know-it-all or in a rush. Or worse, the person may think you are trying to put words in his or her mouth. Always permit the other person enough time to finish their thought before you respond. Your patience and thoughtfulness will be appreciated.

The Most Expensive Domain Names in Internet History

It is estimated that more than 500 URLs have been bought and sold for $1 million or more.
The Most Expensive Domain Names in Internet History
We scoured domain name resource DN Journal and put together a list of documented million-dollar, domain-only sales. Some have been squatted on for 20 years and have only recently traded hands.

Not surprisingly, sex- and gambling-related domains are some of the biggest money makers.

Below, check out the most expensive domain names of all time.

Note: Web businesses have other assets and are not domain-only sales, so they were not eligible for this list. For example, Insure.com was bought for $16 million as a fully-operating, profitable company. DN Journal reports only the domain names sold after 2003 because prior sales are not verified by credible sources.

Spend a Splendid Summer Vacation, Entrepreneur Style

It's summertime and the living is sweet: Hello, white sand beaches,
drinks by the pool and sunshine tempered by sunscreen. But for many
entrepreneurs, vacations are a luxury rarely enjoyed.

Whether people are working for others or self-employed, regular
vacation time is rapidly becoming extinct. Employment experts
Glassdoor found in a recent survey that while most employees use at
least some vacation time, 75 percent do not take full advantage of it.
And of those on vacation, 24 percent report having contact with
co-workers about a work-related matter.

Whether too busy with work to turn off all devices or prefer to stay
connected and mix a bit of work and play while on vacation,
entrepreneurs can make the most of their well-deserved time off this
summer with these 20 tips:

Related: Common Vacation Mistakes Managers Make (Infographic)

Plan ahead to arrange for optimum timing.

1. Wake up early. For many people, vacation is for sleeping in. Take
advantage of your family's morning snooze time. Schedule meetings with
customers and clients during the early morning hours so you can enjoy
the rest of your day worry-free.

2. Compartmentalize your time. Allocate a few well-placed, hourlong
blocks during your vacation to allow for email housekeeping or client
meetings. Typically, scheduling these blocks early in the morning will
allow you to fit into family plans later in the day, depending on
time-zone variances.

3. Account for jet lag if you have traveled a far distance or
overseas. Adjust your body clock as quickly as possible by drinking
plenty of water, avoid alcohol until you stabilize and drink green tea
for a gentle pickup.

4. Use the Free Wi-Fi Finder app to figure out where to plug in,
regardless of location, and avoid spotty Internet connections from
keeping you from signing that next customer.

5. Save email to your drafts folder. By bundling emails and sending
them only in the morning or evening during set times, you set the
expectation that you will not be available for ongoing communications
throughout the day.

6. Switch your smartphone to periodic email-push settings. Do you
really need to update email constantly while you're on vacation?

7. Reinforce boundaries by making use of an out-of-office response to
email. Let people know you are available, but to expect a delay in
your response.

8. Create a summer calendar that maps your specific industry and pick
the ideal window of opportunity for leisure time. Generally speaking,
the busiest months for retailers are from September to January, with
August often an optimal time for small business owners to take
advantage of downtime and plan personal vacations.

Related: 5 Hidden Ways Your Summer Vacation Pays Off for Your Business

Budget for the best break.

9. Save money little by little all year long for a two-week vacation.
For those running a single-person business, budget for two weeks of
vacation, estimating an approximate income based on a 50 weeks of
earnings and business expenses based on 52 weeks.

10. Consider a staycation. According to a survey on summer vacation
travel conducted by American Express, the average cost per person in
the United States is $1,145 per person. If you live in a city but
haven't enjoyed all that it offers, explore new restaurants, the
museums you never get around to visiting and see your hometown with
fresh eyes.

11. Consider more creative and personal lodging accommodations using
HomeAway or Airbnb for a more unique and personal travel experience.

12. Mix business with pleasure. Studies have revealed that many
Americans expect to stay connected to the office on vacation. By
combining your vacation with a business trip, you can potentially
reduce some vacation costs. According to the IRS, travel expenses
within the United States are tax-deductible for business owners when
more than half a trip is spent conducting business. Consult a tax
advisor for more information.

