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Getting time and attention from experienced advisors is a rite of passage for the first-time entrepreneur.
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Entrepreneurial advisors provide everything from informed feedback, market validation and technical direction, to introductions that can lead to partnerships, investors and customers.

Advisors are often former serial entrepreneurs themselves with well-earned battle scars from risking, failing and succeeding enough times to have sharp
insights into the venture building process. They have a special empathy for the struggling entrepreneur. There’s satisfaction in helping an up-and-coming entrepreneur avoid the same mistakes, and giving them insights that will help accelerate their progress.

Not all advisors have the right experience, and it is very hard for the entrepreneur to know which advisors can truly help their company.  It takes many first dates to find those perfect matches. But advisors kiss a lot of frogs too: Frogs, hunchbacks, maniacs, dreamers, neurotics – and I suspect a few psychotics. Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and for advisors it can be exhausting to try to help them all – particularly those entrepreneurs who don’t really want to be helped, or who are not ready for outside advice.

So, for the entrepreneur about to go seeking advice from advisors, here’s some blunt, very blunt, advice:

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As an investor, advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs and new ventures, I get to hear a lot of pitches – whether as a judge in a competition, in a boardroom, classroom or a face-to-face pitch. After a while, they all start to sound alike. In fact, when investors get together, they lament (or even parody) how all the pitches sound alike. To be fair, as an entrepreneur, I used to lament with other entrepreneurs on how predictable venture capitalists can be in their responses.

Today, giving more evidence that I apparently have way too much time on my hands – I created this “Pitch Bingo” game for investors and advisors.   The next time you are listening to entrepreneur pitches at an event, click on the Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game link, and you will get a BS-Bingo card (everyone’s card has a different random combination of entrepreneurship buzzwords).   Cross off the word when you hear it.

 

Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game CJs Entrepreneur-BS-Bingo

CJ’s Entrepreneur Pitch Bingo

 

The first person who completes a BINGO with a row or column must shout out Zuckerberg!
And Tweet to #CJ-BS-BINGO.

And just to be fair, I’ve also created one called Investor-BS Bingo!   Now entrepreneurs can keep track of the predictable jargon investors mindlessly toss out during pitch meetings.   (notice the phrases “Term Sheet”  or “Yes” don’t appear – since they say it so rarely).

CJ’s Investor-BS Bingo

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Brilliant and spot-on, as usual, from Scott Adams’ Dilbert:
 
Dilbert.com

 

 

Entrepreneurs - What people think you do
   
Credit: Rubin

 

I finally get Klout. No, I never had much clout in any kind of situation, but I finally understand the concept of “Klout” – the social influence metric.

Klout is like a credit score for social networking influence, calculating and assigning a number that depicts a person’s relative influence (clout) in the social networking universe – Facebook, Twitter, G+, foursquare, and just about every relevant social network out there.  I remember signing up for Klout several years ago, like I do with many online services.  After an initial period of fascination, it was relegated to the back burner of my mind.

Every so often I’d get an email telling me my current Klout score.  The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.  But like getting a credit score that no one else really reads, Klout had little impact, much less meaning, in my personal or professional life.   Klout was more like a vanity metric, or an attempt at “gamification” – i.e. trying to change my behavior based on my desire to get a higher ranking on Klout.

In May, I received a gift card from Coffee Bean just because I maintained a relatively high Klout score.   I didn’t think too much of it at the time; it seemed like any one of a number of direct marketing incentives we get all the time.

Whack on the head

Then, less than 2 weeks ago, I had an “aha moment” with Klout.

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A surprisingly inspirational commencement speech, with important lessons – delivered humorously – from Twitter CEO Dick Costello:

 

I was merely going to retweet this funny little factoid from Social Rehab – a company with apps designed to get you to reduce your online dependence – my retweet was to include an inevitable quip.  Then I realized, I had far too many clever retorts to ever fit inside a single tweet.

Before I release my incredible capacity for sarcasm on the world, I must point out that the Social Rehab factoid is misleading and inaccurate (and dated).   Apparently, I’m late to this party.   The ‘statistic’ was a meme at least as far back as 2010 when a ‘recent survey […] uncovered the disturbing statistic‘ :

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