“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
Roy Disney, American Entrepreneur
I recently gave some advice to a software engineer who was trying to decide between two startups. My advice is was not earth shattering, but the engineer was appreciative nonetheless. He must have read my Thank You entry, as he later sent me an awesome selection of beer and wine as an expression of his gratitude.
I have summarized my straightforward counsel below, in the hopes that it might help someone else who is in the advantageous position of selecting between multiple startup opportunities. Continue reading “Decision Making 101”
“If I had to, I could clean out my desk in five minutes… and nobody would ever know I’d ever been here. And I’d forget too.”
Ryan Howard, the fictional Intern on the TV comedy, The Office
Michael Scott, the fictional head of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office, hires an Intern for all the wrong reasons. Driven by low self-esteem, the hapless Mr. Scott is seeking a junior person who will adore him and act upon his whims.
Unfortunately for Mr. Scott, he hires Ryan, a smart, ambitious and disrespectful young man who is the catalyst of endless subterfuge which further undermines the office’s abysmal corporate culture. Continue reading “Why You Should Hire A Gaggle Of Interns At Your Startup”
I recently had the pleasure to chat with Firas Raouf, Partner at OpenView Venture Partnersregarding my Startup CEO Performance Review articles. If you have not had a chance to do so yet, you may want to scan Part I and Part II before you listen to my interview. The 12-minute podcast will likely make more sense if you first have a frame of reference for the approach I implemented.
Click on the OpenView logo to listen to the podcast:
Odysseus could not help himself. He knew the risks, but he had to hear the alluring sound of the Sirens’ song.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were a combination of birds and women who sang to passing sailors, enticing them to approach the shore and crash on its hidden shoals.
To avoid wrecking his ship, Odysseus instructed his crew to plug their ears and ignore his orders, no matter how much he implored them to approach the Sirens’ island.
Many entrepreneurs encounter a similar dilemma. They often identify expeditious ways to make money in the early days of their adVentures, which allow them to reduce the amount of capital they must raise from outside investors. Unfortunately, such initially alluring business models can ultimately result in their ruin. Thus, entrepreneurs must decide when to stop listening to the Sirens’ song of a quick buck and position their company to take advantage of long-term, sustainable business models.
Continue reading “Entrepreneurs Should Go For The Quick Buck – Then Stop”
Note: This is part II of a two part series. Click HERE for part I.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” George S. Patton, US Army General
Part I of this series describes the 360-review that I conducted at a growing, dynamic SaaS business which has recently graduated from the startup stage and entered the early-growth phase. One of the most compelling conclusions I drew from the reviews is that both Founders need to delegate more of their day-to-day tasks.
The Founders are in the midst of a classic shift from a bottle-washer mentality in which they oversee every initiative, to one in which they only focus their efforts on tasks that have the biggest impact, while delegating urgent but less important duties.
Fortunately, the Founders are comfortable delegating tasks to their highly talented Core Team. The challenge was to identify which tasks to retain and which were best suited for delegation.
Following the 360-review, we devised an effective way to help the Founders expand their strategic effectiveness while ensuring that all of their prior responsibilities are appropriately fulfilled.
Continue reading “Startup 360-Performance Review Result – Improved Time Management”
Note: This is part I of a two part series. Click here for Part II.
“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”
Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese Philosopher
Ever wonder why most people are dissatisfied with photos of themselves? The reason is more than false modesty. We know our appearance by the image we see in a mirror. However, the image seen by everyone else, including a camera, is our actual image, rather than our reversed, mirrored reflection.
Remember all those terrible MySpace self-portraits? The MySpace teens liked the photos, in part, because they showed the mirror image of themselves which matched the adolescents’ self-images.
Studies have confirmed this phenomenon. People prefer photographs of themselves in which the negative has been reversed and thus depicts the familiar view they see when they admire themselves in a mirror. Even though we are most comfortable with this inverted image, it is not how we are perceived by others.
Our self-perceptions are similar to our reflections in a mirror. We see a portion of who we are, but not our entire being. The lens by which we evaluate our strengths, weaknesses, and priorities is limited. The only way to obtain a complete understanding of ourselves and determine how we can improve our performance is to seek and act upon the observations and critiques of those we trust.
Continue reading “Effective Startup 360-Performance Reviews”
As a young boy, Bruce Wayne watched his parents die in an alley after they were shot by a mugger. This event was pivotal in his life and became the basis of his future career as Batman, Gotham City’s crime fighting hero.
It is a powerful Origin Story because it informs the reader of the protagonist’s motivation throughout the remainder of his career to, “swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals.”
A startup’s Origin Story can be equally powerful. Every employee should know why their startup was founded in order to appreciate how their Origin Story impacts their company’s Core Values and Creed.
Continue reading “Leverage Your Startup’s Origin Story To Reinforce Your Mission & Values”
Marc Bolan, lead singer of T. Rex, was a modestly talented glam rocker during the early 1970s who lyrically never had much to say. However, when he sang, “Bang a Gong, Get It On,” he hit upon a key entrepreneurial principle without even realizing it.
Continue reading “How To Create A Celebratory Startup Corporate Culture”
At one of my early ventures, the Chairman of the Board orchestrated the companywide meetings. He was a disciple of famed motivational speaker Tony Robbins and he accordingly ran our “all-hands” company meetings like revival sessions.
I remember one meeting that was particularly ineffectual. We were running out of cash, our primary competitor was overtaking us and our latest products were stalled by significant regulatory hurdles. Despite our sobering circumstances, we entered this particular meeting to Tina Turner shouting, “Simply The Best” at us over and over and over. I was not alone in wondering, “If we really are ‘simply the best,’ why do we need to be told so by an aging diva?”
The meeting went downhill from this rousing opening, ending with our Chairman telling us, “You need to create our own reality,” quickly followed by an encore of Tina’s rousing chant. I trudged out of the meeting thinking I was, “simply the screwed,” if I hung around much longer. Shortly thereafter I left the company and its over-the-top, out-of-touch company meetings.
Continue reading “How To Run Effective Company Meetings At Your Startup”
On September 8, 1965, baseball player Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco became the first major leaguer to play all nine positions in a nine-inning game. Technically, he filled ten roles, as he pitched left handed when facing right-handed batters and right handed with lefties at the plate.
Despite his status as an all-star shortstop, Bert proved himself to be a selfless utility player. Over his career, he played all three outfield positions, as well as second and third base. His willingness to add value wherever his coach needed him most, not only helped his teams win three consecutive World Championships, but it also allowed Bert to extend his career by making himself Indispensible.
Entrepreneurs should likewise endeavor to maximize their utility by playing as many positions on their startup team as they can effectively master.
Continue reading “How To Maximize Your Value At A Startup: Your Greatest Ability Is Often Your Availability”