May 6, 2019

Pebble Watch Founder on Why Startup Advisors

Pebble Watch founder and Y Combinator partner Eric Migicovsky on how he found startup advisors, how his advisors helped Pebble, and how he compensated his advisors with equity.

Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year. Learn more about YC and apply for funding here:

April 28, 2019

The Trillion Dollar Coach

Click and Get the book!

The generally acknowledged best executive coach ever in Silicon Valley (Apple, Google, Intuit...) was Bill Campbell. He is remembered in this Computer History Museum video on Facebook (skip forward to 19:00 to bypass the dead air) by people who knew him best.

The principles that Bill Campbell used and taught are encapsulated in this Slideshare.

April 21, 2019

Integrity: The Most Valuable Thing You Own

Related image

Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.

Integrity is essential at the highest level of your business, 
otherwise your corporate culture will erode to the lowest level.

February 26, 2019

Gradually, then Suddenly

There's this concept called "Gradually, then Suddenly"

It's from a quote in Hemmingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

“How did you go bankrupt?" 

Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

It was demonstrated quite clearly last week when Kraft Heinz stock tanked.

Who’d have thought that cost-cutting your way to glory wasn’t an effective strategy after all.
(sarcasm alert)​

That's "Gradually, then Suddenly" in action.

Well, if cost-cutting is an ineffective strategy, then increasing prices is also an ineffective strategy.

The only effective strategy is to SCALE RAPIDLY.

In the words of Michael McCafferty:  

Sales Solves All Problems

February 9, 2019

The One Essential Habit for Massive Success

It has been called the Ivy Lee Method, after the man who 100 years ago first documented it to help make one of the richest men in history even more wealthy.

When you read about it, you are likely to dismiss it as too simple to be effective. Surely there must be more to it.

All you need is a pen and paper; forget about apps and computers. And it takes only a few minutes each day. But it works only if you do it! Most people will not do it. Will you?

In my 55+ years of starting and running businesses, and 20+ years of advising entrepreneurs with their businesses, there is one elemental truth the ignorance of which leads to business failures. We Know what we should do, but we just don't Do it. This is the well known "Knowing-Doing Gap".

It seems we are always looking for the next Silver Bullet, the Shiny Object Syndrome, the secret to success that will propel us to success. There are tens of thousands of books, seminars, podcasts, consultants, coaches that are really all the same: repackaged and hyped to appear new and true, but it's all BS. What seems to be most true is that there is "Nothing new under the sun." That bit of advice goes back thousands of years!

Here's the short story, excerpted and simplified from the post by James Clear*, the link in the first sentence of this post.*

Ivy Lee was a successful businessman in his own right and is widely remembered as a pioneer in the field of public relations. As the story goes, Charles Schwab (no, not the one you are probably thinking about, but the other one, the CEO of Bethlehem Steel, the largest steel and shipbuilder in the USA at the time) brought Ivy Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.”
“Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Lee replied.
“How much will it cost me,” Schwab asked.
“Nothing,” Lee said. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it's worth to you.” 

The Ivy Lee Method

During his 15 minutes with each executive, Ivy Lee explained his simple daily routine for achieving peak productivity:
  1. At the end of each work day, write down only the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. 
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task, until finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Repeat this process every day.
The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team at Bethlehem Steel gave it a try. After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000.
A $25,000 check written in 1918 is the equivalent of a $400,000 check in 2015. Not bad for a few hours work. But you now have the secret for free!
Will you do it?
* James Clear is one of my favorite authors on the topic of creating habits.
Charles Schwab started his career working for the richest man in the world, Andrew Carnegie, quite probably the richest man who ever lived, estimated at 3x today's richest man Jeff Bezos, founder of  Schwab was promoted quickly to become, at the young age of only 35, the president of Carnegie Steel.
I was unaware of the Ivy Lee Method when I independently formulated my own version of it 10 years ago (2008), at a time when I was in a philosophical mood and attempted to create the simplest possible 3-step process for success: Think-Plan-Do-Repeat.  The bottom line is that it's all about the habit of taking Action.  "Fear is the disease, hustle (Action) is the antidote" (Travis Kalanick, Uber founder).

February 7, 2019

Best Seed Pitch Decks - YouTube

Starting with the simple YCombinator pitch deck template
YouTube was acquired in 2006 by Google for $1.6B.
Only 10 slides in this original pitch deck.

Note the stark black and white theme.
The only thing I would add to this deck is page numbers on each slide.
It's that perfect!

Best Seed Pitch Decks - AirBnB

Seed round.
Elegant in its simplicity.
11 slides, no frills, closely follows the YCombinator pitch deck template,
because they were in the YC class.
This deck was used to raise $500k. Current valuation $29.3B.

"Perfection is achieved not when there Is nothing more to add, 
but when there Is nothing left to take away"  

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Investors are not solely evaluating your company’s story. 
They are also evaluating your ability to convey that story.”

Bill Gurley

January 30, 2019

Effective New Year Resolutions: Focus on Systems, not Goals

If you're like most people, your goals for the New Year are a faded memory.


However, there is a way to think about those resolutions that is far more effective: focus on the Systems, not the Goals.

James Clear is the best there is when it comes to Habits. I've been following him for years, and he is the clear-est (excuse the pun) thinker on the subject I have found. He wrote a post about this concept last year, and if you have any interest in self improvement, read it here.

If you need video instead of reading, shown below is his interview on CBS This Morning. But you really should read the post.


Good employees quit when management is bad.
Bad employees quit when management is good.

Peter Drucker