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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepreneurs (techcrunch.com)
184 points by ssclafani on Aug 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

I loved this article! He did learn the wrong lesson regarding the failed demo where he couldn't launch his CD because he only knew Macs and Unix. It is important to know how to use Windows, that's true. But even more important is: be absolutely certain you control every variable you can in a demo or presentation. Count on as little as possible from the audience/venue. Every salesman knows this, right? You bring your own laptop.

I remember my course at a TV and Radio Repair training shop. They emphasize a lot that you need to learn and memorize where all the screws go on popular models.If your client sees you trying to figure out where the screws are, they won't trust you no matter how good you are with the electronics inside.


I've been using the Mac Air exclusively for work for about a year now. Coincidence? Maybe.

If this guy is as completely incompetent as he claims (and claims, and claims, and claims again) then why should we listen to anything he says (though it's terribly embarrassing for him, but apparently he's going to say it in public anyway)?

Linkbait oxmoronic title is linkbait and an oxymoron. Endless false modesty is nauseating. Articles like this have little value. Links to articles like this belong on another forum. And comments like the one you're reading are necessary once in a while, but now I'm going back to doing something more constructive.

"If this guy is as completely incompetent as he claims (and claims, and claims, and claims again) then why should we listen to anything he says?"

Because, chances are, you're also as completely incompetent as he is.

I find his articles fun to read and thought-provoking. A lot of what he says goes against the conventional wisdom of the startup world or against my own way of doing things. So his ideas provide a good (and entertaining) opportunity to re-examine them.

Same here. This guy is actually the ONLY guy I enjoy reading in Techcrunch.

Same here, I relate a lot to his personal traits.

if you judge people for being self deprecating, you wind up self selecting people who overpromote themselves

The thing is, I don't think he was really being self-deprecating at all. If he were being self-deprecating, then after admitting to being mediocre, he wouldn't have spent the rest of the opening paragraph name-dropping extremely successful people who he claims read all his articles.

There were some reasonable ideas in there, but I didn't notice anything that hasn't been said before by many other people, and they probably said it using far fewer words, far more clearly, and with far, far fewer references to themselves.

I wasn't a fan of the implicit sexism betrayed by comments like "enjoy the sunset with your wife on occasion" and the reference to asking every girl on the street, either. The only link between anyone female and success in that entire article is a picture of a photogenic young lady holding hands with Larry Page.

> he wouldn't have spent the rest of the opening paragraph name-dropping extremely successful people who he claims read all his articles.

I'm surprised that anyone would take that part seriously. He's obviously being facetious.

I don't know what to tell you,

He has a blog that I actually find pretty entertaining

though if you hated this piece, maybe his writing isn't your thing

recommend: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-...

(FWIW, that "photogenic young lady" is Lucy Southworth, Larry's wife.)

How was that sexist again?

I think he/she means that the whole post assumes that the reader is a male.

Which is not sexist, because it isn't a prejudice, but rather a fact about TechCrunch's readership. It is wise, from a business point of view, to let that fact influence your tone and dressing. That doesn't necessarily coincide with the 'make the world better' point of view. That doesn't make it morally reprehensible.

You are not getting it.

James Altucher fills his stories with jokes.

He's laughing at himself, at his readers including you and me, at Larry Page and his wife and so on.

He's not joking, he's a master at personal branding. As much as you might want to think he's a narcissist -- it's really hard not to, at times -- he's simply found a superb way to make you remember who he is.

Oh god it's a light hearted piss-take.

Because if you don"t learn from other people's mistakes, you are the other people.

I appreciate the attempt at trying to instill some realistic expectations, but beyond that I'm not sure if I'm missing something -- I find this article to be toxic for multiple reasons:

- The thought that "superstar"/top entrepreneurs "never fail" is ridiculous.

- The idea that anyone other than the top 1% can't have an "original" idea, have vision, or have any sort of competency period.

- The examples of his failings sound incompetent to such a ridiculous degree. Again this reinforces the previous point.

- After reading this, I have the impression that "luck" is all there is unless you're in the "top 1%".

- The idea that procrastination is a positive force and that it means you need to step back and think about "something". There may be some truth in that, however I find it dangerous to accept it as simply as this.

I'm reminded of the below two sayings. There's probably some truth in them:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

"Fake it till you make it."

Although I find some of the advice interesting, the presentation is really confusing. Are these anti-patterns or patterns? Am I meant to emulate the mediocre entrepreneur or view these as cautions? If I follow these will I be doomed to only ever be mediocre?

I've never been a fan of articles that force me to put a ! before every sentence. Opposite day on the web!

I said, “$50,000″. They said, “No more than $1,000 and that’s a stretch.” I used my usual technique: “Deal!” - just laughed and laughed.

If you've never failed you are doing something wrong. Even does guys that he mentioned failed at something, the difference is that people don't want to know about the bad stories. Even if you can learn more with the failures.

Exactly. He says Larry Page never failed but the reality is he "failed" to sell his search engine Google but "succeeded" in not giving up. He tried for almost 2 years and when no one showed interest he decided to take it forward himself.

I am not sure I agree with failure as a sign of mediocrity I can identify few empirical evidence to defy this

But then he is using the term "mediocre entrepreneur" to mean not Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg! So ... heh

I think anyone who eventually succeed in creating a wonderful and successful business cannot be called mediocre

But I actually believe it is a good list to ponder upon ( to criticize, to agree and disagree with)

he is using the term "mediocre entrepreneur" to mean not Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg

Yes, I agree. There are always a few outliers who by combination of luck, skill, and hard work (mostly luck though) hit a home run their first time at bat. "Mediocre" can mean "ordinary" or "unremarkable" and a history speckled with failures is pretty typical of most "ordinary" entrepreneurs. I find it actually encouraging, that someone with the admitted faults of procrastination, poor networking/social skills, and poor negotiating skills can still, eventually, find success.

I'm honestly surprised at all the people who apparently haven't figured out that the article is written facetiously.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the author's recurring posts on TC. I've read most of them as they come up in gReader the past 6 months and all of them had my eyes rolling for one reason or another. I don't even have to read who's written the post to know it's him.

I don't get this one:


- Do anything to get a “yes” - Here’s a negotiation I did. I was starting stockpickr.com and meeting with the CEO of thestreet.com. He wanted his company to have a percentage of stockpickr.com and in exchange he would fill up all of our ad inventory. I was excited to do the deal. I said, “Ok, I was thinking you would get 10% of the company.” He laughed and said, “No. 50%”. He didn’t even say “We would like 50%”. He just said, “50%”. I then used all my negotiating skills and came up with a reply. “Okay. Deal.”

I’m a salesman. I like people to say yes to me.


How's this a good deal?

And also, a good salesman doesn't just want people to say yes, they want people to say yes on his terms, not on their terms...

I usually cringe when I come across self-help for entrepreneurs. It makes me feel like I'm watching Oprah; there's nothing wrong with that, but... you know.

But this one actually made me smile.

8. Write for techcrunch, without solid examples.

What happens to the hustler when they fall in love with something? How does their behavior change?

Definitely some great ideas here!

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