Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best Entrepreneurial Quotes, Week 21

"A power imprudently given to the executive... is seldom or never got back."
Thomas Chandler Haliburton, of Windsor, N.S., in his best-selling 1838 book, Sam Slick

In the aftermath of the blood and fire on the streets of Toronto during the G20 summit, I grow increasingly concerned about the police's arbitrary use of power in confronting the protesters. Yes, there were bad elements in the crowd, people who came intending to do evil, and to use the well-meaning protesters as unwitting shields.

Yet one thousand burning police cars would not justify the illegal searches, beatings, incidents of intimidation, or verbal abuse handed out by the police on the weekend. Nothing justifies the random "detention" or people who had done nothing wrong, were held in cold makeshift cages, and then released without charges or explanation.

If Canadians canot walk the streets without fear of being prose-
cuted by those in authority, then none of us will ever be free again.

Yes, the police were confused and scared by what was happening. But they were following orders. What accountability is there for such abuses of the people's fundamental rights?

"The power of the state is measured by the power that men surrender to it."
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington reporter Felix Morley

Provocations there certainly were. So let's start a dialogue on what amount of public violence is required before the police can start detaining anyone they want to.

Entrepreneurs in big organizations

I was asked Monday in an email what I thought bigger enterprises do to keep entrepreneurially-minded executives happy and on the payroll. I thought about the question for a bit and then wrote this in response:

I'm afraid I don't have much insight into how organizations keep entrepreneurial types. I don't study "big" organizations. My feeling, however, is that most big businesses don't know how to deal with entrepreneurs, and they may not even want to.

In my experience, people who push against the rules and try to leap internal barriers are usually discouraged outright, or are invited to do so someplace else.

Which is actually good, because that's where we get our best entrepreneurs: skilled, seasoned professionals who are tired of mnagement timidity and groupthink, and who believe they can do better.

What do you think? Has your company respected and tried to harness your entreprenurial instincts, or tried to bury them?
(Feel free to disagree with me -- I would love to be wrong about this!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Retention Secrets Revealed!

Last week I spent a day with the CEOs of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies at the PROFIT 100 CEO Summit. In one session, I facilitated a roundtable that allowed P100 entrepreneurs to share issues, problems and solutions with each other.

The problem that most bedeviled the entrepreneurs at my table? Holding on to their best people and building a robust, retention-building company culture. As one CEO said at our table, "I used to blame the employees for leaving. But now I realize it all starts with me."

My column in this week's Financial Post shares some of the confidential retention strategies these entrepreneurs discussed.

“To reduce turnover, Paul's company pays its retail staff more than the competition, and employee rewards programs that provide merchandise prizes to staff members who achieve various goals. Plus, Paul doesn't take sole responsibility for building culture: He makes regional management teams accountable for minimizing turnover and ensures those statistics are included in the management-assessment process.”

You can read the full story at http://tinyurl.com/24z537d

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Entrepreneurship Quotes, Week 20

"As CEO, you're sitting on an ice cream cone in the middle of July. You must make decisions quickly."

Tom Jenkins, chairman and chief strategy officer of Open Text, in "fireside chat" with Rick Spence at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit, June 21, 2010

In our public chat to delegates from around the world at the MARS Centre last night, OpenText CEO Tom Jenkins proved why he is one of Canada's savviest business leaders. He demonstrated Open Text's digital content-management platforms, advised entrepreneurs to seek out promisng B2B niches rather than following the social media mob, and reminded us that Open Text has more users than Facebook!

Today Open Text has become Canada's largest software company, and is on track to pass the billion-dollar mark soon in annual revenues.

Best of all, Jenkins offered this ice-cream metaphor to explain why CEOs are always on the hot seat - and why they must always be prepared to make game-changing (or company-saving) leaps in strategy and tactics.

You can read a detailed account of our conversation, recorded by Financial Post writer John Shmuel, here.
Thanks to Erin Bury of Spouter for the pic (from her Twitter feed).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Live-Tweeting the G20 Young Entrepreneur summit

I am here Monday morning at the Carlu event centre in downtown Toronto, attending the G20 Young Entreprenur Summit organized by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. I've been tweeting interesting remarks from the panel of young entrepreneurs. I have reproduced that here.

