Thursday, December 27, 2007
After making the cut for four weeks, the somewhat stiff yet enthusiastic and charismatic billionaire (#407 on Forbes Richest American, he sold his $100 million revenues, 330 employee broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.9 billion before the NASDAQ crash, then diversified his wealth, one of the few dot com wealthy to do so) was eliminated on October 23, 2007.
He didn’t go away empty-handed. He won a new legion of fans (several ESPN anchors call him their “favorite owner). And he lost 30 pounds during the competition.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Youngentrepreneur.com is a treasure chest of wealth including equal parts motivation, inspiration, productivity ideas and nuts and bolts advice for building your business. We daresay the ‘young’ in ‘young entrepreneurs’ is a state of mind, and anyone can profit from the advice contained herein.
Amidst the usual up, up and away fare, which, as the author of “Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success”, we surely believe in, there is some refreshing fare about the “other side” of being an entrepreneur, e.g. how does one keep one’s motivation alive when there are so many compelling diversions strewn about? (See the link to the Rizvi blog, e.g.) YE makes room for these kinds of frank discussions via its links to actual YE blogs.
(That is precisely why I’m presently writing the counterparty to “Extraordinary Comebacks” which is “Extraordinary Comedowns.” Takes two sides to tell the whole story….)
Meanwhile, Entrepreneur University alone is worth the cost of admission (it’s free, just kidding), but YE also features a number of interesting categories.
Only problem: you could spend a lot of time navigating around here, all good time, to be sure, but better to actually get after the job of being an entrepreneur, and plan to consume YE in bite-size doses.
All in all, we give YE a no-holds barred “10!”
Monday, September 17, 2007
Nevertheless, blessed with a superior intelligence and a desire to serve others, the Brown University graduate aspired to become a doctor. So he applied to some 20 medical schools.
And was rejected 20 times.
Some interviews portended the outcome. He was told he would have great physical difficulties, e.g. that he wouldn’t be able to reach the patient’s bedside. Ain suggested he could use a footstool. Others said he wouldn’t be strong enough. Ain was a weightlifter, was stronger than other applicants and pointed that out. Finally, other interviewers posed the question, ‘would Ain be respected by his patients?’ He had won awards from peers at Andover.
The excuses were lame, but the rejections stuck, like a wrongful court verdict. Ain was angry, hurt, and afraid that his dream would die. But still he would not relent.
To improve his chances of acceptance, he came back to Brown for a fifth year, took two advanced science courses, and earned two A’s with distinction. He published research.
Thus fortified, he again applied to the round of 20 medical schools. Again a batch of rejections – but this time, one acceptance!: from Albany Medical College in upstate New York. The interviewer was impressed that Ain played baseball at Brown, and batted against future star and New York Mat Ron Darling. (You never know where your redemption will come from so keep all the irons in the fire sizzling.)
Ain excelled at Albany, found a wife (5 ft. 6 in.) and started a family. Albany also took him on as a surgical resident; he received further training at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, where he practices.
Today, Dr. Ain is a successful pediatric orthopedic surgeon, likely the only one in the world who also happens to be a dwarf. He refused to allow his condition to rule his life.
He specializes in solving the orthopedic problems of little people. Dr. Ain’s can-do personality, ready smile and professional success gives his patients hope of a productive, satisfying life.
Popeil also attained TV icon status via a parody by Dan Aykroyd, (the Super Bass-O-Matic pitchman, 1976) on an early Saturday Night Live episode.
But Popeil is one other thing as well: a master of the comeback.
Riding his early successes, his Ronco Corporation (founded 1964, went public 1969) was sailing along selling things like the Miracle Broom, Miracle Brush, the Roller Measure, the Salad Spinner, the Glass Froster, the Cookie Machine, Inside the Egg Scrambler and the Smokeless Ashtray. Carrying a heavy advertising tab, some years were profitable ($1.4 million, 1978), and some weren’t (loss $796,000, 1973).
Ron reached a bit far when introducing his Clean-Aire machine in the late 1970s. His competitors were now the likes of Norelco, Remington, and other top housewares makers. A price war ensured, and Ronco cut advertising in response to save dollars. When advertising dropped, so did sales, by one-third from 1982 to 1983. At the same time, Ronco’s bank called in their $15 million revolving credit line. Ronco couldn’t pay it, declared bankruptcy and went out of business (1984).
