Monday, January 30, 2006

The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs

Ten days ago I blogged about “The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists,” as written by Silicon Valley VC guru Guy Kawasaki. So it seems only fair to direct you to his follow-up piece, “The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs.”

Kawasaki says he gets pitched for funds dozens of times a year – and every pitch contains at least three or four of these lies. In fact, he says the hardest part was narrowing down the list to 10!

Below is my condensed version of his list – or you can read the original here.

1. “Our projections are conservative.” I have never seen an entrepreneur achieve even her most conservative projections. As a rule of thumb, when I see a projection, I add one year to delivery time and multiply by 0.1.

2. “(Big-name research firm) says our market will be $50 billion in 2010.” VCs don't believe these forecasts because it's the fifth one of this magnitude they've heard that day.

3. “(Big-name company) is going to sign our purchase order next week.” The funny thing is that next week the purchase order still isn't signed. Nor the week after. The decision maker gets laid off, the CEO gets fired, there's a natural disaster, whatever. No investor whose money you'd want will fall for this one.

4. “Key employees are set to join us as soon as we get funded." If it's true that key employees are ready to rock, have them call the VC after the meeting and testify to this effect.

5. “No one is doing what we're doing.” As a rule of thumb, if you have a good idea, five companies are going the same thing. If you have a great idea, 15 companies are doing it.

6. “No one can do what we're doing.” Entrepreneurs are kidding themselves if they think they have any monopoly on knowledge.

7. “Hurry, because several other venture capital firms are interested.” There are maybe 100 entrepreneurs in the world who can make this claim. The bad news: The fact that you are reading this blog means you're not one of them. Re-read the previous blog about the lies of VCs to learn how entrepreneurs hear “maybe” when VCs are saying “no.”

8. “Oracle/Microsoft/etc. is too big/dumb/slow to be a threat.” You think it's bravado, but VCs think it's stupidity.

9. “We have a proven management team.” If the entrepreneur were that proven, then he (a) probably wouldn't have to ask for money; (b) wouldn't be claiming that he's proven. A better strategy is to state that (a) you have relevant industry experience; (b) you are going to do whatever it takes to succeed; (c) you are going to surround yourself with directors and advisors who are proven; and (d) you'll step aside whenever it becomes necessary.

10. “Patents make our product defensible.” Patents are for impressing your parents. You won't have the time or money to sue anyone with a pocket deep enough to be worth suing.

Rick again: Of course, not all of these are lies. They are the optimism and enthusiasm that entrepreneurs need in order to get up every morning and run full-speed into the wall of indifference - again and again.
And thank goodness they do.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Four simple things

My friend Donald Cooper, the Toronto-based retailer turned consultant and public speaker, had a dynamite newsletter today. Here's a condensed version of one of his articles: "4 simple things you can do, right now, to grow your business this year!"

Thing #1: Make a list of the top10% of your customers by sales volume. Call or visit them personally and thank them for their business. Ask what you can do to be more helpful and more valuable to them this year.

Thing #2: Make a list of the bottom 10% of your customers by sales volume. Call or visit them. Find out if they have potential or if you’re doing something to limit their business with you. If they simply aren’t and won’t be profitable, deal with it.

Thing #3: Make a list of your most important suppliers. Call or visit them and thank them for looking after you so well this past year. Ask if there’s anything you can do to be a better customer. Then ask if they have any thoughts on how they can be more helpful to you this year: opportunities, special terms, co-op programs.

Thing #4: Ask each of your staff to give you three to five ideas about things that you need to fix, create or stop doing in the business to serve customers more effectively, increase sales, reduce waste, increase efficiency or improve working conditions.

And they say business is getting too complicated... Donald Cooper has a way of getting to the heart of the matter.

Click here for Donald's full newsletter.
And visit his website here for lots of great articles and insights.

Six Rules for Better Presentations

It’s Planning Meeting Week at the software company on whose board I sit, so Wednesday morning I dropped in and sat through five PowerPoint presentations. Most were very well done.

Still, it was five PowerPoints in four hours. More than enough to get me thinking about Rick's 6 Rules for Better Presentations.

