More on Leadership
6 months ago
Is it bad of me to want our portfolio companies to generate greater returns for outside investors than they did for us as venture capitalists?
Wishing for Lasting Companies, Not Penny Stocks or Goodwill Write-Downs
Get me a NASCAR-style company-logoed cremation urn (notice to the executor of my will, theres gonna be a lot of weird requests). I believe in working on projects that would be on your tombstone. As the Homebrew logo is tattooed on my shoulder, expanding the portfolio to my posthumous commemoration is easy. But this isn't an IRR victory lap; it's a hope that the firms we worked for would last beyond my lifetime.
Venture investors too often take credit or distance themselves from startups based on circumstances. Successful companies tell stories of crucial introductions, strategy conversations, and other value. Defeats Even whether our term involves Board service or systematic ethical violations, I'm just a little investment, so there's not much I can do. Since I'm guilty, I'm tossing stones from within the glass home (although we try to own our decisions through the lifecycle).
Post-exit company trajectories are usually unconfounded. Off the cap table, no longer a shareholder (or a diminishing one as you sell off/distribute), eventually leaving the Board. You can cheer for the squad or forget about it, but you've freed the corporation and it's back to portfolio work.
As I look at the downward track of most SPACs and other tarnished IPOs from the last few years, I wonder how I would feel if those were my legacy. Is my job done? Yes. When investing in a business, the odds are against it surviving, let alone thriving and being able to find sunlight. SPAC sponsors, institutional buyers, retail investments. Free trade in an open market is their right. Risking and losing capital is the system working! But
We were lead or co-lead investors in our first three funds, but as additional VCs joined the company, we were pushed down the cap table. Voting your shares rarely matters; supporting the firm when they need it does. Being valuable, consistent, and helping the company improve builds trust with the founders.
I hope every startup we sponsor becomes a successful public company before, during, and after we benefit. My perspective of American capitalism. Well, a stock ticker has a lot of garbage, and I support all types of regulation simplification (in addition to being a person investor in the Long-Term Stock Exchange). Yet being owned by a large group of investors and making actual gains for them is great. Likewise does seeing someone you met when they were just starting out become a public company CEO without losing their voice, leadership, or beliefs.
I'm just thinking about what we can do from the start to realize value from our investments and build companies with bright futures. Maybe seed venture financing shouldn't impact those outcomes, but I'm not comfortable giving up that obligation.
1 year ago
Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy
This is arguably the best three-minute demonstration I've ever seen of anything. Derek Sivers turns a shaky video of a lone dancing guy at a music festival into a leadership lesson.
A leader must have the courage to stand alone and appear silly. But what he's doing is so straightforward that it's almost instructive. This is critical. You must be simple to follow!
Now comes the first follower, who plays an important role: he publicly demonstrates how to follow. The leader embraces him as an equal, so it's no longer about the leader — it's about them, plural. He's inviting his friends to join him. It takes courage to be the first follower! You stand out and dare to be mocked. Being a first follower is a style of leadership that is underappreciated. The first follower elevates a lone nut to the position of leader. If the first follower is the spark that starts the fire, the leader is the flint.
This link was sent to me by @ottmark, who noted its resemblance to Kurt Vonnegut's three categories of specialists required for revolution.
The rarest of these specialists, he claims, is an actual genius – a person capable generating seemingly wonderful ideas that are not widely known. "A genius working alone is generally dismissed as a crazy," he claims.
The second type of specialist is much easier to find: a highly intellectual person in good standing in his or her community who understands and admires the genius's new ideas and can attest that the genius is not insane. "A person like him working alone can only crave loudly for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be," Slazinger argues.
Jeff Veen reduced the three personalities to "the inventor, the investor, and the evangelist" on Twitter.
1 year ago
Why Google's Hiring Process is Brilliant for Top Tech Talent
Without a degree and experience, you can get a high-paying tech job.
Most organizations follow this hiring rule: you chat with HR, interview with your future boss and other senior managers, and they make the final hiring choice.
If you've ever applied for a job, you know how arduous it can be. A newly snapped photo and a glossy resume template can wear you out. Applying to Google can change this experience.
According to an Universum report, Google is one of the world's most coveted employers. It's not simply the search giant's name and reputation that attract candidates, but its role requirements or lack thereof.
Candidates no longer need a beautiful resume, cover letter, Ivy League laurels, or years of direct experience. The company requires no degree or experience.
Elon Musk started it. He employed the two-hands test to uncover talented non-graduates. The billionaire eliminated the requirement for experience.
Google is deconstructing traditional employment with programs like the Google Project Management Degree, a free online and self-paced professional credential course.
Google's hiring is interesting. After its certification course, applicants can work in project management. Instead of academic degrees and experience, the company analyzes coursework.
Google finds the best project managers and technical staff in exchange. Google uses three strategies to find top talent.
Chase down the innovators
Google eliminates restrictions like education, experience, and others to find the polar bear amid the snowfall. Google's free project management education makes project manager responsibilities accessible to everyone.
