Sunday, September 29, 2013

Entrepreneurs Don't Have Jobs

It’s common to ask just about anyone you know or meet -- how's your job? Indeed, since a person’s job represents their livelihood and more important what they do most of the day, it's generally one of the primary topics of conversation.

For me, and many entrepreneurs, the question never made much sense. Why? Because for most entrepreneurs, it's not a job -- it's what they DO.

Not only is it what they DO, but it's what they LOVE to do. Show me an entrepreneur who doesn't love their job, and I'll show you an unsuccessful entrepreneur. Indeed, for most entrepreneurs, their business is their life. That doesn't mean they necessarily work more hours than the next guy [frankly, I never bought into this 80-100 hour work weeks, as it's just not sustainable ]

This gets at the key question I am asked more than any other question about starting companies.

***What kind of company should I start (these days)? ***

Sorry, I never answer that question. Rather, I answer it with a question -- WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO?

For example, let's say a person loves music and loves playing the guitar. I can guarantee you they'd be more successful (and much happier) if they started a guitar store, music store, software for learning the guitar, etc. Because they'll love the people they interact with, being around music all day, helping people who also love guitars, etc. If you truly love food and feeding people, consider the myriad businesses associated with food, hospitality, etc.


I know -- that sounds simple... yet, very few people follow this simple rule. How many times have we all heard -- Do what you love and the money will come... it's true!!!

So if you want to start a successful business, trust me -- first figure out what you truly love to do, love to read about, love to learn about, etc. Does this guarantee success? No, but I can assure you that doing something you DON'T love is a guarantee for failure.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Using Blog Information

I've been asked many times if people can use the information on my Blog for their blogs or websites.

The basic answer is -- sure. Just please include my name (Professor Mark Juliano) and please LINK to my Blog and Online Course.

Professor Mark

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fear of Starting Your Own Company

FEAR !!!

By far the single biggest factor stopping people from starting their own companies is FEAR. In teach and talk about fear in many lectures that I give at the University, and when I talk about starting companies with budding entrepreneur.

SO, the key question is -- What are you TRULY afraid of?

The most common answers I get from Entrepreneurs are:

*  #1 (always) Fear of Failure
*  Fear of Success (interesting) meaning that if you're successful, a lot will be expected of you such as:
  - Future success
  - You'll be the boss, which means that sometimes you have to be the "bad guy"
*  Fear of what your Parents, friends, and others may think of you (especially if you fail)
*  Fear of not having the right skills
  (though the only real way to learn how to be an entrepreneur is to, well, become an entrepreneur, or work for one)
*  Fear of having a bad idea
   (though I'd rather have good entrepreneurs with an OK idea than OK entrepreneurs with a great idea)
*  Fear of losing money (well, you gotta take the risk at some point)
*  Fear of ridicule or being laughed at by friends, peers, family, etc.

Now, there are some definite truths about Fears:
1. Fears are real. Whether they're BIG Giant fears, or psychological ones, even imagined ones. They're still real.
2. You have to face your fears head on.
3. Yes, you can logically get over your fears, and address them with things like education, etc.
4. HOWEVER -- the only real answer to fears is -- Just Do It !!! Like with fears of roller coasters or flying. You just gotta get onto the plane.
I've read about this. Talked to people about this. Even asked my students. And the answer always comes out the same -- you just gotta face your fears.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why Offer this Online Class and Blog?

Many people ask why I've provided my Online course and blog???

Yes, it's free of charge. Why?
Because I've a professor and teacher -- that's why. After a successful career in business (which is still ongoing) I felt the need to give back to the community. 

Frankly, I feel that ALL successful people should give back at some point. And frankly, we're all successful in our own way. Maybe it's business, or music, or art, or even parenting. Offering knowledge is a way for us all to benefit.

I know it's a bit daunting and scary to develop a course, book, YouTube video, blog, etc. But it's really pretty easy to talk about what YOU personally know best.

I sincerely encourage ALL people to give back in this way. This is how it's been for 1000s of years -- and the concept of Apprenticeship comes from this desire for people to help and teach others

SO... go for it...

Book Review - Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Book Review
Steve Jobs - by Walter Isaacson
HIGHLY Recommended

I use the book in my Creativity and Innovation class at San Francisco State University. It has many good aspects for teaching this course, as well as Entrepreneurship in general.

- Good overall history of the computer, desktop publishing and computer entertainment industries
- Relatively "unbiased" view of Steve Jobs (there's lots of negative things about him, his personality, etc.)
- Good discussion of innovation of new products (particularly technology)
- Traces the ups and downs of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs and many other "characters" in the respective industries such as Bill Gates, John Sculley, etc.
- Shows what it takes to succeed in startups, large companies, and entreprenurial ventures in general

My students read the book, and write a guided book report, and we discuss the book for a full class, as well as refer to it throughout the semester.