That was the company, not Ron, however. Ron still had his personal fortune, and bought back the better part of Ronco’s inventory at auction. With a new partner, he resumed business. But the partnership failed, and Popeil ws left with a huge inventory of food dehyrators, and other items.
What did he do?
The famous TV pitchman humbled himself and went back to the county fair circuit where he worked his magic, face-to-face with crowds of prospects and customers, and sold, sold, sold (1987 to 1990).
He teamed with Fingerhut briefly, which was developing a TV shopping channel. That didn’t last, but Popeil’s interest in TV sales was re-ignited and that did. He produced his first half-hour infomercial (1991). It was a recapture of his county fair spiel, in essence, and featured his food dehydrator. It was a success: he sold some $80 million of product by 1993. Then came the GLH (“great looking hair”) Formula #9, and the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker.
His greatest triumph lay just ahead: the Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie and Barbecue (“set it and forget it.”) Popeil notched sales of $250 million in 1999 alone, spending an astonishing $50 in advertising to get it done.
Then an even bigger sale: that of Ronco itself, $55 million to Richard Allen, backed by Sanders Morris Harris Group Inc., a Texas investment bank (2005). Popeil got $40 million in cash, and $15 million in notes. He agreed to continue as company spokesman, at $50,000 per infomercial. A couple of name changes followed, plus a public offering, and the stock was soon trading as RNCP. The plan was to widen distribution, sell through big merchants like Walmart.
Didn’t work, however. Sales plunged from $90 million (year before the sale in June 2005) to $59 million (year after). Showtime Rotisserie was seven years old, and it seemed that everybody who wanted one had bought one. Infomercials were dated and new ones weren’t being made.
By 2007, the company was bankrupt. It was auctioned off for $6.5 million to a single bidder (August, 2007), Marlin Equity Partners, El Segundo, Calif., which secured the company's intellectual property and remaining inventory for the acquisition price.
In the aftermath, recriminations flew. Allen said the bank oversold the company and misrepresented the financial condition. Investment bank Sanders rejoined that Allen wasn’t a good CEO; he was being sued for some of his expenses as well.
The winner in all of it was Ron Popeil, largely because after his company went bankrupt in 1984, he was bold enough to purchase the assets and jump back into the ring and make a comeback. And then, after another setback, he was humble enough to step down from the airwaves and pitch his products face-to-face at county fairs until time and chance let him get back in touch with his mass audience.
How much is that kind of stamina worth? For Ron Popeil, something north of $40 million.
Friday, August 17, 2007
He is the new host of "The Price is Right," and CBS's "Power of 10."
It's all a comeback, and a huge one, from his early days.
The comedic star of the eponymously-named TV 1990s TV show suffered from extreme depression when young and tried to kill himself with sleeping pills, not once, but twice.
He joined the U.S. Marine reserves (1980), to get the discipline he needed to straighten his life out. Earlier he found the demands of fraternity life and academic life to be mutually incompatible and left Kent State University after three years, but without a degree.
He turned to stand-up comedy, worked his way up through the comedy club ranks, first in native Cleveland, then Los Angeles. An appearance on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson (1991) ignited his career.
Four years later, he had his own TV show. It ran from 1995 to 2004, making him rich and famous. He also served as host of the improv show "Whose Line Is It Anyways" (1998 to 2006, 215 episodes).
And his undistinguished academic past? Cleveland State University awarded him an honorary Ph.D. (2000).
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Rick, however, can’t walk, or even talk.
When he was born (1962), the umbilical cord wrapped around his head and stopped the oxygen from flowing to his brain. The prognosis: Rick would never develop. He would be like the proverbial “vegetable.” The doctors advised the Hoyts to institutionalize their son.
They refused, determining to raise their son as “normally” as possible.
Turns out Rick wasn’t a vegetable, his cognitive powers were intact. The Hoyts hired a team of Tufts University computer scientists to build a $5,000 special PC that Rick could use to pick out letters and spell words with a very slight head movement. His first “words” were “Go Bruins” – the Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals. The family realized Rick had been following hockey with the whole family – he just couldn’t communicate it – till now.
In 1975, Rick was accepted into public school. Two years later, he expressed his interest in participating in a five-mile run in support of a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dad Dick wasn’t an athlete, but agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. That night Rick said he didn’t feel handicapped when he was competing.
