I’m lucky enough to have a great business school with an outstanding entrepreneurial studies program right in my back yard. Once or twice a year, I’m invited over to talk to would-be entrepreneurs about marketing and promotion. Last night, I joined Patrick Vernon and the following for a rousing discussion and q&a session:

To prep for the session, Patrick asked each of us to consider the following questions. Here are my notes:

Your “story”, not so much the details of your CV, but the path that has led you to this session, including why you like talking about this topic.
Can’t remember if my first PR experience was when my older cousins forced me to approach golfers in the fairway and persuade them to patronize our lemonade stand or when my mom took me with her on get out the vote campaigns in the early 1960s. Either way, I’ve been doing it ever since. I like talking about PR because it’s a really misunderstood art and contrary to what some folks will tell you, it ain’t rocket science.

Any marketing, sales, general business or entrepreneurial philosophy:
It’s not about what you want your audience to think or do, it’s what they need or want to think or do and how you can help them with that.
You really do get what you pay for, whether we’re talking time or money.

Big lesson(s) you learned the hard way/stupid mistake(s) you made (or heard from someone else):
If you’re not sure that fizzy drink has had enough time to settle down after being dropped, wait another minute. Especially if you’re driving.
Relax. You make shitty decisions when you’re freaking out.
You don’t have to take the money or the opportunity just because it’s offered.
There is always a downside risk. Always.

Fatal flaws that you see too often in startups:
Taking themselves and their product/service/app too seriously.
Arrogance and entitlement.
Cheaping out.

Something rare but that you’d like to see more in startups or entrepreneurs:
Patience. Especially for young entrepreneurs.
A sense of humor.
The sense to ask trusted honest brokers for input and the courage to listen to what they say.

Any philosophical thoughts you didn’t cover in the intro:
You never know where the next deal, partner, investor, customer is. Be nice.

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