How to overcome the inevitable clashes between stakeholders by mastering the art of conversation

With the closure of its last shipyard in 1987, the industrial city of Nantes in western France reached the low-water mark of its modern history.

Unemployment rose even as the population continued a two-decade long decline. Cultural life withered as municipal funding dried up. Political squabbling had already delayed for eight years the progressive mayor’s plans to create the country’s first modern tramway.

So when Jean-Marc Ayrault won the city’s mayoral election in 1989, he urgently sought to transform the depressed city. Over the next 23 years, the Socialist relentlessly revived Nantes’ economic and cultural fortunes, its quality of life…

How entrepreneur Adam Zbar patiently honed his (venture)craft

Sun Basket co-founder and CEO Adam Zbar

Adam Zbar’s first startup, Zannel, had an auspicious start when it won a Webby Award as the best mobile application for social networking in 2008 from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. His film school training helped shape a lively experience for young users sharing movies and photos over their iPhones.

But Adam and his three co-founders, who had launched the startup two years earlier in 2006, faced fast-growing, well-funded competitors, had over-engineered their initial product, and struggled to settle on a viable business model. As a result, they quickly…

Part 2

“We cannot hope to impose precise, positive control over events. The best we can hope for is to impose a general framework of order on the disorder, to influence the general flow of action rather than to try to control each event.”
— “Warfighting”, US Marine Corps

Four days after docking her damaged sailboat at the scientific research station on the Kerguelen Islands, French racer Isabelle Autissier headed back out to sea. Despite having won a commanding lead in the first leg of the 27,000-mile, round-the-world BOC Challenge (see Part 1 of this story), she now simply hoped to finish…

Part 1

Eighteen of the twenty single-handed sailboats setting out from Charleston, South Carolina, headed southeast, setting a straight course for the coast of Brazil, from where they intended to cross the southern Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa, the first of three planned stops on the 27,000-mile around-the-world race. Two boats, though, surprisingly sailed due east towards Bermuda. …

Antonio Stradivari and his apprentices handcrafted more than 1100 violins, violas, cellos, harps, and guitars in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Italian’s prodigious output, said to be greater than that of any luthier of his time, and the financial success documented by his scrupulously maintained records, suggest he was also a disciplined entrepreneur.

The mystery of how Stradivari, whose violins fetch millions of dollars in auctions today, consistently produced stringed instruments of such extraordinary quality remains unsolved more than 300 years after he crafted them in his studio in Cremona, Italy. Experts continue to speculate about relative…

Tales of Venture Craftsmanship

How a struggling tailor invented one of the most successful and enduring consumer products of all time

Jacob Davis, circa 1870

Failure seemed to stalk Jacob Davis. Panning for flakes of gold in the rivers of Canada’s western territories yielded mostly dirt and frustration. Patents filed for a steam-powered canal boat and a steam-powered ore crusher failed to generate commercial interest. Shuttered business ventures in wholesale tobacco and pork surely must have shaken his entrepreneurial zeal even further. Finally, when he lost his investment in a brewery in the newly incorporated railroad town of Reno, Nevada, in 1868, Davis returned to his original trade, tailoring.

The story begins earlier, in 1854, when 23-year-old Jacob Youphes emigrated from the Baltic coastal city…

In the winter of 1998, Joel Schatz returned to his apartment in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood with a $250,000 investment in his fledgling startup from the elders of the Oneida Native American tribe. That morning, he had pitched them his supersized vision for solving the world’s problems through software — yet to be designed, coded and sold — that would, he promised, reveal the interconnectedness of all things. Joel, an experienced entrepreneur, predicted his future products would transform how people shared knowledge, discovered innovations, resolved conflicts, improved productivity and protected the environment. Talk about testing the limits of credulity!

Amiel Kornel

Totally committed to help build enduring innovations and impactful businesses worldwide.

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