I wanted to wish everyone a very wonderful holiday and a fantastic new year. I look forward to sharing ideas and thoughts with all of you next year.
There was recently a great blog post by Mark Suster (a serial entrepreneur and VC with GRP Partners), in which a friend of his put together a list about what young employees should know, particularly when starting at an early-stage company. I think this advice is useful not only for young employees but people moving (or considering moving) from a larger corporation into the start-up world. I also found it useful as a leader to bring young team members along more effectively.
Suster’s friend’s advice
You will not get constructive feedback unless you request it. Although executives in start-ups have great intentions and truly care about their employees, they usually do not spend much time giving employees constructive criticism. When juggling all of their immediate priorities, employee feedback and counseling usually gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Often if there is an issue, rather than dealing with the employee they will just resolve the situation themselves. If you want to grow professionally, you need to reach out to your boss (and other members of the management team) and find out what you can be doing better. Continue reading
The shooting in Newtown on Friday helps show what is truly important from what we think is important, especially in our business lives. Seeing what the families of the victims are going through and the acts of heroism by school staff is a good contrast to the importance of things that occur at work.
It’s not that bad
People often talk about their terrible year or awful day at work but what happened on Friday shows just what bad is. If the game you launches does not do well, if your company has down-sized and you need to find a new job, if you were unable to raise investment capital and had to close down, if your boss promoted someone not as gifted as you to a senior position, you may feel things are terrible. Now compare these events to a parent who has lost a child or a husband who has lost a wife … and you realize just how minor your problems are.
You are not that great
Conversely, do not let your successes create an inflated sense of importance. Does raising that new round of capital define you as a success? Does selling your company for $100 million or even $50 billion mean you are the person you want to be? When I read the story of Vicki Soto, the teacher who gave her life to save some of her students by shielding her first-grade students, I feel she has achieved much more than Mark Zuckerberg or Sean Parker (no offense to them).
I hope we can all use the tragedy last week to better understand ourselves and our situations.
There are two resources/websites that are tremendously useful for everyone, but particularly social media executives. Quora is a question and answer site while Coursera offers courses online from top universities.
Quora is great for everything from getting supporting information for investor presentations and business plans to seeing how others have overcome difficult business situations. Quora works by encouraging people to post questions and then rewarding others for answering. People can up-vote and down-vote answers to drive the best or most accurate one to the top. You can also follow people on Quora if you are interested in how they would answer questions or of you think you would be interested in what questions they are following.
Questions can be about market information (or any facts you need to know), how people approach issues, what other companies have done to solve business problems, what trends or activities people are anticipating, etc. Typical questions requesting information can include how much revenue a typical Android game generates or how quickly is the tablet gaming market growing. In terms of approaching issues, you could ask how other companies growth hacked. I found responses to my question on best practices for improving retention an incredibly valuable resource in seeing how others addressed a business problem. With trends, information on Quora has shined a light on equity crowd sourcing opportunities made available by the JOBS Act. Continue reading
Below is Mary Meeker’s presentation at Stanford on Internet Trends. If you are not familiar with Meeker, she is a partner at A-list VC firm Kleiner Perkins and previously was one of the top Wall Street analysts for the tech sector. At Morgan Stanley, she co-authored the “bible of the Internet,” which was the roadmap for the dot-com boom. She has since published landmark reports on online advertising, e-commerce, search, the Internet in China and the mobile Internet. She is probably one of the best resources for understanding how technology will evolve.
While I recommend you read the entire presentation, I realize you might not have time for 88 slides. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight what I felt were the most interesting points, particularly those with potential value for social media companies: Continue reading
I just signed up on Coursera for Think Again: How to Reason and Argue from Duke University. If anyone else is interested in taking the course, it would be great to exchange feedback and thoughts.
Early in my professional career, a colleague gave me a piece of advice: you see who truly is good and who is not when times are difficult. Of all the “sage wisdom” I have received over the years, this advice is the one that has been proven again and again. It is an invaluable tool in understanding better your colleagues, investors, Board, business partners, customers and vendors. I have passed this advice on to friends recently and felt it was worth blogging about, as you will not only find it very useful in understanding others but it also will tell you a lot about yourself.
The underlying principle is that it is easy to do the right thing when everything is going well but you can understand a person’s true character in how they act in difficult times. Many people seem great when they do not have cash flow issues, when their company is hitting or exceeding its targets, etc. They will often talk about win-win relationships and seem great to work with.
Most of these people, however, show their true colors when the cost of doing good becomes very significant. If doing the appropriate action takes money out of their pocket, hampers their career, potentially risks new investment, makes them look weak, etc., many will take the path of least resistance and do things you would not expect of them. Following are some (but definitely not all) situations that provide insight into the true character of people you associate with: Continue reading