Whatever you have to say about Steve Jobs -- he is without a doubt, the greatest entrepreneur of out time. Go ahead and disagree, but Apple has become the single largest computer, and technology "gadget" company in the world. Its products are outstanding, and Apple/Steve focus on how to sell technology without being Geeky -- unlike Microsoft, IBM, HP, Sony, etc.

The Apple stores were also a stroke of genius. These stores are the Highest Grossing stores in the world per square foot. It's "a happening". If you've never been to one (cause your a PC bigot) GO NOW. Everything about the store is about customer service, and helping users (classes, Genius bar with expert advice and technical support, and so on)

My favorite question to ask my students is -- Would you like to work for Steve Jobs?
- I usually get a resounding - "no, he's an &%^$ !!!"
Sorry, but that's the wrong answer. Sure, Steve was difficult to work with, but the knowledge gained from this individual, as well as learning how to work with a guy-like-Steve (typical of many Silicon Valley types).

I would undoubtedly have loved to work with and for Steve. I only had the pleasure of meeting him once, as well as seeing him around Palo Alto a few times. Many of my friends either worked for Steve at Apple, NeXT or Pixar, and knew him well.

Come on, the guy's a marketing and technology genius!!!

I highly recommend you get a copy of this book (new about $18 and less used) and truly understand what Steve was all about, and what made Apple on the the greatest companies of our time, and I suspect far into the future.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Intuition and Business

I've taught at Carnegie Mellon University (9 years) and San Francisco State University (2 years) in addition to my 25+ years in Business. The one thing that my students and employees still DON'T believe is how important INTUITION is in business decision making.

I'm not just talking about small decisions. I'm talking about multi-million dollar decisions.

So, why is Intuition and Going-with-your-gut so important? Actually it's scientifically proven (if that matters).
1. Your gut is correct over 90% of the time (really, it's scientifically proven)
2. You can make fast decisions (especially important in start-ups)
3. (most important) Intuition is actually the SUM TOTAL of ALL your experience put together, plus your native human instinct.

You don't have to believe me -- that's your decision. But trust me -- remember all those times you WISH you had gone with your gut? I don't mean only in business, I mean with choosing friends, lending people money, dating, etc. Well, remember them all?

So what's the real issue?
We all have intuition and gut feel. But the Great entrepreneurs TRUST their gut and intuition.

So how do you learn to trust your gut? First, start using your Right Brain (see other blog post) and your creative, and emotional side.
Then -- well -- just try it and see what happens. Even keep track of Intuitive decisions and logical decisions. Really -- keep score. I know Intuitive ones will win.

Great Customer Service Equal Success

Customer service has become basically a series of "not-very-educated" humans in foreign countries who say "I'm sorry" a lot -- because it's written on the Computer Script in front of them.And these people try to HELP us American's. Hmmm -- I wonder if customer support for Indian people forwards to America ?? Now that would be funny.

Seriously -- if I can recommend ONE thing for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies alike, it would be -- Customer Service is the key to success. Sure, you can sell lots of stuff, but if you don't provide high quality customer service, you're dead over time.

Frankly, customer service is pretty simple. It means SERVICE the CUSTOMERS, and Not doing what's best for your own business. If you do what's best for the customers, trust me, your business will succeed and best of all get a great reputation among your customers.

Good Example -- APPLE -- great products -- great stores with Geniuses! -- great customer service.

Good Example -- Amazon -- many years ago, they sent me a 5 CD set of Beethoven Symphonies. One was missing. I called customer service. They sent me out a brand new box FedEx the next day -- they didn't even require me to sent back the old box of CD's -- yes, I've been telling this story for years.

Good Example -- Any restaurant you've been to who will server you even after the "kitchen is closed". I mean, you know, the kitchen must have some food. One local place made me a sandwich at 11:15 pm because I was starving. That's their business -- food service.

Bad Example -- ALL the Cable Service providers put together. It just took me 5 days and 10 phone calls to Time Warner Cable for THEM to realize they didn't provide cable service to my new house. REALLY !!!  They actually said they could provide service for $11,400 -- for real. ELEVEN THOUSAND dollars

... So, I called Dish Networks ... and I'll say bad things about Time Warner pretty much forever and tell this story. That's called "reverse word of mouth" :)) I mean come on...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Right Brain - Left Brain

Much has been written about the Right Brain (controls left - creativity) and Left Brain (controls right - logic). My point is not about whether or not this theory is true, but rather how to use both "sides" of the brain - logic and creativity. But I can state with confidence that to be a highly successful Entrepreneur, you need to use both sides of your brain.

I've been told by others that I have the unique ability to not only use BOTH my Right and Left brain, but to use them simultaneously. I didn't realize this, until people pointed it out -- indeed they were (pardon the pun) right! But the question is -- can you Train your Brain? The answer is a resounding YES!!!

Most people think they are either creative or logical, but not both. In my experience, it's true that people are born with a "tendency" toward either Right or Left brain, and the educational system reinforces that tendency. Naturally, for example, kids who are told they're not good at math, shy away from math, science, etc.

