Monday, March 9, 2020

Books for Startups

Your Company Library will be much more compact.
I just love this library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

Why you want a 
"Company Library"

Your Company Library is a system for communication. The primary job of the CEO/business owner is to communicate. Not just the goals of the business, but also how the organization is to work.

The most effective, and efficient, way to do this is with the Company Library that contains books, videos, and links to online resources that are usually created by outside experts on the most important aspects of the company's philosophy and operations.

Some of these volumes are to be consumed by everyone in the organization. Others are for just the members of a particular department, such as Sales or Product Development. It should be determined by each CEO which volumes are to be consumed prior to employment, and after, and even how many times per year these volumes are to be reviewed. Repetition is important.

The purpose is to have everyone in the organization be crystal clear when it comes to the basic philosophies of the company, the corporate culture, the goals, and what is required for continued participation in the adventure.

The books listed below are an example of a recommended Company Library. Your Company Library may be different. We invite you to let us know of your success with these resources, as well as to inform us of others that you have found helpful.

A Startup Library

Personal Goals, Priorities

First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

Business Thinking

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber


High Output Management by Andy Grove
The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary
Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Sales, individual

What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story by Michael Bosworth

Sales, as a system

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes

Business Process Documentation

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Product Development

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Some thoughts from experience:

1.  Limit the number of books in your library. This will create FOCUS on the principles involved and build the lingua franca of your organization. When everyone is speaking the same language based on your shared wisdom, then you are well on your way to an invincible corporate culture.

2.  Some books are important for everyone in the company to read, as they form the underlying philosophies of your company. This may include your personal and company Genesis Story. 

3.  Your company library may sit prominently on a shelf in some common area in your space, but it should also be in the personal workspace of the team members.  Everyone in the company should have their own personal copies of the books involved.

4.  Repetition is essential to get the ideas and processes ingrained as Habits. Refer to the book passages often in 1-1 meetings, team meetings, etc. 

5.  Before you finalize a hire, gift prospective team members a copy of your most essential book as a way to find the best people for your company. There will be some who don't read it, and that's a great way to weed out those who are a poor fit. You want the ones who read it and get it wholeheartedly.

6.  Beware the Tyranny of the Idea du Jour as expressed, breathlessly, in some blog, video, conference, or even a team member. Resist the urge to add it to your company library and recommend it to everyone. The more you add to your library, the more you will dilute your main message.

7.  Begin it Now. Start small. Just one book, maybe two. What do you believe in? What book contains your foundational business success principles? If you're drawing a blank on that, start asking others, especially successful business builders who you respect.

8.  When you have consumed and mastered the subject matter in the short list above, you might want to expand your horizons a bit with this list. But before you do, revisit Note 6, above.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Warren Buffett Wisdom: 26 lessons


And while we're on the subject of wisdom, download (free) and you have Warren, Elon, Steve, Jeff, Bill, and about 800 other genius types, from Socrates to Mark, they all have at least one quote that makes you go hmmm, and maybe even WoW.  Get the app, get yourself some wisdom. Free. Click the link.

HQ Sunsets


These things just happen, regular as clockwork, mostly. They're easy to predict with a little bit of math, so they're not a surprise when they happen. It's all about what they're going to look like when they do show up. A lot like people, every one of them is different. We really like them here at DBLM HQ. Luckily, there's usually somebody here at the office (Del Mar, California) to snap a photo and share it with you. Enjoy!

ss1 3-7-2020  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Startup San Diego Database of Resources

Startup San Diego

What an excellent job Startup San Diego has done in compiling a great list of resources for startups.  Check this link and scroll around the AirTable database. Very impressive!

Startup San Diego Database of Resources

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Great CEO Within

The Great CEO Within

The Tactical Guide to Company Building

The Great CEO Within is, without a doubt, the best book for Startup CEOs. Every word of it is in tune with what I share with my client CEOs. I had to learn this stuff the most painful way imaginable... by experience. We get experience by learning from our mistakes. But it's soooooo much better to learn from other people's mistakes. Read this book, save a lot of pain, and succeed much more quickly with greater probability.

Get it on Amazon now.
Paperback less than 10 bucks.
Kindle version less than 8 bucks.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Top 20 Reasons for Startup Failure

CBinsights analyzed 339 startups that failed. Shown above are the top 20 reasons why. If you want to get into the depressing, but highly educational, details, click here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Corporate Culture: best two documents, Ever

blue corporate culture puzzle being assembled by multiple hands

What Is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company's culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations
Read more from Investopedia.
It has been called the best document to come out of Silicon Valley, ever, by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. Here is the description of the corporate culture at Netflix in an old SlideShare. The current corporate culture document is on the Netflix jobs page.  It's excellent!  Here's another:

Valve Corporation

Probably the next best document on this subject is the Handbook for New Employees at VALVe software.  These guys set the bar at a high level.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Let's meet at Starbucks... NOT!

I just read the latest email from Pitch Anything guru Oren Klaff and I've got to say I was shouting at my screen in violent agreement with him, so much so that I have to cut and paste a part of his email right here:

There is one thing I tell every single person entering my industry -- the high-stakes world of dealmaking and raising money....

