Most people appear to live an unexamined life, cruising through the years without much reflection about what it means, and/or taking what life hands them and believing it's all predestined.

Innovation in an existing company is not just the sum of great technology, key acquisitions, or smart people. Corporate innovation needs a culture that matches and supports it.

Founders have continually struggled with and adapted the 'big business' tools, rules, and processes taught in business schools when startups failed to execute 'the plan,' never admitting to the entrepreneurs that no startup executes to its business plan.

The Columbia Startup Lab is a visible symbol of how the university is making entrepreneurship an integral part of all colleges at the university.

Not all startups are alike. One of the key ways they differ is in the relationship between a startup's new product and its market.

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is not understanding the relationship they have with their investors. At times, they confuse VCs with their friends.

The convergence of digital trends, along with the rise of China and globalization, has upended the rules for almost every business in every corner of the globe.

Startups are companies that are still in the process of searching for a business model. Ventures that are further along and executing their business models are no longer startups; they are early-stage companies.

In winning companies, everybody pulls in the same direction.

Great founders live for chaotic moments.

Each industry in a region should develop a playbook that expands and details the strategy and tactics of how to build a scalable startup.

Market type influences everything a company does. Strategy and tactics for one market type seldom work for another.

Great VCs do everything they can to make you successful. But just like your bank, credit card company, mortgage holder, etc. they are not confused where their long-term loyalty lies.

In the past, when venture-funded startups told their investors they'd found a profitable business model, the first thing VCs would do is to start looking for an 'operating exec' - usually an MBA who would act as the designated 'adult' and take over the transition from Search to Build.

The stock market clearly values companies that can deliver disruptive innovation.

Startups have finite time and resources to find product/market fit before they run out of money. Therefore startups trade off certainty for speed, adopting 'good enough decision making' and iterating and pivoting as they fail, learn, and discover their business model.

Only by moving away from the comforts of your conference room to truly engage with and listen to your customers can you learn in depth about their problems, produce features to solve those problems, and learn what drives customers to recommend, approve, and purchase products.

Face-to-face customer feedback refines or validates every component of the startup's business model, not just the product itself.

In corporations, the penalty for repeated failure on known tasks is being reassigned to other tasks or asked to leave the company.

Visionary CEOs are product- and business-model-centric and extremely customer focused.

History has shown that time and market forces provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology is a video recorder, a personal computer, an MP3 player, or now the Net.

Skunk works were emblematic of corporate structures that focused on execution and devalued innovation.

While 'The Owner's Manual' is not a formula for guaranteed success by any means, we're confident it will help reduce the failure rate of most startups that use our Customer Development process.

Understand that VCs are simply a sophisticated form of financial investors who, in turn, need to satisfy their own investors.

I have to think my success in the VC business was due in no small part to seeing Larry Ellison in action back in the day.

The food replacement category is what it sounds like - companies are substituting plants or food grown in a lab to replace meat, fish, eggs, milk - or, like Soylent, to package nutritionally complete meals into a drink.

Customer Development changes almost every aspect of startup behavior, performance, metrics, and, as often as not, success potential.

Normally when I have students over, we sit in the house and look at the fields to try to catch a glimpse of a bobcat hunting.

The business model is both the starting point and the scorecard for Customer Development progress.

Skunk works differed from advanced research groups in that they were more than just product development groups. They had direct interaction with customers and controlled a sales channel which allowed them to negotiate their own deals with customers.

Failure will happen. It's a normal part of the startup process.

VCs like acquisitions as much as IPOs because the acquiring companies often can rationalize paying large multiples over the current valuation of the startup.

Any dispassionate observer would recognize that on Day One, a start-up has no customers, and unless the founder is a true domain expert, he or she can only guess about the customer, problem, and business model.

If you think the job of a CEO is to increase sales, then Ballmer did a spectacular job.

As I've gotten older, I've come to grips that the unexamined life is what works for most people. Most take what they learned in school, get a job, marry, buy a house, have a family, become a great parent, serve their god, community and country, hang with friends, and live a good life. And for them that's great.

There's nothing wrong with a business that supports you and perhaps an extended family. But if you want to build a scalable startup, you need to be asking how you can you get enough customers/users/payers to build a business that can grow revenues past several $100M/year.

At 19, I joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Long hours don't necessarily mean success.

The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to existing markets, particularly to content/copyright owners who sell through well-established distribution channels.

For Customer Development to succeed, everyone on the team - from investor or parent company to engineers, marketers and founders - needs to understand and agree that the Customer Development process is different to its core.

Entrepreneurial education in grades K-12, if it exists at all, still focuses on teaching potential entrepreneurs small business entrepreneurship - the equivalent of 'how to run a lemonade stand.'

Products are sold because they solve a problem or fill a need. Understanding problems and needs involves understanding customers and what makes them tick.

All too often, a corporate innovation initiative starts and ends with a board meeting mandate to the CEO followed by a series of memos to the staff, with lots of posters and one-day workshops. This typically creates 'innovation theater' but very little innovation.

Schools reward their students for a combination of intelligence, perseverance, and hard work - in the classroom and on the playing fields. But these metrics don't help kids understand that great grades are not a pass for a great life.

Unlike many other startup processes, Customer Development is deep, detailed, and rigorous.

At the end of the day, VCs have to provide their limited partners with great returns, or they aren't going to be able to raise another fund.

A startup is not just about the idea: it's about testing and then implementing the idea. A founding team without these skills is likely dead on arrival.

Very often, if a founder is waiting around for someone else to tell him what to do, the company is near death.

With clear definitions and a taxonomy that illustrates their relationships, the Inventure Cycle defines the pathway from inspiration to implementation. This framework captures the skills, attitudes, and actions that are necessary to foster innovation and to bring breakthrough ideas to the world.