If you're interested in following along, just go to the bottom and then read up. (If you're wondering, "RT" means I am "Re-Tweeting" someone else's Tweets.)

Funny to hear these "young entrepreneurs" complain about lack of work ethic and bad attitudes of the younger generation!

Secrets of success: Wes Hall still works 16-hour days. He gets up at 4.30 every morning. And he never hires people with an MBA.

Tara Renaud: "Trust your team. Surrounding yourself with strong people is critically important."

T Renaud: "It's hard to find young people with a work ethic.When they come to a job interview they think they're doing you a favor!"

RT @CYBFCanada: You must look past the doubters, and know that you will be successful. But don't be gullible. Get advice- Wes Hall

RT @CYBFCanada: When you have a good idea, people are going to say you're crazy. You have to fight against that" - Wes Hall

RT @CYBFCanada: Identify who can open doors for you, but you have to use your ability once you get thru that door. Wes Hall

Wes Hall was turned down by first 3 banks he went to for cash. But once you're successful, you have to turn them away

RT @jshmuel: Wes Hall, who came here when he was 16: Took 3 hours to start a bank account in Jamaica. Here it takes 15 minutes.

Chawla: "The more people I meet, the more I learn...The more you read, the more you learn."

RT @suntasem: Chawla - Not easy times for 100% export company, orders and margins low--however, don't give up, believe.

More optimism from summit panel- Chawla: "You have to have passion for your business, and things will fall into place"

RT @savvysushi: For Rahul Chawla's first 6 years of entrepreneurial life, he worked almost 16 hours a day!

Great message from panelist Glauco Pensini: "We must not have fear about the future"

Glauco Pensini, CEO of SIAC, Milan, Italy, at summit panel: his company produces electrical inverters

Tara Renaud at panel: Working on need to expose more academically-inclined young people to trades

Tara Renaud as a woman in a male-dominated industry: "I've been called "sweetie" more times than i can count"

Tara Renaud of T.I.F. Group: started as performer, teacher in the music business, now involved with her husband in trucking

Hall on taxes: "That money never comes back. You can't say to the government, I had a hard year last year, can I have some back?"

Wesley Hall of Kingsdale Shareholder Services to summit panel session: "We're taxed to death in this country, you should know that."

Entrepreneur Panel about to start at G20 Youth Ent Summit. I will tweet any bons mots

At G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit, at posh Carlu in T.O. Lacklustre start with speech by federal small business minister Rob Moore.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to make your summer more fun! (And profitable)

Today I opened my monthly Aeroplan e-newsletter for the first time, I think, ever.  What made this one stand out in a sea of email newsletters, all begging for my attention?

This email earned my attention by promising a unique and creative benefit. Here's the subject line: "Offers to make your summer vacation fun." Who could resist that?

Lots of marketers every day promise to make me happier, smarter and more successful. But Aeroplan seized my attention with an unusual and highly evocative message. Summer is coming. Most people associate summer, if only in memory, with happy, sun-drenched days filled with relaxation and fun.

Aeroplan latched onto a powerful primordial instinct: We can make your summer fun again!

This is how you attract attention.
Everybody wants more fun.

How can you make life better for your market? What basic, instinctual, primordial longing can you tap into?
PS: Compare this subject line to the dull and predictable titles on previous Aeroplan newsletters that languished unopened in my inbox:
* Your Aeroplan newsletter, May 2010
* Hurry! Aeroplan Bonus Days are here but only for a limited time!
* Your Aeroplan newsletter, March 2010

Your messages will gain greater attention in direct proportion to your ability to think like your customer.

How to be Super Creative

Looking for better business ideas? My column in this week's Financial Post explains how you can become “super creative.”

My source: Shlomo Maital, a Canadian who is now an academic and management thought leader in Israel. At a lecture last week at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Maital outlined the steps to becoming a more deliberate and successful innovator.

Through years of studying innovation management, Maital believed the biggest stumbling block wasn't developing ideas, but implementing them. More recently, he has changed his mind. "I've come to realize creativity itself is the problem. Most people don't think they're creative, and they work for organizations that extinguish the spark of creativity."
Click here to become “super.”

