These 5 Decisions Define You As An Entrepreneur

Most aspiring entrepreneurs are convinced that the strength of their initial idea somehow defines them as a leader, as well as the success potential of their derivative business. In my experience, it’s a lot more complicated than that. It takes leadership ability, as well as a good idea, to make a successful entrepreneur, and great leaders evolve from key leadership decisions along the way.

Fortunately, basic leadership and entrepreneurial skills can be acquired from experience and training. If you don’t have the entrepreneur leadership attribute or interest, but want to be an “idea person” or inventor, then I recommend that you find a partner with the requisite skills to implement and run the business from your idea.

Yet we all know that there is a big gap between good entrepreneurs and a great business leaders. Great leaders seem to make the right pivotal decisions at every critical point along the way. I’ve never been able to clearly define those key points, and what separates the good from the great at these points.

So I was happy to see Julia Tang Peters, in her new book “Pivot Points,” tackle this issue. She concludes from her work with many modern business leaders, including CEOs Bud Frankel (Frankel & Company) and Glen Tullman (7wire Ventures), that there are five pivotal decisions that propel certain entrepreneurs to be gifted leaders:

  1. The launching decision. At some point an idea captures your imagination and creating a business becomes more than just about income. You define goals that rivet your attention, galvanizing you to turn dreams into reality. The launching point establishes the platform on which every potential entrepreneur becomes an actualized entrepreneur.
  2. The turning point decision. This is the confluence of your willful decision to do more, and the pressing need to take action. It unleashes an extraordinary verve to take the idea or business to the next level. It tests your capabilities and capacity in various ways, stretching them far beyond your comfort zone and requiring total commitment.
  3. The tipping point decision. Here you are catapulted into leading and working on the business, as distinctly different from the work of mastering your subject and working in the business. At this point you will have built a team whom you trust with substantive responsibilities, freeing you to hone the art of leading, inside and outside the business.
  4. The recommitment decision. Now is the time when you as the leader look at where you are and where you want to go, knowing the need to renew the commitment or leave. For many this happens during disruptive change, like being acquired or being the acquirer. For others, it’s a personal decision to balance family life, or do something different.
  5. The letting go decision.  The ultimate test of leadership is letting go at a time of strength so that others can carry on the work. It may be a hold’em or fold’em business situation, or simply time to plan for succession. This decision point is the most emotionally challenging, since letting go is pivotal in defining the terms of the entrepreneur’s legacy.

I’m certain that an understanding of these points will equip you with the knowledge you need to take the right path on decisions when it matters most. The world is full of high-achievers and high expectations, but without the proper framework for turning entrepreneurial determination into real leadership accomplishment, you risk going nowhere.

I agree with Peters that entrepreneurial leadership is not all about people traits or characteristics, but often about the choices they make at key decision points along the way. Of course, skills in decision-making are not enough alone to make a great entrepreneurial leader. Here are some of the other characteristics I look for:

  • Willing to listen, and will address skeptical views.
  • Always an evangelist and a good communicator.
  • Willing to question assumptions and adapt.
  • Proactively sets metrics and track goals.
  • Ties rewards to performance results.
  • Aggressively takes smart risks.

So a great idea is necessary but not sufficient to make you a great entrepreneur and a great leader. Work on the right characteristics, and think hard about those five key pivotal decisions that can make or break your satisfaction and your legacy. It’s more fun when you are the entrepreneur leader you want to be.

San Antonio Spurs To Face Miami Heat In NBA Finals Rematch

MIAMI (AP) — A year ago, the Spurs-Heat matchup in the NBA Finals was considered a classic.

And now, an encore awaits. For the first time since 1998, the NBA Finals is a rematch. San Antonio and Miami will decide the league’s champion for the second straight season, the Spurs earning their spot Saturday night by beating Oklahoma City 112-107 in overtime in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Miami — the NBA’s two-time defending champion — eliminated Indiana from the East finals Friday night, also in six games.

