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From corporate to start-up: can you cut it?

entrepreneur young at PCThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 7-Feb-2013 issue

Four years out of our MBA degrees, my MBA classmate Joanne* was working in a senior position at a leading global FMCG company. She was extremely well-paid, got to travel extensively and had all the usual corporate perks. Everyone thought she had the perfect set-up. But inside, Joanne was desperately unhappy. Her dream was to start her own business, and she would spend all her spare time researching an idea she was passionate about. However, she had two children whose private education didn’t come cheap, a sizeable homeloan to pay off, and her husband’s investment business had taken a knock in the global financial crisis. So the family depended on Joanne’s salary. As much as she wanted to quit her job in corporate, she didn’t think she could. Sensing her unhappiness, Joanne and I met for lunch to explore if there was a way she could successfully make the leap from corporate to a start-up. Some valuable lessons came out of our discussion that hopefully can help others in the same predicament.

I made the transition in 2007 and it was the best career decision I have ever taken. The entrepreneurial environment, however, isn’t for everyone. And corporate will be extremely tempting when you hit the inevitable rocky period in your venture. Before making the leap from corporate to start-up, you need to understand what you’re getting into and if you’re cut out for it.

So the first question to address is: What traits do you need to have in order to succeed in a start-up? Continue reading

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When is it OK to quit?

quitting 4This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 24-Jan-2013 issue

The more resources you invest in a business or project, the harder it is to walk away. But sometimes quitting may be the best thing you can do. Continue reading


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Do CEOs with MBAs perform better?

CEO MBA runningThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 17-Jan-2013 issue

In recent years MBA programmes have received a lot of criticism: teaching flawed financial thinking, ignoring business ethics, hiding from the real world of business and sheltering MBA students in academic theory. And so, as the argument goes, MBA business leaders are ruled by greed and short-term gain. Hence much of the blame for the global financial crisis fell on high-profile MBA alumni like Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld (Stern’s MBA of 1973), and Merrill Lynch’s John Thain (Harvard 1979). Let’s not forget Jeff Skilling of Enron, who had an MBA, while Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t even complete university.

With these criticisms in mind, do MBA-degreed CEOs perform better than their non-MBA peers? The effect of a CEO’s MBA (or lack of one) on the business’ performance is very much contested ground, with evidence to support both sides. Continue reading


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Why best practice is bad practice

This is a guest post by Dr Gavin Symanowitz of FeedbackRocket.com. It originally appeared in Finweek Magazine (19 July 2012 issue).

man-bar-flirting

The cute blonde sitting at the bar had been casting furtive glances at us all night. Of course, it wasn’t for me or my mate Ted. It was for Pete. It was always for Pete. Pete was one of those really good-lucking guys who picked up girls effortlessly everywhere he went. It was no different this time. Pete sauntered up to her and whispered something in her ear. She giggled, flicked her hair back flirtatiously, and the two of them left the bar together.

One day, Ted decided he’d had enough of sitting alone at the bar, and asked Pete what his secret was. “What do you actually say to the girl when you go up to her?”

“I’ve got one pickup line that works every time” replied Pete.

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Is customer delight overkill?

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 13-Dec-2012 issue

If you were asked, “Do you need to delight your customers?”, you’d probably say yes without hesitating. The concept of customer delight has become so ingrained that we seldom question it. But does your company really need to delight your customers? New research suggests otherwise.

customer delight

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