1. Have one main point. Find the unifying theme for all your ideas and slides, and use it as the backbone that connects and directs the information you present. Even a hint of a storyline makes your presentation easier to follow – and discourages “tuning out.”

2. Fight for attention. You have to earn an audience’s engagement. (You don't automatically get it just because they're in the room.) Start with a bang; use an arresting graphic, a strong metaphor, a challenge or a controversial quote. Don't just do this for effect – make it an integral part of your message. If you don't win people’s attention early, you’ll have trouble getting it later.

3. Provide relevant context. Get everyone in the audience up to speed, build significance and strengthen your argument by explaining what would happen (or has happened) if your message is ignored. Give us the “Before” as well as the “After.” If you're talking about the changes you are making in your department, for instance, talk first about where you are (or were before). The people who sell Tide by the boatload know that showing a clean shirt on TV is not enough – to make an impact, you first have to show the stains.

4. Encourage interaction. Find one or two opportunities to involve the audience in your presentation. Ask questions, troll for examples, seek suggestions. It offers your listeners a refreshing change of pace, and grabs attention fast. It also shows you're open to new ideas and aren’t assuming you have all the answers.

5. Tell stories. Most business presentations are full of generalities and abstractions. There's nothing wrong with saying things like “We produce mission-critical solution for enterprise-level clients” - so long as you garnish them with examples, anecdotes and testimonials that put a human face and a happy ending (or a clear lesson) on your points. Use descriptive words and active verbs. People remember images far better than they do words.

6. Be memorable. Just as you did at the outset (see Rule 2), drive your key points home. Use rhetorical flourishes, over-the-top gestures, repetition, humour, abrupt changes of pace, attention-getting graphics, or any creative technique you can imagine to ensure your ideas don't get buried in the avalanche of information your audience is taking in today.

Yes, you can get away with ignoring all of these “rules.” People do it every day. But if you want your presentation to be recalled, respected and influential – first make it memorable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Election result: Barbarians at the Gates

You know Canadians are getting way unruly when they reject a lawyer as Prime Minister and bring in an economist instead.

Congratulations to Stephen Harper and his merry brand of Conservatives. Ontario and Quebec are trusting you to govern as if you have a minority. Rest assured that if you don’t, you won’t.

I’ve talked to a number of people who feel very sad about Paul Martin’s career arc. There was always a feeling that he was going to turn into someone of quality, but he never did. The man who entered public life to avenge his father’s political defeats (PM Senior ran twice for the Liberal leadership, losing to Pearson and Trudeau) has now failed even more utterly. To get the office he wanted so badly, he chose to split the Liberal party down the middle – and then he did nothing with the opportunity when he got it. Nothing to justify the faith so many people had in him, the personal effort he’d expended, or the damage he’d done to his own party.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

And if the very act of pursuing ambition changes who you are, that may be good news for the dawning Harper era. He seemed very restrained and statesmanlike last night.

If the rest of his gang can be mature enough to hold off the witch burnings until the second term, we may get a good government out of this.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Challenge of China

A recent post at Fresh Inc., the blogging community of Inc. Magazine, got more than it bargained for when it addressed China’s Entrepreneurial Revival.

The writer, Carole Matthews, noted that China today has nearly 24 million small independent companies, and a recent BusinessWeek article says small/medium companies create 75% of new jobs. She says the country’s government has developed high-tech zones, science parks, and business incubators to promote business ownership, and has streamlined its business registration processes.

With China actively wooing overseas Chinese entrepreneurs to come home, Matthews ends her post by wondering whether, in the face of this unexpected entrepreneurial challenge, the U.S. is doing enough to promote entrepreneurship at home.

But her assumptions are questioned by a reader named “Tim,” whose comments should interest anyone considering doing business in China:

“All this roses and wine stuff about China is Cool, but having lived there and in Southeast Asia it isn't like people want you to believe.

“Yes, the government has opened up zones, but less than 20% of them are used. Why? Because of red tape, false funding, graft, and sucky, very old infrastructures that surround them. Most are in name only with no physical or government process improvement.

“China is and always has been made up of small entrepreneur-style businesses. It is built on the family business…

“The business failure rate in China is over 99% after 2 years. For every western or Asian [business] from outside China that starts and succeeds, there are roughly 1200 failures…

“Yes, China is a huge collection of small businesses and a big market but it is inconsistent and regulatory graft smothers it. … Don’t forget there are no contract laws and commerce laws to protect businesses like we have here.”

