Hard Work > Working Hard

hard workToday was filled with a lot of really hard work.  Not to be confused with the fact that we were also working hard

“Working hard” is what we do every day. For me it’s usually billing more hours than I can count for weeks at a time. I’m sure many of my readers have similar experiences at their jobs.

But “hard work” is what we do when we work on gamechanging ideas together.  Bringing a team of lots of people together to discuss disjointed ideas, debate different points of view, mesh our worldviews, and take a stand about an idea.  And often we are charged to do all of this without any framework, structure or leaders in the group.

Working hard is not new.  We all know how to buckle down and work hard.  But hard work flexes an entirely different muscle.  Because it’s difficult adapting to having more cooks in the kitchen, navigating a setting where at times it might be hard to speak up or propose an idea, wondering how many others are still not convinced with the concept, and skeptical whether you can actually make a difference. I have felt all of these things over the past day or two.

It always takes a lot more hard work (and perhaps a lot more risk) than working hard to answer these and other hard questions.  This is why is so important to be part of not just a talented team but also a “good team”.

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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 Careers, Entrepreneurship No Comments

Three More Days

Three More DaysThree more days.  Yep, that’s it.  In three days, I’ll be working with a small group of people from all over the world, and we plan on doing something very special.

You must be dying to know exactly what this means?

What this means is that folks with game-changing ideas are coming together to work with a common purpose and to work for a common cause.  That purpose is to create something remarkable and in this case, the cause is related to education and the internet.  In just a few days, I’ll be joining Seth Godin, and his hand selected team.

In terms of what we’ll do, good question.  We’ll have discussions to see if we can up with a few ideas, maybe draw out a game plan, perhaps create and launch a product, and possibly even strategize on how to raise capital.  Who knows.

On one hand, the details are not all determined yet and that’s why the team is going to be important. On the other hand, we have to be quiet about what we are doing until we’ve done it.

But soon, that may not be the case.  So stay tuned. I look forward to sharing our progress with you.

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MBA Mondays: Starting a Business

StartBizMany of my friends from business school have started businesses.  Far more of them will fail than succeed, but that’s just how the numbers work. But some will be successful and some will even be wildly successful.  But all that feels so far away the moment you are getting started.

It’s not always clear what to do when you first want to start a business.  Most people think about writing business plans but it’s not always clear why people do that either. Don’t get me wrong, business plans are useful to organize your thoughts and present your ideas to future teammates and investors. But they don’t usually make an idea better, and they certainly don’t give a bad idea more sales.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about four other things that matter a little more.

1.  Money

2. People

3. Advisor(s)

4. Overcoming fear

5. Formalities.

In the legal world, we help business people work on formalities.  We help determine organizational structure.  We organize the companies, file the paperwork and ensure they are in compliance with state law.  We help them formally create rules, which are known as Bylaws and we help them elect managers of the company, which you know as officers and directors. We do this far more seamlessly and quickly than they could by themselves.

When we do this we also help with the money and people part, where we help draft agreements when a company wants venture investments or wants to hire employees or contractors.  We also draft agreements when the person or company wants to give equity in the company to employees or investors.

This is important because the business side of money and people are critical.  All companies need budgets and deadlines and sales to be successful. They need to make more money than you spend but have to analyze cash flows, balance sheets, margins and return on investments to measure their success.  Many lawyers run as fast as they can from these things but the good ones speak the language very clearly and help business people incorporate them into their overall plan. To structure the incentives and all the agreements the company has to fit its financial strategy.

But none of this is possible unless you work with people that are smart and compliment each other.  This is the people element. This doesn’t always mean their resume, though a resume can be a good indication of what someone will contribute. But it also means their passion, attitude and track record.

Most service providers understand their element pretty well, but not the entire process. Lawyers, tend to see the legal side. Consultants know the operations or strategic aspect. And bankers tend to get the numbers.  VCs think through much of this stuff pretty well too.  But the advisor is the person that understands all of the elements. And the more of these an entrepreneur has, the more he or she will overcome the fear of starting the business.

Just a few thoughts, as I’ve been working a lot of the Formalities part recently.  It’s a big topic for one blog post. Much more to come.


Monday, June 24th, 2013 Business School, Entrepreneurship No Comments

Risk and Reward

risk-and-rewardRisk is all around us. When we encounter potential failure, we come face to face with it.  And in that moment we have to decide, what are we going to do next?

Fear is the most natural reaction. We are uncertain of the outcome and how that will make us look, especially when the stakes are high. So fear makes us nervous and we decide not to go forward.

On the other hand, risk is inevitable if you are want to do great work. And there’s no better way to do great way than to work on something you care about. Your passion. Your art.

It’s easy to to avoid risk at all costs. That whenever possible you mitigate risks with the products you launch or the people you meet by only taking things that look flawless and where there is no downside.

But there’s just one problem. In almost every single situation, a small increase in risk can double the reward. And where there’s more downside, there is also often upside.

Taking that first step can be impossibly hard. But it’s almost always worth it in the end.

Just a thought.

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Saturday, June 1st, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Most Important Work

ImportantWorkIn the midst of all the chaos in the world today, it’s more important than ever to focus on the most important work.

Unfortuantely, today’s world makes this more challenging. Not only are there more soundbites to filter than ever but we also don’t always know what work is most important. Is it our upcoming exam in two months? The numbers we have to crunch? The deal we have to close?  The memo we have to write? Or something completely unrelated to our jobs?

I don’t know if anyone has the perfect answer. But here’s one rule that sometimes works for me.

The most important work is the work where it does not matter who gets the credit.  As long as it gets finished.


Thursday, March 14th, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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