Although I have written about the need to focus and personally always try to, it is much easier said than done. I recently came across a blog post from VC Mark Suster, Why Great Executives Avoid Shiny Objects that does a great job of stressing the importance of focus on the important. One quote by Suster drives home the problem, “many leaders fall into the trap of doing too many things but not accomplishing enough.” Suster makes the point that it is most important to complete the important things, not to start a lot of things.
Suster points out that while it is great to talk potential deals with a dozen companies or interview twenty candidate for a position, actual value is driven when you close a deal or have a candidate start at your company. Suster uses the graphic below to differentiate what is important.
The top of the funnel is what he describes as shiny objects. They are activities that make you feel and appear busy, often make great conversation items with your boss or at Board meetings, but in and of themselves do not create value. While you do need a funnel so you can eventually achieve the important thing, you should not spend a disproportionate amount of your time on it. As Suster says, “having interesting and frequent opportunities at the top of your funnel is important, of course, but the ultimate score is only measured on the bottom end of the funnel.”
Executives do not always pursue the top of the funnel because they do not understand the relative value, it is often the path of least resistance. It is relatively easy having a first business meeting and showing your Powerpoint or talking to someone you met at a conference, while analyzing a potential deal and negotiating the final agreement is very hard and time consuming. Sometimes people focus on the top of the funnel because it makes them look busy but is actually the easy route.
To truly succeed, and make sure your people succeed, you need to be “obsessed” with the critical tasks as Suster is. It’s why he “[is] willing to disengage at times from the flurry of ‘activity’ because when [he has] something that needs to be finished the only way [he] know[s] how is maniacally focus on the bottom end of [his] funnel.”
You should build your own funnel, analyze your activities, and make sure you are spending most of your time on the Bottom End of Your Funnel, my guess is you will be amazed at the results.
- Many leaders fall into the trap of doing too many things but not accomplishing enough.
- While it may be great to talk about all the business leads you have or candidates for critical positions, you only create value by doing the hard work, closing the deal or bringing the right candidate on board.
- To truly succeed, and make sure your people succeed, you need to be “obsessed” with the critical tasks.
One of the questions I am most often asked is how to raise capital in North Carolina (or some other place that does not have many venture capitalists [VCs]) or whether the company should just give up and move. Until recently, the only advice I could give was “Keep plugging away and once you get traction you will be more attractive to non-local investors.” But given the success—some would say dominance—of game companies outside the San Francisco area, I have a more positive outlook. A recent blog post by Mark Suster also does a great job of providing tactical advice on how to raise money if you are not located in a major VC area.
Suster, a serial entrepreneur who is now a partner at GRP Partners, provides a lot of practical suggestions that improve your chances of raising capital. Suster points out that yes, it is easier to raise money if you are in a major VC center (San Francisco, New York, LA or Boston), and if you do not have a strong tie to the local area it would be easier to raise capital if you relocate. That said, he pointed out that some great companies have raised large sums outside these regions and provided some very useful tips for doing so. Continue reading
Veteran entrepreneur and investor Mark Suster recently blogged about how online video will disrupt the traditional television space and this evolution with online video will extend beyond television to disrupt many industries, including social media and games. Suster describes how the Harlem Shake video on YouTube started as a skit launched 20 January that generated about 10 million views, was then popularized into an Internet meme by text from an Australian team, and then Maker Studios turned it into a video that has generated more than 17 million views. What is exciting about Harlem Shake is that it has effectively been produced by tens of thousands of people, creating 50,000 versions viewed 200 million times.
Suster makes the point that Harlem Shake is an example of the disruptive potential of a world filled with millions of people who can create great content and now have the resources to do so. Continue reading
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