HUNDRED OF YEARS after his demise medals with his image stamped onto them were awarded to athletes at the Olympics Games. So he was remembered in ancient times differently, perhaps, than he is now.
As Rome's emperor he was the most powerful man of his time. He wielded power confidently and sometimes ruthlessly. But he also loved poetry and music and frequently performed his compositions in public. One reported private performance earned him infamy.
He was wild about chariot races and games. So much so, that he even drove a ten horse chariot in the Olympic Games much to the dismay of his advisors. He was so enthusiastic about charioteers, in fact, that he styled his hair in their unique fashion combing it up and forward as shown of his coin. While his hairstyle disturbed his advisors it also contributed to his popularity with the masses. It was important to him to be popular with the masses.
While most historians question whether he ordered the burning of Rome in 64 AD, others believe the massive fire that consumed much of Rome during his reign and killed many was a deliberate act of an emperor who wanted to make Rome great again by clearing the way for his own public building projects. He was said to have sung the "Sack of Illium" in stage costume and possibly played the lyre while the city burned.
Whether he was the architect of Rome's destruction or not, he did make Christians the scapegoat for the fire and ordered the systematic persecution of its members as punishment. Tradition holds that Christ's disciple Peter was among the many crucified during this persecution. In Peter's case, the belief is that he was crucified upside.
He acted with confidence driven, you might say, by an inner compass that justified almost any action that secured his power or advanced his agenda. He ordered the murder of his mother and first wife. And some believe he personally killed his second wife by kicking her at a public function while she was near full term in her pregnancy.
In the end, Rome's legions revolted against him and the taxes imposed to fund his massive building projects. To avoid capture, he ordered his personal secretary to take his life, saying "What an artist dies in me" while contemplating his 'suicide.' His death was followed by a year of civil war during which four different individuals claimed the crown of Rome's emperor.
Of course, we cannot know the full picture of Nero's life with any certainty. The records are too old and incomplete. But the coin does give us a glimpse of his hairstyle and we know his reign was eventually 'trumped' by the leaders of his legions.
Which raises the all important question? Is there a reason the Donald wears his hair the same way? And, will Americans be Trumped this election cycle?
Come back next week for 'Hillary'd".
SORRY FOR THE DELAY IN POSTING. Technical difficulties.
Today's post introduces the ancient money portion of our focus. As we note in the right hand column. "Money is the constant. Companies need it to grow. Ancients invented it."
Above you will find the images of 16 ancient coins and an opportunity. Each of these coins were hand stamped from hand engraved dies and widely circulated before the birth of Christ. Some were issued centuries before.
The opportunity is in the form of a contest.
Whoever identifies the most coins correctly by five p.m. on Sunday, September 25 wins a pre-publication proof copy of Ancient Selfies signed by the author. Send your entry to Clinton@readjanus.com (if you post it as a comment everyone see your answers). Identify the figure on the coin or the issuer of the coin to win. In the case of a tie, the first entrant sending in their tie entry will be declared the winner.
Ancient Selfies will publish in print and ebook form later this year. It provides an anecdotal history from 550 BC to 40 BC using the coins rulers issues to illustrate the times and, in so doing, invites readers to experience an ancient world that created the foundations for our modern civilization in a new and tangible way.
Ancient rulers realized the power their coins had to broadcast images that could shape impressions and deliver messages to their subjects and trading partners. (See our earlier posting on Who invented the Selfie.) With carefully selected images, they used their coins to convey messages of strength and power, to celebrate accomplishments and beliefs and, sometimes, to deceive. In the process, they left a record of images that let us see the ancient world as the ancients themselves saw it.
Good luck with your entry!
SOMETIMES I WONDER HOW ODD a technology startup would look to the average Joe. If you described one to them, would they even believe it was a real company with strong prospects?
Here’s just one example of an early stage company with an innovative product in a highly regulated industry. It is smartly conceived, smartly executed and intelligently financed. The company, which will go unnamed here, is headquartered in the southeastern United States.
Like many startups, the company started out as an idea conceived by the founder. Organized as a single member limited liability company to start, the initial funding came from friends and family in the form of notes that convert in the future, at a reasonable discount, into company ownership later when a third party financing is completed.
The first work was to see if the concept for the product could be designed and built. Rather than build out a staff of employees and rent space to build the prototype, the entrepreneur hired out most of the work carefully contracting to preserve his company’s rights.