Personally, until about age 25, I was mostly a Left-Brainer. But I deliberately trained the Right side of my brain. How? Easy -- I exercised it. Huh? I took classes in painting, sculpture, dance, writing, acting, drawing, photography, literature, etc. In addition, as a marketing guy in my early career, I became equally interested in the products as well as the advertising, colors, design, etc. Was it easy? No. It took about 5-7 years, but it was well worth it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Successful Entrepreneur Traits

One of the most-asked questions is "what are the traits of a successful entrepreneur?" This question has been asked many times. Below is my list, compiled from both other lists and my own personal experience. Of course, it's a Top-Ten List...

1. Leadership, especially the ability to inspire
2. Fast, good decision-making with limited information (but also willing to change wrong decisions)
3. Positive attitude (but still realistic)
4. Sales skills
5. Good communicator
6. Ability to handle defeat, and the word "no"
7. Creative thinking and out-of-the-box thinking (my #1)
8. Drive, fortitude and the will to succeed
9. Being intuitive and trusting your gut (my #2)
10. Jack-of-all-trades (or the ability to understand all aspects of business somewhat -- from sales, marketing, finance, operations, engineering, negotiating, legal, etc. etc.). Yes, you can hire these skills, but you still need to understand each discipline somewhat (this is the hardest skill set to acquire)

The Nutra Foundation

In 2008, I created The Nutra Foundation

This is a non-profit whose goal is simple:
To provide free nutritional supplements and food to those who can't afford it.
In addition, the Foundation will provide unbiased nutritional information, as well as fund medical research and do advocacy.
The website has good, basic information for now, and will be fully operational by May 2011.

AND -- this non-profit will be profitable !!! In other words, it will be run like a for-profit with two differences: 1) all profits will stay within the Foundation, and 2) a non-profit pays very little taxes, if any.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just sayin'

Hi all. Thanks for reading my blog and using it as a Forum, as well as listening to my Entrepreneurship course podcasts. I'm up to lots of new ventures these days. Running 5 different companies these days - real estate, medical, a non-profit giving nutritional products to those in need, invested in some dance clubs in Miami, etc.

I'm also writing 2 novels, a poetry book with a great artist (Ron Oden), and a children's book.

At last count, the podcasts associated with this blog/course are over 600,000 downloads. Keep commenting -- but please avoid the SPAM.

Mark :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My new Ventures

I'm involved in several new ventures. The most exciting for me is a Non-profit Foundation that I've started called The Nutra Foundation ( We provide Free nutritional supplements to those in need who cannot afford these products.

Even those who don't qualify financially will be able to get up to 75% off retail price of supplements, and 100% of the profits stay WITHIN the Foundation to help those in need.

I'm applying all my FOR-profit entrepreneurial skills to a Non-profit foundation.

Why am I doing this? To help people -- that's it ;-)

Please pass the word around the Internet --

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Course Statistics

The initial podcast episode was created in January 2007. Since then, the episodes have been downloaded/listened to over 2,000,000 times, and average about 1,500 downloaded episodes per week. I'm proud to say that I have now had many more students take the Podcast course than in my total tenure of live teaching at Carnegie Mellon University. My goal was always to reach as many people as possible. Isn't podcasting great!

Certificate of Completion

I have been asked if there is a Certificate of Completion for the Entrepreneurship podcast course. I hadn't really thought about it, but it's an interesting idea. As I've said, this is a real course at Carnegie Mellon in a graduate level degree program. Of course, I couldn't provide anything that's official, but I would be willing to create a certificate. Please email me at and I will send you something.

I've gotten many many requests for the Certificate. If I don't send it to you, it's only because I'm busy or I forgot -- so you therefore have an Honorary Certificate ;-)


A few errors on PowerPoint slides

You can access course PowerPoint slides at There are 2 errors that I need to correct. Lecture title 4B is actually 4a again. Lecture 16 is correct, however, the title page says lecture 14, but again the other slides are correct. I will fix this issue as soon as I can.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Class Podcast Recordings Now Available

The first 4 podcasts for the class are now available. Click here to listen to classes.
- Course Introduction
- Class 1 - Intro to Entrepreneurship
- Class 2a - Ideas for Companies, Products and Services
- Class 2b - Starting the Venture
Also check out My Course Links to course materials including PowerPoint presentations.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Intro Blog Post

This is the introductory blog post for Mark Juliano's audio course Entrepreneurship and Business Planning taught in conjunction with the live course at Carnegie Mellon University in the Masters in Information Systems Management (MISM) program. It is a business-school type class about the formation of companies. Topics and lectures will include generating the idea, building the team, starting the company, writing a business plan, funding, sales & marketing, legal issues, and giving effective investor presentations, among other things. The audio course is not simply recorded lectures. It is optimized for audio listening online or via iTunes or other audio players. Blog posts will follow lectures as they are created.