Dodge City wasn’t the safest place either. Yet America’s lawless frontier provided the foundation for many of its greatest business fortunes, from mining to newspapers to security and railroads. Clearly, this is all part of the ongoing global entrepreneurial revolution – and revolutions are never seen clearly until they are over.

Read the original posts here.

Click here for a short piece on China I wrote last year for PROFIT Magazine.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another bloggin' milestone

Canadian Entrepreneur continues to grow at an increasing pace. I am delighted to note that today this blog receives its 3,000th visitor.

It took us seven months to get the first thousand. The most recent thousand took two months and 3 days.

Recently, we have been averaging 20 visitors a day, which is exciting stuff. Thanks to all who have made this a regular part of your Interweb experience.

Where did Sony go wrong?

How could Sony go wrong marketing the world’s coolest notebook computer to Canadian entrepreneurs?

1. Because they don’t understand what entrepreneurs do for fun.
2. And because they missed a subtle but golden opportunity to appeal to entrepreneurs’ vanity – and their need to be admired.

For more, check out this post over at our sister site, Selling to Small Business.

The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists

Guy Kawasaki, the evangelist of Silicon Valley, is back. In his fascinating new blog, he reveals The Top 10 lies venture capitalists tell.

Guy is always trying to break down the communication barriers that separate entrepreneurs and VCs. As always, his work makes for amusing and valuable reading. Here's a condensed version.

Lie No. 1: “I liked your company, but my partners didn't.” This is a cop out, says Kawasaki: “A true believer would get it done.’

2. “If you get a lead [investor], we will follow.” In other words, once the entrepreneur doesn't need the money, the VC would be happy to give him some more.

3. “Show us some traction, and we'll invest.” The VC is saying she doesn't believe your story – but she doesn’t want to say No because she might be wrong and doesn't want to end up looking stupid.

4. “We love to co-invest with other venture capitalists.” What entrepreneurs want to hear is, “We want the whole round. We don't want any other investors.”

5. “We're investing in your team.” What the VC is saying is, “We're investing in your team as long as things are going well, but if they go bad we will fire your ass because no one is indispensable.”

6. “I have lots of bandwidth to dedicate to your company.” Counting board meetings, assume that a VC will spend no more than five to ten hours a month on your company. Deal with it. And make board meetings short!

7. “This is a vanilla term sheet.” Do you think corporate finance attorneys are paid $400/hour to push plain-vanilla term sheets? (If you insist on charaterizing term sheets as ice cream flavors, the only flavor that works is Rocky Road.) This is why you need your own $400/hour attorney.

8. “We can open up doors for you at our client companies.” Frankly, a VC might be hated by the client company. The worst thing in the world may be a referral from him.

9. “We like early-stage investing.” Venture capitalists are remarkably risk-averse, considering it's not even our money.

There is no No. 10. “I'm at a Starbucks in Hawaii writing this blog. I've been at it for ninety minutes. I don't have my charger with me. My PowerBook is out of gas.” Deal with it.
Or read the original (with the accompanying comments) here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Show me the microphone!

It's time I let you know that I'll be speaking at a "Future Leaders" event in Toronto on Feb. 8. It's called an "Entrepreneurs' Forum," and I'll be speaking on "Lessons from Canada's top growth companies." There'll be war stories, best practices and road-tested tactics from some of the best companies I've met over the past year.

But that's not all! Also on the program is Manjit Minhas, founder and president of the Minhas Creek Brewing Co., an astonishingly ambitious growth company from Westerm Canada.

It'll be a fabulous one-two punch - a guy who has studied entrepreneurship up close for 20 years, and a 20-something entrepreneur who is actually making things happen.
To read more about Manjit, click here. To read more about me.... keep scrolling.

The event starts at 5 pm at the National Club, right downtown at Bay and King. For more information on this event, just click here.
See you there!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Networking at the Top

Sometimes the best marketing is done face-to-face – especially with those key, affluent individuals who hold the purse strings for major companies and customers.

