Fast Forward, Pause or Play?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Quotable Executive

"Technology is easy to develop. Developing a new attitude, moving the culture from one mental model to another, that's the difficult part. You give people a solution to a problem and the great irony to me is that even though they're unhappy, they have high inertia. People don't like change. The reason it takes technology 15 to 20 years to come in is because 15 years is the time it takes a kid who saw it when he was young to become a functioning adult."

- Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway scooter and head of the DEKA design and research firm, as quoted in The Economist Technology Quarterly, June 2010

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's about time...and it's about jobs...

The NC Biotechnology Center announced today that Gwyn Riddick will be promoted to the new position of Vice President for its AG/BIO initiative (view the press release here). As a member of the NC Biotechnology Center's Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee and an ag biotech entrepreneur for the last decade, I am pleased to see this development and the recognition of the value ag biotech can bring to the state and to the world. I am also pleased to hear about the emphasis being placed on spinning out new technologies applicable to agriculture from NC research universities into commercial ventures such as start-up companies (view a follow up article in Tech Journal South here). It has been my experience that it is in small biotechnology companies that true innovations are being developed and real risk taken to find solutions for tomorrow's problems. It is also happens that small businesses (biotech start-ups included) are where true job growth occurs. However, it has also been my experience that traditional venture capitalists don't have much of an appetite for ag biotech ventures. Interestingly, State Treasurer Jane Colwell's recent proposal to focus a portion of the state's pension money to fund NC companies (view the Triangle Biz Journal article here) could potentially help jump start this initiative and help move ag biotech in NC from the benchtop to barnyard.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

But by the grace of emerging markets...

This "great recession" (or whatever the economists call it) is far from over for the millions of unemployed and underemployed, for the retailers, for the home builders, for the automotive manufacturers. It's hard to find any sector of the economy or any corner of the world that hasn't been affected. I recently started subscribing to the Economist magazine for its comprehensive coverage of world markets, and on the last page of each issue is a table of GDP growth by country and region. Quite sobering - every single country listed has had negative GDP growth (i.e., shrinkage) in 2009, every one except for China and India (Indonesia, Australia and Pakistan are also notable for being in positive GDP territory). Interesting. It's no wonder then, the Asian markets are the hottest ones for my company's products (also helping is the devalued US dollar making our products cheaper in overseas markets). But have the emerging economies gotten a bit too "frothy"? My stake in the emerging markets mutual fund NEWFX is up over 60% for the year. How long can the party last, especially when everyone else (US included) is left out in the cold?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Health Care Unfair...

Just found out the health insurance premiums to cover all full-time employees at my company will go up by 20% next year. No matter what you think of health care reform, there is something fundamentally unfair with having to have a job in order to get affordable health insurance in the US and for US companies to be burdened with the cost of health insurance and remain competitive globally against companies in other countries that subsidize their health care.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Quotable Executive

"I've been able to create an environment where people work very hard, but we also play hard and celebrate our successes."
- Christy Shaffer, CEO of Inspire Pharmaceuticals, as quoted in the News and Observer Aug 1, 2009 article announcing her stepping down from the CEO position at Inspire

and from the same article...

"She makes sure people feel appreciated. She realizes that people are the most important part of an organization. It's marked her style all along."
- Joan Siefert Rose, President of the NC Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Entrepreneurial Execution (not in the literal sense...)

I gave a talk at the NC Chinese Business Association tonight and shared some of my experiences in starting our company, BioResource International, as well as giving some "take home messages" for the audience gathered. Here are some "nuggets" from my talk...

- "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together" - David Gergen, quoting a former director of the Gates Foundation
- E-myth qualities are Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician (not one person has all these qualities/strengths - you need to build a team of individuals who each has strengths in different areas)
- Turn focus from "me" to "we"
- Communication and trust are critical in a team (focus on the problems at hand and work toward consensus, but know that not everyone will agree all the time; it has been said that if two people always agree on something, then one of them is redundant)
- Create an environment of openness and optimism
- Celebrate wins and admit losses as soon as possible, as often as possible (paraphrasing Jack Welch in his book, Straight from the Gut)
- Beware of fundamental attribution error (wrongly attributing success to a characteristic or skill that a successful leader demonstrates); sometimes it's just about being persistent so that you end up in the right place at the right time...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Quotable Executive
"We're a personal- and career-develpment turns out the by-product is engineered rubber, metal, plastic and foam."
Robert Aliota, Owner of Carolina Seal (Charlotte, NC), as quoted in Businessweek SmallBiz (Feb/Mar 2009)