Related: 6 Ultra-Handy Tech Tools to Simplify Your Summertime Travels

Use technology to your advantage.

13. Try video conferencing. Free video conferencing tools like Skype
let entrepreneurs be available for virtual face-to-face conversations,
regardless of geography.

14. Purchase separate technology for the kids. Buy a cheap laptop or
tablet for the kids and load it with games and movies to keep them
entertained in the hotel room on rainy days or during downtime.

15. Look for local co-working spaces for your conference calls and
online meetings and investigate them for opportunities to network with
other like-minded entrepreneurs. If there aren't any co-working spaces
available, most hotel business centers offer private areas with
computers, printers, fax machines and myriad other resources. If all
else fails, find yourself a quiet corner in a coffee shop.

16. Consider splurging on Google Glass. Flow information about your
new environment directly to you and manage email and meetings in the
blink of an eye.

Related: Burned Out? 4 Destinations to Bring Back Your Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Find creative inspiration everywhere.

17. Go on adventures and move your body to get the creative juices flowing.

18. Be a detective during your vacation time. Sightseeing is research
and development in disguise for the entrepreneur. Take pictures of
storefronts, marketing and point-of-sale materials, storefronts and
packaging. Relentlessly window-shop in other localeswith your own
business in mind.

19. Be curious about all things around you. Talk to strangers in the
stores you visit to understand what interests and excites them.

20. Use easy and fun multimedia tools like Evernote to save your
thoughts, images and ideas and share them easily with co-workers and
clients while you're away or once you return.

Whether you choose to compartmentalize your time while on vacation,
fully disconnect or engage in what some call "life slicing," (where
multitasking extends to blending the professional and personal parts
of life), entrepreneurship is a marathon not a sprint and is often a
family affair. While entrepreneurs build their business, they are also
building their lives, and vacations can be a meaningful way to
contribute to both.


Rich and poor why???

rich-and-poor-global_starvationYou've probably already heard that the wealthiest 1% owns 50% of the world's wealth. More precisely, in that 1%, the 85 wealthiest individuals in the world have a combined wealth equal to that of the bottom 3.5 billion people.

A lot of the global poverty, particularly in developing countries is attributable to war, corruption, failure of the State or lack of resources. But even in developed nations, there's a disparity between rich and poor people.

If you're reading this, chances are you're part of the middle class. Some of you are probably trying to move up the economic ladder by embracing the idea of being rich one day, or maybe such wealth disparity around the world makes you uncomfortable. After all, does one man really need $77 Billion (Bill Gates!!) to live when others are starving?

So intuitively, a natural question arises: Why are there rich and poor people? Well, in ancient civilizations like the Roman Empire, social stratification and slavery made wealth disparity self-explanatory. In those days if you belonged to a certain class, you were destined to be either rich or poor. But in modern society, provided there's no social oppression and given the right opportunities, the economic system allows most people to improve their standard of living.


More specifically, in capitalist economies, wealth starts with individual property. So, if you own an asset, the idea is that you can use that asset to produce something, and make money by selling that thing. The asset can be a piece of land, equipment or even your skills. Once you've been able to make your first buck, then that money will multiply with time and interest. So people become rich when they are able to accumulate capital much faster than the rate at which they spend. Plus, in a capitalist economy, the prices at which we buy and sell goods and services are driven by their level of scarcity, and those prices fluctuate with market demand. So becoming rich has a lot to do with producing a good at the lowest cost possible, that a lot of people want and that is hard to find. And because money accumulates indefinitely once you have enough of it, wealth becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. So if you're born into a rich family, you're likely to be rich yourself.


On the other hand, poverty is the inability to accumulate capital faster than your consumption rate. In a capitalist economy, this inability is due to the fact that the assets you own are not highly priced on the market. For example, the skills of a factory worker may be worth less than the skills of an accountant. Low income, little access to basic needs like education, food and proper housing, are all factors that reduce the capacity of someone to accumulate wealth. And since it's a self-fulfilling cycle, poor people's children are more likely to be poor themselves.


