Building Zazzle

November 30th, 2007

Here’s an interesting podcast from Stanford’s Entrepneurial Thought leader’s forum by the founders of Zazzle. The efforts they go through to create great customer satisfaction in traditionally anonymous web transactions are very admirable.

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture

Richard BransonAll aspiring entrepreneurs could do well to study up on the life of Richard Branson. This Wikipedia entry is a nice introduction to him. His book, Losing my Virginity is a great autobiography and very inspirational. Richard Branson


Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame has hit the big time for a YouTube star - making money. He’s released a new video sponsored by Dr. Pepper featuring an update to his song. This is a great gimmick for all parties concerned. Dr. Pepper gets a hip Internet meme, Tay gets some cash.

Of course YouTube being what it is, not all parties are happy. I just saw this comment and had to laugh:

“So yeah pretty much sold out. I mean you invested a lot of time into your lyrics to make your original “Chocolate Rain” song. But hell who cares about your original message when you can make money and get syrup dumped on you. Or is that right?”

Um, yeah. This puts him in league with Michael Jackson, Beyonce, the Rolling Stones and other “sell outs”.


Steve MartinThis originally appeared on

Get this book. It’s one of the best show biz biographies I have ever read. Definitely the best one that ever mentioned Dariel Fitzke’s Showmanship for Magicians. Actor/comedian/writer/art collector/banjo picker/magician Steve Martin details his journey from aspiring young magician to the biggest comedian of all time (he was the first comedian to sell out 45,000 seat venues).

It’s an amazing story with details that fellow magicians can appreciate. He includes show notes from when he was a young man describing presentation of the Square Circle and the Hippity Hop Rabbits. Think about that one for a moment; one of the greatest movie stars of all time got his start doing Hippity Hop Rabbits. He talks about making the leap from behind the magic counter at Disneyland to the stage of nearby Knott’s Berry Farm.

You’ll find out that his overnight success took ten years and only then happened when he decided to go his own path. Despite the frequent bookings on the Tonight Show, fame and headliner status eluded him for a long time. He’d been demoted to performing only on guest host nights for a long period because Johnny wasn’t in to his act. When he slowly found his way, Johnny became his biggest fan.

I sat down with this book to just read a chapter and couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I’m getting the audiobook next. It’s an amazing story of how a performer struggled and grew in his art. It’s the best analysis I’ve ever read of what it takes to be an original and how hard it can be to get acceptance for that.

I could go on about this book, but you should really just be reading the book. So I’ll end this right here: Go get this book!

Richard Branson interview on CBS

November 27th, 2007

Here’s a CBS interview of the Multimedia Empire’s favorite eccentric entrepreneur: