Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. Begin it Now! (Goethe)

November 25, 2014

Startup Podcast, excellent

Podcast? Don't turn away because it sounds so boring. This is an excellent one!

If you like This American Life on Public Radio, you'll love Alex Blumberg, tells the story of his new venture making a podcast company. He's never started a company before, and this is his journey. Funny, explicit, and very educational. 

Subscribe now. 8 episodes so far.


November 23, 2014

Measuring Performance

The bottom line in business is achieving goals.  This requires, first of all, the definition of the goals. Clear goals must be written, and quantified with numbers and dates. This is necessary so that you can Measure your Performance according to the Plan.

"If you can't Measure it, you can't Manage it."

If you can't manage it, you are out of control.
Success in business is a lot like flying an airplane:
you MUST be in control, at all times.
You are either in control, or out of control.
There is no middle ground.
And it can change in an instant.
So it requires Focus.
Focus on the feedback that we get
from continuous measurements of performance against the plan.

The question then becomes whether we measure our performance against fixed (arbitrary, management created goals)) standards or relative (previous performance). Which is better?

Startup Compass scores again with this very thought provoking article summarizing some of their research on success in business:

How to drive dynamic decision-making and action: 

From fixed to relative performance contracts (Part 1)

November 21, 2014

Newtonite (like Kryptonite, only more Newtonian)

I do not know what I may appear to the world, 

but to myself I seem to have been only 

like a boy playing on the sea-shore, 

and diverting myself in now and then 

finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, 

whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

November 20, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 18 - Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups

There's a lot that goes behind the scenes in running a startup. Getting the legal, finance (equity allocation, vesting), accounting, and other overhead right will save you a lot of pain in the long run. Kirsty Nathoo, CFO at Y Combinator, and Carolynn Levy, General Counsel at Y Combinator, cover these very important topics.

This is my absolute favorite video in the series so far. This is certainly not because of the subject matter, which can easily put one to sleep; rather it is because I totally fell in love with one of the presenters, and I'll leave it to you to figure out which one. Hint: I'm bonkers over redheads with curly hair.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHzvmyMJEK4
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

Startup CEO reading for 11.23.2014

The Real Key to Customer Loyalty and Retention - Stephen Lynch, Results.com

Why Bother with a Board of Directors? Dave Berkus (Board of Directors, not advisors)

Lean Startup Good Reads - Lean Startup Circle, Tristan Kromer

The Art of the Kickstart - because you don't have to give up equity or pay it back!

All progress is based upon a universal innate desire
on the part of every organism
to live beyond its income.
Samuel Butler

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves,
it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

While we pursue happiness
we flee from contentment.
Hasidic proverb

When a man is willing and eager,
the gods join in.

I've had the privilege to be around some of the most successful people on the face of the earth, the best in the world at what they do.  The one common denominator is hunger. So I can't create that.  but I can unleash it in people.  I can trigger it.
Tony Robbins, Fortune Magazine interview, Nov. 17, 2014 issue

November 18, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 17 - How To Design Hardware Products

In Lecture 17 of How to Start a Startup, Hosain Rahman, founder/CEO of Jawbone, covers the design process for building hardware products users love.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4K_qVlYQkg
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

November 16, 2014

Startup CEO reading for 11.16.2014

The Myth of Venture Capital - (in defense of bootstrapping) Jon Oringer, CEO/founder, Shutterstock

Analyzing Startup Data: Going From Seed to Series A - CB insights

Why bother with a company board? - Dave Berkus, LinkedIn

What fuels Great Design, and why more companies don't do it - GoogleVentures

Five Fast Ways to test your startup idea -  PollJoy

Five Pitfalls of Running Lean Startup Experiments - Grace Ng, Javelin.com

When your plate is too full - ZenHabits.net

The Science of Music at Work - The Future of Business Collaboraition

There are no great people in this world,
only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet.
William Frederick Halsey, Jr.

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself,
but talent instantly recognizes genius.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The nice part about being a pessimist is that
you're constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
George F. Will

November 13, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 16 - How To Run a User Interview

What can you learn by talking to users that you can’t learn by looking at data? What questions should you ask? How can user interviews define or redefine your product goals? Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO of Justin.tv and Twitch, gives us his take – How to Run a User Interview – in Lecture 16 of How to Start a Startup.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAws7eXItMk
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

November 11, 2014

Software M/A Activity by Product Category

From SoftwareEquity.com

How to start a startup: Lecture 15 - How To Manage

You are not the only one whom your decisions impact.

Ben Horowitz, founder of Andreessen Horowitz, discusses this important management perspective that founders miss, with, of course, the gratuitous rap lyric or two sprinkled in. 

This lesson deals a lot with the culture that evolves from different management decisions.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVhTvQXfibU
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

November 10, 2014


What does it feel like to be CEO of a startup?

Note that in the diagram below "Happiness" spends almost all of the time far below pre-startup levels. Note also that the "trough of sorrow" is long, and even gets worse before it gets better. 

Just about everyone who has been there, done that, will have some vivid memories of that period of time. It's a great question because you get some amazing answers. Kinda makes you wonder why anyone would do it if they knew it was going to be so consuming.

I figure that most people become a startup CEO without any idea what it will truly be like. 

Consider for a moment that taking on the role of a startup CEO is just about the easiest thing a person can do, at the outset. All you need to do is just start down the path. With that first step you become a startup CEO. 

