Motorcycling, Marketing, and Following Your Dream: Allan Karl’s Recommended Reading

On yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, author and keynote speaker Allan Karl spoke about his three-year motorcycle journey around the world, and how the lessons he learned—about trust, risktaking, persistency, and decision-making—can all be useful for entrepreneurs. Here, he provides a list of the people who were the most influential to him, as he reinvented his life to follow his passions.

1. Regis McKenna (

“A technology marketing trailblazer who recognized and helped defined so many marketing concepts we take for granted today: real-time marketing, relationship marketing, and the importance of influencers in establishing market position.”


STP069: Why Risk-taking is “The Only Way You Can Innovate and Grow” with Travel Writer Allan Karl

Allan Karl has explored more than 60 countries, photographing, blogging, and writing about them on the way. His book Forks: The Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection (2014) documents a three-year motorcycle journey through 35 countries. In this interview, Karl discusses his decision to turn his passion for travel into a way to live, and the hesitation that too often prevents people from taking a similar leap in their own entrepreneurial endeavors. He describes how “Anyone can do this—the hardest part about deciding to choose your passion, and follow your dream, is that decision point: deciding to do it.”



Gary Vaynerchuk and David Zweig’s Personal Branding Resources

On their Face Off interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Gary Vaynerchuk and David Zweig discussed personal branding: when is it productive, and when is it simply a timesink? Today, they follow up their interview with their favorite tips and resources for people interested in the subject.

1. “Long-tail search culture” on Google (Gary)

Gary explains, “I think wherever you sat on this, it’s stunning to me how many people don’t recognize Googling long terms, like ‘how to excel in an introverted environment as an introvert.’ The results on Google can actually get you down a rabbit hole that can bring a lot of value. I really believe in long-tail search culture.”


STP068: “You are a brand” vs. “A vast myth”: Dave Zweig and Gary Vaynerchuk Face Off on Personal Branding

This episode features a Face-Off on the topic of personal branding between experts Gary Vaynerchuk and David Zweig. Zweig’s recent book Invisibles criticizes what he considers the 21st-century problem of personal branding and image overtaking people’s actual work. In contrast, Vaynerchuk argues in his book Crush It! that “Everyone needs to start thinking of themselves as a brand. You are a brand.” In their discussion here, Zweig and Vaynerchuk find themselves agreeing on most points—and the result is a rigorous discussion on the subtleties of deciding if, why, and how people should brand themselves.



Thinking Exponentially: Will Henshall’s Influencers

In his interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Will Henshall discusses the work and time involved in moving an idea (hit song or tech inspiration) from conception to success. Here, he provides a list of the people who have shaped how he approaches the entrepreneurial process:

1. Singularity University (

Henshall is a graduate of Singularity University, and writes that “it is where I learned about exponential growth and what that actually means in our world.” He expended on this in his interview, describing how Singularity University is “based on the idea that exponential growth in any industry has profound implications that we cannot understand as human beings. Just the quick takeaway: if you take 30 steps away from where you’re standing now, you’d be at the end of the hallway; and if I take thirty steps from where I am now, I’d be on the edge of this little dock, and I’d be in the water (I’m right on the edge of the Bay here, in San Fransisco).

“But if you take thirty exponential steps, where each one is bigger than the last one, thirty exponential steps gets us to Italy, from California. Thirty-two gets us all the way around world and back again. Thirty-three is to the moon.

“You can see that this enormous hockey stick kicks in, of exponential change. And the staff and the faculty at Singularly University have been incredibly important in helping me think about the implications.”


STP067: Tech Entrepreneurship and Hit Pop Songs: Roads to Success with Will Henshall

Will Henshall describes himself as “equally right-brained and left-brained”—he has background as both a successful tech entrepreneur (he holds six patents) and as a platinum record-selling musician/composer. In this interview, he describes how the processes in tech entrepreneurship and writing and making a hit pop song successful are surprisingly similar. He argues that running a band is like a tech startup: you need an idea; you need to see if people like it; you need feedback; you need to see if it is marketable… both require, he says, 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration, and that time and execution are the most importance parts of that process.



Marcie Allen’s Music Industry Influences

In her interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Marcie Allen described some of the individuals who have been most influential to her over the course of her career.

1. Hoss Allen, Marcie Allen’s grandfather.

Hoss Allen was an influential DJ that introduced artists such as Chuck Berry, James Brown and Fats Domino to a large radio audience via WLAC AM in Nashville in the 1950s. In a 1992 interview, Hoss Allen described how “When we started (playing rhythm and blues records), we proved that R&B could be commercial… we also initiated a new sound to white kids who probably never would have heard it if it had not been for the power of WLAC.”

In her interview, Marcie Allen says that her grandfather’s advice to her was valuable as she began her career in music, and that he has told her how “To be successful in the music industry you need to be a bit of a chameleon—you need to adapt, and you need to find a niche.”


STP066: Finding Your Niche and “Representing the Deal” with Music Industry Pro Marcie Allen

Marcie Allen began booking bands when she was sixteen; during college, she was offered a job at LiveNation’s Cellar Door Concerts. At age 25, she founded her first business, MAD Booking & Events; today, she is President of New York City-based music experiential agency MAC Presents. Here, she discusses the importance of identifying and adapting to industry niches: being, in the words of her grandfather Hoss Allen, “a bit of a chameleon” in order to succeed.



Education and Inspiration: Entrepreneur Tim Fargo’s Influencers

In his interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Tim Fargo spoke at length about the process of learning from mistakes and missteps, and how what seem like simple business success stories are almost always too simple. Here, he shares a list of people who helped him make his own entrepreneurial efforts successful:

1. W. Edwards Deming, engineer and statistician

Deming is best-known for his work in Japan after WWII, where he helped shaped the culture of postwar Japanese industry. From Deming, Fargo explains, he learned “the value of approaching situations with process versus massive inspection and so on. And those lessons are so incredibly powerful. If you want to have a high-quality result repeatedly, you’ve got to apply a process, and not react to individual circumstances. You iterate off of a statistically significant experience, and it might sound really boring and really dry but it really works.

“It isn’t the most sexy thing—total quality management—but it’s hugely important in having a company, or having a business that really matters to your customers. W. Edwards Deming—what an instrumental figure in making the difference—the car that starts every day versus the old car that didn’t. That man is responsible for a lot of that happening in our lives…

“If you apply his thinking to anything in life, you can figure out how defining the process will improve the outcome. Might seem trivial, but it’s a helluva insight.”


STP065: Gaining Essential Entrepreneurial Knowledge through Mistakes and Reflection with Tim Fargo

After donating blood to raise money (“which I don’t recommend as a way to get capital”), Tim Fargo founded Omega Insurance Services, a firm that, after almost seven years, he sold in 2003 for $20 million. But that’s the too-short version of the story: as Fargo discusses in his interview, this success required a series of mistakes and missteps in his previous entrepreneurial attempts—including a bankruptcy—before he had the requisite knowledge and experience to do well. Here, he discusses the value—even the necessity—of failure and self-reflection for entrepreneurs.