“The two best teams will meet,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We’re just happy and excited that we’re one of the best.”

The Spurs and Heat split two meetings this season, both winning by comfortable margins at home. Game 1 of this year’s Finals is Thursday night in San Antonio.

“It’s unbelievable to regain that focus after that devastating loss that we had last year,” San Antonio’s Tim Duncan said. “But we’re back here. We’re excited about it. We’ve got four more to win. We’ll do it this time.”

It’s the sixth trip to the Finals for San Antonio, which won titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 before falling to the Heat last season in a series that had some unbelievable drama. The Spurs held a 3-2 series lead and were leading by five points with 28.2 seconds left in Game 6 at Miami, before Ray Allen’s 3-pointer capped a wild rally and forced overtime, where the Heat ultimately prevailed.

Miami then won Game 7, 95-88.

The Heat are heading to the Finals for the fourth straight season and fifth time overall, beating Dallas in 2006, losing to the Mavericks in 2011, then topping Oklahoma City in 2012 and the Spurs last season. The Spurs — who had the league’s best regular-season record, 62-20 — are now the eighth franchise in league history with at least six trips to the championship round, and would be just the fourth franchise with as many as five NBA titles.

“We know we’re facing a very talented and tough team and it’s going to be rough,” the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili said. “But of course, we believe in our means and we’re going to do our best, as always.”

Both teams have a multi-time Finals MVP. Duncan has won it three times for the Spurs; LeBron James has won it twice for the Heat, and will look to join only Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal on the list of players to receive that award in three consecutive seasons.

The last Finals rematch came in 1998 when Chicago beat Utah for the last of Jordan’s six championships.

12 Cold Facts About Being Super-Hot


Pretty is a thing, whereas beauty is a force. Although we live in a world where physical appearance is a currency, a differential engine drives life, so I asked some models, centerfolds and traditional glamor girls if there are any downsides to being “super-hot-looking.” Here’s what they said.

1: Their looks intimidate normal guys, making them less approachable. “I want a nice guy that I can feel safe with, who respects me for who I am, not what I look like, who makes me laugh and has a good heart,” says Katherine Levchenko, a young, successful Russian model with an angelic face and a body that would tempt a Trappist monk. “I do not care about money as much as I care about passion and devotion to their work. Photo beauty gets attention, but it is not the kind of attention that helps build a relationship.”

2: Their looks intimidate other women, making it hard to find, make and keep female friends.

3: “People presume that I am vain and shallow because of my looks,” says Levchenko. “My looks are a marketable asset, so I manage them as any person would manage a vital asset. Taking care of yourself mentally, spiritually and physically is just a way of honoring the universe for creating you.”

4: “People always think that I am dumb and vacuous,” says a supermodel who wishes to remain anonymous. “You cannot look like I do and be vacuous. I was eating healthy, natural foods long before it became a fad. I take care of my mind, body and soul. Please tell me how that is vacuous.”

5: People have less empathy for them because they are pretty. Some of them feel that people even take pleasure in their pain because of envy. Research shows that when someone watches an envied person experience a misfortune, strong activation occurs in the ventral striatum, a key reward node in the brain. Studies that compared regional brain activations between actual gains and relative gains indicated that even when a person experiences a loss, knowing that another person lost more increases striatal activity (indicating joy) to the same degree as an actual gain. This suggests that the ventral striatum plays a role in mediating the emotional consequences of social comparison.1-3

6: Their looks limit what they can wear in public because of people’s reactions to their bodies. “If I throw on a pair of shorts and a halter top and run to the market, it will cause a commotion,” says Levchenko. “Normal girls do not have that problem.”

7: Men use them to accessorize their lives, as if they were an expensive suit or a flashy car. They say that also happens with very insecure women who just want to be friends with them to live vicariously through their experiences, as a buttress for sagging self-esteem.

