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Business Advice with Patrick Byrne

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Today I got the rare opportunity to sit down with CEO, Patrick Byrne.

I sat down with Byrne to discuss his philosophy on work and advice he has for young entrepreneurs.

I asked Byrne what lessons he learned and some of the challenges he faced while starting his business. I found in all his answers the reoccurring trend was the importance of human capital. Byrne explained how one of the most important things he learned as a business owner was building a positive culture.

Kym McNicholas talks about some of the things I discovered in my interview on her blog.


Byrne gave examples and talked mostly about employees and the importance of building a positive culture in your business. He feels that a lot of mistakes he made along the way were overlooking character flaws of employees, such as lying, because he felt there skills were beneficial to the company. OverStock now has a policy that any employee caught lying will lose their job.

Byrne explains that since this new model of integrity has been put in place, the work environment at OverStock is positive and truly believes that this is one of the most important things to understand when trying to start, or successfully run any business.


Cade Winery

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Cade Winery is one of only two wineries in California to be LEED gold certified. Built from the ground up Cade was green from the start, when it was just an idea Gavin Newsrom and John Conover had back in 2005. The two hiked up the hill, where Cade stands today, opened a bottle of Cabernet and discussed their plans to build a “green” winery.

John Conover remembers “No on had heard of LEED necessarily in the Napa Valley. So we decided to be trend setters, pioneers, assemble a group of great craftsman in a very green, sustainable way.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification is a green building rating system, it starts out at the base level of “certified” there is then three other higher levels of achievement; silver, gold, and platinum.

Prudence Ferreira explains that, “Each level attests to an organization’s or a building owner and design team’s commitment to sustainability.”

Finding the means to build a sustainable winery was challenging for Newsrom and Conover because back in 2005 there weren’t many people locally that knew how to build in a green way.

John Conover discusses how they went about building Cade, “We went, researched it, and brought back the recipe to him and Herald Smith, our local concrete guy, now know how to develop green concrete. And so everybody can benefit form what we did on the initial development of Cade.”

To learn more about Cade Winery and see the full video on click on the link below.

VIDEO: Forbes Cade Winery

Plantronics: Lead Designer

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Darrin Caddes, the Vice President of corporate design at Plantronics, has an amazing story of how he overcame a tragic motorcycle accident that broke his back and left him in a wheel chair, permanently, to becoming a successful headset designer. How he came to run the Plantronic design operations is truly an inspiring tale that can teach us all a good lesson in life and business.

Caddes spent the beginning of his career designing cars and motorcycles before breaking his back. Three years after the accident Caddes was still working designing cars and motorcycles, in an interview with Forbes reporter Kym McNicholas, he describes the difficulty he had with designing a product he couldn’t use and how that is what led him to work for Plantronics.

“It was a little bittersweet watching someone ride off on something that you put your heart into and not being able to experience it personally.  And so I think there was, you know, even though I continued to do it for a while, there was a part of me that still wanted to have more of a direct personal relation to the products we were designing.  And so, yeah, when this thing popped up with Plantronics, it just seemed to be a perfect match.”

Caddes didn’t allow his disability to get in the way of having a successful career. While his expertise for most of his career was in designing motor vehicles he describes the transition from motorcycles to headset designing as fairly simple.

“You’re trying to create a decent composition of surfaces and proportions with color and texture and all of those things, whether it’s a vehicle that’s X number of feet long or a product that’s X number of inches long, the basic design principles are very similar.”

Caddes feels he has a strong personal connection with the product, because he is disabled he needs to use hands-fee devices everyday, he understands consumer needs and uses that to design the best products that are the most convenient, practical, and comfortable for consumers.

To watch the interview with Darrin Caddes and learn more about his story click on the link below.

VIDEO: Darrin Caddes Interview with Forbes

The Price of Pampering your Pet

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How much would you spend on your pooch? Does $10,000 a year sound crazy? Well not for the elite of the Silicon Valley. Kym McNicholas a reporter at Forbes and I got a chance to sit down with the owner of the Pooch Hotel, Robin Tomb, to get an exclusive interview and tour of the hotel.

“To our clients, these dogs are their kids. They treat them as such, and so do we. That’s what I think they really like about us.”

