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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM Tuesday, September 27, 2005: I had the privilege yesterday to talk to a class of budding entrepreneurs at MIT. They're all conceiving companies, writing business plans and planning to be rich beyond their wildest expectations. I talked about the mistakes I made starting and closing Technology Investor Magazine. (Disasters always play better than successes.) In a nutshell:

+ I aimed at the magazine at high net worth individuals, figuring they'd appeal to potential advertisers, such as mutual funds. In fact, mutual funds target their ads at less rich investors. Turns out rich clients are self-directed, know about investing, often have their own managers and are far more quizzical about the dubious, overpriced benefits of mutual funds. Mutual funds look for dummies, who'll leave their money forever, won't make trouble and won't question the fees.
+ Our timing was awful. I launched at close to the the peak of the tech boom in end-1999 and tried to sell ads into a market that, three months later, was in free fall.

The big plus was, on seeing our disaster, I closed the magazine quickly -- after only 11 issues. Our competitors -- Red Herring and Upside -- hung around for another two years, wasting millions. Figuring when to fold your tent is critical in any new venture. That thinking should be done up front. We did it by agreeing that when losses hit $8 million, we'd close it down. And we did, on the nose. Our competitors bled another $20 million to $30 million before they finally got the message.

The most popular part of my talk was the bit I called "Newton's 6 Keys to Incredible Wealth and Great Personal Success":

1. Figure what makes us happy. What turns us on. What we love is what we'll do best at. The flip side to that -- don't get involved with ventures you don't love.

2. You need a crystal-clear Vision, and the ability to state it in two sentences. Every venture needs venturers -- like employees, shareholders, bankers, customers. To succeed, they all need to be on the same page.

3. An unshakable belief in ourselves and our ability to achieve that Vision. That typically means enthusiasm. I'm a huge believer in enthusiasm. Genuine enthusiasm is contagious and will take a venture far further than a deep pocket.

4. The practical skills necessary to achieve that vision. No one ever went broke by knowing too much. Learn more than enough to question the experts -- especially the lawyers and the accountants, who have been found in recent years to be severely limited in their skills and knowledge. My line remains: You can rarely be too "hands-on." Critical skills which most businesspeople lack are negotiation, marketing and selling.

5. A concrete well thought-out plan for fluffing our Vision. Putting a plan on paper and passing it by others will clear your thinking, get you feedback and attract other people and their money.

6. A major sense of urgency. The ability to move fast is the entrepreneur's greatest advantage. It's probably his only one when competing with large corporations.

That's all for today. I got hit by a big rainstorm coming back and decided to stop halfway. Teaching is exhausting, but enormous fun.

The Jewish Couple
A modern Orthodox Jewish couple, preparing for a religious wedding meets with their rabbi for counseling. The rabbi asks if they have any last questions before they leave.

The man asks, "Rabbi, we realize it's tradition for men to dance with men, and women to dance with women at the reception. But, we'd like your permission to dance together."

"Absolutely not," says the rabbi. "It's immodest. Men and women always dance separately."

"So after the ceremony I can't even dance with my own wife?"

"No," answered the rabbi. "It's forbidden."

"Well, okay," says the man, "What about sex? Can we finally have sex?"

"Of course!," replies the rabbi. "Sex is a mitzvah (good thing) within marriage, to have children!"

"What about different positions?" asks the man.

"No problem," says the rabbi. "It's a mitzvah!"

"Woman on top?" the man asks. "Sure," says the rabbi. "Go for it! It's a mitzvah!"

"Doggy style?" "Sure! Another mitzvah!"

"On the kitchen table?" "Yes, yes! A mitzvah!"

"Can we do it on rubber sheets with a bottle of hot oil, a couple of vibrators, a leather harness, a bucket of honey and a porno video?"

"You may indeed. It's all a mitzvah!"

"Can we do it standing up?"

"No." says the rabbi.

"Why not?" asks the man.

"Could lead to dancing."

Recent column highlights:
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click here.
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell stocks. Click here.

Harry Newton

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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