Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

TALKING POINTS: Adeo Ressi takes your dumb-ass business idea to school; 5 signs your product is perfect for Kickstarter

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Adeo Ressi

An Entrepreneur Who Manufactures Entrepreneurs {New York Times}

Conventional wisdom holds that some 90 percent of start-ups fail. After years of observation, serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi started the Founder Institute to teach the basics. Unlike other incubators, the Founder Institute doesn’t take students who already have a company. Instead, applicants are chosen through a personality test.

5 Signs Your Product is Perfect for Kickstarter {Entrepreneur}

Kickstarter’s mission as a crowd funding platform is to bring creative projects to life. In theory, it sounds fantastic: You have an idea, but don’t have the funds to get started. Most people think that if they just had the money they could take their product to market. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Here are five qualities your business idea or invention needs to successfully launch on Kickstarter and get to market.

Lovecasting Meets Crowdfunding Meets Social Entrepreneurship {Forbes}

What better way to strengthen communities, while empowering regular people to support nearby small businesses, than by helping individuals fund local entrepreneurs? This movement—coined locavesting by author Amy Cortesein a recent book–is at the core of a Seattle-based social enterprise by the name of Community Sourced Capital (CSC).

Poolsidepreneurs, Where the Cult of Entrepreneurship Goes to Drown {Pando Daily}

So you’re a founder, and you’re crushing it 24/7. That’s great and all, but what if you could crush it by a pool? What if there was a luxe new way to work?


Penelope Trunk vs. Tim Ferriss

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s an incredibly readable feature story in the Sunday Styles section of today’s New York Times–I highly recommend giving it a read–about self-improvement author Tim Ferriss, who was apparently a popular guest at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. Ferriss was in Austin to promote his new book, The 4-Hour Body, which is a textbook-like manual that purports to teach its readers how to become “superhuman”–or as Ferriss himself might say, how to hack the human body.

Interestingly enough, even though I have the Sunday New York Times delivered to my front door each weekend, I found out about this particular story through a Gawker post, which essentially made the argument that Ferriss is a self-obsessed asshole because of the unusual way he handles his personal email. There’s no doubt that Ferriss has a huge number of very fervent fans, but he has also managed to inspire a good number of serious haters over the past few years, and apparently Penelope Trunk, a popular work-culture writer who I happen to be a fan of, has been one of them for quite some time.

Here’s a recent blog post written by Trunk entitled, “5 Time management tricks I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss”. One of the many reasons Trunk gives for “hating” Ferriss has to do with a meeting that took place between the two at a South by Southwest conference in 2007, in fact. At the time, Ferriss was aggressively marketing his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, to influential bloggers. Apparently, Trunk feels as if she was tricked into having a coffee date with Ferriss, who wanted a chance to pitch his book to the sort of blogger who might be able to introduce it a wider audience. Read Trunk’s post, here, for the full story.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Ferriss recently put together an incredibly useful blog post about the ins and outs of dealing with haters, and if you happen to be a public personality of any sort, or if you happen to be especially successful in your chosen field, I seriously recommend reading it. One of very best points Ferriss makes in the post, as far as I’m concerned, begins with a quote from the sports agent Scott Boras, who said that, “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.” If that’s a quote you can personally relate to, take the time to check out both of the posts I’ve linked to below.

Do you have any especially useful techniques–psychological or otherwise–when it comes to dealing with unnecessarily harsh critics? If so, please post them in the comments section.

Unbelievable book deals for lucky bloggers

April 17, 2008 1 comment

Not even a month before this week’s all Thomas Kohnstamm news, all the time, it seems the blogosphere was exploding with book news of a much more positive sort. I’ve only discovered this recently, but apparently two hugely popular blogs, Stuff White People Like and I Can Has Cheezburger, have both landed book deals with beyond-ridiculous advances. In the print media universe. Get this: On March 20, The New York Observer reported that the “Stuff White People Like” book was sold to Random House for at least $350,000. 

For those of you who don’t work in the media or publishing industries, you’ll simply have to take my word for it: This is an incredibly high advance. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that the book will be based on a blog that is currently less than three months old! Initially, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was nothing more than a well-executed media prank. And yet here’s a thoroughly-reported New York Times story about both deals. Here’s an interesting quote from that story:

Blog books are far from a sure thing at the cash register. spawner the book, “The Gawker Guide to Conquering All Media,” which has sold fewer than 1,000 copies since its release in October 2007. A book based on a popular Web site focused on fashion disasters has sold 2,000 copies in its first seven weeks of release, according to Nielsen BookScan.

According to Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly, Random House will need to sell approximately 75,000 copies of the “Stuff White People Like” book, just to earn back it’s advance. And here’s another interesting point from the story: Media wunderkind Kurt Andersen is apparently involved with the project on some level, and may have been somewhat instrumental in securing the deal in the first place. What was it about the site, you might wonder, that impressed Andersen so much? Ambitious bloggers, take note:

Mr. Andersen said what impressed him about White People’s prospects as a book is that it was already sort of unbloglike. The site is not chockablock with links to other material, but with what amounts to a series of daily essays. “It’s more like a book he’s putting out serially on the Web,” Mr. Andersen said. [New York Times, link]

Clorox Buys Burt’s Bees

January 6, 2008 Leave a comment

burtsbess.jpgThere’s an interesting feature in the New York Times’ Business section today about Burt’s Bees. This is the formerly homespun and formerly Maine-based personal care products company that lately seems to have become much more popular for its marketing — a sort of hippie-esque eco-consciousness — than it ever was for its actual products. Personally, I can remember when the company’s lip balms, for instance, were actually difficult to find. Now they seem to be featured on colorful endcaps in every grocery store I walk into. As it happens, there’s a reasonable explanation for all that: Burt’s Bees was acquired by Clorox this past November, if you can believe it, for the almost unbelievable sum of $913 million.