#1 ...Never take a meeting in a coffee shop

I know what you're thinking:
Wait a second Oren ...
Starbucks is so convenient, I meet people there all the time...
And hey, a "deal" is a "deal" no matter where and when someone finds out about it, right?
I can guarantee you that Millions of dollars in your life and career will vanish in coffee shops (and restaurants and cafeterias too).
Sure, all kinds of exciting things happen at Hot Dog stands in the movies ...
But that's all fake.
Coffee shop and restaurants are ground-zero for Low Status meetings that go nowhere.
Is just this my "opinion"?
I called one of the Top 30 producers in Hollywood, Brant Pinvidic, to ask his opinion about “coffee shop and restaurant meetings"...
... isn't that how Hollywood "works"?
Brant immediately gets excited when I ask him about Starbucks ...
“I HATE Starbucks meetings!", he says.
Brant tells me: "When I get invited to STARBUCKS for a meeting, I think to myself ... Really? That's where we’re doing THIS?
... Starbucks is all the 'juice' you have?"
(Brant's domain is Hollywood, where "juice" means resources, influence and power. Or in other words, "CLOUT")
He continues:
"So you invited me to sit down in a tiny half-height chair like in a doll house...
  • To discuss all our confidential information out in the open for anyone to hear...
  • with the sound of blenders and espresso portafilters slamming in my ear...
  • While I'm squinting to see some tiny PDF on your ipad?"
Next Brant starts half-yelling at me... as if I had just invited him to a Starbucks meeting ...
“Hey Oren, When Comcast offered $3.8 Billion for Dreamworks, did they say 'Meet us at Starbucks, we have something to show you?'"
"When Verizon decided to buy Yahoo for $4.9 Billion, did Hans Vestberg tell Marissa Myers, “Let’s grab a quick lunch at Mastro’s, just the two of us and 37 lawyers, 12 accountants and my bankers?”"
Brant continued, "In fact ...
... name ONE important deal that was done at Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or Peets Coffee... YOU CAN'T!"
What Brant is saying is: public spots lack seriousness, and imply your deal is weak, and a thin-veil above a “startup idea.”
YOUR $100K DEAL is no less important to you than a $4.8B deal is to Yahoo.
So, I suggest you take yourself seriously, and do deals in a place that says "this deal matters."
Of course, I agreed with everything Brant is saying, but at this point in the conversation ...
... you know how these Hollywood guys are ... they get really spun-up and keep going and going.
And Brant ... he keeps going: “Listen Oren, I’ve got another 20 rules for dealmakers...”
“#2, Be the first to leave every meeting and phone call."
"#3: Don’t be greedy—because buyers will walk away from “over-negotiators”"
-------------------------  end of email clip from Oren Klaff

If you haven't yet read Pitch Anything, stop whatever you're doing and get the book and start following his advice. It's priceless. If you're not subscribed to his emails, you are missing out on excellent content that is creatively packaged. Email me and I'll get you on the list. 

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

Thursday, February 13, 2020

San Diego #8 Best City for Starting a Business

The 50 Best U.S. Cities for Starting a Business in 2020

San Diego

Come for brand names. Stay for the startup scene--and the beach.

Triple Sevens!!!
In 2018, much of San Diego's near-record $2.5 billion in venture capital funding went to life sciences and biotech businesses. These industries are still the main attraction in this beach town, but San Diego’s nascent tech scene is picking up, thanks largely to two new area venture firms--Blueprint Equity and Torrent Ventures--and local tech giant Qualcomm’s corporate venture fund, which is putting $100 million into A.I. companies. 

While the area’s universities generate a lot of smart, young talent, midlevel managers skilled at helping fledgling ventures get to the next level are in short supply. That could change with the arrival of outposts from Apple, Amazon, and Walmart Labs. “For a long time, Qualcomm has been the big brand name here, but when you get the Apples and Amazons [opening offices] in town, people are going to chase the brand names,” says Neal Bloom, a local entrepreneur who runs Fresh Brewed Tech, a site about San Diego’s tech community. 

The hope is that while new talent may come to the city for the bigger brand names, they’ll eventually stay for the startup scene--and the beach. --Lindsay Blakely

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Client feedback: Optimizing Investor Meetings

Business meeting line icon. Partners at meeting table and clock. Human resource concept. Vector illustration can be used for topics like communication, interview, negotiation Stock Vector - 121872278

This email just in from a client whose meetings with a potential investor were taking too much time to get to the point, and the client, a startup, wanted to know how to deal with the issue. 

My advice was that getting an angel to invest takes Time. They need to move at their own pace in order to feel comfortable with the startup. It's a matter of building Trust, and that takes Time. So, instead of getting the investor to change their behavior, it is more effective to change the startup's behavior to be more productive in the time available. Here's their follow up from our discussion:


Thank you so much for jumping on a call with me yesterday on such short notice. Your advice about not trying to directly tell this investor he needs to improve his communication skills helped me to save face, and ultimately will lead to me and this investor having a more productive relationship.

During our conversation, you provided me with a framework for what needs to be done before and after each meeting. I believe I understand what you've told me, but please make sure this framework is what you intended:

Before the meeting:
  • Provide a detailed agenda, along with how long each agenda item should take
  • Provide a hard stop time
After the meeting:
  • In the follow-up email, make sure to provide my notes of what was discussed during the meeting. This way, if something was misunderstood, the other people in the meeting can correct it
The goal of these three points is to close the communication gap, as well as to show whomever I meet with that their time (and mine) is valuable. Additionally, in regards to the "before the meeting" section of the framework, it allows me to take control of the meeting before it even begins, and ensures that less time will be wasted. 

After we discussed this framework, you also conveyed the importance of keeping my meeting times, and making sure I do not falter in holding up my commitments. You explained to me how this will improve my reputation, and show that I value people's time. I agree with everything you said.

I'm ashamed that I have not always held up my commitments with people whom I had meetings scheduled in the past, but, as you put it, I need to be a man of my word. Making sure I keep my commitments will now be of primary importance to me. I am very grateful that you illuminated how important this is. 

You ended our call with asking how I would put these points into practice. I hope that with this email, I have already began. If this or any communication I have with you does not adhere to the framework you provided me, please tell me quickly and emphatically. I don't doubt that these techniques will quickly become a vital part of my reputation if I apply them effectively.