Because not everyone is given an equal amount of assets and opportunity to start off in life, there will always be wealth disparity under a capitalist system. Socialist economic systems tried to tackle this issue by establishing common ownership of the means of production, and an equal distribution of opportunities, goods and services. However a society completely transforms when individuals are given things rather than having to work for the prospect of earning more for themselves. In general, the lack of personal gain disincentivizes people, and contracts economic growth; plus the absence of competition makes things pricier and less innovative. Therefore this system generally has to involve heavy government intervention in regulating production levels, prices, wages, trade, food supply and pretty much everything that touches a citizen's life. In the worst cases this model has even turned into dictatorship.


At the end of the day it all comes down to a philosophical way of viewing society. There's no fundamentally good or bad way to tackle this issue. As a matter of fact, today most of the policy making in the world includes a mix of both systems. For example, minimum wage, taxation, market regulation, social enterprise, unionization and welfare are all social measures applied to counter the drawbacks of capitalist economies. But is it enough? Is there a permanent solution to eliminate poverty? Or do you think the notions of rich and poor are inherent to our society or the way we behave as human beings?


5 Mentalities You Need to Raise Money

Raising money is hard. I can honestly tell you, it's been the hardest part of my journey as an entrepreneur. Your chances of raising money from any given VC fund are less than 0.5 percent.

So you need to be able to stack the odds in your favor as much as possible. I asked Michael Simpson, author of the new book, The Secret of Raising Money, to explain what he calls the five mentalities you need to raise money, and this is what he shared:

1. Willingness to walk away. Any time you are having a conversation with a potential investor, you must be willing to walk away. The best way to convey this willingness is by actually having a viable alternative, i.e. other investors who are prepared to give you money. If you don't have interest from other investors, then you must find a way to actively convince yourself that you are ok with not receiving money from the investor in question (regardless of how low on cash you actually are). As soon as the investor senses that you need him, the money is going to become almost impossible to close.

The concept that having a viable alternative gives you leverage is true in any negotiation. The course of action you will take if the discussions fall through is called a BATNA -"Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement". You should always have a satisfactory BATNA. And if you don't, you must make it appear that you do.

2. Inevitability. You must be able to look investors square in the eye and state with confidence that the problem you are solving is huge and growing. You must portray messianic belief in your idea and company. This unshakeable confidence and optimism is hugely attractive not only to investors, but also potential hires, customers and partners. It is one of the classic traits that compels others to follow you.

How do you do this? While there are a whole host of techniques you can use to artificially create confidence, the only consistently effective strategy here is to actually be building a company that you believe in.

Paul Graham said it very well: "That's the secret. Convince yourself that your startup is worth investing in, and then when you explain this to investors they'll believe you."

3. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. During the fundraising process, and indeed in many situations you will encounter as an entrepreneur, you will be making requests of a lot of people. Requests for introductions, requests for meetings and, of course, requests for money. Many find it uncomfortable to make these kinds of requests. As an entrepreneur you must become intimately comfortable with this process.

Don't worry that you are 'inconveniencing' others or taking up others' time. When you are fundraising, the only thing that matters is that you close the round. Follow up on your requests until you get a yes or no. All this can initially be difficult and feel unnatural, but it is critical to your success.

4. Dogged persistence. "Never, ever, ever give up"--Winston Churchill

The way fundraising works, unless you are in a very small minority of companies, you will unfortunately get a vast number of no's. In fact, for most entrepreneurs, at least 9/10 investor meetings will not result in funding. A large VC fund sees literally thousands of potential deals every year and only invests in a small handful.

Since the odds of success are so low, it's crucial that you are ready for rejection and are always able to move forward regardless.

5. Focus 100 percent on fundraising. Once you have decided to raise money, you must commit 100 percent. It should be your number one focus and priority at all times. Avoid the temptation to dip in your toe and 'test the market'.