And check out Maital’s lively “TIMnovate” blog at http://timnovate.wordpress.com.
He’s a very creative thinker who writes regularly on innovation and all kinds of business issues and problems. In recent weeks he has written on Slovenia's "small is beautiful" economic miracle, how the Chinese wrested the nickle business from Sudbury, the CEO success paradox, and the growing need to innovate the customer experience.

We tend to take for granted all of the great brains that today offer themselves to us online and for free. You could do a lot worse than read Maital's thoughts every day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Best Entrepreneurship Quotes, Week 19

“War is simple. Decide what will hurt the enemy most within the limits of your capabilities to harm him and do it. TAKE CALCULATED RISKS. That is quite different from being rash. My personal belief is that if you have a 50% chance, take it.”

General George S. Patton, 1885-1945, in a letter to his son George Patton III, written from England on June 6, 1944

Patton was known as the most aggressive of America's generals in World War II. He was also one of the most successful.

Pay Yourself First

In the wake of my column in last week's Financial Post offering advice to new grads, I received an email from a Montreal medical student who says he has only just recentally realized that, after spending his entire life in school, he has never learned anything about econmics or personal finance. ("Financially illiterate" is the phrase he used.)

Could I, he asked, "recommend some further reading and general guidelines towards my goal of expanding my financial education and future entrepreneurship"?
Here's how I replied:

The simplest, most powerful financial concept I know is "pay yourself first." No matter what your income is, spend less. You can do it if you keep your credit cards at home (some people keep them in a block of ice in the freezer, so they're hard to get at). Before you pay your rent, pay yourself a certain amount each month ($100, $500, whatever). That ensures that you have savings. Every other dollar you spend comes after your savings account. And you never touch that account, until you come to buying a house or having kids, or some big event like that.

If you can do that, you don't really need any other financial advice.

I suggest you keep your savings account invested in an income-based mutual fund, such as a dividend fund. Lots of banks and fund dealers offer them. They provide a good combination of security, income and growth, by mainly investing in stable businesses such as banks, utilities and insurance companies.

Entrepreneurship is all about finding ways to meet people's wants and needs by developing unique solutions that you can provide that are better or more focused than what other people offer, or that are delivered with more joy. And you can do it part-time as well as full-time.

Check out the new book "Re-Work", by Jason Fried of 37 Signals, for an update on what entrepreneurship means today, or read "Delivering Happiness," the new book by Zappos founder Tony Hseih, for a good look at where entrepreneurship is headed.

If I can think of anything more profound to suggest, I will let you know.

What advice would you offer our future MD?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Roll up your sleeves and make a difference!

Here's an amazing email from an Alberta entrepreneur in response to my "Convocation speech" column (see previous post). His take on today's young people is interesting - and what he is looking for may surprise a lot of new grads and intrigue fellow business owners.

"You are saying it exactly as it is. I run a relatively small company with about 100 employees. We hire young people who we look to mentor into the leaders of our company in the future. Before I know it retirement will be upon me. I believe in promoting from within which means that one of the people I have hired in the last five years or the next five years or so will be the person who takes my place.

But in making that decision I will be choosing someone who is engaged in what they are doing and who has demonstrated an ability to make good decisions and manage the resources in which they have been entrusted in the best way possible. They will also have demonstrated a passion for the company and the employees that make it work today.

Too many grads come out with an attitude of entitlement, as opposed to a drive to roll up their sleeves and get their hands good and dirty, really accomplishing something and making a difference. These are the ones who five years in will wonder what happened when after four or five years of schooling and about the same in the workplace they are still doing the same old thing.

Thank-you for expressing that in print - they may not like it but it's the truth.

At the same time, there is nothing more exciting and more powerful than a young person who is engaged in what they are doing, has the skill set to get the job done, and has a passion for making a difference through the things they accomplish. Although they are hard to find, they are out there -- and it is a thrill to watch and work with! I am delighted to say that I have several of those in our company and they are the most exciting people to have in our employ. They are priceless!"

Not a bad idea for a help-wanted ad.
"WANTED: People who don't mind rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands good and dirty. Must genuinely want to accomplish something, and really make a difference.
Apply within."

The Convocation Speech That Never Was

I've been floored by the reaction to my Financial Post column this week.