In a recent issue devoted to its annual list of the 100 richest Canadians, Canadian Business magazine featured a story, Schmoozing 101, on how to network with the business elite. Here are a few highlights:

· Whether you're in an airport lounge or attending a black-tie gala, always be ready to network. If you know in advance who you might meet, find out at least three things about them. A quick Google search can help you figure out where people are from, where they work and what charities they support. You should also prepare a few questions, such as, "What are your tips for being successful?"

· Prepare a brief (seven to nine seconds) personal introduction to break the ice.

· Master small talk. Ease into conversations by finding a common interest.

· If it's necessary to talk business at a social function, provide a subtle warning to gauge its appropriateness.

· Follow up with an e-mail and a handwritten note. Know when to back off if someone's not returning calls.

· Never ignore spouses or significant others. They like to be in the conversation too – and could be influential advocates in future.

For the full story, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The new economy vs Paul Martin

Finally, the new, entrepreneurial, knowledge-based economy gets a mention in the six-week-old election campaign – and Paul Martin screws it up.

In Markham, Ont., this morning, the Liberals announced their intention to make “significant investments to support the innovation process from start to finish, from nurturing Canadian ideas, to bringing ideas to market, to supporting Canadian industry.”

Here’s the problem: a key pillar of the new economy is disgusted at the politicians’ bungling of the knowledge file. Howard Burton is executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the leading-edge thinktank established by RIM founder Mike Lazaridis, and one of the key institutes the Liberals are now supporting.

As revealed by Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells in his blog today, Burton deliberately stayed away from the announcement.

Here’s what Burton wrote today in an e-mail written to Wells (and published in his blog):
“This morning, the Prime Minister of Canada delivered a speech explicitly promising strong financial support to my research institution for the next few years... Throughout the past year, I had imagined this moment many times: the culmination of many months of detailed discussion amongst policy experts and political representatives at both the provincial and federal level, it would be a proud, festive occasion attended by a wide spectrum of scientists, staff and Board Members: a strong endorsement of the success of our past efforts and a continued commitment to invest in our science and our researchers….

Reality, sadly, was very different. There was no coherent, long-term framework presented. There was no serious, comprehensive plan at all.… The announcement had been reduced to a mere political event - today's desperate attempt to rescue a quasi-moribund Liberal political campaign during an election that was wholly devoid of any substantive dialogue on science and research policy. And I couldn't even stomach the thought of showing up.

This is not the way that one should set meaningful policy. This is not the way that one should engage with the electorate. This is not the way that a serious country should act. …

“University officials who stood smiling on the podium with Paul Martin today, anxious for their own piece of the action, should know better. The Liberal Party of Canada should know better. We are talking about something much larger than the merits of any particular project here: we are talking about a process, about a way of developing a coherent plan of action in a highly competitive, pivotal realm that affects all Canadians. If we want to be taken seriously around the world, we'd better start acting like a serious country.”

Wow. Kudos to Burton for standing up for sanity and to process. And to Wells for uncovering the story. Read the whole sorry mess here.

Now here’s a real Canadian entrepreneur!

Yet once again we see talented Canadians selling raw, unprocessed natural resources instead of value-added products incorporating high-end manufacturing and design.

Hewers of wood, drawers of (slightly frozen) water.

I found this here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fast Growth Company Quiz

I accidentally found this quiz on a cached page at Google. It was written for PROFITguide in 2000 and taken offline sometime since then.

But it still has some interesting information, so take a minute and try the quiz. I've put the answers at the end of the post. There used to be an automated scoring page, but that's as dead as the sock puppet.

Do you have the right stuff to run a fast-growth company? Test your mettle and pick up a few pointers from our Growth Business quiz. Questions and correct answers are derived from Secrets of Success from Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies, by Rick Spence, a PROFIT book published by John Wiley & Sons in 1997.

1. According to Spence, how many hours per week do fast-growth entrepreneurs work?
a. 30 b. 40 c. 50 d. 60

2. According to a 1994 Statistics Canada study, what is the key characteristic of successful growth firms?
a. Perseverance
b. Skill at innovation
c. Quality of management
d. Motivation of workforce
e. All of the above

3. Almost everyone knows Yogen-Fruz, the Toronto-based frozen-yogurt maker (now CoolBrands). How did the founding Serruya brothers, barely in their 20s, get started in the face of tough competition from bigger firms?
a. They had a superior product.
b. They knew the market better.
c. They tied up the best real estate.
d. They built their stores in indoor malls while a U.S.-based competitor built streetfront outlets.