Many jobs don't require a degree. Overlooking individuals without a degree can make it difficult to locate a candidate who can provide value to a firm.
Firsthand knowledge follows the same rule. A lack of past information might be an employer's benefit. This is true for creative teams or businesses that prefer to innovate.
Or when corporations conduct differently from the competition. No-experience candidates can offer fresh perspectives. Fast Company reports that people with no sales experience beat those with 10 to 15 years of experience.
Give the aptitude test first priority.
Google wants the best candidates. Google wouldn't be able to receive more applications if it couldn't screen them for fit. Its well-organized online training program can be utilized as a portfolio.
Google learns a lot about an applicant through completed assignments. It reveals their ability, leadership style, communication capability, etc. The course mimics the job to assess candidates' suitability.
Basic screening questions might provide information to compare candidates. Any size small business can use screening questions and test projects to evaluate prospective employees.
Effective training for employees
Businesses must train employees regardless of their hiring purpose. Formal education and prior experience don't guarantee success. Maintaining your employees' professional knowledge gaps is key to their productivity and happiness. Top-notch training can do that. Learning and development are key to employee engagement, says Bob Nelson, author of 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees.
Google's online certification program isn't available everywhere. Improving the recruiting process means emphasizing aptitude over experience and a degree. Instead of employing new personnel and having them work the way their former firm trained them, train them how you want them to function.
If you want to know more about Google’s recruiting process, we recommend you watch the movie “Internship.”
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1 year ago
How to properly price SaaS
Price Intelligently put out amazing content on pricing your SaaS product. This blog's link to the whole report is worth reading. Our key takeaways are below.
Don't base prices on the competition. Competitor-based pricing has clear drawbacks. Their pricing approach is yours. Your company offers customers something unique. Otherwise, you wouldn't create it. This strategy is static, therefore you can't add value by raising prices without outpricing competitors. Look, but don't touch is the competitor-based moral. You want to know your competitors' prices so you're in the same ballpark, but they shouldn't guide your selections. Competitor-based pricing also drives down prices.
Value-based pricing wins. This is customer-based pricing. Value-based pricing looks outward, not inward or laterally at competitors. Your clients are the best source of pricing information. By valuing customer comments, you're focusing on buyers. They'll decide if your pricing and packaging are right. In addition to asking consumers about cost savings or revenue increases, look at data like number of users, usage per user, etc.
Value-based pricing increases prices. As you learn more about the client and your worth, you'll know when and how much to boost rates. Every 6 months, examine pricing.
Cloning top customers. You clone your consumers by learning as much as you can about them and then reaching out to comparable people or organizations. You can't accomplish this without knowing your customers. Segmenting and reproducing them requires as much detail as feasible. Offer pricing plans and feature packages for 4 personas. The top plan should state Contact Us. Your highest-value customers want more advice and support.
Question your 4 personas. What's the one item you can't live without? Which integrations matter most? Do you do analytics? Is support important or does your company self-solve? What's too cheap? What's too expensive?
Not everyone likes per-user pricing. SaaS organizations often default to per-user analytics. About 80% of companies utilizing per-user pricing should use an alternative value metric because their goods don't give more value with more users, so charging for them doesn't make sense.
At least 3:1 LTV/CAC. Break even on the customer within 2 years, and LTV to CAC is greater than 3:1. Because customer acquisition costs are paid upfront but SaaS revenues accrue over time, SaaS companies face an early financial shortfall while paying back the CAC.
ROI should be >20:1. Indeed. Ensure the customer's ROI is 20x the product's cost. Microsoft Office costs $80 a year, but consumers would pay much more to maintain it.
A/B Testing. A/B testing is guessing. When your pricing page varies based on assumptions, you'll upset customers. You don't have enough customers anyway. A/B testing optimizes landing pages, design decisions, and other site features when you know the problem but not pricing.
Don't discount. It cheapens the product, makes it permanent, and increases churn. By discounting, you're ruining your pricing analysis.
1 year ago
Effective Technical Book Reading Techniques
Technical books aren't like novels. We need a new approach to technical texts. I've spent years looking for a decent reading method. I tried numerous ways before finding one that worked. This post explains how I read technical books efficiently.
What Do I Mean When I Say Effective?
Effectiveness depends on the book. Effective implies I know where to find answers after reading a reference book. Effective implies I learned the book's knowledge after reading it.
I use reference books as tools in my toolkit. I won't carry all my tools; I'll merely need them. Non-reference books teach me techniques. I never have to make an effort to use them since I always have them.
Reference books I like:
Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
You can also check My Top Takeaways from Refactoring here.
Non-reference books I like:
Technical books might be overwhelming to read in one sitting. Especially when you have no idea what is coming next as you read. When you don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes, you feel lost as you read. This is my years-long method for overcoming this difficulty.
Whether you follow the step-by-step guide or not, remember these:
Understand the terminology. Make sure you get the meaning of any terms you come across more than once. The likelihood that a term will be significant increases as you encounter it more frequently.
Know when to stop. I've always believed that in order to truly comprehend something, I must delve as deeply as possible into it. That, however, is not usually very effective. There are moments when you have to draw the line and start putting theory into practice (if applicable).
Look over your notes. When reading technical books or documents, taking notes is a crucial habit to develop. Additionally, you must regularly examine your notes if you want to get the most out of them. This will assist you in internalizing the lessons you acquired from the book. And you'll see that the urge to review reduces with time.
Let's talk about how I read a technical book step by step.
0. Read the Foreword/Preface
These sections are crucial in technical books. They answer Who should read it, What each chapter discusses, and sometimes How to Read? This is helpful before reading the book. Who could know the ideal way to read the book better than the author, right?
I scan the chapter. Fast scanning is needed.
I review the headings.
I scan the pictures quickly.
I assess the chapter's length to determine whether I might divide it into more manageable sections.
Skimming is faster than reading but slower than scanning.
I focus more on the captions and subtitles for the photographs.
I read each paragraph's opening and closing sentences.
I examined the code samples.
I attempt to grasp each section's basic points without getting bogged down in the specifics.
Throughout the entire reading period, I make an effort to make mental notes of what may require additional attention and what may not. Because I don't want to spend time taking physical notes, kindly notice that I am using the term "mental" here. It is much simpler to recall. You may think that this is more significant than typing or writing “Pay attention to X.”
I move on quickly. This is something I considered crucial because, when trying to skim, it is simple to start reading the entire thing.
3. Complete reading
Previous steps pay off.
I finished reading the chapter.
I concentrate on the passages that I mentally underlined when skimming.
I put the book away and make my own notes. It is typically more difficult than it seems for me. But it's important to speak in your own words. You must choose the right words to adequately summarize what you have read. How do those words make you feel? Additionally, you must be able to summarize your notes while you are taking them. Sometimes as I'm writing my notes, I realize I have no words to convey what I'm thinking or, even worse, I start to doubt what I'm writing down. This is a good indication that I haven't internalized that idea thoroughly enough.
I jot my inquiries down. Normally, I read on while compiling my questions in the hopes that I will learn the answers as I read. I'll explore those issues more if I wasn't able to find the answers to my inquiries while reading the book.
Best part: If you take lovely notes like I do, you can publish them as a blog post with a few tweaks.
This is my learning journey. I wanted to show you. This post may help someone with a similar learning style. You can alter the principles above for any technical material.
10 months ago
How To Launch A Business Without Any Risk
> Say Hello To The Lean-Hedge Model
People think starting a business requires significant debt and investment. Like Shark Tank, you need a world-changing idea. I'm not saying to avoid investors or brilliant ideas.
Investing is essential to build a genuinely profitable company. Think Apple or Starbucks.
Entrepreneurship is risky because many people go bankrupt from debt. As starters, we shouldn't do it. Instead, use lean-hedge.
Simply defined, you construct a cash-flow business to hedge against long-term investment-heavy business expenses.
What the “fx!$rench-toast” is the lean-hedge model?
When you start a business, your money should move down, down, down, then up when it becomes profitable.
Many people don't survive the business's initial losses and debt. What if, we created a cash-flow business BEFORE we started our Starbucks to hedge against its initial expenses?
Lean-hedge has two sections. Start a cash-flow business. A cash-flow business takes minimal investment and usually involves sweat and time.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
A Translation company
Personal portfolio website (you make a site then you do cold e-mail marketing)
FREELANCE (UpWork, Fiverr).
Infomarketing. (You design a knowledge-based product. You sell the info).
Online fitness/diet/health coaching ($50-$300/month, calls, training plan)
Amazon e-book publishing. (Medium writers do this)
YouTube, cash-flow channel
A web development agency (I'm a dev, but if you're not, a graphic design agency, etc.) (Sell your time.)
Online paralegal (A million lawyers work in the U.S).
Some dropshipping (Organic Tik Tok dropshipping, where you create content to drive traffic to your shopify store instead of spend money on ads).
(Disclaimer: My first two cash-flow enterprises, which were language teaching, failed terribly. My translation firm is now booming because B2B e-mail marketing is easy.)
Crossover occurs. Your long-term business starts earning more money than your cash flow business.
My cash-flow business (freelancing, translation) makes $7k+/month.
I’ve decided to start a slightly more investment-heavy digital marketing agency
Here are the anticipated business's time- and money-intensive investments:
($$$) Top Front-End designer's Figma/UI-UX design (in negotiation)
(Time): A little copywriting (I will do this myself)
($$) Creating an animated webpage with HTML (in negotiation)
Backend Development (Duration) (I'll carry out this myself using Laravel.)
Logo Design ($$)
Logo Intro Video for $
Video Intro (I’ll edit this myself with Premiere Pro)
Then evaluate product, place, price, and promotion. Consider promotion and pricing.
The lean-hedge model's point is:
Don't gamble. Avoid debt. First create a cash-flow project, then grow it steadily.
Check read my previous posts on “Nightmare Mode” (which teaches you how to make work as interesting as video games) and Why most people can't escape a 9-5 to learn how to develop a cash-flow business.