#60/111: Ice to the Eskimos

What is it about?

So, you got the worst NBA team and now it’s time to fill their stadium and actually make money. Too hard? Ask Jon Spoelstra who achieved this with the New Jersey Nets.

What can I learn?

The Quick Fix Silver Bullet: What would you do first? Buy a new team? Run commercials? There is an easier way. Increase the frequency of purchases of your existing customers. Use direct mailing and send them special offers. Spoelstra created special packages for the top games, i.e. when the NJ Jets played against the Dallas Mavericks or Chicago Bulls.

Make your customer a real-life hero: This idea is ingenious. Jon Spoelstra had to sell sponsorships for a lousy NBA team. Everyone would be considered stupid if they would sponsor such a team. How did Spoelstra did this? He made the people who bought sponsorships real-life heroes. The New Jersey Nets sent the CEOs of the sponsoring companies and their contact person high-quality prints which included pictures of every appearance and showed how much impact they had. This impressed the CEOs and often led to the promotion of the contact person.

Make it too good of a deal: If there’s no recognition of value, price cuts won’t increase your sales enough. However, you can increase the value of your offering. Spoelstra added baseball caps or a meal to the tickets. A all-you-can eat buffet and five tickets for a game for just $29. That’s a deal too good to be true!


I just covered three of nineteen chapters and they are nearly all great. Ice to the Eskimos impressed me extremely and was interesting although I have no clue about the NBA. I think this book is was Attention! wanted to be – clever, unusual and stuffed with actionable advice. Recommendation!

#57/111: The New Business Road Test

What is it about?

How can you increase your probably of success? John Mullins takes a scientific-like way to explore why startups fail and how it can be fixed. Each major point is illustrated by case studies and a short section “what investors want to know”.

What can I learn?

What are your goals? Before starting you should define your goals. Do you want to build a multi million dollars company or a lifestyle business? Do you want to work 80h/w or rather 25? This is the general framework to later decisions.

Market and Industry: Often these two things are not really understood. Your market exists of your customers. Your Industries are your competitors. Often there are great markets but the industry sucks. A example are restaurants. There are a mass of people who have to eat every day but the industry is gigantic and competitive. There are lots of restaurants or people could cook for themselves. That is, you market should be acceptable and your industry.

Obey the Critical Success Factors: If you have chosen your market and industry, you have to identify the industry’s Critical Success Factors (CSF). What is really important in your industry? For example, you can’t build a successful news site if you don’t have topical and good content.

Choose a great management team: Your management team should be complementary to you. Firstly, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you suck at finance look for a smart CFO. If you suck at managing people, look for a smart COO/CEO. You don’t have to do anything for yourself and probably better don’t.


This is a pretty good book. The New Business Road Test is well structured and each chapter includes case studies which support Mullins’ assumptions about starting a successful business. The book is very practical and definitely worth reading if you want to start a business. Recommendation!

#26/111: Only the Paranoid Survive

What is it about?

How do you change a company? And how do you avoid being overrun by new forces? Andrew S. Grove explains how Intel changed from a semiconductor company to a microcomputing company.

Key points?

Strategic inflection point: Grove defines a strategic inflection point as a point or period in which a force (see Porter five forces analysis) gets 10X stronger. For example, in the 80s, the Japanese memory industry grew very fast and got very cheap. This was a gruesome experience for Intel because they were known as the memory company in the USA.

Always observe your environment: To avoid being overrun by such changes, you should always observe your environment, i.e. your customers, competition, new technology, your suppliers, etc. Only if you can see emerging 10Xs you can act fast enough.

Is it a 10X or isn’t it? There are a lot of changes but which are important? Ask your employees, customers or vendors. Often the CEO is the last one to see a change. If you think that one of these 10X forces isn’t really one, don’t discard it. Observe if it changes and then valuate it again.

Change from top and bottom: You can’t force a change from the top, but also can’t form a cooperate strategy from the bottom. It is important that you use both forces to carry out the essential modifications.


This is a excellent book on changing a company. Andrew Grove recounts his own experiences and don’t try to please everybody. Half of the managers quit the company because they don’t wanted to change. The other 50% had to reeducate themselves. Changing a company isn’t easy and there will be casualties but it’s better than completely vanishing. Clear recommendation!