Speaker Series

Succinct and Timeless Business Advice

A few weeks ago I got some timeless advice from a guest speaker in my TOC program, an on-campus forum for MBA students to interact with classmates and seasoned executives to better manage one’s business and career.  The guest speaker, who requested no attribution for this post, gave me and my classmates the below advice.  This is one of the best, succinct, lists of management principles I have come across, so I thought it would be nice to share it here for a broader audience.  The italics are my own notes.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

The three critical elements of a company are: Market, Management and Money.  You need all three for a good business.  Never forget, growing companies need money.  Growth is affected by external financing needs, margin, ROE, etc.

The Market

  • Know now your company’s value proposition (i.e. why customers should do business with you). (more…)

Steve Blank on Start-Ups vs. Large Corporations

Here is a speech by Steve Blank, a professor at Stanford and Berkeley, and a thought leader in the start-up community.  Blank’s talk is from the Staford Graduate School of Business Entrepreneurship Week.  Below is a great quote; maybe I like it so much because it helps me cope with the one-size-fits-all solutions that I’m hearing over and over at business school…

“Everything you learn in the business school about large company management is destructive for an early-stage venture. Big idea.  It’s not kind of useful, or geez I’ll just change it.  What you’ll hear later and I’ll explain why, it’s desctructive. Good news is, in the entrepreneurial group at GSB, we teach the right things about early-stage ventures.  But they are not interchangeable.  And you’ll hear me say this throughout this talk: Large corporations execute existing business models, start-ups search for them.  The tools needed, techniques needed, and people needed for execution versus search is what we now know to be radically different.

Blank goes on to say: (more…)

Guest Lecture by Sheldon Stone of Oaktree Capital Management

A self-proclaimed “credit geek”, Sheldon Stone, a co-founder and portfolio manager at Oaktree Capital Management, held a guest lecture in my finance class.  Mr. Stone, a guest of my professors Suh-Pyng Ku and Randolph Westerfield, provided an interesting overview of his firm, the high-yield debt market and his investing approach.  Mr. Stone manages approximately $16B in high-yield bonds and he is at the forefront of his industry, so I feel lucky to have had the chance to listen to one of the great investors in today’s high-yield bond market.  What follows is a summary of my notes, so please excuse any gaps, as Mr. Stone was covering a lot of topics at a quick pace.

To lead things off, Mr. Stone provided an overview of his firm, (more…)

Bing Gordon Speaks at USC

Better late than never.  Below is a week overdue summary of Bing Gordon’s speech at USC on October 14, 2010.  Bing was the Chief Creative Officer of Electronic Arts from 1998 to 2008 (after holding a myriad of other positions at EA since his involvement in its founding in 1982).  Today he is a Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.  As a Kleiner Perkins Partner, he sits on the board of some impressive companies, including Zynga and Amazon. If you want to learn more about Bing, here is his CrunchBase profile.  Bing is a light-hearted, insightful person, so be ready for an entertaining yet powerful discussion.

Before I dive into Bing’s discussion, I want to thank my classmate Ashkun Zaker for putting together the outline that served as the backbone for this post, an outline which I have edited and expanded.  Thanks for the guidance Ashkun!

Bing led off the night with an age breakdown (more…)

Tom Barrack and Rob Lowe Speak at USC

Last week I attended a talk by Tom Barrack and Rob Lowe about “Making Movies, Making Deals, and Making it Big”, held at USC’s Bovard Auditorium (capacity approx. 1,000).  Tom Barrack is the CEO, Founder and Chairman of Colony Capital, a private equity real estate company based in Los Angeles; and Rob Lowe is an actor who is well known (in my mind) for his roles in Tommy Boy, The West Wing and Wayne’s World.  The talk, which was moderated by a USC professor, gave the opportunity for each man to give some interesting insights into their recently announced deal to acquire Miramax from Disney as well as their ethos toward life, investing and acting.

I took more away from the event in the form of life lessons than insights into their transaction, however, the advice each man offered was quite valuable.  The key points raised during the talk were: (more…)