Why is this important? Because the best way to speed up your raise is via competition within your round. And in order to generate competition you need to be having as many conversations as you possibly can, which takes considerable effort over a period of weeks or months. Investors are incentivized to retain optionality for as long as possible, and without competition for your deal, they have no reason to give you an answer immediately. This tactic is called creating 'scarcity'.

What are your secrets? Let me know your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below.

Richard Branson on Building a Killer Mobile App

It has only been six years since Apple released the first iPhone, but
in that time, the device and its applications have transformed how we
interact with the world and each other. Those changes are still under
way: The app business is growing at a phenomenal pace, with more than
50 billion apps downloaded from Apple's App Store by May 2013, at a
rate of over 2 billion apps per month; a similar number are being
installed on Android phones via Google Play. Apple has paid $10
billion to developers since the iPhone's launch.

I don't usually include a lot of statistics in this column -- this
isn't about money, but how you can start your own business with a
great idea and a better attitude. My point is that at its core, the
app business is no different from any other type of enterprise:
entrepreneurs are creating apps out of frustration at a lack of

One young entrepreneur who made headlines with the sale of his app
this year was Nick D'Aloisio, 17, a British high school student who
created the news aggregator Summly. When he was preparing for his
exams, he found the repetition of information annoying and so he built
Trimit, an early version of his service that was downloaded more than
200,000 times. In March Yahoo purchased his invention for a price
estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

What I find striking about Nick's story is that he started building
his app at home, probably in his room. A recent study by
Freelancer.com found that in Britain, "There has been an increase of
34 percent of businesses setting up in their spare time in the last 12
months, and all of them revealed they did so because starting a
business today is easier, saying that costs are lower thanks to being
able to start up online." They also found that of the respondents who
started their business in their spare time, 56 percent set up office
space in their bedrooms. We can be sure that many of those
entrepreneurs are creating apps -- you don't need a store front or
office space, just talent and the willingness to work hard.

If you have an idea for a "killer app," here are some tips to help you
move your idea off your kitchen table and into the mainstream.

1. Be ready to fail -- and try again.
When you're developing your idea, be honest with yourself about
whether your app, product or service will truly deliver value to
customers. Ask potential users for constructive criticism. If you are
not delivering something that makes people's lives easier, it's time
to start over.

2. Keep it simple.
Remember that your app should do a few things very well, rather than
lots of things badly. Simplicity will generate word of mouth.

Be very careful about any additional features you add - they must
bring value to your core offering.

3. Empower your customers through design.
Steve Jobs said: "Design is not just what it looks like and feels
like. Design is how it works." Once you've decided on what your app
does well, focus on what your users are trying to achieve and make it
easy for them to get the job done at every step. Never ask them to
stop and figure out how your app works.

4. Test, test, test.
If your app is flimsy or bug-ridden, people will delete it the moment
they encounter a problem, and they won't download it again. In today's
connected world, any badly made product or poor service gets bad
reviews, which can bring an end to any startup.

5. Plan to get noticed.
There are currently more than 900,000 apps available on the App Store
alone, so new entrants must work harder to get noticed. To get your
app on people's radar, think about who your potential customers are
and how they would prefer to learn about it. Whether they're looking
for high ratings or they make decisions based on TV ads, plan out how
you're going to reach them and then make some noise.

6. An entrepreneur's work is never done.
No matter what business you're in, you should never consider the
design of your product or service "finished." Make improving it part
of your everyday work.

7. To get ahead, listen.
The ability to listen to customers is the most important skill an
entrepreneur can have. Don't just rely on metrics - find ways to
connect with the people using your app and learn what they think of
your offering and how they're using it.

Remember, your idea doesn't have to be the next Instagram or Angry
Birds - one of our former employees, Lance Stewart, left a few years
ago to build his own app business, and has evolved his company Wavana
from a developer of travel products such as Tube Exits (which helps
you plan journeys on London's underground) to one that is trying to
shake up the way people plan and organize conferences, called
Showcase. He created that business because he was frustrated by
missing the good stuff at trade shows! (Learn more about his business
at showca.se.)

Most great business ideas are right under our noses, just waiting to
be discovered; you may be developing one right now, under your own