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Business

Book Short: It’s All About Creative Destruction

I was excited to read Launchpad Republic: America’s Entrepreneurial Edge and Why It Matters, by Howard Wolk and John Landry the minute Brad sent it to me. I love American history, I love entrepreneurship, and I’m deeply concerned about the health of our country right now. I have to say…on all fronts, the book did not disappoint! The authors make several points, but the one that sets the tone for the book is that like our country’s origins and culture in general, entrepreneurship is itself rebellious. It’s about upstarts challenging the status quo in some way or other with a better way to do something, or with a new thing. The balance between protecting private property rights and allowing for…

How to engage with Your CRO

(Post 4 of 4 in the series on Scaling CROs – other posts are, When to Hire your First Chief Revenue Officer, What Does Great Look like in a Chief Revenue Officer and Signs your Chief Revenue Officer isn’t Scaling) Assuming your CRO is on track and scaling with the company so that you’re not having to mentor or coach them, I’ve found a few ways to engage with the CRO that have been particularly fruitful. Here are a few tips on making every moment with your CRO well-spent. One of the easiest ways to carve out quality time with your CRO is during travel time, or in and around events.  Particularly if you’re a B2B company that engages with…

Signs your Chief Revenue Officer isn’t Scaling

(Post 3 of 4 in the series of Scaling CRO’s- the other posts are When to Hire your First Chief Revenue Officer and What does Great Look like in a Chief Revenue Officer). If you’ve hired a “great” CRO (see previous post) you might think that you’re set for a long time and that the great CROs are also able to scale. Not always, and you’ll have to check to make sure that your CRO is scaling and growing as much as your company. I’ve found that there are several telltale signs that your CRO isn’t scaling and fortunately, they are easy to spot and easy to correct. First, if your CRO gravitates to being an individual contributor sales rep…

Double Book Short: Framework of Frameworks

I love me a good framework. And Geoffrey Moore is the kind of good product/marketing frameworks for technology companies. Moore’s Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption is a must-read for anyone managing a larger technology organization (start reading it when you get to 200-250 people – it’s never too early to worry about disruption). More important, it’s really a companion book or coda to Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, so if you haven’t read that one, start there and read both sequentially. Zone to Win is quite short and punchy, and it doesn’t disappoint. I can’t believe is that I never blogged about Escape Velocity before since it…

Book Short: Loved Loved

I enjoy reading books written by people I know. I can always picture the person narrating the book, or hear their voice saying the words, I can periodically see their personality showing through the words on the page, and books bring out so much more detail than I’d ever get from a conversation. Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products, by Martina Lauchengco, is one of those books. Martina is an operating partner at Costanoa Venture Capital, an investor in both Return Path and Bolster, and I’d known Martina for several years before she joined Costanoa through Greg Sands. She’s the best product marketer on the planet. She’s the also one of the nicest people around. Product Marketing is…

Two Great Lines (and One Worrisome One) About the Current Macroeconomic Situation

I was trading emails a few weeks ago Elliot Noss from Tucows about the current state of the economy after being on a panel together about it, and he wrote: The market is fascinating right now. Heated competition AND layoffs and hiring freezes. It feel like an old European hotel where there are two faucets, one is too hot and the other too cold. While a quick rant about European hotel bathrooms could be fun…we’ll just stick to the sink analogy. As anyone who has ever tried to use one of these sinks that Elliot describes knows, they’re hard to use and illogical. Sure, sometimes you want freezing water and sometimes you want scalding water (I guess), but often, you…

When it is Time to Hire Your First Chief Financial Officer

(This is the second post in the series…the first one on How to Engage with Your CFO is here.) What comes before a full-fledged CFO?  Lots of startups have nothing more than an outsourced bookkeeper or one junior staff accountant.  Sometimes a founder or a founder’s spouse even steps in on this front.  As startups scale, they are likely to hire a more senior accountant, maybe an AR/AP/Collections staff member, or even a Controller or VP Finance. Depending on the complexity of your business you might be able to hold off on hiring a full-time CFO, but if you have any of these signs then it’s time to start thinking about bringing someone on board. One sign is intuitive, and…

How to Engage with Your CFO

It’s fairly rare in a startup or scaleup that you, as a CEO or CXO (Chief [fill in the function] Officer) of any kind, will have significant one-on-one time with other members of the executive suite; instead, you’re most likely to spend time with the team in executive meetings, at offsites, or during all-company events. So, when you do get that one-on-one time it’s important to make sure that it’s not only productive, but that it builds a stronger relationship between you and the other person. As a CEO I learned that the best way to help people grow and develop, and to further develop a better understanding of each other, is to engage with them in a mix of…

Momentum and Confidence: Everything Matters

As I stared at a dugout of dispirited 14 year old boys Saturday afternoon in our tournament championship game, I found myself talking to my fellow coach Mitch about a book I’d read a few years ago (turns out 14) called Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End, written by HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kantor. While that original blog post is pretty specific to something that was going on at that point in time in my prior company, the thinking in the book about momentum and the role it plays in our psychology, about sports, about business, and about life in general, is timeless. Watching this team of teens go through ups and downs within an hour was…

Lessons from the Pandemic: a Mid-Mortem

It feels like it may be a bit premature to write a post with this title here in the summer of 2021. Even as vaccines are rolling out fairly quickly, the combination of the Delta mutation of the COVID-19 virus and a bizarrely large anti-vaccine movement in the US, plus slower vaccine roll-outs in other parts of the world, are causing yet another spike in infections.  However, I read Michael Lewis’s The Premonition last week, a bit of a “mid-mortem” on the Pandemic, and it got me thinking about what lessons we as a society have learned in these past 18 months, and how they can be applied to entrepreneurs and startups. I am particularly drawing on the few weeks…

Should CEOs wade into Politics?

This question has been on my mind for years. In the wake of Georgia passing its new voting regulations, a many of America’s large company CEOs are taking some kind of vocal stance (Coca Cola) or even action (Major League Baseball) on the matter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CEOs to “stay the hell out of politics” and proceeded to walk that comment back a little bit the following day. The debate isn’t new, but it’s getting uglier, like so much of public discourse in America. Former American Express CEO Harvey Golub wrote an op-ed earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal entitled Politics is Risky Business for CEOs (behind a paywall), the subhead of which sums up…