Tag Archives: leadership

Non-Linear Path to Leadership

Title: Non-Linear Path to Leadership
Date: 2015-04-22
Speaker: Kyle Forster (Big Switch Networks)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
You respect a company more when you are outside and competing against it than when you are inside of it.If you hire well you wind up recruiting a lot of people that have more experience than you do.
Book: From Good to Great
Balance the brutal facts with the preservation of hope.
Visionaries are quirky to work with. They are very demanding.
Sitting (near a visionary) is an early adopter.
You have to win the first group (visionaries) to get to the second group (early adopter). They are the gatekeepers to the mass market.
You respect a company more when you are outside and competing against it than when you are inside of it.

Nailing the Hard Things

Title: Nailing the Hard Things
Date: 2014-11-19
Speaker: Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
If you can't build a great product it doesn't matter if you can build a great company.People skills tend to be highly underestimated.
If you try to build a company with zero management skill and no network–that is hard.
In peacetime you’re much more focused on the development of the people and the development of the organization over the long term.
If you’re running out of cash you have got to get to a very accurate decision extremely quickly.
Sometimes at wartime you do things that undermine the organization.
Book: Only the Paranoid Survive
In the real business world most of it ends up being wartime.
Startups get really hard when the product gets into market.
If you can’t build a great product it doesn’t matter if you can build a great company.
Management is a learned skill. Nobody was born a great manager.
As a manager you have to evaluate people’s performance. You have to correct them. You have to make sure they are on task.
It is easier to teach the innovator how to be a CEO than to teach a CEO how to be an innovator.
It is just as much work and just as traumatic to build a company that is trivial and nobody cares about as it is to build a significant and important thing so you might as well try to do something important.
A big thing in venture capital is size.
The whole point of an executive is to get (the company) leverage.
With Bitcoin it is the first time there is a ledger that everybody could use and nobody owns.
Silicon Valley is still by far the easiest place to build a really important technology company.

Later-stage Advice

Lecture 20: Later-stage Advice

Link: How to Start a Startup

(You can find notes to the other lectures here.)

Sam Altman (@sama)

How to Start a StartupIn most companies of under 20 to 25 employees most are structured with everyone reporting to the founder. That is what you want at that stage.
When lack of structure fails it fails all at once.
What works at 20 to 25 employees fails disastrously at 30 employees.
All you need if every employee to know who their manager is, and there should be exactly one, and every manager should know who their direct reports are.
The most important thing is that there is clear reporting structure and that everybody knows what it is.
Clarity and simplicity are the most important things.
Before product/market fit your only job is to build a great product.
The biggest shift is being a founder is moving from building a great product to building a great company.
The wrong answer is to stay in hero mode until you burn out.
Write down how you do things and why you do things.
Codify how you do things.
People need to know how they are doing pretty quickly.
One thing that is important when it comes to H.R. is equity.
Equity is one area where investors always give bad advice.
Always stay in front of people’s vesting schedules.
Get an options management system in place.
When you cross 50 employees there is a new set of HR rules you need to comply with.
Monitor your team for burnout.
Have diversity in hiring early. You’ll be able to ramp up hiring more quickly in the long run.
Small teams are naturally productive most of the time.
It is important to keep reiterating the message about the road map and the goals.
You never want to put a process in place that rewards the process. The focus has to always be on great product.
All-hands meetings should be at least once a month.
The single hardest thing in business is building a company that does repeatable innovation and just has this ongoing culture of excellence as it grows.
Eleven months after launching you should file for provisional patents.
Very few founders thing long term.
Take vacations.
Ignore acquisition interest.
Startups fail when founders quit.
Don’t outsource the key messaging.
The biggest PR hack you can do is to not hire a PR firm.
Pick three or four journalists that you establish close relationships with.
Developing a personal connection with anyone you’re trying to do any sort of deal with is really important.
The way you get deals done and get good terms is to have a competitive situation.
You have to ask for what you want.
You want diversity of background. You don’t want diversity of vision.
Hire people that are complementary and aligned towards the same goal.
If you don’t want to be the long term CEO of a company you probably shouldn’t start one.

