Category

Entrepreneurship

Startup Boards eBook: How to Build Your Board

Over the past several months, I’ve published two series of posts on the Bolster blog about Boards. The first series is designed to help CEOs better understand how to build, diversify, and scale their boards of directors. I’ll write about the second one next week. Both series of posts will feature in the second edition of Startup Boards, a book originally published in 2014 by Brad Feld and Mahendra Ramsinghani. The second edition, which is also co-authored by me, will be out late this year or early next year. As I’ve gone about building our business at Bolster, including leading several dozen board searches for companies of all sizes and stages from pre-revenue to public, I’ve noticed that there are…

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…

Signs your critical functions aren’t scaling – three webinars

This is a topic we write about obsessively in Startup CXO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Company’s Critical Functions and Teams — in fact, it’s basically the whole point of the book! I’ll write some more specific posts here in the coming weeks that take some excerpts from the book, but Bolster is putting on three free and open webinars we’re calling our “Bolster-up Series” over the coming weeks that I want to share with everyone who reads StartupCEO.com. In this series, I’ll be doing short interviews with CEOs who we work with at Bolster on the different aspects of scaling specific functions, how they diagnosed those problems, and how they leveraged on-demand executive talent to solve those…

Chewy and Delicious

It’s good that my friend Brad Feld‘s new book (co-authored by Dave Jilk, who I’ve also known on and off over the years), is divided into 52 chapters and is designed as a bit of a devotional, to be read one chapter per week. Each chapter of The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche: A Book for Disruptors is, as the authors write in the Introduction, worth “chewing on a while.” The structure of the book is laid out as: The book contains fifty-two individual chapters (one for each week) and is divided into five major sections (Strategy, Culture, Free Spirits, Leadership, and Tactics). Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Nietzsche’s works, using a public domain translation, followed by our…

How to get the most out of working with a CEO Mentor or CEO Coach

(This is the third in a series of three posts on this topic.) In previous posts (here, here) , I talked about the difference between Mentors and Coaches and also how to select the right ones for you. Once you’ve selected a Mentor or Coach, here are some tips to get the most out of your engagement. Starting to work with a CEO Mentor is fairly easy. Give them some materials to help understand your business, and then come prepared to every session with a list of 1-2 topics that are keeping you up at night where you want to benefit from the person’s experience. Kicking off a CEO Coach engagement is more in-depth. I always recommend starting to work…

My new Startup Board Mantra: 1-1-1

Last week, I blogged about Bolster’s Board Benchmark survey results, which really laid bare the lack of diversity on startup boards.  There are signs that this is starting to change slowly — one big one is that of all the board searches we are running at Bolster, about ⅔ of them are open to taking on first-time directors; and almost all are committed to increasing diversity on their boards.   This is also something that I would expect to take some time to change.  Boards are small.  Independent seats aren’t necessarily easy to open up.  Seats don’t turn over often.  And they take a while to fill, as CEOs are thorough in their recruitment and selection process. My new mantra for…

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…

Soliciting Feedback on Your Own Performance as CEO

(Excerpted from Chapter 12 of Startup CEO) As a CEO, one of the most important things you can do is solicit feedback about your own performance. Of course, this will work only if you’re ready to receive that feedback! What does that mean? It means you need to be really, really good at doing four things: Asking for feedback Accepting feedback gracefully Acting on feedback Asking for follow‐up feedback on the same topic to see how you did In some respects, asking for it is the easy part, although it may be unnatural. You’re the boss, right? Why do you need feedback? The reality is that all of us can always benefit from feedback. That’s particularly true if you’re a…

Use Cases to Bolster Your Team: How to Leverage On-Demand Talent in Your Business

(This post was written by my colleague Bethany Crystal and originally published on the Bolster blog yesterday. While I am still trying to figure out what posts to put on this blog vs. Bolster’s blog since the blogs are pretty similar, I will occasionally run something in both places.) At Bolster, we believe that 2021 will mark the rise of the on-demand economy for executives. More than ever before, executives are seeking out roles that distinctly aren’t full-time for a variety of reasons – they’re in between full-time roles and want to stay engaged and meet a wide range of potential employers; they’re retired or semi-retired/post-exit and want to keep working, just not full-time; they’re fully employed but are looking for advisory opportunities to…

Zoomsites

(Written by both my Bolster co-founder Cathy Hawley and me) I’ve attended two remote conferences, which Cathy dubbed “Zoomsites” — one here at Bolster and the Foundry Group CEO Summit.  Both hold interesting lessons for how these kinds of events can work well. We founded Bolster two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and our founding team had not met in person after 6 months of working together. Now, luckily, we’ve all worked together for many years, so we have a lot of trust built up, and have a very strong operating system which includes full team daily standups. Still, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. If you’ve ever founded a startup, you know how impactful it can be to work side by…