Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wanted: Someone Just Like Me, With More Time On His Hands

As I bookmarked the umpteenth Nick Douglas diggbait post, it occurred to me that the reason I do so is because Nick shares my sensibilities, but has much more time on his hands.

What I need is someone who thinks just like me, who will scour the Internets each day and bring me a small but high-quality bundle of content. Any volunteers? Or better yet, entrepreneurs who have already created a technological solution?

Money Can't Buy You Love, But It Can Buy Sex (and Unhappiness)

The very rich are not like you and I--they have a lot more sex, mostly in their private jets.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article on a new sex survey conducted with private jet owners. The picture it paints isn't nearly as pretty as the lead ("wealth can bring you better sex") indicates.

Fully 63% of rich men said wealth gave them "better sex," which they defined as having more-frequent sex with more partners. That compares to 88% of women who said more money gave them better sex, which they defined as "higher quality" sex.

Sounds promising enough, though I wonder if having sex with more partners is really the road to happiness. I'm also curious how these aviatrices defined "higher quality" sex. Better-looking men?

The women in the survey were almost twice as likely than their male counterparts to have "more adventurous and exotic" sex lives than they did before they were wealthy. They were also more than twice as likely than men to be members of the "mile high club," meaning they’ve had sex on an airplane. Fully 72% of the female respondents said they were mile-high-club members, compared to 33% of the men.

As if men needed any more incentive to go after rich women, apparently the well-heeled are also round-heeled. Consider yourself warned the next time you step into a billionairess' Gulfstream.

Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters of the women surveyed (about 150) said they’d had affairs, compared to about 50% of the men. While the male numbers are in keeping with findings for the broader American population, the figure for women is almost twice as high as the national average, according to sex researchers. (More than half of all the men and women surveyed had been divorced at least once.)

One wonders whether the potential cost of infidelity (much higher for the rich) or the increased access to attractive extramarital partners (also much higher for the rich) would prevail. I guess that question has been answered. Apparently, the old Italian saying, "When the penis rises to the sky, the brain falls to the ground" isn't true only for men.

Now I like money. But as I've written recently, the obsession with consumption is downright unhealthy. Being rich may allow you to have extramarital sex with multiple partners in your private jet, but that just seems like a recipe for unhappiness.*

* Except for single swinging guys who manage to land billionairesses as girlfriends. You go, boyfriend!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Loners and Nerds: The Demographics of Entrepreneurship

A survey of 1,300 small business owners who were QuickBooks customers showed that 43% of entrepreneurs say they were loners as kids, 25% said they were nerds (in contrast to the 10% who considered themselves jocks, and the 1% who self-identified as bullies). In addition, only 23% of those surveyed had a business degree*.

To me, these statistics support my belief that outsiders tend to make better entrepreneurs. In the final analysis, entrepreneurship is somewhat irrational. If you want to make money, it's a heck of lot easier to do so on Wall Street (as a quant would say, the expected value is higher, and the variance a lot lower). And if you're an insider, it generally makes more sense to work the system and get Daddy or Uncle Charlie to name you Vice President.

Yet for outsiders, entrepreneurship can be the only way their talents and abilities will ever blossom and be appreciated. If you can grow your business, no one cares if you wear the right clothes or drive the right car. In fact, "The Millionaire Next Door" found that most American millionaires were frugal business owners who had never paid more than $300 for suit.

The interesting question is whether the rise of the Internet will change the prevalence and/or demographics of entrepreneurship. After all, in the old days, you were a nerd (or possibly suicidal) if you liked to play Dungeons & Dragons. Today, venture capitalists try to join your World of Warcraft guild. Has the Internet turned outsiders into insiders? After all, when gossip rags try to sex up the Valley, can we really maintain our outsider status (no matter how much trouble we had getting girls in high school)?

Those who know me well, know that I'm an optimist, so naturally I do believe that the Internet will help ease the pains of being an outsider AND increase the popularity of entrepreneurship. But what's your experience?

* I would find the survey article more compelling if they also included statistics on what proportion of the general population self-identified with the various categories. For example, if only 5% of the population has a business degree, that 23% may represent an expected figure. Or if 79% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a business degree, we might decided that entrepreneurs and corporate leaders are different breeds.

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Lightbulbs in a Blender

I just read a fantastic case study from Ankesh Kothari's Marketing Hotsheet:

BlendTec is a company that makes industrial
strength blenders for consumer and commercial
use. One day last October, their CEO thought of
trying new ways of testing their blender
strength.

He gathered some wacky products to blend.

Like:
* Marbles
* Full cans of coke
* Rake handles


While he was testing the blender strength,
another employee of his got an idea: why not
video these tests and put them on youtube.com ?
That's what he did. But he didn't know the
stupendous response the videos would receive!
Within a month, his video series of blending
weird things was viewed more than 5 million
times!

Soon BlendTec created a whole new website and
called it
willitblend.com. They started
posting more videos of blending weird products
over there - with links to the blender used in
the videos.


The whole campaign was a huge huge success - and
all it cost them was $50 and a digital video
recorder!


What I find most interesting is the use of a "consumer" marketing tactic (YouTube videos) to help market an industrial product. To paraphrase Clausewitz, B2B products are still bought by people. Bloodless marketing programs like yet another white paper download are tired. B2B marketers need to think more seriously about adopting consumer tactics to drive awareness, and dignity be damned!

And if you're a B2B entrepreneur, you can use the fact that you don't have to answer to a stodgy marketing and legal department, and really go for it!