Stories From a Remote CEO

TMBA273: Stories From a Remote CEO
Date: 2014-12-04
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
Tropical MBAWhen you’re traveling set expectations with the people that are at your office.
In your office you want to feel needed.
After you figure out you’re not needed anymore you want to be wanted.
In the future people will understand a lot better than in the past what it means to be physically present.
The CEO has got to be the leader.
Own as much of your time as possible.
There are all kinds of opportunities out the door.
Try to own the creative hours.
If you feel like it is time to get out the door then get out the door.

How to Manage

Lecture 15: How to Manage

Link: How to Start a Startup

(You can find notes to the other lectures here.) 

Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz)

How to Start a StartupWhen you are making a critical decision you have to understand how it will be interpreted from all points of view.
You have to be able to see the decision through the eyes of the company as a whole.
You’ve got to understand what your decision means to everybody not just the person you’re talking to.
When you give out raises when people ask for them you’re going to be giving out a lot of raises.
For raises you have to be formal to save your own culture.
Don’t do (raises) off cycle.
To be an executive you often have to be aggressive in this world.
Your employees know each other more than they know you.
When you hire people you try to hire the very best.
The reason somebody fails on the job is that you didn’t accurately enough match them with the needs of the position.
Sometimes it is necessary to take somebody’s job. It is not necessary to take their dignity.
If you’re married to somebody who is supportive it makes it a thousand times easier.
You’ve got to keep your focus on what you can do and not on what happened to you.

Launching into Uncharted Space

Title: Launching into Uncharted Space
Date: 2013-02-27
Speaker: Dan Berkenstock, Julian Mann, John Fenwick, Ching-Yu Hu (Skybox Imaging)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Hiring your friends when you need to hire fast sometimes actually works. (Dan Berkenstock)
Develop a healthy disrespect for seemingly impossible tasks. Nothing is too big.Rapidly iterate your technology to market but don’t kill your team in the process. (Dan Berkenstock)
All it really takes is a simple idea. (Dan Berkenstock)
For getting a business going (the idea) isn’t sufficient. You have to find that near-term path to revenue to make the company tick, to make investors happy, to make it all work. (Julian Mann)
Passion is a really infectious thing. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Don’t take no for an answer. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Be scrappy. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Most of the times you’d be surprised at what you can get if you just ask. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Develop a healthy disrespect for seemingly impossible tasks. Nothing is too big. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Learn how to scale your transparency. (Ching-Yu Hu)
Always error on full disclosure. (Ching-Yu Hu)
You have to grow from being an entrepreneur to an executive. It takes years. (Dan Berkenstock)
If you’re going to start a company you need to think about what you want your life to be like the next five years. (Dan Berkenstock)

Path and Purpose of a First-TIme CEO

Title: Path and Purpose of a First-TIme CEO
Date: 2012-11-07
Speaker: Jess Lee, Peter Fenton (Polyvore)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
We spend a lot of time idolizing the people who have arrived and not enough time studying the people on their ascendancy to greatness. (Peter Fenton)
Take the more challenging path.There is a value chain in any industry. (Peter Fenton)
The CEO is the editor-in-chief. (Peter Fenton)
There are far fewer ways to succeed than there are to fail. (Peter Fenton)
Success is its own unique breed of an education. (Peter Fenton)
The transition to CEO is a big one. (Peter Fenton)
The role of a CEO shifts from building the product to building the team that builds the product. (Jess Lee)
There are two types of people that come to be CEO. Those that want to be CEO and those that earn the title. (Peter Fenton)
A common mistake that entrepreneurs make is to be too slow to have someone leave. (Jess Lee)
Personal taste is incredibly arbitrary. (Jess Lee)
Taste is always evolving. (Jess Lee)
The little human touches make a lot of difference. (Jess Lee)
A company of thirty people is radically different than a company of 150. (Peter Fenton)
Take the more challenging path. (Jess Lee)
It is so much better to do a few things well than many things poorly. (Jess Lee)
Identify the one thing that matters and make it as great as possible. (Jess Lee)
Don’t go it alone. (Jess Lee)
If you don’t have an idea you’re passionate about it is hard to get through the ups and downs. (Jess Lee)
The first step (of conflict resolution) is always to get people focused on the right goal. (Peter Fenton)
It is better to move in a direction than it is to not move at all. (Jess Lee)