The Pooch hotel is the most expensive and luxurious Dog Hotel in the nation. Their most expensive room, the Palace Suite, starts at $100 per night. The hotel offers services like an aromatherapy bath, facial, pawdicure, swim sessions or even a walk on the treadmill and nutrition counseling.

Tomb explains “ We had a couple leave their 3 dogs for 17 days at $300 per night in the Palace Suite. At the end, including extra amenities like baths, the bill was upwards of $4,000. And they said it was worth it for peace of mind.”

While the economy is on a downturn, it hasn’t affected these dog owners. The Pooch hotel has two other locations in the Chicago area but Tomb says the hotel in Silicon Valley is by far there most successful location and is regularly at 99% capacity.

Another service the hotel provides is Doggie DayCare. At $35 a day, owners that bring there pet in 5 days a week are paying around $10,000 a year on doggie daycare alone. Tomb says “there are about 80 dogs that come in regularly on the week days for daycare.”

Tomb’s plans to add 6 to 7 “Palace Suites” and 12 to 15 “Presidential Suites” to the Silicon Valley location because of its success. Tomb doesn’t have plans to open another location, because she believes by expanding the quality will go down and in such a customer service driven business, quality matters.

For more information on the Pooch Hotel and to watch the interview and tour of the location Tomb did with Forbes, click on the linkbelow:

VIDEO: Forbes Interview and Tour of the Pooch Hotel

Akamai Revolutionizes 2010 World Cup

Akamai, the world’s largest deliverer of applications and contents on the Internet had a new challenge this year, during the world cup, delivering video to cell phones.

This is a huge change from four years ago when this technology wasn’t available. This phenomenon revolutionized the way people could stream video on their phone and tune in to the world cup this year.

In an interview with Forbes, Akamai Chief Executive Paul Sagan spoke about the world cup and how the mobile Internet is changing his business, “we’re seeing audiences for singe matches of hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously watching over the Internet. We’re seeing them watching it in HD, meaning the picture on the internet that they’re watching, is as good as their TV at home.”

The ability to stream video in great quality on your cell phone is just one example of an emerging digital age that is faster, more advance, and even more convenient.

LINK to Forbes article

Stephen Cannell’s Interview with Forbes

Stephen Cannell is an Emmy-award winning writer-producer, and Chairman of Cannell Studios. While his television shows may not be as popular today, we can certainly learn from his successes.

Cannell left NBC in 1979 to start his own independent production company; he wanted to own the rights to his work. The industry was skeptical of his idea because no writer had ever owned their own work before. It was a long road for Cannell and he made plenty of mistakes along the way, but came out on top, now being credited with more than 40 shows.

Along with the success of starting his own studio, Cannell is also the author of 16 books. Born with a severe case of dyslexia, Cannell understands what it is like to struggle. In an interview with Forbes Cannell touches on how his battle with dyslexia helped him to become such a great leader, “it has been valuable, because I’ll sit in this room with five other people, and I am not going to force you to do something. If I believe in your talent, and I think you’re talented, you know, I’m going to encourage you to do it.”

Cannell believes in collaborative teamwork and doesn’t overshadow any of his employees. This business model has shown to be quite successful, learn more about Cannell and his work at:

VIDEO: Stephen Cannell Interview

iPad Revives Old Art Form

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With the recent launch of Apple’s iPad, two young entrepreneurs, Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton, have created an innovative product that will help bring back life to an almost extinct book binding business. Their company, DODOcase Inc has designed a customized iPad case that combines modern technology with former traditions.

The DODOcase “helps protect the art form and tradition behind books,” by essentially wrapping the iPad with a leather bound case that resembles a book. Patrick Buckley, the CEO and co-founder of DODOcase Inc, says the best way to truly make the product look like a book is to have it manufactured at a traditional book binding business.
The company has become very successful since its launch in April, selling 2,000 cases in the first day alone. Now, just months after its start, the company is on the verge of $1 million in revenues. DODOcase was also just announced the winner of the Shopify Build-A-Business competition, a $100,000 grand prize, earning the highest revenue total in two consecutive months over the other start-ups in the competition. With the success of DODOcases and the projection of 17 million iPads to be sold in the first year the company has set a goal to reach $300 million in revenues by the end of its first year.

VIDEO: iPad Saves Company From Extinction