Some may have been prepared for it to be tough, but then "tough" is relative, and unless they have experienced off-the-scale tough, then they can't imagine startup tough.

Investors would be smart to give preference to CEOs who have been through it at least once before.

Here are some of my favorite answers to the question about what it's like to be a startup CEO:

Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass 

and staring into the abyss of death.

Elon Musk

Starting a company is like throwing yourself off a cliff 

and assembling an airplane on the way down.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn

Personal note: 
With significant experience as a pilot, and a serial startup CEO,
I totally agree with Reid Hoffman's take on how it feels,
except that I would add "... without instructions" to the end of his quote.

A startup feels like this. 
Now imagine driving 100mph with no lights.
Bryce Dot VC

For more on what it feels like to be CEO of a startup, check out these Quora answers.

November 6, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 14 - How To Operate (*****)

This is the best video lecture so far in the series. "How to Operate" is the thing that almost every startup CEO gets wrong, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get right. I agree with everything in this lecture. It's all about the details...

What should the CEO be doing on a day to day basis? How do you make sure the company is moving in the right direction? Keith Rabois, Partner at Khosla Ventures and former COO of Square, tackles the nitty gritty.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fQHLK1aIBs
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

November 4, 2014

How to start a startup: Lecture 13 - How To Be A Great Founder

So you've learned how to get started, how to raise money, how to build products, and how to grow.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and Partner at Greylock Ventures, addresses many of the questions and confusions that might be cropping up.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ7ZvO5DpIw
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

November 3, 2014

It's about Time

RescueTime, that is...

Your most valuable asset is Time, those moments and hours each day that slip by without notice, spent on, well, who knows what, right? And that's the point of this post.

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

We waste a lot of time, but it's a vague feeling without any hard data to give us a reality check. What if we could actually see the exact amount of time we waste each day/week/month, and what we waste it on? I'll bet it would be a real eye-opener.

It was for me. I've been experimenting with RescueTime software and like it so much that I just upgraded to the Pro version. It's dirt simple to use because you don't really do anything. It runs in the background and watches what you do on your computer and results are displayed in a dashboard format. How easy can it be?

The reports are excellent. You can slice and dice your data and get graphs and summaries and drill-downs galore. I may not have been able to design it any better myself. And for that reason it give it a 5-star rating. Just do it.

I wish it could track the time I spend in the hammock, or playing Frisbee on the beach...  :)

Here's what PC magazine says in their review:

  • PROS
    Tracks all your computer usage, or only apps and sites you want. Can work across multiple Macs and PCs. Creates great reports. Graphs and charts contain information you can use to change behavior. Quick setup. Good default settings, excellent customization options.
  • CONSCharts and data only available in Web app; would be nice to have them locally available.
    RescueTime helps increase your productivity by monitoring your computer use and informing you when and how you're both productive and distracted. With excellent settings and customization, this app is aces.

November 1, 2014

How to start a startup: #12 - Building for the Enterprise

Aaron Levie (Box) - enterprise master, Twitter comedic genius. Today he'll convince you to Build for the Enterprise in Lecture 12 of How to Start a Startup.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFVDjrvQJdw
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

Startup CEO reading for 11.2.2014

Mitch Russo
    The Invisible Call Center - this is big. I know this guy. Good man.  Highly recommend.

     4 Key Questions to Help You Get Ready for Angel Investors

    Relax. Be productive. Get Results in 5 steps.
    Business Strategy Advice: What makes a company's strategy bad?

    Whitney Sales’s Method on Startup Sales Strategy

New York Times
    What if Age is Nothing But a Mind Set? - (*****) this is an example of the power of the mind, and it applies to everything in our lives, not just "age".

    The Pros and Cons of Open Plan Offices

    The Top 10 Business Books  (according to 550 entrepreneurs)

Isn't it strange that a diet book is #8 on the above list of the best Business books? Hmmm...

You may want to know about some of my favorite business books, and that's why there's that tab at the top to this page, just below the photo, the one that says "Library".  Or you can browse my book store on amazon at this link: http://astore.amazon.com/fastmikie-20.

And, if you want to know what the rest of the world is buying in books about business and money, click here for the business best sellers on amazon.

October 29, 2014

How to start a startup: #11 - Hiring and Culture, Part 2

John Collison, and Patrick Collison, founders of Stripe, and
Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest,
are featured in this 11th lecture of How to Start a Startup, talking about Hiring and Culture, part 2.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Dl8rZ6qwE
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

October 26, 2014

Startup CEO reading list 10.26.2014

A few of my favorites

Trevor Owens:
     How to Sell Companies - audio interview with Jonathan Siegel on his 4th exit.

     Jorge Soto interviews Michael McCafferty: Entrepreneur, Sales, CRM
     7 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople (repost from Nimble.com)

     Business Strategy lessons from fighter pilots - John Boyd was the best of the breed, and he was all business! His big contribution to both is his definition of the OODA loop:
Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

    What are 10 or fewer good habits that changed your life? - an excellent resource! Notice the same habits that are mentioned in many of the answers.

     The 7 financial KPIs that everyone needs to know

October 23, 2014

How to start a startup: #10 - Culture

Brian Chesky, Founder of Airbnb, and Alfred Lin, Former COO of Zappos and Partner at Sequoia Capital, talk Culture.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfWgVWGEuGE
And here's the link to the reading materials: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/