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Business

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…

How to Select a CEO Mentor or CEO Coach

(This is the second in a series of three posts on this topic.) In a previous post, I shared the difference between CEO Mentors and CEO Coaches. I’ll share with you here how to select the Mentors and Coach who are right for you.  First, you need to find candidates.  Whether you’re talking about CEO Coaches or CEO Mentors or both, getting referrals from trusted sources is the best way to go about this.  Those trusted sources could be your VC or independent board members, friends, fellow CEOs — or of course Bolster, where we have a significant number of Coaches and Mentors and have made it our business to vet and vouch for them. Selecting a CEO Mentor is…

The Difference Between a CEO Coach and a CEO Mentor and Why Every CEO Needs Both

(This is the first in a series of three posts on this topic.) Harry Potter was lucky.  He had, in Albus Dumbledore, the ultimate wise elder, in his corner.  Someone who could teach him how to be a better human being (er, wizard), how to be more proficient with his wand and spells, how to think strategically and defeat the bad guys. All of us would benefit from having an Albus Dumbledore in our lives.  But most of us don’t — and most of the people we’d call on to be that wise elder in our corner aren’t capable of the full range of advice and counsel that Dumbledore is.  Why work with a Coach or a Mentor?  I’ll start…

The Tension That Will Come With the Future of Work

The Tension That Will Come With the Future of Work A lot has been written about the Work From Anywhere life that knowledge workers are leading right now due to the pandemic, and what will come next.  Fred has a great post on it, and I’m curious to see how his and Joanne’s “Home Office Away From Home” space called FrameWork does when it opens.  In that post, he references a few other posts and articles worth reading: Imagine Your Flexible Office Work Future – Anne Helen Petersen We’re Never Going Back – Packy McCormick The Future of Offices When Workers Have Choice – Dror Poleg Instead of entering the debate about what the future will look like, which no…