Note >> Interestingly enough, Clorox didn’t buy the Burt’s Bees company from its two founders, Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz. (The bearded man in the Burt’s Bees logo is modeled after Shavitz.) Why? Because a New York-based equity firm known as AEA Investors had already beat them to it, way back in 2003. Quimby, in fact, sold 80 percent of the company to AEA for the whopping sum of $141.6 million. So naturally, after Clorox acquired AEA’s 80 percent, they went knocking on Quimby’s door for the remaining 20. They offered her $183 million. She complied.  

According to the article’s author, Louise Story, “Clorox was willing to pay almost $1 billion for Burt’s Bees because big companies see big opportunities in the market for green products. From 2000 to 2007, Burt’s Bees’ annual revenue soared to $164 million from $23 million. Analysts say there is far more growth to be had by it and its competitors as consumers keep gravitating toward products that promise organic and environmental benefits.” 

I found the following paragraph even more surprising: “In the last couple of years, L’Oréal paid $1.4 billion for the Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive bought 84 percent of Tom’s of Maine, which makes natural toothpaste and deodorant, for $100 million. Clorox is also creating eco-friendly product lines of its own.”

So who knows? Maybe all this corporate buyout business will have its own happy ending. And by the way, if you’re wondering what Roxanne Quimby did with her $324.6 million, click here. [Hint: She’s seems to be something of a dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur.]

The Trials and Tribulations of the Telecommuter

January 4, 2008 Leave a comment

video.jpgThe small business section of the New York Times’ website has been running all sorts of interesting content lately, and today it’s featuring a link to a great story from the Home & Garden page about the myriad difficulties of working from home. I’ve been freelancing from a home office for a number of years now, and I’ve got to say, it’s a truly liberating feeling to see an institution as august as the Times taking the side of telecommuter. 

Which isn’t to say that working from home isn’t a liberating feeling in and of itself – it certainly is. It’s also the most fun I’ve ever had in my working life, and for someone who treasures the concept of independence as much as I do, it’s definitely a working style I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon. But my experience has always shown that the type of person who works in a corporate office environment — the type of person who has probably never worked from home — isn’t really capable of understanding the unusual challenges that telecommuting tends to offer up. Which is why I wouldn’t necessarily suggest forwarding this link to fellow freelancers, but rather to friends immersed in the 9-to-5 life who seem to be curious about what it is, exactly, that all of us self-employed types do during the day. As the article’s author, Ralph Gardner Jr., writes of the freelance life: “It requires strict self-discipline and an ability to tune out spouses, children and pets. For the more sociable or emotionally needy, it can feel like house arrest, especially if the phone hasn’t rung in a while.” 

Also in the Home & Garden department: A fun little feature about the importance of filling a home office with the sort of supplies and furniture that will actually inspire creativity. Seems like an obvious enough concept, but then again, it’s exactly the sort of thing that has always been a rarity in the corporate sector. 

Note >> Interested in doing a spot of online office shopping yourself? Check out the ridiculously cool organization and shelving solutions at Design Within Reach, the lighting and furniture for rich people at Moss Online, or the hip and affordable office supplies at Knock Knock, which just happens to be my favorite work solutions company in the entire universe. Then hurry up and get yourself a Seth Godin action figure ($8.95 from Archie McPhee), which, according to the man himself, is fully refundable if its owner does not acquire a significantly better job within 18 months. (I suppose that means I’ll either be filing copy for the AP in Addis Ababa or stringing for the business section of the New York Times in Eastern Europe sometime during the month of July 2009. Bonus!)

Freelance foreign correspondence advice at

November 1, 2007 1 comment

Interesting article on Mediabistro today about Will Connors, a guy who wanted to find work as a foreign correspondent after graduating from the University of Chicago with degrees in English and Sociology. But because Will is a person who seems to be filled with the spirit of the Young Pioneer, he chose to eschew the approved overseas writer route — that is, the route most often taken by journalists hungry to land an overseas post.

For the uninitiated among you, this is a route that first involves getting your foot in the door at a newspaper that still pays for foreign reporting, but where you will most likely start out in a cub reporter position. We’ve all heard stories about young and unexperienced journalists having to sit through untold numbers of city council meetings, while being bored practically to tears in the process, right? As a cub reporter, that’ll be you. Have a blast. 

Seriously though, many journalists spend years doing work they have almost no interest in, simply because they lack the confidence and the courage to travel overseas and to start a freelance writing business without being told to do so by a boss.

Will Connors, smart boy that he is, chose to go the express route: He bought a one-way ticket to Addis Ababa, and before long was published in the New York Times, among other papers and publications of some repute.

Definitely give this story a look; I’m sure any of the would-be travel journalists or foreign reporters reading this blog will find at least one or two decent tips in the story, and you don’t even have to be an AvantGuild member to read it. Bonus!

  • Will Connors New York Times story about train travel in Congo: [LINK
  •  Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times story about Ethiopia … with a Will Connors assist! [LINK]

Incidentally, while looking around online for more Will Connors work, I happened to stumble upon a site called Kerabu. It appears to be a smashingly well-designed and smart entrepreneurship blog that was then killed back in August 2007 and relaunched into another project called Xoxiety. I’m definitely looking forward to taking a much closer look, and will report back in a day or two if I discover anything useful or fun.