4. Many of Canada's fastest-growing companies were started by entrepreneurs who at the time had:
a. Only the vaguest notion of what they were going to do
b. A $1-million line of bank credit
c. A Royal charter
d. A fishing line and a paperclip that could be bent into a hook.

5. According to Spence, how did most of these entrepreneurs evolve their business into huge successes?
a. By borrowing more than they could afford
b. By buying an existing company
c. By getting to know their customers and adapting to market needs
d. By taking night courses and management seminars
e. All of the above

6. Why did Iona Appliances president Allan Millman realize his Welland, Ont. company couldn't get away with manufacturing kitchen appliances that were "just good enough" any more?
a. Because the appliances told him so
b. Because Iona's existing products didn't offer sufficient innovation or value to crack world markets
c. Customers were complaining about appliance quality
d. Because Canada's labor costs were too high to permit manufacturing of consumer products
e. None of the above

7. So what did Millman do to rejuvenate his company?
a. Launched a world-wide search for innovative new products
b. Licensed a design for a more efficient vacuum cleaner
c. Muscled into the U.S. market
d. Launched a line of 30-minute infomercial and started selling to U.S. consumers directly
e. All of the above
(Sadly, Iona [renamed Fantom Technologies] bit the dust a few years ago. But it was a bold effort that defied long odds.)

8. "One plus one does not equal two," says Robert Murray, co-founder of fast-growth trucking firm MSM Transportation in Bolton, Ont. What did he mean?
a. Having two partners run a company jointly is a counter-productive nightmare
b. Having two people run a company jointly is a way of generating more value than either could create on their own
c. A successful fast-growth company should not try to acquire other businesses
d. You don't have to be able to add to be a successful entrepreneur
e. None of the above

9. Which of the following management tactics do Canada's top growth companies use to reward their hard-working staffs?
a. Pizza parties or a free lunch in the office to celebrate a new order or contract
b. Cash bonuses amounting to 20% of profits
c. Group activities such as ski trips and hiking days
d. Showers in the office
e. All of the above

10. One chapter of Spence's book offers an in-depth look at one growth company: Toronto-based software developer KL Group [later renamed Sitraka]. What turned out to be the theme of this chapter?
a. Growth companies don't have any fun
b. Successful leadership of a fast-growth firm requires single-minded dedication
c. Canadian companies can't compete
d. Successful leadership of a fast-growth firm is an ongoing lesson in serial delegation
e. A two-letter business name isn't as good as a three-letter name

Your correct answers are:
1: d,2: e, 3: d,4: a,5: c,6: b,7: e,8: b,9: e,10: d.

If you'd like, you can follow this link to purchase one of the last remaining copies of my book.
And keep watching this blog for news about a follow-up book that will bring growth management into the 21st century.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How to Cope with Catastrophe

Paul E Adams is a U.S.-based entrepreneur and former business professor who has been writing regular articles for the Canadian small-biz website, CanadaOne, almost since it started. Now he is hanging up his hat, and CanadaOne is highlighting some of his best columns.

I haven’t been a regular reader, but one of Adams’ best-of columns caught my eye. “Steps to Survival: How to Save a Sinking Business” mixes useful advice for troubled businesses with Adams’ own first-person chronicle of his 1982 descent into business failure and his long fight to turn things around. Not many authors of business advice have been through the wringer themselves, so this makes for lively reading – and excellent learning.

“All of my previous business experience and education did not prepare me for these emotions of failure,” Adams writes. “As a professor of business, I was not setting an example of successful entrepreneurship. My feelings of self-confidence and self-worth evaporated. In a year, I went from the excitement of a new business- to desperation. It was awful.”