8: Society forces them to rely on their looks and then condemns them for doing so. “Forced” might be a strong word, in my opinion, but we certainly encourage beautiful women to rely on their looks by extending special privileges to them.

9: Most men become so sexually excited when they get them in bed that they ejaculate prematurely. I guess this is an occupational hazard of being super-hot-looking. More importantly, when women look a certain way, men seem to be more interested in having sex with them than in making love to them.

10: “Men presume that I am a whore because of how I look,” says Levchenko. “I also have bitch face.” Apparently “bitch face” is commensurate with sultry-looking.

11: All of them have horror stories about stalkers who became fixated with them. Men followed them around in stores. One said that a man broke into her house, stole her panties and made a heart on her mirror with semen.

12: Their looks place them in awkward social situations. They feel that more boyfriends and husbands make inappropriate advances toward them than toward normal-looking women. The predominant concern is choosing between telling a friend or relative an unpleasant truth and keeping a nasty secret. Many said that when they did tell the truth, they lost the friendship.

According to these pretty women, the problems are difficulty meeting guys, people thinking they are dumb, people being less empathetic toward them, men not respecting them, and people looking at their bodies and thinking they know them without ever having met them. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does, because these are generic female issues.

How the drama unfolds varies from woman to woman. However, the plot line is the same: Society commodifies women. It does not matter what society calls you. Human emotion is generic. When we are lonely, frightened and trembling, it does not matter why. Envy and fear are ugly, insatiable, false gods, and pretty is a consensual reality that we offer to them constantly. However, beauty is an intrinsic force of nature, and there is enough darkness in this world to sustain the radiance of us all. We all have our private demons and public devils, and when it rains, it rains on us all. Therefore, our task is to know that the universe cherishes each of us equally, even if Madison Avenue may not. Remain fabulous and phenomenal.

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1. Dvash J, Gilam G, Ben-Ze’ev A, Hendler T, Shamay-Tsoory SG. The envious brain: the neural basis of social comparison. Hum Brain Mapp. Nov;31 (11):1741-50.
2. Grygolec J, Coricelli G, Rustichini A. Positive interaction of social comparison and personal responsibility for outcomes. Front Psychol.3:25.
3. Takahashi H, Kato M, Matsuura M, Mobbs D, Suhara T, Okubo Y. When your gain is my pain and your pain is my gain: neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude. Science. 2009 Feb 13;323(5916):937-9.

What Dad Wants For Father's Day According To 9 Real Dads

Sure you don’t want to buy Dad another tie or money clip, but chances are you’re totally over-thinking this Father’s Day thing. Keep it simple with these nifty gadgets (or should we say “dadgets”?). See dad, we made a corny dad joke, just for you.

Jokes aside, we partnered with Best Buy and enlisted real Dads to share what they actually want this year.

François Hollande and the French Socialists: Failure Goes Deeper Than the European Elections

In last Sunday’s European parliament elections there were two earthquake results in France. The first is the breakthrough of the far-right nationalist, anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front party (FN). The second is the overwhelming defeat of the governing Socialist party (PS) of President François Hollande. The French Socialists’ failure, however, goes deeper in history. Their perennial weakness as a party has characterized French politics for a long time.

Marine Le Pen’s FN, the flagship of European far-right politics, won 25 percent. The Socialists collapsed to 14 percent, following an already dismal showing in March’s municipal elections. But this isn’t all: As president, Hollande has been polling below 20 percent for months, the worst ever in the Fifth Republic and, on reflection, a really astonishing failure.

After two years of dismal governance, the French Socialists have lost legitimacy almost completely, yet Hollande and his parliamentary majority have three more years to run. It’s a classic story: ringing ideological left-wing chimes in electoral campaigns, then consternation and confusion when generous intentions, ignorance of economics and lack of political determination end in a blind alley.

When Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic in 1958, the French Socialists already had a checkered history. In the 1930s Léon Blum, the admirable socialist humanist, failed to mobilize France against the Nazi menace. In the Fourth Republic, 1946 to 1958, the Socialists continued to flounder, intimidated by the French Communists on the left and Gaullists on the right. They were, in a local joke, the slice of ham in a sandwich and getting thinner all the time.

Finally, after 23 years, with the tenacious François Mitterrand as their candidate, they won the presidency and parliament in 1981. When Mitterrand left power in 1995, the PS’ future seemed the natural left-wing governing party in a stable left-right alternation of power. But the party elite failed to produce leaders of genuine stature and determined convictions.

In 1997 the Socialists unexpectedly won a fluke election when President Jacques Chirac mistimed dissolution of parliament. Then, in 2002, at the end of five desultory years in office, the incumbent Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin was astoundingly defeated in the first round by Marine Le Pen’s father, the original far-right rogue, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had founded the FN. (Le Pen lost to Chirac in the runoff by fully 60 percent.)

“Embarrassing” for France is too weak a word. That Jean-Marie Le Pen got to the runoff amounted to Socialist failure to protect the country’s politics from a rising nationalist-racist fringe that continues around Europe today.

Adding it up, until Hollande’s victory in 2012, the Socialists elected only one president since 1958, the exceptional Mitterrand. And he came from outside, joining the party only in 1969, at the age of 51.

Why can’t the Socialists do better? Why don’t they produce truly ambitious, battle-hardened candidates with fire in the belly? (In 2007 their candidate was the equally inexperienced Ségolène Royal, Hollande’s domestic partner for 30 years and mother of his four children. And let’s not forget the scandal of their initial likely candidate for 2012, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.)

What can President Hollande possibly do now to rescue the situation? He has one trump card that few would expect of him: Tell Prime Minister Manuel Valls to try for an unprecedented Grand Coalition that would ally the Socialists, the UMP (21 percent) and the centrist Modem party (10 percent) — that is, 45 percent in the European election. In a parliamentary election that coalition would produce a solid majority of seats with new legitimacy. Grand coalitions can govern quite successfully. Germany is the best example. But besides a strong leader, it needs a sense of mutual respect and loyalty among the parties, meaning the French conservatives and centrists must also admit that this time the jig is really up on politics as usual, including them. This would begin to restore France’s credibility in wider Europe.

With effective government Hollande could reverse France’s slide to the right. He could create conditions for the serious economic reforms that both right and left parties have failed at consistently. He could encourage the private sector, foster economic dynamism and reverse the unprecedented collapse of foreign investment. A Grand Coalition with a combative leader — Valls is that man — could confront the French street (i.e., the perennial mass protests and strikes that intimidate governments afraid of not being reelected). The army of French unemployed might start to shrink, which is especially important for young people.

Hollande would look patriotic having made a kind of Gaullist gesture, rising above party politics. A Grand Coalition would be a new kind of “cohabitation” in the French system, different from a president of one party facing a contradictory prime minister and parliamentary majority. Hollande would demonstrate the Constitution’s flexibility as a basis of forming governments.

Above all, Hollande would be responsible for something new in France today: success and optimism.

Sunday Roundup

LONDON — This week began with the continuing fallout from the killing spree at UCSB. Richard Martinez, whose son was among the victims, blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” Echoing that outrage, and the senselessness that lets it continue, the Onion nailed it: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” On Wednesday, Maya Angelou passed away, and the world mourned the poet, teacher and thinker who inspired us to look within, reach out and celebrate our common humanity. In in-house news, I was in London, where I found the mindfulness revolution in full swing. As Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe put it, “Ten years ago when I left the monastery I wouldn’t have thought I could have a conversation on mindfulness in the pub, let alone with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.” As the new week begins, we can let Maya continue to guide us: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

Qatar corruption allegations: A potential massive governance, geo-political and social fall-out

By James M. Dorsey

A disclosure by British weekly The Sunday Times of millions of documents allegedly revealing massive Qatari vote buying in the Gulf state’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup could rejigger the Gulf’s fragile balance of power, reverse hopes that Qatar would initiate significant social change in the region, and return the worst corruption crisis in global soccer governance to the top of the agenda.