As you would expect, there were some zigs and zags as the concept was fleshed out and researched with at least two significant conceptual changes to make the product what it is now. Stretching his dollars when he could by associating with a fully equipped venture incubator / accelerator and hiring out regulatory work to experts, the founder was able to compete the prototype and the product testing required to get his product ready for regulatory review.
A second round of financing to get the product through regulatory review and into early commercialization became necessary after the initial financing got the company through its product design and testing. After a broad search for regional and northeastern angel investors, the best money available was from a successful serial entrepreneur with family ties to the founder.
Again, a convertible note was employed with a reasonable discount to the valuation obtained when the company does its first third party financing. The need for that is anticipated next year after regulatory approval is obtained and the company gears up to commercialize the product.
Of course, lots of other things have been happening with the company. Reviews of the pending product with potential users and industry thought leaders has generated strong interest. A couple of key hires have been made and the company switched its legal representation on the recommendation of one of its investors.
Here’s the company today in a nutshell. It has completed its product design and testing and is beginning the regulatory approval process. Initial interest from industry thought leaders and buyers is strong.
The company is a single member limited liability company with the founder as its only owner. It operates out of the founder’s basement with two employees who mostly work from their locations where special equipment and resources are more readily available but who meet at least weekly to plan. The employees have options to buy ownership in the future contingent on their meeting milestones. It has money in the bank sufficient to reasonably carry it to the next phase all in the form of convertible debt.
The managing board consists solely of the founder who is presently building an advisory board. This board will not have voting rights or responsibilities to manage the company. To fill this board, he is attracting people with expertise that can help him with the challenges he will have with the business as it grows from a development company into a commercial enterprise.
So here we have a modern startup. Its product is ready and going into regulatory review. It has one owner, significant debt in the form of convertible notes, one founder, only two employees, an office at home, three lawyers in one law firm in three states, two out-of-state investors, and four advisory board members in four states across the country.
It also has important relationships with an incubator and service provider. And, of course, money in the bank to fuel its next stage. What it lacks in brick and mortar it makes up for in intellectual property and progress.
And, what did the founder think when he saw this posting? His two big take away messages were to be frugal and to "make sure you have savings to live off for a LONG period before you jump out on your own."
He said he severely underestimated how long fundraising would take because he did not believe people who told him it would take so long. Fortunately, he had saved multiples of what he thought he would need before he started.
Image above copyright Clinton Richardson from Arches National Park.
I COME BY MY ENTREPRENEURIAL chops honestly, in a time honored way. I inherited them.
And then I worked for decades to hone the few skills I started with by working with the leaders of hundreds of growing businesses as they faced the thousands of challenges that stand in the way of growing something new and important. I also went to law school and partnered with some great lawyers with over the years. But I learned the most from working with talented business leaders as they grew their businesses.
I am an unabashed fan of people who grow and sustain profitable businesses. I have advised them, invested in them, and served on their boards. I know what a challenging and all consuming task business building can be. I know the creativity and courage involved. And I know how starting and growing a business can change a person's life and make them more alive.
I know this from watching my father's transformation from executive employee to business owner and operator when he opened his first carpet mill in 1967. I was in high school then and moved with the family from the cozy suburbs of the North to the unfamiliar small town South. Northwest Georgia, the center of the country's floor covering industry at the time, became our new home.
I learned what a "southern breakfast" was from the crew on the loading dock of my father's plant while working there weekends and during the summer. It's an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, at least on the shipping dock of a certain carpet mill. I worked that shipping dock and the sample room. I swept floors, washed trucks, drove forklifts, moved rolls of carpet, made deliveries and did whatever I was asked.
At home over the kitchen table my father would suffer through my many questions about the business. How was he handling this? Why he was doing that? Always, he handled them with grace and insight. And over time, he took to sharing financial statements with me so I could get a better picture of what was going on.
In the end, I chose the legal profession instead of a career in business. My dad was an enthusiastic supporter. I started in litigation but quickly gravitated towards business and deal making. I took to heart the old adage that the qualities necessary to start and grow new businesses skip generations and decided, instead, to work with entrepreneurs and help them accomplish their objectives.
It's been a great run with some entrepreneurial activities to supplement my legal practice. In these blogs, I will reflect back on a lifetime in the trenches and, hopefully, continue to be a constructive contributor to the American entrepreneurial experience through these blog entries.
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We write for creative doers who seek inspiration from everywhere. Our readers are students of life, interested in travel, photography and ideas.
Clinton Richardson, has been writing for decades. His critically acclaimed venture strategy books first appeared in 1987 and are now in their 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Ancient history and capturing photographic moments are among his passions. See his photo galleries at TrekPic.com.