I’ve had oodles of supportive emails regarding my version of the “convocation speech” that I think all university and college graduates need to hear. Among the points I make:

Your diploma is a passport to nothing: You have a lot of catching up to do.

You are a free agent: A job is not your life, just a contract.

Stick your neck out. Honest critics -- not cynics -- can be an organization's best asset.

Get out of your social media cocoon. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, the winners will be those who know how to work the phone.

Keep control of your personal finances. Has anyone talked to you about the perils of deficit spending, the tyranny of credit-card interest rates, or the real costs of owning a home?

Governments are not your friend. Every dollar of help they provide cost somebody $1.50.

Think like an entrepreneur. As long as there are unmet needs, there will always be opportunities

The feedback has been terrific. A few examples:

“Thanks! It needed to be said loud & clear.” (From “an old fogey”)

"I've been preaching this exact sermon to my nephews with little success, but now have your column to pin on the wall to let them know that their uncle is not some old crackpot, but someone who can give them some insight… we are ahead of the game just knowing what Government is, and what it isn't.” (From Glen in Edmonton)

“I loved your column. I wish it had been written when my own kids were getting out of school. It should be read to all graduating students in class before they leave!” (S in Calgary)

“Both my girls are still in diapers but I'll clip and save this article for their graduations because I know these values and guidelines will still hold true.” (J in Montreal)

“I'm glad someone has the courage to tell the truth as it is... The current mess in our financial and personal circumstances is due to the lack of truth that pervades our media and personal communications.” (Gloria in Alberta)

“A wonderful graduation speech. It can help change / improve lives.” (M in Montreal)

“As I tell my kids: Aim high, Be realistic, and Bust your butt to get there.” Brian in Calgary.

Thanks to all my correspondents for taking the time to write. It's great to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Best Entrepreneurship Quotes, Week 18

"My formula for success? Rise early, work late, strike oil."
J. Paul Getty, oil magnate (1892-1976)

I don't know the context of this quote, but I like its implication: that you can do all the "right things," but the only thing that really matters is that the project you're engaged in be a winner in the first place.

Can you say that about the projects you're working on? Are they all gushers waiting to be discovered?

Here, according to Wikipedia, is how JP Getty found one oil well:
Beginning in 1949, Getty paid Ibn Saud $9.5 million in cash and $1 million a year for a 60-year concession to a tract of barren land near the border of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. No oil had ever been discovered there, and none appeared until four years and $30 million had been spent. From 1953 onward, Getty's gamble produced 16 million barrels a year, which contributed greatly to the fortune which made him one of the richest people in the world.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dragons' Den, Special Green Edition

For all you Dragons' Den fans, a special edition of the show airs tonight.
In a unique "green" competition sponsored by SunChips, three nominees - selected from hundreds of auditioners - will compete for the DD "Greenvention" prize, and the winner will walk away with $100,000.

Plus, this one-off episode, taped just a few weeks ago, features a relaxed dress code for the five dragons. (Normally they wear the same clothes all season long, so the editors can mix and match pitches from different days.) Most of the Dragons chose to go without ties this episode, while Kevin O'Leary sports a purple tie with polka dots to match his brown pinstripe suit.

The three finalists include a Toronto woman peddling clothes hangers made of recycled paper ("Landfill is a last-century solution"); a BC man pitching "veggie-plastic," a flexible plastic building material made from recycled drywall and renewable vegetable fibre ("Plastics are evil"); and a BC mom pushing natural baby wipes, biodegradable and chemical-free. ("Did you know that the average Canadian baby uses 2,500 baby wipes a year?")

I auditioned a number of Greenvention pitchers at DD's Toronto auditions in March. Some of them were very credible - well, other than the guy who was going to power a whole city by capturing the wind energy from trucks driving down the highway. I am hoping that some of the more credible pitches will make it on the show this fall.

For more on tonight's show, including some of the failed pitches, visit http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/2010/05/greenvention-special-monday-june-7th.html

And to find out who wins the $100,000 Greenvention prize, check out CBC TV tonight at 8 pm.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

10 Questions Before you Start Making Videos

I recently read a passionate post by an entrepreneur on LinkedIn urging everyone to join the video revolution, Why, with a $150 camera, free editing software and distribution by YouTube, anyone can create a world-class profile for their business!

