Hey Start-Up Gurus: Go Help Yourselves

dr phil mcgraw Hey Start Up Gurus: Go Help YourselvesIf there’s one thing I hate more than having my Tumblr app crash every time I try to reblog a high-res digital photo that’s been photoshopped to look like a grainy old polaroid, it’s the self-appointed tech scene oracles who regularly belch out hazy, worn-out start-up mysticism on their personal blogs.

Ever since Guy Kawasaki dropped The Macintosh Way, it seems like every waffle-brain who’s learned a little Ruby is trying to get on the AmEx-blog gravy train with a bunch of schlocky be-like-me drek. It seems like whenever investors and mobile-app cheerleaders set down their pom-poms long enough to type anything at all, they start spouting the kind of self-help jargon even that would make even Drs. Phil and Laura squirm in their armchairs.

I swear, the crud that these people use to console each other while they wait a few weeks for the next dumb-money angel fund to cut them a check! Did you know that saying yes opens up a lot of opportunities? Like meeting your wife at a benefit concert? If you answered “Yes,” congratulations: I grant you the “opportunity” to not click that link.

How about this? Be good—and your customers will be good right back to you! Put another way: Even though you may already have made millions off this venture-capital merry-go-round, you don’t have to act like an entitled child. And let’s not forget that taking initiative is the only way to get things done. And social media is about the customer. Or wait, was it about engagement? No, it’s about people, but not tools.  I could’ve sworn it was about tools. Discouraging.

But not too discouraging, when you remember that can’t is a four-letter word. Well, at least it is when you’re best friends with Ben Lerer and you can do whatever the [four-letter word] you want.

Once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound.  No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself. Kind of like kickball games at recess.

In theory, these risk-takers who’ve braved debt (or at least dependence on their parents) to emerge with an iPad-compatible golden goose should have something materially valuable to share with their aspirational audience. But instead we get vapid pep talks that even your high school guidance counselor couldn’t utter with a straight face. I’d say we should ask for more from these shysters but that’d probably be expecting too much.

Grow up, you babies.


  1. Guesty says:

    You’re well under par, Taylor

  2. Roundpeg says:

    Did you read the blog post or just take offense at the title. Social Media is About the Customer, was a pretty clear wake up call to businesses who are ignoring the fact that their customers are talking to them about complaints in their business. Not some basic reminder to be social on Twitter.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone in the “business” of advising and working with startups call themselves a guru? More often than not it is a “sobriquet” attached to others looking to classify/simplify the world around them. It happens all the time, in all walks of life, across all sectors, not just the startup ecosystem.

    As for those individuals with whom you take offense, I concur, there are abundance of “advisors” out there who must be talking to startups about anything other than the basics: market, team, product/service, solution, etc…

    As Managing Partner of The Hatchery – http://www.hatchery.vc – I see far too many dreadful PowerPoint presentations (Guy Kawasaki is lost on them, as is subtlety, not sure Guy could make himself any more clear), and pitches, where one full minute into it all, i’m less clear about: who they are? their mission? what pain/issue they are looking to solve/address? their solution? than I was before hearing from them.

    On the flip side. This is calendar year 2011, not 2007. In the span of those four years so many groups, organizations, blogs, events, books, videos have been formed, produced, published and downloaded on the topic of startups, entrepreneurs, pitching, venture capital, etc…

    Entrepreneurs, by definition, should be hungry, ambitious and resourceful. They should be gleaning as much information as possible from the above sources, and NOT making the basic mistakes.

    If you want to really gripe at an institution, go after the Business Schools and their MBA Programs. I see my fair share of MBAs listed as team members and they should not be making the same basic mistakes in their presentations.

    Some graduate schools now offer concentrations in Entrepreneurship, which I find very intriguing. I would very much like to plot the curricula of the Entrepreneurship MBA against that of the Finance MBA and the Marketing MBA and see where they intersect, so as to better understand what is expressly being taught as Entrepreneurship. The syllabus for those courses, might just make for some interesting reading.