The documents appear to show how disgraced former FIFA vice president and Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, used a secret $5 million slush fund to make dozens of payments, primarily to African soccer executives, to create the basis for a vote in favour of Qatar in FIFA’s executive committee. The committee awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in a controversial vote in December 2010.

The disclosure comes as Michael Garcia, FIFA’s independent investigator into the corruption allegations, was scheduled to meet members of Qatar’s bid committee. FIFA officials suggested prior to the disclosure that Mr. Garcia’s two-year long investigation was unlikely to produce a smoking gun.

Qatar has long denied any wrongdoing and sought to distance itself from Mr. Bin Hammam who was at the centre of the corruption scandal. Mr. Bin Hammam was two years ago banned by FIFA for life from involvement in professional soccer on charges of “conflict of interest” related to an internal audit about his financial and commercial management of the Asian soccer body. Like Qatar, Mr. Bin Hammam has consistently denied the allegations.

The documents counter Qatari assertions that they opposed Mr. Bin Hammam’s 2011 bid for the FIFA presidency that sparked his downfall because a Qatari win of the World Cup and simultaneous control of the world soccer body would have been too much at the same time. They also counter Qatari suggestions that the Gulf state and Mr. Bin Hammam had parted ways to the degree that the former FIFA executive had supported Australia’s bid against Qatar.

The potential fall-out of The Sunday Times revelations could be massive:

  • A possible retraction of Qatar’s right to host the 2022 World Cup, which would likely be quietly embraced by the Gulf state’s detractors led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which oppose its idiosyncratic foreign policy, including Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, a retraction could fuel perceptions in significant parts of the Muslim world of discrimination on the grounds of religion and ethnicity;
  • Increased pressure on global soccer governance to radically reform, including pressure on the AFC to act on the recommendations of an internal 2012 audit that accused Mr. Bin Hammam of using an AFC sundry account as his personal account and suggested that his management of AFC affairs may have involved cases of money laundering, tax invasion, bribery and busting of US sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Mr. Bin Hammam’s successor as AFC president, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has so far been able to bury the report that recommended possible legal action as well as a review of a1 billion master rights agreement negotiated by the Qatari national on behalf of the AFC with a Singapore-based company;
  • Thwarting of Qatari hopes to use the World Cup as one of its key tools to build the soft and subtle power capable of compensating for its inability to build the kind of hard power military strength necessary to defend itself. Qatari defence and security policy sees sports in general and soccer in particular alongside hyper diplomacy with a focus on mediation in multiple conflicts and projection of the state through its world class airline, the Aljazeera television network, high profile investments and art acquisitions as ways of compensating for its military weakness. That soft power strategy depends on garnering global public empathy;
  • Set back Qatari moves to improve the living and working conditions as well as enhance the rights of foreign workers, who constitute a majority of the population in Qatar and other Gulf states in what could amount to significant social change. The moves, which were having a ripple effect throughout the Gulf, were being driven by the World Cup that empowered human rights and labour activists;
  • Substantially weaken Qatar’s ability to stand up to Saudi Arabia, which alongside the UAE and Bahrain earlier this year withdrew its ambassador to Doha in a bid to force Qatar to end its strategic relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, expel resident Islamist leaders including prominent Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, temper Al Jazeera reporting and close down critical Doha-based think tanks.

Qatar has yet to respond to The Sunday Times report but has systematically refused to give a full accounting of its bid to win its World Cup hosting rights, including the budget of the bid and how it was spent as well as its relationship with Mr. Bin Hammam. A simple denial of The Sunday Times report is unlikely to put to bed the allegations that have persisted for more than three years.

James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is also co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and a forthcoming book with the same title.