To me that's like telling someone, "Hey, a Picasso just sold for $10 million. You should take up painting." Creating a video is an art in itself, and probably outside the skill set of most entrepreneurs. Of course they could learn it, but is that really the best use of their valuable time?

Anyway, here is the response I wrote in that thread:

I'm not convinced. Most people lack the skill to write a coherent blogpost. (It's not their fault. Skilled essay-writing, like painting or carpentry or designing a brochure, is not a gift shared by the general populace.)
So why would we now issue a blanket suggestion to untrained amateurs to script, produce and edit their own videos?

When I took 8 weeks of scuba lessons, I was told that learning the mechanics of diving would only take an hour. The other 15 hours were all about learning what to do if something goes wrong. Because the risks are so significant!

I believe that the business risks of producing a raw, poorly planned, unscripted, ill-lit, fuzzily shot or randomly edited video are significant, too. Anyone urging business owners to go out and start vlogging should include a warning that this endeavor is fraught with peril.

Just because the technology is now affordable and cheap doesn't mean everyone should become their own DW Griffith.

Best way to get started in video: discuss it with a colleague who understands both the language of film and the technical requirements. What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to do after seeing your video?

How can the work you do be conveyed in an exciting, visual way? And should you ever be allowed in front of a camera?

What would your customers expect from you? How can you fulfil those expectations in creatively unexpected ways? How much time and effort are you prepared to devote to producing your video(s)? To promoting your video(s)?

And how will you measure success?

Is video a tool with great potential? Yes. A surefire do-it-yourself marketing miracle? Sadly, no.

That's what I wrote. What do you think?

Friday, June 04, 2010

No Words

Photo by AP Photographer Charlie Riedel

Some people want to blame BP for this. Some blame Obama, others blame Cheney & Bush.

Let's face up to it: our unholy dependence on oil led directly to this. Until we are prepared to pay more for renewable, sustainable energy, disasters like this (and much worse) will recur.

For more heart-breaking pictures, visit www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/06/caught_in_the_oil.html

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Meet Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies, 2010

The 2010 PROFIT 100 was released this morning: 200 fast-growth Canadian companies that tore through the recession like it was made out of paper (which in a way, it was).

No. 1 on the list is Toronto-based Varicent Software, a $25-million-a-year developer of sales performance management software. With big clients like Getty Images, Cisco, Starwood Hotels, WMI, Rogers Communications and RiM, it posted five-year growth of 12,473%.

You can read my profile of Varicent and its dynamic founder, Dan Shimmerman, here.

Congrats to all the companies on the P100 list, especially the rest of the Top 10:

* Win-Mar Freight Management Inc.
* Tundra Technical Solutions Inc.
* Healthscreen Solutions Inc.
* Marport Canada Inc.
* CAI (Chaulk Air Inc.)
* Direct Sales Force Inc.
* Plasmart Inc.
* Dependable Mechanical Systems Inc.
* Nightingale Informatix Corp.

Click here to see the full PROFIT 100 list.

Or click here for the “Next 100”, companies that grew between 171% and 600% in five years.

Or read Kim Shiffman's overview story, "Role Models for the recovery," which explains how it all works and what it means.

I’ll share some more highlights of the issue as I work my way through it. In the meantime, raise a glass to the gutsy companies and entrepreneurs that are showing the way in tough times!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Winning in a Slow-Growth Economy

I've been hearing many business owners complain that this recovery isn't taking hold like they thought it would. Business is still saggy, projects are on hold, no one's making decisions.

My column in this week's Financial Post offers specific strategies and tactics for succeeding in a sluggish marketplace. It draws on lessons from U.S. consultants David Rhodes and Daniel Stelter, authors of the new book, Accelerating Out of the Great Recession: How to Win in a Slow-Growth Economy.


“Once your core is secure, get aggressive. Rhodes and Stelter dust off dozens of examples of companies that achieved lasting competitive edge by switching to offense while their competitors retreated. After Wall Street collapsed in 1929, IBM's Thomas J. Watson accelerated investment in new business machines, confident that Depression-whacked companies would embrace automation to reduce costs. By producing lower-priced machines and launching a leasing program, IBM doubled revenues between 1928 and 1938, while the industry declined 2%.”

