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Entrepreneurship: It isn’t really about the money

By Leo Valiquetteentrepreneur

It’s Entrepreneurship Week.

There are events aplenty to recognize, celebrate and wax philosophical on what it means to be an entrepreneur, what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and how entrepreneurs should be supported, encouraged and nurtured.

As Francis blogged last week, Startup Canada is making its voice heard on the subject this week with Startup Canada Day on the Hill. I also invite you to read the related op/ed I wrote on behalf of Startup Canada.

On Monday, I had the honour of visiting the folks at the University of Ottawa about their various endeavours to support student entrepreneurship, as well as groom a new generation of intrapreneurs.

All of which makes me think about what is an entrepreneur, or perhaps a better way of putting it is to consider what motivates a true entrepreneur. Why do they choose to endure the long hours, the high risk and the dodgy chance of reward? It would appear to be, from a purely rational standpoint, some form of obsessive madness.

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Build more than just a great product

By Leo Valiquettebobs

Legacy.

It’s been top of mind for me the past couple of weeks while wearing one of my other hats – editor of the Ottawa Chamber magazine, The Voice.

The next issue of The Voice will serve as a takeaway for the Best Ottawa Business Awards gala taking place in Nov. 21. The awards, previously known as the Ottawa Business Achievement Awards, recognize local business excellence in a number of categories. I’ve been busy interviewing this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient (Wes Nicol), the CEO of the Year, Halogen Software’s Paul Loucks, and a host of other business achievers.

From this, I thought I would share some of the gems I’ve picked up that speak to legacy, which, from a business standpoint, I define as creating something that endures and has a distinct identity and reputation in the marketplace.

I have to start with a quote from Wes Nicol. This isn’t something he said to me when we spoke recently, but was part of a convocation speech he gave at Carleton University in 2006. It says a lot about the man himself and what has led to his business success:

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It’s amazing how fast a tight, all-hands meeting can clear the air

By Leo Valiquettemeetings

I don’t have an MBA and I haven’t partaken of any executive leadership programs. Whatever insights I offer on this blog about group dynamics and management arise from what you might call qualitative participant observation.

In other words, I take note of what helps, and what hinders, when it comes to getting __________ done by a given deadline, to whatever standard or benchmarks meet with the general approval of the stakeholders involved.

What do I consider to be one of the most important tools for getting _________ done?

The all-hands meeting.

Yes, I can hear the groans out there. There is no shortage of literature that talks about how meetings kill productivity, in hand with ample advice on how to make meetings more organized and productive.

What I want to focus on here is the value of having a meeting in the first place.

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Don’t let your phone skills atrophy

By Leo Valiquettephoneatrophy

I got a call last week from my incumbent Canadian telecom services provider eager to justify its existence to me.

We all get these calls from time to time. One of those “how can we serve you better” calls. This shouldn’t have been surprising, considering how my service provider’s top rival had been crawling all over my neighbourhood the past couple of weeks installing new fibre services.

I don’t mind taking a call in the middle of a workday if the intent truly is to find a better way to serve me, and for less money, to boot.

But my patience had worn thin after 20 minutes on the phone while this less-than-nimble customer service rep fumbled around; it was all for the sake of a mere $7 a month, after all. Then I got lost in some on-hold void waiting to seal the deal with the verifier.

I finally hung up at the 30-minute mark. There was no profusely apologetic followup call through the remainder of that day. In fact, the service rep didn’t call back until the very same time the next day, when I had less time to spare. I didn’t take the call. She never left a message. Maybe I’ll call them back later this week. Or maybe I’ll call those other guys about their fibre service.

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Kobo has proven big brands can seldom afford to beg forgiveness

By Leo Valiquettekobo_logo

While Canadians lament the shaky future of BlackBerry, I wonder how many have been following the PR nightmare that’s been faced by another Canadian brand, Kobo.

I heard Kobo chief executive Michael Serbinis speak in May at the Canadian Digital Media Network’s Canada 3.0 conference. I enjoyed the image of patriotic pride that he painted, characterizing Kobo as an upstart in the ebook world that has successfully challenged, not one, but many entrenched Goliaths for global dominance.

He also spoke of Kobo’s commitment to independent authors through its Kobo Writing Life self-publishing arm. About 10 per cent of its best-selling titles, he said, are from self-published authors.

But the warm and fuzzy relationship with the indie community hit the skids earlier this month.

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