A Poem for the Awkward Moments Trans People Find Ourselves in Every Day (VIDEO)

Back in March, Black Trans Media hosted a poetry event featuring New York City-based artists, including me, Phoenix Natasha Russell, Olympia Perez, and more. The first video from this epic night to be released features me performing a piece I wrote that highlights a very particular line of questioning that trans and gender-nonconforming folks are subjected to every day.

Check out Black Trans Media on Facebook and Twitter, as they host more events and will be compiling the performances and readings of some very stellar artists!

The NSA has collected 'millions' of faces from the web

The NSA isn’t just interested in pure communications intelligence like call records; it wants to look for faces, too. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has been using facial recognition software to scan the internet for portraits…

Does This Haircut Make Me Look Gay?


I cut my hair last month. Let me rephrase: I shaved my head. After eight years of long, mostly natural hair, it was time. The seed had been planted over a decade earlier, when I first volunteered as a hairstylist for a St. Baldrick’s event. Over the following years the seed was fertilized and watered by various clients who shaved their heads without regret, reveling in the liberation of packing away the blowdryer and hair products.

Once it was decided that I would be going through with it, I opted to join forces with the St. Baldricks Foundation. I mean, if I was going to shave my head, I might as well raise money for a good cause. Also, once I wrote the fundraising email and clicked “send,” effectively notifying everyone around me about my intended plan, there was no chickening out. It’s not like I was scared, but we tend to get attached to these things about our appearance, relying on them out of habit. I knew I would not be ugly with a shaved head, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what my head shape would look like, what the birthmarks on my scalp would look like, or what my hairline would do, so I was slightly apprehensive, against my better judgment.

In addition to my own apprehension, which was constantly doing battle with my stubborn aversion to coddling my vanity, I was barraged with outside opinion. It was surprising how many individuals, friends or family, peers or acquaintances, felt strongly about my choice.

“Can’t you donate your hair without actually shaving it?”

“What about a pixie?”

“It’s not too late to change your mind.”

“You are going to look super-butchy.”

“How much do I have to donate to get you to not shave your head?” (That one was from my mother.)

What’s the big deal? It’s just hair. And it’s my hair. And yet everyone around me had to slip in their say, which didn’t succeed in undermining my decision at all but did succeed in chipping away at my confidence. I knew that that wasn’t anyone’s intent, and certainly I didn’t want to let it affect me, but this confident girl can only take so much before she starts to feel the eroding effects of offhanded comments.

The day came, and a few friends gathered around while my best friend shaved my head. I donated over a foot and a half of hair through Pantene and raised $1,900 for St. Baldrick’s. It turns out that my noggin is not that bad shorn, though my birthmarks look like cheetah spots. It feels great to have friends and strangers rub my shaved head (though now it has grown a bit, so I get fewer rubdowns), and yes, it is as liberating as promised — beyond liberating.

The comments and opinions have only increased, but at least now that people see what I look like, they tend to be more positive. Again, I am startled by the vehemence of opinion shared by others about my hair.

“You look super-butch, and I love it.” Awesome.

“You look super-butch, but I like it.” Umm, OK?

“You look like such a lesbian.” Well, I’m not a lesbian, but I do have a girlfriend, so….

“Your hair is so gay now, but you’re still cute.” Thanks? Wait, is gay normally not cute?

“I just want to take that shaved head and [fill in explicit adjective and verb here].” Take it easy!


What I find fascinating is that I went from bi invisibility due to my long hair and “straight” appearance to bi invisibility due to my short hair and “gay” appearance. I had no idea that so many people would feel so strongly about my appearance and my head of hair. Though I struggle with the threat of insecurity awaiting a harsh comment or judgment, I have to admit that I have never felt more confidence walking into a gay bar. Whereas before I would rarely get a wink or a nod, often feeling eyes swish right past me, now I have the ladies making eyes at me across the room. It turns out that I should have done this a long time ago, back when I was single. Does this haircut make me look gay? Who cares?

If you have ever had an itch or an inkling to cut your hair, or even better, to shave your head, just do it.