Click here to read the full story.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Developing your mission statement

At a workshop I conducted this morning for Enterprise Toronto, we spent some time working on introductory positioning statements (mission statements, value propositions, USPs, whatever you want to call them). The idea is to explain, briefly and memorably, what you do, who your target market is, and what benefits you offer your clients.
I believe introductions are the key to building business relationships. Great introductions identify motive and clarify intent. They create social equilibrium by establishing whether either side wants anything from the other, either enhancing the business relationship or enabling either party to disengage politely.

I asked whether any of the 30 entrepreneurs in the room had a positioning statement they cared to share with the class. Nobody did. So I went over my preferred template for these statements:

I do (this, or these things) so that (this market) can do (this).

In other words, you say what you do, and who you do it for. Then you offer a tantalizing clue why your product or service matters. Why you're better than the competition. Why you're special.

To show how simply this can work, I gave the class the positioning statement I often use: “I’m a writer, and I help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.”

Ten simple words. Yet they explain, in relaxed, conversational terms, what I do, who I do it for, and what benefit my clients can expect.

Easy, huh? Then I asked the class how long it took me to come up with that statement. “Two weeks?” ventured someone near the front of the room. “Six years,” I said.

I hope that makes my point that mission statements are complex beasts that take a lot of time to develop. Even if you come up with one in an afternoon, you should be constantly wrestling with it to find ways to make your introduction shorter, more conversational, more effective.

Then came the embarrassing part. I told the class that my previous statement had been, “I’m a consultant who helps entrepreneurs build their businesses.” Then I asked which descriptor the group liked better – “consultant” or “writer”? They voted two to one in favor of “consultant.”

So I told them why I dropped that from my mission statement. Yes, I do consulting. But so does everyone else. Consultants are a dime a dozen. And frankly, entrepreneurs’ first thought when they meet a consultant is usually, “What’s his hourly rate? Probably too much.”

When they meet a writer, however, the first question they usually ask is, “What do you write?” or “Who do you write for?” – questions more likely to create an interesting and productive conversation. Since writers are rarer than consultants, there’s also a novelty factor involved. Also, I know many entrepreneurs who have specifically gone looking for a writer, so (unlike “consultant”) it’s a term more likely to resonate favorably.

Consultants are commodities. Writers are specialists, with a bit of an aura.

We are all specialists. We all have auras. How can you cease being a commodity and enhance your positioning aura?

(Feel free to use my template to create your own positioning statement. And please let me know how it goes. You can email me or leave a comment.)

Best Entrepreneurial Quotes, Week 17

“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you're going to do now and do it.”
William C. Durant, 1861–1947.
Founder of General Motors and Chevrolet.

A year ago today, General Motors, an icon of industry for nearly a century, filed for bankruptcy protection. The auto giant is now majority owned by the U.S. Treasury and, to a lesser extent, the Canadian and Ontario governments. The company, which paid back its outstanding government loans last April, is now planning an IPO later this year.

Bill Durant too knew success and failure first-hand. The former cigar salesman started his own horse-drawn carriage business in Flint, Mich., and made it the largest company of its kind in the world. He even came up with the integrated dealership system that later built the auto industry.

Durant was soon asked to join a struggling maker of horseless-carriages called Buick, and rose quickly to become president. In 1908 he restructured the company as General Motors, later acquiring Oldsmobile, Cadillac and numerous parts suppliers.

By 1910 he became financially overextended. Forced out of GM, Durant co-founded Chevrolet and rebuilt his fortune. By 1916 he had bought up enough GM stock to become president again. He then grew GM further by acquiring Fisher Body, Frigidaire and Chevrolet.

Leaving GM in 1920, Durant founded a new car company, Durant, which struggled until its Depression Era failure in 1933. Clobbered by the 1929 stock market crash (he was one of a leading group of financiers who tried to demonstrate confidence by investing in stocks as Wall Street collapsed), he declared bankruptcy in 1936. He suffered a stroke in 1942 and finished his years managing a Flint bowling alley.

Was Billy Durant a success or failure? Both. But I would argue that one’s successes live on and are remembered much longer than one’s failures.

Bankruptcy is not failure. Giving up – that’s the real failure.