Build Your Personal Charisma

Title: Build Your Personal Charisma
Date: 2012-10-10
Speaker: Olivia Fox Cabane (Author)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Charisma gets people to like you, trust you, and want to be led by you.
Charisma can make the world go round because it makes people want to do what you want them to do.
Never assume your immediate assumption is the valid one.Charisma is the result of specific behaviors.
Everybody can learn enough charisma to see a measurable difference in their daily lives.
Presence is the real core of charisma. It is the foundation on which all else is built.
Nothing ruins trust or charisma faster than appearing inauthentic.
Focus on your toes for a split second and then get back to the conversation.
Really focus on the colors in the eyes of the person you’re speaking with.
Together with presence, power and warmth combine to create charismatic magnetism.
We look for power in a person’s body language.
When you assume a more powerful posture you feel more powerful.
Shame is a real performance killer.
Our thoughts are not necessarily accurate at all. Just because a thought is in our head does not mean it has any validity whatsoever.
We have a limited capacity for conscious attention.
Warmth is how much somebody gives us the impression they like us.
Warmth tells us whether someone would be inclined to use whatever power they have in our favor.
We perceive warmth almost directly through body language and behavior.
You cannot fake warmth.
Our brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality.
Never assume your immediate assumption is the valid one.
Choose whatever version of reality that puts you in the most useful mental state.
Book: Difficult Conversations
Naming a dynamic often eases a dynamic and makes it less powerful.

How to Build Instant Connections

Title: How to Build Instant Connections
Date: 2011-04-20
Speaker: Ori Brafman (Author)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
The initial sense stays with us.
Leaders that are vulnerable are far more trusted by their employees.
When people express a level of vulnerability they automatically form a connection.
The connection changes the tenor of the relationship.
The last few feet make a difference. The last few inches make a whole lot of difference.
When there is a conflict in an organization get people to sit knee to knee.
When people naturally mirror us we naturally tend to like them.
In able to build a trust-based environment you need to have some level of emotional connection.

Scaling Up Excellence

Title: Scaling Up Excellence

Date: 2014-02-12

Speaker: Bob Sutton (Stanford)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

If anybody ever says to you that they’ve solved all of your problems for scaling they’re lying to you.

The people who scale badly are so focused on running up the numbers that they don’t realize they need to slow down and spread beliefs that propel scaling.

Live a mindset. Don't just talk about it.People need to know when to hit the brakes so you can accelerate scaling later.

Focus on hiring the right people.

When firms scale effectively (in hiring) they think about the mindset and not just the footprint.

The kind of mindset you need to scale an organization is going to vary widely from organization to organization depending on what the intent is.

The best organizations have the right mindsets for them.

Have relentless restlessness.

The hallmark of organizations that spread excellence is a feeling of accountability.

To change human behavior a rational argument won’t work. First get the emotions cranked up then link it to a tangible set of solutions.

Live a mindset. Don’t just talk about it.

What really changes the deep-seated beliefs we have is what our behavior is.

No matter what people are saying keep them moving forward.

As systems and projects get bigger you have to add more complexity.

Wait for things to crack a little bit but not break.

The purpose of hierarchy is to destroy bad bureaucracy.

As teams get to ten people you spend more times on organizational chores and less time on work.

A deep pocket of excellence spreads from one place to another.

Bad interactions pack five times the whop as good interactions.

Get rid of the bad first.

The most effective groups take the path of most resistance.

A lot of what a leader’s job is to change attention from how much today sucks to how great it will be in the future.

Leadership is a learned skill that most, but not all, people can learn.

Leadership is a complicated thing.

Know when to not give a shit.