That was just the beginning for “Team Hoyt.” In 1981, the father-son pair entered the Boston Marathon. Amazingly, they finished in the top 25%. Early on, few felt comfortable enough to speak to Rick, but that changed.
After four successful years in marathoning, the Hoyts felt it was time to take on a new challenge: triathlon. Dick said he sank like a stone in the water, at first, and hadn’t been on a bike since he was six. But he had more than enough heart for this daunting challenge, even to the point of training five hours a day, five days a week, even while working.
Dick’s Father’s Day gift was a new bike that carried Rick in front; (in the swim portion, incredibly, he pulled Rick in a boat).
Needless to say, Team Hoyt provided immeasurable inspiration to fellow competitors.
Not everything has been easy. Rick cannot fully control his tongue while eating in restaurants. It offends some patrons, who change tables, and this bothers Dick. But by and large, Team Hoyt has made great strides in developing understanding for the needs of less-abled.
Rick graduated from Boston U. (1993) with a degree in special education. He works in the University’s computer labs developing machines that can be controlled by eye movement alone.
Speaking across the nation, the Hoyts share their message of grit, triumph, and simply that everyone should be included. See http://teamhoyt.com/ for more.
Her father was a high-ranking, and highly respected Egyptian military officer who was assassinated by a package bomb. It was
Nonie spent the rest of her life trying to understand the hatred that motivates the generations-old conflict in the
In the aftermath of 9/11 she was mortified at the celebrations in the Arabic world, and the deafening silence by so-called “moderate Muslims” who should have spoken out against the atrocity.
In response, she wrote Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for
Quote: “Reject hate, embrace love. Bring out the best in Islam by showing your compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. Make the holy land truly holy by giving
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
He spoke at the 1997 Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The producer of the Sopranos was watching, and decided to cast him as Tony Soprano's right hand man. Steve had never acted but he fit right in. "I spent my whole life trying to learn about who I am. Being somebody else is a vacation," he said.
Another comeback: Just as "The Sopranos" began filming, Bruce Springsteen called. He was putting the E Street Band back together and wanted Van Zandt to tour with him again.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 5, 2007
Friday, February 2, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Martha Reeves sang the hits like Dancing in the Streets and Heat Wave. But after some forty years in the record business, at age 64, she wasn't getting the amount of work she was accustomed to. It was quiet, too quiet. So she ran for and won a seat on the Detroit City Council (2005). Her platform: cut crime, build tourism. She credits Motown etiquette coach Maxine Powell, who many years earlier taught her to build a life outside of music, because when the money and fame are gone, you need something else. So she did, keeping her roots strong in Detroit, and now it paid off.
How is the new life as a neophyte working politician? Hard work. To keep pace, she takes copious notes in council meetings, and reads even more. (Her desk is stacked high.) Still, there are bumps in the road, such as when a local newspaper reported that several of her commercial properties had code violations (she fixed the problems).
Her term runs to 2010. Will she run again? Maybe, maybe not. But as a result of her new job, and the attendant publicity, her concert bookings have picked up again.
He was known simply as The Blind Traveler--a solitary, sightless adventurer who, astonishingly, fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon and helped chart the Australian outback. James Holman triumphed not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the world, had to be launched in secret).
Once a celebrity, a bestselling author and an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the charismatic, witty Holman outlived his fame, dying in an obscurity that has endured--until now. (from A SENSE OF THE WORLD.)
Friday, January 5, 2007
At 23, one year out of college, Marc Howard, a former Yale tennis captain was told he would never play tennis again. Two herniated disks in his lower back would prevent any running.
For nine years, he carefully obeyed the doctors’ dictum: no tennis. After he nearly lost a finger in a circular saw accident, he used the idea of playing tennis as a motivation to make it through painful months of healing and physical therapy. He had to play again, he says; it became a mantra.
One year later, he could hold a racquet. At first he played for 10 minutes, then 20, then 30. While his back was stiff, it didn’t feel any worse after his hitting sessions. Soon he was playing twice a week.
Tennis provided Howard, a college professor, with an escape from the dull ache he felt in his fingers, and it was good treatment for his hand. And for his back; it got stronger and stronger the more he played.
He became assistant tennis coach at
An amazing turnaround from a life sentence. He told the full story in January 2007 TENNIS magazine.