Adams’ checklist for survival:
- Fire yourself as president – and reinvent yourself as a turnaround specialist.
- Be a Miser! Hoard every Dollar!
- Forecast your cash needs monthly.
- Start working with your creditors on new payment arrangements - before the collection calls begin.
- Collect the money that’s owed to you.
- Tap your inventory for money.
- Pump Up Your Sales Efforts.
- “Don't assume a single ad, a single article, your business card, a small sign, or a listing in the yellow pages will do it for you,” says Adams. “A sales and promotion strategy is as important as a financial strategy is to your success. It requires a credible message repeated many times.”

You can read the full story here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Finding the right people with the write stuff

Everyone I know in business complains about how hard it is to find good salespeople.

Sure, talent is rare. But are you doing your best to make sure the sales people you hire can really do the job?

In her recent e-mail newsletter, “Something for Nothing,” Toronto sales coach Nicki Weiss offers 8 Overlooked Ways To Hire Winners. Knowing that so many sales managers despair of their staff’s written communication skills, I was particularly impressed by Nicki’s third point. It’s simple to do and oh, so powerful…

"Hand the candidate a sheet of paper, right here, right now.

"Hiring someone who seems great, then finding out that he or she doesn’t have basic writing, analytical or organizing skills, can cost a lot in extra training or in another candidate search. As part of your interview process, hand each candidate a blank sheet of paper. Ask them to hand-write why they are a sales superstar; what they would do in the first 30, 60 or 90 days on the job; and what it will take for them to be successful.

"You will see the quality of their writing, their level of skill in analyzing and problem-solving, and their ability to organize their thoughts. This information is priceless."

Not everyone has the guts to ask candidates to jump through hoops such as this one. But if you’re looking for specific skills, never take them on faith. Identify the key characteristics you’re looking for in your people, and build them into your interview/assessment process.

Otherwise, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

For more on coach and consultant Nicki Weiss, see

Friday, January 06, 2006

Who’s your Goal Buddy?

Motivating ourselves by ourselves can be tough. Having someone to be accountable to may be your key to goal-setting success.

Susan Ward, proprietor of’s Small Business: Canada site, offers a solution: Get a goal buddy: someone to share your objectives with who will also hold your feeet to the fire.

Ward offers three reasons why goal buddies work:
* They provide motivation;
* They force accountability;
* They increase our determination.

“If you don’t have a goal buddy,” writes Ward, “it’s too easy to shelve the goal, saying, ‘I’ll work on this later.’ Having a goal buddy that we talk to regularly encourages us to make regular and steady progress.”

How do you find a Goal Buddy? Ward suggests searching your own social circle first for friends or contacts whose goals and interests are similar to yours. Online special-interest groups such as business forums may also yield helpful partners. They don’t even need to be in the same city!

To get the most from your Goal-Buddy relationship, determine how you will work together.

“Decide on how and when you’re going to regularly communicate,” says Ward. “Will you call or email each other every day? Meet for coffee somewhere once a week? By setting appointments to communicate on a regular basis, you force yourselves to work consistently towards your goals and increase your chances of achieving them.”

Rule 1, of course: Set specific goals and share them.

For more on goal buddies, click here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Jump-start your year!

My friend Kelley Robertson, the sales trainer and author in Oakville, Ont,. hits the nail on the head today in an e-newsletter challenging us to jump-start our results this year.

He offers a three-step formula for success:

Step 1: "Review your accomplishments," says Kelley. "I believe it is crucial to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and to take some time to reflect on what you accomplished in the preceding 12 months. Far too often we focus on what we didn’t achieve instead of the victories we won."

Step 2: "Set goals for the upcoming year. Rather than leaving your results to chance, establish clear and challenging goals for yourself. Make sure they are specific, motivational, action-oriented, relevant to your situation, and time-bound."

(That's the SMART forumla, for those who don't recognize it.)

Step 3: "Discuss your goals with other people. Recent conversations with friends and business associates reminded me how effective this strategy is to re-energize our commitment. And remember to have these conversations throughout the year as a regular 'boost'."

Chasing success doesn't have to be hard - if we can be SMART about it.

Click here for more on Kelley and his work.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Year's Message on Clear Communication

As you may know, I am a huge believer in clear, simple communication in business (as in life).
Your communications must state clearly what you want or intend, and the benefits that the reader/listener may thereby derive.

I think we have much to learn from the following sign:

Happy New Year!